I lay there, unsure of what I should do, until I saw Harper's hand, stark white against the blanket, and in that moment I knew.
That hand, once so perfect and pure, is now dirtied with the filth of Hells Below and bloodied with glorious, sinful vengeance. This was what The Inquisition did, took the best of you, one untainted thing that you had pinned your hopes to and then pulled it down, with the same ease and brutality as they ripped flyers from the sky.
He is braving this fetid, rotting underworld and ruining himself for good reasons and bad reasons hopelessly tangled together, and one small part of me, the part that sweeps hats into boxes and gloves into drawers, hopes that I am a reason. If that is true it is the worst reason of all, but still I wonder if when facing the Inquisition it would be with the same determination I had once, long ago, when I still had a cause, defy the Confessors for the same loyalty, born in desire and understanding. It would do him about as much good as it had me, in the end.
They would take Harper and break him, my idiotic captain with his foolish intentions and nobility, turn him from the falling star he was into a fallen angel.
The thought that started with a blinding "they cannot have him" is now a plan, fiendishly simple, a phrase that is elegant if incorrect, we fiends revel in our complexity. They want him to get to me, they shall have me instead, an unworthy replacement to be sure, but a willing sacrifice. Who would not be willing if mere destruction was the price to pay to keep such a man in this world, to remove the weight that will drag him down into darkness? This way we both get out. This way there will be scars on his hands, but they will be clean again.
I will go into the House and my skin will not burn with the scars of the engines, but with the trace of every touch it has received from those beautiful hands, marking me with something more intangible but as sweet and destructive as Ophorium. I know what I have to do, an easy choice to make in a million ways, the doing of it hard in one - the removal of myself from his side. I look at him, mouth stubborn even in sleep, and store that away in a box in my mind and then I get up.
I have no further left to fall, all that is left for me is the impact.