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Fear of the Dark

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Nie Huaisang never liked the darkness of the night nor the strange sounds of distant wolfs and creaking branches. He would toss and turn, unable to fall asleep, with a single candle near his bed and a bunch of books with stories that couldn’t distract him from his fear. 

Tonight is one of those terrifying nights. A violent blast forces the window open and extinguishes the only source of light from his chamber. At first, Nie Huaisang bites back a scream and hides underneath the covers, closing his eyes shut as if upon opening them, the light would be back. It isn’t. Darkness envelopes him, seizing his breath and scaring him to death.

Overcoming the thumping of his heart and the many imaginary monsters creeping up to haunt him, Nie Huaisang jumps off the bed and scoots out of his room. Ten big steps. That’s all it takes -he knows- until he scampers into his brother’s room struggling with his ragged breath and tears trickling down his cheeks.

“Dage?” he whispers with a trembling voice. Only the faint snoring of Nie Mingjue answers him. “Dage…?” His feet are cold, he shivers at the increasing autumn chill of the Qinghe nights. Unshed tears gather at the corner of his eyes, fearful of the darkness he left behind in his room and will surely chase him here. Unless…

“Hm?” Nie Mingjue opens his eyes a slit and discerns Nie Huaisang’s short figure in the darkness of his bedchamber. He exhales a deep breath. “Again?” His little brother sobs. While yawning, Nie Mingjue lifts the duvet and a terror-stricken Nie Huaisang hastily slides inside. He covers himself with the bedding up to his nose at the same time the fear vanishes and makes way for the calmness of being next to his brother. It swathes him better than any blanket.

“It was dark,” he pouts. “And there were monsters.” Nie Mingjue snorts, pulling at Nie Huaisang’s arm until they are huddled against the other seeking warmth and comfort.

“I’ll fight them for you.” He kisses his forehead, drifting into sleep with his little brother clinging to him. “Now sleep.”

“Yes, dage,” Nie Huaisang murmurs, closing his eyes and feeling the steady beating of Nie Mingjue’s heart. Nothing bad happens as long as he’s with him.