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A Fragile Moment of Time

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Grisia breathes thinly, his exhale ragged to Lesus’s ears. He’s pale as milk, and the grace of his gestures is gone, his hands wracked with tremors that not even Grisia could hide. Blood splatters his clothes, but surely not enough to leave Grisia in such dishevel.

The sky is growing dark above them, and the trees are dark and silent, their branches and leaves silhouetted against the lavender sky. It’s cold this evening. Strangely so for so deep into summer.

He smells blood, hot and fresh. He hears Grisia’s voice, ragged and desperate, words falling out of his mouth so fast that Lesus can’t distinguish more than one in three. Grisia nearly glows with holy light, chanting a prayer Lesus can’t quite understand.

The light falters and Grisia keeps chanting, and Lesus feels it, feels Grisia reaching inside himself and ripping the power he needs from his own bones. Iron scraping stone, the raw vibration of Grisia’s soul being clawed to the quick singing through the few inches between them.

He wants. Lesus breathes, and the darkness creeping around his vision falls back. His thoughts marshal themselves as Grisia’s voice cracks and the holy light around them shatters into Lesus.

Grisia’s voice is so soft. “If you die, I’ll never forgive you,” he threatens, and it’s Lesus’s blood on Grisia’s pale cheek, isn’t it? 

He feels strange. Blood cools on his skin, on the grass under him. Lesus swallows as his skin warms, his heart beating like it’s remembering how to. What hit him?

“Lesus-- say something ,” Grisia says, his voice as close to helpless as Lesus has ever heard it. “Please.”

It’s like breathing, reaching out to Grisia and grabbing his thin wrist. Grisia had always been the smallest of them. Never built to fight. Lesus’s fingers meet and overlap around Grisia’s arm. He needs a second. Just a few seconds.

Lesus has only seen Grisia grieve once--the night Neo had left, leaving Grisia nothing but a note that was more threat than goodbye. He can feel Grisia’s silent, brutally contained misery again now, and he doesn’t know why. He’s fine. Whatever hit him, Grisia healed him.

“Grisia,” Lesus’s voice rasps out of his chest, raw on his throat. Had he been screaming? It feels like he was. How strange that he can’t remember.

“You know who I am--”

Grisia’s crying. Lesus’s face is wet. He reaches up to dry his cheeks, and it’s too warm and fresh to be blood. “Of course I know you,” Lesus says. He’d never forget Grisia. The idea is ridiculous. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong,” Grisia replies, and the grief in him seems to release. “There was a lot of blood, but it was nothing that the God of Light’s bountiful mercy couldn’t--couldn’t--”

Lesus has never seen Grisia at a loss for words. He’s never seen him cry. Not like this, tears dripping off his sharp chin, thick and fast, sparkling with the remnants of the same holy light still clinging to his golden hair. Grisia glows in the dimming light, looking like a particularly pious painter’s interpretation of the God of Light himself.

Frogs croak in the distance, an unhurried song that settles through the clearing with them. Lesus’s chest aches in sympathy as Grisia chokes out a sob that sounds like it’s being torn out of him. “Are you okay?” Lesus asks, carefully tightening his grip on Grisia’s wrist.

Grisia collapses into the grass beside him, grass that Lesus knows is wet with blood. He’ll get dirty, Lesus thinks with a dazed kind of confusion. Why is Grisia so distraught? What happened?  “We were alone, weren’t we?” Lesus asks. “We’re both okay, aren’t we?”

“That’s true,” Grisia agrees brightly, as though he’s not weeping like his heart is broken into a hundred pieces. “You’re alive, and that’s all that happens to matter, isn’t it?”

Lesus rolls onto his side to face Grisia in the grass, and his body feels loose--almost disconnected at the seams. He wiggles his toes inside his boots, relieved when he feels them move. He’s fine, just. Odd. It feels odd. “When you say such things, Grisia, I know that more is wrong than you say.”

“No such thing is wrong,” Grisia denies. He smiles like the tears aren’t still falling, and pushes Lesus’s hair out of his eyes. “Don’t you believe me?”

“I don’t,” Lesus says. “Because that’s what you ask me when you are lying, and you wish for me to know that you are lying.”

Grisia laughs, sounding genuinely happy, and thus emboldened, Lesus reaches out to tuck Grisia’s hair behind his ear. His gauntlets are gone, which is strange since Lesus remembers wearing them earlier. Grisia’s hair is like the finest silk, clinging to Lesus’s hand and Grisia’s face when he tries to push it back.

“What happened?” Lesus tries again, hoping that Grisia will weaken and spill the truth. “We were looking for the beast in the woods?”

“We found it.”

Lesus contemplates that for a moment, and sighs. “Are you going to force me to interrogate you, Grisia?”

As expected, that makes Grisia go pale and shifty-eyed. “I don’t know what you mean,” Grisia lies to him. “We found it, it attacked you, I drove it off and healed you of course.”

It’s not the whole story. Lesus doesn’t understand how he could have forgotten everything between wandering into woods this afternoon and waking with Grisia chanting over him. “What kind of creature was it?” He remembers--perhaps--scales as large as his hand. Green as the leaves and the grass.

“It was a snake,” Grisia says firmly. “It must have been poisonous. It bit you and you fell like a tree.”

“Are you sure?” Lesus asks, because--he doesn’t remember. He knows there was something more than simply a snake, no snake bite caused so much bleeding--

“Don’t you believe me?” Grisia asks. “If you don’t believe me, then what do you think happened?”

Lesus doesn’t know, but he’s beginning to worry.