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wake up (sleep tight)

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Clef spent most of the dissolution of Cephiro failing to sleep, snatching hours here and there in increasingly random locations. His bed made him think about sleeping – and all that might go wrong while he was asleep – the shield might fall, the castle might weaken, anything might happen! And though he knew that there were others watching the walls, he was far too aware that he was the one organising them, binding the efforts together.

(The shield was… actually mostly him, but he tried not to think about that too hard as well, or else his belief started to falter. So long as he didn’t think about it, he could hold firm, keep this place safe; these people he loved, all that was left of the land Emeraude had given so much for. The land he loved, even while he hated her, and what she had forced on Emeraude.)

So he let himself fall asleep in the library, on the window seats, which were less alarming and still almost private – until they needed the space for more urgent things, and the books and shelves were stored away. Then it was the observation room, near the top of the castle, where he could watch the skies for the approaching danger, and watch Cephiro for the key he both wanted and didn’t want to find.

Eventually, he was falling asleep in the great hall itself, slumped on the chair which no one had tried kicking him out of since Emeraude passed away.

He only fell asleep in his bed when he had truly worn himself down, at which point he could collapse into unconsciousness for a few hours before anxiety dragged him back to alert. He woke up there a few times he’d fallen asleep someplace else, in fact. He knew that LaFarga had carried him back once, and Ferio; he suspected that Lantis had been the most common culprit; they had been wary enough of each other’s intentions, perhaps, but trusting enough with their selves. And Lantis had known him better than any of the others still close enough to take the liberty.

There were no locks on any of the doors in the castle, during the emergencies. Privacy was gained through temporary measures – shields, notices – and otherwise fell by the wayside.

People grew accustomed to being able to find him at all hours, because he was either awake or napping somewhere they could reach him anyway. If the situation was dire, no one hesitated to enter his rooms, either. He had actually encouraged them; the more he knew of what was going on, the more chance he had of finding some way out of this holding pattern; this treading water while the cold numbed them piece by piece.

If he knew enough, maybe he would know what to do.

After the rebirth of the land, it took him a while to realise he had, perhaps, set a precedent he was going to regret now.

It took a while to notice – but then, he wasn’t the only person who spent those first few months catching up on their sleep, revelling in a lack of insomnia, even if it was only because he was so exhausted even his brain couldn’t keep him awake without an emergency until he’d caught up. So he was groggy when people came to wake him, and used to it. At first, too, it was only those people he was used to – Lantis, LaFarga, Caldina or Ferio or on occasion all the Knights in a block, and they woke him with news, or something he needed to do.

…Admittedly, once he was woken by the Knights because they’d brought cake and didn’t want him to miss out, but Hikaru had looked so sincere about it he hadn’t even complained.

But he was sleeping in his rooms now – mostly even in his bed, though sometimes it took a potion to achieve it. (…More than sometimes. His body had learnt constant anxiety like a truth worn through his blood, unlearning it was… a challenge.) Which meant that people were coming in on a fairly regular basis.

He had curtains about the bed as well as at the windows so that he could vary the light in the room. Some nights, he needed it absolutely pitch black: others he needed to see the faint glimmering of life beyond the window before he could settle. So there was an illusion of privacy in his bed even when people were coming through the doors – only people he trusted actually came over to the bed and poked him, largely because of the rumour about his accidentally shocking one of the Guard when they tried to shake him awake. (He was… fairly certain that hadn’t actually happened.)

The Guard didn’t like rooms they couldn’t get into, on the general principle that they might need to, sometime. Which meant he couldn’t cast a shield, as they wouldn’t be able to break one of his. And it made it easier to sleep, knowing that people he trusted would be able to reach him if anything happened, so it only made sense to let others in…

And then one morning he was woken by a member of the Guard he’d never seen before, saying he’d been sent to fetch Clef because no one could decide where the orchards should go and the gardeners were about to start a fight and could he please come and stop it?

Clef was out of bed and dressed before he actually took the words in – once he did, though, he stopped halfway across the floor, thinking ‘WHY?’ very loudly.

He sent the guard away with a message that the gardeners could fight all they wanted as long as they didn’t make the castle fall down, he was going back to bed. But though one or two sharp comments cut down on the more inane requests for his waking up, the habit was there, and when people were worried enough to burst in he usually felt too bad to turn them away.

It was, he thought, wryly, a good thing that he had little use for much privacy.