Chapter 1: Stargazing
"I remember this."
Her voice was almost inaudible but he still picked it up. His ears perking up as he tilted his head slightly to look at her.
She quickly glanced at him before she lowered her head, looking down towards the valley that stretched out before them. A river weaving its way through the forest, sparkling in the light of the full moon.
"Remember what?" He asked her, not taking his eyes away from her face. Her white bangs glowing in the moonlight. He hadn't seen her expression that serene for a very long time.
A small smile reached her lips.
"Hmm. Well, 'remember' is probably the wrong choice of words." She looked up at him and her smile widened. "I saw this before... that's more acurate."
"Ah..." He nodded slightly. Distracted by her content expression. When was the last time he had seen a smile like that on her lips? It reminded him of a different time... when they were still young and whole. And happy. And irrevocably in love.
Not that the last part had changed. He still loved her with his whole being. He always would.
But the rest...
Claire suddenly straightened and moved closer against him, prompting him to put his arm around her shoulder as she leaned in. Her hand finding his, fingers moving in small circles over his skin.
"I thought I'd never see them again like this." she spoke up after a moment and he knew what she meant.
"Yeah." He answered "I almost forgot there were stars... Had they always been this bright?"
"Hm." She hummed, snuggling even more against his chest and he brought his other arm around her as well. "I doubt they have grown brighter, I just guess... The darker the world, the better you can see them."
She was right. There wasn't any lightsource polluting the night sky for hundreds of miles... the surface world had changed. The human cities were dark. Many of them at least. It would take a few more months until the infrastructure could be revived and even then...
The night would never again be as bright as it had been during those years of war. Never again would they use light as a weapon.
They did not have a reason to. Not anymore...
"Any news from Blinky?" Claire asked, sensing his mood.
Jim sighed. "No. And... it's probably for the better. Makes it easier. It means they are okay. That's all I need to know."
"You sure?" She questioned, her voice doubtful.
"Yes. I'm sure." He pulled her against him, leaning his face against her head. Her hair tickling his nose as he closed his eyes and breathed in deeply.
He was okay. They restored peace. His friends were safe. They were safe.
No more fighting. Not for a while at least.
They could breathe.
He opened his eyes and looked up at the stars that had been hidden from view for so long.
He was the last troll - well half-troll, walking the surface. More than a hundred years since he had picked up an amulet and the world he had known was no more. Decades of War had changed the face of the earth and every human he had ever held dear to his heart was gone. Everyone except Claire.
They would always have each other. As sure as the stars would never truly disappear.
Chapter 2: Orbit
Blinky muses over human love...
He hadn't even noticed he was purring until he noticed Blinky's thoughtful, curious gaze, prompting him to stop. But when the older troll's gaze lingered still, he finally turned towards his mentor and raised an eyebrow.
"Blinky, what's up? You got something on your mind?"
"Huh?" The older troll replied distractedly and blinked at the trollhunter.
"Ah... heh, sorry Jim. I've just been thinking."
They had been travelling for two days, trying to find the rogue ogre that had stolen a piece of heartstone. And when they finally caught up, said ogre had met up with a bunch of his friends. A couple dozens of his friends...
In the resulting fight the trollhunters had tried to reason with the brutish creatures. But compared to trolls their bullish relatives were known for being far less reasonable. Thus resulting in a rather exhausting fight with only a few ogres left, backing down and making a run for it.
In their hurry to find the thief neither of them had been able to get much sleep nor took the time to eat much. So before heading back to trollmarket Jim insisted on resting for a while and even though Claire had protested against it, she promptly fell asleep against his side within minutes. Which gave Jim the chance to pull her into his arms and relax while listening to her slow breathing.
"It's just curious, you see?" Blinky spoke up again after a moment "This connection you and Claire have."
Jim looked down at her at Blinky's words, observing whether she'd stirr at the sound of her name. But the girl was still fast asleep.
