Author's Note: Did this one up quick after realizing Sazed is definitely an advice recycler. Some quotes come directly from Chapter 45 of Well of Ascension. Enjoy!
“I need to talk to you, Sazed,” Mare said.
“I can spare a few moments, I think,” Sazed said. “But, I must warn you that my studies are very pressing, and my next assignment is coming up soon.”
Mare grinned, her gleaming smile lighting up her dark features. “When are they not? What is it this time, the lost religion of people who worshipped anthills?”
“Close. These people diefied nature itself--everything, from the fiery ashmount to, yes, even the smallest of ants, was seen as part of the divine. I…” Sazed trailed, off, catching a curious look in Mare’s eye. She seemed tense, distracted. Usually she paid rapt attention to anything to do with pre-ascension times, but today something was off. “Mare… what’s wrong?
Mare hesitated, biting her lip slightly. Then, she moved over to the table, sitting down across from Sazed and pulling her legs up before her on the wooden seat.
“Sazed,” she asked, “how do you know if you’re in love?” Normally so confident and brave, it was strange to see Mare shrink back into herself, looking almost like the girl who had saved Sazed’s life years ago.
Sazed blinked. “I…I do not think I am one to speak on this topic, Mare. I know very little about it.”
“You always say things like that,” Mare said. “But really, you’re an expert on just about everything.”
Sazed chuckled. “In this case, I assure you that my insecurity is heartfelt. You certainly seem to have a better understanding than I.”
“Humour me. You’ve got to know something.”
“A bit, perhaps,” Sazed said, moistening his lips nervously. “You know, when we first met I think part of me thought I had a… an infatuation with you, to be honest, not that that would have ever worked out.”
“Oh Sazed,” the sound of Mare’s laughter was somehow enchanting and heartbreaking at the same time. “You didn’t really, did you?”
Of course I didn’t. It’s not a Eunuch’s place to love, after all. “Only a little, when I thought we might be kindred scholastic spirits. That was before I realized you have far too volatile a temperament for true scholarship.”
Mare swatted Sazed playfully. “I’m serious Sazed. Please, I need to talk this out.”
“Very well then. I’ll bite. You seem to be getting quite close to that conman who won’t stop bothering you. What, you thought I missed all those notes and gifts he’s been leaving at your window? You know, back before the Final Empire, a gentleman would leave a lady a whole bundle of flowers as a show of affection. They called it a bouquet.”
“A whole bundle, really Sazed? I can’t even imagine. Kelsier will need to up his game then. He hasn’t even managed to find me a single flower, let alone an entire bouquet.”
“You might be holding him to slightly too high a standard, Mare. So how do you feel when you are with him?”
“I want him to consume me,” Mare said, softly. Her hushed tone almost sent a chill down Sazed's spine. “He’s like fire Sazed, and sometimes I think just being near him will be enough to destroy me entirely. He’s like the sun, blotting out all the stars in the sky with his radiance. When I’m with him I feel exhilarated, and alive. It’s like all my emotions are being rioted while I’m flaring tin. He makes me feel like being a part of something greater.”
Sazed blushed, unused to hearing Mare talk in this way. “That… uh… seems to be a good sign, Mare.”
“But… he scares me too, Sazed.”
“Sometimes, when I look in his eyes I see something. A darkness.” Mare held up her hand before her, as if she were reaching for something intangible. “His light makes me feel like he might turn me into something far greater than I imagined, but there is darkness in him too, beneath all that charm, and it is equally seductive. Dangerously so. What if I give in to him, and he changes me Sazed? Makes me forget about everything I care about. Destroys my hopes and dreams, leaving those flowers to wither in my imagination, subsumed to his wishes.”
“That's… very poetic, but perhaps a little melodramatic as well? I understand the concern. Master Kelsier is… well, he’s certainly not someone I’d have chosen for you. But I also trust you to know yourself, and I doubt even the blackest darkness could blot out your dreams. Like the stars, hidden by mist, I think you could find a way to bring light to even the darkest night.”
Mare smirked. “Now who’s being a poet?”
“I learned from the best. But since we are playing Deepness’s advocate, I’ll try a different line. If Kelsier is so frightening, let’s turn to our more obvious choice, hmmm? What about Master Marsh? He’s been fond of you for far longer than you’ve even known his dangerous thieving brother.”
