Civyl didn’t look away from Fiora’s face. He gave a tiny nod letting her know she could share what she liked. Fiora nodded also before reiterating her previous statement. “He doesn’t remember anything, Nivia. Not just about the fire… anything.” The old woman’s eyes had first squinted in confusion, then widened at an internal realization as Fiora continued, fighting a catch in her voice. “I have been his promise since I was only one season old a-and he doesn’t remember me!”
To her credit, the old woman reached out an arm of sympathy around her shoulders. Fiora leaned into her as a single sob escaped her lips. Civyl repeated his apology, “I am sorry.”
Fiora pulled away from Nivia to wrap her arms around him instead and buried her face in his shoulder. “It’s not your fault,” she mumbled again more adamantly than the last time.
Nivia stared at them in silence for a time before announcing what she had already told him. “You are not forbidden.” Fiora had looked up in surprise while Civyl thought his previous question to himself. What else could it be? To his surprise, she now had an answer. “It is a curse.” Said just as matter-of-factly as her previous statement, Civyl tried to understand what she meant.
“From the fire?”
“No. From different magic.”
“How do you know?”
Nivia had lifted from her chair and gone to the hearth where a beautiful flame crackled on three birch bark logs she had stoked it with while cooking. “Come here to the fire,” she instructed and he had hobbled closer, wincing with each step. When he was next to her, she had pointed at the fire. “Only reach in, do not try to hold.”
Fiora had shaken her head, no, but Civyl was not afraid. He had already spent hours in the fire today and it had not harmed him apart from some pain that was for his own good. With a nod, he held out his fingers and put them right into the middle of the fire. The flames licked at his hand, hot but not burning.
“What do you hear?” the woman had asked at his side.
Civyl had closed his eyes and listened. “My name. The fire whispers my name.”
“What do you see?”
He opened his eyes to the beautiful vision of swirling colors. “It is dancing. It is asking me to dance.”
Nivia’s voice grew quieter, more distant as the rest of the world faded away. “What do you feel?”
With a hitch in his breath, a tear fell down his face. “Like I belong.”