"What do you mean?" He asked the troll quietly.
"Ah..." Blinky sighed, giving his protégé a smile as he trailed off. "Well you know how trolls feelings are differently, um, programmed than human's. Trolls can be incredibly loyal, even passionate in their feelings towards one another. But our love isn't as... layered. Not as complicated and dare I say... deep as your human bonds. It can last for centuries, glowing like a star. Or it can last for days and burn out like a flame. But human's love is so, so strong and at the same time... fragile."
The trollhunter frowned at his words. As a halftroll Jim had to learn the hard way how confusing and overwhelming human feelings could be. But he had trouble guessing what Blinky was aiming at, regarding his and Claire's relationship.
He knew though that Blinky had been secretly curious about it, ever since his transformation.
After Jim had gone through a few... rough patches, Blinky even admitted once, that he wouldn't have thought their love could last. His personality had changed, his calling as a trollhunter challenged them daily and Jim knew exactly how hard it was on Claire sometimes. He tried his best to make it up to her.
So Blinky calling their love fragile, provoked feelings of fear and uncertainty to bubble up to the surface immediately.
Thankfully Blinky continued after a moment of thought. Seemingly not noticing his adopted sons moment of fear.
"It's beautiful." He said, turning towards him again. "How it permeates everything you do, these small subtle things a troll might mistake for fondness but are actually an expression of how much you're linked together. Even today when you were fighting... It is so fascinating to see how you move around one another. Like a choreografy. I have to admit, I feel somewhat envious about it."
Jim chuckled slightly.
Of course Blinky would be the one troll, able to describe love like that. In fact, Jim believed that he would be the last troll who'd need to feel envious about human's ability to love, because Blinky was probably the one who understood it best from own experience. His and Arrrgh!'s love was more like the bond he so admired in humans than most other troll's relationships.
"That was beautifully put Blinky, really. And you're right, I admit. I can't imagine living without her..." Jim said as he looked down at her sleeping face "...but emotions are complicated. And sometimes it makes me feel afraid..."
"You don't have to be." Blinky responded with a smile "Of course it's different for trolls. Our perception of time and space is different and your human saying of 'if you love it let it go' is very much true for us. True love will always come back. And if I've ever seen true love it's your's and Claire's, Jim. You two are drawn towards one another like the stars and suns. You will always find each other."
Chapter 3: Falling Star
She was ready to let go. But he wasn't.
He roared and struggled against the bonds holding him in place as he helplessly watched her racing to her doom. Tears streaming down his face as he screamed her name.
She had promised.
That was all he could think of.
She had promised to stay by his side.
She had promised they would survive. Both survive as long as they had each other.
He should'nt have been so foolish. Should have seen the signs.
Should have seen that even though while she held him up, her legs were shaking. Her will to live just as broken as was his.
That promise she made was not to him alone, but to herself to keep him alive. He could see that so clearly now. He realised it the moment he felt her magic envelope his fists, forcing him to the ground so he couldn't do what he would always do.
Put himself in front of her.
He failed at that before. Causing them to loose everything. And so he was to blame for it all, wasn't he? His failure was the reason she was so ready to throw her life away. He had failed at his job to protect them.
And now she forced him to do what he had done so often to her.
Watch her fall.
She was ready to let him go. But he wasn't.
The aircraft exploded as she launched her powers against it. Fire raining down on the earth, hot gush of wind shaking the trees and run down houses around them.
His bonds loosened not a moment later then disappeared and he didn't think. He only reacted.
His eyes only on her glinting figure and not the surge of fire and smoke consuming and then releasing her body, he ran.
Lungs burning. Blood rushing. Mind racing.
He couldn't loose her.
He would catch her. He had to.
He would catch her and get her to safety and get whatever wounds she aquired treated and then he would scold her for frightening him like that.
Like she had always done.
He was fast enough, strong enough.
But he won't let her shatter on the ground.