Summary: Gwyndolin confronts Ornstein about his poor health.
(Author's note: Oh dear, I have to apologize. I had the greatest struggle continuing to writing this story, I felt like I had lost the touch with it and started to hate my own story, almost wishing that it never existed. I was extremely insecure about my writing and it didn't help that any other fanfiction I was reading felt so much better written and thought out and I was just frustrated and wanted to half ass finish it.
But then some dear friends I knew from tumblr or twitter helped me go over my insecurities and brought back my motivation. And so I managed to write the end to this story. It is cut in two chapters, or it would have been too long, but you can expect the last chapter soon, probably in two or three days and until then you can enjoy the penultimate chapter. I am thanking everyone who read this story and left likes, favourites or comments.)
Slowly Ornstein opened his eyes, blinking a few times until they had adjusted to the far too bright light for his taste. He stared at the unfamiliar ceiling, that wasn't his bedroom or the infirmary. He felt weak and exhausted and in pain, especially the right leg. The last thing he remembered was talking to his silver knights and what had happened then?
He carefully tried to lift his upper body up, surprised by a sting in his fingers when he used his left hand for support. He looked at it and saw that his pinkie finger and his ring finger seemed to be splinted and bandaged.
"Ornstein, are you awake? Would you please not to move around so much, I still need to treat your leg." That was the voice of Gwyndolin. Ornstein stopped staring at his fingers and moved his gaze over to them, they were in the process of treating his bruised leg.
"Sorry.", Ornstein said and laid back down, waiting for Gwyndolin to finish. His thoughts already had bone back to his duties. Once Gwyndolin would have finished patching him up, he would stand up and leave right away. Until then...
"What happened?", Ornstein wanted to know.
"You collapsed. The silver knights brought you here.", Gwyndolin answered, putting a gentle pressure on his leg, making Ornstein wince. "Good, this leg isn't broken, but it is heavily bruised. You will limp for a while." They got an ointment and applied it to Ornstein's leg who winced again at the pain, but endured it. He was a knight after all. He was used to keep it together while getting injuries treated.
"Take it easy with this leg until it fully healed. You better not go hunting demons or any other foe in this size for a while.", Gwyndolin said while they wrapped a bandage around it.
"Got it.", Ornstein said. "What happened to my fingers? Last time I checked they weren't hurt."
"You must have broken them when you fell down. You are quite tall and wear several pounds of armour.", Gwyndolin answered. They slithered a meter away from the bed, collecting their medicinal supplies.
Ornstein lifted himself up again, this time using his right hand for support. A sudden wave of nausea washed over him and he laid back down, waited a few minutes until it was over and lifted himself up again, taking a look around in the Dark Moon Tomb.
"Where is my armour?", he asked. He wanted to get back to his duties as quickly as possible and it wasn't possible without his armour.
"The silver knights who brought you here made sure to remove it first, which was a clever move or do you expect them to carry you here with several pounds of plate armour on top of your normal weight?"
"True.", Ornstein got up from the bed, winced when the bruised leg hit the ground and had to fight another wave of nausea. He managed to get it away with a few deep breathes.
"Thanks for treating my wounds, Gwyndolin, but now I need to get back to my duties."
Ornstein limped over to the exit of the tomb. He hoped the silver knights had brought his armour (and his spear which was also missing) back into his room or he needed to search for it first. And he still had so much stuff to do. Writing the report about fighting this demon, going on his patrol, training the silver knights, especially the new recruits, escort the Undead from the Archives to the Undead Asylum... Ornstein didn't even notice that Gwyndolin observed him silently with a blank look.
Just when Ornstein had reached the door of the Dark Moon Tomb, he ran into a thick, white fog. "What the hell?", he wondered himself and then turned around to see that it had been Gwyndolin who raised the fog gate.
"I don't think this is very funny, Gwyndolin.", Ornstein growled. "Let me out."
"No.", Gwyndolin said. "I want you to go back into this bed."
"I need to go back to my duties, just let me out.", Ornstein demanded.
"No, just go back into bed.", Gwyndolin said. "You are not only hurt, but also sick. In this state you are more a danger than a help to your knights."
Ornstein froze at the tone of their voice. They didn't pleaded for him to go into bed, they were ordering him. If he wouldn't obey, he was sure Gwyndolin would force him. Of course Ornstein was physically far stronger than them, but with their knowledge of moonlight magic and illusionary magic, they wouldn't had any trouble to force him right where they wanted him to have. And even though Ornstein had denied it for weeks now, he was in a weakened state. He reluctantly left the door and limped back to the bed.
"Why don't you let me leave?", he asked after he had laid down back on it. "It is true I got injured, but it isn't very bad. And I don't even have a fever, how can you think I am sick?"
"Do you know how worried the silver knights were who brought you here? Why do you think they brought you to the tomb instead of the infirmary after you collapsed?", Gwyndolin snapped.
