Diluc could honestly say that he grew close with the journey-bound outlander.
The traveler didn’t often think about things of fuss and hassle, preferring to dive straight into action. Like when Stormterror ran amok in Mondstadt, he didn’t think twice before rushing in to stop it, never mind the fact that it wasn’t even his homeland in the first place. He has no reason to defend it—but it seems such needless politics are not things he paid much heed to.
It was the kind of demeanor Diluc could agree with, and may be part of why he felt a sense of camaraderie between them. Besides, someone who protected Mondstadt could be relied on to a fair amount, in Diluc’s book. That’s why, when Diluc told Aether that he could come to him whenever he needed anything, Diluc really meant it.
So when Aether truly came to him with a boy smelling like fur and soil (“This is Razor,” Aether told him, introducing the two of them. The boy called Razor nodded bashfully at him. Diluc nodded back), asking him to accompany them on their journey for a while and show the boy the ropes of wielding a claymore, Diluc didn’t hesitate.
Adelinde could manage the fuss and hassle of the winery for some time, Diluc thought. It’s not like she ran into much trouble at the time he was previously gone.
It’s time for him to dive into action himself.
To be honest, when Aether first came to him with the request, Diluc was apprehensive. While Diluc readily agreed to it, he was… afraid that he wouldn’t be an adequate teacher. In the first place, Diluc wasn’t the most patient person around anyway. He was afraid that Razor wouldn’t understand him and his methods, because Diluc picked up claymore like fish to water—his instructors hadn’t managed to teach him much before he was able to surpass them. However, while he has no confidence in his own teaching skill, he vowed to do his best—all the while praying to Barbatos that Razor would be a better student than he is a teacher.
Apparently that bard of an Anemo Archon wasn’t asleep yet, because for once his prayers had been answered.
Because Razor was a bright boy.
At first, Diluc thought that the wolfish boy hadn’t the slightest grasp on how to wield claymores correctly. He was right, to an extent—Razor wields claymores very ineffectively, using too much strength and his core at an imbalance. It was obvious what skill and technique he picked up, he learned it on his own in the wilderness.
It was obvious no one ever taught him.
He also wasn’t the best at speaking and communicating what he meant—no doubt from being estranged from human society for so long. But what he lacked in speech, he more than made up for it in his drive and initiative. What he didn’t understand, he immediately asked. Or, if he’s unable to articulate his question, he would try to show it with his body language. On top of that, he soaked in knowledge like sponge—the proper stance to take, how not to use too much grip strength—all those basics, Razor immediately grasped it with an ease that rivaled even himself way back in the past.
Later on, Diluc found out that somehow, Razor was already closely associated with the Knights. He was apparently good friends with Mondstadt’s Spark Knight, and had often came to Lisa so that she could teach him how to read and write. It only endeared Razor to him further—nothing was as admirable as one’s honest desire to learn.
That day, he watched Razor’s eyes brighten in joy as he mastered yet another technique. Without fail, he turned those bright eyes towards Diluc, lips quickly morphing into a proud grin as he hopped to Diluc and Aether’s side. As per usual, Aether and Paimon closed in to hug him in pride, while Diluc’s hand moved on its own accord to ruffle the boy’s hair. Diluc smiled at the glee on Razor’s face.
It felt like having a—
It felt like having a little brother
(Diluc’s traitorous mind conjured up brown skin, blue eyes, and a smile so gleeful and innocent it could only belong to the past.
Diluc closed his eyes.)
Razor was a bright boy with an equally bright heart.
“You sleep,” Razor said then, eyes clear as rubies, “I keep watch.”
Diluc sighed for the umpteenth time. “Razor, you’ve been keeping watch for three nights straight,” he explained. Slowly, patiently. “You’re the one who needs sleep. I can keep watch for us for the night.” Diluc hadn’t even started on the bags on Razor’s eyes. It was getting worse.
“He’s right, Razor,” Aether’s soft voice piped up beside him. Paimon, as usual, was already fast asleep. “Besides, we don’t need to be so guarded this time, I think. I can stay awake tonight. No hilichurls are around in this area.” Because we already dealt with all of them beforehand, Aether didn’t say. After some time spent traveling together, Diluc found that Aether never much liked talking about how much fighting they actually do. Well, he didn’t talk much, in general.
