~~~ After a very long night ~~~
Melody had only been alive once again for a few hours, and yet, when she passed through the front door of her own home for the first time in ten years, still playing the lute in her hands, it felt so familiar, as if it had been only yesterday when she said her goodbyes to her mourning family.
The house was quite a bit different from what she remembered. The furniture was a bit more worn, the house not quite as tidy as she last saw it, and a it felt bit chilly, but it was still her home. She recognised every room, and memories of life before she died slowly came back to her. Memories of the family gathered round the dinner table, sharing a warm meal during a cold night. Singing lullabies to Cadence. Sweet nights with Dorian, so caring, and so loving…
Speaking of which, he was still wearing all that strange gear with him. Perhaps he was too tired to bother removing it, as he sat down heavily on his chair, catching a breath after a long trip return home. Even though she wasn't feeling very tired, she sat beside him, playing a quiet tune. She tried to play something relaxing, welcoming, fitting after a long adventure. She felt a little clumsier playing the lute than she did a long time ago, but she didn't care, she could still make lovely music for her family.
She was home again. With Dorian, and Cadence, and Eli, who could be heard quietly snoring back in his bedroom. With her family.
And even though it all seemed so strange, and even if she was worried about having to keep playing the lute…
Deep down, she was very glad to be here.
She saw Cadence emerging from the hallway, then sitting down in front of the two of them. "Eli's fast asleep. I don't think I'm going to be able to wake him up tonight." There was a brief pause. "I guess we'll explain everything to him tomorrow. Though I don't think he'll quite believe it, either." She still seemed to be in disbelief of this whole situation. Yesterday, she had had no parents for two years, and tonight, they were both sitting in front of her, one of them clad in brass armor after being a mind-controlled puppet, the other resurrected from the dead with a magical instrument. It was surreal.
Dorian rested his elbows on the table, looking at his family. He had finally done it… he had her back. During the walk back home, he barely had time to contemplate on it, but now that he had a moment to rest… he had Melody back. Even if it wasn't quite the way he had hoped, his eyes were watering at the sight of that bright red hair, those beautiful green eyes, those rosy cheeks… it was just like he remembered her...
"I have so many questions…" Melody said, gently playing a soft tune. "I don't even know where to start…" She said, looking down at the lute, a million thoughts and emotions swirling inside her. Joy, love, confusion, nostalgia, shock, bittersweetness…
"Melody." Dorian said, taking his hands to her cheeks, cupping them softly. He looked into her eyes. He marveled at how could such beautiful, mesmerising eyes exist… they were so bright, so gorgeous, he loved them so much… "Melody… I know we got a things to figure out, and it might take us a little while to get used to this, but…" He paused, trying to hold back the tears. He had waited so, so long for this… "Melody, I- I…" He took a deep breath, trying not to stutter. "I'm just so very, very happy to see you again." His eyes were watery, but he didn't care. Sweet, loving Melody was his to love again. Beautiful and wonderful as he remembered her.
When Melody looked deep into his warm brown eyes… all those questions didn't seem to matter so much. Seeing him happy, feeling his loving hands again… she recalled all those nights when he was so charming, so enchanting. Her heart was starting to feel that again… that love, that soft warmth that kept them together for so many years… "...I'm happy to have you, too, Dorian." She wanted to hold him again so bad… but… this cursed lute was in the way… although... perhaps…
"Cadence?" She said, turning to face her, who was up and about tidying up some of the things that she'd left somewhat disorganised when she left earlier that day, before this whole adventure started. When Cadence looked back at her, she said to her: "Would you mind playing this lute for a little bit?" She said, extending her arms, playing and showing her a simple melody that she knew she could follow.
Cadence hesitated for a second, before grasping the lute in both hands, the familiar sensation of powerful magic flowing through her as she resumed the soft, quiet tune. After a brief moment, feeling confident that it was indeed enough to keep Melody alive, Cadence sat down to play more comfortably, and Melody turned her gaze back at her husband…
"Dorian… have you really spent all this time… just trying to find a way to bring me back?" She asked, and couldn't help but notice that he, indeed, still had that familiar silver ring around his finger, looking like it hadn't been removed in a long time. It seemed a little worn and scratched, but it only seemed to support the fact that he had been loyal to her all along, despite all the hardships he had to endure.
"Yes…" He replied, now holding her warm hands, slowly caressing her fingers with his own, recalling how they felt, how gentle and soft they were to hold. "I promised you that I'd get you back, Melody… I love you so much… you're my wife… and I just wanted to have you and love you and give you all the happiness I promised you…" By now he was almost tripping over his own words, and had to stop.
How could he say all the things he'd done for eight years? All the lonely nights, and frustration of finding the lute… and the sheer joy in his heart to hold her and love her again… he was no poet or bard… how could he say it to her, show it to her?
Melody watched Dorian struggle to find his words, and couldn't help but smile at that. He was adorable when he got flustered like that… that blush in his cheek was so endearing… she instead decided to embrace him, wrapping his arms around him. Even with his armor still on, she felt the same comfort, the same strength, the same feeling of protection and security she did when she was so close to him.
And as he put his arms around her in return, she truly felt at home. In here, with her family, with Dorian's arms and love around her, she felt her heart relax, full of love, and for the first time in a long time… she was happy, and safe, and without a worry in her mind.
