“What were you even doing there?” Zeke was pacing back and forth, his shoes weren’t even touching the ground, at least a foot and a half above it.

Eli was picking up papers, sketches he’d done, poems he’d started, using his own magic to pull them back to himself as they kept being shuffled and blown around by his brother’s irritation. “I couldn’t sleep.”

“I thought you were over that.”

“For a little while I was. But I’m not balanced right, it makes things difficult.”

“Then get balanced!” Zeke threw his hands up, hovering in front of Eli, looming like some kind of demented specter in his black guard cloak.

Eli looked around the room at the small animals that were hiding behind books and furniture, trying to stay out of Zeke’s way. Cal was in her corner wound around the tree that shared a pot with her. “It’s not that simple.”

“It is for everyone else. Eli, I can’t protect you forever. I’m doing my best but everywhere you go you leave signs. I’m constantly covering up reports and making excuses to try and hide you.”

Eli put the papers down on his desk, placing a weight on top of them. “Every time I start to think I’ve got it all figured out, that I’m finally balanced, there’s something new to learn. Something that counterbalances and adds on to what I can already do.” He poured himself a glass of water. “I can’t stop learning. It doesn’t give me a choice.”

“You should go home, see mother.” Zeke came back to the ground, finally deflating a little. “She can help you control it.”

“She can’t, Z. She’s tried, Mom has tried, I’ve tried everything. It may be time for me to leave.”

Zeke glared at him sharply. “Don’t you dare say that. It would break their hearts. After how far you’ve come it would be a waste.”

He walked over to Cal and let her climb onto his arm. She draped herself over his shoulders and rubbed her flower against his cheek lightly, leaving a sweet smelling perfume behind her.

“Besides,” Zeke leaned down to pick up a cat that was winding itself around his feet. It yawned, showing off its retractable fangs. Zeke jerked back, not expecting it.

“Shifter,” Eli stated simply.

His brother nodded and started stroking the animal as if trying to appease it. “What would these strays of yours do without you around anyway? And who’s heart would you listen to out in the forest? A tree?” He straightened up and took a step towards Eli. “There’s no one to protect you in the other cities. If you leave you’ll never be able to come back, you do realize that don’t you?”

Of course his brother was right. There was no getting around it. He nodded.

“Good. Now, when was the last time you got a decent amount of sleep?”

“I don’t know, maybe a month?”

He let out a low whistle. “That long? You look it.” he walked into Eli’s bedroom and took off his cloak and weapons belt, laying down on the bed. “Come on, kid. Leave the plant.”

Eli put Cal back. He went and laid down next to his brother.  Zeke was a wind mage and he didn’t always feel like he was there, but it wasn’t touch Eli was after. He closed his eyes as his brother put an arm around his shoulders. Resting his head on Zeke’s chest he listened. Zeke breathed in and out slowly, deeply. The powerful lungs of the wind mage were like the crashing tides of the ocean, but beneath it all there was a different sound.




Zeke was humming quietly to himself. “Go to sleep, little brother. Go to sleep,” he murmured once in a while. The rhythm of his heartbeat, the sound of life, lulled Eli to sleep. 

~ ~ ~

Sorry about the lateness of this week’s update, I thought I had it scheduled for this morning, but It turns out it was set for tomorrow! Also, as a note, I’m trying for shorter installments, bite sized pieces at the moment while I get my feet under me. I’ll try for longer installments when I figure out this whole schedule thing. Balancing writing and revision.

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