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Hypnotized Reunions

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It had been a long time, almost a year, if she recalled correctly, since everything happened. All the fighting, chaos, calamity, despair. All of it felt like just yesterday, but turned out to be a year-long since passed.

A part of Eleanor almost yearned for the days when she was a part of that infamous menagerie, causing mischief throughout all of Midgand, though she forcibly so.

But most of all, something a part of her had only realized by the end of the journey, she missed Velvet.

Velvet, the one she once thought ruined her life forever, eventually earned her trust, and then... her affection. Eventually, a strange passion formed, albeit with some... external influence from a nosy witch, but passion nonetheless.

She loved Velvet, and she was surprised to learn that the feelings were extremely mutual.

Then everything with Artorius and Innominat had to inevitably ruin any future the two of them could ever conceivably have with each other. And Velvet, being so focused on her goals, took the plunge despite the fact that everyone knew she'd never come back from it.

Despite how selfish it sounded, Eleanor really wished she hadn't done it. She wanted Velvet back so badly that loneliness often crept up whenever she least expected it. Thinking about the one she loved created an ache similar to when malevolence had once formed inside her.

It wasn't strong enough to keep her down for long, but it made itself known every once in a while.

At one point, she even dreamed of her, though nothing entirely interesting ever happened. Mostly strange amalgamations of old memories. Sometimes she saw Velvet, other times she thought she might have heard her voice.

It was probably from working so much lately. She had been stretching herself thin as of late, though as to why she had no clue.

What remained of the Abbey was little, but she and the few other exorcists still worked to keep the populous and malevolence at bay, despite the still constant presence of daemons. As if the Abbey numbers weren't stretched thin beforehand, now, with many ex-exorcists unable to see malakhim or even control them, there were so few remaining that helping the people of Midgand wore her out daily.

Eleanor remained ever vigilant however. She had a responsibility to the people, and a promise to keep...

To Velvet.

As she worked quietly in her kitchen, she sighed, irritated that her thoughts had focused suddenly on Velvet today.

It was most likely because of the note she'd recently received. It wasn't signed, but she had some hope in its words.

Shepard, your time has come. Our promise to her is complete in my time. Now you must ensure that Velvet remains safe in yours. And you as well, so our wish may be granted once more in your future.

From the way the sender chose their words, she had no idea who it was, beyond the ridiculous thought that perhaps it was her from a future time. It was strange, but 'our wish' and 'our promise' made it seem like that was the case.

Eleanor had no clue what they meant by Velvet remaining safe. Velvet was gone, trapped with her brother in an endless cycle of malevolence devouring for all eternity. Surely her future self of all people would know that.

"Oof!" With the grunt came a hard thud, as if someone had fallen from a tree and landed on the ground in front of her home.

Exercising caution, Eleanor made her way to her front door, peeking out through one of the windows and seeing a body lying in the dirt, unmoving. As she opened her door, she noticed how weak the person's body looked and their voice sounded as well.

The person inhaled sharply and immediately coughed wildly, their fragile form shaking. They were clearly in some kind of pain, and naked of all things. Hair disheveled and surprisingly long and dark, pale skin, and a voice that sounded...

No.

"V-Velvet?" she spoke, kneeling down and brushing the trembling girl's hair out of her face, her theory quickly confirmed.

Those familiar golden eyes seemed faded and tired, likely from whatever happened to her when she sacrificed herself. They looked at her, almost through her, but Eleanor knew Velvet was aware of her.

Quickly, Eleanor picked the girl up bridal-style, equally shocked and worried at how light the girl was now, and brought her inside. After placing her on Eleanor's bed, the exorcist disappeared into the kitchen, bringing back a glass of water and a small wet towel.

"Okay, Velvet," she said as she sat down on the side of the bed, fixing the blanket she'd pulled up to warm the girl. "I'm going to need you to sit up for a moment. Can you do that or do you need help?"

Velvet moaned weakly in response, shifting slowly under the covers but clearly unable to move much if at all otherwise.

