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Deck of Many Things

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"Hey Beau, how come you never talk about your parents?"

Beau currently hangs upside down from a sturdy tree branch to practice some pull-ups. She’s halfway through pull-up number thirtyseven when Jester asks her question.

Jester sits under the tree and eats some pastries while humming a little tune Beau has never heard before. But now it will definitely be stuck in her head for hours, because that’s what Jester’s songs do to her.

She let’s herself hang down and swings forward and backward for a bit, pondering whether or not she’s in the mood to discuss her parents.

“Because talking about them puts me in a bad mood”, she finally answers truthfully and does another three pull-ups. She likes her numbers even. Jester cocks her head, looking slightly confused.

“So… your parents aren’t good parents?”, she wants to know.

“No. No, they’re really not”, Beau says and swings around to let herself fall down. She sits down next to Jester and takes the waterskin Jester gives her. It’s strange and new and very awesome to have a friend like that, who is just casually being nice because… well. Because Jester actually likes her.

Beau kinda thinks that’s weird but then again, Jester is just a weird person in general. Awesome, but weird.

“I’m sorry to hear that, really”, Jester says and offers Beau half of her pastry next. Beau knows how much Jester loves her pastries so she refuses, but the fact that Jester actually wants to share with her makes her feel all warm and fuzzy inside, even though the topic is not fun at all.

“It’s fine, I got over it a long time ago”, Beau says and shrugs, lying down beside Jester. The grass is soft and tickles the back of her neck.

“If you ever wanna talk about why they’re so shitty, you can tell me, you know. And if we ever visit them I can play all sorts of pranks on them, like, draw mustaches on important family portrays and put like… stuff for manhood problems into the wine”, Jester offers. Her tone is surprisingly serious, considering the fact that she just offered to give half of Beau’s hometown awkward boners.

Beau snorts at the thought of that.

“I would love that. I’ll get back to you if we ever visit good old home.”

Chapter Text

"Molly please, you're drunk."

“Well, so are you, darlin’“, Molly slurred, his arm around Caleb’s shoulder tightening a bit because Caleb had a hard time standing up straight.

“I don’t think I should do any more dancing”, Caleb uttered. The tavern was already spinning and Molly had been asking for dances four times in a row now. While Caleb was definitely drunk enough to dance with Jester, he wasn’t sure if he was drunk enough to dance with Mollymauk Tealeaf.

Or maybe he was too drunk for that.

Because who knew what might happen if Molly got closer. He was way too close already, smelling of booze but also of that lavender soap Jester bought for all of them.

“Look, even Beau is dancing”, Molly said and let go of Caleb, pointing to Jester and Beau dancing close to the bar. Weirdly enough, Caleb was at the same time relieved and sad to lose the touch of Molly’s very warm arm on his neck and shoulders.

“You could ask Fjord”, Caleb said. He heard the slurring in his own voice but his tongue just wouldn’t do what he wanted anymore. The longer Caleb thought about it, the more he came to the realization that there was a very specific place he wanted his tongue to be and that was the reason why it was probably safer to go to bed.

Molly looked at Caleb for a long while and Caleb felt his nerves flutter. There was no playful grin or teasing wink, just a look that seemed to pierce Caleb’s soul.

“Ok. I guess I’ll do that, then”, Molly said surprisingly quiet, took a few steps away from Caleb and turned around. Caleb felt like maybe he had ruined something good, something he definitely didn’t want to ruin.

He reached for Molly’s coat to stop him from leaving. Or worse, to dance with Fjord.

Fjord was over at the bar and as far as Caleb could see, he looked strangely teary eyed while talking to Nott. Caleb didn’t have the capacity to concentrate on two things at the same time though, so he just held onto Molly’s coat, his heart hammering in his chest and his brain swirling in a sea of alcohol.

“Don’t leave”, he rasped.

Molly turned around and gave him a crooked grin.

“I’m kinda getting mixed signals here, Mr. Caleb.”

Caleb felt a smile tug at the corner of his lips.

“If I throw up on you it will be entirely your fault, Mr. Mollymauk”, he said.

Caleb thought he might not even last a minute. The tavern was spinning a little less now, but his heart was racing in his ribcage and his thoughts were spiraling when Molly touched his hand surprisingly gentle and started leading Caleb through the pub.

One, two, three, one, two, three, one, two–

Mollymauk’s forehead came to rest against Caleb’s as he pulled him even closer. Caleb forgot how to count.

“Why, Mr. Caleb, you’re not a bad dancer at all”, Molly whispered. Caleb was sure he was going to die or do something very stupid, like lean forward and press his lips to Mollymauk’s. He was so close now, it would be so easy to just tip forward, maybe stumble a little, right into his arms.

“That goes for you as well, Mr. Mollymauk”, he rasped out, his voice barely functional now. Caleb wanted to freeze this very moment, this in-between moment where everything was possible and he hadn’t ruined anything yet.

“I’m glad you said yes after all”, Molly admitted with a lopsided grin and closed eyes, as if he was enjoying this just as much as Caleb.

“I am as well.”

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"See those dark clouds? That's my angel of vengeance," Beau grinned. "If I were you, I'd start running."

The cult leader who had considered it a good idea to put Beau in shackles and chain her to a tree in the middle of an open field laughed in her face.

“That’s a thunderstorm as far as I’m concerned”, he said with a toothy grin and gestured for two of the other guys to come closer and put weird smelling red paint on Beau’s face. She tried to pull her head away, but there wasn’t much space for her to move.

“Sure it is”, Beau answered and looked up at the darkening sky. “And it’s gonna fry your dumb head right off your shoulders.”

To Beau’s huge delight thunder cracked right in this instance, as if the weather tried to give her more credibility. A few of the cultists in red hoods looked up at the sky, somewhat concerned.

The leader’s answer was drowned out in a loud crack of thunder and when the rain started to pour down Beau hoped that it would wash that disgusting paint off her face.

“That’s my girlfriend you have there”, a voice said somewhere behind Beau and some of the men started screaming. “If you want to live, give her back now.”

“Kill that thing!”, the leader screamed and Beau knew—she just knew that Yasha’s eyes were pitch black and a pair of skeletal wings protruded from her back. She grinned full of delight.

“Told you. My girlfriend is an angel and you can go fuck yourselves”, Beau called. As Yasha rushed past her, arrows started raining down on the cultists and a big purple lollipop appeared in the sky.

“Kill them!”, the cult’s leader screamed right before Yasha’s sword pierced his ribcage.

Chapter Text

"Guys... I think Beau's been feeble minded."

“What does that mean?”, Jester asked, her voice full of concern. Beau had been hit by the sickly green spell right in the chest. After that her demeanor had changed. Beau hadn’t said anything since then, but she had still fought with great tenacity, throwing herself into danger and even shielding Jester from an incoming arrow that now protruded from her left shoulder.

Caleb had a hard time breathing. His memories were hazed and blurred but the way Beau acted now reminded him of a time long past when he went nonverbal for many years, unable to understand even the simplest of phrases, afraid of everything and everyone, until that kind woman had touched the side of his head and lifted the fog.

Beau looked like a cornered animal. Her eyes were wide and full of panic, as if—in a distant corner of her mind—she was aware that something had gone terribly wrong.

“It means she cannot talk or understand what we say to her”, Caleb answered quietly and took a step forward closer to Beau. Her eyes flickered over to him. Caleb knew that Beau was probably still able to discern between friend and foe but he had no idea if she trusted Caleb enough to let him come close.

To his complete and utter surprise Beau didn’t take a step back or attack him as soon as he stretched out a hand. She looked at his hand and back to his face and for a split second Caleb thought that maybe she had simply waited for him to be close enough so that she could punch him.

But instead, she hugged him, threw herself into his arms and clung to him like Caleb was a piece of driftwood and Beau was drowning in the open sea.

“We will figure this out, Beauregard”, he said quietly. “Keine Sorge, mein Freund.”

Chapter Text

Soooo,” Jester says in Infernal, “who is it that you find super attractive, Molly? I won’t tell anyone, I promise.

Molly looks up from his tarot deck and blinks. The question comes unexpectedly because it has been weeks since the Zone of Truth spell.

The others are all there sitting with them around the tavern table, drinking and sharing a huge plate of bacon and eggs which Molly finds endlessly endearing. It reminds him of his days at the carnival.

Molly is rather glad that none of them speak Infernal.

Why do you want to know?”, he asks with a grin and presents two cards to Jester with a practiced flourish of his hand. She looks at them shortly but unfortunately Jester is not swayed from her mission.

Oh, you know, it’s just so exciting. Romance and stuff, I mean. And reading about it is great, but I feel like it could be even more exciting if I actually knew the person”, Jester replies, still in Infernal. Fjord and Beau are watching them now.

Molly likes Jester a lot. But he’s also not entirely sure she can keep secrets.

Maybe it’s you”, he says with a wink and Jester giggles and punches him in the arm which causes him to almost drop his cards. He rubs the place she punched and looks around. Caleb is still reading but Molly has the impression that maybe he’s been on the same page for some minutes which is rather unusual.

Don’t be silly, Molly. You’re like my brother, technically! Come one, tell me, tell me, tell me, please?

Molly sighs and puts the last card down. The Magician is facing Jester now and her eyes drop to the card. She sucks in an excited breath and squeals.

Oh my gods, Molly! Really? That is so cute!

Molly’s eyes still rest on Caleb who is now also looking at the card on the table. Molly could swear that his ears are turning pink and he wonders if Caleb learned to speak Infernal. A split second later he remembers that technically Caleb can comprehend any language he chooses.

Well, fuck.

Chapter Text

"Dammit, obnoxious one, get up! Get up..."

Molly didn’t answer.

Beau didn’t like the look of him and she didn’t understand the magic that necromancer cast on him. But Molly’s eyes were staring into nothing even though he was still breathing and from time to time his whole body spasmed.

Beau wanted him to insult her, laugh about her dumb facial expression, crack a joke or make some weird innuendo. Damn, that asshole.

“Come on, Molly. Don’t be an ass”, Beau croaked and she heard her voice shake in the darkness. Her goggles had been ripped from her head and Beau couldn’t see anything apart from Molly, whose swords actually still glowed a bit in the darkness, illuminating his weirdly expressionless face.

The fact that his swords were still glowing must mean that he was still alive. That he was going to be ok.

“Listen, I just–don’t leave me here, ok? Don’t–ugh. Fuck you, Molly!”

She didn’t want to cry but damn, she was scared shitless. She couldn’t carry Molly alone. She couldn’t see shit. So she pulled him and his glowing swords over into a corner and carefully placed his head in her lap.

“I will kick your ass when we get out of here, you fucking bastard”, she whispered through her tears.

Chapter Text

“Hey I uh—I brought you some of those flowers you like.”

Beau had aimed for a tone that would project how utterly unfazed she was by Yasha’s soft smile that had appeared on Yasha’s face when she had opened her book and started to look through the pages at all her pressed flowers.

What came out was more like a shaky excuse for a bad pickup line and Beau wanted to bite her tongue off. The truth was that Beau’s knees felt weak every time Yasha smiled. It didn’t happen often and Beau found herself looking for those small moments in which Yasha might feel safe or unwatched and relaxed enough to be at ease with her surroundings.

Yasha looked up from her book. Sunlight made her pale skin shimmer and Beau swallowed heavily while she stood there, her hand outstretched with a variety of wildflowers in held in Yasha’s direction.

“Thank you”, Yasha said, her voice way too soft for Beau to handle. And there was that smile again. This time it was for Beau, actually directed at her. Beau thought she might have to sit down for just a moment.

When Yasha took the flowers from Beau’s hand her fingers brushed against Beau’s skin and Beau considered finding Jester. Just to make sure that her heart was still its normal size and she was not in fact about to die from a heart attack.

Yasha looked at those flowers as if she had never seen any before and Beau watched as Yasha carefully smelled them before placing them between the pages.

“Do you want to see?”, she asked. Beau didn’t give a shit about flowers. At least until this very moment. Suddenly flowers were the most interesting thing she could imagine.

“Oh. Yeah—sure. Thanks.”

Chapter Text

Nott hadn't gone for this long without alcohol in ages, and she couldn't stop shaking.

Her hands were clammy and breathing had become so hard–painful even. Everything hurt and her panic, always simmering at the back of her mind and threatening to seep into her heart, her lungs, her brain, flooded her body in an overwhelming wave of cold.

“Nott. Are you alright?”, Caleb’s voice seemed so far away through the haze.

“No. No, I don’t think I am”, Nott croaked and she could hear how her voice shook even more than usual.

“The others will come. They will”, Caleb said. Nott thought about them and tried to concentrate on the sound of Caleb’s voice in the cell beside her. It was almost as it had been all those months ago when Nott found that dirty human wizard in the cell beside her.

“Can you maybe–just keep talking?”

“Ok, ja”, Caleb uttered. “Anything?”

“Tell me one of those Zemnian fairytales.”

Caleb paused for a second while Nott tried to ignore the pain hammering against the inside of her skull.

“Es war einmal ein Junge, der wollte ein mächtiger Zauberer werden…”

Chapter Text

Yasha grinned and slammed Beau against the bedroom wall, her head hitting the wood with a soft thud.

Beau felt light headed and arousal spiked through her just like that lightning storm that brought Yasha back to them last night. She wrapped her arms around Yasha’s neck and pulled her into a kiss.

Yasha made a sound that crawled under Beau’s skin and let all the little hairs on her neck stand up, a little moan that Beau wanted to tuck away and keep in her mind forever.

Beau had never kissed anyone like this. Yasha’s body was warm and firm, a solid weight pressed against Beau and Beau grabbed Yasha’s hair with one hand, dug the fingers of her other hand into Yasha’s neck and pressed her lower body against Yasha’s crotch.

“Fuck, bed. Bed!”, Beau gasped into Yasha’s mouth and Yasha complied without another word and manoeuvred Beau through the room all while pressing hungry kisses to her lips again.

Beau was sure that if Yasha ever stopped kissing her the world would simply stop turning.

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"Damn, that was awesome! I should nearly die more often!"

If coming back from the brink of death meant getting a kiss from Yasha every time, Beau was down for it. Definitely, so down for it. She grinned up at Yasha who had looked flustered just a moment ago.

Now her face darkened. Beau didn’t see the punch coming that almost knocked her out again and a second later Yasha got up and simply walked away, not looking back at Beau or any of them.

“Fuck, ow!”, Beau groaned and held her jaw. It hurt almost more than the now closed wound in her chest.

“I am glad that you are back, Beauregard”, Caleb said, but his tone didn’t sound glad at all. “But you should consider that your life is a gift and you should not take it for granted like this.”

Beau’s eyes followed Yasha. Molly flicked Beau’s ear.

“I’m pretty sure your utter disrespect for that one silly life you have pissed her off. Just a guess”, he said.

“It’s not fun at all when you die, Beau. Please stop joking about it”, Jester said quietly.

Suddenly Beau felt like an asshole.

Chapter Text

"You know, if somebody told me when we met that I'd end up caring about you, I probably would have laughed in their face."

Beau gurgled when she laughed, blood running down her chin and her teeth crimson red. Molly pressed his hands on his stomach where a long, feathered arrow protruded from his inner organs.

Beau coughed and slumped even more against him while they sat dying on the forest floor, back to back, just as they fought and finally went down against the ever oncoming wave of undead.

“That goes for me as well, obnoxious one”, Beau croaked. She hadn’t called him that in ages and Molly had a sinking feeling in his chest that this might be the last time she would call him like this.

“It’s not so bad, I guess”, he whispered, “Dying side by side with a friend.”

For a few seconds nothing happened, then a cold hand grabbed his fingers and Molly heard Beau take in a ragged breath.

“Friends”, she croaked.

Chapter Text

"Very funny, Molly," Beau says sarcastically, picking up the copy of "How to Talk to Women" someone had slipped into her pack and throwing it at Molly's head.

Molly ducks away and grabs the book from where it landed, taking a look at it.

“Would I really spend money on such a hopeless case like you?”, Molly says while skimming through the pages, seemingly very interested in its content.

Beau narrows her eyes at him.

“You’re saying you didn’t get this for me?”, she wants to know.

“Do I look like someone who thinks flirting can be learned out of a book?”, Molly conters.

Beau has to admit that this doesn’t seem to be Molly’s style. She grabs the book from Molly and her eyes land on Caleb who sits only a few feet away, scribbling into one of his books full of concentration.

“Hey, Caleb!”, Beau calls. “Did you buy this fucking book for me?”

Chapter Text

"If I had been better, you wouldn't have gotten hurt, Jester," Beau said, on the verge of tears.

Jester didn’t answer, of course. Caleb looked down on her lifeless body, his throat tight and his hands shaking. All this magic at his fingertips and he couldn’t do anything, anything at all to save his friend.

Nott was sobbing somewhere close to Jester’s head while Molly was still trying to stop the bleeding.

“Do we still have one of those diamonds?”, Yasha asked quietly, her eyes fixed on Jester’s face. Caleb didn’t know what they were supposed to do with a diamond, since Jester wasn’t there to use it.

Fjord rummaged through Jester’s pink bag and Caleb could hear clonking and rustling.

“I think this is the last one”, Fjord said and gave the diamond to Yasha. Somewhere in the distance they could hear thunder. Yasha took the diamond and bent down to lift Jester’s body up from the ground, her eyes completely black–a dark void of anger and helplessness Caleb could see his frightened reflection in.

“Where are you taking her?”, Beau asked and scrambled to her feet. Yasha’s eyes were fixed on the horizon where lightning now broke through the clouds, followed by another loud crack of thunder.

“Into the storm”, Yasha said. Caleb had a thousand questions but no one spoke as they all got up and followed Yasha towards thunder, lightning and pouring rain.

Chapter Text

"Nott will be crushed if someone trust falls on her. How the fuck do we do any of these exercises."

“How about Caleb makes Nott bigger and then she can catch us?”, Jester suggested.

“I can only double her height, she would still be very small”, Caleb answered.

“I don’t understand why we need to do this anyway! I don’t trust any of you except for Caleb, why would I catch you even if I was big enough?”

Jester looked hurt.

“Listen, I don’t care much for these exercises either but the sooner we’re done with it, the sooner we can get out of here”, Fjord said in a hushed tone, eyeing Jester’s expression.

Chapter Text

"Jester do I really make that bad of a first impression?"

“Hm? Why do you think that?”, Jester asked. Beau scanned her face to see any kind of amusement there but Jester looked seriously confused by the question. She was wearing her usual pajama with colorful donuts on it while sitting crosslegged on her bed and drawking pictures for the Traveler.

“Like, you know. Fjord said that I should work on my demeanor, like. You know, like I come off as too abrasive or something. Whatever”, Beau answered. She didn’t like feeling unsure about herself but since Fjord started coaching her on her behavior she couldn’t help second guess every single word she said.

It was exhausting.

“Well, you know, you didn’t make a bad first impression on me”, Jester said, her brow furrowed as if she was thinking very hard about when she met Beau for the first time.

“And why does it matter anyway?”, Jester wanted to know. “We like you just fine. The other people can just go fuck themselves.”

Chapter Text

They weren't prepared for when Beau stopped breathing.

Molly could only assume that she’d tried to hide in how much pain she was until the very end when her grin had faded and her eyes looked into the distance, empty and unmoving.

There was still blood trickling down her chin and Molly hadn’t expected the way Beau’s lifeless body would make him feel. His heart seemed to turn into a cold lump of lead and for a second Molly wasn’t sure what it was that made white hot waves course throw his body until he identified anger.

He heard Jester’s panicked assurance that everything would be alright while she scrambled to get one of their diamonds but it sounded as if it reached his ears through thick cotton.

The giant they’d fought was still being held by Caleb’s huge cat paw and it roared in anger as Molly stepped forward, his swords raised and his blood boiling.

The burning fires of hell will be a release when I’m done with you”, he snarled in Infernal and even though the giant couldn’t possibly understand him, Molly recognized a spark of fear in them.

Yes, he thought and took a last glance at Beau’s lifeless body, be very afraid.

Chapter Text

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but can you help me ask Beau out?"

“I also can’t believe you’re saying this. To me of all people”, Molly contered, his brows raised and a playfully exasperated grin on his face. Yasha had come to be able to read Molly even though she was usually rather bad at figuring people out.

“Well… you know. I just–I suck at this. So”, Yasha said und shrugged, visibly uncomfortable. She thought about asking Molly for advice after her last attempt at asking Beau out ended in a sparring match that somehow got Beau knocked out. Which was not what Yasha had intended.

“It’s not like Beau has high standards. It’ll be a piece of cake to ask her out”, Molly said and clasped Yasha’s shoulder.

“Not for me, it’s not.”

Molly’s red eyes found Yasha’s and she recognized the moment he understood how serious this was for her. His features softened and his lips pulled into a soft smile.

“Ok. Let’s talk about dating.”

Chapter Text

Beau woke up screaming, her heart still pounding from the nightmare that had overtaken her sleep.

She didn’t dream often and most of the times she didn’t remember her dreams. Beau could feel the sweat on her brow and neck, her hair sticking to her forehead and her heart was close to leap into her throat.

“Beau?”

Jester’s voice was sleepy and Beau couldn’t make her out in the darkness. The pictures from her dream were burned into her brain and Beau had a hard time to control her breathing.

“Are you alright?”

Beau could hear rustling and then her bed dipped down and Jester crawled onto the bed. Beau swallowed and considered to pretend that everything was fine. But right now the darkness seemed to press on her eyelids and her heart was still hammering against her ribcage.

“Just a nightmare”, she croaked shakily.

“Do you want me to stay with you?”, Jester asked. Beau wanted to snort and brush Jester off. But then she thought about the fact that Jester probably never had someone to stay with her when she’d woken up from a nightmare, even though she would have liked to have company and how Beau also never had anyone to stay with her when she was afraid of the dark as a kid.

“I–ok. Ok”, Beau whispered. Jester yawned and didn’t say anything. She pushed Beau back down onto the matress, crawled up beside her and pressed her warm body close to Beau’s side while her hand found Beau’s and held tight.

“Sleep better and dream of tiny hamster unicorns, Beau”, Jester whispered and draped the blanket over both of them. Beau felt her heart rate slow down and listened to Jester’s breathing already evening out.

“Thanks, Jester.”

Chapter Text

“I don’t want to go back, and I know you don’t either.”

Breathing was a very hard thing to do when your heart seemed to press on your airways and lungs because it felt so big, as if it was about to explode.

“I don’t want to go back to being friends, Caleb”, Molly said surprisingly soft and Caleb tried to muster the courage to look him in the eyes. He barely managed.

“I’m just–this is–I don’t think I’m good at this”, he croaked and gestured awkwardly between Molly and himself.

“Well, it’s not as if I have tons of experience with this whole relationship thing, so maybe we can just find out how shit we are at this… together, yeah?”

Caleb clasped his hands together and counted his breaths–four, five, six, seven.

“Can we just try to make it work before we freak out about it?”

Caleb couldn’t help but snort, but eventually he nodded.

“Ok, ja.”

“I’m glad.”

Chapter Text

And they were room-mates... which was somehow the best and the worst scenario at the same time. Usually Yasha didn’t sleep much, stayed outside or wasn’t there at all when they turned in at night, so even if Yasha officially stayed with Beau and Jester, she wasn’t there much.

And now that Jester had decided that she wanted to take Nott on one of her temple-tours to leave messages promoting the Traveler as the ‘best guy ever’ and maybe break into a candy store Beau was left alone with Yasha.

Who apparently did sleep.

In full armor.

“So… uh. D’you wanna–y’know. Leave the window open, or…?”

