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“Lyra!” says Miriam, waving.

Lyra smiles and makes her way across the courtyard to where Miriam is standing under the oak tree. Pan inclines his head towards Syriax but doesn’t go over to him, unwilling to leave Lyra’s shoulder.

“Rude,” she mutters.

“Hush,” he says, turning to the side to see the steady flow of people. He’s been feeling restless all day, and that means he wants to spend all of his time watching the people around them.

He’s bored, she knows. He’s bored, and he wants new things to look at, and that means watching the strangers around them.

She generally tries not to think about what his being bored says about her.

“How are you?” asks Miriam. “I just had to sit through Chester’s most boring lecture yet.” She distorts her face for emphasis. “Come on, let’s go somewhere. I’m dying for a pastry or something.”

Syriax runs up and down the tree trunk, as if to support her case.

Lyra hesitates. She was planning on spending the evening replying to Farder Corram’s latest letter - but she supposes it can wait. Besides, Pan is restless.

“Sounds like fun,” she says, smiling.

Miriam, excited, claps a little. “Excellent! Let’s go!” She grabs Lyra’s hand and pulls her out of the shade, into the sunlight.


The cafe is a little place on a bend in the road, a perfect place to watch the people passing by on the sidewalk and in automobiles. Pan, excited, even starts to wander away from their table until he remembers that bonds have limits.

Miriam grins at Lyra and takes a bite of her croissant. She hums in appreciation. “I’ve been craving one for days,” she says. “You know, you can order something! I’ll pay.”

Lyra takes a sip of her water. “It’s fine. I had a late lunch.”

“Alright,” says Miriam. She seems to brush past it, but Syriax is watching Lyra carefully. Miriam pulls up her bag and looks inside. “I’m in the middle of this novel - and I brought you the newspaper, because you always forget it when we go out.”

Lyra laughs. “You pulled me away right after class! Where was I supposed to find a paper?”

“You can just thank me without complaining,” says Miriam, scoffing, as she pulls out the newspaper and sets it on the table. “Hey, there was a story today about the North. You’ve been there, right?”

Pan, on Lyra’s shoulder, freezes. He’s always been the worse liar.

“Yes,” says Lyra, and smiles. “My mother took me when I was a child. She had some Magisterium work up there, and I’d always been interested.”

“How was it?” asks Miriam, leaning across the table. Lyra seems to pass some kind of test, because Syriax has let himself be distracted by a passing waiter. “It must have been cold.”

Lyra shrugs. “I suppose. It was a long time ago, and I was more concerned with trying to spend time with my mother besides.”

It’s not even a full lie, is the oddest part. She’s been using more and more half-truths over the years. She suspects Will’s influence, with the quiet ache of long years of grief.

“Right, because you didn’t spend much time with her?” It’s a question, because Miriam is trying to confirm details. Lyra thinks back to her life story. She’s kept it as close to reality as she can, which makes remembering harder - but makes her feel better.

More importantly, it makes Pan feel better. She’s realized that it’s a good idea to compromise with Pan on easy things so that he’ll let her do the difficult things. Not that there’s much of those these days.

“Right,” says Lyra. “Oxford College was taking care of me, mostly. Mrs. Coulter - my mother,” she amends. Pan puts his paw on her bare neck. “My mother couldn’t be too involved, because of- well. The scandal.”

Miriam laughs. “Yes, of course. My friend Lyra, the scandal.”

Lyra grins. “One does one’s best.”

This makes Miriam laugh even harder.


“What was the North like?” asks Miriam, sitting down on Lyra’s bed and letting her bag fall to the ground.

Lyra, who up until a second ago was writing an essay, sets her pen down and turns around. “This isn’t your room, you know.”

Miriam shrugs. “You hate that class, and the essay is due in a week. You wanted a break, didn’t you? Tell me about your trip to the North.”

Syriax jumps on top of Pan in greeting, then runs up the bookshelf and sits on the top, looking pleased with himself. Pan makes a show of grooming himself in annoyance, but Lyra knows he’s fond of both Miriam and her daemon.

“Not much happened,” says Lyra, trying to buy time. “My mother was mostly working, so I didn’t spend very much time with her.”

“Come on,” says Miriam. “It’s the North. Things happen up there. They must. Otherwise, why would anyone go there to freeze their toes off?”

“Because they all think what you do?” suggests Lyra.