Eleanor carefully helped the girl up, bringing the glass to her partially opened lips and helping to ease some of the water in. Thankfully, Velvet didn't choke and sputter any of it out like Eleanor had expected, and before long, the girl was quietly resting with the wet towel on her head to ease the quickly building fever.

Now the redhead sat at her kitchen table, staring at nothing as she tried to figure out how Velvet ended up at her front door. It was impossible, wasn't it?

She'd have to ask whenever Velvet woke up.

......

Velvet tried balling her hands into fists, her muscles protesting due to the full year of atrophy in her limbo. Hissing at the pain, she fought against it, forcing her body to move to sit up. When she was finally able to, she sighed, wincing at the pain in her lungs.

Clearly being this weak was not something she looked forward to getting used to. At least she was safe. By some miracle, once she awoke, she found herself with Eleanor, the one person she honestly hoped to be with. She was thankful that Eleanor had come to her aid. This physical weakness she was forced under she'd only trust two people to see her deal with, the other being Phi.

She looked out the window by the bed, seeing the morning sun slowly creeping through the trees behind Eleanor's home.

Grabbing the bed covers, she pulled them up over her shoulders to warm herself up. The remnants of a cool night still lingered in the air and getting any sicker wasn't going to help her right now.

Footsteps outside the room alerted her to the only other presence in the house. The sounded close, drawing near until finally the door opened slowly.

Eleanor poked her head in and smiled. "Hey, Velvet. Are you alright?" she asked as she walked in. She placed something on the side of the bed before grabbing a nearby chair to sit in.

"I'm better," Velvet murmured, her voice slightly strained and struggling to function like the rest of her.

"I can get you some more water, if you need it. Do you want anything to eat as well? I'm making some morning stew. I'm sure you can use something warm and filling in your stomach after what you've been through." Eleanor motioned out the door, likely to the kitchen area.

Velvet eyed what appeared to be a set of clean clothes, obviously for her to wear. "I'd love some, thanks." A thought struck her then. "Hey, if this is your bed, where exactly did you sleep?" she asked.

Eleanor rubbed at the side of her neck, trying to hide her aching pain and nervous expression. Despite the fact that she looked so tired and frail, Velvet still found a way to appear intimidating, as always. She left the room quickly, not bothering to answer the question.

Furrowing her brows, Velvet sighed. Eleanor insisting on hurting herself trying to help her honestly made all too much sense, being the virtuous exorcist she was.

Even though she wouldn't admit it out loud, Velvet missed Eleanor a lot. In the strange, infinite void she was stuck in with Innominat, she would often think of how the girl was doing. How she behaved, the way she spoke, her reactions, and all the times they spent together.

Her mind had wandered towards being with her, comforted by her presence and the memory of her. She had somehow become one of the most prominent people in her dreams, after having wormed her way into Velvet's heart. She had forgotten how sweet her voice sounded, and hearing it again after so long sparked a happiness in Velvet she hadn't felt in a while.

How long had she been gone from this world, Velvet wondered. It didn't seem that long, since Eleanor looked almost the same, and yet she could tell time had passed since her sacrifice.
 
Looking down at her hands, she noticed then that the bandages that hid her therion arm were no longer there. In fact, her therion arm wasn't there either. Just a regular human arm, hand, and fingers. Weakened, but human, something she had long forgotten the feel of.

What brought her back? What miracle allowed for her return? Why to Eleanor? Though the latter question wasn't something to complain about, it was all still confusing.

"Here we go," Eleanor chimed as she walked in, setting a glass of water down on the bedside table. In her other hand was a bowl, which she held carefully as she sat down in the chair. She stirred the stew a bit before holding up a spoonful towards Velvet.

"You... do know I can do this myself, right?" Velvet said after reluctantly taking and swallowing the offering.

"Not in your current condition. You can barely speak and move. We both know you wouldn't be able to even move the spoon around, much less pick it up. Now just hush and eat, okay?" Eleanor insisted, practically shoving another spoonful Velvet's way.