Yasha looked over to Beau who stood in the middle of the room, unsure of what to do next. Usually she liked to sleep naked but now it might come off as a weird kind of flirtation if she just took all her clothes off.

“I dunno. Just… do what you normally do”, Yasha said and shrugged, stretching out on her bed.

Beau wanted to be Yasha’s blanket and to throw herself out the window for thinking it.

Chapter Text

It was nice to meet him, despite the shit situation.

Just to know that he was actually real. Caleb had doubted it from time to time because Jester believed in all sorts of impossible things like mushroom houses and tiny hamster unicorns, always told ridiculous stories and made it hard to discern between reality and fantasy.

But here the Traveler was after they had called to him, standing in front of them with the green hood just as Jester had described it.

Beau held Jester’s head in her lap, her face hard and desperate while Jester was bleeding out on the floor without any of them being of any help.

“My dear Jester”, a voice under the hood said quietly and the figure stepped forward. Caleb had a hard time making out the face under the green cloak but he guessed that was how it was supposed to be. A strange aura of power radiated from the figure as he gently raised a hand with long, elegant fingers.

“If you try anything weird I’ll kill you”, Beau hissed. The Traveler stopped in his movement and laughed, his voice full of amusement.

“Ah yes, Beauregard. Jester told me all about you.”

Beau blinked, obviously surprised that he knew her by name. But he was a god after all–or maybe just a very powerful being.

“You couldn’t kill me if you tried, dear. So spare us both the embarassment and let me save my favorite cleric, yes?”

Beau didn’t answer but Caleb could see how her eyes followed every movement while two fingers gently touched Jester’s forehead.

Chapter Text

“I feel... safe.”

Molly looks up from where he’s currently lying in the grass. It’s a nice breezy day and they finally have time to just breathe and relax after the exhausting number of fights during the last week.

Molly is looking at the clouds, his head on Yasha’s thigh while she’s polishing her sword, patting his hair from time to time, while Nott explains Fjord about picking locks, Beau does pushups only a few feet away and Jester is drawing in her sketchbook, her tongue stuck between her lips.

Caleb has been reading for over an hour, his brow knitted, his fingers stroking his beard from time to time. Molly has no idea what exactly Caleb is reading but as far as he can see from where he’s lying it’s something in Celestial.

Caleb’s words were said unprompted and he seems to be confused about his own behavior as he looks up. Molly–even though he can’t see–feels how everyone is stopping what they’re doing.

“That’s good, isn’t it?”, Jester asks, her legs dangling in the air while she looks up at Caleb.

Caleb nods, seemingly still confused about his own words. Molly can only guess that Caleb hasn’t felt safe in a very long time.

“Yes. Yes, it is.”

Chapter Text

“You should tell her Beau!” Jester said, poking Beau hard in the side.

“Ow!”

Beau would probably never get over the fact that Jester looked soft and chubby and round and had muscles made of steel and way more strength than anyone could guess on first sight. She rubbed the place Jester had violently stabbed her finger into and considered retaliating for a second before the words sunk in and she sputtered.

“Tell who? What?”

Jester looked at her as if Beau was the most stupid person she had ever seen which was surprisingly hurtful coming from her.

“You know, Yasha. Because you have feeeeelings”, Jester called, using the kind of sing-sang and big, shit-eating grin that Beau usually enjoyed–when it was used on other people.

“Tsk. Feelings”, she said. “Feelings are for losers.”

“Don’t be stupid”, Jester answered without missing a beat. “Everyone has feelings. You know, not admitting them is pretty much the most loser-y thing.”

Beau couldn’t believe that she was being roasted like this. By Jester of all people.

Chapter Text

"I stole you another book!"

Caleb blinked down at Nott whose big yellow eyes gleamed with mischief and unmistakable pride about her newest achievement.

“Oh, what kind of book?”, Caleb asked. He was barely able to hide a smile while he watched Nott rummaging thorugh her things enthusiastically before pulling out a very old, leatherbound books with intricate rune designs on its back.

“Where did you get this?”, Caleb whispered and touched the book with two fingers. Nott grinned.

“You remember the weird guy with the one eye and all those explosion-spells?”

Caleb sucked in a breath.

“Wait. You mean… you mean the wizard? The one we fought yesterday?”

“Yes! I saw how you looked at his books so I took one from him while he tried to kill Fjord.”

Caleb looked down at the book in his hands–another wizard’s tome. And now it was his.

Chapter Text

"Shh, it's alright Beau, they're gone, you're safe, it's all okay."

Beau doesn’t answer. There is way too much blood for Molly’s comfort but he’s even more concerned about Beau’s silence and those wide, fearful eyes.

He has never seen Beauregard afraid before.

Molly decides that he doesn’t like it at all.

“Ok, if you won’t answer me I’ll have to talk instead, I know you just love it when I go on and on”, he rambles and tries to put pressure on the wound on Beau’s side. It’s a nasty gash and he can’t do much to stop the bleeding except press on it with his coat–his fucking coat, dammit, he’s never going to let Beau live that down.

Beau’s eyes flicker to his face but she still doesn’t say anything.

“Fuck you, unpleasant one, you don’t get to look at me like that. I have a hard time disliking you like this.”

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"Do... you want me to help you shave your undercut Beau?"

It had been Caleb’s idea. Yasha still wasn’t sure if this might work–or what exactly she wanted the working-part to include. But now that Caleb and Yasha were officially friends, he took quite the interest in her personal stuff.

Including… well. Her interest in a certain grumpy monk.

“My–oh! Um. Sure. That would–yeah! Awesome!”

Yasha managed half a smile while Beau touched the shorter part of her hair. It had gotten quite a bit longer during the last few weeks and Beau had complained about it from time to time.

Yasha really hoped that she wouldn’t give Beau an unwanted buzzcut, even though she was rather sure that Beau would still look… well. Amazing. With any hair, really.

“Oh, ok. So… Uh. D’you like… wanna lie down?”

“Oh yeah. Sure.”

Yasha thought that it might be possible for her to not survive this.

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"We have her, give us the bowl and she will be released unharmed."

Beau’s eyes flickered to Caleb, who was holding the bowl in his shaking hands. For a split second Beau wondered if Caleb would do that–maybe sacrifice Jester’s life for the sake of a greater good, to keep this bowl out of the cult’s hands.

Her muscles were tense and she heard without seeing that Yasha pulled her greatsword.

“It’s ok, you guys, you shouldn’t give them the bowl”, Jester said and Beau could see that she tried to keep up her cheerful demeanor but there were tears in her eyes. Beau would punch those motherfuckers so hard even their ancestors hurt.

No one made Jester cry on her watch.

Beau considered her options, but she didn’t get to take another step. With a furious roar and in a whirlwind of green flames Calianna leapt forward. Beau cursed and swirled into action–behind her she heard a crossbow firing and Molly shouting something in Infernal.

But while Beau pummeled one of the cultists, she thought that their efforts might have been unnecessary, because Cali had grabbed Jester and snapped the neck of the man who was holding their cleric.

“She’s mine”, Cali hissed with Jester in her arms and turned to rain down hell on the next masked figure. “Don’t you ever touch her again!”

Never take a dragon’s treasure, Beau thought.

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Caleb found himself pinned against an alley wall again, but this time Molly had different intentions.

He could’ve sworn that Molly’s red eyes actually glowed a bit in the darkness, as Caleb felt the cold brickwall scratching at his back and Molly’s unbelievably high body temperature in stark contrast to it.

Caleb’s heart might have made his ribcage combust from the inside at any given moment, while he took a deep breath and tried to look everywhere but into those intensly staring eyes right in front of him.

“If you want me to leave, I’ll go”, Molly said, his voice surprisingly soft despite the fact that he had crowded Caleb against this wall, his thigh pressed between Caleb’s legs and his hands pushed against the wall beside Caleb’s head.

Caleb desperately didn’t want Molly to go, but he had no words to verbalize it.

What he did have where the actions of a desperate man who was so afraid to lose one of the few good things in his miserable life, so he brought up his hands, grabbed Mollymauk’s ridiculous coat and kissed him.

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"What are you doing, what did I do to get a hug?"

This is definitely weird behavior. Fjord never hugs anyone, but then again Nott has never seen him this hammered.

His green cheeks are a darker shade, his eyes are glassed over and he slurs when he talks which makes his accent even thicker. He already told Molly and Caleb that he finds them pretty and gave Yasha a two minute talk about the greatness of her biceps.

And that was before he went down on his knees in front of Nott and just pulled her into a tight hug. Nott stays very still.

“Is’just, y’know–us green folks gotta stick together, yeah?”

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"What part of 'dont move and stay quiet' do you not understand?"

Caleb tries to follow Beau’s orders but the urge to move his hands is almost overwhelming. The goblins that assaulted them while they slept–which was not Caleb’s fault–had taken them somewhere dark and narrow and the smell was disgusting.

The smell is almost unbearable and Caleb can’t see a thing. All the sounds make him dizzy and nauseous and he has no idea how he’s supposed to do anything. Even breathing is hard.

Beau’s fingers dig into his thigh while she wriggles and bends at impossible angles and then, finally, Caleb can feel how one of her wrists go free.

“Keep breathing, friend. I’ll get us out of here”, Beau whispers and then she’s gone.

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"I don't like this. You look too cute like this."

Caleb blushed furiously.

He was a grown man and “cute” was not a word he would ever use to describe himself, but Mollymauk Tealeaf just said it while his critical, red-eyed gaze wandered over Caleb’s body and made his blood boil.

Caleb had pulled his hair back in a ponytail, so Yasha could shave his face without his hair hanging in the way. He’d gotten a bath. Nott put flowers in his hair.

All in all Caleb felt like a newly polished piece of decoration.

“I–what—no?”

Mollymauk let out a snort and grinned at him, a grin that showed his fangs and made Caleb’s insides curl and bubble with a mix of shame and happiness. It was a very confusing feeling.

“If we let you go out like this half the town will throw themselves at you”, Molly continued, making Caleb wish he could just dissolve into liquid and vanish between the floor boards.

“I’ll file a complaint with Nott. There can be no more flowers in your hair, ever again”, Molly said before sauntering past Caleb and disappearing through the door, leaving Caleb with a hammering heart in his chest and burning cheeks.

Chapter Text

"He's allergic to cats, and hates them I guess, and you hate dogs. Are you allergic to them or did you eat one?"

Nott sighed.

“I don’t mind cute little puppies. I ate a dog once, it tasted ok I guess”, Nott answered and stretched out in the grass beside Beau. “I’m not allergic.”

Beau watched her out of the corner of her eye.

“Ok. Why d’you hate them then?”

“You know… they used to let their dogs loose on me when they discovered what I was and they kept chasing me throught the woods and all.”

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"Oh my god they were penpals!"

“You know, Jester, is it really necessary for you to always tell this story in third person?”, Beau asks with an amicable groan while Jester gestures around wildly.

“Oh, you know, it just adds drama!”, Jester proclaims and grabs Cali’s hand again.

“Ok, so, where was I?”, Jester asks and looks at Cali with that gleam in her eyes that makes Beau want to scream because those two are just so sweet. It’s the worst.

“You were about to tell us for the fourtieth time how you and Cali became a couple”, Molly says and chuckles. Jester beams.

“Indeed I was! And now comes the good part!”

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"If only there was someone out there who loved you."

Caleb woke up with a yelp, sweat on his slowly cooling skin in the night air, Trent’s face still very clear in his mind as he slowly remembered where he was and that Trent had no means to find him.

His lungs hurt as if he’d been taking big gulps of freezing air for a longer amount of time. His hands shook violently as he felt around for his waterskin.

“You ok there, Caleb?”, Beau’s voice came out of the darkness. He could barely make her out in the shadows, their fire had almost burned down completely.

“You look as if you’ve seen a ghost”, Nott whispered somewhere close to him. Caleb tried to keep himself from succumbing to a full blown panic attack and counted his breaths to have something to focus on.

“All good”, he croaked even though he knew they would spot the lie a mile away. Luckily neither Beau nor Nott called him out on it.

For now, all he could do was keep breathing.

Chapter Text

“I never said I couldn’t help, I’m just surprised you came to ME first.”

“Well, Jester is already asleep, so…”

Beau shrugs and Molly looks at her. She looks weary and badly beaten up. He can’t even see her left eye because it’s swollen up and she limps and holds her rips. Molly wonders what she’s doing when she sneaks away and comes back like this but he’s not one for prying and so he pats the bed next to himself and Beau comes over slowly and sits down.

She winces and Molly hears that she suppresses a whimper from the pain she must be in. There is a nasty gash on her arm and while Molly gathers his supplies he shoots glances at her. Beau looks younger than usual, surprisingly vulnerable and very uncomfortable at the prospect at being patched up by Molly of all people.

“Figured you know a thing or two about stitching up nasty cuts”, she mumbles.

“Oh, I do”, Molly says and comes back to the bed, sits down beside her and starts carefully cleaning Beau’s wounds in silence.

Chapter Text

"Theres a situation you need to fix, that I might have caused. My bad."

Molly raised his brows and looked at Beau expectantly. She didn’t really look as if there was a dire problem he needed to look at and every interaction with Beau sparked a hint of mistrust. She might always be fucking with him and he wouldn’t be caught off guard by the likes of Beau.

“And what situation is that?”, he asked.

Beau shrugged.

“Well, Caleb is kinda drunk and I might’ve told him that you have the hots for him so now he’s in this drunk crisis proclaiming how someone like you would never look twice at someone like him and he’s just a gay mess, honestly.”

Molly blinked and stared at Beau before a giggle bubbled from his chest and he shook his head.

“And what exactly do you think I should do about that?”, he asked, amused and intrigued at the same time. Beau snorted and crossed her arms in front of her chest.

“Hell if I know. Just smooch the fuck out of him, but like, keep out of his pants, he’s way too drunk to fuck.”

Molly was impressed at Beau’s concept of consent. He walked over to the door and opened it.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Chapter Text

Molly has nail polish in all colors, and is going to paint everyones nails in the Mighty Nein no matter what.

Jester and Yasha don’t need much convincing. He’s painted Yasha’s nails time and time again at the carnival, usually black, but sometimes she would allow a dark purple or blue. Jester, of course, prefers pink and she shows his artwork to everyone – whether they’re interested or not.

Nott doesn’t trust him, which is fair, but she’s the next one to succumb to his nailpolish advances and he paints her nails in a very soft, lilac colour with lots of glitter on top to make it extra shiny. Nott stares at it for so long, Molly starts to think she might actually hate it, but then her lips actually curl into one of her big, toothy smiles and Molly grins back and watches her skip off, still staring at her glittering nails.

Fjord is his next victim. Molly waits until Fjord is drunk, because surprisingly, Fjord is one of those drunk people who love everyone when they’re drunk. He’s told Molly how pretty he is at least four times, complimented Yasha’s hair and told Beau how much he appreciates her badassery in fights. So when Molly asks if he’s allowed to paint Fjord’s nails, Fjord nodds absently and compliments Molly’s horn jewelry while Molly paints his nails a sunny, bright yellow.

Molly makes bets with himself whether he can get to Beau or Caleb first because both of them seem equally unlikely. But then again, Caleb at least likes him, so in the end Molly gets to him first. Caleb barely manages to look at him while Molly holds his hand and carefully applies a calm and darker shade of blue. Caleb looks relieved that Molly didn’t choose anything red or orange but Molly is not an idiot. He revels in the excited skipping his heart does while touching Caleb’s hands and muses over the fact that the blue nails go wonderfully with Caleb’s pretty eyes.

Beau is the last on Molly’s list mostly because he asks her last. Surprisingly she doesn’t say no and just looks at him assessingly before sharply nodding and throwing herself on Molly’s bed. He paints Beau’s nails dark red and after he’s finished she looks at her nails with a very pleased look. Molly just knows that she imagines her hands being bloody from beating the shit out of someone.

He’s pleased that they’re all equally colorful now.

Chapter Text

"Have you tried other hobbies besides drinking, like maybe more advanced alchemy? Just a thought."

Nott rolled her eyes at him as if suggesting an alternative to alcoholism was the most stupid thing she’d ever heard in her short goblin life.

“Do you think other hobbies calm my nerves and make my paralyzing anxiety go away? Huh? Have you tried other hobbies than prying into people’s personal affairs?”

Fjord blinked, surprised at her harsh tone. She shook her head at him and he suddenly felt as if he was being scolded by a motherly figure which was highly disconcerting.

“Just a thought”, Nott added and then ushered away, leaving Fjord behind.

Chapter Text

Caleb was already regretting this.

But it had been one of his good days and he might have had one or two more ales than he should have had. And when Jester had promised to help Beau with her make-up skills Caleb hadn’t known that Jester was actually shit at make-up.

“Caleb, can you help us practice? We need a face to practice on! And now that you’re all clean shaven and all, that would be so awesome!”

He had tried to resist. But Beau had looked kind of hopeful despite herself and Jester was just so enthusiastic and he was still trying to make friends with all of them desperately.

Caleb hadn’t known that “Jester helping Beau with make-up” would actually mean for Jester to get Mollymauk to teach Beau. And now Molly, Beau and Jester were all sitting in front of him, way too close for his comfort, and Molly had spread out so many different things and purple fingers were pointing to different places on Caleb’s face and yes.

He was regretting this a lot.

Chapter Text

"I wanna teach you some stuff from the Traveler, Nott, like Caleb does sometimes with you!"

Nott had laid her collections out in front of her to show them to Jester. No one but them is in the room and there is a bit of sunlight streaming in through the milky window.

“Oh! Yeah, sure. Ok. What did you want to teach me?”, Nott asks and finds Jester’s excited, blue face with her eyes when she looks up.

“Like, you know, I thought, when you’re off to steal some stuff for your collection, you know… when I’m not there to give you a blessing, I could help you and teach you this Pass without a Trace thing the Traveler has been showing me.”

Nott looks at Jester and at her collection and not for the first time she wonders if the Traveler really exists. But Jester is her friend and she’s so very thoughtful and kind. Nott gives her a big smile.

“I would like that very much Jester, thank you.”

Chapter Text

"It was a dark and stormy night..."

“It’s always dark and stormy in those stories”, Nott whispers, her big yellow eyes bright and shining with concentration while watching Mollymauk.

“Pscht, Nott!”, Jester hisses.

“This sounds lame already, Molly”, Beau complains but Caleb can see the anticipation in her face. Jester puts her hand on Beau’s mouth and gestures to Molly to keep going.

Mollymauk grins and Caleb notes that this grin is still doing things to his insides, even though he has been trying to keep those feelings away. He swallows and lowers his gaze to Molly’s knee, a safe place to look at.

“It was a dark and stormy night”, Molly repeats with a pointed look, “Rain just pouring down from the sky and the trees threw moving and threatening shadows on the ground. And that’s when the murders began.”

Chapter Text

Beau didn't think anyone had heard her sing, because she only sang when she thought no one was around.

Old habits were hard to break and after having a huge ass house and sometimes even a whole library to her own Beau sometimes forgot that she now lived in narrow closed spaces with six other people most of the time.

“So, what’s that tune you’ve been singing there, unpleasant one?”

Beau stopped immediately. She threw Molly a dirty look over her shoulder. There he stood in the doorframe to her room, leaning against it with a wide grin on his face.

“It’s just a song I liked as a kid”, she answered and crossed her arms across her chess. Molly stepped into the room and let himself fall down on the bed beside her as if she had invited him.

“And what do Empire kids sing when they’re small?”, he wanted to know. Beau thought about flipping him off but something in Molly’s face made her reconsider. She remembered their short talk on the cemetary.

“I didn’t have a childhood”, Molly had said. Beau cleared her throat and hugged her knees.

“If you laugh about my voice I’ll punch you in the throat”, she warned and Molly laughed, a delighted sound that made Beau feel a little less defensive.

“Wouldn’t dream about it. Your singing is surprisingly nice considering how you usually sound”, he shot back and Beau snorted. She never thought about teaching Molly of all people a song from her childhood but here they sat side by side and after Beau sang it to him two times he started humming along, his face surprisingly content.

When he joined in with her after the third time she shot him a wide grin. This wasn’t so bad after all.

Chapter Text

At the first crack of thunder, Beau gathered her things and headed outside, waiting.

The rain poured down on her, soaking her clothes in a matter of seconds. Beau shivered in the darkness while her back leaned against the brickwall of the inn they currently stayed in.

Beau wasn’t exactly sure that this was one of those storms that brought Yasha back to them–but Yasha had been gone for weeks now and there hadn’t been a single drop of rain.

Maybe it was stupid to hope. Maybe it was even more stupid to miss Yasha this much. But the last time they had seen each other Beau had thought that Yasha might’ve wanted to–yeah.

It had been an almost kiss. Yasha had definitely looked at Beau’s lips.

But it had been in this very moment that the first thunder had cracked and Yasha had looked up at the sky, away from Beau’s mouth.

“I have to leave.”

Her voice had been so soft and Beau had, not for the first time, cursed the Stormlord for taking Yasha away from her.

Lightning struck two times in a row, followed by a loud crack of thunder while Beau waited, unmoving and staring into the darkness. She was pretty sure that the icy rain had reached every inch of her skin but Beau refused to give in to her shaking body.

“Are you waiting for someone specific?”

Beau spinned around and there she was.

Chapter Text

"Are you waiting for someone specific?"

Beau spinned around and there she was.

All the waiting and thinking about Yasha somehow didn’t prepare Beau to actually see her again, to stand before her completely soaked, shivering and freezing.

“You’re back”, she said. Her teeth were clattering and Beau was fairly certain that her lips matched the blue shade of her sash right now. But she probably still looked better than Yasha.

Yasha, apparently, had seen the fight of her life. Her purple eye was swollen shut, her lip cut and the way she moved suggested that she had broken several rips. Beau stared at her through the pouring rain.

“I am. You’re–why are you out here?”

“Because I uh–I like the rain.”

Even Yasha who wasn’t exactly a pro at reading people could smell Beau’s lie ten miles against the wind, but she didn’t comment on it and took two steps closer. She winced and made a small sound at the back of her throat.

“Want me to patch you up a bit?”, Beau asked. Her heart was apparently trying to break new speed records and she could only hope that Yasha wasn’t able to realize how ridiculously nervous Beau was. Her mind kept bringing up their almost-kiss, but Beau pushed the thoughts aside.

“That would be nice”, Yasha answered, her voice so quiet it was almost drowned out by the next crack of thunder.

“Wanna tell me who beat the shit out of you?”

A smile tugged at Yasha’s lips.

“Maybe. Let’s get out of the rain first, though.”

Chapter Text

"I thought I could keep my emotions under control," Beau said quietly looking at her shaking hands, "Caleb's been through much worse shit."

“You know, this is not a competition of who has it worse”, Caleb said, his face like stone as he looked down at Beau. She wasn’t sure if she had seen this particular look on him before and she had a hard time placing it until her gaze dropped to his hands.

Caleb’s hands were balled to fists and definitely shaking.

He’s angry, Beau thought. He’s angry for me.

“Hey, it’s alright”, Fjord says, his voice smooth as always but with a surprisingly soft tint. “This would make everyone emotional.”

Beau felt very small, a feeling she didn’t much care for at all. Seeing her father again and realizing that he didn’t miss her, didn’t regret sending her away even a bit, had shaken her more than she would’ve ever thought.

It was a confrontation she had often imagined, how she would look him right in the eyes–those eyes Beau saw everyday when she looked in the mirror–and grin and tell him that she lead an amazing life and that getting away from him and his fucking business was the best thing that ever happened to her.

But now she was still shaking after fifteen minutes and felt like an idiot for ever thinking she’d gotten over it all.

“Ok, how about we kill him”, Yasha said.

“Yes! We could make it look like an accident”, Nott mused.