Pan leaps onto her chair, then uses the desk to clamber up to her shoulder. “What are you going to tell her?” he asks quietly, pretending to smooth her hair down.

Lyra turns back around so she’s facing the wall again, slowly, casually. “You know this only makes us look suspicious, right?”

“She’s stolen your mythology textbook and is currently fascinated by Oidípous Rex. I think we’re fine.”

She scowls. “You let me do the talking, remember? We’ve always done it this way.”

“Fine,” mutters Pan. “Then you already know what you’re going to say?”

Lyra contemplates dropping him out the window.

“Because I would guess you have no idea.”

She sighs. “You know, you’re really not being helpful?”

“I think you could probably talk about Lee,” says Pan, thoughtful. “But you’d have to be careful not to mention Iorek.”

“Are you done?”

“Mentioning Iorek would get too close to Iofur, and his daemon, which risks discussion of-” both of them shudder in unison. “You know. That place.”

He’s right, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to say so. “I’m perfectly capable of figuring this out on my own.”

“I suppose if you could shut down the questions about Iorek immediately...”

She finally sighs and pulls him off her shoulder, setting him on the desk so she can look him in the eyes. “You’re awful at this. It doesn’t do any good to deflect questions, it just makes someone more curious. As does any suggestion that they’re not getting the full story.”

“So stick with Lee?” says Pan.

“I’m not taking your advice,” says Lyra, turning back around. Sure enough, Miriam is lying down and reading through her mythology book - the one that will probably be banned by this time next year. Hannah had told her to make sure she read through it in the next few months, and then to volunteer it to the CCD agents when they eventually came around to collect. No sense in making enemies where you don’t have to, Lyra.

More that reminds her of Will.

“I met an airman, though,” says Lyra, and graciously ignores Pan’s hiss of triumph. “A Texan.”

Miriam lets the book fall onto her chest. “Really?”

Lyra doesn’t have to see Pan’s eyeroll to know it happens. “Yeah,” she says, smiling. It’s not on purpose, but it fits. “Lee Scoresby. Had a hot air balloon.”

Miriam sits up, putting the book to the side. “What was he doing in the North?”

“Looking for work,” says Lyra. “We met him in a city for travellers, on the edge of the true North. People usually hired him there, because the balloon was faster than sledding.”

“Did you hire the balloon?”

“No,” says Lyra, laughing more easily than she would have expected. “No, we were in a zeppelin. We didn’t need a ‘rickety old balloon, Lyra, and a dirty, common Texan besides.’”

She puts up her fingers to show that she’s quoting, because it’s a joke. A joke about how Mrs. Coulter would have reacted to Lee Scoresby, a better guide- mentor- parent than she ever could have hoped to be.

Instead, Lyra finds herself sobered. It’s not a very funny joke, is the thing.

Pan clambers up her back to drape himself over her shoulder. She’s thought, before, that she wouldn’t have minded much if he’d settled as a hare.

“Is that what your mother said?” asks Miriam, quietly. The strange thing about Miriam is that she never acts like she should notice these things. Often, she doesn’t, too busy reading about Greek myths or watching the view off the river. But when it’s least expected, she’ll say things like this, and Lyra won’t know what to do about it.

The strangest part is that she’s rearranging her hair as she says it. She’s watching Lyra carefully, ready to hear the whole truth - ha! - but she’s still incapable of sitting with tangles in her hair. Lyra doesn’t know what to make of her.

“Yes,” says Lyra, and has to clear her throat when her voice comes out too quiet. “Yes, she did. But she had brought the living embodiment of her scandal onto an important trip, so I’m sure she was too worried to mean it.”

“Probably,” says Miriam, watching her. “But you got to know him before you left?”

Lyra smiles, feeling terribly transparent. “Yes. He was a good man. He and his daemon, Hester. They used to cheat at cards together.”

“They taught you, I suppose,” says Miriam, grinning easily. Just like that, the moment’s over, and they can both breathe again.

Lyra lets her mouth fall open. “Excuse you-! I do not cheat.”

Pan darts down to her lap and curls himself into a circle, snickering at her. She lets herself relax.


Hannah walks Lyra out; when they reach the sunlight, she clasps Lyra’s hands and congratulates her. “You deserve this,” she says, “and besides, it’ll force people to take you seriously.”

“Always a good thing,” jokes Lyra, faintly, squeezing her hands. “Thank you so much, Hannah.”

She waves a hand. “The Master charged me with your care. I think this will help you manage your own care, don’t you?”

