Finally there comes a day when he slumps down to the floor, legs sprawled to either side in a messy kind of sitting, and stares hard at himself in an old hand mirror.
Rust is starting to crawl over the silver surface, but the mirror itself isn’t cracked, and the silvery backing to the glass reflects him very well. White skin—inattentively cut blond hair—red eyes like marbles, set in a face like a doll’s.
In his reflection, a thin crease forms between his eyebrows.
Somehow—he’d thought that everything would be back to normal all at once, in one straight rush. He should have known better—did know better—but still, he had hoped.
…Maybe it had come back like that. He wouldn’t know, couldn’t know.
What he does know is that apparently expressiveness is something that atrophies. With the volume of his emotions turned almost all the way down to zero, he had not needed expression for quite a long time, and the very small stirrings in his chest had come out as fractional movements of his facial features, of his wings. His body has worn itself into a groove, and Ledah, with nary a clue as to how to get out of it, knows frustration all the way down into his bones, simmering and seething with no escape.
He has spent all of his life watching other people, and reading them from what shows on their faces, and so it stands to reason that he would be able to diagnose and correct the problems with himself if he were to look in a mirror, but—no matter how he tries to force the more obvious signals, they either don’t come at all or their formation is horrible to look at.
…He sighs and lets the mirror drop to the ground, scant heartbeats before the door opens.
At the sound of a footstep, Ledah spares the intruder a glance, recognizes Ein and then stares back down at the floor.
He feels Ein’s gaze drift away from him and then back, and footsteps scuff softly against the carpet until Ein has knelt down beside him with a soft thud of knees.
“You just have to be patient,” Ein says in that easy amiable way he says everything, and lightly wraps his arms around Ledah’s shoulders, above the joint of his wings. “Things’ll go back to normal soon enough if we just keep taking little steps.”
He smiles and presses his cheek against Ledah’s, and in the slanted reflection shining up from the floor, Ledah sees that the corners of his lips have raised just slightly.
It doesn’t quite match up to the bow-shaped curve of Ein’s mouth, but—it’s better than nothing.