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on the wings of angels

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One is when Will picks up the larger pieces of the knife, wrapping them carefully in parchment paper, then a blue scarf.

Two is when Serafina goes to the place where girls become witches and stands in its hollow until long after the moon has risen and set and risen again.

Three is when Mary rubs just a tiny bit of oil onto a glass plate and fashions another telescope.

Four is when Lyra rummages through her father's belongings, looking for the first pictogram.

No.

One is Will struggling through physics, while his teacher kindly suggests he waits until he's a little older to try the complex maths. Will tells her there simply isn't enough time.

Two is Serafina still in the hollow. When the other witches ask what she's waiting for, she replies, "Time"

Three is Mary growing her own wheel-pod tree and hoping for the oil. "I don't have time to wait," she whispers to the trees, urging them to grow faster.

Four is Lyra flipping through the thick heavy book of alethiometer symbols, Pan curled in her lap. "There isn't enough time, Pan," she whispers to him.

No.

One is for Will, who thinks he might find a way back by finding the smallest of entrances; reality is broken into smaller and smaller pieces, and scientists are open to the pursuit of finding them.

Two is for Serafina, who thinks she might find a way back through a slip in the hollow; she will investigate, over and over again, until she is right.

Three is for Mary, who knows the seed-pods will guide her; she still refuses to say where they came from.

Four is for Lyra, who knows that her truth-symbol is the only hope of finding a way through.

No.

One is when Will unwraps the pieces, holds them to his ear; Kirjava hisses and Will thinks he is on to something.

Two is when Serafina calls to Kaisa to come to the hollow, and he will not cross the threshold

Three is when Mary rubs some of the oil on her breasts; she thinks she hears faint chirping.

Four is when Lyra concentrates on the alethiometer and Pan stands guard around her.

One two three four
Two three four
Three four
Four

They are all wrong.

They are looking in the wrong places.

They will have their understanding, but it will not be the right understanding.

Xaphania watches them. She does not feel pain, but she does feel the sorrow of Dust.

She does what she must.

 

Four.

The girl is full of concentration and hasn't moved in hours. The angel approaches the dæmon, he is watching her curiously. She draws in the air, three circles, intertwined, and the dæmon tips his head to watch. She blows them, breaks them, reforms them. Pan's eyes light up; he thinks he understands. When he moves to interrupt Lyra, the angel shakes her head. She leaves, there are other people to attend to.

Three.

The serpent is cultivating her seedlings. She looks up and her face fills with joy at seeing the angel. She opens her mouth to say something, but the angel shushes her by drawing the same three circles and intertwining them. Like with Lyra's Pan, she blows on them to break them and then reforms them. The serpent understands instantly and stands, nods; she opens her mouth to speak again, but the angel has already gone.

Two.

She visits the witch cautiously; the hollow is a more dangerous place than the witch knows. She does not make the circles for the witch; she brushes out a series of lines, then blows on them gently. They twist and turn and form themselves into a continuous loop. The witch looks impressed. She walks out of the hollow, quickly, and the angel carefully follows.

One.

She visits the boy last. His soul is wild and unsettled, still, and one day Xaphania knows she will see him rise to lead people. He is in the children's home, struggling with complex quantum mechanics. When he looks up, his eyes are dark, but they soften at seeing her. She draws the lines, connects them again in an intertwined loop. He briefly looks back at the books, then at her, and nods.

Four
Three Four
Two Three Four
One Two Three Four

Four is Lyra seeking out Fader Coram, bringing the alethiometer with her. She fingers it gently, then lays it and a book on the table next to him. "There isn't enough time," she says. "And there's so much else I've to do now." Fader Coram nods, slides his fingers over it gently. She'll be back for it, they both know it.

Three is Mary at the Botanic Garden, giving the nice man more seeds. He asks her why and she says, "I don't have time to wait." She is leaving for the Republic of Texas, exploring more Dark Matter. She'll be back for them, and she knows they know it too.

Two is Serafina, talking to Ruta Skadi about unifying the witches. When the older witch asks her what she hoping to get from such a unification, Serafina simply says, "Time". She pulls Kaisa close to her and takes a long look in the direction of the hollow. They both know neither of them will return.

One is Will, handing his teacher back the complicated physics books. Will tells her there simply isn't enough time, and she nods in understanding. There is so much more he has to do. He walks out of her classroom and knows he will never be back.

Four is when Lyra agrees to study under Dame Hannah.

Yes.

Three is when Mary fires back up the computers in the Dark Matter lab in Texas.

Yes.

Two is when Serafina calls a counsel of witches.

Yes.

One is when Will applies to medical school.

Yes.

 

They are all wrong, still.

But they are starting to look in the right places. The ways are still theirs to find.