Nora across S3 and the cost of magic
The most important lesson of magic is there is always, always a price to pay. Her father teaches her that well – her servitude is the price they pay for his resurrection. A life for a life, and it is neatly cyclical because she has to do what Mallus bids if she is to grow into the woman who her father tells her did the deed. He describes that night with such reverence it feels to her like it's already set in stone. His smile and the tight hug around her make her flush with pride, how he trusts in her abilities. Those abilities aren't learned yet but she has made a promise, a commitment, she will uphold. She doesn't know then the full price, but it feels worth it at that exact moment.
Her father leaves. She sees then she isn't allowed to grow up with him guiding her, because he is her incentive – she will see him when she saves him. He won't see how much it hurts her to watch him go, he does it willingly. He goes back to the future, back to another her who is worthier of his time – that is the one he is proud of, not the girl who almost said no. She didn't say no, but Mallus knows, knows how close she was and he won't let her forget how much she has to prove to get her reward, her father returned to her. Her father is never returned to the girl she is though, that girl will forever yearn for approval she doesn't get. The demonic whispers in her ear are the closest thing she can accept.
The years she toils to become the woman who raises the dead are not the cost either. By then she would pay anything, certainly the blood of bystanders and the fools who attempt to stop her – her father is the goal and Mallus is the means. So he lets her believe. On the crux of their triumph his voice doesn't remain a whisper inside. Her voice becomes his, corrupted and cruel, emboldened, a taste of what is to come. She's no timid girl that night, she relishes the rush of power burning her up. As she looks to her father she feels the nostalgic pride she can finally lay claim to.
The true price is the last price offered. A life for a life. Her father pays it back with himself, his sacrificed to give hers back to her. He plots and he succeeds, by all accounts is pleased to get his way but it doesn't feel like a victory. Even when Mallus is destroyed, it isn't right. It's a waste. Hollow years made meaningless the cost revealed in the instant she wakes to realize she is here and her father is gone, never to rise from this. All she has worked towards unraveled so fast, she is rendered emotionally null and void in the aftermath, her purse empty.