This is a brief overview/prologue one-shot for an upcoming fanfic of mine to help establish my character, Blade, just a bit. I'm also posting this just incase I never get around to posting the actual story, because I want to post /something/ about Fable, about my character Blade. Hope y'all enjoy this little one-shot!
I'll be honest, I couldn't think of a better title so I just made the title her name. It /is/ a brief - extremely brief and bare-bones - overview of how the game goes for her. The Alternate Universe bit is because there are a few, small cannon divergences in this one-shot.
Important Tags: Alternate Universe, Canon Compliant, Canonical Character Death, Character Death, Implied/Referenced Character Death, Implied/Referenced Child Abuse, Implied/Referenced Rape/Non-con, Implied/Referenced Abuse, Implied/Referenced Torture, Female Protagonist, Bisexual Female Character, One Shot, Light Angst, Hurt No Comfort
For as long as she can remember, she's loved the sound of a gun going off. She hates the guns themselves, though, and always has. She's never known why, can't remember what caused this in her. Her da' never used a gun, or any ranged weapon that she can remember, but she remembers her pa' owned a gun – a rifle, she thinks, though she's not sure. She doesn't remember him well, but she's certain he used a gun. The sound of a gunshot is always in her dreams, dreams she can't remember. Sometimes they wake her with a fright, sometimes she wakes from a wonderful dream with her ears ringing.
Her toy gun, a popgun that shoots corks, is the only gun she can stand to look at without feeling sick. She doesn't know why, and Miller can't tell her why either. She likes Miller, he teaches her how to shoot and doesn't tell her da' where she is. He brings her and her Ro food when he can, when the Aliases don't need him for something. He keeps Arfur away on those days too, allowing Ro a day to relax.
She never uses her popgun around Ro, can't stand seeing the two at the same time. It makes her feel so sick that she nearly loses what little food is in her stomach. She doesn't tell Ro, can't tell Ro. Ro has too much to worry about, too much to be responsible for. She can't add more to that, so she keeps the fact she hears guns in her sleep and how sick looking at a gun makes her feel to herself.
She's seven when she finally understands why she can't stomach looking at a gun. She's seven when a man, a trader, selling magical objects comes to Old Town. She wanted the music box that could grant a wish the moment she laid eyes on it, thinking of her sister. It could take Ro's responsibilities away, could make it so Ro doesn't have to look after me anymore, is the only thought running through her mind. Ro says it's rubbish, that there's no such thing as magic. A woman in red with eyes that don't see disagrees, refortifying her decision. Ro tells her to go play, but she doesn't. While Ro searches for food, she finds a way to get five gold coins.
For five gold coins, Ro won't have to look after me anymore.
Five gold coins killed her sister. The music box vanished; Ro scolded her for wasting the coins. She had seen it in Ro's eyes, though, that Ro had also made a wish. She wonders, idly, what Ro wished for, but that's shoved to the back of her mind. Lucien Fairfax, the High Lord of Bowerstone, summoned them! Ro wouldn't have to look after her anymore!
"I'm looking for individuals with particular…talents. Let's see if you possess them – stand in the circle, please."
The circle lights up when Ro goes to stand in it, an alarm goes off in the back of her mind. Something wasn't right and she hesitates, but Ro is beckoning her. Lord Lucien watches, she could see something behind his gaze. She stands in the circle and it glows brighter.
"It's true! You are Heroes!"
Heroes. Finally she understands what is happening to some degree, panic gripping her as her sister plays dumb. Pa' an' Ma' told us not to let an'one know! Her mind screams at her. Fear grips her more firmly when Lord Lucien tried to touch the light, which turned red. Will. She's scared and she clings to Ro, who pushes her back, behind the older girl. They're both trembling, Lord Lucien seems upset and frantic.
She can't think, can't breathe when he points a gun in their direction. The sound it makes is beautiful, but there's a hole in Ro's chest. Ro has collapsed, and she can't look away. She's backing up, Ro's death cry ringing in her ears.
"This isn't what I wanted. I'm sorry."
The gun wavers as she finally looks up at him, her back pressed against the stained-glass window. The circle isn't glowing anymore, she's outside it now. Lord Lucien isn't seeing her, she knows, when he pulls the trigger. She feels the bullet in her heart, feels the glass breaking and cutting into her back. She feels her spine snap as she hits something, before the rest of her bones shatter as she hits the ground.
