Work Header


Work Text:

Delenn's aide, whose eyes are currently fixed on the ground before her feet, is a hundred things Neroon never was. Careless, for one - he should notice this conversation is being overheard, even though every muscle in his body is tensed in silent screaming protest at Delenn's orders. Foolish, for another, if he will return to Minbar instead of attending Branmer's funeral ceremony, as she asks. But there is something familiar in the uncomfortable tilt of his head, the choke of his voice, and Neroon is curious.

"You don't want me here." Branmer only a day aboard the Ingata, and already at ease in saying this, unsurprised.

"You are Religious caste. You cannot command warriors in battle." Words already hissed among the crew, Neroon's voice loudest of all. Branmer must have heard, then. Or he must have known anyway.

Such disrespect should be unthinkable; Neroon surprised even himself. Branmer's face, however, twisted into a half-smile. "Not all Religious are what you think. But you may think it anyway, for now."

"Then why call me here?"

"I need an alyt. You'll do." And then, when confidence born out of anger was silenced and Neroon could only stare, another smile. "Not all aides are respectful."

He is tired; he has neither slept nor eaten for ten days, and grief would be exhausting even without the fast. He has better things to do than watch Delenn invent reasons to send her aide away.  And yet, he watches. She doesn't want you to see her mourn, he thinks, and wonders if it is true.

Branmer praying, alone, three days after giving the surrender order. He knew the sound of Neroon's footsteps without turning around, and snapped "Go, leave me," candle-flame flinching from his voice.

Neroon stayed. "It was not your order," he said.

"It was my words." A hand on a shoulder says more than a thousand speeches. Branmer did not ask him to leave again. "Warrior," he said, "forgive me."

"There is nothing to forgive."

Branmer shook his head. "Not all kindness is a blessing."

Delenn gives her aide a data crystal, and his hand curls around it as she turns away. She has almost left before his resolve breaks, and he blurts out "Delenn, please," to her disappearing back.

She stops, but she is not angry. "Branmer would not want this ceremony," she says. "He told me this long ago, and you should not be there. Remember him in your prayers." And she lifts his chin until he looks at her, and he smiles because she smiles. It is Delenn's words, not Branmer's, which reassure him. He never would have noticed Neroon; all he cares to see is in her face.

He does not yet know he loves her. If he is fortunate, he never will.

Understanding matters, Branmer said. Not all obedience is right. And Not all choices are ours to make. And Not all love is unrequited.