I feel like I say this every time, but... I really loved writing this piece, it's one of my favorites. Just like the other 42 of them are apparently one of my favorites, but different. So enjoy!
As usual this is also posted on fanfiction.net, if that's an easier format for you to read. (https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12094251/1/In-Pieces, this would be #37)
Sometimes I write something to explore the relationship development between Rhen and Dameon and sometimes I write to pay tribute to forgotten plot points in Aveyond that are too beautiful and important to fade into obscurity, and sometimes, sometimes I write just because I have feelings and I love my otp. This was one of the feelings times.
So enjoy this rhenxdameon piece that happens during/mostly after the battle with Aesma, the last daeva (in the order I play).
Aesma was too fast, even with the magic clock. It all happened too fast— he had tried to shield her, but even after all this time he could never quite keep up with her. She was standing, swinging her sword and yelling her warcry, and then—
He ran forward to catch her— he tried to, but instead he slipped and watched in horror as Aesma raised his arm for another blow—
It was Te’ijal’s arrow that stopped him, and then Galahad’s sword—
Dameon couldn’t remember, it all happened so quickly, but somehow he got to Rhen and Aesma fell— had it happened in that order? He didn’t know.
Marge was yelling at him, or maybe she was just yelling, and Elini looked like she might be sick— Rhen wasn’t moving, there was blood in her hair and running down her face, he couldn’t tell where it was coming from and his hands were shaking—
He didn’t know how it happened, except that she sagged in his arms when he carried her and he cradled her head near his heart and tried to think of anything but death, and somehow— somehow, they had made it to a small cavern, and set up camp there. Lars had conjured a fire and Dameon sat by it with Rhen’s head in his lap and he tried to clean the blood out of her hair— it was everywhere, it stained her skin and his robes and he kept picturing his father bleeding out on the shrine floor— no!
He had been helpless then, he had spells now. If only one of them would work—
The others had hovered at first, and he wanted to growl that Rhen needed space, but she was their leader, she was the hero they had followed and he remembered how it felt to lose that, he couldn’t ask them to go— so he let them wait.
His hands were shaking too much to check her pulse— it didn’t matter, he could hear her breathing— it was all he could hear, rattling his bones.
He carefully massaged her scalp, brushing back loose strands of lavender. He couldn’t close the wound if his hands were shaking— get a grip— he couldn’t, he’d have to start somewhere else.
He managed a deep breath, and felt for other injuries and murmured light healing spells. She was so pale, and cold— he must not rush. She had lost too much blood, she was fragile in this state.
She should never have to be fragile— why wouldn’t she wake up?
The others slowly shuffled away, one by one. Galahad stayed the longest, his eyes hard and unmoving. He had that in common with Rhen, they would never back down from even the darkest, most hopeless scenes. From even death.
No. She couldn’t die, she was not going to die—
Someone had prepared dinner, Dameon didn’t know what, but John had pushed a portion of whatever it was at him and he thought he remembered swallowing some of it. Most of it was wrapped in his pack to give to Rhen when she woke up. She would wake up.
His hands were steadier now and he brushed back her hair again and traced the wound. There was a large welt swelling under it. He needed to be careful. He forced himself to breathe deeply and speak evenly— he whispered, really, he didn’t trust his voice beyond that. And slowly, so, so painfully slowly, the wound closed and the swelling went down and the pressure in his chest lifted— he hadn’t realized it was there, until it was gone and suddenly he could breathe.
The others had spread their mats out on the cave floor, and Elini touched his shoulder and pointed to Rhen’s mat— Dameon didn’t know how he remembered it. He would help Rhen into it when she woke up. She had to wake up, sometimes head injuries were irreversible— he wouldn’t risk it. He couldn’t—
Sunshine was the first spell he’d ever learned— cure sleepiness. It wasn’t quite sleepiness that had her like this, but he was afraid a revive spell would be too strong. He didn’t want to hurt her, he didn’t want to make it worse— she still wasn’t moving.
Why could he not have just moved, in the first place?
John was already snoring and even Te’ijal was lying down.
Sunshine. He’d tried to use the spell to get out of going to bed once, and his parents had lectured him on the appropriate uses of magic. Protection and healing. That’s what he was allowed to do with his gift. The list had seemed small then. Now it seemed impossible.
Lars had stopped glaring at John and his eyes were closed. Everyone was sleeping now, everyone was breathing evenly—
Except Rhen, whose breaths came in shallow little sighs. And except Dameon, who was sure he’d never sleep again.
He put his hands on either side of her head. The fire was finally starting to warm her cheeks, and her ears. She had little, round ears that stuck out from her head just slightly. She called them goofy. He called them charming.
Sunshine. It was useless. She wasn’t moving, the firelight reflected somberly off the ends of her eyelashes, her usually pale pink lips were ashen, he was helpless again before the last inevitability and he felt sick—
Then abruptly, finally, her expression shifted. She drew her eyebrows together, and frowned, and her closed eyelids seemed to tighten.
“Rhen?” he whispered hopefully, hopelessly, his breath catching in his throat. “Are you awake?”
She didn’t answer, but she curled into his lap.