“I-” says Lyra, and is dismayed to find herself stuttering. Pan winds his way around her neck, his fur soft and cool in the warm heat of summer. “Yes, yes, I’m sure. Thank you again.”

Hannah lets go of her hands. “Stop thanking me, young lady. You may be nobility now, but we still have a lesson on Tuesday.”

“Of course,” says Lyra, and smiles a little. Everything feels- slightly distant, in that way that shock numbs everything. This isn’t the most surprising thing to happen to her, not by far, but somehow she’s having a hard time realizing it. “I’ll be there.”

Hannah smiles at her, then turns and makes her way out of the courtyard of the court building. Lyra stands there, at a loss, before someone shouts her name and she turns to see Miriam, hurrying towards her.

“Miriam,” says Lyra, relaxing. All of her friends knew she’d be busy today, but she only told Miriam why. She’d thought, this morning, that she wouldn’t feel like dealing with everyone else in the afternoon - and she feels even stronger about it now. Miriam, though, is a grounding presence, tied into the gossip of Oxford and always worrying about her dress.

“Hello,” says Miriam, reaching her and immediately pulling her into a hug. Pan scampers down Lyra’s side and goes over to Syriax to pat his tiny head. “How are you doing, Lyra?”

“I’ll manage,” says Lyra, leaning into the hug. She squeezes Miriam tight and doesn’t let go. “How was class?”

“Utterly dull,” says Miriam, groaning. “Don’t remind me. Hey, let’s go out and do something. Unless it’s below-”

She pulls back to look Lyra over, but she only gets through half a bow before Lyra’s pulling her back up again, laughing.

“Don’t-”

“The honored Lady Asriel-”

“You know, I could be sensitive about that?”

Miriam grins. “But you aren’t, are you?”

Lyra shrugs. She would’ve had an issue with it two minutes ago - but somehow, it’s different from a friend who doesn’t think anything important has really changed.

Is Miriam right? Lyra’s not sure. She hopes so.

“Besides, why would you have gone through two months of tedious court proceedings, wherein the judge practically called your mother a whore and your father a disgrace-”

“Miriam!”

“-daily if you didn’t want to be addressed by your title?”

Lyra almost doubles over laughing. They’re directly outside the courts. People can probably hear them. But she can’t stop herself.

Miriam looks smug for a moment, as if this was on purpose, and then her expression relaxes into friendliness. “Really, though, do you want to go out?”

“Sure,” says Lyra, releasing her shoulders and reaching down to pick up Pan and stick him in her bag. He emerges and looks up at her, radiating disapproval. “Hush,” she says to him, and Miriam laughs.


“How did you even manage to get them to believe that your father was dead?” asks Miriam, as they’re walking along the riverside. “Last week you told me there was no proof.”

“There isn’t,” says Lyra. Pan runs out to the very edge of their “bond” - three yards, the distance they agreed upon during their first week after losing Will. Syriax tries to follow him, but gives up after two and a half. “Thorold’s testimony helped, though, as well as the notes themselves.”

“You were able to argue insanity?”

“He obviously did something foolish, even if no one knows exactly what happened,” says Lyra, ignoring the pang in her chest. She’d committed perjury to argue it, but she knows that Asriel is dead. The reasons she chooses to present are secondary. Besides, it’s Pan’s job to worry about things like that.

“No one knows,” repeats Miriam. “Not even the servant?”

“Thorold was left behind to guard the equipment while he made the attempt,” says Lyra, trying not to sound like she’s reciting meaningless details. “That was the last anyone heard from Asriel.”

“Really?” asks Miriam. “No one has any idea?”

“If they do, they’d better not say so now,” says Lyra, but the joke falls flat. “Really, though, there’s no way to know if he’s alive. But if he hasn’t come back yet, he probably won’t change his mind suddenly.”

“And that’s why insanity works,” realizes Miriam.

“Exactly.”

Miriam glances at her. “And why did you even go through with it? I’m sure it feels nice to be nobility, but you don’t-”

“Yes,” agrees Lyra. She frowns. She’s not really sure why she went through with this, all of the trouble and the snide remarks and the illegal testimonies, except that-

Well.

She’s tired of being overlooked. She’s rather good at it now, and it’s a valuable skill, to make herself small and blend into the background. It served Will well. But she’s Lyra Silvertongue. She overthrew the king of the bears all by herself and read the alethiometer and met Serafina Pekkala and-

The point is that she’s not meant to hide in the background. She has the position and the ability to say things without being punished. Isn’t it her duty, then, to say those things and let people keep hiding that need to?