“You know, I wouldn’t even be opposed to this”, Molly answered, his face surprisingly grim.

“You’re a disgrace”, her father had said just minutes ago. “You haven’t changed at all.”

“No, it’s fine”, Beau says, her voice so small and quiet, she barely recognized it herself. “I don’t want–it’s fine. I’ll get over it.”

Caleb kneeled down beside her and to her surprise, he pulled him into one of those hugs where none of them were exactly sure about what they were doing.

“You will be fine. One day, you will be”, he muttered.

Chapter Text

“I don’t want you to get hurt.”

Molly laughed and spread his arms, exposing the multiple scars on his torso as if they were trophies. Caleb tried not to stare at Molly’s naked skin too much and finally averted his gaze. Looking at Molly for too long was always dangerous, much like looking at the sun.

“Darling, no one get’s through life without getting hurt. The best thing that can happen is that we’re allowed to choose who and what hurts us.”

Caleb couldn’t keep his hands still and all he wanted to do was shrink into the floorboards and vanish from sight. This was a talk he wasn’t prepared to have but unsurprisingly Mollymauk Tealeaf didn’t beat around the bush when it came to things like feelings.

Caleb finally looked up again when Molly spoke up once more.

“I choose you, you know.”

Caleb blinked and tried to keep his breathing under control, but Molly was right there. If Caleb reached out now, he could touch him and Molly would let him.

“It is a foolish choice, you have to realize.”

Molly chuckled.

“My dear Caleb, I never pretended to be a wise man.”

Chapter Text

They knew that someone had taken Beau, but after her captor had been killed, nothing could have prepared them for the state she was in.

Caleb realized that Beau was probably under the influence of some kind of spell, but he had never heard of a spell like this. When they found Beau her hands were tied and she had dried blood all over her lower face.

He was the first one to kneel down beside her and work on the rope binding her hands together. They had been searching for hours until they found Beau’s captors, those who had taken Beau from them to gain information on the Cobalt Soul order.

“Caleb, I’m so glad we’re friends. I never really had friends before.”

Caleb stopped dead in his tracks and turned around to look at the others. Beau’s eyes seemed unfocused and glazed over and her voice sounded as if it was weirdly far away. But she must’ve been able to recognize them.

Jester crouched down beside Caleb and carefully examined Beau’s brutally broken nose.

“‘We’ll get you out of here, Beau, don’t you worry”, Jester said, her voice soft and concerned.

“You smell really nice, Jester.”

Jester smiled.

“Thank you! You smell terrible right now, but it’s ok, I’ll clean you up when we get back, ok?”

“I’m afraid that you’ll hate me when you get to know me better. I don’t want to stop being roomates”, Beau said.

Jester blinked and her blue fingers stopped touching Beau’s face.

“I will never hate you, Beau. That is stupid, you’re the best roomate ever!”

“Is she under some kind of truth spell?”, Molly mused and Caleb raised his head to look at him. It seemed as if Beau was unable to filter her thoughts at all, her emotions laid bare like an open wound. Caleb could only imagine what it must be like to spout truths like this, to expose all your fears, all your secrets.

He couldn’t help shivering.

“We’ll find a solution for this, Beauregard”, he promised quietly and took the ropes off of Beau’s wrists while Jester carefully cleaned her face and healed her nose.

“I don’t wanna be lonely again”, Beau whispered.

“You won’t be, ok? We’ll stay with you, don’t you worry, Beau. We love you very much”, Jester said and carefully picked Beau up to hold her close.

“I love you too, guys.”

Chapter Text

"Let's play Truth or Dare!"

“No.”

“Oh, come on, Fjord! Don’t be such a party pooper!”

“Yeah, Fjord”, Molly says with a wide grin and a sparkle in his eye, “don’t be such a party pooper.”

“I do not think I am familiar with this game”, Caleb says, making Jester gasp.

“Oh my gods, Caleb! Ok, ok, ok, I’ll teach you! Someone starts to take a turn and chooses a person to ask ‘Truth or Dare’. And then that person chooses and if you choose Dare you have to do stuff. If you choose Truth you have to answer a question!”

Caleb cocks his head and pointedly looks at Jester.

“I think I will pass as well”, he says. Molly chuckles while Jester crosses her arms in front of her chest.

“You two are being so boring”, she says, her lips pulled into a pout that seems to mak Fjord feel bad for her.

“What kind of questions do you wanna ask?”, Beau asks, her voice full of mistrust.

“Oh you know”, Jester answers putting her index finger to her chin, “Like, really cool stuff, you know. Like ‘What do you find hot in people’ and, you know, like ‘What was the most embarrassing thing you ever did’.”

Molly can see Fjord and Caleb exchange a look while Beau shoots glances at Yasha who doesn’t seem too eager to participate in such a game.

“I’ll play with you”, he offers to Jester and she hugs him before she sits down excitedly and points at his nose.

“Molly! Truth or Dare?”

“Truth for a start, I think.”

Molly knows that they’re all watching the two of them now.

“Who is it that you find attractive?”, Jester wants to know.

Oh, well. He should’ve definitely seen that one coming.

Chapter Text

"Don't you dare touch her again."

Beau almost couldn’t hear the words through the immense pain fogging her mind and flooding her entire body. There was so much blood, Beau wasn’t even sure if it was all hers or someone else’s as well.

Her legs were broken and Beau would’ve liked to say that she didn’t cry or wince in pain, but her eyes were burning and her cheeks were wet and…

Yasha was towering over her. Beau could see that she had her greatsword drawn. There were way too many enemies closing in on them but Beau’s voice wouldn’t allow for her to call out to Yasha, telling her to get away and leave Beau behind.

“And what are you going to do about it?”

“I’ll kill you all if you lay hands on her again”, Yasha said, her voice almost too quiet. The last thing Beau saw before the world around her went black were two skeletal wings sprouting from Yasha’s back.

Chapter Text

"Parents are supposed to care for their children!" Jester cries, and Beau's father actually looks a little surprised by the fury in her voice. "They're supposed to love them!"

“Listen, young lady–”, he starts but a purple hand on his mouth stops him from speaking.

“Pscht, my dear sir. I think it would be best if you simply stop talking now”, Molly says, his voice sweet like honey with an edge to it that could cut through solid marble. Beau isn’t sure what this scene makes her feel–Jester crying, Molly silencing her father from saying anything more.

“This is what you will do now”, Fjord says, his ton almost casual, as if he was talking to a distant acquaintance about a business proposition. But Beau could see something in his eyes she hasn’t seen often and she’s pretty sure her father sees it, too.

“You will give Beauregard what she came here for and then we will leave and you will never see us again.”

“Or, if you don’t give her what she wants, I shoot you in the face for being the worst father”, Nott hisses and Beau can see her father recoil from the look on Nott’s goblin face, her bared, jagged teeth and those huge yellow eyes trained on him.

“I hope you lose all your hair and only get served luke warm tea and never get to use your dick for nice things ever again!”, Jester sniffs and then she hugs Beau before dragging her out of the entry hall.

“I cannot believe you have the worst dad ever and you still got to be so awesome, you know? I hope his balls shrivel like raisins”, Jester mutters. Beau wants to ask her to stop talking about her father’s genitals but her mind gets stuck on the part where Jester called her awesome.

It’s time to leave this godforsaken place once and for all.

Chapter Text

"Yasha, Yasha, darling", he had always assumed that his past would stab him in the back, he hadn't thought of throwing himself on its blade to protect his family.

He hadn't had much family until the Nein, but especially Yasha, "We had a good run, didn't we? A life of adventure! Take care of them for me?"

Molly knew that Yasha couldn’t answer him, since she was bound and gagged just like the others were. He looked at them, drank them in because he wouldn’t be able to see them anymore when Lucien came back to claim this body.

It had been borrowed time, a borrowed life, after all, but even though Molly had been aware he hadn’t been prepared for how much it actually hurt to let go of it. This colourful, silly, wonderful life he had made his own.

Cree was the one holding the crimson red stone that held his demise. That soul which had inhabited his body before it become Mollymaul Tealeaf. Molly could swear that there was something moving in the depth of the polished gem, something trying to get out.

He looked at Yasha who strained against her shackles. He could see blood trickle down her wrists because she fought against them so hard. Molly wasn’t even sure if he was going to able to miss her wherever he would go. Maybe he would simply fade to nothing and Mollymauk Tealeaf would be no more.

He saw Jester and Nott cry, saw Fjord’s fury and Caleb’s open desperation, thoughts running wild for solutions behind those bright blue eyes. And then there was Beauregard, still fighting against the shackles just like Yasha, screaming against her gag as if she really didn’t want Molly to leave.

Ah, he loved them all so very much.

Cree came a few steps closer, holding the gemstone as if it was the most precious thing in the world. All that Molly wished for was for her to let it go so it might break and let the trapped soul seep into the forest floor.

“I’ll miss you guys”, he croaked and tried for one of his blinding grins, the ones he used to give an audience of strangers. One that might hide how afraid he was and how much he didn’t want to leave.

He looked at Yasha again, her eyes wet and furious.

“I love you, darlings.”

“Bring me the dagger and the bowl. This parasite talks to much!”

Hopefully it wouldn’t hurt too much, Molly thought. There was a flicker somewhere above and then another one behind Jester. The moon was so bright, Molly wondered if the Moonweaver watched and was sad to see him go.

Thunder cracked up above. Molly swore that he saw a green cloak somewhere to his right. Was the moon getting brighter or was that his wishful thinking?

Cree stepped in front of him and held up the stone, as if she wanted to touch it to his forehead.

Molly had no idea where the thunder and lightning was coming from, seeing as the sky was perfectly clear as far as he could see. But then Yasha screamed, her gag forgotten and her voice mixing with the next crack of thunder as a green hooded figure flickered into existence behind Cree.

A chuckle came out from under the hood and then–

“Well, I do like the purple one”, a voice said and Cree froze in place, unable to move any further.

Chapter Text

"Have any of you seen Beau?"

Jester’s immediate giggling tells Yasha that something is up. Not that Yasha has any idea what it might be, but she has learned about that particular gleam in Jester’s eyes.

“Oh, you know. She went upstairs”, Jester answers and gives Yasha a wink. Yasha has the impression that this wink and Jester’s emphasis on the word upstairs should tell her something but then again, it’s Jester.

It might as well be anything.

So Yasha heads upstairs because she really wants to talk to Beau about their next sparring match. It has established itself as a routine, the two of them training their different fighting styles–Beau learning how to bring down enemies bigger and way stronger than her, Yasha learning how to move in a fight with someone small, lithe and dexterous.

When she comes close to Beau’s and Jester’s room she pauses because the door is open and there is definitely someone inside. But Yasha doesn’t recognize the voice, so she draws her greatsword and takes two steps forward.

There is Beau. And there is…

Yasha cocks her head.

She recognizes the dark skinned barmaid immediately. That was the one who threw Beau glances all evening, winked at her, told her that her hair was ‘pretty cool’.

Now she’s pinned against the bedroom wall by Beau, their lips pressed together in something that reminds Yasha of their sparring matches and the barmaid makes keening, enthusiastic noises, one of her hands in Beau’s now loose hair and the other on Beau’s ass.

Yasha feels dumb for having drawn her sword but she can’t shake the feeling of still wanting to use it. Cut them apart, make them stop being so close.

When Beau moans Yasha feels it in her bones and someplace she doesn’t want to think about right now.

She turns around and flees, sheathing her sword and cursing her hammering heart.

Damn.

Chapter Text

"She may bite if you get near her."

They had only seen this once before, when Beau had been hit by that sickly green ray of light that had turned her mind into a puddle of instincts and fear. While Beau had recognized all of them, Nott seemed to be…

Different.

More violent, though at the same time, more fearful. Caleb wondered if these were the instincts she carried with her everywhere she went because as a Goblin, people’s first response would always have been hatred and animosity.

Now Nott crouched in a dark corner, hissing at everyone that got close. The only person beside Caleb who had managed to get close without getting bitten or scratched had been Jester, so the others had simply stopped trying.

“That’s fine”, Yasha said quietly, looking at Nott with her head cocked and her pale eyes full of pity.

Caleb watched as Yasha went down on the floor and got a little closer, not at all fazed by Nott’s frantic hissing. She stretched out her arm, held out her hand and turned her gaze away from Nott.

Then Yasha waited. And waited.

Nott stared at the outstretched hand while Caleb watched her. Yasha simply sat there like a statue, her legs crossed, her breath almost silent in this dim lit room. And then, slowly, Nott came out of the corner, her big yellow eyes always trained on the hand that was right in front of her now.

Caleb realized that he’d been holding his breath and let it go, as Nott actually sniffed Yasha’s hand, hesitated for a second and then pushed her head against Yasha’s palm.

Caleb saw a small smile flicker on Yasha’s face as she looked up to him while carefully patting Nott’s hair.

“I started to, you know. Pat all the cats I could find, after I met Frumpkin”, she explained. “I tried out some different stuff to get them to come to me.”

“She does remind me of a cat”, he admitted and sat down beside Yasha. And while Caleb loved cats, he hoped they could get Nott back soon.

Chapter Text

"Twenty gold says I can get Caleb's nose out of that book. Five more says I can do it without touching him."

Beau wrinkles her nose and pulls a face that makes Molly grin even wider than he did before.

“Why do you think I want to see that”, Beau says and crosses her arms in front of her chest. Molly sticks out his tongue.

“I don’t think you can do it anyway. He’s been reading that book for three hours now.”

“So you‘re taking my bet?”

“I’ll take it!”, Jester cuts in, hugging Beau from behind and making her stiffen for a second and then Molly watches her melt into Jester, leaning back and holding back a smile.

Molly stands up and saunters over to where Fjord sits and seems to be writing some kind of letter. When Molly comes close he looks up, at first confused and then Molly can see a dark shade of green creep up on his cheeks as he takes in the predatory gleam in Molly’s eyes.

“Hey there, Mr Fjord”, he purrs and Fjord opens his mouth to protest when Molly sits down on his lap, tilts Fjord’s head back with his left hand and presses his lips to Fjord’s.

He hears Beau’s sound of surprise and disgust and Jester’s squeal.

This thing between them is pretty new but Fjord had said he wouldn’t mind telling the others. Plus, Molly thinks as he presses closer to Fjord and draws very pretty sounds out of him, this is the perfect tactic to get Caleb to notice them.

Because while being with one person is very nice, it would be even nicer if there was a third person involved. Someone he and Fjord like just as much as they like each other.

“IT WORKED!”, Jester calls excitedly.

Chapter Text

"Damn it, Beau, we need him alive!" Molly yells, but Beau doesn't stop, her fists connecting with the slaver's already brutalized face over and over again.

“How. Dare. You. Hurt. Them”, Beau hisses and each word is underlined by another punch while the slaver’s face beneath her resembles raw meat more than an actual face.

He deserves it.

When she found Jester beaten and bloodied and crying in that cage, Beau snapped. Now this pig will pay for what he did.

A hand catches hers and Beau tries to struggle as Yasha gently, way too gently, pulls Beau off the slaver who’s now barely breathing on the ground.

“We need to know where they take the other people”, Yasha says quietly.

Beau crumbles in her grasp, her eyes searching for Jester who’s still unconcious a few feet away from them, her pretty face all cut up and painted with bruises.

Jester shouldn’t look like this.

Bruises and wounds like this are meant for people like Beau.

“Why didn’t they take me”, she hisses, her eyes burning at the corners and she swallows multiple times while Molly and Nott bind the slaver’s wrists behind his back.

“It’s fine”, Yasha says while Beau tries to hold back a sob. “We’re fine now. She’ll be fine.”

Chapter Text

"Beau, it's okay, I'm the cleric, I can heal myself," Jester weakly protests as Beau opens up the healer's kit.

“Don’t move”, Beau orders and fumbles through the healer’s kit in search of bandages. Seeing Jester like this is not ok. She’s beaten up so badly, she can’t even manage a smile.

Beau will kill every last one of those people as soon as Jester is healed.

“I’m fine”, Jester whispers.

“You’re not fine. I’m sorry it took us so long. I’m sorry.”

Beau doesn’t want her voice to get quieter with each word but eventually it breaks and she bites her lips and blinks furiously down at Jester’s bruised ribs.

“It’s not your fault, silly.”

Beau can’t answer. If she stops concentrating she will start to cry and that would suck. Crying sucks.

It’s not like Beau has no experience with cleaning wounds and putting bandages on them. But usually she does that to herself and Jester is so soft, way softer than Beau, even with Jester’s muscles underneath.

“It’s ok, Beau”, Jester says weakly and Beau curses under her breath and presses her forehead against Jester’s as somewhere in the distance an alarm begins to sound.

Beau’s head snaps up.

“Time to make them pay.”

Chapter Text

"I didn't think it was possible, but you look even angrier with your hair down."

“Shut up, Molly”, Beau croaks.

She’s leaning heavily on the wall next to her and Molly has actually no idea how she even manages to keep herself upright with the beatings she’s taken. It seems impossible for her to lie down.

“I’m just making some pleasant conversation to pass the time”, Molly says and grins at her. She’s the one they keep pulling from the cell to question and every time Beau comes back more bruised, more beaten.

Molly heard her scream once. A sound he definitely never wants to hear again.

Damn it.

Why do his weird blood powers not come with healing abilities? He’s sure that Beau is suffering from internal bleeding as well as several broken bones.

But there she stands, staring at the cell door as if she might make it explode with her anger alone.

“When they come and get me again”, Beau rasps, “you should make a run for it. There’s usually three guys in there with me. Means that only of those assholes is out there patrolling.”

Molly stares at her.

“What?”

She tears her eyes away from the door and looks at Molly.

“I said that you should make a run for it.”

“Bullshit.”

“Don’t be ridiculous Molly. This is not the time for jokes. They keep asking me questions and it’s only a matter of time before they realize that pain doesn’t really work”, Beau grits out and flinches.

Molly wishes he could make her stop hurting.

“They’ll come and get you. They’ll torture you to get to me.”

Oh. Molly blinks.

“Well, that won’t work, will it”, he jokes. Joking and maskerading is all he can do. Beau looks at him, one of her eyes swollen shut, but her stare is still so intense that he actually shivers.

“I need you to get out of here”, she says quietly.

“I won’t leave you.”

“Molly! I need you to go!”

Chapter Text

"Yasha, are you actually jealous?"

For a while Yasha doesn’t even understand that someone spoke to her because she is too busy to stare at Beau and… what was her name?

Ellendra?

“What?”, she asks and tears her eyes away from Beau to look at Molly. He is watching her with a sort of interested gleam in his red eyes that makes Yasha nervous. “No. I’ve never been jealous.”

Molly raises his brows but doesn’t reply for which Yasha is thankful because now she gets to stare at Beau again. Yasha wonders if Fjord’s attempts at helping Beau with being more sociable are actually working because Beau and this woman have been talking for almost twelve minutes and thirty-two seconds.

Yasha has no idea what jealousy even feels like.

It’s not like Beau hasn’t been flirting with every woman they meet before. But this is somehow different because. Because this woman looks a bit like…

Well.

She’s very tall and Yasha has no problem in admitting that her muscles are almost as impressive as her own. On her back rests a huge war-hammer and she’s grinning down at Beau, her blue eyes wrinkled at the corners in honest amusement as Beau seems to be telling a story that involves people punching stuff.

Probably Beau punching stuff.

Yasha grips her wooden tankard tighter and takes two big swigs as she watches as Ellendra? Maybe Kala. As the woman reaches forward to touch Beau’s biceps when Beau flexes.

The tankard breaks.

“Holy—Yasha!”

Yasha looks down at the broken tankard and then up at Molly who stares at her with one eyebrow raised.

Never a good sign.

“Ok, so. Is it jealousy when I want to. You know. Break that woman’s face?”

Molly sighs and looks over to where Beau is laughing and ordering another round for her and Ellandra. Kala. Whatever.

“Do you want to break her face because you haven’t punched anything for a while now, or do you want to break her face because she makes Beau laugh and touched her arms just now?”

Yasha looks down on the sad remains of her tankard and puts them on the table carefully.

“Ok. Ok, so maybe. Maybe it’s because of the second thing you said. I dunno. How do I make it stop?”

Molly pats her arms across the table and orders them another round before profousely apologizing for the broken tankard.

“Well, how about more alcohol. And then maybe you can challenge that Nora woman to an arm wrestling match.”

Oh. Nora. That was the name.

“How does arm wrestling make it stop?”, Yasha wants to know and takes the new, freshly filled tankard that is given to her. Molly grins widely.

“Trust me. Showing off in front of your crush? Works like magic.”

Chapter Text

"Maybe. Let's get out of the rain first, though."

When they headed inside Beau tried to keep her mind from spiraling back to this almost-kiss. She had other priorities now and she tried to cling to those.

Patch Yasha up, get dry, maybe talk a bit about this asshole that had kept Yasha from kissing her last time.

Beau sighed. This proved itself more difficult than she’d thought.

Jester was sitting on her bed with her notebook and as soon as Yasha and Beau entered she gasped full of delight and got up to give Yasha a hug. Beau wished such behavior came as easy to her as it came to Jester.

“I’m so glad you’re back! You look terrible!”

And then, without giving Yasha time to answer she swirled out of the room and threw Beau a wink before quickly closing the door behind her.

“So, uh. You wanna sit down for this?”, Beau said. Yasha shrugged but she went over to Beau’s bed–Beau’s heart thumped ridiculously against her ribs at the sight of this–and sat down carefully before she put down her great-sword.

“Ok, so Jester bought this awesome salve for me because I bruise so often.”

The words tumbled out of her mouth completely lacking the casual tone Beau had aimed for but Yasha didn’t seem to care as she silently watched Beau go through her stuff for the salve.

It smelled surprisingly nice when Beau opened the lid and dipped two of her fingers into it. Yasha actually closed her eyes when Beau hesitantly touched her face to apply the salve on the skin around her swollen eye.

“So, uh. Did you win?”

A smile tugged at the corner of Yasha’s lips. Beau swallowed heavily.

“Yeah.”

“Awesome.”

Damn, Beau should find different stuff to talk about. She cursed her inability to simply talk to people and wished for Fjord to appear and give her tips to actually ask Yasha about this damn kiss-that-never-happened.

Yasha opened her eyes when Beau started applying the salve to the side of her jaw and Beau couldn’t help but realize how fucking close they were–Beau standing in front of Yasha, her back bent, her face directly in front of Yasha’s.

Don’t think about kissing, don’t think about kissing, don’t thi–

Yasha’s hand gently grabbed Beau’s collar and Beau blinked in confusion until she felt Yasha pull.

Beau leaned forward and prayed to every deity she could name that she didn’t misinterpret this when Yasha’s lips touched hers.

Fuck, Beau thought. Fuck yes. She even forgot how cold she still was as heat spread through her entire body.

When Yasha pulled away her eyes stayed close and Beau found it difficult to keep her balance. Her heart was beating so rapidly Beau wouldn’t have been surprised if it simply leaped out of her chest.

“Wanted to do that for quite some time now”, Yasha admitted quietly, her eyes still closed.

“Yeah?”, Beau rasped.

“Yeah. Actually… leaving for a mission–you know. Never sucked as much as last time.”

Chapter Text

They’re always catching her eye, the shiny little baubles that clink against Mollymauk's horns and sit against his curls just so, and for just a brief moment, Nott wonders what those glittery things might look like woven into her own, messy waves.

Molly catches her looking. Sometimes Nott thinks that someone else in the group should do sneaky things because every so often she fails miserably at them.

“Like what you see?”, Molly asks with a wide grin and shakes his head a bit, making the baubles shimmer in the pale sunlight.

