Virion dreams of a world in which he has to watch Cherche die.
He wakes, stricken, sweat beading on his brow, and jerkily turns to find that the bed space beside him is empty. Fear makes his blood run cold. He throws off his blanket and bursts out of his tent, barefoot and under-dressed. It’s hard to see anything in the darkness, harder still for him who can only barely separate his very real surroundings with the images of his wife, riddled with arrows, hurtling from Minerva’s back. Sweat drips down his forehead now, getting into his eyes. Where is she? Where is Minerva? It can’t, no—
Wingbeats sound behind him. He prays fervently to Naga that it’s her, that she’s still alive, anything, anything. He’s fisting his hands so tightly, his neatly trimmed nails might actually break his palm’s skin. The slow turn he makes is the most agonizing thing he’s ever done.
Cherche slides, very much alive, from Minerva’s back. In the faint, faint light Virion pinpoints a tenseness in her body language—she’s confused, concerned. She strides quickly to him, taking his hands in hers. She eases his fingers out of their fists. Closer now, he can see worry written on her brow.
“Virion, you’re frozen,” she says. “What are you doing without your boots—oh!”
Her hands fly away from his and fall gently on his face. Her thumbs wipe away the tears. His arms, hands searching for something to hold, wrap around her and pull her close. He holds her crushingly tight to him, burying his face in her shoulder. She makes a noise of surprise—as does Minerva, who crawls forward and wraps herself around the both of them, very much concerned.
“You’re okay,” he says, voice strangled.
“I’m fine,” she says, soothing. “Minerva was thirsty, we went to find some water, that’s all. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to worry you.”
“I’m—glad you’re here,” he says, a little brokenly, a little helplessly.
“I’m right here,” she assures, “and I’m not going anywhere.”
She presses a kiss to his neck, which is all she can reach in his hold, and runs her fingers along his back. The movement is calming. Minerva, still curled around them, croons her worried affection and nudges her head closer to their bodies. This too eases his troubled heart and he simmers down. Eventually they will return to their tent and Minerva will rest beside it, a sleeping guard, but for now—
For now he needs this. Just a little while longer.