She's seven when she understands that she was being warned, that the sickness she feels when she looks at a gun is because a gun takes away the only family she had left. She's seven when she starts to remember her dreams, her nightmares.
She's only seven when she dies, and the music box's melody brings her back to herself.
She woke in the woman's caravan, the one who solidified her decision to buy the box against Ro's wishes. As she listens to the woman talk, explaining why Ro died and how she would train so she could gain her vengeance, her fists clench. She hates Lucien, and herself. Lucien pulled the trigger, but she made the wish. She wished that Ro wouldn't' have to take care of her anymore, that Ro would be free of responsibility. She also hates the woman who convinced her to buy the music box, who she knows had a hand in bringing her back from death.
She'll kill Lucien, but not because the woman told her to or because it was her destiny. She'll kill him because he took Ro away from her, because he left her all alone. She'll kill him because he didn't kill her properly, because she's alive and Ro isn't.
Five years she trains without complaint, five years she ignores how she's not called by her name. She doesn't trust Theresa but listens to her anyways. She nine when she kills her first Hobbe, when Theresa tells her that it was never another child. She's eleven when she kills her first Bandit, who Theresa informers her is a soulless husk. No matter how human they looked, they weren't human.
She can't stand a gun but can't seem to properly use a crossbow. Too heavy, too clunky, too slow. She refuses to learn Will, the memories of shocks making her muscles twitch and the scent of burning flesh in her nose. She's good with a blade but isn't yet big enough to properly wield a sword, so she uses daggers and knives. Theresa calls her Blade, and so do the Gypsies, the Dwellers they're staying with. It's messy, but there's a sick sort of pleasure she finds in the blood. She imagines its Lucien's blood, or her da's. She finds that she hates how it feels, taking the life of a living creature – human or not – but loves the scent and look and feel of blood.
She makes sure to either burn or bury the dead, depending on how many severed limbs there are. Human or not, all dead and life deserve to be respected. And she respects them. They're giving her experience, making her stronger and faster.
She's twelve when she learns that Theresa lied to her. A bandit is pleading with her, begging for his life.
"Please, I've got a lil' girl at home, in Bowerstone! Rosella ain't got no one but me! Her mum ran off, an' I can' keep an honest job! Please!"
Her hand is stalled for the briefest of moments, before she convinces herself he's lying. She leaves his body intact, doesn't go for the blood this time. She stares at the body and finds herself going to Bowerstone, sneaking away in the dead of night. She doesn't have to look very hard. There's a little girl, about seven or eight, waiting by the front.
"Miss! Miss! 'Ave ye seen me da'? He's not home yet. He was s'pose to be back by now!"
The little girl looks like him. Bright eyes and hair, dark skin. Her name is Rosella, and she's now an orphan. How many little girls have I orphaned? The thought haunts her and she takes care of Rosella. Eventually, she worked up the courage to confront Theresa with accusing eyes and frantic scrawls.
She learns to never again go against Theresa that day. Theresa is not evil, but she is not good either. Theresa calmly informs her that there is no room for morals, only action. She is a Blade, a weapon, and weapons do not have independent thought or feelings. Her bones are broken during the explanation, the scent of charred flesh making her throw up. She doesn't eat for a month, can't stand the scent of cooked meat or the sight dead animals. Celery and apples don't make for good meals, don't make for healthy meals. But she can't stomach anything else.
Theresa is almost as bad as her da', though Theresa isn't as terrifying. She seals her emotions and doesn't ever see Rosella again – she can't risk it.
She's thirteen when she finally understands her dreams, her nightmares. She knows about the trip to Westcliff before Theresa tells her, knows that Theresa is going to make her kill a white Balverine. She's surprised that it's happening so soon, not yet understanding completely. Her mind is a mess as she traverses Bandit Coast, confusion making her stumble and make mistakes. Bandits get in lucky shots as her vision doubles, ghostly images distracting her.
There's a woman, bigger than even her da' ever was, with huge muscles and wielding a hammer of stone. Dreadlocks and red-orange hair, an expression of excitement and fear. The companion with the woman flickers constantly, sometimes male and sometimes female. Sometimes both, sometimes neither. Sometimes one, sometimes two. Halos and horns, scars and beauty. Kind eyes and rotten actions.