Truth be told, Cadence felt a little awkward quietly playing the lute in front of them, almost feeling like she was intruding on a special moment between her parents, but she dutifully kept playing, as they finally separated themselves from each other. Even then, they kept gazing deep into each other's eyes, with genuine smiles on their face. Even when a million questions and conflicting emotions, she could at least be glad to have her family back, and there were no hard feelings… just joy and love-
Cadence lost track of the melody and ended up hitting the wrong chord. It seemed to snap all of them out of their thoughts, her parents' eyes shifting over to her. "Sorry!" Cadence apologised, then tried to resume her playing. But in her flustered embarrassment, couldn't remember how it was supposed to go, and had no idea how to continue. She had to start playing soon, otherwise her mom would collapse soon, but she didn't know what to play, but she had to play something, quickly.
Out of panic, Cadence rushed to play an old song that she remembered very well from her childhood. Without thinking too much if it was the right song for the moment, she struck the strings to play that familiar melody. It was a simple song, nothing too complicated, something she picked up easily when she was just a tiny girl. It seemed to do the trick, Cadence able to maintain the song going without missing any notes or beats.
Melody listened quickly for a second, before another smile came to her lips. "Oh my…" She turned to Dorian. "Do you recognise that song?" Judging by the very similar smile he was giving her in return, she had a feeling he did.
"I sure do…" He said, now looking at Cadence, his heart swelling with all the memories that came back to him. "It's our song."
Cadence looked up from her hand plucking the strings. "Huh?" She asked. Their song? She had no idea what that meant.
"I remember teaching you that song when you were just a little girl…" Melody said, a twinge of nostalgia in her voice. "It's a song I composed when your father and I first started spending time together." She explained, looking back at him, sharing memories of meals under trees and visiting exciting new places together.
"It sure brings back a lot of memories." Dorian added. "Do you remember that one time I asked your father to play it for us so we could dance to it?" He said, leaning into Melody, resembling a young man interesting in a cute girl.
Melody could only respond by looking away with the blush. "I still can't believe you actually did that… it was so embarrassing…"
"Hey, you still danced with me." Dorian replied, chuckling at her response.
"Well, of course I did… how could I not?" Melody said, looking bashful, and shocking Cadence, who had never seen mother acting like this. It had been a long time since she had seen their parents being romantic and emotional. It almost felt embarrassing to be watching them, but she couldn't just leave now, she had to keep the song going.
"In fact…" Dorian said, his voice giving away the excitement that was building up inside him. He stood up, ignoring the clanking noise coming from his armor, then extending his hand towards Melody. "May I have this dance?" He asked, with the same bold confidence he asked her to dance with him, many, many years ago.
Melody took a second to respond. "What… here, now?" She asked. Dorian could only nod with a warm smile. Melody looked at him, then at Cadence still playing the song, then back at him. But the longer she looked at him, the more she wanted to say yes. It had been a long time since they had danced, and thinking back to those times… they had felt so right, so perfect...
"Of course." Was all she said, taking his hand, as the two moved to the centre of the room, where there was enough room for them. Cadence remained seated where she was, but as she looked at her parents, realising how important this was for them, she began to play confidently, a bit louder, and with a more lively tempo.
As the song was beginning to pick up, and the chords became sweeter and more upbeat, Dorian and Melody began their dance. Moving their feet in unison, their eyes locked in long-lost-love-reunited, hands sweetly clasped together with intertwining fingers… they felt as if the rest of the world had disappeared. In this moment, there was nothing but each other, and their song filling the air all around them. Even in this chilly night, the warmth from each other kept their dance going.
Dorian looked at Melody, his heart finally at rest, his adventure finally over. He had her again. He could hear her sweet voice again, and spend their days together. Melody looked at Dorian, feeling very glad that despite all the questions and risks they still had to answer to, he had done the impossible and given her a chance to be with her family again. He brought her back, and right now she was just so happy to have another amazing moment with him.
He felt satisfied, proud, relieved. She felt safe, protected, loved. They didn't need to say a word. As the notes came and went, so did their steps in unison, their arms stretching outwards and retreating inwards as they moved as one to the music. They lost track of time as they shared looks and smiles. Memories of all the days and nights they shared and cherished resurfaced in their hearts. They danced without a care in the world.
As the song inevitably started to approach its slower and final portion, they steps became slower, shorter, as the dance invited them to stay close to each other as the final section began. By now their chests were up against each other, their hands firmly clasped together, their fingers slowly rubbing their knuckles, in a subtle display of gentle love and appreciation. By the end, Melody was resting her head on Dorian's shoulder, letting out a small sigh, content and happy.
It didn't matter how she was brought back. It didn't matter what consequences it brought. Right now, all that mattered was being with her family again. As she rested against Dorian for the first time in years, she realised how much she had missed this, and how grateful she was to have it again.
And even as the song was drawing to its close, the two of them were still gently swinging together slowly, unable to tear themselves apart from each other. They were happy, and enjoying the love that they had missed for so long.
"I love you, Dorian." Melody said, her bright hair draped over his armor.
"I love you, too, Melody." Dorian replied, nuzzling her head as she pulled her closer with his arm around her waist.
She looked back up to him, eyes caught in those incredible brown ones. Without a word, she inched her face forward, closing her eyes, and Dorian met her halfway, lips finally meeting, as the song finally came to an end, their hearts still beating in sync with each other, still side-by-side, still dancing with each other.