He dies for her, Neroon of the Star Riders. He dies for her, and for their people, and Delenn can only watch.
When they were children, they had learned their letters together. Patiently pressing ink to paper until the right shapes were formed. His robes were always astray, dirt on the hem, sleeves pushed up. Hers were perfect even back then.
Later that day, he'll throw mud at her, and she will give chase, and they'll end up in a giggling tangle as Branmer gently shakes his head at their antics. She thinks then that they will be friends forever.
They become acolytes: him to the warriors, her to the priests. The ceremonies of initiation are long and arduous. She does not understand why he wants to be a warrior, but she does understand wanting. Afterwards, he catches her behind the schoolhouse, and tilts her chin gently up.
"May I?" he asks.
"You may," she responds, and he presses his lips to hers for a brief second. She thinks then that maybe what she wants is not friendship at all.
They finish their first year of training and are released with the other acolytes to celebrate. It is a week reversal and irreverence, just as Valen decreed all those years ago, and Neroon find her alone in the courtyard of the temple.
"Delenn of Mir," he says to her on the last day of the festival, the last day that this might be possible.
"Neroon of the Star Riders," she says back. Delenn knows why he has come. She wants more than she can say, more than she can have. He is a warrior. She is religious. Neither of those things will ever change.
"Would you celebrate with me?" he asks, longing clear in his voice and even though it is not right and it is not proper, she nods.
"I will celebrate with you."
He takes her to the room of his childhood, and in the morning she kisses him on the forehead and leaves before he wakes. She does not know what to think.
She becomes Dukhat's protege, and he becomes Branmer's. He sends her trinkets wrapped in handmade paper on Valeria's Day, and she sends sweets for his Natal Day. She learns to look up when she walks, and he learns the Denn'Bok. They learn to become leaders. Trusted aides. She thinks that they will be the future of their people.
Then the war comes. Or rather, she starts the war. For a long time there is nothing beautiful and nothing sweet, and they both lose themselves in the violence. And then the war is over, she ends what she began, but he cannot forgive her. Not for taking this victory from his caste. When she takes the position on Babylon 5, he does not see her off. She never thought he would.
There is no more friendship between them. They fight about Branmer, they fight about the future, they fight about the Chrysalis, and they fight about the Grey Council. They fight until Neroon has enough power to take her title. To make himself Satai, in a place held for the religious caste. She never expected to find him her enemy, and yet, they are. Eventually, their castes follow them, and Minbar is engulfed in war.
When she comes to him, he listens. He listens, and eventually he agrees. They will go to the Temple of Varenni and she will let the Starfire Wheel consume her. That part, she does not reveal to Neroon. Whether he is her enemy still, or her friend from so long ago, the information will only be a burden to him.
She thinks, as he takes her place in the circle, that she has misunderstood Neroon all along. And so she watches, unable to move, as he declares the true calling of his heart to be religious, she watches as he stumbles to his knees, she watches as he dies. Delenn watches and thinks about the sweet softness of his skin against hers, thinks of his childish giggle, so joyful, thinks of the strength she had watched him grow into. She thinks of her hopes and of his dreams, and of the future they have made here. She thinks of him.
He dies for their people, Neroon of the Religious Caste. He dies for her, a true brother of her heart.