Keyleth wakes up in the morning the way she usually does, tucked snuggly into Vax’s arms, sun beams washing over them. She smiles. Before she even opens her eyes, she snuggles closer to Vax’s chest. He laughs and she can feel the vibrations in his chest as his long fingers wind through her hair.
“Good morning,” Vax says, his voice deep from sleep. “Did you sleep okay?”
“Mmmhmm,” Keyleth stretches and blinks her eyes open. And she sees...nothing. Keyleth inhales sharply, sitting up, “Vax?”
“Mmm?” He mumbles, kissing her thigh.
“Are my eyes open?” She feels Vax freeze and pull away from her a little bit. The bed shifts and she can feel his body heat next to her.
“Yeah, Keek, they are,” he says carefully.
“I-I can’t see anything,” she tells him, panic slowly starting to build. “Vax, I can’t see anything. Vax-”
“Hey, hey, hey,” Vax touches her face gently, she jumps a little. “It’s okay, we’ll figure it out. You remember how we fixed Percy in the Feywild right? Greater restoration, you have that spell.”
Keyleth nods quickly, “You’re right, everything’s okay,” she tries to reassure herself. And she goes through the motions of the spell, covering her eyes with diamond dust. But when the dust fades and she opens her eyes again and sees nothing but black. “Vax,” she says shakily, “Vax it’s not better. I still can’t see.”
“Okay.” She feels the bed shift as Vax moves in front of her. “Okay, we’ll figure this out. Just take a deep breath. It’s okay.”
She feels Vax’s hands move from her face to her shoulder and he gently pulls her into his chest. His hands move up and down her back as she tries to do as he says. Keyleth stays in the circle of his arms for an indistinguishable amount. Like he’s always done, Vax calms her down, running his fingers through her hair.
Eventually she lifts her head and says, “I’m calm.”
She hears Vax chuckle a little and he tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Okay. You stay right here and I’ll go get your dad and maybe a healer.”
Keyleth immediately shakes her head and squeezes his hand far too tightly, “Don’t leave me alone. Vax I-I can’t see and I’m about ten seconds from a complete breakdown.”
“Okay. Here.” He helps her to her feet and steadies her when she immediately wobbles. She grasps his arm, sticking to his side like a burr. He keeps one hand on her hands as he slowly leads her out of their house and into the town. Normally Keyleth finds Zephra peaceful and calming, but right now it’s entirely overwhelming. The voices of the Ashari seem to pound at her ears and she can feel every twig and rock under her feet.
But the entire time Vax keeps his hand on hers, softly narrating where they are and when she needs to step up or avoid something in the path.
“Korren!” Vax shouts, startling Keyleth a little. He immediately squeezes her hand and softly apologizes.
“What’s going on?” Korren asks, his voice closer than Keyleth expected.
“Dad?” She asks, her voice on the verge of breaking.
“She’s blind,” Vax explains. “She woke up and can’t see, spells aren’t helping.” Keyleth knows Vax is trying his best to stay calm for her, but she can hear the panic in his voice.
“I’m going to touch your face,” Korren warns and a second later she feels his warm hands on her cheeks. She lets her dad move her head side to side gently pulling her eyelids to get a better look. “I don’t see anything wrong. My advice is to just wait it out, see if it goes away on its own. If it’s still then in the morning, I’ll take you to Vasselheim. Until then,” Korren kisses her forehead, “try not to freak out too much.”
“Okay,” Keyleth says, hating how scared she sounds. Korren kisses her head again, running a hand over her hair affectionately.
“Take care of her,” Korren tells Vax.
“Of course, sir.” Keyleth hears Korren laugh a little at the formality.
She assumes Korren leaves because the next thing she knows, Vax asks her, “Do you want to go back home?”
“Can we go to the tree?” Keyleth asks.
“Of course.” Vax kisses the side of her head. “It’s a bit of a walk, tell me if I’m going too fast.” Keyleth nods.
They walk for a little while, Keyleth trying to figure out where they are in her mind. It’s far harder than she expected. She’s quiet the whole walk, her mind swirling with anxiety and worry. And then she smells cherry blossoms.
“We’re here,” Vax tells her. “Want to sit?”
Keyleth shakes her head, “I want to go up to it.” Vax guides her up to the tree, taking one of her hands off of his arm and touching it to the tree. Keyleth exhales softly as she takes her other hand off of Vax and touches it to the tree as well.
The bark is rough and familiar under her fingertips. With a sigh she lets her eyes fall closed and her head falls against the trunk. Everything’s going to be okay, she tells herself. This isn’t forever.
But a small part of her asks what if it is?
She shakes her head and takes a deep breath, inhaling the calming scent of the blossoms. She steps back from the tree, letting her fingers drop from the trunk.
With another step back she opens her eyes again and takes a sharp breath, momentarily having forgotten her president. She’s lost. She doesn’t know where she is. She’s adrift in nothing but darkness.
“Vax?” She asks softly, fighting to rein in her building anxiety. “Vax? I-I don’t know where I am.”
“I’m right here.” Vax touches her waist, drawing her close. “Sorry, I was just giving you a moment.” She turns to rest her head against his chest, soaking up the comfort for a moment.
“What if this is permanent?” Keyleth asks softly.
“Then we’ll figure it out,” Vax assures her. “But you can’t think like that, it hasn’t even been two hours yet.”
“You’re right.” She sighs. “Can we go home?”
The rest of Keyleth’s day is spent at home with Vax. He twists her hair into an intricate braid she can’t see. He cooks her lunch that he has to help her eat. He reads to her and pretends he doesn’t notice she’s crying. Korren comes to check on her and she can hear the worry in his voice as Vax tells him that she still can’t see.
Around evening, something happens. She can see light and shadows. Keyleth grips Vax’s leg tightly. “You okay?” Vax asks.
“I think my vision is coming back,” she says. “I can see the light in the window.” She hears Vax catch a joyous laugh in his throat as he crushes her into a hug.
“See, told you it was going to be okay.” Keyleth laughs a little too.
Over the next hour, her vision slowly returns.
Keyleth blinks slowly and swimming into her vision is a black haired man, watching her patiently. She blinks again and everything is in focus. She can see Vax looking at her with concern and absolute adoration. She can see the braid she wound into his hair last night and the cut on his left cheek and the freckles that dot his nose after their months in Zephra.
She laughs breathlessly, tears of relief building in her eyes. She lurches into Vax’s arms, throwing her arms around his neck. He catches her easily and holds her close. “Thank you,” Keyleth whispers into his ear. “I know I probably wasn’t easy to deal with today.”
Vax pulls away with a frown, “Kiki, you’re not a burden to me. Hey,” he says when she looks away, “it’s true. I’m here for you whenever you need me.” He caresses her cheek, his calloused thumb such a perfectly familiar feeling.
“Today was terrifying,” Keyleth admits. “But you were the one thing that kept me grounded and I have never been more thankful to have you in my life.”
Vax kisses her gently, he’s always gentle with her in a way that makes Keyleth melt every time. “I love you.”
Keyleth laughs and kisses him again, squishing his cheeks a little. “I love you too!”