-she's nine, and through a sick twist of fate she's the eldest, the one who must decide what to do, where to go, how to survive. her judgement is poor, in the end, but her logic feels sound - she can protect the twins, but she can't care for them, so she'll learn how to protect them better while others care for them.
(it's a trap, but she only realizes that after Jocelyn and Jason and Jennie fade into 11, 12, 13-)
-she's fifteen, and she almost breaks, because year after year of sitting from the sidelines and pretending not to care has torn her more than she can ever say, and the fear that paralyzes her every time 12 and 13 end up in the ring is the sole thing that keeps her from taking her blades and killing everyone who would dare harm them herself or die trying.
(but they're her kin, her blood, and they take after her well. Too well. And they fight and they bleed and they-)
-she's eighteen, and their lucky break has come. the lioness has lost a trio of cubs, and seeks to replace them only with the best. the fact that they are already siblings must only be a bonus in her gleaming golden eyes. and she accepts on behalf of the three of them, because a lion's den is hardly a deadly place after a cave of jackels.
(and she names herself steel, after the casing she holds around her heart, and in direct contrast to the pale silky thing that had torn up in the wind-)
-she's nineteen, and eden (12, jason) is sentenced to die. but he doesn't.
(and he wouldn't. because she'd drive a knife into the lioness's back before she could so much as lift a finger towards her baby brother-)
-she's twenty two, and she knows he's out there. their blood is too strong to die so easily. yet she keeps her vigil, watches over the lioness, because the second she tries to exact retribution on sister or brother alike, she'll never make it out of the front door.
(and the steel around her heart holds strong, no matter how much the beating organ beneath aches for the life they should have known.)