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Another week, another art. Another project, another written extract.
If tumblr has once again butchered the res even after clicking on the images, my apologies! I’ve tried altering the res of the canvas itself and it makes no difference.
Most of the fic is below the cut and it’s from ‘Mitri’s POV! Post Grondor goodness? Perhaps. Post Grondor hug? Yes. Am I post Grondor trash? Definitely.
“Where do you think you’re off, too?” Easwith marched towards him, her horse too preoccupied with the grass she was grazing on to be bothered with the stern tone she spoke with. “It’s of no concern to you.” “It’s always been of concern to me, Dimitri!” The raise of her voice had caught him off guard, half out of rage and half to be heard above the falling rain. “You’re going to Enbarr, aren’t you?” He looked away - was it because he wanted to raise his voice? Was it because he couldn’t bear to look at her face? The same look of concern that had haunted him for years would have been on her face… Or was it because of shame? Because he knew she was going to disagree - the way she walked over told him she’d had enough. Or was it because the old him was getting the best of him in his grief? Had she sensed it and had come over to pull him from his grave?
“It’s suicide out there! It’s suicide to go without an entire army, let alone by your damn self! Is that what the dead want of you!? Do they want to be avenged so badly they’d send you - someone they cared about - to an early grave!? Do you really think that’s what they want!?” “Silence. Death is the end. No matter how much lingering regret a person has, after death, they are powerless. They cannot even wish for revenge, much less seek it out.” He ignored the growing frown on her face, the crinkling of her nose, the growing annoyance he felt oozing from her that she kept restrained. “Hatred. Regret. Those burdens fall on the shoulders of those who are left behind. And so I must continue down this path! You know as well as I do that it is far too late to stop.” “Is it?” Her tone shifted - not enraged, but like she was trying to prove a point. He had to stop that. Had to stop her next sentence. He had to do this. She was naïve to believe it wasn’t too late. To think he had a choice. “Do not waste your breath with some nonsense about how I should move on with my life for their sake! That is merely the logic of the living. It is meaningless.” “Stop talking about yourself like you’re dead…” He turned away from her, facing the wall. If only she knew... “Aren’t I? Those who died with lingering regret… They will not loose their hold on me so easily.” He laughed at himself inwardly. He was a monster. A beast. A demon. Why did she care? Why would anyone care?
He turned his head up to the sky, the rain cold on his face. “But you seem to have all the answers So tell me, Easwith. Please, tell me… How do I silence their desperate pleas? How do I… How do I save them?” Dimitri swallowed thickly, already feeling the bitter sting of tears in the back of his eyes. He brought his head down, gaze on the floor. “Ever since that day, I have only lived to avenge the fallen. Even our time at the Officer’s Academy was all so that I could secure my revenge and clear away the regret of the dead.” His throat tightened. “It was the only thing that kept me alive… My only reason to keep moving forward…”
“You have blamed yourself for so long… for surviving.” There was no rage in her voice now. Easwith was calm… and it eased him. Just as she had done all those years ago... As she had always done. “Make seeing every tomorrow your reason to stay alive. Forgive yourself.”
Every tomorrow? Every daylight? Did he deserve to see a future? How could he see the beauty of the world she saw when he didn’t know where to start forgiving himself? Forgiveness starts with you was a quote he recalled her father telling him on one occasion. He had to try. Nothing would change his wrongs - rewriting history meant destroying the truth. The best he could do was make this whole again. He had to try - and it started with him. “But then who - or what - do I live for?” “Live for you and no one else. Live for what you believe in.” “What I believe in?” He smiled wryly. “Rodrigue said the same thing…” It was gone as soon as it arrived. “But is it possible? I am a murderous monster. My hands are stained red. Could one such as I truly hope for such a life?” He heard Easwith move, her feet entering his vision. “As the sole survivor of that day, do I - do I have the right to live such a life?”
“Mitri…” Dimitri felt his heart skip a beat. How long had it been since he had heard that name? Did he deserve to be called such? To be showed such kindness after everything he had done?
The warmth of her palm touched his cheek - so tender. Was she afraid - No. This entire time, she had looked him in the eye when she spoke to him. It was him who didn’t look her in the eye. It was him who was afraid. Easwith’s touch was no different to how it had always been. He had never said it out loud, partly assuming she already knew, but she had always been the epitome gentle. To him, there was no touch that could soothe as much as hers. No touch as warm - an irony with how often she complained about cold hands.
But here, with numb fingers, there was so much warmth.
Dimitri cast his gaze up to look at her. How could she stand there and smile up at him with so much care? Rain had soaked her hair and her cape. Rain had reddened her cheeks and nose. Her eyes glistened and even when the whites of her eyes started to turn red... perhaps for the first time, she didn’t avert her gaze. She didn’t hide, even though her words were quiet. Like if she said them louder, they’d get caught and never come out. “Of course you have the right. You have always had that right.”
It was the way she wiped away his tears with her thumb that managed to break what little wall he had left. Dimitri leaned into her, lowering his head to her shoulder. For months he had been looking down at her as she had craned her neck to look at him, yet it was only now he realised how short Easwith was. He wrapped his arms around her, pulled her in as close to him as he dared.
He felt the awkwardness of it - the surprise of it. But it didn’t take long before he felt Easwith relax. Dimitri felt her arm move to envelope him, her fingers slowly easing their way through the wet fur of his cape. He felt her other hand on the base of his scalp and her fingers were gentle in the ends of his hair. She nuzzled into his shoulder whilst she lowered her head and straightened her legs.
Dimitri questioned her kindness. Her care. It deserved to go to another yet she gave it to him.
He didn’t deserve her… but he was grateful for her. Far more than he could ever tell her.
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