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we'll be free from the heavens one day

Chapter Text

The winds do not speak nor sing to him in the same way they do for their master, but even Morax can hear their melodies howl across the landscape - the tunes when it cuts through the leaves, the different pitches produced when objects clatter harmlessly against each other after being hit by a strong gust. 

 

But sometimes, he hears things that clearly aren’t meant to be there: the soft ticking sounds akin to the turning hands of a timepiece, the quiet humming of a woman’s voice when there was no one around for miles. He knew exactly who they came from, but it wasn’t a topic he could easily breach with their only mutual friend.

 

After all, while the God of Stone and the God of Time were merely acquaintances, the Gods of Wind and Time were the closest of friends. 

 

How can he, a mere bystander, ever ask Barbatos what had happened? They had only met through sheer coincidence, when the Anemo Archon had been inebriated enough to completely forget that he asked the both of them to meet him at the exact same place and time. 

 

In the end, it turned into a three-god excursion to help Barbatos replant the cecilias from Old Mondstadt to Starsnatch Cliff. Only the wind god was talkative, with the other two preferring to keep silent and nodding when appropriate. The God of Time added her own little quips here and there, but Morax was the ever vigilant listener. Somehow, it was a friendship that worked out, even if all it consisted of was Barbatos pulling the two of them along into his whims.

 

One day, the little wind god had requested that he come watch the ritual his people would perform for the masters of Time and Anemo annually, to enact stories as offerings for the two gods to immortalise forever. The Archon had always put full dedication into learning about Liyue’s culture, so it was only right for Morax to respect him in kind. 

 

Barbatos himself never revealed himself to his people, but the refreshing breeze he let blow through the temple was more than enough proof to his children that he was there, watching over them. He and the God of Time watched the performance from a distance, being able to see and hear it perfectly despite how far they were from the actual site. Hidden away amongst the leaves of a tree, the two gods sat on the highest branch.

 

Morax had been unwilling to sit with them, instead making himself comfortable on one of the lower branches. It could not possibly hold the weight of three people by itself, he reasoned. But really, he just...didn’t want to interrupt the moment. 

 

Because even though the two gods had sat properly atop the branches to respect his presence, their bodies that have long grown used to being in contact with each other would inevitably be drawn together, whether or not the gods themselves were even aware of it. When Morax glanced up, he was met with the sight of Barbatos half sprawled across the lap of the time god, looking so perfectly at ease. The goddess had her arms around the other, the wind god tucked under her chin. It was a picture of tranquility, a world made for the two of them that no one else could disturb.

 

Anemo brings stories while Time nurtures them.  

 

There was no place for him in this story. He was the Archon of Liyue, and they were Mondstadt’s gods.

 

Then one day, she was gone.

 

A storm raged in Mondstadt for the first time in a long while, lasting for a whole week. It was only due to the prayers of the people that it finally stopped, yet a drizzle of rain persisted. After seeing the grey storm clouds all the way from Liyue, Morax felt concern welling slowly in his chest and decided to pay a visit to Mondstadt.

 

Yet Barbatos was nowhere to be found, and not even his Four Winds knew where he was. It was only when Morax had decided to stand on the peak of Starsnatch Cliff, eyes scouring for any signs of the Anemo Archon, did he spot the little island far off the coast of the beach.

 

He already walked every inch of Mondstadt looking for this troublesome god, but he’d never seen that island till now. Surely, if he was going to be somewhere…

 

Stepping onto a platform made of Geo, Morax floated over to the last place in his search. Even before reaching land he could already see the huge splashes of Anemo energy floating in the air, and in the eye of the storm was Barbatos. 

 

Huddled against the pillars of the broken temple, the wind god was curled in on himself, his wings wrapped around his small body for an extra sense of security. He didn’t even notice Morax approaching him, not even when the god was right in front of him.

 

“Barbatos.” Morax called out, voice almost drowned out by the howl of the winds around them. Yet the other didn’t respond.

 

Charcoal black hands grabbed onto the other’s slim shoulders, shaking him firmly. Teal eyes finally met his, but the once bright colour had turned into a dull blue, all shine extinguished. 

 

He almost didn’t dare to ask.

 

“...What happened, Barbatos?” The Anemo Archon merely stared blankly at him, before letting out a choked sob. He raises his arms up from where he was hiding them, and Morax’s heart fell at the sight. 

 

In his hands, a dark purple rose, one shade away from black, was gripped tightly between his fingers. Blood dripped from the way the thorns had pierced the skin, but even if Barbatos was to let go of it, the vines that curled tightly around his wrists wouldn’t have allowed him to be freed anyway.

 

Summoning a sharp blade of geo, Morax attempted to cut the vines away but it refused to budge. Instead, it wound even tighter around the pale wrists, blood flowing from the deep cuts. Afraid of making it worse, the god stopped and could do nothing but watch helplessly as Barbatos shook his head, sobs wracking his small frame.

 

“She’s gone.” He cried. “She’s gone.”

 

Morax surveyed the surroundings, realising that the entire area looked like a devastating fight had wrecked it. Even the temple, tiny as it was compared to his own, had been a sturdy thing. Shards of debris littered the whole place, and fallen pillars were everywhere on the beach. 

 

Come to think of it, was the sea supposed to be this close? 

 

It mattered not in the end. His friend was in pain and he couldn’t do anything to help. Morax took a deep breath before holding Barbatos close to him. Guizhong had taught him a long time ago that this gesture could be used to comfort people, and with no other options the god could only try it and hope for the best. The thorns dug into him too, but he did not mind. Oh so very slowly, he could feel Barbato’s trembling lessen with every passing moment.

 

Eventually, it stopped. And after a while, the prickling sensation of thorns had disappeared. Looking down, both gods saw that the rose and its vines were gone, but the wounds left on Barbatos refused to close. 

 

“Does it hurt?” Oh, how Morax wanted to slap himself for asking that. Of course it did, why wouldn’t it.

 

But to his surprise, Barbatos could only sigh tiredly in response.

 

“No, this doesn’t compare.” A deafening silence followed, and just as Morax was about to say something, anything, he was cut off by having to catch Barbatos as the other keeled over in exhaustion. 

 

With a sleeping god in his arms, Morax could do nothing but hold the little wind god in a more comfortable position for him to rest. 

 

-

 

It's been forever since then, and as the two of them lay together in bed, Zhongli traces the scars on Venti’s exposed wrists. The younger god says nothing, and lets the other do as he pleases.

 

“Does it hurt?” 

 

“Not anymore.” Venti whispers, eyeing the faint traces of purple circling his wrists. It had scarred over a while after the incident, an eternal reminder to the god of what went down. If he tries to forget, it hurts. If he tries to talk about it, it throbs. A punishment fit for one foolish enough to be an accomplice to someone who defied the heavens, but this was nothing compared to what she got. 

 

And no one alive would know about her anymore, simply because this is the one story he isn’t allowed to tell.

 

That hurt more than whatever physical injuries he got, and would ever get. 

 

Zhongli presses a gentle kiss to the skin, and Venti lets out an undignified snort. 

 

“A remarkable improvement to the hug you gave me that day. It was so awkward.” Venti sticks his tongue out, and the other could only roll his eyes in exasperation. 

 

“Forgive me for that pathetic attempt then. Would a hug from the current me make up for it?” 

 

“Yes. Yes it would.” Snuggling closer together, Zhongli wraps his arms tight around the bard before pressing another kiss to his forehead.

 

One day, the Gods of Wind and Time will reunite, and hopefully there will still be a place for him then.