Nott shrugs and looks away.

“I just like shiny things”, she says. Where she comes from, people like her are not encouraged to put shiny things on. Nott wonders if she would look more like a girl if she put glittery stuff in her hair.

“Shiny things are great”, Molly muses and Nott steals another glance at him. Thankfully he’s not looking at her anymore. Nott thinks about the way Molly dresses and how–when people say “the boys” and “the girls” Molly excludes himself. How he moves and loves shiny things and how he sometimes puts makeup on just like Jester and Beau do.

“I don’t know many boys who like the shiny stuff, you know”, she says carefully, not sure if it’s acceptable to adress this. She knows that she doesn’t like it much when people address her lack of girlyness.

Molly grins again, spreads his arms while walking and throws her a wink.

“You have me there. I’m not quite a boy, I guess”, he says.

Nott blinks.

“Well… are you a girl, then?”

Molly shrugs.

“No, I don’t think I am. I don’t mind people thinking I’m one way or the other, but the truth is, I’m just Molly. And I feel like Molly is sometimes here and sometimes there and sometimes somewhere else entirely.”

Nott thinks about this for a few minutes. Growing up with goblins, there are only boys and girls. But since she left she’s met quite a few people who didn’t like it when being adressed as “ser” or “miss”.

She ponders the fact that every person in her village called her a boy even though she knew she wasn’t one.

“So. You mean it’s ok to be whatever you like, yes?”

“Sure. What do you want to be?”

Nott sniffs.

“Well, I’m a girl.”

“Are you a girl who would like glittery stuff on her head?”, Molly asks and touches one hand to his horns.

Nott sighs.

She looks over to Beauregard who is a girl but doesn’t care at all for jewelry or pretty dresses. Nott guesses that it doesn’t matter how you dress or what you put on your head, as long as you know who you are and the people you like also know it.

But she still really likes the shiny stuff.

“Yes”, she mumbles.

“Would you like me to put some in your hair?”

Nott blinks and looks up at Molly. For a second she thinks he’s making fun of her but he looks at her without amusement in his red eyes. It probably makes sense, Nott thinks, that someone who is different than other people would offer her help to be who she would like to be.

“Yes.”

Molly nods and while they walk behind the others he carefully takes off every piece of jewelry he has on his horns, his ears and in his hair. He looks weirdly naked without any of the shiny stuff.

As soon as they stop to take a break Molly waves for Nott to come over and he sits down behind her, producing all the shimmery stuff from his pockets and spreading it out in the grass.

“Show me which ones you like and I’ll put them on you”, he says. Nott ponders for over a minute until she points at a purple piece.

“Good choice”, Molly says and Nott can hear the grin in his voice.

Being a girl can mean whatever she wants it to mean, she thinks. And the glittery stuff in her hair feels exactly right.

Chapter Text

"What do you mean you don't know how to swim?"

“What do you think it means? Should I say it again in Infernal?”

Molly watches as Fjord puts up his hands in a gesture of surrender and lets his eyes wander over to the lake they’re currently camping at. Jester and Beau seem to be having all sorts of fun in the water—Molly can hear their laughter from a distance.

There are some things he never learned at the carnival because they weren’t relevant and while he’s pretty sure that some skills translated over from this body’s previous life, Lucien apparently never learned to swim either. Molly is certain that he’d be able to swim if Lucien did.

But alas.

He likes water, he likes bathing and he quite likes the idea of being submersed completely, being weightless and just floating. Molly imagines that it feels a bit like flying—something he is also incapable of doing.

“So, d’you wanna learn?”, Fjord asks after a while. His eyes rest on Nott who is currently in the process of counting the pieces of her button collection. She insisted on staying as far away from the water as possible.

“I wouldn’t mind. Are you offering?”, he says and throws a wide grin at Fjord who looks as if he might like being closer to the water but stayed behind to keep Molly company.

Flattering.

Molly wonders if Fjord is still afraid of the water after almost drowning.

Fjord clears his throat and looks away, his cheeks a darker shade of green than before. Interesting.

 

“I wouldn’t mind teachin’ you a bit”, he answers. Molly is nothing if not a man of deeds so he gets up instantly and starts undressing immediately.

“I’m all yours, Mr. Fjord. Teach me your watery ways”, he says with a dramatic bow in Fjord’s direction.

“Ah—sure”, Fjord says, his cheeks still that pretty shade of dark green. Molly thinks that he might like to see it more often and follows Fjord towards the water.

Chapter Text

Beau hasn't slept in days.

Whenever she closes her eyes she sees them either badly injured or dead so she refuses to close her eyes at all. Molly had offered her one of his sleeping potions but she didn’t take him up on the offer.

Sleeping would—in the long run—make her feel better and Beau doesn’t think that she deserves to feel better when Jester, Fjord and Yasha have been taken, violently, from them. Who knows what they’re enduring right now.

No, Beau will not make herself feel comfortable and nice and warm and cozy.

She will turn every stone, look into every corner, punch as many people as she needs to until she finds them.

“You need sleep”, Molly says.

“Shut up, Molly. You’re not my mother.”

“Thankfully so. Raising a little shit like you must’ve been a handful.”

Beau tries to whack Molly with her staff but she’s so tired that she misses him by a few inches.

Molly sticks his tongue out but he doesn’t say anything more, just looks at Beau with his unsettling eyes. She doesn’t want to be looked at so Beau turns around and stares ahead, away from Molly and into the darkness. Somewhere out there Jester might be crying, hurting or even dying.

Beau pushes her fingernails deep into the palms of her hands.

“It’s not your fault, you know. If they managed to take Yasha, they must’ve come all kinds of prepared. We’ll find them.”

Beau doesn’t answer.

She blinks hastily because the corners of her eyes started to burn.

“Shut up”, she whispers.

“Try and make me, unpleasant one”, Molly says casually. She knows he’s trying to provoke her. She knows that hitting Molly won’t solve anything.

So Beau stays still and doesn’t rise to the challenge. She doesn’t suspect anything when Caleb steps up to her and nods in Mollymauk’s direction, until her eyelids start drooping and the tiredness seeps into her bones and every fiber of her body.

When she tries to take a swing at Caleb she misses and falls to her side. The last thing she hears is “I’m sorry, my friend. But Mollymauk is right. You need sleep.” And then she doesn’t hear anything anymore.

Chapter Text

"Happy birthday! Now you have to open your presents, here, mine first!"

As far as Nott is concerned, birthdays are quite overwhelming. Last year, when her new family—and she hadn’t known then, that these people would be her family, maybe even her first real family—declared a random day in the month of Fessuran her birthday, Nott hadn’t quite known what having a birthday even meant.

Now there are various packages wrapped in more or less shiny paper lying in front of her, a cake that looks like Jester bought it with the intent to have it be as sugary, sweet and colorful as it possibly can be and a few candles.

Nott feels a weird, fluttering buzz between her ribs and realizes that she’s excited. Not anxiously excited in the way she’s almost used to now, but pleasantly excited.

Jester looks at her with a big smile and holds a gift that is—of course—wrapped in blue and very glittery paper and has various pink bows on top.

Nott takes it from her and looks at it, touches the glittery paper and sees with a pang of delight that the glitter sticks to her fingers and rains down onto her clothes. She carefully unwraps it with her claws and it takes her quite a while because Jester used a lot of sticky stuff to hold the paper in place.

But in the end Nott finds a dress in the midst of all the glittery paper. It’s a very nice shade of yellow and looks like it might have been made for a human child.

It’s so pretty, Nott wants to cry.

“Thank you, Jester”, she says quietly and touches the dress as if it might turn to ashes in her grasp if she’s not careful enough with it. Caleb, who sits right next to her, slowly pushes a tiny package over to Nott.

“You didn’t have to get me anything. I know you need the money for your spells”, Nott says. Caleb ruffles her hair.

“Unsinn, Nott”, Caleb says. After travelling with Caleb for over a year Nott has learned enough Zemnian to know that “Unsinn” means something like bullshit in a politer kind of way. She takes the tiny parcel and shakes it a bit before she slowly starts unwrapping it.

Inside is a small wooden box and in the wooden box lies a ring. It’s rather plain without any glittery stones or gems on it.

“I know it doesn’t look like much”, Caleb says softly. “But it’s magic.”

Nott looks up at him.

“What kind of magic?”

Caleb smiles at her and Nott feels an excited thump in her chest.

“It’s a ring of disguise. You can look however you want as long as you wear it.”

Nott stares at Caleb, then at the ring. Thoughts run through her head like how expensive this ring must’ve been and how long Caleb must’ve saved his money but her body already registered what this means for her as she pushes her chair back and throws herself into his arms.

“Thank you so much”, she croaks against his coat while he hugs her back.

“Whatever makes you happy, mein Freund.”

Chapter Text

"Jester... Are you okay?"

Jester sits in the cage right next to Yasha’s. She’s hugging her knees and hums a melody under her breath that Yasha doesn’t know. But then again, Yasha doesn’t know a lot of things about life here in the empire and even less about life at the coast where Jester comes from.

Whenever Jester talks about Nicodranas Yasha thinks that she might like to visit it someday.

“No! My dress is torn and my ankles hurt and I’m so angry at these people and I don’t understand what’s even going on and I hope their dicks shrivel and fall off!”

Yasha feels a smile tug at her lips despite the situation.

Her hands and feet are bound to each other so she has no chance of breaking out of the cage with force. Jester and Fjord tried magic, but somehow these cages seem to dampen magical abilities. If only Nott were here with her tools and her little clawed hands to help them out of these cages—then Yasha could make these people pay for taking them.

She thinks about Molly and how this is the first time Yasha is not sure how to get back to him. I will always find you, Mollymauk—that’s what she said to him after they became friends.

“What kind of song are you singing?”, Yasha wants to know.

“It’s a song my mum used to sing for me when she put me to bed. It’s quite pretty actually and it tells the story of a little girl that tamed a dragon and flew away with it to have adventures”, Jester explains. Even though she complained earlier she seems fine considering the circumstances.

“Will you sing it for me?”, Yasha asks and remembers how Molly used to sing for Toya when he tugged her into bed.

“Sure, if you want me to. I actually have a very nice singing voice but my mum’s is way prettier. You’ll have to hear her sing one day, it’s beautiful.”

Yasha thinks that Jester’s mother must indeed be beautiful if she brought a girl like Jester into this world. As soon as Jester starts singing, Yasha closes her eyes and tries to forget about the cage and the shackles and the danger.

“In a tower made of glass
behind the hills of greenest grass
there lived a princess strong and fair
without a friend to laugh and share
and out the window down below
A dragon slept and scared her so…”

Chapter Text

"Yasha, darling," Molly says as he dodges another blow from Yasha's greatsword. "Yasha, it's me!"

As far as he can tell, Yasha doesn’t recognize him. The last thing Molly wants is to hurt Yasha, even if it is to defend himself. So he tries to dance around her heavy blows but he knows that there’s no way he can keep this pace up.

As far as he can see Beau and Nott are not better off with Caleb throwing spells at them, his eyes weirdly empty and glossed over just like Yasha’s.

“We have to knock them out!”, Beau shouts and ducks under one of Caleb’s fireballs. Molly is pretty sure that Nott is crying.

“I can’t hurt him!”, she screeches. Molly curses and swirls his swords around after ducking under one of Yasha’s powerful blows again. Her teeth are bared and nothing indicates that she remembers him.

“Come on, Yasha”, he shouts at her and aims at her head with the pommel of his blades. “It’s Molly!”

Her head spins around and Molly wonders if it’s wishful thinking but he’s almost sure there is some recognition there after all. He shoots her a grin he doesn’t feel like at all but it falls from his face when Yasha’s blade pierces his lower abdomen with a swift movement.

The pain blinds him.

“Ya—Yasha”, he tries again, clutching at her arm. “Yasha, please stop.”

A giant purple lollipop comes down on Yasha and she staggers, lets go of her blade and Molly. The world around him flickers in and out of sight. He feels weirdly light.

“Molly?”

He manages to look up and… ah, yes. There are the eyes he knows again.

“Oh good”, he slurs, “you’re back.”

Then everything goes black.

Chapter Text

"What if I can't protect you?"

Jester looks up at her and Cali wants to cry about how beautiful she is. Cali had known pretty much from the first moment she laid eyes on Jester that she was something very special, something to be cherished. And the fact that Jester feels this way about her as well makes Cali’s so happy, she wants to shout it out into the world.

“Oh, don’t worry about me. I’m plenty protected”, Jester says with a wide smile and a gesture to her holy symbol. Currently fire and acid is raining down around them and Cali had grabbed Jester before she could join the fight. Somewhere on the battlefield she can hear Beau and Yasha screaming while fighting off cultists.

My friends are risking their lives for me, Cali thinks. She can practically feel the dragon’s blood singing in her veins. And this horrible cult might take my treasure away from me.

“Stay close to me?”, Cali pleads and Jester cocks her head but nods.

“Let’s kick some cultist butts!”

She takes Cali’s hand in hers and pulls her into the open. Cali almost can’t hear the shouts of recognition coming from the people who plan to take her away over the sound of her own, rapidly beating heart.

The place where Jester’s strong fingers are laced with hers makes Cali feel more special than any manipulative lie the cult ever told her.

“Thank you, Jester”, she whispers more to herself than to Jester. Then Cali unleashes the dragon that sleeps inside her.

Chapter Text

Beau's guarded expression melts. "I'm... your first choice for this?"

Jester blinks and then furrows her brow.

“Well… duh? Who else is supposed to be my first choice?”, she wants to know and cocks her head. Beau is pretty sure that she’s never been anyone’s first choice. Ever. Maybe for unpleasant stuff like being beaten to shit or doing chores no one else wanted to do.

But not to embark on a soul searching journey to find one’s long lost father.

Beau is still unsure if this is really a good idea. That weird witch lady acts all mysterious and somber and Beau is mistrustful of pretty much everyone and everything. Plus, what if Jester’s father is a total dickhead and makes Jester cry?

If the witch swindles Jester, Beau will at least get to punch her in the face. She will also punch Jester’s father if he’s an asshole.

Even Mollymauk is sceptic about the whole thing which makes this all even more dubious in Beau’s book but the second Jester turned around and asked her…

Well.

“Will you be my tether, Beau?”

The witch said that Jester needed a tether, to keep her soul anchored while she went on the vision quest. There had been no hesitation in Jester’s movement, her voice, her eyes. She looked straight at Beau.

Just like that.

“Ok, I’ll do it”, Beau croaks and curses her traitorous body for making the corners of her eyes burn.

Being someone’s first choice is new. But fuck, it feels amazing.

Chapter Text

"I have no idea whats happening."

“It’s not like we need another illegal deity for our group”, Beau says and groans while Nott holds up her mask.

The mask doesn’t seem much different from what it looked like before. Maybe it has a crack less now, here and there.

Ok, maybe it even… shimmers a bit? But that might just be a trick of the light. Beau looks at it while Nott shifts nervously and looks at her mask. When she put it on she said it felt different.

And then, when she closed her eyes she… changed.

“Where did you get that mask from again?”, Molly wants to know and slightly pokes it. Nothing happens.

Somehow the mask had allowed Nott to change her appearance at will.

“Just a doll lying around somewhere! It wasn’t magical before, or Caleb’s spells would’ve known. He can sense magic and he’s used that spell a lot and my mask never glowed before!”

Beau watches as Caleb carefully inspects the mask and then casts the spell again, the one that enables him to detect magic.

“This is indeed curious. It’s magical now.”

“What did you mean when you said we don’t need another illegal deity?”, Jester wants to know. Beau sighs.

“Well. The monks taught me all kinds of shit at the monastery, you know? So I learned like… a ton of useless stuff about gods and goddesses and the planes and shit. And. There’s this god that has a magical mask, right? And he can look however he wants when he wears that mask. And he’s like, the god for rogues and thieves and wine and stuff. Maybe he wants you to do shit for him? So he gave you a shifty present as advanced payment?”

Nott tosses the mask to the floor but instead of breaking it simple lies there, still softly shimmering.

“I can’t do nothing for a god, what am I supposed to do?”, Nott screeches.

Chapter Text

"Please, for the love of the gods, go buy some warmer clothing."

“Huh?”

It’s not like Caleb hasn’t tried. Looking away, that is. He tries really hard. But the truth is that it’s exceedingly difficult to not look at Mollymauk the longer they travel. And it’s been snowing for days now.

“You should buy warmer clothes”, he repeats, a bit quieter this time. Eye contact is still hard and it’s hardest when Caleb tries to look at Mollymauk.

Sometimes he wonders if Mollymauk notices that Caleb looks at him the most while somehow looking at him–directly that is–the least of all their members.

“But I’m not cold”, Mollymauk answers and even though Caleb has his eyes trained somewhere above Mollymauk’s head, he can hear the wide grin in his voice.

“You do realize that Molly and I run hotter than all of you, technically”, Jester reminds him. She wears a frilly dress and Caleb saw her dancing through the snow barefoot just ten minutes ago.

He can feel his ears get hot.

“Aw, Caleb, such a prude”, Mollymauk says amused and Caleb’s eyes flicker to his face, which is definitely a mistake. Because Mollymauk seems to think that pulling his coat and the thin tunic he’s wearing apart even more to expose more skin and scars and now even nipples is a good idea.

Damn, Caleb’s fucked.

“You’ve seen me naked hundreds of times, Mr Caleb, I must look boring to you by now.”

Caleb wishes that this were the case, but he’s pretty sure he never knew a person less boring than Mollymauk Tealeaf.

Chapter Text

"Yaasha" Jester whines, "make your girlfriend stay in bed, she's sick and won't liiisten."

Yasha stands by the door, her arms crossed and her eyes closed, but they open at Jester’s request. Beau is pretty sure that Yasha doesn’t care whether or not Beau stays in bed.

It’s just a cold after all.

Unfortunately her body seems to be against her because as soon as Beau gets up, everything starts moving and she looses her balance.

Yasha moves so quickly that Beau’s brain can’t even keep up in its current state and she holds Beau up and gently, oh so gently puts Beau down in bed again.

Well, apparently Yasha does care.

“I don’t wanna stay in bed, it’s fucking boring”, Beau whines. It’s kind of nice to get fussed over, something that never happened when she was sick as a child. But just lying in bed and doing nothing is going to drive her crazy soon.

“If you don’t stay in bed I’ll draw dicks on your face!”, Jester threatens.

Beau opens her mouth to answer when she notices that Yasha has taken off her shrug. And then takes off her pants and shoes and–

Jester claps and giggles as Yasha climbs into bed with Beau, manoeuvres Beau between her legs and puts her arms around Beau’s torso like a very warm, very naked prison.

Beau swallows.

“Better?”, Yasha asks quietly while Jester puts a blanket over both of them.

“Yeah”, Beau croaks and closes her eyes, her heart beating violently in her chest. “Better.”

Chapter Text

"Do you think Beau's okay?"

Caleb looks over at Beau.

She’s drunk again–so drunk that she’s barely able to stand. Her laughter is louder than usual, harsh even, an unhappy, ugly and cutting sound. There are bruises all over her face and arms and Caleb knows there’s more all over her body.

Beau has been in at least four fistfights just during the last three days.

It’s because time is running out. Time they need to get Mollymauk back. He looks for Nila and Keg to help him with Beau, but they seem to have stepped outside, maybe because Nila needed some air.

“No”, Caleb says quietly, his eyes resting on Beau’s swaying form. He slowly gets up from his chair and puts his glass down, moves over to where Beau is holding onto the bar for dear life.

He can’t carry her, he knows that. But he can at least try to help her support her own weight.

“Beauregard. Let me help you upstairs.”

Caleb can feel Nott’s eyes on them as Beau turns around and almost topples over. Her eyes are unfocused as she stares as him, her mouth slightly open.

Caleb feels like Beauregard left her brash happiness back at Mollymauk’s grave and replaced it with a deep despair and unwavering thirst for undoing what was done–a thirst that reminds Caleb of himself.

“No. ‘m fine.”

“You are not fine. You should sleep.”

“Fuck you, Caleb”, Beau hisses and actually tries to take a swing at him. She misses, staggers sideways and almost crashes into another patron but Caleb manages to grab her.

Beau vomits, coughs, spits, coughs more and then curses. Caleb feels Nott rushing to their side. Before Caleb can apologize to the barkeeper Nott already starts to clean the floor with a rag she got from who-knows-where.

“Come on, friend. I’ve got you.”

Beau is crying now. Caleb almost falls down the stairs as he tries to hoist her up into their shared room but in the end he manages to get Beau into bed.

“We’ll talk to the priest tomorrow. We still have time”, Caleb says quietly, his heart turning into a lump of lead at the sight of Beau, sobbing into her pillow. He’s not sure she realizes he’s there.

“We’ll make it work. We get Mollymauk back. Then we get the others back. We can still fix this.”

Nott ushers in and closes the door behind her. Carefully as not to disturb Beauregard she climbs onto the bed and curls into a little ball at Beau’s feet.

“We can still fix this”, Caleb mumbles again and again, carefully stroking Beauregard’s hair while she drunkenly cries herself to sleep.

At this point he’s not even sure if he is still talking to her or to himself.

Chapter Text

"Hey, uh- Yasha? I -um- got you this book? Youknowbecauseyousaidyoumissedreading?"

Yasha looks up from her sword. Beau tried to aim for a casual remark but it ended up coming out way too fast. She’s not sure Yasha even understood what Beau was saying.

“Um. Sorry, what?”

Yes, Beau can go die in a hole now. She swallows heavily and then simply holds out the book she got, thrusts it forward, her ears burning and her heart hammering.

To be fair, Beau isn’t much of a reader herself. The monks pressured her to read all kinds of boring history stuff and her father made her learn halfling which required her to read halfling classics with her terrible teacher–an older halfling man with the smallest eyes she’d ever seen.

Halfling classics will definitely never be Beau’s favorite. Too much anecdotes about gardening.

“Oh”, Yasha says and carefully grabs the book, turns it around and looks at the cover. “It’s… children stories?”

Beau pushes her hands in the pockets of her pants and glances sideways. She knows her face must look like a ripe tomatoe.

God, Beau hates tomatoes and her lack of social skills.

Yasha touches her fingertips to the cover of the book, a dark green dyed leather with silver writing on the cover. When Beau saw the book of Dwendalian fairy tales it reminded her of a childhood that wasn’t entirely unhappy.

And her favorite story had actually always been about a girl that collected flowers and gave them all away to strangers to make them happy. When she got older it became clear that Beau would never be like the flower-girl in her favorite fairy tale but Yasha’s gentle care for all kinds of flowers reminded her of it.

Something she should probably never tell Yasha.

“Forget it, it’s dumb. Just–you can throw it away, I just–you said you missed reading, and–”

Yasha looks up at her and a warm smile spreads on her face. Beau swallows her words and stares.

“It’s beautiful. Thank you very much, Beau.”

She starts flipping through the pages as if this book is made of glass. Beau feels warmth spread through her body and she wouldn’t mind to watch Yasha forever, sitting there in milky autumn light and smiling privately at the gift Beau gave to her.

She doesn’t hate it. She finds it beautiful.

Beau is so happy she wants to–well. She wants to do many things.

“’A Garden Of Kindness’ reminds me of you”, Beau sputters and curses herself just one second later.

“Oh? I’ll have to read that one first, then”, Yasha says, her face surprised but also… pleased?

Beau is so fucked.

“Ok. Cool. Um… yeah. Have fun!”

And before Beau can say anything else to embarrass herself, she turns around and flees.

Chapter Text

"Please don't...okay, you did."

Molly has already taken off his coat, his shirt, his shoes. And there go his pants.