Razor, however, didn’t intend to give up so easily. “I’m not sleepy,” he shook his head, gesturing to the tree some ways behind him. “I’ll sit here. Guard you three. Wake you up if anything happens.” Razor’s eyes darted to Aether and Diluc. Without waiting for either of their response, Razor went ahead to the tree and sat down in front of it.
Diluc blinked. He looked at Aether—who was already looking at him. In that moment, it was clear they were thinking of the same thing. Without further ado, Aether scooped up the sleeping Paimon and followed Diluc as he walked to Razor’s spot under the bushy tree. As Diluc stood in front of him, Razor looked up, blinking. “Master Diluc?” he asked softly, confusion apparent on his face.
Diluc didn’t waste any time. He promptly sat down on Razor’s right, with Aether taking up the spot on Razor’s left. Paimon, unruffled by the movement, snuggled further to the nearest body available—which happened to be Razor’s lap. Razor, clearly still baffled, made a noise of confusion. “Why… sit here? Master Diluc and Aether should sleep.”
“And we will,” Diluc answered, not missing a beat. “And you will, too. We’ll sleep here, with you.” He took off his coat and spread it sideways—it would fit the three of them (and Paimon) if they pressed themselves together. It’ll do for the night.
Razor made another noise, even as he clumsily caught the hem of Diluc’s outstretched coat. “But… guard…” and he would probably continue protesting, except Aether was already fast asleep on his shoulder, not to mention Paimon’s weight on his thigh (Diluc had the sneaking suspicion that Aether only feigned sleep so quickly so Razor could not protest further. He decided not to comment.)
Diluc huffed in amusement. “Give it up for the night,” he muttered softly. He was beginning to feel sleepy, too—Razor was the perfect height for his cheek to rest, and his hair was very fluffy…
He could faintly feel Razor squirming beside him—Diluc hoped he didn’t make the boy uncomfortable. Just as he was about to voice his concern, though, he felt Razor snuggling to his side, and—and at that moment Diluc’s chest blossomed with so much warmth that felt so foreign yet so familiar at the same time that for a second, he simply didn’t know what to do with himself.
Diluc sighed. He closed his eyes, letting sleep take over.
(Except it was not sleep that had taken him—instead, Diluc was taken into days where the warmth in his heart is the norm and the smell of grapevines was still a thing of comfort.
Diluc found himself in days where he knew exactly what to do with the red, red warmth suffusing both his chest and cheeks when brilliant blue, blue eye glanced at him, the corners crinkling in a smile—at him, only ever at him. Diluc burns in the flames of his own love, and realized that he didn’t mind.
It was a nightmare as succulent as sweet flowers, one Diluc had to wake up from regardless of his wishes. Without mercy or pity, morning arrived as usual.
Diluc reluctantly opened his eyes—and was met with the red of dawn, and the blue of sky. He sat there for a while, stunned.
Diluc felt himself smile.)
Master Diluc was warm—both the heat emanating from his vision and, especially, from his heart.
In the beginning, Razor was… not scared, but. Maybe a bit wary. Razor still wasn’t really used to humans yet, Aether and Klee being the only ones he felt comfortable with—and Master Diluc wasn’t a person who gave away his smiles easily. But that didn’t mean he never did.
He was a stern teacher—he never lets up until Razor fixed the mistakes in his form. What Razor did wrong, he never hesitated to point out. But when Razor did right—and this is the part he loved most—he never withheld praises, either. When Razor accomplished his tasks and training, Master Diluc would ruffle his hair lightly and says in a soft voice, “good job today.”
Most importantly, his lips would quirk up in the smallest of smiles. Seeing that, all the fatigue of that day’s hard work would evaporate instantly, leaving only the proud smile on Razor’s face.
