Elder '04: Worth The Fall

“Do they hurt?”

We were alone in my kitchen when the soft question had caught me by surprise. So few people ever saw them, or if they did, they didn’t believe their eyes. It wasn’t like wings that arched over your head to trail down to nearly the floor were a common phenomena after all. But then, Vin Tanner wasn’t common either I suppose.

“They do…Sometimes.”

I had to answer more or less honestly even though my first inclination had been to deny their presence. How the hell one could successfully deny possession of a pair feathered wings clearly attached to one’s person near the shoulders, I haven’t yet ascertained. Fortunately most people didn’t see them, maybe if they did, I’d have figured out how to deny them a long time ago.

The human form wasn’t designed to support the weight of wings, even those that are usually invisible. My back hurts most of the time, my shoulders always feel a bit stiff. I’ve grown used to it. Come to accept it as part of my punishment.

He had reached out to touch my right wing and I forced myself not pull away, although the wing itself unfurled slightly as he ran a finger delicately down one of the pin feathers. His touch didn’t hurt half as much as the awed look on his face. I wanted to be liked by this man, to be respected, treated as an equal, with maybe a shot at genuine friendship and even love.

Awe wasn’t something I wanted. Awe made me untouchable. Awe made me frightening. Awe made me different.

“Can you fly?” He’d asked, blue eyes bright with curiosity, fingers still caressing the outer feathers.

“No.” The wings weren’t meant for me to fly. They were a reminder of all that I had been, all that I’d turned away from. They were a punishment of sorts. And I had been clipped as neatly as any pet canary.

“They aren’t white,” he observed with a continuing fascination.

“Not anymore.” They had been once. A long time ago. Being cast out and earthbound had soiled them as much if not more than my own actions had. Since joining up with the others the color seemed to be lighter, but I think that is just wishful thinking on my part.

“I like the gray.”

Vin had stated it so clearly, so honestly, I found it hard to breathe. For some reason I’d expected him to be disappointed, to condemn me the way others had. I should have known better.

“Does Maude know about them?”

“Yes.” I smiled slightly. “Mother has a set of her own.”

He’d blinked in surprise. “Just like yours?”

I shook my head. “Not quite. Hers are smaller and darker.”

Mother’s had been shrinking in size a bit every year for as long as I’d known her. My wings were a dove gray, with dark tips. Hers were dark as those of a raven except for the leading edges that unaccountably retained pure white stripes.

“They are beautiful.” He smiled at me, hand moving to cup my face. “Just like you.”

I nearly wept when he said that. I never would have expected it. Never realized how he felt for me was the reason he could see them at all. For the first time in my life I was glad to be caught so off guard, to be so pleasantly surprised.

It was that night that everything changed, in more ways than one. He knows my true nature, knows who and what I am. He loves me in spite of it, or maybe because of it, I don’t know for sure.

Vin gave me my heart's desire…gave me the thing I’d traded heaven for. He loves me. Like no one ever has. It was worth the fall.