They had never talked about what happened in the warehouse. Craven had offered a weak So...? at the time, which Minty had silently declined. They had walked together a long time and, eventually, Craven Lorne had found some glue and put Minty back together.
Craven had assumed they would go their separate ways once Minty was fixed, but it wasn't so. When he'd suggested it, Minty had simply said, No, Craven Lorne in her creepy, hollow voice and that had been the end of the discussion. Craven was surprised to find that he was glad. He realized sometime later that she had spared him the indignity of asking her to stay with him; as time had passed, he'd found himself distressingly fond of her company.
Craven Lorne hadn't gone back to raiding. He had stopped using Dust altogether. It would be nice to think that he'd learned his lesson, turned a moral corner; he thought maybe he had. But the real reason—or the vast majority of the real reason—was that he didn't want to end up a stain on some other warehouse floor. And while Minty's arm was mended, he knew her well enough now to know she'd snap her hand off at the wrist if she thought it was necessary – and he knew he'd never know her well enough to know what she might consider necessary.
They walked together now, hand in hand, his dewclaw passing gently back and forth over the tiny raised cracks along the side of her index finger. They were in the field. Their field. The field where he first saw her. The field where he always saw her.
The tree was a ways in the distance, casting a tiny circle of calm, cool shade. Craven thought about sitting there with Voss. He wondered, not for the first time, what would have happened if he'd said something to Voss sooner, before Minty had stopped and smiled at him. Would they have been together? Would Voss have avoided the injuries that made him a monster? Even if Voss had refused him, surely Minty would have avoided Craven's wrath, his misguided blame would have at least landed somewhere else.
Minty followed his gaze to the tree, and, in her worrying way, looked like she knew what he was thinking. She had never told him about the rape. She couldn't find it in her to destroy the very little that was left of Voss in Craven's heart. She would, one day, when she'd figured out how. She stepped closer to Craven, pushing the cool porcelain of her arm against his white cotton shirt.
They stood for a long time, staring at the tree, each lost in their own thoughts.
“That day,” Minty said, in her weird, echoing voice. He knew exactly which day she meant. “That day I smiled. Craven Lorne, I smiled at you.”
This brings us to the end of Part I of III; the next draft will see pieces from all three parts together, giving it an even less linear feel, but for now, we say goodbye to Craven and Minty. Next week we meet Sally and Daisy Chain.