Sometimes he'd dream of Khaenri'ah.
Of the people, the sinners, he'd left behind. Their hope his heavy burden, his fear of failing them the chains dragging him down, down into the dark abyss. Laughter, high and haunting fills the void, claws at his mind until another voice whispers:
"You are our last hope."
The young boy wakes with a start when his head hits the hardwood. He'd fallen off the bed, still tangled in the blanket. His whole body shakes with tremors he can't seem to stop, as if he's still trapped within that cold and endless darkness. At the sound of the creaking door, he instinctively curls up.
"Kaeya?" Diluc rubs his eyes sleepily as he enters. He blinks when he spots the other boy on the floor. "What are you doing there? Did you have another nightmare?"
Kaeya tries to speak but he can't find the words to say. What is he doing? Is this what Khaenri'ah wanted, for him to enter the home of Crepes Ragnvindr, for the young master to pull the blankets around him, pick him up, and lie next to him on the bed? Pale fingers caress his cheek, easing his mouth closed.
"Just breathe, Kae. You don't need to tell me."
If not now, then when? The truth burns in his chest, his cold and heavy burden. Kaeya takes a deep breath, trying to push those thoughts aside and focus on the present. His fingers brush the warm hand on his cheek, tangling them together. The smell of summer rain and sweet grapes envelopes him as he shuffles closer to Diluc. He's met halfway, the redhead wrapping him in a warm embrace.
"I'm here with you," Diluc murmurs. "It's okay, Kae. The bad dreams can't get you."
He would argue that if he had the strength.
Instead he basks in Diluc's warmth, the tremors subsiding as he focuses on the other's steady breathing and gentle hand in his hair. Right here, right now, he's safe.
By the time he turns sixteen, the dreams of Khaenri'ah no longer scare him. The sinners have no hold on him: here in Mondstadt, city of wind and song, the boy runs wild and his heart sings freely.