She's thirteen when she learns that the Hero of Strength will be her first real friend. She's thirteen when she learns the names Hammer and Sister Hannah. Despite Theresa's lessons, despite the plan, despite the pain, she's thirteen when she begins to love Hannah like a sister, like Ro. She's thirteen when she kills a White Balverine and discovers that she's faster than any Balverine.
She's thirteen when she realizes that she can't hear Ro's voice anymore, that she can't remember her ma's face. She's thirteen when she discovers she loves the smell of gunpowder just as much as the sound of a gunshot.
Gypsies, Dwellers, are considered adults at the age of Fourteen. It's summer of the year of her Fourteenth winter when she first gets drunk. She wakes up married to a boy three years older named Jackie. She knows him, the only one that's fascinated by her rather than tolerative of her. He's always watched from afar, and she knows he loves her. There was nothing to warn her of the marriage, to warn her of the way the others would shun her for refusing to live in Jackie's caravan, to refuse to let him touch her.
She's never let anyone touch her willingly, not even Ro. Jackie keeps his distance. She fourteen and married. She's fourteen when she realizes that she can see other Worlds, that those Worlds cannot tell her of her future. There are different rules to each World, different consequences to the exact same set of choices. Some things never differ between Worlds, some points in time that are set and unchangeable. Certain rules that all Worlds share. She finds that hers is unique in her marriage to Jackie, a marriage that cannot be voided.
Dwellers in her World do not believe in divorce and believe that she and Jackie were fated. She knows Jackie loves her and is guilty she doesn't love him. So, she keeps an eye on him, makes sure he has the money he needs. She does her best to show that some part of her cares about him, even if it is only respect for the fact that he respects her boundaries.
She's fifteen when bandits attack the camp itself, led by a man called Bane. She's fifteen when Jackie dies and fifteen when she storms the bandit's camp in retribution for the attack on her home, for the man she hadn't been capable of loving like he deserved. She doesn't enjoy killing, but they deserve it, or so she convinces herself. She doesn't let her mind dwell on widows and orphans. It's not the same, she makes herself believe.
It's nothing more than a lie, an excuse. But she has no room for guilt, for regret. She is Blade, a weapon.
She's sixteen when she meets James, saving him from some forest Hobbes near Brightwood. He claims he's nowhere to go, no place to call home. He follows her to the camp and makes himself at home. He claims to worship her, giving gifts and public declarations of devotion. She doesn't know how old he is, but she's sixteen when he traps her. Theresa is gone on a trip and her Sight does give her clues on how to deal with this sudden attention. Jackie had always admired from afar, but James is up in her face. She agrees to court him to get him to stop. Brings him money and gifts to get the attention off of her.
It's winter when he proposes to her in public. Everything she's ever been taught about social interactions tells her that her only option is to accept. It's the biggest mistake of her life, even worse than disobeying Theresa or questioning her. James immediately changes, his demands become more striking and asks increasingly of her. She can't find a way out, can't find a way to satisfy him. He wants the one thing she's never given anyone, that she had never planned to give to anyone.
He wants the right to touch her as he sees fit, ignoring her boundaries entirely. No one will hep her, no one will save her. He's just like da', she thinks and finds nothing can be done but giving into him. Her pain has returned, her mind thrown into memories she had thought finally buried.
She is Blade, a weapon. But come her seventeenth fall she is also a mother. Memories of a bright-eyed, dark-skinned little girl and a bandit pleading for his life so he can take care of his daughter. She has no room for sympathy or morals, but she already loves Hammer, who she has not yet met, like a sister and Garth, a man she met in passing before her visions included him, like a father. She names her daughter Rosella. James has no interest in her but will take care of her so long as he continues to get no resistance from Blade.
It's a month after Rosella is born that she finally meets Hammer for the first time. She knows what is to come, a fixed event that cannot be changed. She has not seen a World where it differs. The Golden Oak must flourish, so Blade does not follow Hammer. Lucien's men have come for her and there is nothing to be done for the Abbot. She takes the jug, makes sure the holy water is within it, and goes to the temple. Hammer is inconsolable, so she doesn't try to offer comfort. She knows there is nothing she can write that would make the woman feel better.
