35. “Here, take my hand. Everything is fine, just hold onto me and keep moving.”
41. “I had a nightmare about you, and I wanted to make sure you were alright.”
48. “You know, it’s okay to cry.”
52. “Just say it is okay. I just need to hear you say that.”
53. “I love you and I am terrified.”
Here’s the one shot from these prompts! The rest are coming!
Aedion hiccups, the soil hard and freezing under his cotton sleepwear. The tree behind him prickles and scratches at his back while his body shivers, his stuffed lion toy pressed tightly to his chest. To the left, fires burn. He closes his eyes, sniffling as his wet nose buries against his arm, a cold little touch against his skin. The wind does nothing to soothe the situation, howling between the trees and trembling the shadows in a way that sends him scrambling back.
None of it distracts from the yells and cries in the distance, the clanging of the shields and swords ringing through the night. It prompts another whimper.
Then the tips of his red ears are suddenly encompassed, the sense of a broad hand cupping his head taking over. A thumb rubs soothingly at where his skull meets his spine, a gentle shushing starting as a larger body curls over his.
“It’s alright,” he’s lifted and held against a strong chest, a heart beating solidly underneath his ear. “It’s alright.”
His father. Gavriel. If he says everything will be fine, then it will be. Aedion reaches a small hand up, grasping the collar of Gavriel’s shirt.
“Here, take my hand. Everything is fine, just hold onto me and keep moving,” Gavriel whispers soothing, lifting a palm up in offering.
Aedion immediately releases the shirt, fingers curling around three of his father’s before letting go. He plays with the plane of his palm, tracing the lines and scars, measuring how his closed fist fits in his father’s palm. Gavriel shushes him once again and flattens out Aedion’s hand, taking it in his own.
“Come on,” Gavriel whispers. “Keep moving.”
Aedion blinks at his father. Keep moving. But he’s in his fathers arms. The shouting grows closer.
“Just keep moving, Aedion. We need to go.”
Hoof beats join the yelling. Aedion tries to twist his head to look. Gavriel bounces him slightly, holding him firmer.
“My cub. You need to move, Aedion. Hurry.”
An arrow imbeds itself in a tree, centimetres away from Gavriel’s head. Aedion whines.
“Why aren’t you moving?” Gavriel looks down at him in confusion, brows furrowing. “I need you to move, Aedion. We can’t stay here. Aedion. Go.”
Aedion twists in earnest now, wondering why Gavriel’s feet seem to have been planted deep in the earth, the frozen mud creeping its way up his ankles to anchor him in place. Aedion knows this land. Has seen soldier after soldier die on this land. It doesn’t let people go.
He drops his toy Lion, and it’s swallowed by the mud. His breathing comes faster, legs kicking.
“Hold my hand and keep moving, Aedion,” Gavriel continues with his calm orders, despite the second arrow that sings to the left, flying past them. “That’s it. We’ll be alright.”
But they’re not moving. Aedion screams in frustration, no sound leaving his lips. Muted and silent as an arrow arcs towards the
The spray of blood from Gavriel’s neck is warm.
Aedion heaves, choking on his tears and hollowed breaths.
His body flinging upright, hands splaying outwards and eyes darting around, he inhales a deep breath that leaves his body wheezing. More soon follow, a harsh pattern of panting taking place. He stares at his hands, now the hands of an adult, and traces his scars with his eyes. Counts the edges.
“Aedion?” Lysandra turns to face him, the sheets sliding over her body. “Are you... oh, darling. Again?”
Aedion swallows and nods, a hand pressed to his heart. Lysandra slowly sits up, lifting a hand to tuck a lock of hair behind his ear. He leans into her side before pulling away, dropping his legs over the side of the bed and pulling on the first clothes he reaches.
“I just- Gavriel- I need to see-“
“Of course,” those green eyes watch him, bright and alert. “Do you want me to come?”
Aedion shakes his head. “I- no. Thank you, but this-“
“I understand,” Lysandra nods. “I’ll be here if you decide to come back.”
Aedion nods, pressing a kiss against her forehead before leaving the room. It’s when he reaches Gavriel’s doorway he realises how numb his toes have become, his body breaking out into goosebumps through the sleepwear he threw on. Standing in front of his fathers door, tear marks staining his cheeks and hair in disarray, like the child he dreamt he was instead of the man he really is.
Aedion turns and begins to walk away.
The door clicks open, Gavriel looking out in bewilderment, the Lion dishevelled in a way he rarely is. “Aedion?”
Said male freezes at his name and turns. Gavriel steps further out the room, concern taking over. “What’s wrong? Aedion, you must be freezing, walking around now. Is everything alright?”
Aedion swallows, his throat thick. It’s all he can do to keep another round of tears from being shed. The Lion steps out of his room, approaching his son, clad only in loose fitting pants and clearly bleary eyed from exhaustion. A small band aid rests on his neck, near his scar from the Valg. An injury from a stopped attempted robbery on the palace treasury. A miracle the fool even managed to shoot an arrow in Gavriel’s direction.
But the fact that it’s right next to where the Valg tore at him-
Aedion’s breath hitches, and if Gavriel wasn’t laced with concern before he was now consumed with it.
“Why are you up?” The question comes before Aedion even thinks to ask if.
“Light sleeper,” Gavriel says softly. “You stood outside my door for seven straight minutes.”
Seven minutes? It had felt like a second.
“Aedion, what’s wrong?” His father’s hand rests on his shoulder, warm and heavy in both the weight and safety it promises.