Smiles are the best, after all. When Paimon smiled cheekily, Razor could feel his own lips pulling up. And for all the troubles (usually of the burn-y variety) Klee brought with her, Razor never was able to stay mad for too long when she always laughed so heartily everywhere she went. And Aether—Aether’s smile. It was the one thing Razor held dear almost above all else—even though it made him feel funny all over his stomach. Or maybe because it made him feel funny. Razor hadn’t really thought about it.
Anyway, Razor loved to see people he loved smile, because smiling meant they were happy. His wolf lupical in Wolvendom always grinned and bare their fangs at him when they’re happy, and from what he saw on his journey with Aether, humans aren’t much different in that area. And when his lupical was happy, Razor was happy too.
Yet this far into their journey, Master Diluc still didn’t smile all that often. Razor knew Master Diluc was already comfortable with them, but Razor wants to make him really smile—wants to make him really happy.
So when Razor saw an opportunity, he took it.
That night, Razor asked Aether to turn in at Wolvendom—it’s been so long since he last saw his wolf lupical. Seeing how they stopped at the Dawn Winery earlier because Master Diluc had business to attend to, Razor thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
Also, Razor’s been craving some wolfhook lately.
Upon hearing Razor’s request, though, Diluc frowned. “Why would we turn in at Wolvendom? I could always let you all sleep at the winery. There’s no need to be shy, after all this time.”
Paimon whooped in the air, somersaulting in joy. “Free bed, free bed!” she chants. Razor chewed his lips in worry. So it was a bad idea, after all—
“Thanks, Diluc, but we’ll take your offer another day, I think. I’m kinda craving some wolfhook berries—after we pick some, it’ll be easier to just camp out there for now.” Aether cut in, swiftly directing the conversation. “Besides, if we stayed the night there, maybe we can meet some of Razor’s wolf lupical. It’s been awhile since we’re back here, after all.” He met Razor’s eyes, then, shooting him a smile all the while—and Razor felt that funny feeling again, suddenly. “How about it?”
At that, Diluc blinked. He heaved a sigh. “Very well, then, if you say it like that. We’ll stay the night tomorrow at Dawn Winery before we set out again, though. Like Paimon said, you guys have went on too long without sleeping on a real bed.” He rolled his eyes, “you could’ve started with that, though. Whoever would crave wolfhook at this hour so suddenly, anyway?”
Razor blushed a beet red. He was grateful that night has already settled in, masking the glow on his cheeks. Though from the way he saw Aether grinned cheekily at him after, it probably didn’t do him much good.
“Anyway, it’s getting late. We should hurry and set up camp—and pick up some wolfhook along the way, if you so insist.” Diluc promptly stated, ushering them to walk ahead of him—but not before stopping Razor, signaling him to stay behind.
Puzzled, Razor approached Diluc—who immediately gripped Razor’s shoulders tightly, but not unkindly. “Next time,” he began, “just say what you want to say. I’ll make sure to listen to you.” He smiled—a smile Razor couldn’t properly categorize as ‘happy’ in all his time traveling with humans, “if nothing else, I would’ve understood your desire to see your family. I’m sure you miss them terribly.”
Razor could only nod, muted by the solemn gaze of his master. He wanted to say something, but he didn’t have the words. Oh, how Razor long to find conversations not cumbersome.
(“Rueful,” Miss Lisa explained, then, when Razor saw that same smile on a picture book. “When people smiled ruefully, they’re feeling sad and a touch regretful. It’s not a happy smile.”
“Then why smile? If not happy?” Razor asked, confused.
Then Miss Lisa smiled that exact same smile. “Some things can only be conveyed with a smile—no matter the emotions.”)
After that, they quickly walked to join Aether and Paimon—though Diluc still lingered back behind the others. It was always like that—Diluc always made sure he walked behind them, as if guarding them from unseen dangers. Razor used to tell him that he could smell danger, but his master insisted there was nothing wrong with being careful. It was a logic Razor could not fault, so he dropped the point. Besides, Razor must admit—it felt nice to have someone has his back. It felt nice to be protected.
Razor would always try to protect his teacher when the time comes, but in this situation where Diluc insists on walking alone behind everyone else, Razor sometimes wondered—if Master Diluc was the one watching over them, who was watching over him?