Gulping down the next, Velvet grumbled, "Now I know how my brother used to feel when he was sick."

As she continued feeding the weakened girl, Eleanor considered those words.

"What was it like? Being with your brother again, I mean," she asked, mostly out of curiosity.

Velvet stilled, staring off into space at the question. Once enough of the memories came fully rushing back, she sighed again and replied, "I can... Vaguely recall a lot of it. I guess you can say he and I were sort of mentally connected. Not entirely, but enough that I could... In a way, give him a better life, better memories, an adventure. It was weird, but... nice. I could tell he was happier. While it lasted, anyway."

"And what happened once you were... taken out?"

"I don't even know how it happened. One minute, he and I are reliving memories, the next there's this bright light. Then I landed here. If there was anything in between, it went to fast for me to even notice. It hurt, though. That I can remember for sure." Velvet rubbed her arms as she emphasized that last point and Eleanor pursed her lips into a straight line as she saw the fragile girl's muscles, skin, and bones move clear as day.

"Are you sad that you're not with him anymore?" Eleanor murmured.

But at that question, Velvet's weakness turned into that familiar darkness. "My brother betrayed me, knowingly lied to me, and I trusted him so much that I gave my life for him. Three times. Maybe even more. I didn't sacrifice myself this time for him. I did it for Phi. What my brother and I had in there was..."

She paused, staring at Eleanor as if searching for an answer. Then, for once more, she sighed, finding it much easier to breathe now, and finished with, "It was fine."

......

Velvet hissed a couple of curses out, trying to shift into a more comfortable position despite being told not to.

"What did I tell you, Velvet? You're only hurting yourself, doing all this work," Eleanor said as she pressed her thumb into the girl's shoulder blade, causing another quieter bout of curses.

"Says you," Velvet spat, flinching when the comforting pressure on her back became an actual jab of pain.

"What I'm saying," Eleanor continued, "is that just because you're getting healthier again, doesn't mean you should fling yourself back into all the stuff you used to do, expecting your body to work the same as before. Whatever happened to you isn't going to magically go away now that you're human again, eating and drinking for nourishment again."

"I know," grumbled Velvet, relaxing as Eleanor's lecturing tone brought a strange rhythm to the massage that soothed her muscles just a bit more.

"I'm aware I sound like a nagging mother, Velvet, but you have to understand. I'm only saying this to help you because I care about you." Eleanor shifted on the bed so she could look at the sleepy-eyed expression of her partner. "I love you, Velvet."

Velvet smiled, pulling the other girl close and causing both of them to giggle happily. "Oh, I know you do."

In the past few weeks since Velvet appeared, she had been working her damnedest to get healthier and stronger whenever she could and as much as she could. She'd been getting better so far, but Eleanor ended up worrying more often than not.

"Ugh, you two are gonna make me hurl."

Both girls froze, Eleanor straddling Velvet, and they looked up to see Magilou leaning against the door frame casually.

"Magilou, wh-what are you doing here?" Eleanor stammered, crawling off and away from Velvet in embarrassment.

The witch shrugged. "I was passing by and thought I'd drop in to see how you were doing. Wasn't expecting Miss Moody Monster to be back in town. How've you been, Velvet? Looking pretty great for someone supposedly dead for a year."

Velvet rolled her eyes, remaining unmoving on the bed otherwise. Ignoring the quip, she asked, "What do you want?"

"Oh, nothing. Like I said, I'm just dropping by on my way to something else. I can tell you two haven't improved, even after all my hard work trying to help you. Gosh, it's almost as if you don't appreciate my work." Her snarky tone punctuated her clearly mischievous intent.
 
Both girls easily recalled the two other times Magilou had placed them under her strange little spell for what seemed to be her own amusement. Though for both times, there had been embarrassment between both of them, it eventually lead to the two becoming much closer than they would have otherwise. Despite the annoyance from Velvet's side, they both, in a way, were somewhat grateful for her twisted way of helping them get closer.

"I hope you're not intending to try that again," Eleanor said, holding her sheets to her chest cautiously.

