you had wondered. how did he wake up every day and decide to get out of bed? how did he find the strength to stand up and prove all of ishgard wrong? his accomplishments were no less than any other lords’, and yet he was scorned. his father’s mistake was his shackle, so how did he end up so sweet and full of love?
his love cost him his life.
and now, there is only grief. your pain eclipses anything you might have wondered, and you clutch haurchefant’s too big fingers with your too small hands. your grip is firm. you dare not close your eyes, though you hope and pray to whatever gods might be listening. (please, menphina, please don’t take him.) and yet, you know that nothing will save him or your heart.
his eyes do not leave yours until the end. when he asks you to smile, your heart breaks for the first and last time, even as the corners of your mouth curve upward. tears run down your face as you cry silently, still not closing your eyes and hoping against hope that haurchefant’s eyes will open again.
you hold his hand as he grows cold. ser aymeric holds his body, and you think that maybe he understands you. that you both feel the guilt of his death, the dread of telling count edmont that his precious son has died. has died because of you, no matter what anyone says. that it is your fault that the son who promised to return home will be only doing so in a coffin.
you feel alphinaud hovering behind you, wanting to comfort you but not quite sure how. it is too much right now, and you can do nothing but cry and look at the face of a man who died to protect you.
eventually, someone presses their hand to your shoulder and tells you you must leave. you nod, tears spent long ago. you relax your grip on haurchefant’s hand, only for someone to gently pry it away. tired and numb, you let it happen. you watch his hand fall to the ground with a soft thump. immediately, you regret letting go. ser aymeric stands, holding onto haurchefant’s body despite his weakened condition. estinien takes haurchefant from the lord commander, and you speed up to catch his dangling hand in yours once more. you keep pace with estinien as your group slowly walks out of the vault.