(Later, Razor would find the words he had wanted to say. Later, Razor would be able to say that yes, he misses his lupical so very much, but he’s okay because he also had found another lupical in Aether, Paimon, and Master Diluc. They are his lupical, so he will protect them. He would utter these words to Diluc, and Diluc’s eyes would widen before softening into the warmest smile Razor had ever seen. But that was later still.)
It was when they were picking up wolfhook berries, that Razor saw it.
They were strolling around the claw-marked roads. Paimon was floating around and buzzing to find the hidden blue berries with Aether in tow, holding a fruit basket ready to be filled—pulling it out of thin air as usual. Razor would usually stick close and help Paimon’s search by ducking under the bushes to pick the fruits up, and Master Diluc would hang back and watch them do their thing.
Except while they were walking—and floating, and ducking, Diluc stopped in his tracks. Razor just happened to poke his head up from the bushes, facing him, that’s why he saw it—
He saw Diluc stopping, his sight caught by a bed of small lampgrasses.
Razor stood there for a time—Paimon even had to pick up the wolfhook berries from his grasp when she found that he didn’t respond to her calls, prompting Aether to look at him in slight concern. But Razor was—stunned. It was one thing to admire flowers—Razor had done it many times too, admiring the glow of those pretty little grasses at night—but there was something to this that Razor couldn’t quite name. Couldn’t quite catch.
So Razor did what any student would do—ask his teacher for answers. And in this case, the source of his confusion was also his master, so Razor found no need to wait on the matter any longer.
“Master Diluc,” Razor crept up behind Diluc, who was still intently looking at the flowers. “Why are you looking at them like that?”
Diluc jumped a little, visibly startled. He whirled around, in his face the clear look of guilt of someone who was caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to. But why? He was just looking at flowers, wasn’t he?
“L—looking at what?” He coughed, quickly trying to get his bearings together. It was the first time Razor saw him so flustered—Master Diluc was normally so calm and composed. What made him so jumpy?
“The lampgrass,” Razor clarified, “you’re looking at the lampgrasses like—” Razor pushed down the crease between his brows, making himself frown, “—this. Like this. Why?”
In response, Diluc smiled—the ‘rueful’ smile that Miss Lisa told him about—and stroked Razor’s hair softly. “It’s nothing,” he said in a low voice.
Razor’s frown became real. “The lampgrass is making you sad?”
Diluc blinked. “Sad? No, I’m—” he sighed, looking away from Razor—setting his sight to the glowing lampgrasses once more. “I guess, it’s more like—it made me happy, once.”
“Once?” Razor repeated. Asking questions was supposed to give him answers, not making him even more confused. “So it doesn’t make you happy anymore?”
He chuckled—but it wasn’t a happy sound. “I want it to,” he whispered slowly, as if he wasn’t talking to Razor anymore. As if he was talking to himself, or—
—someone that wasn’t here.
“More than anything,” he continued, voice carried by the wind like wisps of dandelion seeds, “I want it to.”
After that, Diluc walked away—from Razor, from the conversation, Razor didn’t know. Now alone, Razor gazed on those lampgrasses that seemed to evoke many kinds of emotions in his master. Razor couldn’t understand what his master was feeling—to Razor, those are just pretty, glowing flowers.
Before he knew it, Razor found himself walking—to those flowers, who shone a vibrant blue. Before he knew it, Razor was plucking those flowers, gingerly holding them so as not to damage the petals. Before he knew it, he ended up with a bunch of glowing lampgrasses on his arms, dyeing the night in an azure light still even without its roots.
Maybe someday, these flowers will make Master Dilluc happy once again. One day, maybe he will be able to truly smile while looking at them. Until that day, Razor would hold on to it—or, more precisely, Razor would store it with Aether and his magical anti-rotting backpack.
When that time comes, Razor promised himself, he would give these lampgrasses to Master Diluc—and he would smile at its blue glow.
Then Razor visited Mondstadt with the others, Aether claiming his usual need for ingredients—when he saw blue.
Razor met the Knights of Favonius’ Cavalry Captain for the first time, and all he could saw was the bright blue of lampgrasses shining in the dark.
