It is the eve of battle, and Helena is still awake.
She has spent the last few hours trying and failing to fall asleep, to regain her strength for tomorrow, but all she has managed is a few scant minutes.
It must be the pre-battle jitters, she thinks.
She looks down at the crack of space between her tent and the ground, where the light seeps in from torches spread throughout the battlements. She still hears a low murmur of voices outside, a sudden bark of laughter, a peal of jeers. Music starts, and the scent of cooked meat slips between the cracks and wafts toward her nose.
A smile stretches on her face, and she pushes herself up off the cot, deciding to find the source of the sound and distract herself.
Just for a little while, she thinks.
She wraps herself in her warmest jacket before pulling aside the flap of her tent. A whisper of wind meets her, lifts her hair up an inch or two, kisses her nose with cold, and she can’t help the laughter that bubbles from her throat.
The scrape of stone against stone pulls her back into reality, and Helena notices shadowy movement from the corner of her eye.
The torches flicker in the breeze, throwing shadows all around, but there’s one shadow that’s more substantial, palpable than the rest.
“Hello?” she calls before she can think better of it.
Her stomach roils.
The shadow moves, footsteps scraping in the gravel, and Helena rushes after it without thinking.
They scrabble like cat and mouse, weaving between tents, dashing past torches, until they push toward the outer edges of the battlements.
Helena succumbs to the burning of her lungs just as the figure crests past the forest’s edge, and jumps into the bushes.
“Crap,” she hears a familiar voice grunt.
Helena ignores the protests of her legs and lungs, and runs into the forest.
“Saint? Is that you?” She very nearly laughs. “What are you doing?”
She ducks and weaves between bushes and branches, until she sees her brother hunched onto his hands and knees, breathless and winded, in the moonlight.
“Saint!” Helena runs forward and kneels in front of him. “Are you okay? Did I scare you?”
He’s still panting, and nods.
“I’m sorry.” She frowns and ducks her head to look him in the eye, but his face is in shadows. “I shouldn’t have chased you.”
She looks down to see his blanched knuckles grasping at the dirt. Even in the shadows she can see the grimace on his face.
“Saint,” she begins softly, touches his hand with hers, “What’s wrong?”
He pulls his hand away like she’s scalding, pushes himself back onto his feet, still doesn’t face her.
“Just go back to your tent, okay?”
He finally looks up at her.
Helena’s throat catches at the sight of Saint’s red rimmed eyes, wet and shining in the moon; tears fall down his cheeks, dribble down his jaw.
“Lena.” He swallows thickly. “Please, listen to me. Just go back to your tent.”
Helena furiously wipes at the tears that threaten to blur her vision. She’s about to protest when she notices the heavy backpack that Saint wears: even without seeing its contents, she knows it’s filled to the brim with provisions.
She gasps for air. “You’re leaving?”
Between her tears, she swears she sees Saint’s hand twitch forward, as though to comfort her, but he pulls back. Saint’s jaw sets tightly, his brow furrows, his breath evens, but tears still slip free.
His eyes dart toward the shadows around them, and she can almost see the red eyes staring at them.
“Saint?” her voice is hoarse, and her vision is overcome with tears again.
The forest is silent, but for the hissing of the leaves.
“Don’t stop me,” Saint says finally, through gritted teeth.
After a moment, he turns and leaves into the shadow of the canopy.
Helena doesn’t follow.
Instead she stumbles back toward the battlements in a daze, doesn’t even remember wandering back to her tent, or taking off her jacket.
But when her head hits the cot, she sleeps.
Saint’s footsteps are light, even as he stumbles over a line of corpses.
He can barely see out of one eye, he’s pretty sure he’s cracked a few ribs, and his muscles ache beyond belief, but he still can’t stop grinning.
Cronus is dead.
The war is over, and they won.
Everyone else is still a few hundred feet away, but he’s certain everyone takes notice of his hair even at this distance, just like they did when he made the killing blow.
He turns to his left to see Helena running towards him at full speed.
“Whoa, whoa, slow down!” He calls back.
She ignores him and jumps over a few more bodies, her arms outstretched.
He sees the tears shining in her eyes, and his own threaten to spill in sympathy; a watery smile breaks out onto their nearly identical faces.
When she finally reaches him, her hug is warm and gentle, not the crushing force he expected.
“I knew it!” Helena cries in earnest into his chest.
Saint wraps his arms around her small body, pulling her into as close a hug as two injured people can manage. She snuggles into his arms, laughing. Sometimes, Saint forgets that he’s the younger sibling.
“I knew you were faking it,” she murmurs into his blood spattered armor.
“Did you?” He can’t help but tease, “If that were true, we probably wouldn’t be alive.”
She pulls back with a confused expression, but still grinning. “What do you mean?”
He attempts a shrug but only grimaces in pain. “Well, we knew that Cronus could look into your mind, so you couldn’t know I was still on your side, otherwise none of this would’ve worked.” He gestures behind him, to the smoldering crater where the Titan used to be. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to catch him off-guard, finally destroy him.”
Something flickers on Helena’s face before Saint has a chance to properly register it.
She rests her head on Saint’s uninjured shoulder again, muffling her voice.
“Just don’t do anything like that again, okay?”
Saint frowns. “Yeah. Of course. Never again.”
He leans forward to rest his cheek on her head but she pulls away.
“Come on,” she says, still smiling, but less brightly. “Let’s get you healed up.”
She leads him toward the camp, her back to him; he trails behind her, too injured to keep up with her pace.
She doesn’t spare him a second glance the entire way.
Saint glances back at the crater where Cronus died. Where he killed him, with his bare hands.
Where they won.
But Saint frowns.