Restraint

Anything repressed changes, he might have thought if he had permitted himself the frivolity of considering his principles, and usually for the better. Sight held back gives true vision. Strength bound in knots and restrained produces true power. Control of self leads to control of others. Restriction of focus allows the application of force.

The waterfall tumbled like a curtain of hazed white crystal, constant in its rumble of water against water and water on stone, as the river wore itself further into its course. It had been like this the last time he was here, and the time before, and maybe it would be here the next year - no, wait. Next year it would be different. Everything would be different.

I do not understand, he might have said if there had been anyone whom he could have said it to, how it is that some people manage to give a little way, bend just a fraction, and still retain what they are, still have the strength of body and spirit which I must buy with such absolute coinage.

He had been standing still for long enough that the birds in the trees began to sing again, chirping at each other in bright gemlike bursts of sound.

Pretty, he could have said, but speech wasted on the air was pointless, and the thought in itself would have unbound a habit of mind that he found useful to keep leashed. Beauty was like fire, and tended to burn those who considered it too closely. Mere appreciation of the aesthetics of those around him was appreciation and no more; a mental note that such a thing fitted the definition of wit, or charm, or elegance, or desire, and leaving it as a reference somewhere in the back of the mind, for later consultation should such a thing be required. Closed eyes observed but they did not see.

A fish jumped from the pool filled by the waterfall, and hung in the air for one precise, perfect flash of green and black before splashing down again.

The streets of Heaven are peacock-bright, he might once have said to Homura, and Homura would have nodded slightly and smiled that disturbing smile, understanding the double meaning. Bright enough to blind the seeing eye, vain enough to flaunt themselves to those who chose to embrace the harlotries of power and the vices of self-love. There was pleasure in stating the truth in words that bound it down and restrained it to an accurate form. Only two people whom he had ever known appreciated that, and one was gone for good behind a pair of smiling green eyes, and the other laughed and prepared to remake Heaven and Earth.

The ants in the grass ignored him as best they could, and treated his divine foot as an obstacle to clamber over when they could not. Form suited function and made them beautiful.

Dedication as a thing in itself is an elegant thing and deserves appreciation, but would not be something that he would ever discuss. Either one understood or one did not. Either one saw the light in an itan child's golden eyes as he walked out to face the towering monstrosity, and in a single flashing moment saw the whole pattern of the child's life, formed as a tool and created for use and still choosing to serve because the need was there and because Heaven required his service, or one would never see again. Either one gave one's self entire, complete, and whole, or one held back a single featherweight and the sum was ruined forever. Either one loved or one did not.

A breeze touched his face, but could not stir his hair.

What is it you want? one of the other two could have asked him. But they knew, so they did not bother to ask.

Just as there were things that could impel the body to unwanted desire, so there were matters that stirred the mind to unwanted thought. He took care to avoid them.

Is it me that you desire? Homura might have said, sometimes in the long nights while they waited, when their bodies moved together under the light - those who see with their eyes prefer the light to darkness - but he knew that it was not a question of desire. He was a tool in this matter. If Homura wished for death, then he would kill. If Homura wanted the meaningless joining of bodies, flesh against flesh, flesh in flesh, one restrained by the other's arms, self-chosen bindings still on them both, till the shuddering moment of brief forgetfulness, then he gave what was required, because dedication must be total, and because the only true power comes from the submission of self to will, and because he had long ago given himself over to the fire.

Whips of white lightning split the air. When he was finished, the shattered ground and fallen trees were silent.

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