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Oct 28, 2021 10:01 AM
the original ending was too depressing to keep
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A vague gesture, a soft click.

The collar comes undone.


She starts crying again.

"Thank you - I - "

...What does it say of them, that she hadn't expected Elathea to do that?

That Gleam had expected -

She's been enslaved by a Solar before. It's - normally not this hard, remembering what's the past and what's the present.


"I'm... sorry things have- come to this."



A pause.

"I want you to swear an oath never to hurt our children."


"I can see the logic."


"I'll invoke the existing one for it. I - "

"I didn't invoke that oath to protect myself this time, because - I knew you weren't going to stop. And I love you, and I - don't want you to have an oath's backlash - "

"I'll invoke it for myself if - only if I think you're about to kill me before the girls are all fully able to support themselves, or if we're too near other people, but - "

Ragged breath. "...I need to protect my children."

"I don't think - Samira or Micqui would push you, but - Layla has never met a challenge she doesn't want to swing at, and - "

"She's so, so fragile."

"I don't know that I'll always be there. That I'll always be able to - "

"So. A separate oath."

She squeezes her eyes shut. "Will you?"


She's silent for a while.

"I will. For the children."


"Okay. Thanks."

It occurs to her, numbly, that if she gets too depressed, too overwhelmed, needs to escape no matter what that means -

She can't tell Elathea. All Elathea will do is try to stop her. 


She'll keep it to herself. 

"Let's head back," her mouth says, as Gleam's mind withdraws just enough she doesn't have to feel any of this. 

(A collar isn't the only definer of slavery, is it?)


"Yes. Let's go."

Elathea helps them both to stand.


Gleam's body accepts the hand up. 

And back to their lives. 

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