as much as im happy to see this changed perspective of why she wants to be a heroine in the first place, i wish she had her own spotlight arc to have developed this, rather than coming to these terms in the background.
Think about the fact that the Lynches were a very tactile family - Aurora dropping kisses on foreheads, hands brushing hair out of eyes, nursing cuts and scrapes with a tenderness that was medicine itself. Folding the boys into warm, safe hugs for no reason other than to say, I love you, I’ve got you, you’re home.
Even Niall, teaching the boys how to fight, headlocks melting into hair ruffles, grapples ending with a rough, proud squeeze, bear hugs when he comes home with armfuls of magical gifts after months away, and the boys launch themselves at him before he’s even through the door.
Think about that - a lifetime of knowing nothing but that - being ripped away from Ronan in the swing of a tyre iron. The emotional pain feels unbearable, but the physical pain too - that sudden absence of touch that aches like a phantom limb. A touch so natural and familiar it became an extension of himself, a bubble of easy affection that he lived safely inside. But now the world is barren. There’s too much space around him, dark, cold space that used to be crowded with laughing, warm bodies. Now the dead air sucks at his body like a vacuum. There’s a desperate, dragging grief for those small touches, a constant reminder of everything he’s lost.
And then he meets a boy, Adam, who really seems to have his shit together. Gradually Ronan lets Adam into his tiny, tight circle of friends. He mocks him for his quiet determination, his unrelenting focus. But really he marvels at how purposeful, how contained this boy can be.
But then Ronan starts to notice that the bruises on Adam are not a coincidence, but a pattern. And he fills in the blanks that Adam draws around himself like armour: there is no love in this boy’s home life. No laughter. No warm, easy touches. The only touch Adam has ever known is the hard smack of hatred and rage. He has made his body a vessel, something from which he can remove himself, in order to escape the pain. Ronan never knew bodies could be that way. He tries to imagine what it’s like, that clinical separation of body and mind. He tries to imagine the bone deep chill of never having known physical affection or love. He wonders, bitterly, if it’d be better than the aching loss that he feels constantly now.
He feels guilty for those thoughts, guiltier when he remembers all the love he took for granted, not knowing how much of a gift it was back then. He wants, desperately, to give that gift to Adam. He studies Adam’s hands, wishing they could know the relief of another human under their skin. He imagines wrapping his arms around Adam, putting his face in his hair, like his own mother used to, and telling him it’s okay. That he’s okay. He wants to bring Adam back to his body with a head on a shoulder, hands on cheeks, fingers to lips. Every touch whispering you’re good, you’re safe, you’re loved.
But… he can’t. So Ronan puts Adam in a shopping trolley and crashes him into his car. He gives Adam knee scrapes and elbow burn instead. Anything Ronan can do to let Adam know that bodies, bruises, scars, can be love as well as pain.