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[personal profile] carmilla
SUMMARY: 'Physical form had become like a childhood habit with her; something shaken off and looked back on with two parts fondness and one part derision, but taken up again, automatically, as a comfort when comfort was needed.' Luthe and Aerin, after the end of The Blue Sword.

From time to time they came to him, the kings of Damar and their heirs, and Luthe welcomed them. Welcomed them more when they brought the young sols and solas, for he who was older than the rocks he stood on still took delight in youth. And sometimes in the kings’ issue would be the spark of her – the bright yellow spark of kelar in their eyes that was her legacy as much as anyone’s, the occasional flash of red hair that was no-one’s legacy but hers.

And he stood alone by the Lake of Dreams as he watched Aerin ride away from him, her hair ignited to flame by the early morning sunlight. But this was Aerin Amelia, daughter of the girl whom his Aerin had so loved that she had left his side, for the first time in centuries, to comfort her. So much in the child was familiar; might it have been that his companion had grown tired of him at last, and gone back to a mortal life?

But then arms wrapped around him from behind, and the edge of a familiar smile pressed against his neck. It was as if she had heard his thoughts; and maybe she had.

“I did not mean to be gone so long.”

Her voice, echoing over the stillness of the lake, was startling, as startling as the weight of her hands on his collarbone. Since the death of her husband, and with it the death of her mortal years, physical form had become like a childhood habit with her; something shaken off and looked back on with two parts fondness and one part derision, but taken up again, automatically, as a comfort when comfort was needed. He needed this comfort now – the sighing of her breath over his skin, the sound of her voice breaking his long stillness, the pressure of her body, hard and soft in equal measures, pressed close against his back.

“I got caught up in her – in all of them. They needed her, and she needed me. And after watching her suffer as she did, I felt I’d earned the right to stay and watch her happiness.”

He turned to look at her. The body she’d chosen was that of an older woman, pared down by many years of toil and action. Her eyes, and the wrinkles that lined them, told of decades of governance, of making difficult judgements and making them well. There were streaks of grey in her glorious red hair.

This was the woman who had come back to him, and he loved her as fiercely and as helplessly as the woman who’d left, many years previously, when she was little past girlhood and had already done things no-one should have to do in a hundred human lifetimes.

“She’s none of my doing.” She answered his thought, not his word, as was their habit. “The child chose its own form in the womb; I did not interfere.”

“When I saw her, I thought that maybe you had left for a third time; chosen her over me.” He tried not to sound bitter, tried in his inflection to tell her that she had every right to do so; but his voice was heavy.

She smiled; the wry, all-knowing grin that made her beloved of all who saw it. “You said that it would kill you, to see me ride away a third time. I shall not do it.” She pulled him close, rested her cheek against his, whispered into his ear. “I leave when I must, but I will always, always return to you.”

And then she kissed him, and she tasted of sunlight and wildness, and his heart kicked and his vision swam as if he was taking deep draughts of Meeldtar from her mouth. And though he was an old man, and she more spirit than flesh, caressing him with hands that would soon be no more substantial than breezes, yet when she drew him down beside her on the ground he felt the delight of youth again, and his hair ran golden through her fingers.
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