Life is hard choices. That is what his mother used to say – that is what his mother says, because she's not dead yet – every time he had more than one option and he wouldn't know what to choose. Chocolate or cream? The blue shirt or the red one? Sunbathing or swimming in the ocean? Those were childish conundrums and Manila was just playing around, but her words – as almost anything coming out of her mouth – hid deeper meaning that he would learn later in life.
She hated – hates – lessons, so she would never give them to him. She would teach him what it means to be a seer through examples, especially her own. In fact, Celes studied the history of the seers, that is the work of the hundreds of women who came before him and his mother, but the only one he recognizes as a true seer, that is his mom. And not just because Manila gave him life, but because, in his opinion, she lived – lives – her role as it was supposed to be lived. And despite their incomprehensions, and the kind of freedom he was seeking and that she was struggling to understand, Celes molded the way he wants to be a seer on the way she was – is – one.
Life is hard choices, but love is not one of them. That is what his mother said when Celes brought Langley and Shannen with him at the palace for the first time. He had known from the start that he wanted them both, but wanting something and being entitled to it are two very different things, and he was a little nervous that that was going to be the line he couldn't cross.
Certainly, his mother had chosen one suitor – as the tradition had required from her – but then brought all four of them home to live together, which was not part of the tradition at all. As a matter of fact, she hadn't even married the one she had chosen, Vesper, as she was supposed to, because she didn't like – she doesn't like, because she still breathes – restrains too tight. She loved them all, but she couldn't commit to one of them only, that would have destroyed her from within, her spirit, her essence, whatever it is that makes her who she is. So she bent the rules a little: officially chose one, kept the rest around.
Why couldn't Celes do the same?
And yet he was worried. First of all, he didn't want to choose one and keep the other unoficially, his name spoken but his role hushed. He wanted them both, in the same way, with the same role and equal importance. And even if he wasn't sure about marriage – he still isn't, not in the madness they're living now – he was determined about the commitment. And that could have been a problem: bring two boys home and not being willing to drop one, even unoficially.
Secondly, he felt like he had already played his bend the rules card by turning into a boy and still mantaining his powers and his right to the role. How much could he ask the universe (and the tradition, and the ancestors, and the council) for? He couldn't really hope to be allowed everything he wanted, could he? But his mother had just smiled and hugged both his boys so tight and warmly that Langley had become emotional to the point of tears – always so dramatic that one – and Shannen had to really fight his emotional constipation not to push the Seer away, which, honestly, would have been really bad.
"Love is always the right choice," Manila had said, looking at the three of them with eyes filled with affection. She never was – never is, because she will open her eyes again – mathernal in the common sense of the term, that malicious spark in her eyes prevented her to be so, but she was affectionate and loving and full of compassion.
"Even when it's confused?" Celes had asked.
"But yours is not confused at all," His mother had said with a smile. "And you shouldn't be either."
It had hit him, then, how his mother had understood his heart so quickly, without him telling her anything further than the boys' names. She had known them, of course, long before Celes brought them to the palace. She had known their fathers and the fathers of their fathers. But Celes thought she couldn't know the three of them together, and yet she knew.
"What if I want something I cannot have?"
Manila had smiled, then. "Do you know what your grandmother used to say before you were born?" Celes had shaken his head. He hadn't met the woman, unfortunately. "Among the many things that are finite, love is not one. Love cannot be chosen. Love cannot be tamed. Love cannot be divided, but only multiplied."
Celes had thought a lot about those words and about their meaning. He hadn't chosen the boys, they had just happened to him and he to them. What he felt for them was fierce, and strong and violent, and he wouldn't know how to stop it if he wanted to. And he hadn't divided his heart to give each of the boys a piece of it. His heart simply had grown bigger to love them more. So how could he think to go back to how things were before? How could he shrink his heart and love when they were so endless, now, and still growing?
The universe was going to accept it, and the tradition with it.
But there is a price to pay, he thinks, as he watches Langley and Shannen sleeping next to him, their soft breaths brushing his face and nape. Suddenly, words that had no meaning for him up to a few days ago are painfully clear now. He needs them to be his generals, to lead his army, to save his people. But it's dangerous and they could get hurt, and he's one step away to forget the idea. Except that he can't afford that. He can love them both, but he can't spare them just because of that.
Love is not an hard choice, but it makes some choices hard.