It takes a year to track down Garth, despite the fact that Blade knows exactly where he is. Blade is too busy studying Other Worlds, too busy making sure that certain events either never happen or begin now. Among these is a trip to a little village beyond Oakfield, a place called Brightwall. She finds what she needs to begin the building of the Reliquary required. In some Worlds, this never happens, but in more Worlds it does. She will be prepared.
She does not try very hard to reach Garth. Another unavoidable event, his capture by the Commandant. James has become more demanding again, though he lives in Bowerstone with Rosella now. She spends a year looking for a way out of her marriage with him. The opportunity arrives shortly after Rosella turns two. She's nineteen and James was kidnapped by Slavers. She kills the Slavers…and James. She lies and says he was dead when she arrived.
She faces a new problem. Bowerstone threatens to take away her daughter, her only (acknowledged) living blood. She must either give up her quests or find a new spouse. She meets a woman named Alex, who is also struggling to keep her son, an infant named Victor. Blade can provide for them even while away, having been investing in shops and owning places that are rented out. Alex and she are married within a month of meeting each other, a marriage of convenience.
With everything in order, she finally takes the next step. Beating the Crucible with the highest score ever seen. She cares nothing for the prize or money or the trophy. She feels sick, having been killing for the pleasure of others. Unnecessary killings, killings with no purpose or cause.
Ten years. Ten years lost to Lucien's Tattered Spire. She tried her best to keep to what she was raised to believe. She cannot offer sympathy or empathy. She is a weapon and there is no use in defying the Commandant.
But the memories taunt and torment her. The collar has broken something in her, and she remembers the brother stolen from her. She does not see the Commandant; she only sees her da'. She has not thought of him in years, has not remembered him until now. Her muscles spasm with the fresh pain of shocks and ache with the phantom pain of shocks from long ago. Her mind has been reminded and nothing will make her forget. Her brother's screams torment her dreams, her visions do not help her here.
So she fights. She fights the Commandant on everything. She feeds the ones ordered to be starved, does not torture the recruits or prisoners. She does nothing she is told to do, her mind lost on a time when all she knew was Obedience. The Spire, the Commandant, the repeated word Obedience reminds her of what she allowed.
She allowed Theresa to erase Little Sparrow Heartwether from the world, allowed Blade to be forged an emotionless tool. For the first time in her life, she fights Obedience. As she does, Garth remains her grounding. He teaches her how to let some of her Will get through the collar, teaches her Telepathy. He does not force her to use it, but she is glad for the company. Even when they are separated and he is moved deeper into the Spire, she can still feel and hear him. Their Will connects them, and she is given the vague impression of what a father should be. What her pa' had been and her da' never had.
There is guilt, though, when speaking with Garth. She had allowed his capture. She could have prevented it, could have lied and said she ran into him. She could have gone on her own to him and recruited him. She had her Sight; she had the Other Worlds. It did not have to be a fixed event, but she allowed it to be so. She allowed the Abbot to die – she had known it would happen; she could have stopped it. She was faster than anything in Albion, she could have reached him before Hammer. Could have killed the guard and saved the Abbot's life. So, she focuses on Reaver when she can, studying the Other Worlds and Other Reavers, spending Ten years planning as she fights the Commandant, Obedience, and her memories.
When they are at last free, the first thing she does is visit Alex. Ten years has left her anxious, as she remembers the risks of marrying Alex. Of what happened with the Other Alexs of Other Worlds. Alex is still there, in Bowerstone. Alex welcomes her with open arms and relief, with Victor.
But not Rosella.
There is pain and sorrow, there is a grief she hasn't felt since Ro' died. It was a fever that took her Rosella, five years before. She is grateful that Alex told her in person and is surprised when Alex says she wants to stay. Alex sees something in her, something Blade cannot see, but Blade doesn't object. She makes a point of visiting Alex as often as she can over the next year, as she searches for a way to get to Bloodstone, to Reaver, without using Garth's Cullis Gate. Without putting him and Hammer in danger, but without going through Wraithmarsh. She isn't sure she'd survive the Banshees.
Victor calls her 'Mama' and Alex 'Mum'. She couldn't be happier, that she still has a child. She also searches and searches for a way to keep them unknown to Lucien. There has to be an Other World where they survive, where he doesn't find them.
She finds nothing and so she moves them to the Serenity Farm. She prays, for the first time in her life she prays. She prays to the Light that her world is an Exception, that this is not a Fixed Event. That her Alex and Victor will live.