Ornstein opened his mouth to say something but closed it again. He had noticed that he wasn't in the infirmary, but he hadn't even thought about why.
"They told me ever since you have come back from Oolacile that you hadn't felt like yourself. That you pushed yourself far too hard. And that you have gotten sick from it."
Ornstein wanted to curse, but his nausea came back full force as everything flooded back into him. How Amira and Terrick had called him out on his poor health. That he didn't need to shoulder alone and that it was alright for him to take a rest. And just as he had assured him that the was fine, he had collapsed. Ornstein clasped a hand over his mouth but it felt too late. Luckily, Gwyndolin handed him a bucket before he could soil himself and the bed.
"Sorry for this...", Ornstein murmured once he was sure that his stomach calmed down and let himself fall back in the pillows. Gwyndolin handed him a blanket which he took to cover himself, suddenly he felt cold and shivered.
Gwyndolin sat down on the edge of the bed. "Ornstein, be honest with me. Have you griefed properly for Artorias?"
"I, um...", Ornstein started but his voice trailed off and got lost. Since he had gotten the message about his death, he did had have several breakdowns, but that could hardly be described as proper grieving. His time in Oolacile was spent with attending to Artorias burial ceremony and killing time until it was ready. He didn't had grieved but tried to occupy his mind with other stuff, still hardly believing that Artorias was dead. And the moment he had returned to Anor Londo, he practictally had thrown himself into his duties, just wanting to not think about it anymore and every time it happened, he told himself to keep it together. A part of him probably still was hoping that Artorias and Ciaran would come back through the large gate of the cathedral anytime, even though he knew how impossible it was.
"No.", he finally answered.
"And you thought that was healthy?" Ornstein could hear the anger in Gwyndolin's voice. "Your knights told me that you needed to vomit and said that it was just a little stress. They also told me that you overslept quite a bit. And they had the feeling that you tried very hard to keep it together, as if you long had reached a breaking point and could barely contain it anymore."
They stood up and extended an arm, pointing at him.
"And then they bring me to you, injured and in this sorry state and the first thing you do is wanting to leave despite still being sick enough that you can't keep your food down!", they finished their rant.
"It's...", Ornstein started again but apparently was unable to finish any sentence. It's true. He wanted to say. I tried so hard to keep it together, I didn't want anyone to see me like this, like this mess that I have become. Instead, he just started to sob. Gwyndolin's words felt like the dam had finally broken, the dam he had worked so hard on to keep it together.
Gwyndolin set down on the edge of the bed again. "I know it is hard, but you need to take your time to let all your sorrow out."
"That's not it.", Ornstein sobbed. "It was my fault. I should have known! Known that Artorias would get corrupted! I should have never send him down there!" He felt terrible only thinking about it. He was reminded of his first night in Oolacile when he had thought about all this, when he had another breakdown, when he had needed to vomit again, the night he practically hadn't found any sleep anymore.
"You are blaming yourself." It wasn't a question but a statement. "It is the same with you every time... You know that Artorias would have gone onto this mission even if you wouldn't have send him."
"I still should have done something, anything!", Ornstein brought out between sobs, now covering his face in his hands.
"I would like to talk further about this, but first, you need to take some time until you calm down.", Gwyndolin observed. They stayed with Ornstein sitting on the edge of the bed the whole time until Ornstein had calmed down, which took him a good while. All the tears he had suppressed were flowing out at once. He was mourning the loss of his friend, mourning the loss of Ciaran as a knight, had to face how lonely he felt now. After his sobs had died down to occasional sniffing, Gwyndolin handed him a handkerchief.
"I'll get you some tea.", they said. While they were gone, Ornstein had enough time to wipe his tears and blow his nose, hands still were shaking. He flopped down in the pillows, waiting until Gwyndolin returned with a cup of steaming hot tea. He took it in his uninjured hand, but didn't drink it right away this time. He had learned. Gwyndolin conjured up a chair with their catalyst and sat down.
"Do you want to talk about it?", they asked.
"I don't know.", Ornstein replied. "I don't really know how to put it in words." He sighed and stared into the cup, expecting that Gwyndolin would force him to talk.
"Understood.", they said and Ornstein turned his head in surprise. They got up and came back with a piece of paper and a pencil. "How about you draw or write about it instead?"
Ornstein didn't answer right away, his gaze locked at the cup of tea again. He took a tiny sip from it until he felt it had cooled down and put it on the night stand, extending his hands to show Gwyndolin that he wanted to give it a try.
Gwyndolin handed the items to Ornstein and raised their catalyst to conjure a wooden board, that Ornstein could use as writing pad.
Ornstein had decided that he wanted to draw out his feeling. It wasn't as easy to hold the writing pad with two broken fingers, but nobody expected a master piece of him. Granted, even Ornstein's scribbles looked a lot better than the drawings of most average artists, he did had time to practice for hundreds of years now. So Ornstein started to scribble around on the paper.
