Hem was familiar with balance. In recent years, during the wars that had altered the face of Edil-Amarandh, he had seen life's strange math at work. In the end, the good should equal the bad, and it often did but, as Hem looked back over the war, he wondered…. Sharma had been defeated and the Treesong restored to the Elidhu . The Light had prevailed and happy endings were numerous and well deserved.

Maerad found love in Cadvan and they lived happily drifting amongst the schools of Annar. For Maerad, the equation was perfect. She'd lost her fingers, her heart, and several dear friends in pursuit of a destiny that had nearly destroyed her. She had killed. In spite of all this, she found nothing lacking in her daily life. Hem could see it when they passed his way. They were so utterly happy to be riding together through the peaceful world they'd helped to create that Hem could only scarcely believe his own senses around them. As they bantered and as they brooded, as they sang the ancient songs of Annar and the newly written laments for the victorious dead; love was a tangible force that danced in air around them.

If there were times when Maerad's mind turned to Arkan or to Bard called Dernhil, she saw them for what they were; bittersweet footsteps that had helped her on to her current happiness. Maerad stood strongly and happily. Her life was in perfect balance; unknowable pain and bitter loss countered by untold happiness and a love that was more than epic.

Hem was almost jealous. He was a healer, living in the beginnings of the rebuilt city of Turbansk and working alongside Saliman and other students of Oslar, though the man himself had been killed during the war. He was well known both for his part in The Nameless One's defeat and for his particular skill at healing. Even so, at times the losses felt far too great. So many good people had been lost to the war, so much waste. The city of Turbansk, though no longer a pile of flesh and stone, was far from its former glory. The finest masons and Bards in Suderain worked as much and as well as they could, but Hem knew that some things, both in the city and in Suderain, were lost forever. Who could recreate the former glory of the Ernani, its surfaces so elaborate and beautiful? Who could bring back exactly the sunlit sound of The Great Bell of Turbansk or the smells of the market? Who could restore Oslar, Har-Ytan or Juriken or return innocence to the child soldiers and the children to their families?

If These were all, if great Bards, a city, the lives of children and their families, the lives of those people in the healing houses, if they had been all that was lost, then perhaps there could have been balance for Hem. He had Saliman and work that he enjoyed doing. He had all the pleasures of living and of seeing the world reborn after all the death and destruction of war. He was a hero. Who could look down on him now? He had a good life, a better one than many, but still it seemed that one loss would ever unbalance the equation for him.

Zelika was dead, at the hands of those who'd made children into monsters. She'd been murdered in an attempt to free her brother from the ranks of the child soldiers and buried alongside two other children, until Saliman had found her and lain her to rest in a grave of her own. Zelika, who was brave and wanted life when she died, who even after deciding that she wanted to live had risked her life for the Light. Zelika, who'd crashed into Hem's life like a fallen star on the face of some far off moon and altered it nearly as irrevocably. He'd gone into Dén Raven for her, though his death then would have doomed Edil-Amarandh and crushed his sister and Saliman.

He had lover her. Though years had passed since the war and her death, he sometimes dreamed of what would have happened if he'd been able to hold her back, if she'd never been captured and somehow they'd still recovered the other half of the Treesong. He dreamed of small dark haired girls with their mother's spirit. He dreamed of introducing Mared and Zelika, two of the strongest women he'd known. He dreamed of more days and hours and minutes and the chance to win the love of this girl who had lost everything and had sworn to avenge it first with her death, and then later with her life and service to the Light.

She was missing from his life, and her absence would stand eternally between him and the balance that makes a life great instead of just good. Life's math had worked in his life and the equation could not be finished. Hem knew, in his more introspective moments, that perhaps his was an equation that would not come to balance until he met her again in life to follow.

That was ok with him though, because despite the lack of balance in his own life, he could see it in the lives of those he loved. Because of Maerad, Saliman, and even Cadvan , Hem was familiar with balance. For Hem, for the moment, for span of a lifetime, familiarity would be enough.

Hope you like this, I wrote it shortly after reading The Crow. I loved Zelika's Character and I nearly cried reading about her death.

Please review, because I have who spork fics and If this sucks I'd rather have you tell me than have them mock me mercilessly.