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It wasn’t supposed to come to this...

 


Jean Gunnhildr thinks on bated breath, surrounded by Fatui on the peak of Dragonspine. It has already been half an hour and her coat is tattered as well as her body is bruised. It takes everything in the dandelion knight not to falter now, as a barrage of attacks rain upon her. She growls, parrying each move with a practiced stance of her sword, anemo vision brightening at the response. She cannot afford to show them weakness, to fall now is to admit defeat and let the enemy know they’ve succeeded. 

 


The Hilichurls in the distance cackle in delight as they spectate the show. Cheering as the six Cryo-gunner legionnaires and three Electro-hammer vanguards enter the field, they surround the acting grandmaster in a ring. Both Menacing and brutal they begin their plan, working to break her stance. Jean glares at them, hands firmly at her sword. There wasn’t a single part in her schedule where it said she had to battle three Fatui camps all at once and her annoyance rises at the thought. She manages to hold in a pained gasp as another blast of sheer cold seeps further into her bones. Any more of this and she will die. 

 


One of the Vanguards charges first and Jean sidesteps his attack. She throws him a whirlwind (surprised to have lost more energy than expected by the simple blast). She inhales slowly hoping to regain a bit more strength as air coming out from her mouth turns a faint red hue, signaling a bad sign. Her heart pounds faster, realizing the graver stakes at hand. It wasn’t a matter of surviving for Jean, she’d gladly die in battle if that’s what it takes.

 

 


But...

 


Turning her head to see the child tied behind her back-unconscious. She moves her hand to grasp theirs. Jean’s chest aching to see this sight of Klee. Pale and miserable, not at all like her usual spark of joy and daily explosions. This little spark knight was the closest thing Jean would call to a daughter. The little spark who continues keeping everyone on their toes, ready to cause a whole new adventure every time. Jean sighs, exhausted. Klee didn’t deserve to experience this side of the world so soon.

 

(If it weren’t for her dandelion breeze just a few minutes ago would, Klee...)

 

Jean chokes in a cry, rapidly blinking away the tears as they now begin to form on the edge of her vision. This is all her fault, if only she were stronger, if only she were better, if only she were smarter-. She lets go of Klee’s hand, pacing swiftly across the battlefield to avoid their hits ( a relatively easy task with the help of her anemo). Jean has to get through this- she must. For both of them, Klee who is fighting to survive-who is only alive now because of her vision.

 


“Did that adventurer make it back safely? Was he able to alert the knights?” Jean wonders momentarily, recalling his steadfast nod as he made a run for the city. He was brave to have followed Jean when she arrived at Iris’s camp, heart racing by Klee’s kidnap. The young man had no vision to help him here-only his reliable sword when he lead her to the site. If Jean were to ever make it back alive she might have to offer him a seat amongst the Knights. 


If.

 

The grandmaster smiles bitterly, a single tear finally rolling the side of her cheek. It quickly freezes as it made an impact on the ground. The Cryogunner at Jean’s side chooses this moment to slam down his gun and Jean barely manages to move out of the way as the action swung. The being roared as Jean ferociously counters him with a slash. The power of wind flows into her once more (light green energy surging around her in waves) and she uses the last bits of her strength to will the power into her weapon, sending them all floating in the air. 

 


Jean falls to the ground, sword clanking to her side as her hand shakes a light blue. It’s difficult, but the acting grandmaster tries to regain her breath again. It fails spectacularly as it instead clogs her throat. The dandelion knight for the first time whimpers, though she had managed to kill most of the adversaries, her heart drops as still some stand. Feeling spent she watches what’s left of the creatures walk towards them. Jean grabs her sword and pulls Klee closer, whispering a soft prayer into the little girl’s blonde hair.

 

 

 

It is said that at one’s final moments before death, the person would recall all the best moments in their lives. The sense of your life flashing right before your eyes one could suggest, before suddenly turning dark. It never left a good taste in Jean’s tongue. It was cruel to think that at that person’s final moment they are filled with a short spark of hope before they are consumed by the loss and acceptance of their end.

 


Now... It wasn’t really about acceptance for the belief, but rather a realization that everything you have gone through your entire life has to lead you to this conclusion. The ending chosen for you may not always be grand, or world-changing, it may not even be meaningless or avoidable. It just all depends on what fate has in store for you. Burns thinking that way, but when left with little to no option, Jean begins to consider it.  

 


In this freezing mountain, her carefully guarded emotions began to let loose as the beating steps of the Electrohammer Vanguard echoes her chest. Each sound expanded the sudden urge for Jean to stand and keep going knowing the end is futile. The grandmaster holds herself, eyes watering amidst the numb cold ache of her bones. Oh, how she remembered seeing Barbara for the first time, a beautiful little mystery wrapped around a bundle of wool and silk. The great responsibility of becoming an older sister. The encouraging embrace of her parents on the first day of her knight training, to the two boys she met after, whose laughs and brave adventures painted her world. Lastly, The contentment at the end of the day, watching the sunset on a peaceful Mondstadt.

 


For Mondstadt, always.

 

 

 

“I-I can’t, not here”.


Jean wills herself to stand but her legs won't move even as death reaches for her. It’s decaying hand an inch from her supple cheeks. The sky explodes for a moment and Jean’s eyes suddenly land on a fallen bright fireball, its presence radiating power as it lands right between her and the fatui. Their light is warm, almost scorching as it continuously burns brightly before shifting into a large Phoenix that instantly blazed the frozen battlefield. The ice is overthrown by the heat of its flames, the flickers of fire sparkling the deep dark Dragonspine sky. 

