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“She’s still not coming out?”

Three figures, decked up in traditional Butler-attire, grouped near the door of their charge. Clorica was closest to the door with a sullen look, Vishnal hung his head, and Volkanon had tears threatening to spill.

The Dragon Hall dwarfed them all. The majestic presence of Ventuswill had all but vanished before Frey’s eyes, leaving them void both in their world, and a gaping wound still bleeding in her heart. They all saw the way her eyes dulled after her passing.

None more so than Leon, however. Whilst the two had shared common ground before, the days leading up to the battle against the Sechs had caused the rift between them to close over. The visits to the castle had become more frequent since Venti’s departure.

“She doesn’t speak. She eats, but barely." Clorica shook her head, drawing Leon back to reality. "I-I even prepared her favourite.” The way she trembled was't't the first thing he noticed; the tears slipping past the dark circles underneath her eyes, on the other hand.

If Clorica hasn’t been sleeping, then we’re all in trouble.

Leon folded his arms and tapped his fingers against his skin. “You three have other duties to get to, right?” He gestured to the door. “Frey knows you care. But crowding around her door is just going to make her close up.”

Clorica tensed up, like her bones had rooted her body to the ground. “I’m not leaving her.” She clenched her fist. “We...we need to stay…”

“Clorica,” Vishnal put a hand to her shoulder. “You’ve not slept in three days. Frey wouldn’t want you to exhaust yourself.”

She bit her lip. “But…” Her fatigue seemed to be catching up with her as her eyelids drooped. “Frey needs us to…”

“What Lady Frey needs, is for you to look after yourself as well.” Volkanon, with tears glistening down his aged face, stood tall and proud. “Vishnal, Clorica, I relieve you of your duties for the day. Please, get some rest.”

Leon leaned against the wall, only to be surprised when Volkanon clapped him on the shoulder, and leaned low.

“Help her.”

When the three left the room, Leon was left with the memory of what they all had lost.

Leon scratched behind his ear, and sighed. He was lost for what to do next. Though the truth was, since he had been cast into this world, every day had been a meander of confusion and pondering for the future. Endless nights gazing up at the stars, pining for the chance to apologize for a promise he never took seriously.

But first and foremost, he was a Guardian to the Native Dragon of Selphia.

… And a friend to this place he could now call his home.

To Frey.

Leon gently knocked on the door.

There was no answer, but he heard a soft scuffling. Another smile came to his face. At least he had caught her attention.

Leon chose to sit down, leaning his back against the door, and staring out at the open-top ceiling of Venti’s chamber.

“It’s a beautiful night tonight, you know.”

A canopy of velvet enveloped the town of Selphia, and each star--or lost soul, in his time’s lore--winked at him. The wind that blew around whispered old songs that no man could ever understand, no elf could ever translate, and no dragon could truly capture upon feathered wings. Even for someone closer to the world like himself, nature’s native tongue was something he would never be able to understand.

The soft movements were closer to the door now, and he continued.

“If you were okay with it, I’d be teasing you right now. Saying that the night sky couldn’t compare to your little grin. You’d go as red as an apple, wouldn’t you?” He closed his eyes. “But I’ve got a feeling you just need everything I say to be plain and simple for a while, because everything else isn’t.”

The silence was still ever-present. Leon dared not move.

“You saved Ven in more ways than you think. I know she’s not here now, and I know you’re hurting because you were the one who saw it happen. She wanted her last moments to be with you. That was a tad selfish, don’t you think?” Leon chuckled a little, but it faded as his vision blurred. “But if there’s anything Ven wasn’t, it was honest.”

Leon took off his head-covering, letting his long hair completely free to be tussled in the wind. “Ventuswill is gone. But I know when she was with you, she felt alive.”

Memories of his time flooded into his mind.

Memories of a young child, barely grown past his mother’s breast, daring to climb upon the temple of the Native Dragon. Of said child falling into the very chamber that great beast resided in. Of the long, hazy afternoons conversing with the snappy creature who demanded apples and fresh vegetables upon every visit, but always allowed to climb on her back and see the skies.

When he became a Guardian, it wasn’t due to his vows as a Dragon Priest, nor was it to protect Selphia. He honoured those things, but the reason was simple.

Venti was his friend, and he wanted to save her.

Nostalgia was broken when a door handle was turned.

There Frey stood. She looked weak at the knees, and her shoulders were slumped. Her clothes were rumpled, and her cheeks had been burned by all the tears she didn’t expect to shed.  

But Frey was standing. Her eyes had life in them.

Leon stood up, and gently took her hand in his.

“I know the importance of distance.” When he pressed his forehead to hers, he saw her tears slip down again. “But nobody is supposed to be alone, Frey. Least of all, you. So please don’t shut away from those that care.”

The rest of the night went by in a slow but obscured blur. When Frey let him into her dark room, he filled it with the small flickering light of tiny candles that had been left untouched for days. Frey’s voice was so quiet when she spoke of her pains and her grievances. It was lucky that Leon was a good listener. The two sat on her bed, in the dim glow of candles and dulled moonlight, talking about Venti and her incessant bickering, and the void her absence left in both of their hearts.

“What time is it?” Frey led down on her floor, her head in Leon’s lap.

“Close to ten, I think.” He was petting her head as he checked the small clock by her bed. “Why?”

Frey bit her lip. “I… was just wondering if there was time to visit Porco’s... before it shut. I know Clorica goes there on a night, and she’s been… worried about me, so…”

Leon looked at her in surprise, before it melted into a smile. “You and your insatiable appetite. And here I thought your hunger would have gone with me being near you, but I suppose not.”

A red flush swept across her face at his teasing.  Leon laughed a little, before he urged Frey’s head off of his lap, and stood up. “Come on, then.”

“Huh?”

He held out a hand for her. “We need to get there before it closes, don’t we?”

A brief moment of hesitation later, Frey took his hand tightly.

Frey wasn’t going to get over her grief from a few words and intimate moments, and she certainly wasn’t going to get there anytime soon. But she could walk on her own two feet, hold her head up, and carry on until she did.

Leon didn’t mind her leaning on him in the meantime.