Chapter information




Written by




Last chapter


Next chapter


Even in the midst of the coldest winter, the cardinal robin feathered in flame sings, the notes echoing across fields of frost, fire and ice mingling into a melody for the mind and spirit.

And so, it is, in Miza, the fire in her hand and the ice in her eyes, her song not for the ears but for the heart, a heart that quickens its beat every time she draws near, her fingers whispering with a gossamer touch across Mako's arms when she improves his stance, her breath warm on his skin when she schools him in combat of close-range, her smile brightening his entire world after a day of running numbers, avoiding the worst parts of town, the images of the starving children and the indifferent adults and the blood seemingly soaking the street seared forever in his vision—until he sees her.

Her, and Bolin, his two comforts, two candles in the darkness, two embers, one in either palm, allowing him to continue through his days.

Late nights in the courtyard spent training under the weeping tree, the chill in the air cut through with the heat of their bending. Early mornings groggily awakening to Bolin's head against his chest, his brother curled up in his lap. Breakfasts in the kitchen, mere metres away from the chocolate cake that seems to be prepared for the leader of the Triple Threats every day, Miza's mother showering them in presents.

Days. Bolin waiting under Miza's wing, the number runs easiest if Mako needs not worry for his brother's safety. He can't trust anyone—he knows that—but for some reason he has faith in Miza.

Miza will never let Bolin be hurt.

Miza will never let him fall.

Miza will never let him go.

And then he returns, the lottery numbers picked at random, though no one ever seems to win. It doesn't matter to him either way: He is only there to keep himself and Bolin alive. No one else has to win at the game of life. But he can't lose.

He can't.

If he is late, or misbehaves, or does something the triad does not like, Jira merely touches the whip at her side, and he never does so again, the scars across his back healed, the phantom pain still reminding him of the copper on his tongue and what he did to stop Bolin from being hurt.

Miza's language is one of the quiet, of movement, of the minute shifts in her position and face, of the subtle changes that pass her in body in waves, of learning to read what is hidden instead of gauging only by the outside. Fire punches and kicks. Thin, light curves, taken from the annals of waterbending studies and shown to firebending. A lightness of the step, then a sudden pushing down at the moment of strike. Wings soaring through the air to draw speed from the wind, then roots anchoring to the ground to draw strength from the earth. A style to which Bolin adapts in a flash, practising his earthbending no longer in times when survival is needed but now, naturally, the pebbles trembling and rising up, rocks following, stones, the earth bending to his will.

The black screw he no longer has, exchanged along with money from the woman with the pink scarf for Mako's healing, but his hopes of metalbending remain. Someday, he whispers to Mako in the quiet of the night, someday he'll be able to bend the metal as he does the earth, rejoicing in the simple joy of being able to lift his fingers and something listen to him, uplift him, hold him.

"It's like you, big bro," Bolin murmurs, snuggling more deeply into his brother's chest, his hands tucked under him, the spiked tips at the back of his hair brushing Mako's chin gently. "I love you."

"Love you back, Bo." Mako closes his eyes and hides his tears in Bolin's hair, the salty droplets streaking his cheeks with a silvery glimmer. He remembers Daddy singing to him when he couldn't sleep, remembers Mommy rocking him, and he wonders if Bolin remembers.

He inhales, his lungs filling with air, a song lifting up from within him, but the notes die at his lips, his fear of being unable to sing stopping him from trying.

And then, time to train once more with Miza.

But the greatest gift she teaches him isn't firebending at all.

It is the gift of silence.

Of hush.

Of leaning back and listening to the quiet until it begins to sing, until it reveals the secrets of the universe, until it teaches him of the white lotus petals on the wind.

This gift is the one he treasures, the one that makes his life amid the coming winter bearable, the one that tells him why Miza is mute.

Singing in the night. Fire and ice, light and dark, life and death. The line between them blurred, slipping into grey.

He can see her silhouette in the doorway, the black against the white, and he knows that she is listening.

Knows that they are listening, both of them, though he cannot see them in the shadows. He can feel their presence, his scarf around his neck, her arms around him.

Once upon a life, he would the one singing, and she would be the one listening, and between them he would be.

But in this lifetime, he is the one singing, and she is the one listening, and between Bolin is.

And he sings.

Softly at first.

Bolin's breathing slows, stills, silences, his emerald eyes brimming with tears and fears and hopes and dreams and love.

They aren't gone.

Not even if the cake is somewhere far away.

They are here.

Mako sings on.

Even in the midst of the coldest winter, the cardinal robin feathered in flame sings, the notes echoing across fields of frost, fire and ice mingling into a melody for the mind and spirit.

See more

For the collective works of the author, go here.

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.