 


Jean can’t help but stare in hazy awe as the darkness still calls out to her. Her vision fading as the whispers of eternal slumber entice her fatigued state. Even the grand entrance of their mighty savior could do nothing to stop it. The bright flames dissipate and the figure left standing is a man, a familiar figure that makes Jean’s heart swell with relief. The figure turns toward them, placing their hand on Jean. 

 

 

“Jean..?”

 


The Acting Grandmaster hums, the feeling of another person's touch overwhelming her as she feels the life fade before her. She leans into that person’s touch, hearing them call out her name once more. She offers the figure a smile before closing her eyes, clutching Klee’s hand.

 

“Come on Jean, stay with me.”

 

 

“Dammit! Reinforcements are coming just hold on a bit longer -”.

 

 


It’s going to be alright now. They’ll be fine.

 

 


“Please...”

 


 


“How is she?” 

 


“J-Jean’s much more stable now. I’ve just managed to rid the last of the frost”

 

 

 

Voices. That’s what Jean first wakes up to. Loud voices. Both were very familiar to her at the same time ancient. She musters a groan and the room instantly falls silent, allowing her the means to prepare the onslaught of light that came next. The world spins and the next thing Jean knows, she is being helped up slowly. The person guiding her back carefully against the wooden bed rest. Jean closes her eyes for a moment, opening them again, seeing Barbara stand before her. 

 


Eyes glazed and brows furrowed. The young deaconess in her relief hastily embraced the acting grandmaster, leaving no room for questions. Jean stills at the touch, her mind processing just what happened before quickly melting at the hold. 

 


Little Muse, Jean thinks to herself as Barbara lets her go to wipe a few stray tears from her eyes. Jean could only offer a serene smile as she reaches out for her sister’s hand. Their fingers intertwine as they should have been years ago. There it registers to Jean that another set of eyes is on them and that it isn’t only Barbara in the room. 

 


Sitting on the other side of the hospital quarters was Diluc; who’s sharp eyes watched Jean as that of a falcon studying its prey. Its intensity (the crease in his brow and the slight part of his lips) is what made Jean back away first, her gaze unable to handle Diluc’s expressions that could only mean feelings she dare not name in fail of misinterpretation. It wasn’t only Diluc who was in the room though, alongside him was Kaeya. Who seems to have only inched closer to his brother once realizing her conscious state.

 


 “Jean! I-It’s good to see you awake..” Kaeya sighs relieved and exhausted from what Jean could tell. The cavalry captain catching her gaze, quickly hid his emotions in a stiff bow. “I-I wouldn’t know what to do myself if you remained forever unconscious. Our lovely deaconess here said she might even have to take a few of your fingers as they were already turning blue the time you arrived.” Jean’s eyes widen at this and Barbara quickly fills in to elaborate. 

 


“Thank Lord Barbatos it didn’t have to come to do that! HAHAHA, Lisa was quick to chip in.” 

 


Barbara huffs consciously, sending a glare to Kaeya who in return waved his hands innocently. Jean smiles at this-incredibly relieved to be back in the heart of Hq and, gratefully, far away from the piercing cold.  “KLEE!!” Jean suddenly yells, sending the two stiffening, she makes a motion to get out of her bed before Kaeya quickly arrived at her side. “What about Klee? Is she alright!?” Jean asks, her voice almost desperate for the answer as the memory of the little girl’s cold fingers ingrained in her mind. 

 


“Both of you were in critical condition when we arrived back to Mondstadt but with the help of Albedo, Sucrose, Rosaria, and the rest of the healers. She is recovering well and will be up again soon.” It was Diluc who spoke up, standing up from his seat and reminding everyone that he was still present in the room. Jean sighs, clutching her chest as a very heavy load is lifted from her heart, silently thanking Kaeya as he returns to Barbara's side by the door. As soon as Jean can leave, Klee will be her utmost priority from here on out. 

 


Jean looks back at the Ragnvindr heir and remembers why she was still even alive in the first place. Diluc made it, he was there just in time to save them. Despite his dislike for the knights he was still there. Jean begins to remember the ins and outs after her fall, the feeling of heat coming from his vision, the warmth surrounding both her and Klee like a barrier, the gentle cradle of his hand as he pulled them both close to his chest, the sound of those same hilichurls approaching him and Diluc dealing with them swiftly with one send out of pyro, whispering words of prayers and affirmation, promising that both of them would be alright. Thinking of these foggy memories now, a heartfelt smile makes its way up her face and Diluc holds in his breath, her next words making him do so.

 

 

“Thank you, Diluc.”

 

 

The words were nothing short of Jean's eternal gratitude for the Ragnvindr lord. Diluc being there at that moment spoke volumes of his character, by bringing back Mondstadt's beloved Dandelion Knight and Sparkknight, Diluc managed to uphold a huge service to the city. The winery owner whose expression always seemed so cold and sharp to the normal eye was deep inside, a being whose heart was warm as his flames. Jean never doubted this side of him. Happy to have even seen the old Diluc hadn't died along with his father.

 

 

Past feelings long-buried began to resurface and Jean can't help but be filled by them once again. With a deep sigh, Diluc stood up, walking to her side and reaching for her hand, he clutches them tightly and Jean practically feels his pyro radiating off the gloveless skin. Kaeya and Barbara continue to watch the situation quietly as Diluc gently holds her hand, reddening Jean’s cheeks at the notion. “Always,” he whispers, a response so quiet and vulnerable it makes her expression soften, wanting nothing but to embrace him and apologize for worrying him so.