He watched her from the shadows. Her dark hair flowing loose like whispering secrets down her back. A back bowed by weights no one could see, but everyone knew of. She seemed to cling to the night, to the darkness, where she could hide and murmur without other's knowledge.
At first he watched because he didn't completely trust her. Barely trusted her, if he was honest, and he usually was. She clung to her sister too desperately. Clutching the younger woman's hand with a kind of fierce desperation that was unhealthy.
For the first two months she had to sleep in the same bed with her sibling, as prolonged periods without that hand to hold would bring about a pacing anxiety the wild look of a trapped animal.
She had learned to let go with time.
He followed her when she slipped away in the dark of night a few weeks ago. The first time he had thought she was going off to plot and plan, to meet with those who were once hers. To seduce with sweet words of conspiracy and vengeance. But in fact, she had only sought the garden by the light of the moons. The light that bleached all color from her, leaving only the ink of her hair, and pale luminescence of her skin, and the shadows. Now when she lost herself in darkness, it was this that she sought.
At first he watched because he didn't trust her. Then he watched with a guilty satisfaction as he realized what was happening. The haughty pettiness claimed him as he felt fate extending her justice. But only for two nights. It wasn't really justice. It wasn't really fitting. He was ashamed of his own vindictive feelings.
Now he watched her out of understanding. He watched her to make sure she didn't hurt herself as she muttered disconnected, wandering snatches of thoughts in the garden, trying to remember who she was. She paced alone, trying to recall bits and pieces of her life when her mind was shoved down and allowed out only when needed. Her voice small as she spoke to herself and the stars, whispering softly, sometimes with the sparkle of tears lost in the gloom. The shadows weren't only in the night, but they clung to her mind, obscuring so much. She was full of missing pieces, and her family could only look on and try to help, sometimes to the point of smothering.
But he could understand. More than anyone else.
"I don't know if I wish MY mind could be put back," she spoke aloud, so he could hear. She had known he was there. Watching. Now guarding. "Part of me never wants to remember, remembers too much. And part of me just wants to fill the empty places."
"I can't give you answers, my lady. I can only listen."
No, being a genius once more didn't automatically hand over all answers. He was better with mechanics and inventions, anyway. He understood a bit of psychology, but he wasn't a people person before. Before he became someone else. Someone still there. He couldn't un-be who he'd become. People didn't work like that. He could only add to who he was now, grow from it. Just like she would.
She wrapped her arms around herself. The night was getting chill, and she wore only her night shift and soft felt slippers.
He shed his outer coat and moved from his own place in the shadows to place it around her shoulders. It still felt odd to wear a coat so clean, stiff and starched, the trim perfect. It felt confining in a way, uncomfortable. He didn't mind giving it up.
"I drift away sometimes, somewhere inside. I still can't think my own thoughts all the time," she looked up to the larger moon. "I wander within myself, and get so lost. They think I'm mad. Maybe I am."
"Nah, if you had a few screws loose you'd be entitled I guess, but I think you'd be more nuts if you just snapped back to being fine. Besides, normal's highly over-rated. Eccentric… not that's interesting." Oh, that was disrespectful, wasn't it? He gave a slight smile. Yep, the new him wasn't the old him.
Any more than the new her was the old her, before the damage. She wasn't a little girl, though she sometimes seemed like it, now.
"I talk to her, in my head, you know. She was the only one I could talk to for so long. I suppose having someone, even her, hear me was better than no one. It's good she's gone, and doesn't answer. I'm not hearing voices or anything. But sometimes it makes my head feel so empty."
Her eyes shot wide and she looked at him with shock. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean… I wasn't thinking."
The apology was sincere, her concern that she had hurt him plain in her eyes.
"Don't worry about it. I don't anymore," he shrugged and followed her gaze up to the sky, the stars.
It was strange and sad that they were the only ones to really understand one another. Kindred spirits, both healing, both a patchwork trying to become something whole.
At first he watched because he didn't completely trust her. Now he watched her because he understood her.