Caleb was already uncomfortable before, wearing the uniform that inspired him to kill his parents, but now there is a mostly naked Mollymauk standing right beside him which makes it even worse.

“Here, these are the manacles Fjord found in the cellar”, Mollymauk says, as if it is not a big deal that Caleb is supposed to put collar and leash on his… friend.

“I do not think–”

“Shush, Mr Caleb. We have a job to do. Posing as your fiendish conquest will probably be one of the most fun roles I’ve had to play yet. Here, help me put this collar on.”

Caleb watches helpless as Mollymauk puts the iron ring around his own neck and looks expectantly at Caleb to close it in the back.

“You look rather dashing in that uniform, if I may say so”, Molly says with a wide grin as Caleb steps up behind him and touches the cold metal with shaking fingers.

This plan is never going to work. And the fact that he hasn’t gone unresponsive at the feeling of that blighted uniform on his own body is a miracle in itself.

“Well, I would rather get it off sooner than later”, he answers, his voice raspy and quiet.

“I’ll help you take it off when we’re done”, Mollymauk says and wiggles his eyebrows at Caleb, before handing Caleb the leash. “Let’s go, Mr Widogast, pride of the Dwendalian Empire.”

Chapter Text

"Yasha, you're getting wet..." "It's okay, I like the rain."

Nott wishes she could make it better. She knows she can’t, but it hurts to see Yasha like this.

She sits in front of Molly’s grave, her legs crossed, elbows on her knees and just looks at the coat that’s still hanging there, now all soaked, the colors a bit dull in the grey, stormy weather.

Nott moves a bit closer and even though she’s cold she sits down next to Yasha on the muddy ground and crosses her legs in the same way, glancing up at the expressionless face.

“I’ll keep you company, if that’s alright with you.”

“Thank you Nott. I would like that”, Yasha says quietly, her eyes never leaving the grave as if Yasha is afraid that she might blink and–

Well.

Tomorrow they will attempt to bring Molly back.

Until then, Nott holds vigil with a friend that is wonderfully alive over one that died too soon.

“I think–maybe I like the rain too.”

“It feels like the sky is crying”, Yasha says.

Nott hears ‘I’m glad that the sky cries because I can’t and he deserves all the tears in the world.’.

Chapter Text

He remembers when they had first teamed up together. It’s been a long while but looking back at all the memories and good (and bad) times they’ve had. He thinks they’ve done well.

It is a weird, unusual thing to feel good about the past. Caleb has never felt good about anything in his past until the past started to include these people. These terrible, terrible—wonderful, magnificent, miraculous—people.

The thought that his parents probably wouldn’t have approved of their son befriending Xhorhassians and Tieflings and rebellious monks who spit authorities in the face and goblins and half-orc pirates who talk to sea monsters in their sleep and drug taking Firbolg clerics who grow tea out of dead people and elves with draconic blood and smoking, swearing dwarf women and mysterious blind men who worship illegal gods and big Firbolg women who smell weird bags when trying to make decisions … well.

Caleb thinks that maybe, if his parents were still alive and Caleb would have told them what the Academy did, what the Empire made him do, they wouldn’t have supported it. And then, maybe, they would’ve liked his friends.

His friends, his loved ones.

He’s never tried to say it out loud before, even after all this time. Trauma will do that to you, he thinks and smiles grimly, makes you small and suffocates you, steals your words and pushes you to the ground whenever you try to get up.

But he has these people now. People who stretch out their hands and scream at his personal demons to let go, to fuck off.

Having friends like that is a miracle, really.

We have made it better, Caleb thinks as he stares down at the never ending waves of undead, ginormous worms, monsters and deformed creatures below them.

“It was good. Coming all this way with you”, he says though he’s not sure the others can hear him over the screams of The Crawling King, his voice like an endless echo coming from the very earth all around them.

“It will still be good after”, Mollymauk says grinning, his swords glowing.

“Yeah. Let’s kick this asshole back to where he crawled out of”, Beau agrees, hitting her palm with her fist.

“Thank you, friends”, Caleb murmurs quietly and lights up his hand. Defeating a god will not be easy but weirdly enough, with friends like this, everything seems possible.

Chapter Text

So this is the end.

Molly looks up at Lorenzo and spits in his face, his body a bloody mess of deep cuts, frost bites and pain. This is it, he thinks dizzily and with the absurd desire to laugh one last time.

Then a scream rips through the air and Lorenzo’s eyes flicker away from Molly before he is slammed to the ground by a tall whirlwind made of white, grey and black.

“DON’T TOUCH HIM”, Yasha screams as she keeps hitting Lorenzo, the sound of breaking bone like small cracks of thunder in the dry, cold air. Molly tries to crawl backwards but everything hurts.

He can hear Nott’s voice somewhere to the left.

“Come on come on come on!”

“Molly! MOLLY!”

And there is Beau again. Molly wants to snark at her because she was supposed to run away, but apparently she decided to run straight into danger again and now she grabs him under the arms and pulls, her panicked breathing in his ear.

Strangely enough, Beau’s panic calms his fluttering nerves.

“Nott and Caleb safe?”, he croaks and tries to scramble to his knees.

“Caleb’s somewhere over there”, Beau says, let’s go of Molly and he can’t even follow her movements with his eyes as a crossbow bolt comes racing towards them and Beau grabs it before it’s able to reach Molly’s chest, throws it back with a furious scream and Molly hears a muffled “Fuck”.

“Nott is opening the cages”, Beau adds.

“Yasha”, Molly rasps and follows Beau, who’s pulling him away now, her eyes hectically darting from left to right, still looking out for bolts and ice and other dangers. Yasha is still screaming full of rage and for a second Molly thinks that the sky might be answering.

But maybe he’s hallucinating.

That’s when he feels a familiar warmth encompass him for a split second and he realizes that his wounds are closing up. And then a bright, shining and very purple lollipop appears right over the head of Yasha and Lorenzo.

“Yasha, move!”, Jester’s voice shouts. Molly can’t see her and his vision blurs. He notices Caleb hiding behind bushes. Then Fjord blinks into existence with his falchion in one hand and Nott under his other arm, her big yellow eyes like shimmering globes filled to the brim with fear.

Molly stumbles against Beau and almost falls to his knees until hands grab him, pull him upwards.

“Keg! Yasha! Get outta there!”, Beau shouts.

There’s rumbling overhead and then lightning strikes Lorenzo.

Molly is held upright by Beau and Caleb while Nott still dangles from Fjord’s arm—Jester and Yasha are stumbling over to them while crossbow bolts follow them all the way. And Keg comes running in their direction. And Lorenzo shouts orders until he’s struck again. And again.

And again.

A figure steps out from under the trees. Molly knows that Yasha is tall. But Yasha is small compared to the woman who has her hand stretched out for Lorenzo, her warm, brown eyes murderous and determined as lightning bolts shoot down from the sky and find Lorenzo and his men.

“Who is that?”, Jester pants as she reaches them. Her lollipop slams down on Prado and he doesn’t get up again.

“I have no idea. But she’s badass”, Beau answers.

The stranger only spares them a glance before she walks even closer.

“You took my son”, she says in a surprisingly soft voice, her eyes never leaving Lorenzo. Molly shudders. “Now I will kill you for touching him.”

Chapter Text

"There was this, uh, flower shop, and this bouquet reminded me of you."

Yasha looks down at the flowers, then back up at Beau. Beau is always shit at reading people, but Yasha makes it especially diffucult.

Beau chews on her bottom lip while she holds out the flowers. Maybe this is too much.

Beau is not one for pursuing someone who obviously has no interest in her and she stopped flirting with Yasha weeks ago. This was meant as a kind gesture because the lilac and lightblue flowers do remind Beau of Yasha’s eyes.

But maybe this was a horrible idea.

Maybe Yasha is really fed up with Beau and—

Yasha takes the flowers, carefully, as if she’s touching something made of glass. Then she holds them up to her face and smells them, a small smile on her lips.

“They’re very pretty, thank you“, she says.

Beau tries to come up with something witty to say. But all she can think of are embarrassing variations of the phrase “They’re not as pretty as your eyes“ so she keeps her mouth shut and after several seconds of awkward silence she flees and leaves Yasha and the flowers behind.

Chapter Text

“Caduceus can sleep in our room”, Fjord says as he enters the inn after Caleb and Beau.

Yasha helps Molly walk. He doesn’t talk much and he’s so weak that he can barely stand on his own but it’s good to have him back.

Caleb doesn’t want to dive deeper into the question regarding the fact that just a few nights ago he discarded Mollymauk’s whole life as a mere circus performer, sure about the fact that he could never help Caleb on his way to find magical solutions to the problems of his past.

Caleb has no idea why it is so calming to have Mollymauk back. And he’d rather not think about it now.

Weirdly enough Beau’s eyes dart around nervously as Fjord mentions the dividing of rooms. Jester hugs her from the side.

“Are we still roommates?”, she wants to know. Caleb watches Beau’s face and he notices her eyes flickering over to Mollymauk.

“Yeah. Sure.”

“Great! It’s like we never left!”, Jester exclaims cheerfully. Caleb wonders if he should take the time to talk to Jester about her facade. It is probably none of his business but he is rather sure that Jester’s false front of cheerfulness is just her own way of dealing with trauma.

“So it’s business as usual”, Fjord says before turning to the inn keeper to order three rooms. Three seperate rooms. Everyone is safe now, Caleb thinks. He can see Beau swallowing heavily.

“Wait”, she croaks. Her blue eyes are still resting on Mollymauk. “Is it ok–can we like… you know. Can we just share? All of us?”

There is beat of silence while they’re all looking at Beau. Her cheeks light up and she crosses her arms defensively.

“What?”, she growls. There is a soft smile on Jester’s face. A surprised raise of eyebrows in Fjord’s. The corners of Mollymauk’s lips twitch as he throws a lopsided grin in Beau’s direction.

“Knew you missed me, unpleasant one”, he croaks, his voice sore as if it has to get used to being alive again. Beau snorts and flips Molly off, but the tension in her body has subsided and she almost smiles.

“Fuck off, Molly. You’re still a dick.”

“One big room it is, then”, Fjord exclaims and turns around to place the order. Caleb has to smile despite of himself. This is how it is supposed to be, he thinks. All of us together.

It’s just safer, that’s all.

Chapter Text

It’s never really silent in the forest. There is always a bird singing, always a tree rustling or a beetle buzzing close to his ear.

At first, after his family left, Caduceus enjoyed being alone for a while, just because having so many siblings running around in the graveyard can get stressful. It was a new thing, being alone, and there weren’t many new things on this graveyard.

Caduceus sometimes imagines finding new things everyday. It must be exciting, to lay your eyes on a new thing everyday, maybe such a small thing as a new type of flower or a person he’s never seen before. There used to be visitors to his home and it was always at the same time sad and exciting.

He isn’t even sure how many seasons ago the last visitor, the last grieving person came to his home.

That probably means it’s been to long.

Caduceus talks to the bees and the birds and the beetles. Sometimes a deer comes close or a squirrel sits on one of the tombstones. But it’s not like the animals talk back and after a few seasons Caduceus finds a new feeling in his chest, one he doesn’t recognize at first.

He pokes and prods at it, examining it, because it’s new. A new thing, something to explore. Not the way he imagined it to be, because the new things in his imagination always were outside.

Now there is a new thing inside of him.

He asks the Wildmother about it but most of the time his goddess doesn’t answer and when he finally sees the fluttering thing in his chest for what it is, his mind goes “Oh”.

He’s lonely.

As soon as he recognizes it, it grows and expands in his chest, pressing down on him. Suddenly the birds and trees are not loud enough anymore, Caduceus finds himself yearning for another person’s voice.

He wants someone to answer him. He almost wishes for grief to strike a person out there just so they would come here.

How sad a thing it is, he thinks, that people only come to him when something terrible has happened.

He sits in silence in front of the graves and talks to dead people.

He talks to his goddess.

He talks to the animals. Sometimes even to the trees.

But he misses his family.

And when the new thing inside of him isn’t new anymore and he almost got used to it, he hears voices outside. Voices. For a split second he thinks maybe his sister or his mother has returned, but he doesn’t know these voices.

They’re new.

A new thing. Something to explore.

He is a rather slow and measured person but he feels so excited that he makes a few extra big steps towards the door and opens it. His first thought is “Oh, there you are”.

Then he counts.

“Huh”, he says, the thing in his chest already feeling a little differently than it did yesterday, “I think I only got like, three more cups.”

Chapter Text

Molly doesn’t notice the difference at first.

It’s pretty common for Caleb to send over his cat to members of the group–except Fjord, because he starts breathing funny when Caleb let’s Frumpkin get too close–and Molly has accepted it as Caleb’s way to give people a hug.

He saw him hug Nott a few times and once he hugged Beau, but it was the weirdest hug Molly has ever seen in his whole life.

But for a few weeks now, Frumpkin keeps climbing up on Molly’s lap, purring and curling up to sleep. Molly is not–contrary to what certain unpleasant someones might say–an idiot.

He knows that Frumpkin does everything Caleb asks of him. This fey cat doesn’t need sleep or food, yet Caleb makes him do those things. So every time Frumpkin curls up into a ball in Molly’s lap to sleep there, it’s Caleb telling him to do so.

Molly wonders if he should comment on it, but he decides not to. Since he came back from the dead it’s been almost five months and there are still nights he wakes up sweating and panting from seeing Lorenzo’s face above him and a glaive buried in his chest.

Most of the time, when Molly wakes up from those dreams, he finds Frumpkin not far from him. Two months ago he even slept on Molly’s chest while still being in an octopus form, which was pretty weird but not too weird to not make him feel a rush of endearment and maybe something else.

Something he hasn’t discussed with himself or anyone really.

But now, Frumpkin is by his side almost all the time when they’re on the road. As an owl, he sits on Molly’s shoulder or horns. As a cat, he purrs in his lap or is wrapped around Molly’s neck like s scarf.

Maybe this is Caleb’s way of saying “I’m glad you are back, Mollymauk.”.

Maybe that’s all it is.

Maybe not.

Molly is not ready to examine the possibilities further, that is, until he takes Nott up on a drinking contest which he immediately regrets after just two drinks. Nott is a bottomless pit when it comes to alcohol, but Molly has a desperate need to feel alive so he keeps up with her as best he can and enjoys the buzz and the dizziness.

After the thirteenth shot of hard liquor he has to forfeit in fear of vomiting all over the tavern floor and when Molly gets up he stumbles and lands on Caleb, who immediately goes stiff under the sudden weight of a purple, intoxicated Tiefling spread all over him.

“So sorry, Mr Caleb”, Molly says and hears the slur in his words. He giggles full of delight. Caleb is surprisingly warm.

“It is no bother”, Caleb says. The liar. Molly pokes him in the ribs and tries to get up, fails and gives up after the first try.

“Y’know. Your cat. He sleeps on me all the time.”

Caleb shifts under him and Molly turns his head. Yasha obviously feels some sort of pity for Caleb because she lifts Molly up und sits him down on the floor in front of him. Molly tries to glare at her but it falls short and Yasha simply shrugs. Molly loves her very much.

“Well, he is very soothing, you know. And it seems like someone who was dead for a few months could use some soothing. I can make him stop if he is bothering you.”

Molly let’s the fact sink in that Caleb tried to comfort him during the last weeks and weeks. That he probably noticed how… well. How traumatized Molly is.

This is Caleb’s way of saying he cares.

“It’s not a bother at all, Mr Caleb. He really is quite soothing. Even as an octopus”, Molly answers and his tongue stumbles over the last word. Damn Nott and her tolerance for hard liquor.

Caleb snorts and the corners of his mouth twitch slightly.

“If you ever feel like going on an adventure, you could come over and keep Frumpkin company while he soothes me, you know.”

Molly barely notices how Nott and Jester start dancing a few feet away from them while Caduceus, Beau and Yasha watch them. The world has zoned in on Molly’s hands on the floor and the heart in his chest that is still his and still beating.

Beating way too fast after his careless words.

He doesn’t look up at Caleb and coughs slightly before turning his gaze over to Nott and Jester. That’s when Frumpkin climbs into his lap and starts kneading his thigh.

When Molly looks up after all he sees Caleb watching the girls as well, but his face is deep red. When Molly looks at Frumpkin the cat does what Caleb calls a “blep”.

Molly laughs.

He supposes he can wait. As someone twice back from the dead, he feels like he can afford to have a little patience.

Chapter Text

Beau is not a jealous person.

As a child, she was deeply jealous of every kid with a more carefree life than hers, every kid that seemed more loved, more cared for. But she learned early that jealousy doesn’t get you far and so she worked on abandoning those feelings along with some other emotional baggage.

Like hope.

Now, Beau understands that it’s easy not being jealous when you simply don’t like people enough to care in a way that makes you wonder “Do they even like me in the same way I like them?”.

Beau hates this emotional bullshit.

“Love you, too, Beau.”

Jester said that. And Beau believes her. But there is an uncomplicated ease in the relationship between Nott and Jester and the way they act, the way they have similar interests.

She knows she’s not best friend material. Never has been.

She’s not anyone’s best friend. And that’s fine. It’s enough to be Jester’s friend at all.

But the sting is still there. It nests in her rib-cage and scratches at her from the inside when she watches Jester laugh about something Nott said or did, or when the two of them talk about being the best detectives.

Though, at the end of the day, Jester always comes back to Beau. They are still room mates, after all the months they’ve been traveling now. Jester closes the door and talks to Beau. She’s the first person she sees when she wakes up and the last she sees when she falls asleep.

That has to count for something.

“Hey Jester”, Beau asks one evening after Jester put her sketchbook aside and snuggled into her soft mattress.

“Yes?”

“D’you think people can have, like. You know. More than one best friend?”

“Of course, Beau.”

“Yeah?”

“Yah! You know, you have friends for different things? Not every friend is the same but that doesn’t mean that one means less than the other. It’s just different. You guys are like, the best friends I ever had, you know? Except for the Traveler of course.”

“Hm.”

“Like, okay. So, maybe. And this is not mean or anything, okay? It’s just. I love all of you, but I feel like you and Nott are probably my closest friends. Like, my best friends. And I know you don’t want to be anyone’s best friend because you’re already a first mate and everything and that’s like, a lot of responsibility. But. You know? I trust you the most.”

Beau’s heart swells at that. It feels as if it’s now double the size than it should be and the warm flutter in her rib-cage makes her think that the nasty yellow creature living there has turned into something else, something beautiful.

That’s what Jester does to people, Beau thinks. She takes something nasty and makes it beautiful.

“For what it’s worth”, she croaks and clears her throat, ignoring the burning sensation in the corners of her eyes, “you’re my best friend, too.”

Chapter Text

It’s sunny after a few days of rain when Beau hears the name Zuella for the first time.

It’s Jester who says it with an arm full of red and purple flowers.

“Yasha! Look! I found all these beautiful flowers! Do you want some of those for Zuella?”

She sees Caleb frown and Fjord blink in confusion, but neither of them say anything. Her eyes flicker over to Molly for a second who watches Yasha accept some of the flowers from Jester.

“Who’s Zuella?”, Nott whispers to Caleb.

“That is a story Miss Yasha has to tell herself”, Caduceus says softly.

Beau looks at Yasha who carefully pulls out her book, opens it with so much caution as if its contents are the most precious thing in the world, before she places five flowers between the pages and closes it again.

Beau feels her throat tighten when she notices the look on Yasha’s face.

*

The second time Beau hears the name there is no light at all.

She has been blinded by the demon who lured them into his lair. She smells sulfur and sweat and blood and hears the rasping voice of the fiend way too close for her comfort.

“And you, Orphan Maker”, he says. Beau has no idea what he’s talking about. “Not even you know what kind of violence you’re capable of. But all the violence in you could not save your precious Zuella. You are weak and not capable to save anyone. All your loved ones will die screaming and in pain while you watch and rage uselessly, as you have always done.”

That’s when Beau realizes that the demon is talking to Yasha.

Your precious Zuella.

“Shut. The. Fuck. Up!”, Yasha roars and Beau hears a fist collide with a jaw. “Don’t you dare speak her name, you piece of shit.”

Beau knows that she has more important things to worry about. Like blindness and immediate danger of being burned alive by a demon. But there is a little sting in her chest.

Yasha likes women. Yasha loves someone else.

*

Yasha tells them the story of the names Orphan Maker and Zuella a few weeks later.

Beau now understands that Molly, Jester and Caduceus already knew about Yasha’s wife. Nott is crying. Caleb swallows heavily. Fjord, for all his smooth talking, seems to be left speechless.

“I’ll help you collect all the prettiest flowers, Yasha”, Nott hiccups. Yasha gives her a small smile before her eyes flicker over to Beau for just a split second. Then they dart away again.

Yasha had a wife. Has a wife.

Yasha is married.

“I’m… I’m so sorry”, Beau croaks.

Sorry they killed your wife. Sorry they took everything from you. Sorry for hitting on you relentlessly for months.

She didn’t know. Beau didn’t know.

Yasha looks at her again and Beau wonders if she understands what Beau means.

“Thank you, Beau”, Yasha says, her voice barely audible. Then a crooked smile starts showing on her face. “I think she would’ve liked you.”

Beau blinks in surprise and combs through her hair nervously before looking away.

“Pretty sure I would’ve liked someone who married you as well”, she mumbles and swears to never hit on Yasha again.

Chapter Text

This is definitely the worst day in Beau’s life.

And that is quite impressive considering how many shit days she’s had.

Fucking fuck of a demon, reading their deepest insecurities and fears, spelling them out in front of everyone and blinding her on top of it. Beau hates his fucking guts.

Beau can’t see shit and that raspy voice in her ears makes her heart almost beat out of her chest. Anxiety floods over her like a cold wave of brackish water trying to suffocate her.

“Beauregard, the unwanted child, always second best only, never good enough. Ruining the family reputation. No friends, no love, a father who wishes you were dead instead of your brother and a mother who withered away in grief over her first born child. Instead of being thankful for all the privileges you received, you became arrogant and stubborn, lashing out. And where did it get you? Into a ragtag group of misifts, running away from their problems and leaving misery wherever they go. Mollymauk died because of you. You think he has forgiven you? Your brother was a better person than you will ever be. They did not want you, Beauregard. What makes you think that anyone will ever want you?”

Beau is shivering, cold sweat breaking out on her brow. She is blind but terrible pictures appear in front of her inner eye, Molly dead, her father shouting, Antoine’s cold, pale body lying broken in the grass–

“Beau, don’t listen to him!”

Beau shakes her head. She realizes that she’s crying while the demon pries into her mind, searching for the deepest and darkest places.

“They will leave you sooner or later”, the demon whispers and Beau is hit by a wave of nausea when she hears the satisfaction in the raspy voice. “They don’t even like you, Beauregard. You are unloveable, unknowable, unwanted.”

“Beau!”

Beau sinks to her knees because she cannot stand any longer.

“Stop talking shit about. My. Friend!”, Jester shouts. Beau is just a shivering mess now, the voice echoing through her head.

“Beau, it’s alright”, Caduceus’ voice is right beside her and a big, warm hand is carefully put on her back.

“We’re not going anywhere”, Nott croaks and she sounds as if she’s been crying. This demon is the worst.

“You think you can say anything to me that is worse than the shit I keep telling myself every night, you fucker?”, Beau hears Caleb say and then there’s a loud explosion and a terrible scream, followed by the crackling of flames.

“Beau, it’s over. Everyone is alive. Are you still blind? I can help!”, Jester’s voice is shaky as she places her hands on Beau’s face and a second later her eyesight returns to her.

She suddenly wishes that she was still blind so she wouldn’t have to look into all of their concerned faces.

“‘M fine”, she croaks, mortified, still shaking and embarrassed.

