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If anyone had described this scene for me, all those years ago when my life could still be considered 'normal' -- I don't know what I would have felt. Outrage, probabaly. I would have missed everything else they said, ignored the part about the loving husband and beautiful, healthy, and clever children. None of that would have mattered too much to me, too far away to matter. But I would have been furious that anyone could believe that I could become, even in the most extreme circumstances, a thief and a killer.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I am not as strong as I once believed myself.

I know I should be getting back. I shift a little but don't really make any effort to get free. Something in the way he asked said that he needed me, so I stay, letting my head fall against his chest. I feel like there's so little that I can do for him, and yet it takes so little to make him happy.

I feel his fingers in my hair and smile. Some things never change. It's a comforting thought for a person who has spent most of her life chronicling changes. Some things have changed, of course. My hair is longer, almost to my knees now. Another one of those little things I did for him, since he likes it so much. I'm still pretty, if it's not arrogant to think so. It's an older sort of pretty now... not so explosive, not so full of fire and grit. I see pictures of myself, with my eyebrows drawn down all the time like I'm mad at the world, all my weight on one leg, and my arms crossed, challenging anyone and everyone about anything and everything. I look in the mirror now, peeking over my shoulder because I can't help it, I'm in front of it and I have to look at it. I see a woman who's not quite so thin about the waist, but no wider than one would expect with three children and a miscarriage. Years of training and fighting have made me a lot stronger, but, fortunately for my vanity, not bulgy. Just... capable.

He's ruffled my bangs, and I can't help but fix them. I know Sparky's grinning over my head, though my angle isn't quite right to see him. I make a face at him in the mirror, and he hugs me. I drop my head back on his chest.

I don't fight so hard now... maybe because I don't have to, but mostly because there's enough fighting that will come find me. I don't have to go looking for it. I don't have anything to prove. I am what I must be. Shockwave's wife, my children's mother, the Loremaster, the teacher, the enforcer. The good and the bad. I don't care so much what anyone thinks anymore. The people that matter know.

This would all be so idyllic, I think, glancing at the two of us in the mirror once more, if we were sitting on a carpeted floor on the second level of a house we bought together, with windows onto the yard where we can see the kids playing -- healthy games, normal ones. Ones where they're the cops, and not the robbers. My biggest worry would be that one of their balls would fly through the dining room window and smash into the glass doors of the china cabinet that holds our wedding dishes.

I sigh. While I'm at it, I might as well wish for my parents to be sitting on the porch swing (painted white, with pretty, fancy carving) together, arguing over who gets to hold Jayla in their lap, while Uncle Flash gets down on the lawn and plays with the boys like he's still twenty himself. We have plans to visit Sparky's parents on the weekend. His little brother... sister? will be there with his... her? family.

If only things had happened that way. But I'm commited now...

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