For a long time only silence answered him, but that changed when heard Lionheart speak again…it was vague but he could still hear it…”Arnold… if you can understand me, give a sign.”
“YES!” He cried out to get his attention, but it didn’t seem like that was working and even without a body he tried to move about. Something felt like it shifted, but he didn’t know what or where.
“Do you know who I am?” Lionheart asked again. He might not have heard him shouting after all…
“YES!” Arnold tried again.
There was silence for a short time, and then Heliotrope spoke again, except this time he appeared to be speaking through that woman who had been talking to him till now. “I am here, Arnold. We are here.”
“Lionheart? What’s going on?” Arnold asked confused, “I heard you a second ago, and now…why are you with whatever that thing is?”
“That thing is you, Arnold, to be broad about it. Part of you.” Heliotrope explained, and a part of Arnold’s hopes that she had been lying died.
Grasping at straws that even he didn’t believe, he asked, “How do I know she’s not using your voice to lie?”
“It doesn’t work that way.” Lionheart chuckled, he had already explained this to him before the first time he’d agreed to be used to spy on Berithos. “Arnold, this is… call her Id. She has been with you for a very long time. She has been your protector for longer than you’ve been that for Maddox.”
“An apt name.” Heliotrope told him. “She looks out for your best interests when you don’t or can’t.”
“I read Freud…” Arnold said as he thought about the other things that the Id was supposed to take care of, and he didn’t like most of those implications. “I’m just….” He stopped himself and thought about his objection for a short time, and the things she…he had done. “I don’t know how she can ever expect me to trust her.”
“She’s not stupid, Arnold, because you’re not stupid, and she’s you. She’ll protect you whatever you think or feel about her. Just like you and Maddox.”
Arnold was silent for a time, and then asked, “Is everything she told me true then?
“Do you remember when we first made our deal? When I came to you after you were asleep? It was she I was with. Whenever you walked in your sleep, that was her, and yes, all of it is true.
Arnold resigned himself to this horrid reality and gave up his fight against it, “Then my life….has been a lie….hasn’t it?”
“You are a familiar. You are a being with a unique ability to bind yourself bodily and spiritually to another person, a specific kind of person, who can receive such a bond from you.”
Arnold was silent for a long time. Finally he told Lionheart, “I have a lot to think about then….”
“Your life has been far from a lie, Arnold. You and Maddox are linked far more than I could ever hope to be.”
Arnold thanked him vaguely, not even listening to what he was really saying.
Heliotrope seemed to understand that he wanted to be left alone and he departed. After he was gone the cat began to weigh his past, his life, and whether or not he even wanted to face the world outside ever again. He had followed Maddox intent on protecting her, but she had Helio for that now…and when he thought about it he’d threatened her life himself on a few occassions…as he considered his options he wondered if it was already too late to fade completely or not, considering what Id had told him his ancestors had done. After all…he hadn’t recovered yet…
Lionheart’s insubstantial form within Arnold’s inner reality fades away, as his form fades into solidity back in the Sneaky Vole, where Maddox and Kristos had arrived while he was busy. “Hello, my dear. Kristos.”
“My love… Has there been any change?”
“Vast change. Arnold is starting to believe what he is.”
Maddox nodded and they spoke about other things for a time. After a few minutes though she sighed, “I miss him..”
“He needs to be where he is for now. He’ll make his choice soon, I think.”
Maddox looked at her husband in concern, “Choice? Helio, what are you talking about?”
The professor sighed and took his wife’s hand. “It may sound odd, but he must choose to be what he is. He may consider his past misdeeds and his existence until now and choose to fade away. He can reject Id… reject himself, that is, refuse to be. That’s going to be up to him.”
Dr. Maddox Lionheart could have wept once again, “You mean if he decides to leave, he’ll fade away and leave me?”
Her husband nods, “Yes, my dear, that’s right. He may consider his old life a lie, he may think you have become independent, have other defenders now. You must plead your case to him, but it’s his decision.”