“You are not fine, you’re a terrible liar”, Jester says quietly and hugs her. Beau stifles a sob and before she can say anything else, Caduceus has joined the hug and then Nott buries her little green face in Beau’s side and then Beau can’t see anything anymore because there are tuffs of pink, blue and purple hair in her face.

“He’s the worst fucker we ever killed”, Molly mumbles somewhere beside her.

“Yah. He’s such a dick!”, Jester exclaims.

“You are not unloveable, Beauregard. You are not”, Caleb says.

Beau wishes she could stop crying but the tears just keep coming while she buries her face in Jester’s shoulder.

“We love you so much, Beau”, Jester whispers. “So, so much.”

“Love you, too”, Beau sniffs and keeps holding on for dear life.

“We’ll never leave you, it’s a promise.”

Beau hopes that some time in the near future, she can whole-heartedly believe it.

Chapter Text

It’s all fucking weird, is what it is.

Beau isn’t really enthusiastic about celebrating Winter’s Crest, but Jester and Molly are ecstatic.

Molly and Jester are usually unstoppable when they get an idea into their heads so Beau simply doesn’t say anything.

“What is this Winter’s Crest?”, Caduceus asks curiously. Beau tries very hard not to snort and she keeps her mouth shut about her thoughts on Winter’s Crest. Because for her, Winter’s Crest had always been a chance for her parents to parade Beau around for the entirety of the distant relatives and some more influential neighbors.

Questions like “How are your studies going?”, or even worse “Is there a boy you like, my dear?” had been peppered with comments about her appearances. Some scars here and there, a bruise or split lip and often enough voiced worries about the fact that Beau was too lean and muscular for a girl, too intimidating with her glares and her rough voice to be pleasing for men.

Beau always wished to tell every single one of those people exactly what she thought about them. But while she was dragged around in terrible dresses she never would’ve worn otherwise, she always, always looked for a piece of approval.

She never got what she was looking for.

“Oh, you know, it’s a celebration with lots of pretty lights and you exchange gifts and stuff and it’s really nice! Most people don’t celebrate it in Nicodranas but my Mom used to throw big Winter’s Crest parties and she would sing and when all the guests left she would come to my room and give me lots of presents! It’s really lovely, you know”, Jester says and a dreamy smile appears on her face.

“That sounds very nice indeed”, Caduceus says. “I can cook us something festive.”

“That would be awesome! Molly! Caduceus is going to cook us really delicious food!”

Beau watches and shrinks back into herself. She wants to be happy because Jester is having so much fun, but she never got any gifts. All she got were dismissal, raised eyebrows and needling questions.

“Since we don’t have much money we should all write our names down and put them into a bag and then everyone draws a name and buys a gift for the person they got!”

No one is going to comment on your rough voice or your bruises in this group, you dumb shit, Beau tells herself. Just suck it up.

She writes down her name and pulls a piece of paper from the bag. She draws Caleb’s name and buys him a warm pair of gloves and a book about magical runes, just because she has some money to spare and she wants to see Caleb smile.

Plus, she never wants to see her friend stick his cold hands into a loaf of bread again. No one deserves that.

When Winter’s Crest comes, it is with lots of snow and a Goblin attack in the middle of the road. They come out battered and bruised but alive and victorious and they find a big group of fir trees under which the ground is mostly dry and Caleb starts a fire while Caduceus gets his cooking utensils ready.

Molly teaches them songs he learned at the carnival. Even Yasha sings along, her voice barely audible over Jester’s and Molly’s enthusiastic yelling. They don’t care if anyone can hear them. Beau has to smile when she sees them sway side by side, so happy to be here.

The food is fantastic and they all get a cup of hot, spiced wine. Beau feels her insides grow warm and she relaxes despite of herself. This is nice. This is… not at all like the celebrations she knows from back home.

“Ok, ok, ok! Let’s exchange presents!”, Jester demands and rummages around in her bag before pulling out a badly wrapped gift and holding it out to Caduceus. Beau fumbles for her packages and clears her throat before throwing them over to Caleb who barely manages to catch them.

“Oh damn, Beau, your black eye looks really cool in the light of the fire!”, Jester exclaims while she shakes the present she got from Yasha.

Beau blinks.

Beauregard, what were you thinking, getting all those bruises right before Winter’s Crest?

She swallows.

Oh damn, Beau, your black eye looks really cool in the fire light!

“Thanks, Jester”, she croaks and takes a small package from Caduceus, who looks at her from across the fire as if he can read her mind.

To her left she can hear Molly laughing hysterically because Nott apparently stole some delightful drugs for him. She watches Caleb carefully unwrapping her presents and as her eyes rest on him, his face starts glowing with excitement as he sees the title of the book.

“Thank you so much, Beauregard. That must have cost you a fortune”, he mumbles and puts on his gloves before starting to skim the pages, his eyes hungry and shining.

“It’s alright. I know how much you love your books”, she says and weighs the gift Caduceus gave to her. It’s wrapped almost as poorly as Jester’s gift.

This is the first gift she ever got for a Winter’s Crest festival.

All the money her parent’s earned was spent for the extravagant festivities and not on Beau.

She unwraps it carefully and looks down at a very small, wooden figurine of an owl.

“I, uh. I made that myself. Noticed how happy you were when Mr Caleb lent you his owl, so I thought…”, Caduceus says with a lopsided grin and shrugs, as if he’s a bit unsure about his gift.

“It’s… it’s awesome. Thanks”, Beau says and swallows heavily while looking at the small owl. “It’s definitely the best gift I ever got for Winter’s Crest.”

Maybe, she thinks, the small owl in her closed fist like a charm to keep your heart warm, maybe Winter’s Crest is nice after all. If you celebrate it with the right people.

Chapter Text

Nott hadn’t realized that Yasha had volunteered for the second watch alongside her when she gets woken up by Fjord.

“Seems to be all quiet”, he mumbles before turning to his bedroll. Nott nods while she rubs her eyes. The moon is up high in the sky and Nott wraps herself in her bedroll and leans against one of the trees surrounding them.

When she turns her head she sees Yasha sitting a few feet away, looking into the dying light of the embers between them.

“Do you want me to scan the perimeter?”, Nott asks. Yasha’s head turns slightly and Nott shivers a bit in the cold. Looking at Yasha is always an adventure, Nott finds. There is barely ever an expression on Yasha’s face but just like traps Nott has gotten better to look for clues.

Like an almost invisible tug in the corner of Yasha’s mouth or a crinkle in her brow.

“I think it’s fine”, Yasha says and turns her face up to look at the moon. It’s almost full, Nott notices.

They sit together for almost an hour with neither of them speaking until Yasha adjusts herself and clears her throat.

“Nott. I meant to ask you something”, she says quietly.

Nott blinks in surprise and searches Yasha’s face for any kind of indication regarding the nature of Yasha’s question but she finds nothing.

“Ok?”

“So… I was wondering. Um. Where did you get your name? Is that… is that a name you earned or did you get it right after you were born?”

Nott pulls up her shoulders and sighs.

“It was given to me”, she mumbles, shifting uncomfortably in her bedroll. “But, you know. It’s more like. It’s not really the truth. My clan gave it to me as a joke because I’m afraid of everything. There is no comma, you know. It’s… it’s a pun.”

Yasha stays silent for a few minutes after that, apparently contemplating Nott’s words. Nott feels ashamed because that name is a joke and it reminds her of her shortcomings every day.

“I feel like… I feel like maybe it’s more like a promise. Something you grow into”, Yasha says without looking at Nott, her eyes still turned skywards at the moon.

Nott doesn’t know what to say to that, but she likes the idea of it. Earning the name hateful people have given her as a joke. Reclaiming it.

“I think you are very brave”, Yasha adds and gives her a small smile.

Nott smiles back and feels warmth spread through her. From someone as brave as Yasha, that compliment means a lot.

“My tribe gave me a name, too, you know”, Yasha continues. Nott feels her ears perk up as Yasha says that.

“They did? Is it a good name?”, she wants to know.

Yasha seems to consider that question for a while, then she shakes her head.

“No. It’s. It’s a cruel name. I don’t like it much. They called me Orphan Maker.”

Nott gasps and a small cloud forms in front of her face.

“Why would they give you a name like that?”

Yasha shrugs and shifts around.

“I am good at killing people. I guess that’s why.”

Nott sees the hurt in Yasha’s face and thinks about Yasha’s kind words, suggesting that “the Brave” might be a promise Nott can grow into.

“Maybe sometimes names that other people give you just suck because those people don’t know you at all”, Nott says. “You can choose to put it away.”

Yasha looks at her, her head tilted.

“Why didn’t you put yours away?”

“I don’t know. I guess it felt like cheating?”

Yasha snorts.

“So you want me to put mine away but kept yours?”

“I’m really not an expert on these things, you know. All I know is that what you said was really nice and I wanted to say something nice, but I feel like it’s gone wrong now. I’m sorry, I guess. But I figured we all get to choose our destinies, so… some people grow into their skins and some discard it, it seems logical to me.”

Nott grabs her flask and starts drinking to warm herself and wash away some of the anxiety she feels creeping under her skin. When she looks up again Yasha is watching her.

“Maybe you should be Nott the Wise”, Yasha says. Nott grins and offers Yasha her flask.

“Maybe you should be Yasha the Kind.”

Yasha snorts, takes the flasks and smells it before taking a swig and pulling a face.

“To choosing our own destinies”, she says and hands the flask back to Nott.

“I’ll drink to that.”

Chapter Text

Beau isn’t sure where one thing ends and the other begins.

Calling Jester her best friend comes easy at a certain point. Hugging her is no longer weird and she got better at it over time. Jester even complimented Beau on her superior hugging skills.

It only took Beau, like… twenty tries to get it right.

Jester is a person who always likes touching others. So Beau refuses to read anything into it when Jester puts her head on Beau’s shoulder, or hugs her goodnight or gives her a kiss on the cheek.

It’s just what Jester does.

And besides, Jester doesn’t like girls. So it’s not like Beau would come very far with thoughts about Jester as more as a friend.

She’s content.

It’s fine.

Maybe she has a stupid crush but she definitely won’t let it ruin this perfect thing. This friendship with Jester is the best thing that ever happened to Beau and she refuses to fuck it up.

So when Jester asks if she can sleep in Beau’s bed one night Beau doesn’t think twice about it.

This is just the way Jester is.

“Sure”, she says with a hammering heart in her chest and a flutter in her stomach.

This is fine, she tells herself when Jester snuggles close to Beau.

Beau might be the little spoon but she sure as fuck won’t tell anyone that.

It happens more frequently after that. Whenever they turn into an inn, Jester asks if she could come over to sleep in Beau’s bed. After a few weeks, she simply stops asking and discards the second bed in their room completely.

This is perfectly normal, Beau thinks. It’s what friends do.

Having Jester in her arms every night is wonderful and terrible at the same time. Jester smells really nice–like sweet baked goods and jasmine and weirdly enough of snow.

When Beau wakes up and Jester is still sleeping she looks at her, all sprawled out across Beau, one of her blue legs shoved over Beau’s legs and her small blue hand on Beau’s brown belly.

Their colors look really nice together.

“So, Beau”, Jester says one day while she gets ready for the night and takes off all her rings. “I was wondering. I really love all the snuggling and hand holding and stuff. It’s awesome, for sure!”

Beau blinks in confusion and sits up a bit straighter. Maybe Jester wants to stop? Maybe it was all too much? Beau feels sweat breaking out on her forehead.

“But, you know. Um, I tried to give you lots of space, but I thought. You know. I would really love just… to kiss you for hours and maybe touch your boobs some time, and I thought maybe I should ask if you didn’t like that stuff at all? That would be fine, you know, I just wanted to make sure, since all I know about dating is from books and um. The people usually always have a lot of sex, is all. But if you’re not into sex that’s fine, I just wanted you to know that your face is very kissable and. Yah.”

Beau stares at Jester.

“Wh–what?”

Jester smiles and shrugs.

“I never dated before so I just wanted to make sure–”

“Wait. Wait! We’re–we’re dating?”

Jester blinks, than she snorts.

“Don’t be silly, Beau. What else did you think we were doing?”

“I…I, um. Well. I guess, I–ok. Dating. Sure. Uhh. Kissing is great? Sex is great. I totally dig that. Sex, I mean. And kissing. And pretty much everything else, too.”

Jester beams.

“Oh great! So does that mean we can have sex right now?”, she asks. Beau opens her mouth to answer when a fist is hammered against their wall.

“THESE WALLS ARE VERY THIN. JUST LETTIN‘ YOU GUYS KNOW. AND CONGRATS, I GUESS”, Fjord shouts and Jester giggles, before she jumps on the bed with Beau and nearly tackles her off it.

“So we’ll have to be extra quiet”, she whispers. Beau is pretty sure that she might die any minute now.

Falling asleep beside Jester is awesome. Falling asleep beside Jester while officially dating her is the best thing in the world.

Chapter Text

In hindsight, Beau tried to recollect any memories she might have of ever wanting a child, but she couldn’t recall ever having a need for. Well. For a small human to be dependent on her.

Then a small hand slipped into Beau’s pocket on the streets of Port Damali and–Beau hadn’t known it in this instant, of course, but–her world was tipped upside down.

Now Beau sits on a soft cushion in the Inn they rented rooms in and watches Loni eat three donuts with alarming speed. There’s sugar and colorful sprinkles all over her green face, her tusks seemingly getting in the way with the sweet baked goods that Jester provided.

“She has some serious balls, trying to pick my pockets”, Beau says, her arms crossed and an amused smile tugging at her lips.

“Why did you bring her here?”, Fjord wants to know, his voice hushed. Beau shrugs.

“Look at her. The kid hasn’t eaten in what looks like forever.”

Loni shoots Fjord a look, her eyes skimming his face as she tries to figure out if he’s indeed also a half-orc or just a green-skinned human or something else entirely. Her eyes rest on his mouth with the missing tusks for a few seconds, then she grabs the fourth donut.

“How long have you been living on the streets, Loni?”, Jester wants to know. She sits right beside Loni and there’s still a bit of powdered sugar on her chin from eating one of the donuts herself–a record low for Jester, who usually eats at least three donuts.

Loni shrugs.

“I was in one of those orphanages, but I didn’t like it much. Everyone was mean. So I ran away.”

She eyes them all, her dark eyes shining with mistrust.

“Why you askin’? I don’t wanna go back there. You can’t make me!”

“Oh, don’t worry, Loni”, Jester says and ruffles the kid’s short, black hair. “We won’t make you go anywhere you don’t want to go. Well. You know, except maybe when you don’t like bakeries, then I might have to take you, because where else would I get all my pastries? Or when you get ill and don’t want to see a healer, then maybe.”

Loni stares as Jester, then at Beau.

“She’s weird.”

Beau snorts. She ignores the fact that Jester talks as if she wants to keep Loni around, but then again Beau shouldn’t be surprised. It was the same thing with Kiri and Beau can’t deny the knot in her stomach when she thinks about letting Loni go back to the streets.

“Well, we’re all pretty weird. ‘S that bother you?”

Loni shrugs.

“I guess I’m weird. Everyone always said so.”

She seems to be lost in thought. Jester grabs Beau’s hand and Beau’s heart flutters. It’s been over five months but Beau still hasn’t gotten used to having a girlfriend. Having Jester as her girlfriend. Loni catches the movement and her eyes flicker over to their entwined fingers.

“Are you two married?”

Jester giggles.

“Well, not yet. But you know, maybe in like… two years or something. I would look really pretty in a wedding dress”, she says and wiggles her eyebrows at Beau. Beau’s throat is very dry and she makes an undignified sound instead of answering coherently.

“Soo, Loni”, Jester says and cleans the last remains of the donuts from Loni’s face. “Do you want to stay with us for a while?”

Beau hears Fjord and Caleb take a breath in to object but Nott and Jester drown out every protest immediately.

“Can you teach me how to pick pockets?”, Loni asks Beau. Beau would like to say that she is not flattered and feels no endearment at all. But it would be a blatant lie.

“I think it might do Miss Loni good to come with us and eat something else than pastries and learn to pick pockets without getting caught”, Caduceus says with a lopsided grin.

“Picking pockets is a skill worth having. But maybe you should let Nott teach you”, Molly says and sticks his tongue out in Beau’s direction. Beau flips him off, which makes Loni giggle.

Jester looks absolutely delighted by the sound.

“Oh! We’re going to have so much fun!”, she says and simply dives in for a hug, squishing Loni against her chest. Beau watches the two of them and there is a pull in her chest.

Maybe there might be children some day in the future. Well. Maybe sooner than later.

Maybe now. For a while.

Chapter Text

"Isn't it a bit messed up you use mushrooms in your cooking, Mr Clay?"

Caduceus looks up from his pot, the fresh herbs he put into the food for this evening still visible on the surface of the soup he’s currently cooking. He cocks his head and watches the mushrooms swimming in his creation and ponders the thought that Miss Nott just voiced out loud.

“Why do you think mushrooms are ‘fucked up’?”, he asks eventually, his thoughts stuck on a formation of herbs that kind of looked like a horse just a second ago. It occurs to him that he doesn’t know whether horses eat mushrooms.

Which brings him back to Nott and her question.

“Well, aren’t they like. You know. Your people?”

Caduceus blinks and pulls his mind away from horses and herbs, stirs his soup and hums quietly under his breath before coming to the conclusion that Nott apparently thinks that Caduceus is made of mushrooms.

“So you think this soup is me practicing cannibalism?”

Nott bends over the soup and stares at the small grey mushrooms.

“I don’t know nothing. But you talk to plants and mushrooms all the time!”

“It’s polite, isn’t it?”

“So. Mushrooms aren’t your people?”

Caduceus laughs.

“I don’t think so. Mushrooms are great, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think they’re people. I mostly consider my family my people. And you guys.”

Nott nods, as if she understands that sentiment.

“Ok. Then I’ll try that soup, I suppose. Even though I have to say, Mr Clay, I really miss bacon.”

Caduceus stretches out his hand and pets Nott’s head.

“So bacon is not as ‘fucked up’ as my mushrooms?”, he wonders aloud.

Nott stares at him as if she hadn’t considered this. Caduceus can’t fault her. Daily routine is a hard thing to think about because it’s simply always there, like the air you breathe. When you start thinking about breathing it suddenly feels weird to imagine the way your lungs suck in the air and–

“I guess I’m just not a fan of mushrooms. They look squishy.”

“I can give you a bowl without mushrooms in it.”

“Thank you, Mr Clay. I’ll go think some more about bacon now.”

“You do that, Miss Nott. I’ll call when the food is ready.”

Chapter Text

"Beau," Jester asks out of the blue one night on watch, "what was your first kiss like?"

Beau turns her head to look at Jester’s face in the dying light of the fire they made in the middle of their camp. She doesn’t have to think too long about why Jester wants to know this.

Beau knows that Fjord saved Jester from drowning. Jester admitted to Beau that it was her very first kiss, though Beau feels like this shouldn’t count as a first kiss. It wasn’t intended as one, Jester was dying, and just pressing your mouth to another person’s lips to breathe air into their lungs doesn’t count as a kiss in Beau’s book.

But to Jester, it meant something. Because it was the first one. And it was Fjord who did it. So Beau swallows all her comments and clears her throat. She hopes that she can take some of the rough edges out of her voice.

“Oh you know. It was. Something, I guess. Her name was Maddie Hawthorne. She was a. Well. Like a neighbor. We were sixteen and uh. I snuck out of the house to meet her in the wine fields. It was ok as far as first kisses go. Lots of teeth clacking. Bit wet. We didn’t really know what we were doing, you know.”

Jester giggles at those last descriptions and Beau grins.

“And did you kiss many girls since then?”, Jester wants to know.

Beau considers lying out of habit, but she clears her throat again and leans back a bit.

“Nah. Like… maybe three. And Keg was one of ‘em.”

“She seemed very cool. You know, with that stubble and all the weapons and stuff.”

“Yeah. She was pretty cool.”

Jester goes quiet for a while as if she tries to recall the exact ways in which Keg was cool–Beau thinks of Keg quite often and rather fondly–and when she speaks again her voice is surprisingly small.

“Do you think I would be a bad kisser?”

Beau thinks of the countless times Jester has joked about having seen countless dicks before, having experiences galore. Another layer of Jester’s giddy, happy exterior peeled away in the dark of the night.

“No. Why would you think that?”

Jester shrugs and tries for a smile but it falls short.

“I don’t know. Aren’t most people bad kissers when they haven’t tried it enough?”

Beau considers.

“I mean. It’s not wrong to suck at the beginning? It’s a first kiss with another person anyway, everyone kisses differently, you know? So you have to practice together to get good at it. And when you kiss another person, it’s a new first kiss again, I guess. I mean. To be honest, if you don’t bite the other person’s tongue or just drool all over their face you’re good.”

Jester giggles again, this time a bit louder and she adjusts herself in her bedroll, considering Beau’s words.

“So, um. You know, would you–I trust you and I think you would tell me if it was terrible but it wouldn’t be bad because then you could also tell me how to do it better, you know?”

Beau blinks and her eyes flicker over to Jester who now worries her bottom lip with her teeth and pokes some moss on the ground beside her.

“You want me to kiss you?”, Beau asks, her voice a bit hoarse all of a sudden. Jester is very pretty and none of Beau’s kisses meant anything more than just kissing.

Kissing Jester would definitely mean more.

“Well, you know, only if you want to.”

Beau thinks about telling Jester that her heart flutters whenever Jester hugs her or smiles at her, but that isn’t what Jester wants to hear. Or what she needs.

“I mean. You’re very pretty. Anyone would be lucky to kiss you”, Beau says and flashes Jester a grin and Jester answers in kind, her face now a bit more relaxed.

“Ok. So it’s a date”, Jester whispers conspiratorially. Beau feels her insides tighten.

“It’s a date”, she answers.

Chapter Text

Caleb watched, stricken, as Beau's limp form fell from the deck.

She had caught an arrow meant for him just a second ago, her lip bloody and split, one of her eyes swollen shut and she had still managed to throw him a red grin.

Now Caleb hears Jester and Yasha scream Beau’s name as the guy whose arrow struck Beau in the chest laughs.

Caleb’s thoughts race as he considers. He is not a good swimmer, he’s really not. And he is not strong. Who knows if he could even get Beauregard out of the water.

You’re a coward, Caleb Widogast. She took that arrow for you and you’re standing here frozen–

“Stop wallowing and save her!”, Yasha screams. She is locked in battle with two men, her eyes are furious when she shoots Caleb a glance. Caleb realizes he’s the only one not locked down in combat.

It’s because you’re always so far in the back, hiding, the voice whispers.

He looks over the railing and he can still see Beauregard’s body. He can also hear Jester crying for her best friend.

“I’ll go if you can’t, Caleb”, Nott yells a few feet away from him, her yellow eyes big and full of terror at the thought of jumping into the ocean. Nott the Brave, indeed.

Caleb swallows. He thinks about Beauregard’s grin, about her hand on his shoulder when he can’t see, about the way Beau still looks at him the same even after she heard his story, about how she went with him to the library even though she hates reading, her happy smile when he gave her Frumpkin as a tiny owl for a week, her presence an ever reliable anchor–

Caleb jumps.

The icy water greets him like the grasp of a grave. He gulps for air after resurfacing. Up above the battle still rages, a familiar Woosh tells him that Fjord cast his black tentacles.

The waves work against him as he tries to get closer to Beauregard’s motionless body. She will sink anytime now, he knows, and then he’d have to dive.

