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Brighten my northern sky

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The thing about Whitestone––and there are a lot of things about Whitestone, so it’s hard to pick just the one, but she’s making an effort––the thing about Whitestone is that it’s fucking cold.

Like, yeah, sure, she’s lived in Vasselheim and that’s no picnic, but here in the Alabaster Sierras the wind cascades down the mountains and cuts through the valley, and she’s sure it’s gorgeous during the summer because this is the kind of place that’s gorgeous during the summer, but for now it’s fucking freezing, the wind blowing down streets and kicking up little whirlwinds of ice and snow and even the locals try to keep indoors.

Kima hates the cold.

Which is why she mostly sticks to the castle. That and she figures if she’s stuck here she may as well be useful. She ends up spending a good deal of time nursing Shaun Gilmore back to health. She’s never met the man before––though she has heard about him in passing––but that doesn’t stop them from getting along famously. (He’s a riot, when he’s not coughing up blood. She can’t believe he tried to fight Thordak one-on-one; the man must have balls of steel.) They set him up in one of the abandoned rooms in the enormous estate––of which there are a lot, most of them locked tight, and Kima’s not going to go near that particular clusterfuck of emotional repression––which works perfectly well for her, because it means she doesn’t have to go down to town to treat him. Which is great, because, again, fuck the cold.

In her free time, she makes strategy her business. Sure, she’s a lady of faith, but she’s a warrior lady of faith, and she’s been in her fair share of fights. Better yet, she knows this enemy personally.

If they want to be prepared for an eventual dragon attack, she’s definitely one to help.

So she ends up spending a boatload of time with Lady Cassandra, and Cassandra’s slightly over-enthusiastic tagalong pseudodragon. They discuss strategies to shelter the townsfolk, and to fight back, and to survive. They spend hours locked in Cassandra’s office, pouring over maps of the town and nearby countryside, trying to decide if it is safer to build shelters out in the mountain or hide people in the ziggurat.

(Kima votes mountains. The ziggurat creeps her the fuck out. Cassandra seems to agree with her, but the council is less easy to sway. Apparently the locals fear the things that lurk in the wild. Which, that’s fair, but still. Dragons, cursed ancient temple, or wild mountains? Kima will pick mountains every time.)

And then, one day, because she’s a little late getting up (and okay maybe she spent more time than she meant to sulking over a pint the night before, no one’s perfect) a council runner knocks on her bedroom door (honestly do they have to hold council meetings in the castle this is embarrassing) and hands her a note saying her presence is requested immediately in the council chamber, so Kima swears and struggles into clothes she’s 80% sure have been recently washed, brushes her teeth real quick to get rid of the disgusting taste of sleep and stale ale, and thanks Bahamut that she sleeps with her hair braided before clattering downstairs, buckling her belt as she goes.

She arrives just as the council members are leaving, and ignores their disapproving stares as they exit, taking the moment to push her hair over her shoulder and wipe the sleep out of her eyes. Keeper Yennen is the last one out, and he offers her a fond smile when he sees her. Kima smiles back. Yennen is her favorite council member. The old guy’s got guts.

“She’s waiting for you,” the Keeper says, and Kima squares her shoulders and enters, wondering what news could be so important that it required a messenger to fetch her.

“Ah, Kima,” says Cassandra when she steps in. “We’ve just had a wonderful stroke of luck. I hadn’t expected it, but––”

Cassandra keeps speaking, but Kima pays her no mind because standing at the window, tired and pale and dusty and here, alive, in Whitestone, is Allie.

For a moment Kima swears her heart actually stops.

Cassandra’s voice fades, but Kima still isn’t paying any attention to her. Her feet carry her a few steps further into the room, which seems to have shrunk a whole hell of a lot, or grown, or something, because the only thing in it worth mentioning is Allie. She looks exhausted, circles under her eyes and too thin and hair lank and a little unkempt, which the Allie she knows would never let happen, but she’s alive.

“Hi,” she says, her tongue thick and heavy in her mouth.

“Hello,” says Allura. She looks between Kima and Cassandra. Right. Other people. “Sorry for all the trouble,” she says, which is exactly what Kima said to her after returning from the Underdark, and it’s just so fucking Allie that she has to stifle a laugh, because otherwise she might cry, and that’s bullshit.

“Cassandra,” Kima says, still not really looking at the woman, and she feels sort of bad for being rude, but not that bad really, “could you give us a minute?”

“What? Oh, of course.” She nods to each of them and steps out of the room, the door swinging shut behind her, and now it’s just the two of them, and Kima’s hands are actually shaking.

“Are you okay?” she asks. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Allie says, stepping away from the window. Kima takes a step forward, and then another, and then she is full-out running at Allie, who collapses to her knees just in time to grab her, and fuck, she’s crying, dammit.

She buries her face in Allura’s neck, breathing in dust and sweat and her, just her, alive and here and safe, thank Bahamut, thank the entire fucking pantheon. Allie shakes a little under her hands, and Kima pulls her closer, runs her hands along her back, trying to grasp all of her, to reassure herself that she really is here. Really is alive.

She hadn’t realized how terrified she was until just now.

After a moment she pulls away a little to stare at her. Allie looks just as much of a mess as she imagines she does, with tear tracks down her face, eyes red, hair mused.

She has never been more beautiful.

Without thinking it, she leans in and kisses her, hard and a little desperate, hands catching in the woman’s hair, and Allura responds in kind, hands pulling her in close until there is nothing but them, no dragons no danger nothing but this woman, just as demanding and scared and thankful as she is.

They pull apart when they need to breathe, but Allie leaves her forehead pressed against Kima’s, panting a little. Kima takes a deep breath and opens her eyes.

“I was going to come looking for you,” she says, trying to keep her voice from cracking. “If you didn’t come back. I was going to leave a week ago but Vex said to wait a little longer and Keyleth scried and said you were okay and then Cassandra needed me here and––”

“Kima. It’s alright.”

“I should have been there,” she says, pulling back slightly. It’s an apology and argument all in one, and Allie smiles at her with that look of fond exasperation that only Kima has ever been able to illicit.

“It’s alright,” she repeats. “Drake and I were hiding. You would have… It was better it was just the two of us.”

“I would have made a racket,” Kima grumbles, because she knows what Allie is too polite to say, and the arcanist laughs, a bright familiar thing that warms her to the tips of her toes and fuck she’s being sappy again.

“Are you alright?” Allura asks, checking her over for injuries, or maybe just looking for a reason to run her hands across Kima’s shoulders and sides and back; she’s tricksy like that. Kima relaxes into her touch.

“I’m alright,” she says. “Worried, but alright. I’ve been helping where I can here, but there’s not much I can do for them.”

“Lady Cassandra said as much. I spoke with the Realmseer and I think we might have an idea.”

There’s a glint in her eyes as she says it, a familiar glint, the kind she gets before she lays out some ridiculous, impossible, brilliant plan, the kind that takes meticulous preparation and a hefty dose of luck and then saves their lives in the nick of time. A plan like trapping a dragon in an elemental plane. A plan like infiltrating Uriel’s palace to rescue him from demonic possession. A plan like sending a ragtag bunch of adventurers to rescue a headstrong paladin and help her complete her quest.

A plan that could very well save all of them.

“Alright,” says Kima, settling into the roll of tactician, ready to take Allie’s grand ideas and turn them into action, the way she always has and always will. Together they are unstoppable. “Let me hear what you’ve got.”