Nastasia had trouble sleeping that night; there was just too much on her mind. It had been three months since she joined Blumiere on his search. What were they searching for? Well, he wouldn't say, but he referred to it as 'a treasure' once. She thought of gold, jewels, diamonds, and dismissed the whole thing as pointless. But he didn't see it that way.
Still, what could she do? The girl couldn't leave; she already made an oath to him. She could try to get Blumiere to change his mind, but whenever she hinted at the possibility, he brushed her concerns aside. Should she be more explicit? Would he listen that way?
That was when she heard someone crying. It sounded like him.
Nastasia left her tent and crossed the distance between them. She hesitated before opening the front of his tent. Slightly, so he wouldn't see her. Blumiere trembled in the darkness, tears trailing down his face. He muttered one word: "T-Timpani…"
She furrowed her brows. Timpani?
Before Nastasia could think too hard about it, the haze of insomnia overcame her. She started to yawn, but quickly covered her mouth. As much as she wanted answers, this would have to wait until tomorrow.
The next day was the same as the rest. They continued their search with Blumiere asking questions and Nastasia lingering behind, keeping watch and holding onto supplies. He didn't find what he was looking for. Then, the two gathered food and started to walk back to the campsite.
The whole time, Nastasia thought about the person he mentioned last night, but Blumiere was too preoccupied to notice. Might as well ask now. "So, um, Blumiere…Can I ask you something?"
"Of course, Nastasia."
Then again, should she really be asking something personal like that? Probably not. "D-Do you think we'll find this treasure of yours soon?"
The man frowned, eyes growing dark and distant. "I don't think...I know."
"R-Right, but...Sometimes, I can't help but wonder if-"
He turned to her. "If what?"
So, she had to be more explicit. "If this will lead anywhere…"
Blumiere was silent for a moment before taking a deep breath. Gently, he said, "Nastasia, I know this has been difficult for you lately. You do not have to stay if you would rather be somewhere else."
The girl frowned. "I don't want to be somewhere else."
He watched her with those flickering amber eyes and she thought of candlelight. Then he averted his eyes and looked straight ahead. "If you insist."
Nastasia peered at the ground, her cheeks growing hot. Sure, he was distant, but Blumiere was also warm and gentle. Not only that, but he saved her life. And yet she was too scared to tell him.
It wasn't until after they gathered firewood and returned to the campsite that she decided to just ask about her. "There is one more thing that I wanted to talk about."
"And what is that?"
Blumiere froze. It was as if she committed murder. He lowered his voice to a near whisper. "Where did you hear that name?"
"I-I heard you say it last night...in your sleep."
"Did I now?"
She nodded. What would he do? Get angry? Defensive? Or would he just brush her aside again? As it turned out, the man did none of those things. Instead, he let out a somber sigh and sat by the fire. "Well, I suppose I would have to tell you eventually…" Nastasia's eyes widened. After recovering from her shock, she sat beside him and waited. He buried his face in his hands, his whole body growing tense. "Where do I even begin?"
Nastasia hesitated. This was clearly painful for him to talk about. Still, she already asked and, like he said, the truth would come out anyway. "Just...Start with how you know each other."
The man uncovered his face and took a deep breath before nodding. "Timpani is the one I've been searching for. She saved my life." He stared at the flames when he spoke and it was as if he was telling the story to himself rather than her. "I tried to run away from home one night, but I got lost and it was so dark. I fell down a cliff. She could have let my game end, but she didn't. Instead, she healed my wounds and treated me so kindly, even when I was repulsed at the sight of her. She-"
"Wait," Nastasia said. "Why were you repulsed by her?"
"Well, my father hates humans. He told us that they were evil, selfish beings, but in reality, it was a matter of pride. You see, many of them are descendants of the Tribe of Ancients. My former tribe broke off from them two thousand years ago and they've been at odds ever since."
Nastasia let that sink in. A group that broke off from the Tribe of Ancients and rejected other creatures. Where had she heard something like that before? And then it came to her. "Oh, you're from the Tribe of Darkness! I've heard of them."
His eyes widened before he laughed softly. "Bleh heh...You're clever, aren't you? Yes, I am." He looked back to the flames. "Anyway, Timpani and I started meeting every night and we fell in love. We even planned to run away together and marry in secrecy…" He swallowed hard before continuing. "But Father took her from me. He's done something to her and I don't know where she is. That's why I'm going to find her, no matter what it takes."
The girl felt a heavy weight on her shoulders. So, his treasure was another woman all this time. She never thought of that, but she had her questions answered now. Why was her heart aching? Why did she feel so jealous? "Why didn't you tell me this before?"
"I didn't want to place my personal problems on you."
"But...We've been searching for months."
Blumiere shrugged. "Yes, well...I didn't think you would stay this long."
Nastasia froze. Didn't think she would stay this long? "Blumiere, I made an oath."
"I didn't take it seriously, to be honest. You have your entire life ahead of you. What reason could you possibly have for staying?"
She frowned, fighting to keep her voice steady. "When I make promises, I keep my word."
He let out an exasperated sigh. "Alright then."
Nastasia felt her throat tighten and noticed her vision getting blurry. She bit down on her lip and fought to keep her composure. Blumiere meant the world to her, but what was she to him? A liability? An extra weight on his shoulders?
Without thinking, she asked, "Blumiere, what happens if we never find Timpani? What will you do then? Will you spend the rest of your life searching for someone who might not even be here anymore!?"
He turned to her, surprise evident on his face. Then, his features hardened and his face burned. "Don't even think like that."
The girl bowed her head. "You're right. I shouldn't have-"
Abruptly, Blumiere stood and walked towards his tent. "I need some time alone."
Nastasia lifted her head. "Wait! I didn't mean to-!" He was already gone.
She sighed and held her knees close. She shouldn't have said that. She really shouldn't have said that. But the girl just couldn't stand it. Was it selfish to want him? Probably. But wasn't it obvious why she stayed?
The bat was starving before. Cold, cramped, and alone. She would have died in that cage if it weren't for him. She could never disregard that and act like it meant nothing. Like her feelings meant nothing.
And just like that, Nastasia understood why Blumiere was still looking for her. In a way, they were going through the same thing. But her question still stood. What would happen if they never found her? What would Blumiere do then? This couldn't end well for him. But even so, Nastasia would never leave him. No matter what.
It seemed that she found a treasure of her own.
A/N: Nassy is the best girl and she deserves the world. But in all seriousness, I've been wanting to write something between her and Bleck before he went super crazy and was more desperate than anything. As for why he's a bit of a prick here, Blumiere really wants Timpani back and is really only focused on that. He sees this journey as his alone and can't quite understand why Nastasia is so stubborn. But he does care about her too.
Stay safe. Wash your hands. Social distancing. All the stuff you've probably heard a million times by now.
EDIT: Added some italics. Also, a minor point, but the Tribe of Darkness broke from the Tribe of Ancients 2,000 years ago.