“Mister Lampgrass,” Razor breathed out, and all eyes are on him suddenly. Particularly, the striking gaze of Mister Lampgrass’ eye—only one?—flitted to him, that brilliant azure stopping him to his place. Razor went stiff.
Razor couldn’t help but look at his master then—and if Razor was stiff, then Diluc was absolutely rigid. Is this it, then? Is this person the reason why Master Diluc gazed at lampgrasses so intently?
“Ah, yeah,” Aether quickly recovered from the sudden break in their conversation, looking at Razor and the blue man back and forth. “This is your first time meeting, isn’t it? Razor, this is the—”
“Cavalry Captain of the Knights of Favonius, Kaeya, at your service.” Mister Lampgrass cut in with voice as smooth as velvet, extending out his hand to him. “While this is indeed the first time that we meet, I believe I’ve heard quite a lot about you. Aether spoke very fondly of you in our talks, you see.”
Razor blinked, taken aback. Aether spoke of him? Is that true? Aether spoke—fondly, of him, in another’s presence?—oh wait, Mister Lampgrass’ hand is still offered in front of him, uhm. He hurriedly grasped it, movement clumsy—that’s what you’re supposed to do when someone’s offering their hand, right? Miss Lisa said it was good manners to tell someone their name after they told you yours—Kaeya, he said his name was. It suits him, somehow—though Razor knew next to nothing about names.
“My name is Razor,” he fumbled, the sentence as awkward in his mouth as the cabbages Aether once forced him to try, “I am… Aether’s friend.” And Lupical, he hoped, but he dare not say that in front of this stranger.
Mister Lampgrass—Kaeya, smiled. It was a friendly and welcoming smile. Razor was ready to have his hackles raised, seeing how apprehensive Master Diluc had gotten ever since encountering the man—but the warning bells never rang in him.
“Seeing as you are our esteemed Honorary Knight’s friend, I trust that you are definitely good company.” Kaeya’s only visible eye crinkled in a smile, its attention solely on him—pointedly not looking at Diluc, who was still standing stock still beside him. Who still hadn’t uttered a single word.
Razor nodded weakly. “Thank you,” he says in return, because—manners. With that, Kaeya turned away from him to chat with Aether and Paimon, who were considerably more relaxed around him in comparison. It was clear that they are very good friends.
Now, Razor and Master Diluc were alone, in a sense. Razor took this opportunity to chance a glance towards his master—who was much quieter and tense than usual. Worried, Razor tried to peek past the red curtain of his master’s hair—
—to find Master Diluc’s eyes locked onto Kaeya.
Razor blinked, not understanding. The gaze wasn’t—harsh. It was narrowed, but it wasn’t sharp. From his lack of input in their previous conversation, Razor had the impression that Diluc wasn’t the biggest fan of this man. But then again, if he truly disliked Kaeya, that wouldn’t really explain his fixation on the lampgrasses. Unless the fixation is out of… hatred.
But that couldn’t be. Razor knew hatred—hatred was when Razor saw his lupical got taken away by those accursed Abyss Mages, beaten to almost death in front of him. That feeling of wanting nothing more than to inflict the most horrible nightmare onto them. That was hatred.
Razor knew how hatred looked on others, too. When Aether finally opened up to him of the moment he lost his sister, of how he could only watch helplessly as she was engulfed in a pile of crackling boxes that no doubt spells doom for the both of them. The gaze Aether sported when he spoke of the Unknown God that dealt them this tragedy of separation—that was hatred.
Hatred wasn’t stopping in the middle of your trek when you saw flowers that reminded you of that person. Hatred wasn’t having your gaze stolen by said flowers and not budging.
Most of all, hatred definitely wasn’t the way Master Diluc looked at Kaeya, now. It definitely wasn’t hatred, but—but Razor could not, for the life of him, figure out what it was either.
Then Kaeya abruptly turned around to face Diluc’s gaze, and for a breathtaking second, all was still between them. All was still, and Razor found himself thinking that he had intruded upon something that wasn’t meant for him.
But all too soon, that moment ended as Master Diluc looked away and Kaeya swept his gaze—to him.