He drew Artorias and Sif how they walked into the chasm.
He drew how Artorias left the chasm injured and dripping with black goo.
He drew himself fighting against Artorias.
He drew himself again collapsed over Artorias corpse, with his spear stuck into his chest.
He drew himself corrupted by the abyss, dark lightning coming from his spear.
He drew Artorias and himself, both of them corrupted and on a rampage.
And the last picture he drew was himself again, alone, broken down on the floor while Artorias, Ciaran and Gough were walking away.
After he had finished the drawings, he put them down, laid himself down into the pillows and closed his eyes. He suddenly had become so very tired. He just wanted to sleep and so he didn't notice that Gwyndolin picked up his drawings while he drifted off to sleep.
After Ornstein awoke, Gwyndolin was awaiting him, with the drawings he had made.
"How are you feeling?", they asked.
Ornstein hesitated before answering. They didn't want to know how his physical state was, he was sure of it. After what had felt like an eternity, he opened his mouth to speak. "Guilty.", he admitted. "Lonely."
"Judging from your drawings you thought about different scenarios.", Gwyndolin said, looking at the picture. "And what I see here are outcomes even worse than what actually happened."
"I know...", Ornstein murmured. "I was thinking about all the things I could have done different and every outcome was worse than the other. But...", he pulled the blanket over his head and continued in a muffled voice, "It also could have turned out alright, but now I will never know. I lost the only chance I had. Artorias won't ever come back. Ciaran will never leave his grave. In the end, I failed both of them."
"I want to tell you to stop blaming yourself, it isn't healthy, but I have felt the same far too often.", Gwyndolin said. "I have asked myself so often if it had been my fault that my brother turned traitor. If it was my fault that my sister left us. If I should have tried and held back my father from leaving."
Ornstein reappeared from the blankets, staring at Gwyndolin.
"You have never said anything.", he said in a reproachful tone.
"Have you?", Gwyndolin countered and Ornstein felt like hiding beneath the blankets again.
"It isn't healthy feeling like this. It is eating at yourself. You will get sucked down in a vortex of guilt and what ifs. I am sure you have gotten sick because of it. Are you still feeling nauseous by the way?", Gwyndolin continued their remarks.
Ornstein carefully thought about it. Most of the time, when he had vomited, he felt awful, like it could have start right again away, like having food poisoning. But since he had cried out all his tears, his head had hurt and his throat had felt dry, but he hadn't felt nauseous once. He shook his head.
"That is a start.", Gwyndolin smiled at him. "But I need you to stay here until you are fully recovered. It won't do anyone any good when you have a relapse, especially not yourself."
"But what about my duties?", Ornstein asked, staring at the ceiling.
"You can trust your silver knights a little bit more, can't you?"
Gwyndolin kept Ornstein a few days longer into the dark moon tomb, making sure that nothing that could stress him came his way and gave him a scolding whenever he wanted to talk about his duties and more tried to get him to open up about what had happened to him since he had gotten the message of Artorias death. And with their help, Ornstein finally was able to face and work through Artorias death and he told them almost the full story, only leaving out the mental breakdowns he had. Having to tell about his nightmares and how often he had needed to vomit felt worse enough.
"I just miss them.", Ornstein said the day Gwyndolin confronted him about that last doodle on the paper. "All of them."
"I can relate.", Gwyndolin said. "You know that pretty much my whole family left me alone. Sometimes there are just days where I miss them so much that it hurts."
"What are you doing when this happens?", Ornstein wanted to know.
"When I have a day like this, I...", Gwyndolin trailed off, seeming to stare into nothingness. "It probably is stupid, but..."
"I won't laugh.", Ornstein promised, noticing their struggle.
Gwyndolin took a few deep breathes and continued their story. "I conjure up illusions of them. Of my brother, my sister, my father. We spend the whole day together and have fun and laugh and it is like they have never left."
"Does it help?"
"A bit. I perfectly know it isn't real, but by pretending that they are still with me, I don't feel as lonely anymore.", Gwyndolin stared at the ceiling of the tomb before focusing their gaze on Ornstein. "I could do it for you too."
That was... a gracious offer. Ornstein thought about it. Would it make him feel better to interact with his fellow knights and friends again, even if they were just illusions? Wouldn't it make him feel even more lonely once the spell was broken? Also, it didn't feel right to ask Gwyndolin to use their magic for such a mundane thing. And would Gwyndolin even be able to capture their personality? They knew their family, about that Ornstein was sure, but...
"I am thankful for your offer, Gwyndolin, but I think I'll pass.", Ornstein said.
"It is your choice and you can always ask if you change your mind.", Gwyndolin said.
"I will let you know should this be the case.", Ornstein said and smiled at them. And it felt like the first genuine smile he had given in a while.