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Originally posted 26 Mar 2018, 13:11 by Elizabeth A Neale

Sophia hadn’t played the harp since Talus left. She couldn’t bear to. The memory of the two of them singing at Pennons was now disgusting to her. His taunting phone call, claiming to love her music, made her skin crawl. The idea that he could have taken that part of her soul away in an instant…it made her reach her hand up to Mab, just to feel that reassuring nudge at her fingertips, and remind her to breathe again.

Any distractions were welcome. The outing with Incisor was a blessing, but the Redcap didn’t offer to bring her again, and Sophia didn’t ask.

She visited the balefire every day, as promised, and told it stories.

She threw herself into Yule gift-making: each project more detailed and time-consuming than the last. None of them in any way related to music. She had hoped the libations would flow freely enough at the party itself that no one would notice her lack of singing, and she was proven right.

It was at Yule, however, that she heard Mab sing again. Zistor’s gift seemed innocent enough, but the second the little pennywhistle drew the first note from Mab Sophia once again needed to remind herself to breathe. She was able to articulate the same gracious “thank you” she had given to the others, but it felt like hours before her heart quieted. It was still singing along with Mab.

The day after Yule, December 23rd, she bundled herself in her warmest clothing, grabbed a large thermos of cocoa, and headed to the Old Port. She settled down in her usual spot and whispered, “Ready?” to Mab. In response, the little lizard transformed into a harp. It had been so long since she had seen Mab in that form Sophia almost broke down, but her hands took over before she could really react. She played and played and played and played. Only the cold thoroughly numbing her hands was enough to force her to stop and take a break. By that time, a small crowd had gathered and several remained the entire time despite the chill.

Sophia took a breath and smiled radiantly at the group.

“Thank you so much for braving the cold and joining me today. I will be here at this time every week. I encourage you to return and bring along any projects you yourself are working on. We can motivate and champion each other as a group. I find it so much nicer to spend these winter days in the company of other creators, rather than being cooped up at home, don’t you? Besides, I’ll need help drinking all this cocoa!”

As a few members of the crowd bustled forward to collect a cup, Sophia wrapped her hands thoroughly in Padraic’s scarf and smiled secretly at Mab.

The Notre-Dame basilica bells struck noon.

They are not the same.

They are not the same.

You can’t take this from me.

She remembered to breathe.