I had someone I loved, too, once. I met him at the university where my parents taught when I was little.
See, Oleander, he said, his hands running over the upraised patterns on the pages, reverent and purposeful. (Later I would wonder if he would ever trace my spine like that, read the contours of my body with his hands alone.) The systems of the human body, of animal bodies, of plants, of water and sky. These are the most beautiful things of all.
It would be easy to blame myself for what happened later. Should have looked harder, should have seen the signs. Should have heard the fervor in his voice, noticed the sign, the smell of fell sigils burned into his flesh. But blaming myself would just be another way of trying to retroactively control the things I couldn’t change, and to me, his voice had always been calm and steady, full of light and quiet joy.
Maybe I was blinded. I was young, after all, and he’d had centuries to perfect his stories.