at the beginning of all things

He finds her eight years old and ready for the Academy.

She wears the black initiate’s robes, and her hair cropped short, which makes her face look very round and very young. She has her mother’s eyes (his eyes) and serious mouth; she is eight years old and still such a fountain of possibilities that she sheds them with every small breath.

He hasn’t spoken to his family in years; her eyes call him a stranger in everything but name.

And yet: he holds out his hand to her and she takes it without question, and they walk away together.

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