She thinks she loves them but isn't sure. She doesn't know what love is for certain, can't know. She's only ever truly known love Once, with Ro' and her lost brother. She prays that she loves them, because they deserve her love.
A year is up, and Hammer knows about Reaver. When she suggests him, Blade doesn't let Garth refute the idea. She confirms that Reaver must be the only option, explaining the rumors of his reputation from when even she was a child. They go and she ends up in Wraithmarsh. She knows Hammer and Garth are safe, but she fears the Banshees.
She's never truly known fear before, outside of her da' and Theresa. The Banshees aren't nearly as bad as she imagined, but the fear is still there. These ones are young, their taunts weak. She fears meeting an older one but doesn't meet one. She is grateful.
She doesn't immediately go to Reaver, like her Others. She first drums up her reputation, knowing he won't deal with a nobody. She doesn't know what her Reaver will be like in detail but knows enough of the Shared Characteristics to be mostly prepared. Once she's done with the ghost of Captain Dread and some other errands, she finally approaches the mansion. The town is abuzz, but it seems that no one actually knows what she looks like.
That becomes a problem when she tries to get into the mansion. It doesn't help the guard dog decides he wants a feel, and no one is allowed to touch her. So, she sends him through the mansion's door. And the back door to where Reaver is having himself be painted. She steps over the knocked-out guy, gives Reaver a shrug, and drops a coin bag with a brief gesture of apology.
She can't see him clearly – has never been able to see anything clearly, especially in the daytime, having always had bad eyes and now the Other Worlds often make people flicker, minute details constantly flickering – and finds that it annoys her. She doesn't show this and remains still as he observers her. She's surprised that he's not already talking, and that he sends the painter away. This is different. An Exception. Their interaction involves many things, including a quick establishment of her boundaries that disappoint him but, to her surprise, he doesn't push. He's half-intrigued, half-disinterested in her.
There's something keeping him on edge, however, just like she's always on edge. Neither trusts the other to not pull something. Except when she first entered, he never looks at her directly. He doesn't immediately get to the point, seeming to be searching for something. Then he asks the one thing that no one's ever actually asked her before. Many comment on it, but no one ever actually asks her.
"Not much of a talker, eh doll? Any particular reason for that?"
She knows that writing it out would take too long, so she does what she normally only does with Hammer and Garth: she tells him telepathically that she physically cannot speak. From there, it moves onto why she's there and looking for him. The details aren't important, and she takes the seal when he asks.
The Shadow Court can't take her youth and there is no other victim there. Her life is too long, they explain, and she is Unliving. They can take some of it, but it doesn't affect her. She doesn't understand this Exception but has no time to examine it. She knows that Reaver has betrayed her and knows she must get back to him quickly. She leaves the Dark Seal with the Court, since they'll return it to Reaver the next year.
The tunnels are interesting for many reasons. She doesn't have to worry about trying to keep a positive image around Reaver, takes out her anger and frustration on the Spire Guards. Little more than Hobbes to her, with their broken minds and collars. She's doing them a favor; she convinces herself easily. Dozens fall and then there is a lull in them as they make their way to the exit. It's then that Reaver, who refuses to look at her at all now, throws her a proposal.
"How about a wager, Dagger, now that you've proven you've brought a butcher knife rather than a butter knife?" he asks, voice casual. "You kill the most of these ruffians, and you have my word that I'll give you my aid without any fuss. I kill more than you, and you give me your word that you'll abandon this little mission of yours and we can skip Albion."
She learns then that he won't break his word, his promises. She agrees to his wager, another Exception. Less blood is spilled with the wager active, but more bodies fall to her sword. Her mind is sharper and more focused, no longer is she mindlessly hacking the bodies to pieces. His gun is going off constantly, and she realizes why she's always loved the sound of a gun going off.
She's always known this moment, always known this bet. She knows she going to win it, knows he's going to honor. The blood bothered him, but rather than telling her upfront, he makes a deal. She spills less blood but makes up for it with more bodies. It's technically the same amount of blood being spilled, but it doesn't look that way. The blood bothers him, but he doesn't show it. He doesn't say it. He doesn't look at her like a monster the few times he looks her way, giving her an acceptance she's never known.
