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“-never do it right, so that’s why I’m gonna go do it personally. If you don’t have anything to do tomorrow night, I wouldn’t say no to some company... ... Lumine?”

She belatedly nods. “Oh yeah, that’s fine.”

Childe crosses his arms and raises an eyebrow. “What’s the deal? You’ve been out of it this whole time.”

“Yeah sorry, I wasn’t ignoring you on purpose. I just have a lot on my mind.” The crushing emotion of despair has been lingering at the back of her throat barely kept at bay ever since she got the letter back from her friend in the Adventurer’s guild. She’d found traces of Aether’s elemental energy in some ruins in Mondstadt, the first real lead to finding him since she had arrived here.

The large door was make of heavy stone and inscribed with runes. It had taken her several favors to find out who could help her open it, and she’d had to gather several anemo crystalflies and crystal ore to make the contraption her ruins researcher contact had required to open it.

In the letter they wrote that they had finally gotten it open. But there wasn’t a trace of Aether inside. He wasn’t there. Nothing was.

“I see.” He says, and she can tell he’s unhappy about being one of the least of her concerns.

“I’m sorry.” She brings a hand to cover her mouth. “I just recently got-“ Emotion suddenly swells up within her and it’s all she can do to swallow it back, desperately trying to regain her cool. “Got some bad news.”

Childe hears the tremble in her voice and looks surprised. “What about?”

“...” Her throat is so tight she can’t speak. She’s not usually this emotional but she was so full of hope to finally get somewhere with her investigation. “I can’t talk about it.” She forces out, trying hard to smile.

He crouches down to her height. A gloved hand rests gently on her shoulder. “Lumine,” He says, in a tone gentler than she’s ever heard from the harbringer, “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” She tries to say, panicking at the question. And then her expression crumples.

“Oh shit.” Childe looks on in horror as her smile drops into a grimacing sob. He has seen her angry, sad, reticent and lonely even, but never once has he seen her make such an expression of pure despair.

The garbled wail rises half through before she cuts it off, shielding her face with a hand in shame, and takes off in the opposite direction.