“Well then, I trust you will be in good hands, Razor,” he started, eyes crinkling in a smile in much the same way as before. Except that beautiful blue eye didn’t shine as much as before, so maybe it wasn’t really the same. “Since you’re going with Aether and Paimon, and of course, the very own Master Diluc of the Dawn Winery over here.” Kaeya nodded at Diluc, but only at his general direction. Master Diluc, too, refused to catch his gaze again.
“Well, goodbye for now. I hope you enjoy your time here in Mondstadt,” Kaeya continued, nodding at him in farewell. Aether and Paimon waved at him vigorously, Kaeya returning them slowly as he walked away, smiling.
Then Razor watched as Kaeya’s and Master Diluc’s eyes met once again. From his position, he couldn’t quite make out his master’s face, as it was obscured by the red curls of his hair, but he was in crystal clear view of Kaeya’s. As such, Razor expected the smile to fall from Kaeya’s face, but instead—
Instead, he watched as the edge of Kaeya’s eye soften—and his smile indeed became smaller, but it was no less sincere.
Feeling the overwhelming urge to confirm what kind of expression that his master make, Razor quickly turned towards Diluc, no longer fearing any potential repercussion. Razor needs to know. If his hunches were right, his master would—
—he would look at Kaeya in the same way he looked at those shining lampgrasses, many nights ago. Like the way he looked right now.
It seemed so long yet so short a moment, but in the end, even that had to end. Kaeya turned back around, disappearing around the corner.
Diluc’s eyes only left him after he was gone.
Razor heard his master sighed. “Well, let’s go, then. Didn’t you say you need to buy more potatoes?” he reminded, speaking for the first time since Kaeya appeared. “Besides, I admit I’ve been missing your hash browns, Razor,” Diluc said, turning to Razor as he moved to ruffle his hair—like he usually does, nowadays.
“Yay, alright! Come on, Aether! We’ll buy up all the potatoes in Mondstadt!” Paimon shouted excitedly, floating ahead of the group in a hurry. Aether hurried to catch up with her, and so did Master Diluc. Razor should, too, but he was rooted in place, somehow.
Diluc, sensing that Razor didn’t follow, turned around. “Razor?”
“Master Diluc,” Razor started, the question burning in his mind. “Are you happy now?”
Diluc blinked. He stood there, silenced by the question. But not entirely surprised.
After a time, a smile grew on his lips—small, but no less genuine. “Not yet,” he answered, voice soft in honesty, “but I’ll get there.” Diluc glanced behind Razor, and they both knew what he was looking at (what he was looking for). “We’ll get there.”
At that, Razor’s own smile bloomed, his fang tooth peeking out as he grinned. “Come then, Master,” he beamed, quickly walking up to his master, “I’ll make puppy-shape hash browns. When Aether returned with potatoes.”
Beside him, Diluc smiled. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Then, one new day, Razor woke up to a morning of midnight blue, without the sun to illuminate it yet. It was the kind of morning Razor almost never encountered, and one he especially thought he’d experience alone, because it wasn’t a morning usually meant for humans to be awake yet. Far be it from him to wake the others up, so Razor prepared himself for a dark morning on his own.
Yet, as his sleep-riddled vision cleared, he realized that he wasn’t alone. Master Diluc had already woken up, and he was sitting in front of a bark of tree a ways in front of him.
Slowly, Razor walked up to him. Before he arrived, though, Diluc had already noticed him—he turned his head slightly towards Razor in acknowledgment. “Awake already?”
Razor nodded slowly. Diluc moved over for a bit, patting the space beside him. Razor took the silent invitation and promptly plopped down next to his master.
Diluc didn’t say anything after that, and Razor didn’t have anything to say either. So they sat there in silence, with Razor in particular snuggling closer to the warmth of his master’s fur cloak. It felt nice. Razor didn’t feel the need to break this bubble they were in.
The silence stretched on, blanketing them both, and Razor was just about to fall asleep again—now on Diluc’s shoulder, when a burst of light pierced through his closed eyelids. Razor winced from the sudden invasion, opening his eyes gingerly. What greeted him made him gape in awe.
