M.hawke and son
He’s small enough to sit on Malcolm’s shoulder and Malcolm knows what it means—how insistent he is that they were made to carry more than his personal burdens.
‘It’s a compulsion,’ Leandra says, when Malcolm settles down by the fire and his sleeping boy and a charred dinner and a few new scars. Clearing out the local docks, this time. The smugglers never stood a sliver of a chance in a sliver of moonlight. ‘And, of course, I understand it. I do. It’s not exactly a demon, but I can’t tell if that’s a blessing or…’
‘Or the other thing,’ Malcolm replies.
He kisses her that night, not until she forgives him—they never forgive each other for being themselves—but until she loves him without forgiveness—and that, Malcolm thinks, is better. To blame a person rather than a demon. To want them anyway, and to need them, his face buried in her breasts.
Garrett’s small enough to sit on his shoulder and ask questions.
‘Why is the grass wet in the mornings?’
‘Why’s your pillow wet in the morning? I have to assume it’s the same devious reason.’
‘Where do flowers come from?’
‘The ground, of course. It’d be funny, wouldn’t it, if they came from the sky?’
‘Am I going to be carried away by a dragon in the night?’
‘Of course not. I’d fight the dragon and make Mother a necklace of its teeth. Don’t make that face, Garrett, you know we’d share the claws.’
‘Why can’t we have a dog?’
‘Why can’t we have a dog?’ Malcolm asks Leandra in turn, further proof that the shoulders are his, the hard answers hers.
That little warmth. That soft cheek against Malcolm’s rough beard, the scars along his cheekbone, flushed like a sunrise while they watch the sunrise.
‘I’ll tell you what the horizon is,’ Malcolm says. ‘It’s the sun’s son. It starts out on the sun’s shoulders but then, as the day passes and the sun gets smaller, it’s the horizon’s shoulders that carry its father. But they have to work together, you see, in order to make the sky.’
He chops their wood. (It’s not entirely the same as blasting smugglers in old tunnels with cones of ice.) He lights their fires. (It’s not exactly as hot as fireballs in narrow caverns, tossed after slavers.) He leans into Leandra on a bed stuffed with straw, which pokes them both in their backsides. (It’s exactly as it was to lie with her the first time, and he hides the sky with his face pressed against her belly, soft, flushed skin on his rough beard and rougher scars.)
‘You’re not doing him any favors,’ Leandra says, twisting Malcolm’s hair between her fingers while he kisses her navel again, again. ‘He’s going to grow up thinking there are dragons out there meant to carry him off, wyverns to slay, all kinds of adventures.’
‘How terrible,’ Malcolm replies. ‘He might even grow up to be just like me.’
Garrett’s small enough to sit on Malcolm’s shoulder and believe him. This, that, the truths in the lies—and everything. The other things.
‘Is the sun heavy?’ Garrett asks.
‘Not as heavy as a son,’ Malcolm replies.