What if there are sharks in the water below. What if there are worse things I don’t even know the name of? Caleb’s hand reaches Beauregard’s arm and pulls her body towards him. She is as cold as the waves tossing them around, her face bloody and slightly blue now under the usually vibrant brown of of her skin.

“Hey, my friend. Don’t die”, he gasps. His coat weighs him down and he scolds himself for not leaving it. He thinks about his books now soaked in water but they feel less real somehow, compared to the motionless body of a friend in his arms.

A friend.

Caleb tightens his grip, holding Beauregard close while kicking with his legs against the currents. They’re already too far away from the ship, so he utters some familiar arcane words. In the splashing of the ocean, the battle raging and the storm howling around them he almost can’t hear his own incantation.

Then he feels himself lift up out of the water as the levitation spell takes hold, raising him up into the air. Beauregard weighs too much for him, she’s made of muscle and feels like a heavy sack filled with sand in his grasp. Caleb holds on tight.

It’s the only thing he can do. His whole body screams at him, his muscles aching from swimming in this unwelcoming, black, endless depth and now carrying Beauregard’s weight in the air while rain pours down on him.

He looks at her lifeless face.

“Hold on a bit longer”, he rasps, the corners of his eyes burning, as an invisible force gently pushes him forward. Caleb sees Nott standing at the railing, her hands outstretched while her mage-hand maneuvers them back to the ship. Caleb can make out the massive void of black tentacles close to the mast, a giant purple lollipop right next to it.

As soon as they’re hovering over the ship, Caleb feels Beauregard slip from his arms, but Yasha is right there, catching Beau’s lifeless body.

She looks up at Caleb and he swallows.

“Stop wallowing and save her!”

“Good job”, Yasha mumbles as Caleb let’s his spell goes and sinks down on the deck beside Beauregard and Yasha.

“Don’t mention it.”

Friendship is a dangerous thing. It makes you take the craziest actions, like jump into a raging, bottomless ocean to save someone that has, knowingly or unknowingly, saved you countless times before.

“I don’t think it was your fault.”

When Caduceus rushes over and lays his big hands on Beauregard’s chest until the blue color disappears and the vibrant brown returns, Caleb thinks that he would do it again, as often as it takes, to save Beauregard the same way she saved him.

Chapter Text

"Hey Caduceus? Y'know your staff beetles? Have you named them?"

Caduceus opens one eye, blinking against the sunlight. Jester is drawing in her sketchbook right beside him and he can see a pretty accurate picture of Fjord with his head on fire, a scene that aspired just three hours ago when one of Caleb’s Scorching Rays went astray. He wonders if there’s a spell that can make hair grow faster. If there is, he hasn’t heard of it, but it might be quite popular in the right places.

“I’m sorry, you were saying?”

Jester looks up from her drawing.

“Your beetles. Have you named them?”

Caduceus looks at his staff and thinks of his beetles living in there. Sometimes he imagines them having small rooms of their own, living their best comfortable life in there. There are probably beetles that prefer wide, open spaces, but Caduceus is confident that his beetles are happy where they are now.

“Oh, no. They are not mine to give names to. They just share my space, you know. They have names on their own.”

Jester draws a small beetle.

“I wonder what kind of names beetles give themselves”, she says.

Caduceus is delighted about everything Jester says, she radiates so many qualities he enjoys, sometimes he wonders how she bottles it up into this small frame. Maybe some time she’ll burst and make sunflowers grow all around her. That’s what Jester feels like. And Caduceus really likes sunflowers.

“They have really strong accents, it’s hard to understand.”

Jester giggles and shows him her drawing of three small beetles.

“You are a strange one, Caduceus. I really like you. And your beetles are super pretty”, Jester says and puts her head on Caduceus’ shoulder. “Do you think their names are more like… Harold and Karen or more like… Anatolia and Luberius or like… maybe… Bssssst and Fsssshhh?”

Caduceus laughs and let’s his head rest on Jester’s, careful not to poke himself with her horns.

“I feel like there might be a bit of everything of that. But I have to tell you, Anatolia is a very nice name. I hope one of them is called like that.”

“I really like Bssssst. It’s probably a very fashionable name for beetles.”

Caduceus smiles and let’s his beetles come out of the staff. He’ll have to take Jester’s words for it, he doesn’t know much in terms of fashionable stuff.

“Hello beetles”, Jester hums happily.

“Hello Jester”, Caduceus says, just as happily.

Chapter Text

“Say, Nott. Have you ever been in love?”, Jester wants to know.

Nott sits beside her in the grass while they make flower wreaths for everyone. From a little distance she can hear Fjord teaching sea shantys to Caduceus and Mollymauk.

Their singing is extraordinarily terrible but Nott enjoys the feeling of the moment. It’s peaceful. Caleb is transcribing spells to the left, Yasha sharpens her sword and Beau is somewhere close to her, doing push-ups. Probably to impress Yasha with her muscles.

Nott considers the question and searches inside herself for an answer she thinks she’s known for quite some time now. She wonders if she should tell Jester about it, since Jester seems very invested in romantic love stories.

There is a pause while Nott fumbles with the blue-ish flowers she’s chosen for Caleb’s wreath. Then she thinks about the things Jester has shared with her before about first kisses and other private things.

“No, I don’t think so. I don’t think–I don’t think that particular kind of love is for me.”

Jester looks up. Her wreath is made of white and pink flowers and her fingers stop moving.

“What do you mean?”

Nott pulls up her shoulders. She feels like this is yet another thing that marks her as an outsider, aside from being a goblin and being called a boy for most of her childhood despite telling everyone that she was a girl.

She makes herself as small as possible when she continues speaking.

“Oh, you know I–I just. Um. I’ve never been in love and I don’t think that–that it’s something that’s going to happen to me. Not because. Not because there isn’t anyone out there who might like me that way. Just. It’s just not how I feel about people.”

Nott likes people as friends. She might even like kissing someone again some time in the future. But falling in love is an abstract concept that feels out of her reach even though, from time to time, she thought about it. Just because the world was full of romance and love. Everyone always talked about it. It made her wonder if she was broken.

Although this is a part of her that she actually likes. It’s something that belongs to her, and just her, even though no one might understand.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard about something like this before”, Jester says and cocks her head. Nott looks up and searches for judgement or a hint of questions she’s asked herself a thousand times before.

Maybe you haven’t met the right person? Of course there’s someone out there, there’s someone for everyone! Love is a beautiful thing, don’t you want to experience it?

“Me neither”, Nott says and shows Jester her finished wreath. “It’s just one part of who I am, I guess.”

Jester nods and inspects Nott’s wreath.

“I suppose it makes sense, when some people like men and other people like women and some like more than one thing, that there are people who just don’t like any of it.”

Nott blinks and watches Jester beam at Nott’s flower wreath, gushing about how pretty it is. Jester seems to think that it isn’t a big deal at all even though she loves romance novels and talking about romantic date ideas. Nott’s throat closes up.

She hadn’t realized how much Jester’s reaction might mean to her. But now she feels a big happy bubble swell inside when she looks at Jester who presents Nott with her finished wreath.

“Is this for me?”, Nott asks. Jester beams.

“Yes! Can I put it on you? Do you like it? I think it will look so pretty on you!”

“Ok”, Nott says and smiles, putting her wreath aside. She can give it to Caleb in a minute. Now she wants to revel in the feeling that Jester really is a wonderful friend. Someone who likes Nott just as she is, even though she is a goblin who steals and drinks too much and is afraid most of the time and hates water and doesn’t fall in love with people. And she loves Jester so very much for it.

Chapter Text

"You must be proud, they just killed their first dragon."

“Oh, you know. I raised them well”, Molly answers with a grin in his face that doesn’t quite feel like his face anymore. It’s very much as if his whole body’s lost structure and while he finds that feelings slightly disconcerting, he doesn’t care too much.

There is a very hot man sitting right next to him, long black hair, a pointed face with blue eyes, a black, feathered piece of armor adorning his chest and slender, long fingers that Molly’s eyes rest on for a few seconds, before turning his gaze back to the scene down below.

“Plus, technically, it wasn’t them that killed it. Still proud though, I have to say”, he adds and leans back. Molly can’t even quite pinpoint where he’s sitting, though it’s clear that he’s looking down.

Kind of absurd, really, that it feels as if he’s watching them from the place many people call heaven. Might just be the astral plane, as far as he knows. But Molly never delved too deeply into the whole “What happens after death” thing. He is–was always more of a “living in the moment” kind of guy.

“Such a critic”, the hot guy says with a grin. Molly looks at him again. He looks. Well. He doesn’t look dead. He looks kind of otherworldly, but not in a scary, unpleasant kind of way. There is a shadow behind him that almost looks like huge, black wings.

Molly laughs. It sounds the same as before. He’s glad that he’s still himself.

“So”, he says, because as much as he likes watching them, it also hurts because he can’t be with them. “Who are you, exactly?”

The stranger turns his head and looks at him.

“I am Vax’ildan, Champion of the Raven Queen. I’m here to, well. Pick you up and help you get to the other side safely.”

Molly nods, impressed.

“Champion, huh? So, what? I get a special kind of service because I’m so charming?”

Vax’ildan chuckles.

“The charm is definitely a bonus. But it’s just that, well. My employer likes to have an eye out for people who have been here and then have gone back again. To make sure it doesn’t happen too often.”

Molly nods. He guesses that the Goddess of Death would make a shitty job if she just let every random person wake up from their supposedly eternal slumber again.

“So. Do we have to go right now?”, he wants to know. Molly isn’t sure that he’s ready to move on. He had such a short life, and sure. He knew that he was living on borrowed time. But he did enjoy living. He enjoyed being himself. And he does feel like there was still so much he wanted to do with them. And with Yasha. Especially with Yasha.

“I think I can give you a bit more time”, Vax’ildan answers. Molly watches Beau talking to the new guy, a very tall, strangely pink fellow with a very calm, soothing voice.

Molly turns his head to regard Vax’ildan again. He wouldn’t be himself anymore if he wasn’t still able to appreciate beautiful people.

“Are people over here on this side like–single? Or automatically taken by your Raven Queen?”

Vax’ildan laughs.

“That’s kind of a complicated question. Why?”

Molly shrugs.

“Oh, you know. Might as well make as much of my time as possible. That’s what I always did.”

Vax’ildan nods approvingly, still slightly grinning.

“That’s a good approach to life. Or death. That’s how I tried to do it when I was still alive.”

Vax’ildan is quiet for a while and Molly wonders if he forgot his question, but then the Champion of the Raven Queen let’s his eyes wander from Molly’s horns down to the tip of his tail and a playful smiles flashes across his face.

“But, as fate might have it, I have a little more time on my hands”, he says.

Molly laughs full of delight.

“And what nice hands you have, Mr Vax’ildan. I’m sure we can find good use for those.”

Chapter Text

"Are you going to kill me, Beauregard?"

Beau cocks her head and regards Caleb. In some ways, he is still the same Caleb she met three years ago, his beard a bit unkempt, a little dirt on his coat. But mostly, Beau has a hard time recognizing him now. He stands tall without his hands fidgeting at his sides, his blue eyes boring into hers as if eye contact hadn’t been an issue for him just a few weeks ago.

Beau takes a deep breath while she steadies her stance and tries to empty her mind.

This thing is not your friend. It might look like him, talk like him. But is not the man you trust with your life.

“You know. It was always my job to do things others couldn’t do, Caleb”, she answers and carefully cracks her knuckles.

“So you left them behind?”, Caleb wants to know.

“They said that they wanted to save you. That we could still help you. But I followed a trail of burning corpses to get to you and I know that you’re beyond saving”, she says, the half-lie rolling of her tongue easily.

Omit the truth.

Caleb looks at her as if she’s an interesting test-subject.

“I knew I should’ve been more careful around you.”

Beau smiles.

“You are now part of a corrupt system, Caleb. It’s my job to punch corrupt systems in the fucking face. So put down the dodecahedron, or I will punch you in the face so hard even your ancestors can feel it.”

Beau knows that she doesn’t have a lot of time. She can feel the strange energy pulling at her. This magic needs to end. It corrupted her friend, it tears time to shreds and she cannot let Caleb do what he intends to do.

“You know I can’t”, Caleb says. There’s almost a hint of regret in his voice. “I’ll undo what I did and none of the things I did to make it happen will count. It will all be undone.”

“See, this is where we’re different, Caleb. At least I’m owning up to the shit I did instead of tearing down the whole world to pretend that I can clean my hands off of my mistakes.”

There are many things she wants to say. About how she cares for him. How all of them care for him. She remembers a conversation about caring, about throwing yourself into the fire for someone else. And now here she stands, a corrupted friend in front of her, tainted by the magic he intends to use to undo the world.

Jester’s voice rings through her mind.

You’re the only one who can do it. Beau, you have to be the one to end it, he will believe no one else. None of us can pull it off.

Beau takes a deep breath.

I will save you, my friend, she thinks.

Then she charges.

Chapter Text

The battered body lay still on the ashen ground, blood glimmering in the sunlight. "I'm so-I'm so sorry."

Caleb can’t comprehend what just happened. He felt all the power of the world at his fingertips, the beacon pulsing with energy. His mind had been so clear, so focused. In that very moment he had been sure that he could finally bend time to his will, make everything ok again.

Until Beauregard threw herself at him.

“Are you going to kill me, Beauregard?”

When he looked at her then, she just seemed so insignificant compared to the power at his fingertips. Now, as she lies at his feet, the shattered beacon beside her, Caleb is sure that he had never seen anything less insignificant than Beauregard.

His best friend.

His best friend.

Beauregard, who came alone to fight against a wizard drunk on the power of dunamancy with a powerful artifact in his hand. Beauregard, who destroyed the beacon despite Caleb’s confidence that someone who could not use magic would not be able to touch it at all.

“See, this is where we’re different, Caleb. At least I’m owning up to the shit I did instead of tearing down the whole world to pretend that I can clean my hands off of my mistakes.”

Caleb touches the shards of the beacon, still glimmering in a smoky, grey light.

“Please. Just this one–just this small miracle”, he rasps.

The grey light surrounding the shards seems to vibrate as his hand reaches for it. He can almost hear Beauregards voice in his head.

Own up to your mistakes.

The miracle doesn’t happen. The magic reacts to his touch, but he can’t control it anymore, Beauregard made sure of that when she destroyed the beacon. She made sure Caleb would have to face the consequences for his actions.

“I’m so–so sorry. Beauregard. I don’t have any–I don’t have healing magic.”

For all your might, Caleb Widogast, you cannot save your best friend.

He’s too weak to pick her up. Caleb almost throws up when he realizes the terribly wrong angle in which Beauregard’s arm points away from her body.

He needs Caduceus. Jester. Anyone.

He needs his friends.

Caleb realizes only now that he’s crying, as he holds Beauregard close to his chest, her blood seeping through his cloak.

This is how the others find them. Beauregard dead and motionless in Caleb’s arms, while he cries into her dark hair, the beacon and all its powers forgotten and shattered beside them.

Caleb doesn’t let go of Beauregard when a pair of blue and grey hands carefully touch her lifeless body. He barely notices Nott’s arms wrapped around him from behind, or Molly’s hand on his shoulder, or how Yasha carefully cradles Beauregard’s head in her lap or Fjord’s uncertain voice saying both their names again and again.

“Ow, fuck”, a familiar voice croaks. Caleb almost throws up again. “Still not owning up to your mistakes, huh?”

Caleb clutches Beauregard tighter to his chest, his breathing erratic.

“I’ll try–just. I’m so–sorry. Please don’t die to teach me lessons, Beauregard.”

Beau huffs and squirms but eventually she stills and one arm weakly worms its way around his shoulder.

“‘S all good, man. Good to have you back with us.”

“Good to be back.”

Chapter Text

Beau’s answers on Jester’s repeatedly asked question (”Are you secretly in love with me?”) include:

- “Hell yeah, girl.”

- “Sure.”

- “Since day one, Jessie.”

- “Who else, Jester?”

- “You have no idea.”

They’re all said with a wink and a smile and Jester giggles and nudges Beau with her elbow or throws her a kiss. Beau doesn’t say anything about how her heart always skips a beat. Or how there’s a flutter in her stomach.

It feels good to tell the truth on this one, even though Jester doesn’t realize that it is the truth. Sometimes Beau wonders why Jester keeps asking. She asked Caleb once, but not since then.

Jester only asks this of Beau. And she usually asks it when they’re all together, drinking or talking. Sometimes she asks during fights with bandits or monsters. There’s always weeks between and Beau keeps thinking about every second of the moment, every move of Jester’s hands, her tail, the look in her eyes, how her voice sounded when she asked.

This is what Beau wants to say:

- “Yes. I am so in love with you that I don’t know what to do with myself.”

- “I don’t think I ever loved anyone or anything as much as I love you.”

- “Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.”

It never comes out though.

It gets stuck between a wink and a joke and the rapid beating of Beau’s heart.

Beau is kinda getting used to telling the truth. So this really sucks. Because it’s somehow a truth and still a lie. And she can feel it inside of her, wanting out. Like a caged bird, locked away between her ribs.

Beau fucking hates this.

The next time Jester asks, they’re on second watch together. The others are asleep–Nott is snoring quietly, Caleb is mumbling–and Beau tries to actually make some jewelry.

She always hated it when her parents tried to force her. Now she tries to make a necklace for Jester. It’s supposed to have a ring with a pink jewel on it. But Beau can’t really bring the gem to stick the way she wants it to and she huffs under her breath.

When she looks up Jester is watching her.

Her eyes are gleaming in the dying light of the camp fire and Beau feels her breath catch.

Oh, fuck it.

“Hey, uh. Jess. I wanted to–um. I wanted to tell you something.”

Jester cocks her head and a small smile appears on her lips.

“What? Are you secretly in love with me?”

At this point it feels like a ritual. An inside joke they share. It’s almost as if they developed a script for it.

Well. Beau was never one to follow scripts and rules and directions.

She takes a deep breath, puts her project aside and looks Jester straight in the eye.

“Yes.”

It’s all she manages. No romantic declaration. Just the truth.

Jester blinks and her mouth opens before closing again. Beau knows that Jester understands. This is not meant as a joke.

“Oh.”

For someone who’s usually as talkative as Jester, this seems like a bad sign. But the bird in Beau’s rib cage spreads its wings happily.

“You can just–you know. It doesn’t have to change anything. I just–it’s. Well. You can just forget about it.”

Beau grabs her jewelry again and tries to steady her hands in the following silence. Well, this is it. She let her bird fly but now it might just get shot.

It’s probably still worth it.

“What if I don’t want to forget about it?”, Jester asks.

“What?”

“Well. You know? What if I was really happy to hear you say it?”

Beau has several thoughts in her head. They’re all assholes.

(- “She’s joking. This is a prank.”

- “No one would ever fall in love with you, Beauregard. You’re an asshole and Jester is too good for you.”

- “This is a dream. Wake up, asshole.”

- “You deserve someone way better than me.”)

“I, uh–I. I didn’t really. Think about it?”

Her voice sounds as if it’s made out of dust. She’s pretty sure that her heart might break her ribs from the inside.

“Well, then you can think about it now, ya?”

Beau stares at Jester.

“Ok. Thought about it. Sounds great. Yeah. Awesome.”

Jester giggles and licks her lips.

“Cool. So–” – “Do you want to–”

“Guys. Not to ruin the mood, but we’re tryin’ to sleep here”, Fjord croaks from the left.

Beau really wants to punch him. Very hard.

“Ok, so we’ll talk tomorrow, yeah? Can I sleep in your bedroll later, though?”, Jester whispers.

“Yeah. Ok.”

Chapter Text

Beau is sprawled on the ground beside their tent, looking up at the stars. When she turns her head, she can see Caleb, Nott and Caduceus walk away towards the nearest town to search for books, food and something to steal. Jester is somewhere picking flowers. Fjord is taking a nap in the tent. Yasha is gods-know-where. Beau realizes that she’s not afraid of the group leaving her behind. She watches them go and she knows they’ll come back. Under any circumstances. They would never leave her behind.

It’s not Caduceus’ turn to take his watch, but he can’t sleep. So he listens to the wind in the trees and looks up at the stars while somewhere to his left Jester is drawing some curious dragon-like creatures into her sketchbook while Nott is off to the side making acid. Caduceus breathes the night air in and listens to the scratching of Jester’s pen and the bubbling of Nott’s ingredients. His thoughts drift off and he only comes to when someone carefully touches his shoulder. He looks up and sees Jester handing him a cup of tea. Usually he’s the one making it. It tastes terrible, but Caduceus smiles happily while sipping it. This feels right. This is where he’s supposed to be.

Fjord knows the feeling of restlessness like he knows the back of his hand. Always moving, always on the lookout, always searching, always chasing the horizon. His life has been a constant journey of looking for things he didn’t have or didn’t understand. Now he looks at Beau arm wrestling with Yasha–a futile battle, but Yasha indulges her nonetheless, both of them looking content and a bit flustered. Jester throws pieces of Bacon at Nott who tries to catch them with her mouth. Caleb helps Caduceus reading a book about poisonous mushrooms. And Fjord finds himself settled. His soul is content, his ship not chasing anymore. The horizon is out there, but this is his haven.

Nott closes her fingers around a small, intricate ring with three blue gemstones worked into it. The shop keeper hasn’t noticed her yet and she can hear Caleb talking to him about the latest novel of an author Nott has never heard of before. She puts the ring in her pocket and sneaks out of the shop, the adrenaline pulsing through her. For a second she thinks of reaching for her flask, but she decides against it. It’s getting easier now, to just… not. Jester and Beau are waiting on the outside and Jester wants to see what she got. Nott smiles and gives the ring to Jester as a gift. The anxious buzzing under her skin feels like a memory now. Everything will turn out alright.

Yasha hasn’t seen them in weeks but she knows where they are. For a while it was almost out of habit to find them again, just because she didn’t have anyplace else to be. No one waited for her. No one needed her. Now she finds herself missing the sound of Jester’s laughter, the nervous fidgeting of Caleb’s hands, Caduceus’ soothing voice. She misses Nott’s interested questions and Fjord’s friendly teasing. And she finds herself missing Beau’s glances. Her overwhelming presence, always demanding to be noticed. So when she finally sees them again, camping between some old trees, she feels like coming home.

Jester sends letters very regularly now. Her mom can’t always answer, because sometimes Jester will be on the move for weeks, but she still receives packages and not being home doesn’t feel as foreign now. She walks among the biggest trees she’s ever seen and marvels at all the wonders this world has to offer. The feeling of being able to walk where ever she chooses is new, like a flower in spring. But she loves nursing it. While she wonders how old those trees might be and listens to some birds singing happily, the others at her side, she decides that being free is the most wonderful feeling.

Happiness sneaks up on you when you fight it all along the way. Caleb hasn’t thought about happiness in years. It’s foreign at this point, a language he doesn’t speak and can’t seem to learn–at least that’s what he thinks. It’s a slow process, Caleb understands in retrospect. He can’t say when it started, but it ended like this: After a hard won fight, with every muscle aching and a bruise on his ribs he’ll probably feel for days, they all simply. Crashed where ever they fell. Caleb can feel Beau’s head on his shoulder and Nott’s small frame somewhere behind him. His own head lies on Caduceus’ legs. Somewhere close to Beau, Jester and Yasha are huddled together in some sort of three-way-sandwich with their girlfriend, while Fjord uses Jester’s belly as his pillow. It started without being able to touch anyone. Now Caleb feels like he cannot have them close enough. In this very moment, he feels safe.

Chapter Text

“Do you think I’m hot, Beau?”

It takes Beau every inch of self discipline she has–which is to say, not much at all–to not spit her drink all over her food and the campfire they’re currently sitting around. The question comes as a surprise, because Beau has no idea why it would matter to Jester if Beau of all people thought she was hot.

