[They lied. They wouldn’t even apologize.]
Marinette reminded herself that this market went well, over and over again, as her hands shook. The community stood together, they worked together, and even though all the compromise seemed one-sided, it was still good. Nobody broke apart.
She shuddered to think about all the things that had happened.
That elf had walked up beside her, taunted everyone in the clearing, and then he had killed the human following him.. Right in front of her. Nobody had moved fast enough–even her scream did nothing to persuade it.
If she had known all the details. Why didn’t they tell her he was going to be here with ‘food’; why didn’t they tell her what this would look like? She would have tried to stop it. She would have been faster to interfere.
Granny Jo had promised not to offer it honey, not to make a deal with it. That’s exactly what Etienne did, when the danger presented itself. He told him that they would praise him. Hold a feast in its honor.
And when Marinette had told them they had hurt her when they went back on their promises, neither Etienne nor Granny Jo apologized–only Isabel.
[They’ll take advantage. They lie. They don’t care.]
Her faith was.. Shaken. Not in God, but in people. She had asked them to close the distance so many times, and they still kept secrets. They still mistrusted one another. They still ignored one another.
‘You can sway everyone with your tears, but you shouldn’t.’
Those words from Cole made Marinette raise her voice. “She’s not crying to sway people!”
She shouldn’t have done that. Isabel calmed her immediately, tried to talk to Cole–and then Henri came over. At first, Marinette thought this would bring the tensions down, but Cole began to growl at him. She raised her voice and got more and more angry, and Henri… and Henri wasn’t helping. Not like Marinette expected of him–not the way she knew he always did. He snapped back at Cole. She stormed away.
Theo approached, and asked for an apology. Henri wouldn’t budge. Marinette thought it was reasonable–acknowledging pain and apologizing for pain–but nobody budged. Nobody moved.
They just got.. angrier.
These tiny stories and snippets ran through her head.
“Hello. Have we met?”
“Hugo! Take him out!”
“This city would burn if your mists came down.”
Marinette shuddered at the thought of all of the bad she had seen. All of the mistakes she had witnessed. All of the callous, self-righteous actions… but there were other things, too.
She was sitting in a room–with a bunch of her community. With Granny Jo, and Isabel, and Etienne, and Lysenna, and they were talking. They were making plans, and arrangements, and including one another.
When Isabel came to Etienne for understanding, he had agreed immediately. He had sought to protect her, to acknowledge her–he’d taken her seriously. There was no malice.
When Granny Jo had thought we had compromised too much, in that back room–even if she changed her mind–she’d said that she’d stand with us.
Everyone was trying their best.
Henri was scared.
Cole was coming from a place of protection for her community.
Granny Jo was trying to balance faith and trust.
Etienne had acted out of a need to save the people around him–to rescue his community. All of them.
That thing had killed someone, casually, in front of all of us. Was there a way to make everyone agree? No. That would be impossible.
[But people aren’t safe, you know. That bandit woman killed her brother. Her own flesh and blood–cut down for her survival.]
Marinette wished time would slow down. She was so… scared. Pierre would never. She would never. Cadence and Henri and Isabel and Lysenna would never. Tiphaine…
Tiphaine cleared her thoughts.
Tiphaine is scared always. Tiphaine will run from anything. But when Marinette volunteered again to walk to the slaughterhouse for her community, Tiphaine had volunteered to take her place.
Tiphaine, shaking and afraid. Not brave. Not stalwart. She knew not what would happen, but she… volunteered anyway.
My community would not cut me down to save themselves.
If I am slow, they will pick me up. If I stumble, they will grab me. If I scream, they will run to me. Gerard would stand in front of me. Bretta would shield me. Isabel would wrap herself around me. Lysenna would pull me up and tell them nobody was allowed to touch me.
Even Alphonse would not let his community be harmed. Even Theo would stand. Etienne and Hugo and Granny Jo–all of them would do their best.
… No, my community would not cut me down.
They would not cut any of us down.
… And anyone who thought otherwise was a fool.