We are wolves, which are wild dogs, and this is our place in the city. We are small and our house is small on our small urban street. We can see the city and the train line and it's beautiful in its own dangerous way. Dangerous because it's shared and taken and fought for.
That's the best way I can put it, and thinking about it, when I walk past the tiny houses on our street, I wonder about the stories inside them. I wonder hard, because houses must have walls and rooftops for a reason. My only query is the windows. Why do they have windows? Is it to let a glimpse of the world in? Or for us to see out?
So many vows... they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It’s too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or the other.
I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.
Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.
So you don't ever get angry at him?"
Jem laughed out loud. "I would hardly say that. Sometimes I want to strangle him."
"How on earth do you prevent yourself?"
"I go to my favorite place in London," said Jem, "and I stand and look at the water, and I think about the continuity of life, and how the river rolls on, oblivious of the petty upsets in our lives."
Tessa was fascinated. "Does that work?"
"Not really, but after that I think about how I could kill him while he slept if I really wanted to, and then I feel better.
Shall I tell you a story? A new and terrible one? A ghost story? Are you ready? Shall I begin? Once upon a time there were four girls. One was pretty. One was clever. One charming, and one...one was mysterious. But they were all damaged, you see. Something not right about the lot of them. Bad blood. Big dreams. Oh, I left that part out. Sorry, that should have come before. They were all dreamers, these girls. One by one, night after night, the girls came together. And they sinned. Do you know what that sin was? No one? Pippa? Ann? Their sin was that they believed. Believed they could be different. Special. They believed they could change what they were--damaged, unloved. Cast-off things. They would be alive, adored, needed. Necessary. But it wasn't true. This is a ghost story remember? A tragedy. They were misled. Betrayed by their own stupid hopes. Things couldn't be different for them, because they weren't special after all. So life took them, led them, and they went along, you see? They faded before their own eyes, till they were nothing more than living ghosts, haunting each other with what could be. With what can't be. There, now. Isn't that the scariest story you've ever heard?
If Jem dies, I cannot be with Tessa,” said Will. “Because it will be as if I were waiting for him to die, or took some joy in his death, if it let me have her. And I will not be that person. I will not profit from his death. So he must live.” He lowered his arm, his sleeve bloody. “It is the only way any of this can ever mean anything. Otherwise it is only —”
“Pointless, needless suffering and pain? I don’t suppose it would help if I told you that was the way life is. The good suffer, the evil flourish, and all that is mortal passes away,” Magnus said.
“I want more than that,” said Will. “You made me want more than that. You showed me I was only ever cursed because I had chosen to believe myself so. You told me there was possibility, meaning. And now you would turn your back on what you created.
Stories you read when you're the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you'll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.
Everyone who tells a story tells it differently, just to remind us that everybody sees it differently. Some people say there are true things to be found, some people say all kinds of things can be proved. I don't believe them. The only thing for certain is how complicated it all is, like string full of knots. It's all there but hard to find the beginning and impossible to fathom the end. The best you can do is admire the cat's cradle, and maybe knot it up a bit more.