It takes four days for Tissaia to find her. Between the aftermath of the fight at Sodden, caring for the wounded and burying the dead, she’s left with little time and energy to focus on her magic and on the bond that connects her to Yennefer. The young—well, younger—witch remains silent. Tissaia tries not to let worry overtake her. In her spare time, when she wakes before the dawn, she wanders into the forest to look for some peace and quiet. At Sodden, the stench of charred corpses still permeates the air and she can barely remember what it feels like to smell fresh air. But the woods are good. She can focus and breathe deeply and she searches, again and again, everywhere, for any trace of Yennefer.
It takes four days. On the fourth day, Tissaia’s eyes open suddenly, and she listens. The wind rushes through the woods and she knows—knows—they are saying something.
Triss, she thinks. Triss, I have to go. Will you be alright?
It takes a minute for Triss Merigold to reply.
Still weak but getting stronger. Go. I’ll take care of the others here.
In a blink, Tissaia vanishes.
The lake is the first thing she sees. The magic is imprecise, hard to follow. She surmises Yennefer hasn’t recovered her full powers yet. In the horizon, mountains. Tissaia isn’t sure where exactly she’s just landed. Somewhere north, most likely.
On her right, what appears to be a small cottage on a rocky beach bordering the lake. Around it, green grass as far as the eye can see. On her left, thick woods of tall pines. She walks resolutely towards the wooden house. With every step, she feels the connection getting stronger and by the time she’s within reach of the door, Tissaia is almost running.
She stops herself, takes a deep breath and knocks on the door.
“Yennefer,” she calls.
Slowly, the door opens just enough for Tissaia to slip inside. No one is here to welcome her but there’s a fire crackling and the air is vibrating so she knows the other woman is here.
“Yennefer,” she tries again, softly, as she closes the door behind her.
A hand rises from under what seems to be a pile of blankets on a mattress, on the floor. Tissaia rushes at its sides and drops to her knees.
“I’m here, it’s me, it’s okay.”
Their eyes meet then. Yennefer looks frail, exhausted. Nonetheless, she offers a smile to Tissaia.
“Sorry, I’m a terrible host. I’m having a bit of a migraine, it’s a real bitch.”
“How long has it been going on,” Tissaia asks, worried.
She puts a hand on Yennefer’s forehead and notes there’s no fever.
“About as soon as I teleported here. It’s never happened to me before.”
“Well, you used a lot of strength and power at Sodden.”
Her eyes widen then, and she sits up, albeit with some difficulties. She reaches out and takes Tissaia’s hands in hers.
“How are you?”
“I’m—I’m tired,” Tissaia admits as she looks down. “The past few days have been hard, on all of us.”
“Days? How long was I out?”
“When did you wake up?”
“Yesterday, I think? I’m not sure. Everything’s a bit of a blur.”
“The battle was four days ago.”
“Oh… And… Triss? Sabrina? The others?”
“Triss and Sabrina will be fine. We lost most of the mages. I don’t know how many people I’ve buried.”
A quiet moment passes during which Tissaia stares at their joined hands. She can feel Yennefer’s piercing gaze on her, but she doesn’t look up.
“I was afraid I’d lost you, too,” she finally admits, her tone barely above a whisper. “You… you simply vanished.”
“Didn’t you suspect I would portal away?”
“Not immediately, no. I thought maybe the chaos had taken all of your essence and consummated you.”
“You underestimated me,” Yennefer concludes, no reproach in her voice.
“It appears so.”
The two women exchange a smile.
“The fire, I noticed there are no logs. Is it—"
“A remnant of my chaos,” Yennefer says, almost smugly. “I’m surprised it’s still burning.”
“Well,” Tissaia continues as she sits back on her heels, “I imagine you’re famished. I’ll go and see what I can cook up. You, dear, should really bathe. You reek.”
It’s said with no venom at all, for once, and Yennefer even complies. She stands up shakily and accepts Tissaia’s steadying hands on her waist with a small smile. Just as she’s at the door, Tissaia’s voice stops her:
“This cottage, was it you? Did you conjure it up?”
“With what was left of my strength, yes.”
Tissaia nods and with a wave of her hand, she shooes Yennefer out.
“The lake might be cold, so don’t take too long,” she warns.
“I won’t! And no peeping out the window,” Yennefer teases, always one to have the last word.
As busy as she ends up being in the small kitchen, Tissaia still catches herself throwing a few glances out. She convinces herself it’s simply to make sure the other woman is truly here after all these days spent looking for her. Acknowledging anything else would be too much, too soon and much too inappropriate.
When Yennefer steps back inside some time later, two bowls are set on the table and a wonderful smell coming from a caldron above the fire makes her stomach rumble.
“Sit,” Tissaia orders as she stirs. “It’ll be ready soon.”
They don’t talk much while they eat. A few words about the battle are exchanged, and Tissaia makes sure to let Triss know she found Yennefer alive and well, if weak. After their meal, she uses a few tricks to conjure up furniture for the cottage. Most importantly, a decent bed. Yennefer sighs contentedly when she sees it.
“That’ll probably be better to sleep in.”
“Hmm, I thought it would be nice to get a real night of sleep,” Tissaia agrees. “How are you feeling?”
“Better. Stronger. Could probably unleash a little chaos if needed.”
All the time they’d spent together in Aretuza, and Tissaia had never known Yennefer liked to joke. It was unsettling and yet it fitted her personality so well that she figures she should have known.
“No chaos needed, dear. Not yet, at least. Though the battle with Nilfgaard is far from over,” she adds somberly.
“Let them come,” the other woman replies, her eyes darkening with what Tissaia imagines to be rage.
“Oh I have no doubt they will. In the meantime, you must rest.”
“So do you.”
They share a look then. It wouldn’t take much for Tissaia to give the cottage more room, to conjure up a bedroom. But something in Yennefer’s eyes stops her from doing it. Instead, she nods and stands up, dishes discarded on the table.
“Come,” she orders. “Let’s take a nap. A lady my age needs her beauty sleep anyway. Don’t,” she warns before Yennefer can take a jab at her for that last comment.
“I wasn’t going to say anything,” she protests as she raises her hands in mock surrender.
“I know you, piglet. You didn’t have to say anything.”
And when they lay down next to each other on the bed, neither of them utters a word. And when they fall asleep to the sound of the crackling fire and their fingers somehow brush against each other’s, Yennefer doesn’t make a joke and Tissaia doesn’t turn away.