There are a lot of posts, articles, and prompts asking about themes and characters in you WiPs. For my WiP Sorceress Apprentice there are a number of themes and motifs. One of the important features of the novel is sibling bonds, both between protagonist Bryony and her sister, Kerine, and Emeri and his sister, Sabrina. While the romance between Bryony and Emeri is at the heart of the novel, the sibling bonds are a vital part of the book.
I find that in too many books and TV shows the sibling bonds are often tossed aside in favour of, or overshadowed by, the protagonist’s sexual partner. I didn’t want that to be the case here. Here are some excerpts illustrating the depth of the sibling bonds in SA – please remember that this a WiP so there’ll be further editing in the future.
#1 – Bryony and Kerine visit Emeri and discover that he’s dying
“There is no cure,” Emeri said wistfully. “But there is one thing I want more than anything else, before I die.”
“Name it and it is yours,” Kerine said, “in honour of all you and your family have done for us over the years.”
Bryony stared at her. It was a dangerous thing to let anyone name terms without some restrictions, let alone a sorcerer. It was not like Kerine to be reckless. She must be moved by his plight too.
“I do not know if it is in your power to give.” Emeri sighed. “My sister, Sabrina.”
“What of her?” She wasn’t here, that was certain.
He hesitated, let out a harsh breath. “What does the gossip say?”
Kerine shuffled her feet. “That she went back to the university for advanced study,” she offered. “Or that she went to visit a relative.”
He looked surprised. “If only those were true. Unfortunately the matter is more complicated than that. Almost a year ago we received a visit from a nobleman, Tovan of the Rakana clan, a family with powerful magic. He spoke of trading magical secrets and artefacts, but he had eyes only for Sabrina. I didn’t trust him. Sabrina and I fought about it and one night they left without a word.”
He paused to gather his thoughts. Bryony looked to Kerine. Their father had left one night without warning; if Kerine left her too she’d be devastated….
….”[And] now I want to see her again. More than anything, I want to at least say goodbye. I wrote her a final letter two months ago telling her this, but she has not responded. She will not answer my correspondence and perhaps if I went there to talk to her in person she would listen. But the illness has progressed too far for me to make the journey myself.”
To ignore her brother’s dying wish was harsh indeed. Bryony frowned. If Kerine said she didn’t trust a man that Bryony liked, she might not stop courting him, but she would be more cautious and she certainly wouldn’t abscond with him and abjure her family.
“So what you need is someone to go and explain to Sabrina in person,” Kerine said thoughtfully. “To make a plea on your behalf.”
#2 – Kerine agrees to go on the long journey to the Rakana castle and speak with Sabrina, while Bryony stays to watch over Emeri
“I know you don’t like it, but it’s only for a few weeks,” Kerine said.
“I’ll be alone.”
“You’ll be with Emeri. Think of it, you in the manor!”
Bryony huffed, though she was herself a little excited at the prospect. “I’m not used to being away from you for more than a couple of days.”
“Nor I you. But someone has to go and talk some sense into Sabrina. It won’t be for long,” Kerine repeated.
“Eight weeks at least, maybe more. That’s most of summer.”
“I know. I’m sorry, but I think this is something that needs to be done.” Kerine gave her an encouraging smile. “You’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. I’ll come home and we can have a huge Winter Solstice celebration with the coin we’re being paid.”…
… [Bryony] blinked away tears. “I don’t want you to go.”
“I know. But I promised.”
“I’ll miss you.”
Kerine sighed. “Emeri has been missing Sabrina for much longer than you will miss me.”
#3 – Emeri and Bryony talk about Sabrina
Emeri was sitting on the edge of Sabrina’s bed, a shawl in his hands. He worked the fabric between his thumbs, caressing the edge of the material. Bryony watched for a moment, reluctant to intrude on a private moment, but wondering if he might prefer some company, and wanting to see how he felt today. She took a few steps back and then walked forwards again, making more noise so that Emeri would know she was there.
He looked up and there was not guilt or shame on his face at being caught in Sabrina’s room. He didn’t even try to hide his grief and Bryony was thankful that he felt comfortable enough to let her see him vulnerable.
“You miss her.” It might come off as trite but she hoped it would prompt a response.
He nodded. “I should never have let her go,” he said, twisting the shawl tightly…
…”[U]ntil Tovan showed up, you and Sabrina were close,” Bryony said. “Incredibly so, the way I am with Kerine. I think you’d know, if she were dead. I think you’d feel it in your heart, magic or not; and that you and she are both magically inclined, I’d say you’d know it with certainty.”
Emeri nodded and Bryony moved her hand. He placed the shawl with exquisite care on one of the pillows. “I’m sorry to be so melancholy. Physically I feel much better today. I know you were concerned yesterday.”
“I was.” She tipped her head. “Can we do something fun? You talked about Moments and I’ve done some reading that says you can’t just imagine a Moment and hope for it to be enough. Moments have to be created.”
#4 – Bryony comes across Emeri’s journal, left open on his desk and sneaks a peak to see what he has been writing about mentoring her
She does not wish to leave home to study at the university and I cannot fault her. This place is her home, as it is mine, and it is different for a youth to leave on an adventure for a few years before returning, than it is for an adult to put aside their family and their work – Bryony may never wish to give up her seamstressing and I would never ask it of her. And I see the distress her sister’s absence causes her. I could not wish to separate Bryony from Kerine for any longer than necessary. I regret that I am causing her this pain.
Oh, Emeri. Bryony blinked away tears. He understood how much she loved Kerine, for he cared for Sabrina as deeply, but this was evidence of the fact. She knew he felt guilt but to see it recorded here so plainly made it more real.
#5 – Bryony and Emeri receive a letter from Kerine
The letter had taken a long time to get here, possibly misdirected along the way.
Kerine’s neat handwriting assured her that her travels were going well, at least until she had reached Quernsbrook where the bridge had fallen and the necessary diversion would add up to a week to the journey.
If the repairs were not finished, that would mean a further week on the way home, and two weeks extra with Emeri might have soothed her but Bryony couldn’t help but be distraught at another two weeks without her sister, and to worry that the longer it took Sabrina to return, the more chance of Emeri not surviving to greet her.
Emeri’s face fell as he took in the information.
“It’s only another two weeks,” he said, forcing a wry smile. “We’re having fun together aren’t we?”
This elicited a further round of tears and he gazed at her hopelessly. He put the letter aside and moved to put one arm around her, saying nothing but rocking her gently.