He almost cried, she was still so cold and pale. She needed to wake up. He whispered the spell again, and carefully pressed his hands to her cheeks and ears.
The muscles of her face were tight.
His throat was closing and he swallowed— he was not going to cry, he needed to heal her—
He was already crying, he couldn’t do anything to stop it, and now there were tears that didn’t belong to her dripping down her face—
Her long eyelashes fluttered, and now the firelight danced on the ends of them, and her two soft violet eyes opened and looked up at him.
“G’morning, Sunshine,” she slurred. He tried to laugh at the unintended irony of that but instead it came out as a sob, and she frowned and the rough tips of her little fingers brushed across his face. “Why’re you crying?”
“I— I— I was afraid— you were— lost— I—”
He couldn’t even say the words, and now he couldn’t even see her through the tears—
“It’s all right,” Rhen soothed. “I’m not lost. Don’t cry.”
But he couldn’t help it, he couldn’t catch his breath.
She watched him patiently and then asked softly, “Was it Aesma?”
Aesma— speeding across the cavern, his blows coming down like lightning, shattering the shields, knocking out every defense, and then— and then—
Dameon somehow managed to nod before he lost control of his lungs and his throat— he was going to wake the others, he tried to muffle the sounds in his hands but he wasn’t sure it made a difference, and Rhen reached up and pulled his head down near hers and patted his wet cheek.
“It’s all right,” she said again. “He’s gone now. Wait—” she paused, and frowned up at him. “He is gone, right?”
He choked back another one of those horrible sounds, and nodded again, and her mouth curved in a small smile— her lips were pink again, and her breathing was steady and the demon was gone, he couldn’t harm her any further— he’s gone, he’s gone, he’s gone—
Dameon jumped, at first, when Rhen’s fingers stroked his forehead, but her hands were steady and he was tired and his chest hurt and it was— nice, to be close to her. He leaned down and her fingers found their way to his hair, too, and he didn’t know what her hands were doing up there but they were warm on his head and slowly, slowly he found he had followed her back to the present, and he could breathe again and the tears had stopped and all that was left was a dull, aching warmth where the fear used to be, and a tingling where the rough tips of her little fingers brushed his scalp.
She was always steadfast while he was in chaos, she met all her monsters with unflinching strength, and—
She must be hungry, after all she’d been through.
“I saved dinner for you,” he mumbled softy, close to her ear.
She smiled up at him, and her fingers finished with whatever they were doing to his hair. “Well I am hungry,” she admitted, and he found somehow he was smiling despite himself. He carefully helped her sit up and then reached for his pack.
Dinner turned out to be fish, and it was burnt on the edges and cold from sitting so long away from the fire. But Rhen took it gratefully, and swallowed down large chunks of it before he could begin to apologize—
“Thanks, Dameon,” she said around another mouthful. “I was afraid I would have to starve until morning.” Then, “Here, have you had some?”
“Oh, I— well, you— yes, you eat it, Rhen, I’m fine.”
She narrowed those vivid violet eyes at him and held out the rest of the fish, and he felt light-headed and he wished he could think of a joke so she would stop looking at him like that.
“Really, I had some, it’s okay,” he assured her again.
She blinked. “Please, Dameon?”
He swallowed and tried to think of some argument, but he couldn’t and she was still looking at him so he finally took the fish and nibbled at it—
He was hungry, and it felt good in his stomach, but what was really nice was the contented smile that tugged the corners of her mouth when he thanked her, and the happy sighing sound she made when he had given it back and she’d finished the rest, and especially— the way she leaned her head on his shoulder, and yawned into his chest, and sleepily announced that she would take care of the watch until Te’ijal woke up.
He smiled and tucked her hair behind her ear, and he carefully traced the still-tender skin where Aesma had struck her. “What if I take care of the watch, and you take care of yourself and get some rest?”
“No.” She shook her head. “That won’t do. You have to take care of me. I mean,” she yawned again, “of rest. Take care of rest.”
“I’ll take care of both,” he said, and felt thrilled and frightened at his own audacity— that was something he’d learned from Rhen. And his stomach was shaking now but he couldn’t stop himself, he was already asking, “Would you like me to carry you to your mat?”
She held her arms out towards him and she was shaking, too. She didn’t sag in his arms this time but she laid her head in the same place near his heart and he thought it might burst open, or maybe it already had. It was a short walk to her mat, Elini had made sure he wouldn’t have to step over anyone, and he laid Rhen down and pulled the blanket over her and he wondered when the trembling would stop.
She reached up and brushed the hair out of his eyes again, and her little smile told him she knew something he didn’t. But she never left him long in the dark; she pulled a lock forward and held it where he could see, and now he knew what her hands had been doing in his hair; she had braided it. He laughed softly and his whole self was still quivering but he felt brave somehow and he kissed her nose because it was freckled and pink, and then she blushed and her nose was pinker and his heart had definitely burst now. He stroked her hair and slowly, slowly her eyes closed and her breathing evened out and it wasn’t like last time, it was quiet and calm and she was safe, and slowly, slowly the tremor in his chest softened and somehow his chaos had gently settled into...