A/N: Something I wrote to accompany an art piece. Not thoroughly edited to be honest, but good enough to post, I think. Just an examination! I hope you like it!
The rain is washing her out.
It is something that Amarant supposes he had noticed early on in his visit, but the realization, the real, true certainty of it, takes days of observation, standing in the shadows watching as she tackles piles of missives and rebuilding work, before it strikes him fully. Freya Crescent has stayed too long in the rain, and it is washing her out.
He stays for almost a month, though he can't say why—before the war he had never visited Burmecia; he does not like the rain and he never had a reason to go, and after the war he still does not like the rain, and the only reason he comes up with (standing twenty feet from the mouth of Gizamaluke's Grotto, trying to think of what to tell the rat when he inevitably saw her again) is that he has traveled everywhere else that the world could possibly offer. He does not tell her he is coming, nor does he ever suggest he would want to visit, and so she is surprised when he arrives sopping wet at the gates. She is busy, she tells him, and he could have been more courteous by warning her (to which he snorts—pah, courtesy), but the visit is welcome enough. They are old comrades—friends—and she has missed everyone. There is no inn. He stays with her and Fratley, who still does not remember. The arrangement irritates him only slightly, as he goes out of his way to not talk to the man anyway.
Amarant is not one to feign courtesy.
She did not lie when she said she was busy, and most of his visit she spends much of her time organizing relief and rebuilding efforts around the city, with her amnesiac lover at her side. Amarant helps sometimes, wordlessly. The Burmecians are slow to trust, but he is muscle and help is needed, and so accepted grudgingly, despite Lady Freya's confidence in him. The town is half-dead and boring. He does it to keep busy.
It is not long before he sees that that is what Freya is doing as well.
They talk every night after dinner, once Fratley has turned in. She would convince him she is happy, and Amarant thinks that maybe she should be. She has her city back and her lover back. Or near enough. She is busy. She is almost always tired. But always she talks about how things are (near enough) the way that they used to be, that slowly things are being revitalized.
Amarant is convinced that near enough is not near enough for her. The rain is washing her out. The rubble heaps of once-Burmecia does not bury her in work. She buries herself, and she burrows deeper into the piles. She does not try to dig herself out. He wonders if she is searching for something that she thinks she is missing, but does not voice his questions because he does not really want to hear the answer.
She speaks in monotone these days. Monotone and Monochrome. The rain has washed her out.
He does not pity her. Amarant Coral is not one to take time out to pity those whose wounds he feels are self-inflicted, and though she is a friend (perhaps one of the very few he would call "friend" in any situation he could conjure), from the shadows he starts to look at her with a vague sense of disgust. The rain is washing her out, slipping deep past slickers, skin and sinew, burying into her bones and eating at her youth and her life and her color, and soon he can see she will be as just like the half-destroyed city she is killing herself to rebuild. Freya Crescent is already falling into a bleakness that is far too much like Burmecia itself for Amarant's comfort. It feels like he is watching the rat bleed out of a wound she is for some reason trying her damndest to avoid patching. It is frustrating, and vile, and he does not pity her. He knows somehow that she would not want him to anyway.
So he watches as she stumbles through the rain, trying to rebuild her city and her lover to their former glories with her own bare hands, watches with growing disgust as she bleeds out into rainy puddles full of her own self, her own glory. He remembers the person that he had grown to know on airship decks and battlefields, and wonders where all of the life and spitfire had gone. He fears that it has seeped into the ground with the rest of the rain, never to be seen again. He stays for a month. He can't take much more of it after that.
It is not out of pity that he offers, as he packs and she watches from the doorway, for her to come with him. He does not know what it is, apart from the instinct of a fellow war-veteran to save a dying comrade. Because she is dying. He knows this, and he says so, right there. When she doesn't answer, he knows it is because she knows it too. She knows it, and knows that she cannot bullshit him, because he wouldn't let her if she tried.
He does not press it when she continues her silence, and slings his pack, straps on his claws and walks out of the house. People make their own choices. Amarant will save a dying comrade, but he will not stop a suicide. He leaves Burmecia telling himself this, repeats it over and over as he approaches the gate and passes out of it under the gaze of suspicious guards without so much as the sound of her footsteps padding after him. He tells himself this, pressing on, to ignore the sudden flare of anger and something almost like regret prickling in his stomach.
He wonders if he will see her again. He leaves her in the rain.