45. The Original White Rabbit
His life was over. If Ace ever learned the things he’d done, those few tears he’d already shed wouldn’t compare to the oceans that would follow. It was that stupid, spinning girl’s fault. This new Tera, still a child!
And she’d been clever enough to reveal the truth about them. Because it was the truth. The Rabbit could sense it.
After all, those few things he’d done, those small maneuvers and missteps which had originally made him into the traitor he knew he was, they shouldn’t have had the effects they did. A glance, a note, a whispered word. They had all blown massively out of proportion.
And with them, his own loyalty had shattered, broken down to its core. And at his core, he was loyal to one. Ace meant everything to him, would always mean everything to him. The day Ace died, so too would the Rabbit.
That day had almost come, had been narrowly avoided through the Rabbit’s first actions as a traitor. But the things he’d done to prevent it had separated him from the others, driving a wedge between them. The shame of betrayal had burned so brightly in his mind, those weeks and months and years that had passed after he’d struck down the Ace of Hearts, that the Rabbit had seriously considered death.
But if he died, Ace would be left alone, defenseless.
Now that the Rabbit knew he wasn’t the only one, he knew he couldn’t leave Ace alone, not even for a second.
The hands that had once been covered in the blood of his friends, of the man he idolized and loved – the very man who’d planned to murder his own sons, his own wife, to make room for another family – twitched under the remembered warmth of lifeblood.
“Enough, Tera,” Zes said, his voice mirroring the Rabbit’s pain. A kindred soul. Another lost child, taken in by the only people who could ever accept them.
But none of them knew loss, knew pain. None of them understood, nor would they ever. They thought pain meant death, meant losing someone beloved and important. But the Rabbit knew better.
Pain didn’t spring from sorrow, from grief and mourning and tears.
It came from the guilt of knowing it was his fault they fell in the first place.