"Well how else are you two going to get any better at this? You're clearly not doing anything interesting by yourselves." Magilou rubbed her hands together like a villain hatching a devious plan, giggling.

Velvet rolled over, breathing a heavy sigh that blew her bangs aside. "Just get it over with then," she spoke reluctantly.

"Aw, it's no fun when you're into it."

"Anything to get you out of here faster."

Magilou crossed her arms over her chest, pouting as if offended. "Geez, you're no fun as always." She waved a hand around. "At least your decision makes my job easy."

Eleanor put a hand on Velvet's shoulder, whimpering out, "Velvet, you can't seriously be okay with this."

"Would you rather have her around for another three hours or just go along with her plans so she can go away?" Velvet asked, resting her chin in her hand. She watched the apprehension quickly drain from Eleanor's expression.

Magilou hummed, considering the question herself. Her eyes gained a glimmer of inspiration. "Well, if you're going to act like that, then I have just the trick for you two," she declared.

Eleanor, with a heavy sigh of her own, slumped against Velvet in defeat. "Just don't make us do anything weird like last time," she begged.

"Why does everyone keep thinking I'm making you do things under hypnosis? Whatever you two did last time was all you. The only thing I did was lead you guys in that direction. Can't make you drink from the stream if you don't already want to." Waving her hands around much more dramatically, Magilou smirked, then snapped both her fingers.

Instantly, the two girls fell under the spell, though obviously not expecting it. They stilled, but slowly relaxed as their desires rose from within once more.

Eleanor wrapped her arms around Velvet's shoulders, pressing light kisses along her neck. Velvet responded with delighted moans, moving around to bring her lover closer.

"Now let's spice things up one last time," Magilou declared, snapping her fingers again.

......

Eleanor groaned, her mind waking up from the fog of hypnosis slowly at first. Then reality struck at her core, leaving the truth of what had happened a bit too clear now.

She felt hot, exhausted, yet comforted and happy nonetheless. She felt arms around her waist and immediately knew they were Velvet's from how strong and protective they were around her.
 
Her gaze landed on something sitting the bedside table, momentarily noting that the table itself looked nothing like her own, and gasped when she realized what it was.

......

"You two have fun now. Your Mistress has a date with fate." Swerving on her heel, Magilou strutted out the front door.

"M-Mistress, wait," called Eleanor, prying herself attention away from her lover to catch the witch before she left for good.

Magilou poked her head back in. "Hm? What? Can't you see I have somewhere to be?" She stumbled back in, crossing her arms over her chest once more and waiting for the exorcist to say her piece.

After a second of Velvet's playful distractions, Eleanor focused on their Mistress, her mind clearly working to remember what she was about to ask. Her eyes, glazed over as they were, seemed to lighten up as she thought of something.

"In... In the top drawer... A small box.... Really n-need it... Please?" she murmured through whimpers of pleasure.

About to question why the girl couldn't do it herself, Magilou quickly reminded herself that these two weren't exactly in their right minds at the moment. As well, Velvet probably wouldn't let the poor girl out of her grasp anytime soon. The hypnosis practically glued them together at the hip. Or the lips, if she was being honest.

Eleanor smiled as Magilou placed the desired item in her hand, holding it close to her chest. "Thank you, Mistress."

"Yeah, yeah. Don't drown while making out."

......

Her hand immediately shot towards the small box, grabbing it and throwing it at her discarded clothes on the floor. Hopefully Velvet didn't notice it, or if she did, didn't ask about it yet. She had to leave that for the right moment.

"Ugh. Eleanor?" Velvet grumbled from behind her, nudging her head against Eleanor's shoulder blade.

"Yeah? You alright?" Eleanor responded, quickly masking her nervousness with the tiredness of her body. She rolled over and smiled at Velvet's quiet protests. "I told you not to overexert yourself."

"Well, sorry if my hypnotized brain doesn't exactly care about my physical strength." Velvet sat up, rubbing her eyes and her aching arms to combat the exhaustion of the previous night.
 
