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Remorse

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Stood still, looking out into the sky for yet another wave of destructive force, gave Asio a lot of time to think about what he'd done. What he'd done to the boy he was supposed to have nurtured. Protected. Taught.

And it is with horror, that he realises- he hadn't taught Otus a thing. All he'd done was expected something of him; it hadn't been Otus' fault if he didn't know how to be gentle, to not sway a jug when he's carrying it, to fly like a proper owl- because, all his peers, and even all those who came before him... Had been taught. Even he, himself, had to be instructed and guided. His mentor had been strict, but he'd still learnt.

The sky was still clear. The townspeople came and went, each coming to try and coax a word out of him- would you like some Ish tea, Asio- care for a snack, Asio- and the deep pit in his stomach only drops deeper as he dismisses them; it was so much more difficult without words. He could only imagine what it would be like to spend and eternity mute.

Why hadn't he taken his student's needs into account? Of course Otus wasn't a normal owl! But he was the only one he'd taken under his wing; he could've spent so much more time trying to understand his pupil. Instead, he spent it complaining to the other villagers and mulling in disappointment- though, now, the only one he really could be disappointed with was himself. Otus had never strayed, never faltered- the boy had a heart of gold, and the second he'd handed it to Asio, he crushed it.

Little footsteps scamper on from behind. Otus was both the first and last person he'd wish to see right now. An apology was due- so much more was overdue, but... He couldn't bring himself to say it. Instead, he wards Otus off, taking a step back for every patient step forward his student made. The ground was vanishing from beneath his feet. He had nowhere to go; his sins were finally confronting him.

Asio couldn't bring himself to fly away. Not with the look Otus gave him. Confusion over the sudden hostility. Concern from what he'd heard from the villagers. Draped in the cape that had been thrust upon him, he stands, half Asio's height but twice as strong. That even now, after all he'd done...

Sweeping his beloved student into a hug, he couldn't stop himself to tearing up, and kept his face behind so Otus couldn't see. He needed to be strong for him, now more than ever. Otus is still, stiff in his embrace, and there's a quick moment Asio's terrified he'll pull away- but he accepts his teacher once again, calm and forgiving. He doesn't quite understand, but he's willing to give it a shot- and that's all Asio could ever ask for.

Apologies and praise fall forth; things he should've said but didn't, desperately trying to rectify the mistakes he'd made by projecting himself onto his pupil. Otus wasn't going to be like him, ever- and though the thought had enraged him, not even a week ago, now he was grateful.

The world did not need another Asio. The world needed Otus- a soul softer and more courageous than the prideful owls had ever hoped to birth. And now, he was ready to properly accept him as he was. The scare at Advent- the anger he'd felt giving way to fear as the only thing he could do was reflect on his behaviour towards Otus- he'd keep it with him as a reminder.

From now on, he was prepared to take Otus under his wing.