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and for your future, i grant you this

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She sees him in the glare of the Florida sun, reflected on the water, for a split-second, but her wounds all sting and ache, blooming red in the salt of the ocean: she doubts she’d be blamed for indulging this great-something-grandfather of a hallucination. (How she knows who he is, she can’t really say– maybe it’d all been written in her blood after all.)

Jolyne doesn’t know what she hears. A “thank you”, or a “you did well”, maybe, but the comfort of her ancestor’s voice alone is enough. When she exhales, it’s her last, and the waves rock her into nothingness, into Jonathan’s warm hand on her shoulder, into the open expanse of the sky.

“That thing’s been following you around for the last ten minutes. You got a new girlfriend, Johnny, nyo-ho?”

“Shut up, Gyro.” Johnny barely looks over as the butterfly crawls over the back of his palm and onto his pointer finger. “I tried to scare it away, but it keeps coming back– it’s not like I called it or anything.”

“Maybe you should just let it hang around. They say a butterfly landing on you is good luck.”

“Huh. Well, I– oh, there it goes.”

“Problem solved!” Gyro swings a leg over Valkyrie and the horse trots forward a few steps. “Let’s keep going.”

The butterfly hovers in the air for only a moment before it flaps away, into the east and in the direction of the next stage’s goal.