Beau swallows the sip of her drink hastily, in case Jester decides that it’s time for more personal questions and puts her cup down. Somewhere to her left Caduceus lets out a rather loud snoring noise before turning around and mumbling something in his sleep.

Jester is Beau’s best friend. Jester is also Beau’s helpless crush of many, many weeks.

“I mean. Have you seen your arms, Jester?”, she answers with a grin and Jester blinks and then giggles, her face scrunched up in that adorable way that shows genuine delight.

After a few moments of silence and Beau’s quiet hope that this might be the end of the discussion, Jester speaks up again.

“But like… arms and muscles are not typically… you know. What, um. What guys find hot, right?”

Ah.

Beau’s heart decides to shrivel and die right then and there.

Right.

“Well. Sometimes men are just like, super dumb, y’know? Because muscles are fucking hot. And I’m not one to scoff at boobs or a really nice ass. But. Y’know. Fuck that whole women-should-be-delicate-flowers-to-be-considered-hot-thing”, Beau says with a grunt and hugs her knees to her chest.

Fuck.

Why is this conversation even happening. Jester hums in acknowledgement and stares into the flames for a few moments, before she opens her mouth yet again.

“So… like. Does that mean you think I’m hot?”

Fucking shit, fuck.

“Well. Yeah. If you weren’t like. My best friend and totally into dudes, I’d definitely take you home with me. Duh.”

Jester giggles again and her cheeks turn a darker shade of blue before she hides her face in her hands. When she looks at Beau again, Beau’s heart does a complicated dance move and then just starts feeling as if Caleb cast his Haste spell on it.

“So, do you only find really buff women attractive? Like Yashaaa, or Keg, you know?”

Beau shrugs.

“There’s many different kinds of hot. To be honest, I think I might just find something hot in every woman I meet, women are just fucking awesome.”

Beau regards Jester’s body for a moment. Jester is small and chubby and underneath all that chubbiness are muscles made of steel. Beau didn’t lie exactly, but she hasn’t been completely honest either.

Because Jester’s body type might just be Beau’s favorite. But fuck if she’ll ever say that out loud.

“You know”, Jester starts again after a while, her cheeks still a dark blue, “I think maybe I find muscles on women hot, too.”

What the actual fuck?

“Like… Ok. What?”

Jester glances at her, then away again.

“Well, you know? I think maybe I don’t only like men? I don’t know how that works, but, you know, women are just really pretty and sometimes I look at them and they’re just really wonderful, you know, and in all my books there were only ever men and women and you were like, the first woman I met who is only into other women and I was totally confused for a while and I’m just not sure I even know what I like anymore, you know? But sometimes, when you–when. When, you know, when women are really tough and stuff, that’s just like. Really hot.”

But sometimes, when you–when.

Beau holds her breath and counts to ten to stop herself from blurting anything dumb.

“Yeah. I–uh. I know what you mean”, she croaks. Jester likes women. Maybe.

“So I thought. Um… maybe, if we talk more about what’s hot about women I could, you know? Figure out what I like?”

Beau smiles at Jester. Her insides feel like jelly now, but in a good way.

“Sure. Yeah. We can totally talk about how hot women are”, she says with a grin. Jester beams at her.

“Ok, so you know, I always thought the Bright Queen was like, super pretty…”

Beau listens to Jester talk and cocks her head while watching her. As usual, Jester managed to surprise her and that talk didn’t turn out as horrible as Beau initially expected. Not at all.

Chapter Text

"Shut up, dead people don't talk."

A chuckle answers her from the darkness.

“Don’t be an asshole. You called me here”, Molly’s voice says to her. Beau can’t see him–of course she can’t, she’s trapped in this underground room without her goggles and without any source of light at all–and she wonders if she’s starting to go insane now.

Maybe being locked away in the darkness for a few days will do that to you. Maybe you start hallucinating about your dead friends.

“You’re like, the last person I would ever call. For anything.”

“Didn’t your parents ever teach you not to lie?”

Beau snorts in the darkness and curls in on herself, the hard stone floor pressing into her side and shoulder uncomfortably.

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you that strict parents make the best liars?”

“Hm… no. I guess I missed that part in ‘being someone’s kid 101′.”

Beau is silent for a few moments. Her mind is doing a pretty good job at this whole hallucination thing. This is exactly how Molly would talk, what he would say. She remembers the brief talk they had on the graveyard while ghostly shadows danced around them.

Her childhood had been someone else’s. Molly never had a childhood at all. And now he is dead.

“So, how is it. Being dead?”

“Oh, you know. It’s not as terrible as I thought it would be. There’s a really hot dude flying around with raven wings. When I wink at him he grins. I think he likes me. But. I miss you guys and all the shit we pulled together.”

Beau swallows. She sits up and turns to the direction the voice is coming from. She’s never had any hallucinations before, except the one the drugs made her see after she ate those weird mushrooms.

Carefully, slowly, Beau moves through the darkness of the room to the direction the voice is coming from.

“What are you doing?”, Molly’s voice asks when Beau stretches out a hand.

“I wanna see. If I–if I’m completely fucked up now, or if–if you’re–”

Molly doesn’t answer and Beau swallows again before moving yet another bit closer. Her hand finds something surprisingly solid in the darkness, a shoulder. She finds Molly’s torso–too cold to be alive, but too warm to be dead–and there is no gaping hole between his ribs, no broken bone, no blood.

“My heartbeat is really slow. It’s weirding me out”, Molly says jokingly. And Beau presses her palm down on Molly’s chest and waits.

It takes forever until she hears a heartbeat. Once. Twice. Then nothing again for way too long for a heart that belongs to a solid, living person.

“What–what are you exactly?”, she croaks.

She wants to see her friends. She wants to get out of this room and she wants to see the open sky.

“To be honest, I have no idea. All I know is that you pulled at me and Mr. Hot Raven Wings let me out. From where ever. I’m still figuring it all out. Time is weird on the other side. But anyway. I’m not dead and not alive and you’re in need of some pleasant company.”

Beau feels laughter bubble up in her chest and she holds it down. What comes out is a broken sob.

“Oh hush now”, Molly says, his voice is quiet and surprisingly soothing. “We’ll figure it out. If I can leave being dead behind for you, I’m sure I can find a way out if this. And then you’ll owe me. So many drugs and drinks. Maybe a prostitute or two.”

“Fuck off, Molly”, Beau croaks. Molly doesn’t answer. But he pulls her closer against his cool body and puts his arm around her. She wants to dismiss him, tell him she doesn’t need any comfort from him of all people. But in the end she’s too happy to be close to him again and too afraid of the ever pressing darkness to push him away in a misguided attempt to keep up tough appearances.

“Thanks”, she mumbles.

I missed you so fucking much, you asshole, she thinks.

“It’s no bother at all, unpleasant one.”

Chapter Text

It had been a long time since Jester thought of her deadname, but then again, it made a lot of sense hearing the almost forgotten name while they were visiting Port Damali. Many children here on the coast were named like that, after all. It was a beautiful name–for a boy, at least.

It made Jester consider the fact that Beau’s parents called her daughter by a boy’s name, a name that wasn’t explicitly chosen for Beau at all, but for an idea her parents had about an unborn child.

Jester didn’t think that her mom had an explicit idea about her unborn child. She simply picked a name that she had considered beautiful without really knowing that it wouldn’t much suit Jester at all. How were parents supposed to know, after all? It wasn’t like stupid things such as genitals could tell you anything about your child’s hopes and dreams and feelings and personality.

So, because Jester’s mom was awesome and wonderful and loved her so very much, she hadn’t even blinked when Jester came to her and announced it:

“Mom, I don’t really like my name.”

“And why is that, love?”

“It’s a boy’s name. But I’m not a boy.”

Jester still remembered the look on her mother’s face when she heard the words for the first time and maybe, for just a millisecond, Jester had been afraid that her mother would laugh about it or brush it off. But her mom had hugged her and said the most beautiful words Jester had ever heard.

“I’m so sorry for picking the wrong name, sweetheart. Do you want us to look for a new one together?”

And while Jester technically knew that it wasn’t especially healthy to be confined to a single room for most of her life, at least she never had to deal with children teasing her. Not like those stories Nott sometimes hinted at when she talked about the boys chasing her, making fun of her, sometimes even hurting her for “being a freak”.

When Jester finally picked her name–inspired by her one and only childhood friend–her mom had taken to it immediately. Since then, Jester hadn’t been called by that boy’s name ever again, only by the one she chose herself and of course, her very favorite nickname “Little Sapphire”.

That nickname had been there before the change of names. It was still there now, had been carried over, but not without her mom explicitly asking if it was fine for her to still call Jester like that.

Jester loved her mother so very much.

“Jester, are you ok?”, Nott asked right beside her. Jester blinked and looked down at Nott, someone she shared this piece of her past with. Jester had never asked about Nott’s deadname before and she probably never would.

“Oh, yes! I just heard that woman call her son this name, you know, the one my mom picked for me when I was born, before she knew I was a girl? I just thought about how awesome my mom is.”

Nott’s smile was at the same time happy and sad and Jester thought she understood why.

“That’s really nice, Jester. I’m glad you have a mom like that.”

“Me too. You know, I think that name is really pretty, but it just wasn’t a good name for me at all.”

“I understand.”

“You know, you’re that awesome kind of mom too and Luc is so very lucky to have you!”

Nott beamed up at her and Jester smiled. And when she turned around to follow Nott to meet the others by the docks, she had forgotten about that long lost name again.

Chapter Text

"How do you know you like someone?"

Calianna fiddles with her dress while stealing looks at Jester in the firelight. Jester’s blue skin is beautiful in this light–in any light, really, Calianna thinks–and she wonders how it is that she can find Jester’s horns so pretty while disliking her own so much.

“Well, you know”, Jester says and Calianna automatically smiles when she hears Jester’s voice, “technically I’m not as much of an expert as people think.”

Calianna glances at Jester again while Jester keeps poking the fire with a long stick.

“Like, I read so many books, you know, but then, when I got out into the world more, I feel like it’s all a little different from what they write in those stories, you know?”

Calianna can’t say that she has read many books. Maybe she should have, or she wouldn’t be as clueless as she is now, sitting here on soft, green moss beside a campfire while contemplating the reasons for her accelerated heartbeat.

“How is it different?”, Calianna wants to know. Her throat feels surprisingly dry considering the fact that she just drank quite a lot of water and there’s a tingling in her belly that feels as if a whole bunch of ants are having a delightful party right inside her body.

“I think it’s maybe less… grand? But somehow… more real, you know. Well, technically it really is more real, so that’s kinda dumb, but. I just… I watched Nott and Yeza and how they found each other again and he tucked her into bed and kissed her even though she has so many teeth and they are very soft and they love each other so much and… in the books it’s more like… it’s a lot about sex and running away together and like… wild passion and…”

Jester trails off and looks into the flames, as if they can provide her with the right words for all those feelings.

“But I’m pretty sure they get some things right, you know, like, the butterflies in your stomach and when your heart beats really fast, like, crazy fast, when you look at that person, and when you just want to see them all the time and miss them when they are not around, you know? And also if you want to kiss them, like, a lot. I guess that would be like a total giveaway.”

Calianna swallows and listens inside herself. The ants might as well be butterflies, she supposes. Her heartbeat is definitively faster than it normally would be. And she sure does want to see Jester all the time.

While Jester keeps poking at the fire Calianna carefully steals a glance at Jester’s lips. They look… soft. It probably feels very nice to kiss Jester, to hug and hold her, to touch her hair and…

“Oh”, Calianna says softly into the night. Jester looks up and their eyes meet. The poking stops, but the butterflies or ants or whatever they might be just dance around even more.

“I think I really like you, Jester”, Calianna whispers. Jester blinks and drops her stick into the fire, her eyes going wide and her mouth opening slightly. Then she smiles and Calianna’s breath hitches in her throat.

“Does that mean you want to kiss me, like, all the time?”, Jester asks.

Cali ducks and pushes some hair behind her ear. She can feel her cheeks grow warm and it has nothing to do with the fire.

“M–maybe? I only just realized.”

“Oh. So… do you want to kiss me, like… right now?”, Jester wants to know.

Calianna swallows and then tries for a nod. Jester’s smile is positively blinding. Cali feels like the fire could go out and she would still see Jester glow in the dark.

“You know, in the books this whole reveal would have been totally dramatic with sword fights and shouting and some blood and someone almost dying, you know”, Jester says and scoots closer to Cali until their shoulders are pressed close together and Cali allows herself to exhale shakily.

“But the real stuff is pretty great too, you know”, Jester whispers. Cali can’t speak. She can’t think. The dragon inside her purrs and grins and hisses ‘Mine’ as Jester closes the distance between them and presses her lips against Cali’s.

They’re even softer than Cali has imagined them to be.

Maybe she doesn’t need to read those books after all.

Chapter Text

"Okay, so cradling me was five gold... how much will this cost me?"

Yasha doesn’t answer. Her brows are furrowed in concentration and Beau can see the sweat gleaming on her forehead. Yasha holds Beau in one arm as if she weighs nothing and if there weren’t a total of three arrows sticking out of Beau’s body, she might actually swoon about that.

She’s been swooning for way too long. Swooning is really not her style.

But Yasha seems to wring it out of her–without even trying that is. All she needs to do is almost smile or crack a terrible joke or pet Frumpkin so very carefully and Beau is all but gone.

She’s never felt like this before.

It’s at the same time invigorating and terrifying.

“Be quiet”, Yasha says without reacting to Beau’s weak attempt at jokes and flirting.

Beau in one arm and her big sword in the other, Yasha maneuvers them around a corner. The black nothingness in the corners of Beau’s eyes seems to creep closer and Beau can feel her body grow cold.

She shivers.

Fucking caves with fucking Gnolls and giant spiders and huge ass rats and–

“You cold?”, Yasha whispers. She takes another few steps forward into the mine shaft.

“Nah. ‘S all good”, Beau lies. Her voice sounds slurred and uneven. She hates feeling so vulnerable and weak. Admitting that she’s in severe pain and that she’s afraid of fainting and not waking up is not an option. Caleb has tried to teach Beau that it’s okay to show weakness.

But Beau is surprisingly resistant to those lessons.

Yasha takes one look at her and Beau can feel her muscular arm tighten around Beau’s shivering body momentarily. Then, carefully and oh so gentle, Yasha lowers Beau’s body and takes off her shrug before putting it around Beau’s shoulders.

“Thought you didn’t take off your shrug”, Beau croaks. Her heart is beating so fast, Beau is afraid that might make the situation worse. Fucking crushes.

Maybe her feelings for Yasha will kill her.

Yasha wraps her arm around Beau again and grips her sword tighter.

“I didn’t know you back then”, Yasha says quietly and keeps moving forward. Beau feels so useless and the pain is pressing against her insides, into her brain and makes it hard to think. She swallows heavily, a metallic taste in her mouth.

“Now you do?”, she whispers. Her voice breaks at the end. She won’t make it. She knows it.

“Well… yes. Yes. Now I do.”

“And… does that mean… I don’t have to pay for you holding me?”

“I guess that’s what it means, yes.”

“’m glad”, Beau slurs. “It’s nice. Knowing you.”

Yasha’s arm around her tightens again, so much that it’s almost painful.

“Hey, stay with me okay?”, Yasha says and there’s a tremble in her voice that makes Beau feel even more light headed.

She should’ve told Yasha about her feelings. Now she’ll die and Yasha won’t know and it all sucks so much that Beau feels actual fucking tears prickle at the corners of her eyes. Her breathing sounds like a rattling snake living in her lungs.

“’m trying”, she croaks. Then she closes her eyes because the pain gets too much. She can hear Yasha’s intake of breath as Beau’s body goes limp in her grasp.

“No. Nonono, Beau, come on. Come on!”

Beau can still hear Yasha but there is no way she can respond or open her eyes. Everything is heavy and cold and dark and Beau hates feeling afraid.

“Come on, I–please don’t leave me. I–I’ll take off my shrug for you anytime, okay? And… and I–the next show we’ll go see, I’ll hold you through it if you want. But. Don’t die. Don’t–”

Beau feels her consciousness fading. She tries really hard to hold on, especially when she feels Yasha’s body shaking with tears and anger.

Fuck. Fuck.

“Please don’t leave me”, Yasha whispers.

Beau wants to say “I won’t”. She wants to say “Don’t worry, there’s no getting rid of me”. But there’s no way her body will let her speak and the last thing Beau hears is the clattering of a great sword to the ground and Yasha screaming for help without any regard of possible danger close by.

Then there’s only darkness.

Chapter Text

Beau blinks in and out of consciousness for what feels like hours, but it can’t be that long because in many of her delirious, waking moments, they’re still in the mine.

Still underground.

Still alone.

She manages to open one eye only to find that she’s lying on the stone floor, Yasha kneeling in front of her with her back turned to Beau, sword gripped tight with both hands.

Beau can see the skeletal wings, she hears the snarling noise that can only mean more gnolls.

The next time she comes to Yasha is breathing heavily and Beau is held aloft by her favorite pair of arms. Yasha seems to have abandoned her sword in favor of mobility but the way she cradles Beau is endlessly soft.

Beau wants to cry but she passes out again before she can start.

Yasha talks to her.

In a few painfully awake moments Beau can hear Yasha’s voice, soft and strained and full of fear. Her mind is too clouded with pain for her to understand the words but the sound of Yasha’s voice is branded into her memory as if Jester has decided to tattoo the inside of Beau’s skull.

“Almost there. Almost there. Almost there.”

Beau has no idea if the mantra Yasha keeps repeating is aimed at Beau or at Yasha herself.

The next time she wakes up there is sunlight in her face.

Yasha stumbles and goes to her knees with Beau still in her arms. The arms wrapped around her tighten and Beau makes a small noise as Yasha buries her face in the crook of Beau’s neck.

Beau can hear Jester’s voice.

“It’s ok, Yasha, you can let go, I’ll take care of her. You can let go now.”

But Yasha doesn’t let go.

No matter how soothingly Jester and Caduceus speak to her, she holds on tight as if she’s afraid that Beau might die after all if Yasha lets go of her. Beau can feel the warm healing energy of Jester’s magic seep into her bones, her muscles.

“Yasha, I have to get the arrows out, you have to let her go.”

One arm loosens a bit and Yasha shuffles, but she keeps Beau close. Everything hurts so much and when the arrows are yanked out of her Beau screams in pain, Yasha’s arms tighten around her again but it all becomes too much and before Beau knows it, darkness takes her again.

When Beau finally wakes up without feeling like she might die any second, it’s very warm. She takes note of her surroundings–it smells like tea and pastries and wet earth. There is a blanket on top of her, but as it turns out, that’s not the main source of heat.

Because Yasha is definitely in bed with her.

Beau’s heart goes into overdrive immediately and she feels her muscles lock up. Yasha’s head rests on Beau shoulder and one of her arms is wrapped tightly around Beau’s body.

When Beau opens her eyes she can see black and white hair spread on the pillow like a halo.

“She wouldn’t let go”, Jester’s voice says to her right and Beau turns her head slightly. She swallows.

“Hey Jester”, she croaks. Jester smiles brightly at her. Her sketchbook is on her knees and she’s holding the most colorful donut Beau has ever seen.

“You know, she was so exhausted. It’s very romantic, really, how she carried you all the way. Maybe now you’ll have to pay her like, a thousand gold.”

Beau manages a smile and winces because every little movement hurts.

But damn, Yasha is in the same bed as her.

To be fair, that’s not the way Beau has imagined it in all those hours fantasizing about Yasha, but at this point she’ll take what she can get.

“Nah. Said I don’t have to pay for it anymore”, she rasps.

Jester whistles and grins. Then she offers Beau half of the donut but Beau doesn’t think that she can sit up let alone eat a donut that looks as if it might give you cavities just by close proximity.

“We were all super worried, you know”, Jester says and her face falls a bit. “But we also knew that the two of you together are like, super strong! And it all turned out okay, I guess… I think Yasha must love you so very much.”

Beau’s heart almost leaps out of her ribcage at those words and she swallows a few times to try and control the swarm of butterflies that has taken residence in her stomach.

“Huh”, is all she manages to say. Carefully as not to wake Yasha, Beau turns her head and looks at Yasha’s face.

She looks peaceful like this. Beau is so fucking head over heels it hurts almost as much as those shitty arrows.

“She’s really something”, Beau murmurs and Jester giggles before standing up and taking a huge bite out of her donut.

“You should tell her, you know”, Jester says and how she can even speak through that much donut, Beau has no idea. She swallows and throws Jester a glance before finally nodding.

“Yeah. Ok. I–I uh. Will do that.”

Jester smiles and waves and then she skips out of the room, probably to inform the others that Beau is awake. Beau shuffles a little closer to Yasha and closes her eyes again.

Her last thought before drifting off into sleep again is that she’s glad Yasha didn’t let go of her.

Chapter Text

“I know I’m not usually the one to say this. But I think we shouldn’t get involved...”

“But what if he like, dies, because he gets overwhelmed by all the prettiness?”, Jester whispers.

She sits close to Beau, her head on Beau’s shoulder and her hand playing with Beau’s fingers. They’re huddled together in the living room area of the Xhorhaus and for half an hour it’s been nothing if not interesting to just observe.

Beau is usually not one to pry into people’s personal affairs and that is even more the case when Molly is involved, because his personal affairs are usually carried out butt naked and utterly shameless.

But this. This is just too amusing to look away from.

Caleb is so obviously overwhelmed by the situation he’s in, but Beau judges it to be a healthy kind of overwhelmed. Because Caleb should totally get laid to blow off some steam.

And when he’s got two people hitting on him like there’s no tomorrow then even better.

Caleb’s face is red and even though Beau can’t hear what he’s saying, Beau just knows that he’s sputtering and stammering under the watchful eyes of Molly and Essik, who seem to be insistent on carrying out some kind of intricate flirting contest for Caleb’s favor.

“Oh, I think they started flirting with each other now”, Jester says, her voice amused and interested while she draws patterns on the back of Beau’s hand.

“He really has no shame at all”, Beau snorts and watches as Molly winks at Essik who actually seems stunned for a second, something Beau would congratulate Molly for if it wouldn’t inflate his ego even more.

“They just make such a pretty couple. Is it technically still a couple when it’s three people?”

“Fuck if I know. I have no idea how relationships work”, Beau says and cocks her head as she watches Caleb fiddle with his spellbook, looking as if he might try to hide behind it any second now.

Originally Essik had come here to tutor Caleb some more, but Beau doesn’t think that they’ll get much tutoring done with Molly lounging in a chair with his legs draped over the armrest like that and his playful banter with Essik.

“Don’t be dumb, Beau, you’re like, the best girlfriend ever”, Jester says and squeezes Beau’s hand. Beau feels her face grow warm and coughs slightly, her attention drawn away from the wreck in progress that is Caleb, Essik and Molly.

She looks at Jester and smiles.

“Thanks, Jester”, she says. However she managed to get a girlfriend like Jester, she might never understand, but she’ll enjoy it however long it might last.

“Oh, I think Molly just said something dirty in Infernal”, Jester says and Beau almost chokes on her own spit as she spins her head around. She has no idea if Essik speaks Infernal, but the dark color of his cheeks suggests that he might have an actual idea about what exactly Molly just told him.

To see the usual composed and arrogant Essik blush is something Beau can totally get behind. She actually wants to high five Molly for that.

“Maybe it’s time we leave”, Beau hisses and gets up from her seat. Jester giggles and follows her up to their room.

“Use protection, Caleb!”, Jester shouts and Beau can hear Molly’s laughter all the way up the stairs until the door closes behind them.