Ahouva’s stories all come with that warning: magical thinking.
I don’t like being scared of my Keeper. He shouldn’t have seen that. She shouldn’t have written that.
She shouldn’t have even thought it; it was okay to be frightened of your Keeper. He was in charge of her, after all. He had the power of life or death over her, that’s what Kendon had said. That was frightening, very reasonably frightening.
But it made Basalt unhappy, and the last thing she wanted to do was… “Where are we going?” Stupid, dumb, stupid, questioning him. Keeper knew what he was doing. That’s why he was in charge, not her.
“Outside. It’s still nice enough out, and I thought you might like the open air.”
“…Oh.” She blinked, not sure what to think about that. “Thank you?”
He smiled down at her. “You’re welcome. So.” He opened the door. “You don’t like the list?”
“I…” she quailed. “I didn’t say that!”
“I know. And if you really disliked it, it would end up on the list, wouldn’t it?”
It had taken some twisty thinking to keep it off of there. Guiltily, she muttered “yes?”
“Ah.” He paused, the sun shining down on them. “I want to know what’s really going on, not what you think I want to hear.”
“But then…” she stopped herself, but not in time. He shook his head.
“Finish that sentence the way you originally planned to. Please.”
The please didn’t make it any less of an order. “But then you’d be angry with me. I’m not very grateful. I’m not very good at being Kept.”
“Oh, Ahouva.” He hugged her very carefully. “You’re very good at being Kept. But you’re not very good at helping me be a good Keeper to you.”
“I’m sorry?” she squeaked. It felt nice to be held in his arms. And safe. Kendon’s arms had never felt safe.
His breath was warm across her hair as he sighed. “I asked you to write the list because I want to know what’s going on in your head – and because I want you to think about your wants and dislikes, instead of just mine.”
“But why?” she muttered into his shoulder. “It’s easier to be a good Kept if I just think about what you want.”
“I know, honey.” He pressed her a little closer to herself. “But what I really, really want is for you to be the best Ahouva you can be. Sorry,” he added ruefully. “I know the other thing is probably easier.”
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