"I think we might have gone a bit too far last night," Eleanor said, pulling the covers close to hide her breasts from view.

Velvet noticed this and said, "You don't have to feel embarrassed, you know. We've seen each other naked multiple times before. There's no use hiding it anymore." Reflecting her statement, she pulled off the covers and hopped out of bed.

"You could at least have some decency," Eleanor countered as she sat up, blushing as she watched Velvet walk around nude.

"Please," Velvet scoffed, "you do remember you're talking to me, right? Ex-Lord of Calamity? I stopped caring about decency when people started calling me a monster." As she picked up her scattered articles of clothing, Velvet scanned the rest of the unfamiliar room. "Where the hell are we anyway? Another inn?"

Eleanor briefly eyed her own clothes, moving her foot to nudge them closer to her side of the bed, all the while replying, "I think Magilou said something about a hot spring. I briefly remember something about that."

"Huh. Well, if that's the case, wanna go out and enjoy it? We're already naked anyway. Might as well enjoy what we're offered here." Velvet dumped her clothes into a nearby chair and walked over to her side of the bed, tilting her head to emphasize the playfulness in her voice.

Grumbling incoherent excuses, Eleanor hid herself completely under the covers. The only words Velvet could make out were 'strangers' and 'see us' which caused her to chuckle.

"Oh come on, Eleanor. Live a little. I'm pretty sure this place will be big enough that strangers won't even matter. If it's anything like the last hot spring we went to anyway." That train of thought reminded her. "Hopefully our souls stay with us this time at least," she joked as she nudged at the flustered shape that was her companion under the covers.

She chuckled when she heard the reluctant and muffled reply, "Fine."

......

Eleanor sighed with her relaxed partner as they both eased into the hot spring pool together, their bodies completely eased by the warmth of the waters. She stayed close, running a hand through Velvet's wet hair, which had been cut short about a week after she'd returned, and enjoyed how nice it felt.

"It's still weird," Velvet murmured, and Eleanor noticed she was staring at her once-daemon arm, letting the water spill through her fingers.

"What is?" she asked, unsure of what she might be referring to specifically.

"Being alive again. Having an arm. Being here with you. Everything really. It's unbelievable to me still."

"You don't remember how you got out, right?" Eleanor asked, twirling a few strands of Velvet's hair.

Velvet shook her head, pulling Eleanor closer.

Eleanor hummed, resting her head on Velvet's shoulder, her mind wandering around her own question. Something about it nagged at the back of her mind, and then she remembered what it was.

"Well, I can't answer it myself, but before you appeared, I found a message that mentioned you in a weird way," she mentioned casually.

"Weird how?"

"It mentioned keeping you safe, but beyond that, it was really vague about what it was talking about otherwise. I honestly almost forgot about it, but I guess it did warn me that you were coming, in its own way, so that's why I wasn't entirely confused as to how you made it to my home in the first place." Without really thinking, Eleanor found her eyes landing on Velvet's chest, and once she realized it, she quickly averted her gaze.

Velvet however, gave little thought to it, clearly focused on what Eleanor had mentioned.
An echo of Velvet's previous words, from back in their room, came to the forethought of Eleanor's mind.

Why not enjoy it? Live a little.

Her gaze returned to Velvet's chest, a blush forming on her face as part of her considered the idea. The other part was left wondering if Magilou's spell had left remnants of itself scattered in her thoughts. She licked her lips, and if the hot bath wasn't already warming her up, her blood would be boiling with the sudden desire.

She flinched back as Velvet asked, "Did it have a signature of some kind?"

"H-Huh? Oh! N-No, it didn't. The letter was unsigned." Biting back guilt and shame, Eleanor sunk into the water until her chin was touching the edge of it.

Velvet tilted her head, confused, then smiled and moved closer to her partner. "Are you okay, Eleanor?"

Eleanor nodded, keeping her gaze away from Velvet.

Noticing the girl's nervousness, Velvet continued with, "Do you want to go back to our room?"