He could be one of the Reavers that's a Monster, but she's willing to take that risk. Because he accepts the way she is, while still letting her know that there's a small issue he has with it. He doesn't like the blood or the body parts but doesn't mind that she's ruthless and efficient. So, he has her kill more of them than spend her time hacking their limbs off. He never once looks back at the carnage behind them, even once there's a lot less blood.
He fears death, she remembers learning from the Other Worlds. He's willing to kill, despite being afraid of Death. Does he see himself, or something else? He fears Death, but it was never made clear what aspect of Death he feared. Never made clear if it was his or someone else's. Most assume it's his own, but at least her Reaver seems to fear Death in general, as a concept.
Once it's over, once they're on the beach with the remains of a Great Shard and with Hammer and Garth, Reaver does not have to be convinced. He shrugs and says 'sure'. Theresa is surprised and suspicious, but Reaver makes a vague motion in Blade's direction.
"She did win our little wager."
Except, neither is sure who won. Because they stopped counting, because they focused more on survival towards the end than their wager. There's something intriguing about her Reaver and the curiosity is pulling her closer.
Even though she knows that they'll leave in the end. They always do, as it's a Fixed Event. Only a few times has Reaver stayed, but those Reavers are vastly different from her Reaver. She knows this one will leave, because he cares about himself and himself alone. He's not a hero, despite being a Hero. She knew to expect this, so she isn't surprised. He's a pirate primarily, a narcissist primarily. She knows what to expect.
So why does the thought of him leaving hurt her so much?
She wants to check on Alex and Victor first, before the ceremony, but Theresa won't let her. There's not enough time, they're in a hurry. Theresa is always right, so she agrees. She remembers what happened the last time she went against Theresa.
She still fears Theresa.
Lucien's there when the ritual is complete, there at Hero Hill. She feels so weak, like all her energy's been sapped. Reaver is the only one starting to stand, Garth and Hammer still on their knees. She's glaring at Lucien, even as his Commandant clones appear and restrain them all. Normally he takes them away first, normally the dog has to jump in front of her to save her. It's a Fixed Event, it never changes.
But even Fixed Events can happen differently, there are Other Worlds where they never happen at all. She allowed herself to be fooled once again, Lucien shoots her dog, her Hearth first. She remembers when she met him, beat up a bully named Rex to save him. Ro' was still around then and they were the on streets. Could barely feed themselves, but they still took Hearth in. He was only a puppy back then. Two decades he'd been by her side, her most loyal and faithful companion.
Something in her breaks and she thrashes in the hold of the two Commandant Clones holding her, wishing she could scream at Lucien. He speaks then, for Garth and Hammer and Reaver to hear. He does not take them first, wants to make a show of killing her. He speaks of the past, of Ro' and her death. How it hurt him then to do it, but he was older now. And she was no longer a child. He then smiles, a cruel smile, and says he knows how to keep her dead this time.
She feels fear again, the Spire Collar is once again around her neck. She's seen what it does, how it shocks the men on the verge of death until they die. Watches him aim his pistol, before he pauses as if remembering something.
"I didn't kill them when I poisoned the girl, because I assumed the boy was the woman's son. Then I realized you could have planned for me to think that, that you may have chosen a wife who looked like the boy. That you could have easily had twins or a one-night stand and that the boy was truly your son. Either way… well, you wife won't have to worry about teaching the boy that two women cannot conceive a child together. Take heart though, you'll see them when you see your sister."
Her body is frozen, her mind numb. Her wife, her son, are gone. A Fixed Event that did not change. Despite the pain it causes her, she spits out the first word she's ever uttered aloud since she was four years old.
"Monster," she snarls at him, choking back the scream as the poison in her throat activates. It takes every ounce of her strength to not spasm in pain, to not scream in agony.
It doesn't matter, for her favorite sound once again reaches her ears. The gun goes off and all she knows is pain, all she hears is her own screams as the collar shocks her. Her world is dark within seconds that stretch an eternity.
When she wakes, she's small and curled up in a nice warm bed. It's familiar, memories that had been fuzzy once suddenly clear in her mind. They're all there and she couldn't be happier – it had just been a bad dream. A very real-feeling bad dream. Ma' is so beautiful and kind, with a brilliant smile and sparkling green eyes. Jade green. Pa' is tall and broad-shouldered, with dark hair and eyes. Ro' has Pa's eyes and Lo' has Ma's eyes. They're a family of five and they need no one else.