She’s not sure she can explain all of this to Miriam. She’s not sure she can explain any of it to Miriam, really, because for all that Miriam knows she’s the bastard child of two people who went a little mad with their power, a girl whose greatest adventure was to go to the North and learn to cheat at cards with an airman, who’s lived in Oxford all her life, who’s never met anyone who needed to blend into the background the way that Will did.

Pan turns from the canal and runs towards her, crawls up her skirt onto her arm and latches onto her shoulder. He doesn’t say anything - but then, he doesn’t have to. Their bond was different when they came back; she’s not quite sure they’re the same soul anymore. But he’s her closest companion, and they know each other well, and they still match in a way that Lyra has only experienced with one other person.

Their bond is more distant than it once was, but she thinks it fits. She rarely catches herself mourning it.

“I didn’t- I don’t want the title to languish,” says Lyra. “I believe I can do some good with it. There are people who need help, and I want to help them.”

“Makes sense,” says Miriam.

Lyra hesitates for a moment. Pan noses at her neck. Go on.

“I didn’t grow up on the streets, exactly, but my friends did.”

Miriam glances at her. “I thought you were raised in Jordan College?”

“I was,” says Lyra, “but the scholars didn’t have time to look after the girl who liked to run on the roofs.”

Miriam gasps, delighted. “You were a demon child, weren’t you?”

“Of course,” she says, making a dismissive gesture. “But- I grew up playing with Gyptians, for example. They - the community - need someone to look out for them in the government, because no one will listen to their leaders themselves. With a title, I could do that. I could stand up for the Gyptians, and everyone else who doesn’t have a voice.”

She glances over at Miriam, who’s looking thoughtful. Finally, Miriam says, “Well, it’s a better reason than I thought you’d have.”

Lyra smiles. “What reason did you think I’d have?”

“I don’t know,” says Miriam. “I don’t know why I’d try to claim my missing father’s title, if I were in your position. But then again, my father’s not missing. He’s never been missing. I grew up with him, and he loves me, and everyone knows he’s my father. We have the same surname. But yours is of your dead uncle, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” says Lyra, slowly. She can’t deny she hasn’t thought about claiming the title to claim that connection to her father - but she doesn’t want to be called Lady Asriel. She doesn’t want to be called Lady Belacqua either, for that matter, just like she hates being called Lyra Belacqua and everyone knows it.

She has a name. It’s Lyra Silvertongue. It’s her name; she earned it. It was bestowed upon her by Iorek Byrnison. That means something to her. Asriel and Belacqua are barely names - they’re both titles, in fact, not even family names that connected her uncle with the man she believed was her uncle - and she has never wanted either.

But now they’re both hers.

She frowns. “I don’t know, really, how I feel about him. We only met a handful of times.”

“Your uncle?”

Yes. “Not Lord Belacqua, no. Lord Asriel.”

“So you don’t think it has much to do with him personally?”

Lyra almost snarls back. She nearly loses her temper the way she’s rarely done since she and Pan lost Will. This isn’t Miriam’s business- this isn’t her problem- who does she think she is, telling Lyra how she feels. How dare she try to get Lyra to tell her the truth. What, does she want to know everything? Does she think Lyra is hiding something? How dare she be suspicious, regardless of how justified it is.

Lyra is above this. She has met witches and walked through worlds and she- is- Eve. No one can question her, no one will know her - what does this world matter, anyway, what does this life matter? Miriam is only a speck in the infinite, the infinite that Lyra has seen.

Pan leaps off her shoulder and lands on the ground, runs as far as he can from her in public. It’s a reminder that he rarely gives, but she always heeds it.

Even Pan hates you when you’re like this.

She takes a deep breath.

Pan grounds her, stops her from doing anything too foolish, makes sure she remembers that there may be many worlds but she lives in this one and that means there are consequences for her actions. She spent her first few months after losing Will in a bit of a daze, unwilling to do anything for her future, because surely this wasn’t all she was left with. Surely there would be another adventure, another world, concerns like “defeat an army” or “find the witches” or even “stop Mrs. Coulter” instead of the three papers due Wednesday.

(She still thinks like that, at the core of herself. As much as she hates it, she can’t bear the thought of giving up that hope for more.)

