Eruviel could feel the heat from the flames as the golden-orange light bathed her features. She watched as Anyatka walked forward, Abiorn’s bear carving in hand. Maludir had thrown in blades of grass into the bonfire, Hallem tossed in a small token made by his wife Lichen, and now her human sister added a thorny branch to the blaze. She had nothing.
She could throw in the tuft of pine tucked behind her ear, but she liked it where it was. She could toss the handkerchief in her pocket that had been a gift from Annuwen, or even strands of her own hair, but none of it felt right. Nothing felt like it should be fed to the flames. Then, as Anya’s offering caught fire, it dawned on her.
Looking down and shifting the belt at her hips, she began to untie the black cords that had for so long been bound to the handle of her sword. The knots had hardened from time and use, especially the oldest of the two, but they had to go. The first had been tied . . . almost seven years ago? While the second had only joined it as of last summer. So short a time . . . . So much time.
Unwinding the first cord, her motions suddenly grew more purposeful when she felt Eirikr’s eyes on her. How appropriate that she burn the tokens of what had propelled her forward to where she was now. How oddly grateful she suddenly felt for those bitter years, for they were behind her.
The last one came free, and Eruviel wrapped the two cords, as black as the days she’d gotten them, into a small ball. Alagos, who still somehow found his way into her nightmares. Mornenion, the novice who had extinguished a small spark of her future, and had kidnaped the man she had been with. What if it hadn’t been Arathier? What if it had been Anya, or . . . Not wanting the thought to ruin her evening, she banished it from her mind and strode forward to toss the cords into the fire.
Keep us safe, dear brothers; my new family and those dear to them. Sparks shot up from the knot and into the night sky.
Grant us your strength. Small tongues of blue and green flames danced along the stretch of cords as the heat unwound them.
Eruviel could still feel the pair of storm-grey eyes on her. A long forgotten feeling twisted in her chest. She should wish for more . . . shouldn’t she? The couples had already begun exchanging meaningful looks, and whispering. It was misery, but the most she dared hope for was a shared look and maybe . . . maybe a small, light touch. The stern man had been smiling more lately, and everything felt better when he did.
Turning back, she stood by Anyatka as Eirikr moved towards the fire. She wondered what he’d wish for. Anyatka and Abiorn? Eboric? Since the dream before Yule there had been small moments of peace, where no worry or fears could be seen in the eyes of those gathered. Moments filled with laughter or quiet contentment. Moments that should not have been as fleeting, but found their way nonetheless. A soft smile stole over her face as she watched the fire consume the black feather that Eirikr offered to it. Their wishes. Let their wishes come true.