“Ah yes, Marsh.” Mare’s lips quirked slightly, forming a hint of a smile before flattening into a thoughtful line as she glanced back out the window. “I don’t want him to love me. Marsh needs… he needs a woman who can stand by his side as he leads the rebellion to victory. A woman who can live up to the ideals and standards of perfection he holds so dear. Someone who can sink back into his arms and be glad of their protective embrace.” Mare turned back, meeting Sazed’s gaze. “That’s not me, Sazed. Marsh wants to protect me, but sometimes I think I’m already lost. I’m not the person he thinks I am, and it would be cruel of me to pretend otherwise.”
“Master Marsh, though, is in love with you, yes? You trust him. Those iron eyes, as people call them, see a great deal, I think. How do you know he doesn’t love all of who you are, because you are exciting and different? That man could use a lot of things, but a little laughter and spontaneity certainly could not hurt.”
Mare cocked her head to the side. “Careful Sazed, flatter me too much more and I might believe you do still fancy me.”
She means no harm, she’s your friend. “My point stands. You are who you are. Despite Master Kelsier’s interference, despite your different approaches to life, Marsh fell in love with you, and I have to say your dreams, though ambitious, are rather compatible.”
“I shouldn’t have let him fall in love with me. He deserves to be with someone who… deserves him, not someone like me.”
Sazed frowned, feeling like he was missing something. “And why do you, of all people, not deserve to be loved?”
Mare shook her head. “It’s not that simple, Saze.”
“Few things are. Yet, I tell you this. Love must be allowed to flow both ways—if it is not, then it is not truly love, I think. It is something else. Infatuation, perhaps? Either way, there are some of us who are far too quick to make martyrs of ourselves. We stand at the side, watching, thinking that we do the right thing by inaction. We fear pain—our own, or that of another.”
He reached forward, taking Mare’s hand in his own. “But…is that love? Is it love to assume for Marsh that he has no place with you? Or, is it love to let him make his own decision in the matter?”
“And if I’m wrong for him?” Mare asked.
“You must love him enough to trust his wishes, even if you disagree with them. You must respect him—no matter how wrong you think he may be, no matter how poor you think his decisions, you must respect his desire to make them. Even if one of them includes loving you.”
Mare smiled slightly, but she still seemed troubled. “And…” she said very slowly, “if it doesn’t flow both ways? If I’ve already betrayed his feelings?
Mare tensed immediately. “This must stay between us.”
“Of course, as always.” Sazed hesitated. “It is Master Kelsier then?
Mare shrugged. “Let’s say it is. You heard me before Sazed. He makes me feel so many things. Marsh makes me feel loved, but nothing else.”
“Do you love him?”
“You’re infuriating. Fine. I don’t know. I respect Marsh, and I think I’m infatuated with Kelsier, or maybe, the idea of him. There might be something more there, but I honestly can’t be sure.”
Sazed hesitated. In this matter, he knew he should remain unbiased. He didn’t know enough about Kelsier, or his intentions, to compare him to Marsh—and Keepers were supposed to give information, but avoid specific advice.
“And does he love you?”
“Marsh certainly does. I mean, it’s obvious isn’t it? Kelsier… I… I think he does. I know he wants me. It’s just hard to tell with him. For all I know he’s just doing this to spite his brother. With Marsh, it’s an open book. I know exactly where I stand with him. With Kelsier, there’s... always another secret. Shouldn’t I pay more attention to the man who is more exciting for me? Or should I play it safe and choose the more dependable one?”
“I don’t know, Mare. I honestly don’t know. I warned you of my ignorance in this area. I think you’ve already made up your mind though, and maybe just needed to talk yourself into it?”
She sighed. “It’s all so frustrating. I should be worrying about the city and about overthrowing that Lord Tyrant, and making flowers bloom again, not which man to spend my evenings with!”
“It is hard to defend others when our own lives are in turmoil,” Sazed said.
Mare stood. “Thank-you Sazed. You’re a good friend. Thank-you for listening. I don’t know what I’ll do without you. Please say you’ll stay?”
“I’m afraid the Synod has another assignment for me elsewhere. I’m sorry Mare but, we can’t all be as brave and daring as your Kelsier. Give Master Marsh my regards.”
Mare nodded in understanding. “Yes. I will. Good luck Sazed. Stay safe.”
Sazed smiled, and wished her the same, though in his heart he knew she wouldn’t be.