Pan was the one who pestered her until she did her assignments, made sure they went to their lessons with Hannah, pulled her home after long hours of sitting on Jordan’s roof staring at nothing. She’s better at taking care of herself now, but he’s still the one who reminds her of reality.

And now he is reminding her of where she is - and who she’s speaking to.

She takes another deep breath.

“I don’t know if it has anything to do with Asriel himself,” she says, slowly. Pan doesn’t climb back onto her shoulder, but he winds his way back from the bushes and brushes against her ankles, which she thinks means he approves. “I mean, I didn’t really know him. I was raised to think of him as my uncle. But- he’s still my father.”

So was Lee. So was Iorek. So was Farder Coram. But Asriel didn’t choose her, and maybe that makes it different. He hurt her more than anyone else ever has, even Mrs. Coulter, when he killed Roger.

Maybe that makes it different.

“It’s a complicated situation.”

“Yeah,” says Miriam, watching her. Syriax bounds up her leg and hangs onto her belt.

They’re nearly at the end of the path - a few yards ahead is the fence that leads into a shipyard. Lyra led a group of kids that included Billy Costa over that fence once. Roger wrung his hands about getting in trouble, but followed her anyway.

Miriam turns to her. “Look. I know you’ve got complicated feelings about it, and I know you don’t know how to feel about your father. But-”

She takes Lyra’s hands.

“I think it’s good that you’re trying to help people.”

She’s looking into Lyra’s eyes, and Lyra ducks her head, feeling too exposed. “Thank you.”

She squeezes Miriam’s fingers. Miriam releases them, then tilts her head towards the path they’ve just come down. “What do you think? Want to head back?”

Lyra glances back towards the fence, then turns and considers the path. Pan rushes forward to the edge of their pretend bond and turns back to her, cocking his head. Coming?

Yes.

She turns back to Miriam and smiles. “Let’s go.”


Lyra doesn’t know why she asks it.

There’s nothing special about the day. She and Miriam are in her room, Lyra at her desk and Miriam on her bed, the way they frequently are. They’ve just finished discussing something of moderate importance, an assignment or something, and now they’re sitting in silence.

Syriax is nosing around the bottom of the bed. Pan is curled over her arm on the desk, dozing. Miriam is staring up at the ceiling.

Lyra is watching Syriax.

He never seems to stop moving, no matter how calm Miriam appears. Their reactions are well coordinated: she’ll pretend to be distracted while he observes, or he’ll bounce around a room to draw attention away from her. It reminds Lyra of the best daemon-human pairs she’s ever known. Hester and Lee, for example, although they mostly used those skills to cheat at cards.

“Why do you think Syriax settled as a squirrel?” she asks, before she can stop herself.

It’s a foolish question for many reasons. It’s desperately rude, of course, but it also invites questions about Pan’s form. Questions which Lyra doesn’t want to have to answer.

Miriam sits up, looking at her for a long moment. She braces herself for the backfire - for Miriam to ask, pleasantly, why anyone thinks their daemon settles as anything. How do you feel about Pan’s form?

But it doesn’t come. Instead Miriam smiles a little. “It seems straightforward to most people. Scatterbrained, vain Miriam. Twitchy, self-absorbed Syriax.”

Lyra, for some unfathomable reason, shakes her head, encouraging the discussion. “Oh, come on. We both know that’s not true.”

“I never said it was,” says Miriam, reaching down and picking up her daemon. “It’s just what people assume.”

“What do you think, though?”

Miriam frowns. Syriax, for the first time since Lyra’s known them, sits quietly on her hand. “I’m a methodical person,” Miriam says, eventually. “I like to think I’m prepared for emergencies. People look at me and think they know what they see, and I work with that.”

She grins. “Besides, I am a little vain.”

“And scatterbrained?” asks Lyra, biting back a smile.

Miriam shrugs. “So be it.”

It’s short work to connect the dots. It’s not just that Syriax’s form fits her personality - perception of him fits the way that people perceive her, a mistake that she deliberately cultivates. Of course he’s cute but ultimately harmless. It means that people look at Miriam and forget that squirrels are the ones that last all through winter.

“What about you?” asks Miriam. “You and Pan. Were you surprised when he settled?”

Lyra hesitates.

She doesn’t have to answer this truthfully. She has a story for this - she’s only been asked about Pan’s form a handful of times, but she’s used the same story every time. It happened while they were in the North, because it was their great adventure. It was when she saw the vastness of the world and grew up.

