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it's alright, it's okay, it's alright, it's okay,

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There's- 

Claudia has to turn away, take a deep breath. An even deeper than that breath. Everything feels like it's on fire, metaphorically. Even though her head hurts and her chest hurts and she's probably having a prolonged panic attack. Which is fine. It's fine. Everything's fine. She's- she's still alive and Soren is still alive somewhere and so are Callum and Ezran probably and everything's okay. The battlefield is clearing out and she's mostly alone, Just her and her- 

There's- 

Okay so maybe everything isn't fine. This isn't just Soren paralyzed, this is way worse. Some of it seeps into her boots and she takes a few more steps back. The smell isn't that bad- but she guesses she's used to being around dead things. Most of them don't look like this but- 

She coughs. She can fix this- she can fix anything. Broken is just another word for delayed solution. Dead is just another word for inconvenienced. She's got this- she's totally got it. It's not a-

There's-

Okay so. What remains of her father is splattered over the rocky earth, and she's all alone and she has to pull herself together and fix it. By pulling her dad together. Literally. Piece by piece. She's sweating, stress mostly, probably, hair plastered to her forehead. Weird how no one wrote any spells about making goo into a person again. 

But she's got this, she's totally got it. 

Just find something big enough to work as a reconstituting agent. Or at least something to put all of the bits back, for now. 

One step at a time, just like dad always taught her. 

She's in Xadia. Even the dirt is magic. The Sunfire staff is light in her grasp. She would know, she's been white knuckling it for the past two days. 

One tiny baby step at a time. 

She can start with not puking. That would be so good. Great, even. Think, Claudia, what's good for fixing bones, for fixing skin. If she can just fix the bulk of him, she can remake the organs. She's got this. She's totally completely one hundred percent got this. 

“Okay.” Her voice sounds rough and she clears her throat. “Time to find some dirt.” 

She finds a cave after a while, and the big bear thing that was living in the cave. 

She's fine, by the way. She's still fine. Her hands won't stop shaking but that's to be expected with all of the magic she's using. Her clothes are gross, but that's a given too, what with all of the... parts of her dad she's been working with. Things stain. She'll get it out once he's back. One step at a time. 

Her hair is turning whiter again. What used to be one single streak is spreading, further and further along. She thinks maybe there is some magic in her after all. That humans just have to worker harder to get it out, to pay a price while they do. 

The big bear thing she puts to sleep after almost getting clawed to death. She'll wake it back up when dad's more himself. 

And right around then is when the bug shows up. 

It stares at her, covered in viscera, and at the big sleeping bear thing, and settles by Viren. It barely looks hurt and she has no idea how her dad could be in pieces and the bug not even bruised. 

She hates it. 

She really hates that thing. 

“What are you.” She hisses out, eyes still dark from the sleep spell, and prods it with the end of her staff. 

“Tired.” It tells her and she almost passes out right there and then. Really. A girl can only take so much and this bug is absolutely pushing it. Her hands itch in that... bad way they do sometimes. She swallows again. It's not like dad wouldn't believe that it got hurt irreparably right? It was a tall mountain. 

Is it- is it smiling at her-

“How didn't you-” 

“Don't fret the details.” It's voice is deep. Creepy deep. She grips the staff even tighter, nails digging into her palm. “I just need a moment and I'll be out of your hair.” 

“Don't even think about getting into it.” She straightens herself up and walks out of the cave. 

It's not that she hates bugs- bugs can be really cool sometimes. Really useful. It's just this one. This big purple glow worm thing. 

Ugh. 

Ugh. 

Something is warm and wet on her face. She doesn't have time for it but it's there and the back of throat burns and her eyes burn and everything still feels like its kind of on fire. 

She could leave, she thinks, and hates herself for it. She could turn away and find Soren and apologize and just leave. Her chest feels tight and it feels like her stomach is dropping into her feet. It's like it was with Soren but maybe ten times worse, because it was just Soren then. Now it's dad and Soren and the stupid worm and she has to do what she has to do. She has to save her dad- she has to- she has to because. Because she has to do what has to be done. 

She feels sick. 

She sits on the rocky floor at the base of a mountain. Head on her knees, holding onto her robes because her palms are sweating and the staff at her side. 

She's never been this scared before. 

When she comes back a day later with the rest of her spell components the worm is gone. 

For a moment she thinks all of her problems are solved. That would be so great, if all her problems just solved themselves. 

But then it comes crawling down the cave wall and she frowns. 

“I thought you'd get out of my hair already.” She starts setting her tools around her dad, poking at the black and blue skin. It still has give, this can still work- 

“You got out of mine.” 

“You have hair?” 

“Debatably.” Its voice is jovial and that just makes her hands itch again. “You don't have to like me, you know.” 

“Good. I don't.” 

It laughs, maybe chuckles instead, tilting it's head from side to side. 

“Honesty is dangerous.” It tells her. It scurries down onto the cave floor and looks through her ingredients. “You would be of better use to your father if you could lie.” 

“I can lie.” She says defensively, and pulls away the jar of scales before the bug has a chance to climb onto it. “I'm just not going to waste my many talents on a bug.” That gets another laugh. It would be so easy to lift her foot up and stomp down. So, so easy. 

“You're angry.” It says and with out asking crawls up her robes instead. “At me or at him?” 

Both, she almost says, but swallows the word. She stops it from climbing up higher with her staff, and it dangles off the end of it like a snake. Hissing would be preferable to chittering though. 

“It doesn't matter.” 

“It doesn't.” It nods. “Because you're going to do what has to be done anyway.” She's fine. She's okay. She's good. She's. She's-  her throat burns again. 

It's not fair. None of this is fair. Why is she the one in charge, why does she have to be the one to fix dad, why does Soren get to leave? 

“I'm fine.” 

“Hm.” It lets itself off of the staff and falls the short distance to the floor. “I'll be taking that side. You don't mind horrifically do you?” 

“No.” She lies like it wants her to. “For what?” 

“You're fixing your father's body. I'll be fixing mine.” 

“You seem fine too me.” 

“Sure.” It moves away from her, and up the wall again, all the way to the ceiling. “But I could always be better.” 

Two days later, dad's awake. 

He's bruised still, and half her hair is snow white, but dad's awake. She starts a fire while dad ignores her to run his hands over the bug's creepy glowy cocoon. She doesn't know what he wants out of it, what he's going to get out if it. What kind of ugly moth is going to come crawling out? She could ask, but the way dad looks, she's pretty sure he doesn't know. 

Now that dad's okay though, her clothes are gross and she's still tired- exhausted all the way down into her bones. 

“I'm going to sleep.” She says and Viren finally turns away from it. 

“Anything you need. I'm so proud of you, Claudia.” He comes up and hugs her and she's almost frozen.  But she isn't- instead her arms around his shoulders and she ignores him when he winces. She's crying again. 

Dad hugs her back. 

She remembers what feels like a million years ago now. She had done her first spell, started a firestorm in the backyard of their small summer house. She had singed her hands pretty badly, but Soren had yelled and jumped around and picked her up and brought her all the way to dad. And Viren had looked at her burnt hands and pulled her into the tightest hug and told her he was proud of her then too. 

She cried then because her hands hurt, and she had felt bad, she thinks, for the beetles she had crushed to make the flame go bright and fast and radiant. 

The stupid ugly light show behind her bathes all of the walls in blue. 

The beetles had been hard to crush, the shells that held the phosphor were tightly packed for her eight year old hands. 

A cocoon seems way easier to break.