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Ingram flew through the night air, shivering. It was late, they should’ve been roosting by now. For some reason, the unkindness had decided to venture into the moors. She had known that it was a bad idea, but they had insisted. And now they were split up and Lugh only knows what happened to them. Slowly, more and more ravens joined her in her frantic race for a proper tree to roost in outside of the moors. Bram spiraled down next to her with a worried crease in his neck. Rolling her eyes, she cast out her senses. Yup, all nineteen of them were there. Letting out a little affirmative croak, she races towards a tree that she spotted fairly close. It looked adequate. Spiraling down, she roosted upon an upper branch, and Bram settled down next to her. The rest followed.

The months passed, and the circulation of ravens was continual. Some, not hatchlings anymore but not far from it, would join after leaving the nest, looking for a safe unkindness so as not to perish before their twelfth moon. The eldest would split off in pairs to go mate, raise a family, and all of those other things that spelled out responsibility and being tied down. Ingram swore that it would never happen to her, even though she knew that the words were empty. She would have a family, just as sure as the sun would rise and set, just as sure as the fae would heal the forest, just as sure as the humans would lust and greed. Such was the way that the world was, and Ingram could do naught to change it. More and more was she getting proposals, more and more shiny rocks would be left where she was meant to roost. She was nearing her twentieth moon, and it was unusual for her to have not settled yet, but she did not want to settle. She wanted to be free, to wander the moors at night, to fly over the grandeur of the humans’ palace, to see the southern dragons’ riches and the northern dragons’ prowess. She wanted to find the forest where the unicorns rode from dusk to dawn, wanted to find the land with the queen who had sold her soul for beauty, only to be killed by her own daughter. Ingram had had such high hopes and unreachable dreams, but alas, it was not meant to be.

The next moon, she accepts Bram’s proposal, but never stops looking towards the sky. The materials for her nest come from the far reaches of the forests and the lands. She says that this is because she wants the best materials, and only the best materials, but really, she thinks to herself one night when Bram is asleep and she’s looking out into the distance, she wants to feel like she still has the freedom that she used to have. She knows that it’s an illusion, that now she has responsibilities and obligations. She can no longer fly to where the sun meets the sea and turns the sky and water burnt orange, or to where the mountains meet the sky and the world turns white. She will have a family soon, and she realises this will mean the end of her freedom to live. The thought makes a feather fall out, and it spirals down the cliff face. Ingram resolves to think no more on the subject.

She does lay eggs, and sits on them for days. When, at last, the things hatch, she smiles in relief. She can leave the nest now. She names them: Ren, the fiercest; Freya, the prettiest; Brena, the loudest; Corbin, the strongest; and Diaval, the fastest. She loves her children with all her might, through the clouded resentment that she feels towards them for tying her down and the piercing sadness that she feels for being held back. The first time that she leaves the nest after that is to get food. She leaves Bram on top of the hatchlings, and flies into the woods.

She finds most of the food, leaving Bram on top of the hatchlings most of the time. Freya is much too curious for the chick’s own good, though, and when both Ingram and Bram are away looking for food, the chick falls. There is an air of gloom over their nest for a few days, but life doesn’t stop just because a fledgling dies. Life moves on and so do they.

That night, Ingram flies out to see where the sun meets the sea and the sky turns the color of a burning candle. They never see her again.