It’s even true, in a fashion.

But she- she doesn’t want to lie to Miriam. Not any more than she has to. She’s been lying to her every conversation they’ve ever had, about the really important things at least, and she’s tired of it.

The younger Lyra wouldn’t have minded. The younger Lyra would have enjoyed the game, would have pushed her story further and further from the truth just to see how far she could go. But this Lyra - the person she is now - knows the value of truth. She knows how difficult it is, and what it says about what you think of your audience.

Besides, she’s just- she’s so tired of being alone.

“There was a boy,” she says.

It’s an oversimplification. It’s exactly what happened.

Pan quietly woke up several minutes ago, but now he tenses over her hand. They’ve never told anyone about Will, not even Dame Hannah. Some things are private.

Lyra had sworn years ago to never speak of it. And yet here she is. Here they are.

Miriam doesn’t react, but Syriax freezes - a rare occurrence. “You’ve never mentioned a boy before.”

Lyra shrugs a little, trying not to jostle Pan too much. “His name was Will.”

“And he was- there? For Pan’s settling?”

Lyra has to suppress a laugh half-born of anxiety. “His hand was on Pan when it happened, so, yes, he was.”

Miriam leans forward. “I’ve heard of that happening before. From other people.”

“I can’t explain to you how it felt,” says Lyra. “It was- it was the purest joy I’ve ever felt, and the deepest sorrow, and the most shocking thing that anyone’s ever done.”

“Sorrow?”

Lyra makes an absent gesture, feeling the familiar sadness well up in her throat. “We couldn’t stay together. I met him- on my trip to the North. And I had to come home, and he had to go home, and we will never see each other again.”

Miriam reaches out to take her hand. “You loved him.”

“Yes,” says Lyra. “Even if I hadn’t- he’s part of me now. I didn’t know Pan’s form. Will was the one who recognized him, first called him a marten. And it was his hand- he’s the reason why Pan settled, in the end of it, not the North or my mother or anything else. Without him I don’t think I would- I wouldn’t be who I am now.”

“Did you-” Miriam hesitates. “Did you know that his touch would make Pan settle? Did you- did you actually get to decide the form?”

Lyra smiles, barely, finding herself strangely comfortable being exposed like this. “I think I knew it- but without knowing it? The way you don’t know things consciously, but the fact’s still in there somewhere. I didn’t choose Pan’s form, and neither did he. It was just- it was like neither of us had any control over it. You know how it felt.”

“Yes,” agrees Miriam. “You don’t know it’s happening until afterwards, but somehow you always knew.”

Lyra hums in agreement, but doesn’t say anything. Pan, quietly, sits up and rubs his head on her hand. He doesn’t say anything, but she knows what he’s thinking.

Pan’s never wanted her to lie. Lyra enjoys the challenge of lying, and she loves having the skill of it, and most importantly she associates it with the truest version of herself. And yet.

And yet Pan is the truest version of herself. Or maybe they’re, together, the truest version of themselves. And Pan has never been comfortable with her habit of lying outrageously.

And Will never liked it either.

Lyra thinks of the child Lyra - before Pan settled - to be the truest version of herself. But that was before Pan settled, before she knew Will, before she met the harpies and learned the value of truth. Before she lost her skill with the alethiometer and learned from Dame Hannah. Before she became an adult.

There are things she can learn from the child Lyra, certainly. Her boldness, for one thing, and her unshakable confidence. The way she was so entangled in her own world, so vivid, instead of how she feels now - adrift and washed-out, like she’s never stopped hiding the way that Will taught her.

But this older Lyra knows the value of truth, now, and the reality of keeping her mouth shut once in a while. And she knows what it means to hold herself back, to choose her own family, to love a real and flawed person.

She is discovering the truest version of herself. The pieces of herself that are the best, the worst, and above all the most vivid. She is Lyra Silvertongue, and she has to find out the truth of it.

“Somehow you always knew,” she repeats, and looks up at Miriam. Beautiful, vain, flighty Miriam, who’s watching her concernedly even as her daemon examines the bookshelf. “Thank you, Miriam.”

Miriam frowns. “For what?”

Lyra isn’t sure she can express it. Pan saves her from having to - he jumps down from the desk, darts across the floor, then skirts the edge of the bed. He lets his head rise just enough to brush the bottoms of Miriam’s socks.

“For being you,” says Lyra.