"N-No!" Realizing she'd yelled that so suddenly, startling Velvet somewhat, she added, "O-Only if... If you want to anyway."

Though still concerned about Eleanor's strange behavior, Velvet decided to drop the subject. She looked to some of the soaps and towels the staff at the hot spring provided for them, then asked, "Do you want me to wash your back then?"

Eleanor, still sheepish, mumbled out, "If you want to."

Velvet chuckled and swam closer to the exorcist, nudging her forehead against Eleanor's own before kissing her on the lips.

......

Arms were around her stomach and waist, and at some point that morning, they wormed around enough that she ended up waking up to them and some light whimpers from behind her.

Opening her eyes, Velvet grunted and squirmed until the arms stopped moving, then she rolled over to see her partner. She smiled when she heard Eleanor's murmurs, then whispered to her, "Hey. It's okay. Relax. It's just me, Eleanor."

The morning sun seemed to make Eleanor's long, red hair glow as early rays trickled in through the nearby window. With it being disheveled from sleep, it gave Velvet a curiously funny yet gentle and calming perspective. It made Velvet want to relax back into sleep and cuddle up with Eleanor forever.

And yet Eleanor's distressed whimpers caused her a bit of worry.

Velvet sat up, brushing her own mess of hair out of her face and watching Eleanor's expression of calm change into slight fear.

"Eleanor? Are you okay? Do you want some water?" After a few minutes of silence, Velvet moved to do as she intended without waiting for an answer.

But before she could get far, she was pulled back into the bed, confused but eased by the fact that Eleanor was finally reacting to something. She wiggled a bit in an attempt to free herself from Eleanor's surprisingly strong and possessive hold on her, but in the end gave in and sighed.

Then she heard some muffled garble behind her.

"Eleanor? What is it?" Again, Velvet tried moving around to check on her, but was shockingly unable to. So she waited until Eleanor spoke again, trying her best to focus on what she was saying.

"Don't leave me."

Though shocked, Velvet remained silent and unmoving.

"Don't disappear again, Velvet. I don't want you to go again," Eleanor whimpered out, sniffling a little.

Finally did the girl decide to loosen up her hold, allowing Velvet to turn over and see the tears forming. "Hey. It's alright. I'm here now. I'm not leaving you," she assured, wiping those tears away quickly and pulling Eleanor closer.

"Don't go away again," Eleanor repeated, her voice weak as she sobbed lightly.

"I won't. I promise. Whatever you saw was just a nightmare, okay? You're awake now. This is real. I'm real, and I'm not going away anytime soon. Especially not without you," Velvet whispered to her as a gentle hand rubbed at Eleanor's back.

......

"I'm going to miss this place," Eleanor said as the two of them walked around the hot spring, clothed this time.

"Yeah," Velvet said, "This place is nice. The spring itself definitely isn't something to scoff at. And the rest... It reminds me of home."

Eleanor perked up at that last comment, her focus moving from the scenery of the spring to Velvet. "Hm? How so?"

"The scenery's nice and full of trees. The staff here has a humble, hospitable charm to them, like they treat you more like family rather than a customer. And besides the hot spring area itself, the place has a cool air of calm to it." Velvet looked up at the sky as they exited out to a more private, outdoor section of the place. There was no one around, as it was late into the night now.

The moon high in the sky, stars scattered and twinkling around it. The forest near the edge of the springs shifted with the cool breeze to offset the heat.

Everything was right for what she wanted.

Eleanor gulped, her hands around the small box she'd kept hidden from Velvet since they came here. She hid it as best she could behind her back as they walked down the outdoor path. So casually, she played with the lid, slipping a nail through the slight opening as she bit at her bottom lip trying to figure out how to go about what she wanted.

"I-I guess that makes sense," she spoke finally, unable to find the words.

Velvet smiled as she felt the cool air go by, then looked to Eleanor with a curious raise of the brow. "Is there something on your mind?"

Swallowing the fear, Eleanor replied, "Y-Yes, actually. So... Um... Velvet. We've known each other for a while..."

"Yeah, I guess so."