“Sun,” he whispered, the magical sight leaving him breathless. In the dark of a yet-unbroken morning, Razor didn’t notice it, but they were facing the Mondstadt city in the place they sat. Now, he could clearly see the sun rising over the city, the clear waters of Cider Lake sparkling yellow as if it was apple cider itself. The grand cathedral seemed even more majestic, the shadows created by the sun making it seem to stand even taller than usual.
To his side, Diluc didn’t say anything, but Razor could tell that he was soaking in the view, just like Razor was. Perhaps this wasn’t the first time Diluc had been here, sitting at the perfect spot for the sole purpose of watching Mondstadt at its most beautiful.
Suddenly, like a jolt of lightning, Razor was reminded of something. Something equally beautiful, and if a beautiful thing is paired with another beautiful thing, won’t they be even more beautiful together?
So Razor stood up, surprising his master no doubt, who now glanced at him with the most bewildered look on his face. But Razor didn’t have time to explain—he had to fetch it, lest the beautiful sun rises too high before ‘it’ can be done.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, so he went into their tent and reluctantly shook Aether awake. “Aether,” he whispered, trying not to startle him too much, “Need your backpack. Have to take something out.”
Aether mumbled something, clearly still out of it. Though Razor think it was cute, he unfortunately didn’t have time for this. “Backpack! Needs something!” Razor hissed.
“Mm, over there—…” Aether drowsily pointed somewhere in a general direction, “Just… say whatchu wanna take out ‘n how many…” After that groggy instruction, Aether promptly blacked out to sleep again. No matter, Razor got what he wanted from him.
Razor quickly hurried to the direction Aether pointed (taking care not to accidentally stomp on Paimon on the way), wasting no time in taking out the things he need. With that, Razor dashed out of the tent, running to Diluc’s side with said things in tow.
At his return, Diluc turned away from the sun to regard him, raising an eyebrow. “Where did you go?”
Once again, Razor sat down beside him, and he handed Diluc one of the things he took. The beautiful things.
Before he knew it, in Diluc’s hand was a stalk of still-glowing lampgrass. Razor could hear his breathing hitch—in realization that he was holding it, really holding it in his hand.
“Beautiful thing,” Razor shook the lampgrass in his own hold lightly, then gestured to the sunrise in front of them. “Beautiful thing, also.
“Together,” Razor breathed out, holding the glowing blue petals in front of the red sunlight. The light of the sun glows inside the shine of the lampgrass, mixing them, making them even more vibrant. It was—
“Even more beautiful.”
Diluc continued to sit, not moving nor doing anything. Frustrated, Razor took his master’s own hand and—showed him how to do it, just like how he showed him how to wield claymores. But unlike wielding claymores, this requires no technique, no finesse. Nothing to master, except maybe—gentleness, and the openness to let it happen.
So Razor slowly moved Diluc’s hand, positioning the flower directly between the sunlight and Diluc’s eyes. Diluc showed no signs of resisting, and when Razor was sure he wouldn’t just drop his hand without Razor to hold it, Razor slowly let go.
He kept watching though, to make sure his master really did it. That he wasn’t giving up because it’s too—difficult, perhaps, though Razor wasn’t sure what could be difficult about it. But Master Diluc would watch him too, when he taught Razor something, so Razor would watch.
But it seems Razor’s help or guidance was no longer needed here, because Diluc’s hand stayed upright even without Razor there. Diluc’s eyes stay glued to the lampgrass in his hand, to red sunlight filtering through blue petals.
Satisfied with his (first time!) tutoring, Razor sat back, relaxed. He, too, held up the lampgrass to his eyes once again, and watched Mondstadt at the true state of its most beautiful.
“Are you happy now, Master Diluc?” Razor asked that question again, as they walked side by side just the two of them.
Diluc hummed in response, a smile playing on his lips. “Almost,” he offered. “I can see the end, at least.”
Razor nodded, determined. “When you’re there, tell me,” he insisted. “When that time comes, not just a single stalk, I’ll give you all the lampgrasses I kept for you!”