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I clutched my life, and wished it kept

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Sometimes she sits and remembers.

In the treehouse, when the moon is high and she can hear the creepers hissing below the wooden floor, she remembers the man who used to own this armor. He had died because she was wearing his armor when he needed it and some days the thought was enough to make her limbs heavy with the weight of grief. With the weight of guilt. She walks around the city now with the weight of a dead man’s armor on her back and she doesn’t know how to handle it. Petra looks at her like she understands sometimes, but she never asks, so Jesse never tells. She doesn’t speak of all the words and emotions and tears that build behind her teeth, her tongue, her throat.

She brings it up with Ivor once and she regrets it. She had made a passing comment about how Magnus must not have taken good care of his armor, because with the month she’s had it, no less than four pieces have started crumbling under her fingers and another two needed to be replaced entirely. Ivor had frozen, hand poised over a bookshelf, and seemed to shrink in on himself, just a little. Clearing his throat, he softly said that Magnus believed in taking care of things when they started falling apart, and not before. He wanted to see how far he could push things before they started to break. Ivor’s eyes had grown distant, and he smiled a little before saying that it got him in a lot of trouble back in the day. Ellegaard had practically started taking care of his things for him because Magnus absolutely refused to, much to her irritation. Suddenly Ivor shook himself out of his memories and excused himself, practically fleeing the room. Jesse pretended not to see him wiping tears from his eyes and later pretended not to hear the rasp in his voice and the red in his eyes. She knew he felt responsible for Magnus’s death, but she hadn’t known he cared that much about him.

She sees Gabriel and Soren get - not angrier precisely but more displeased - the longer she wears it. She knows they consider it disrespectful to their friends' memory, that they want her to hang it in a place of honor, or bury it or something, but she can’t. Every time she takes it off with the intent to retire it, she hears him. She hears the awful wheezing, rattling breaths he was taking at the end, sees the blood, remembers how much he struggled to speak and she… she just can’t. She feels his hand in hers and she remembers that she promised to save everyone. She couldn’t save him.

She walks past Olivia and Axel and wonders how the Witherstorm changed them so little. She sees Gabriel continuing to give inspirational speeches, sees Ellegaard go back to isolation in Redstonia, sees Soren go back to studying the Endermen and she wants to scream. She wants to grab them by their shoulders and shake them until they wake up and face reality. She wants to make them understand, to make them feel something, anything, but she can’t so she goes back to the treehouse and grieves. Lukas sometimes finds her, and quietly sits with her until she doesn’t feel like screaming until her throat bleeds. She knows he doesn’t understand, and that she’s scaring him but he sits by her and holds her hand until she comes back to herself and sometimes she thinks that’s enough.

Petra gives her space on the bad days and keeps the others away and Jesse doesn’t actually know Petra is doing this, doesn’t know that Petra and Lukas are coordinating their efforts, until she starts shaking in the middle of a team meeting one day. She sees those two make eye contact and suddenly Petra is loudly directing everyone’s attention in the opposite direction and Lukas has a hand on her shoulder and is steering her out of the room and she remembers being confused at how well executed this is, because while Petra and Lukas were friendly before, this takes another level of coordination and teamwork, to speak with only a glance, to know exactly what the other is going to do and to react and she wonders when she missed them growing closer.

She feels the weight of a dead man’s armor on her back and the weight of a dead man’s memory and she wonders how she’s going to survive this.