"Well, I was thinking... You trust me, right?"

"Of course I do." Noticing the nervousness in her expression and hesitation in her words, Velvet added, "Is there something you're hiding?"

"N-No! I mean, yes! I mean..." Eleanor breathed out a heavy sigh, grabbing Velvet's arm by the wrist and stopping them both in the middle of the path. "I love you, Velvet. A-And for the past month since you came back, everything's been wonderful again. We've been happier together, and I couldn't have imagined being without you otherwise. So... I... I wanted to... Will you... Will you..."

The final words were stuck in her throat, but she was still able to put the box in the other girl's hand to finish off her question for her.

Velvet's eyes widened as she realized what Eleanor had been trying to say. She opened the palm-sized box and marveled at the ring inside.

It was a silver band with a few glittering, tiny purple jewels embedded in it. It was simple, but dazzling nonetheless.

"E-Eleanor... how... when did you get this?" She looked up to Eleanor and wasn't surprised to see the girl crying instead of answering. She wrapped her arms around the exorcist and started tearing up herself. "Eleanor, yes! I will! I do! Marry me!" She laughed, then kissed her.

A wash of relief swept over Eleanor, who returned the kiss and eased into the hold.

When they broke the kiss, Velvet added, "I wouldn't have it any other way."

......

And so it shall be. Are you satisfied?

"I... Yes! Thank you!"

You did your part. It is only fair you are rewarded for saving the lives of many.

Ah.

The seraphim froze, hearing footsteps behind her. She peered over her shoulder, noticing the figure stop in their tracks.

It is my time to leave, Miss Hume. May your wish stay satisfactory for all time to come.

The light disappeared behind her as she turned.

"Hume? As in, the Shepard Hume? Eleanor Hume?" the woman with striking and long red hair questioned, tilting her head almost playfully. She placed a hand on her hip, smiling.

Cautious, Eleanor answered, "It depends on who's asking. I've had two names in my time, and that is the one I use now. I was able to remember the memories of my past life, unlike other reborn seraphim." Her grip on Velvet's comb tightened and she hid it behind her back.

The woman took a step forward, her red eyes gleaming with what seemed like dark intent. "Hm. Is that so? You'll have to prove that to me then. I have something of hers- few things, really- that she kept dear to her heart."

Though unconvinced and wary, Eleanor motioned for the woman to continue.  

The woman held up something with a bit of wear to it, about as big as her palm, and Eleanor was quick to realize what it was.

"That's-!" Eleanor was about to move, but held firm, trying not to give this woman an edge.
 
"Oho? A reaction. But what did it mean to her, I wonder?" The woman's sly smirk was strange.
 
"It was a gift. From my mother. A hand mirror she gave me before she died with the rest of my village."

That smile turned neutral, then the woman stepped closer as she put the mirror away, until they weren't all that far apart. About arm's length.

"Then what about this one?" The woman simply held up her hand.

On her ring finger was the wedding ring Eleanor had proposed to Velvet with, one that Velvet assured she'd never lose.

"No words? Interesting. Maybe I overestimated you."

"Where did you get that?" Eleanor snapped, glaring daggers at the stranger.

"That's not what I was expecting, but unfortunately I'll only tell her when I find her again," the woman responded. "Now there's one last thing. Something a bit personal. You see, I once knew the Shepard and made it my mission to seek her out, should her name ever come up again. And it has. And I find you here. A seraphim going by the Shepard's name."

"So what's your point?"

"Because if there's one thing Eleanor Hume held dear over all things, it was her lover, her wife, the one who owns this ring; Velvet Crowe."

Eleanor didn't miss the way she phrased that. "You... It's you!"

Velvet smiled once more, holding her hands out and laughing with her as they embraced. "I missed you, Eleanor."

"How did you-? Why?" Eleanor questioned.

"I promised I wouldn't leave you. And like you, I don't forget my promises."

Eleanor let out a giddy bout of giggles, absolutely delighted to hear that. "I can't... I... I-love you, Velvet."

"I love you too, Eleanor."