“I had a nightmare about you, and I wanted to make sure you were alright,” Aedion blurts, the words spilling forward and retraction again and again just as quickly. “But you’re fine, obviously, so I’m just-“
“Aedion,” Gavriel’s voice takes on a soft but slightly firmer note, “come sit down with me.”
“You’re freezing, come in, son.”
He is. He is? His hand trembles against his side. Aedion follows the hand on his lower back that urges him towards Gavriel’s room, delicious warmth simpering through the room thanks to the smouldering remains of a fire in the fire place.
Gavriel doesn’t lead Aedion to the desk or the very foot of his bed, instead sitting him on the side, closer to the pillows where the covers are already drawn back. There’s something vulnerable and strange in sitting on his father’s mattress that makes Aedion swallow once again. Gavriel settles next to him, arm dropping from his back to allow him space.
“You had a bad dream about me,” Gavriel recounts softly, “and wanted to make sure I was alright.”
It sounds ridiculous and childish when said out loud. Aedion closes his eyes in a pained response.
“Every time you have a bad dream about me dying you become distant,” Gavriel murmurs, trying to meet Aedion’s eyes. “But this time you decided to check on me. Why?”
“I don’t know,” Aedion croaks, surprised by the rawness of his voice.
“Would you like to talk about the dream?” Gavriel asks, standing and pouring a glass from the pitcher on his bed side table.
Aedion jerks. “No.”
He accepts the cup nonetheless, glad for the cool sensation it brings as he gulps down the contents, Gavriel settling near him once more.
“Alright,” Gavriel nods. “Can I hold you?”
Throat closing up, Aedion leans slightly towards his father. An arm is immediately set around his shoulders, pulling him against Gavriel’s side. His shoulders shake, breath coming through hitched and wheezing as he tries to hold his tears at bay. The dam breaks when Gavriel encircles Aedion in both arms and tucks his head under his chin.
“It’s alright,” one of Gavriel’s hands trails upwards into Aedion hair, stroking at it as he coos. “You’re alright. Breathe for me, Aedion.”
“Slower, for me, Aedion. You’re breathing too fast.”
It’s exhaustion that wins in the end. That causes Aedion to slump further in Gavriel’s hold, breath burning as it drags through his throat. He eventually sits back to allow the Lion to pour him another glass of water, downing in thankfully when it’s handed to him.
“I’m sorry,” Aedion apologises, rubbing at his eyes as he hands the glass back.
Gavriel examines his son as he sits. “You know, it’s okay to cry. It would be more worrying if you, and anyone who had been involved in the war from a young age, didn’t. It shows emotion and the ability to mourn.”
Aedion gives no response, simply swallowing and staring at his hands.
“Can you tell me what happened?” Gavriel asks. “In your dream. You’ve never had the desire to come to me before.”
“It- I was five,” Aedion begins, throat closing as he speaks, thickening with swelling tension. “Or younger. I don’t know. I was small. And Adarlan- or someone- they were coming. You picked me up and kept telling me to- but you were holding me and-“
“Breathe, Aedion,” Gavriel reminds him, settling a hand on his back. “What made this dream so much worse then the others?”
“You had an arrow through your neck.”
“You’ve dreamt worse,” Gavriel’s eye pierce him. “Has something happened recently?”
“If you feel distressed, or have been under too much pressure lately, I’d understand.”
“Nothing has happened!” Aedion stresses. “I just had to see you this time, alright?”
“Alright,” Gavriel agrees soothingly. “I understand. It was just worse this time, wasn’t it?”
“No, it wasn’t!” Aedion near growls. “It wasn’t that vivid.”
“It’s not alright!” Aedion stands abruptly. “It isn’t!”
“Why, Aedion?” Gavriel’s face twists in confusion and concern. “I won’t know unless you tell me.”
Aedion flings his arms out in anger and exasperation. “Because I love you and I am terrified!”
Gavriel stares. Aedion begins pacing in earnest, his chest heaving with each word.
“I love you now,” Aedion’s voice shakes along with his hands. “You’re my father and I love you. Do you have any idea how much harder that’s going to make ever losing you?”
“And I’m so stupid for letting it happen!” Aedion bites out, his pace quickening. “Do you have any idea how many times this has happened? And each time I move on, I let myself get attached again, because it’s better to love and lose. I know that. I have no regrets in loving the people in my life. It was war, I knew the risk of loving, but I did it anyway, and that’s fine!”
“But you’re a warrior. You could go fight in a far away war next week! And not because you’re forced to!”
Gavriel jolts, shoulders tensing.
“On some trip or campaign and-“
He’s cut off by Gavriel enveloping him, his father’s arms encircling him tightly and refusing to let go. Aedion sucks in a deep breath, trembling in Gavriel’s hold.
“I am never leaving,” Gavriel promises, voice deep and reverberating through his son. “No more war, or enemies, or hunts and campaigns. I swear to you, whatever fears you have of me visiting some far off kingdom and never coming back are just that- fears.”
“You’re a warrior,” Aedion responds bitterly. “It’s who you are.”
“So are you,” Gavriel responds, voice thick. “It’s who we are. But that does not mean we don’t deserve peace. Our job now is to protect, not attack. So that is what we will do. We will tend to our home. I will tend to you.”
Aedion inhales a large breath, closing his eyes. His father squeezes him tight.
“And for what it’s worth,” Gavriel continues, “I love you too.”
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