She kicks chickens with Lo', collects eggs with Ma', and Pa' shows her how to use her pop-gun to break bottles. Ro' and Lo' and her play tag until the sun sets and they go to bed. She's so happy, but something's wrong. She wakes the next day and something's wrong.
The bed is familiar, but it's not her family farm's. It's the Bowerstone bed and Rosella is curled into her side. Something's wrong, there's confusion. She slips from bed, careful of her little flower. Downstairs she freezes, unsure what she's seeing.
Jackie is there, Victor on his lap. He laughing at something Alex said, a wide grin on her wife's face. Victor looks up and squeals happily, lighting up.
"Mama! You're home! Will you say a long time this time?"
It was the last thing he said. She stares and she realizes, feeling sick. It's all just a dream, but she can't tell them that. She doesn't have to say a word, though, Alex and Jackie smiling sadly.
"You're Mama can't stay more than she already has, Vic," Jackie is the one to say. "She's got a world to save."
"We'll be here, waiting," Alex tells her softly. "Yer Mum and Dad're coming by later, with Rose and Logan. They'll look after us, so don't you worry. It's okay you spent more time with them, you've been separated from them for far longer. Rosella will be okay. She said she can wait to see you again. She wants you to give her lots and lots of little siblings."
She leaves before they see her tears and she knows she loves them. She's always loved them, both of them. Jackie, she loved after he died, Alex she came to love over that year after her return from the Tattered Spire. She loves her children, and she loves her original family still.
She leaves and the Music Box, the cursed Music Box that keeps her from her beloved ones, is waiting for her. She takes it and is in the Spire, no collar and her weapons on her back. It's pathetic, the final confrontation. He's using the Spire to take the power within her comrades and all she has to do is hold out the Music Box to interrupt, to make him weak once again.
She looks at him, and sees the monster is once again a man. A broken, pitiful man more insane than someone who hallucinates. She lets him talk, curling her lip at the irony held within his words. He talks of pain, of loss, as if he did not just use it against her. As if he did not murder her sister, her dog, her wife, and her children. She holds no sympathy for the man.
When Reaver shoots him, it's like putting down a sick dog.
She wishes she were powerful enough to kill Theresa, strong enough to throw a venomous telepathic 'fuck you' to the woman she hates and fears just as much as her da'. Hammer's final words sting, in ways Hammer couldn't begin to understand. Garth surprises her, his words are formal, but his gaze is accepting. Even understanding to a degree. Reaver, too, surprises her. He talks about what he talks about nearly every time, going to Samarkand with Garth. But his eyes are on hers and for the first time she can see him, her eyes clearing enough to make out the grey color that are her Reaver's eyes. His eyes hold a question she is required to see, a silent offer that surprises her. For some reason, he wants her to say she'll come too. There's something hidden in his eyes, before her vision blurs once again and his form flickers.
She can't. She looks at Theresa and knows she cannot. She must stay, must prepare. Must begin to make up for her Obedience and her Excuses. She must also lay the dead to rest properly. Her choice was never truly important. She only ever did what she was told, what she was expected to do.
She stands alone, on the dock outside of Oakfield. The Spire is the first thing she sees when she registers it is over. Her dog is gone, her family dead, and thousands of lives have been restored. She is alone, just as she had always truly been. She deserves little else, for being such a good little tool. She has not broken yet and Theresa is not yet done with her. She must prepare, but she will start to deviate.
The least she can do is show her future subjects some compassion, the compassion she's never known. That she's never deserved. As she walks though, she can't help but think that she'll miss the way that Hammer grinned and Garth sighed and the way Reaver smelled like gunpowder. She knows it's unlikely she'll ever see Hammer or Garth again, knows that Reaver will likely only flicker in and out of her life. So she shouldn't dwell, not on what she can never have.
But she'll miss it. She'll miss them. Because for as long as she can remember, she's loved the sound of book pages turning, the sight of Warhammers, and the smell of gunpowder. Because for as long as she can remember, she's loved Hannah and Garth and Reaver. They're all she's ever truly known.
Hi! Don't mind me, just cross-posting this. I have it over on Archive of Our Own and decided to all pos it here. My account on AO3 is DeadricDaughter19 with the pseudonym Arivania Moons. The italicized note at the top is the original A/N from AO3.