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“Why did this happen?”

Leon spoke with a tone that barely suppressed his feelings of concern. His blue eyes stayed trained on your sleeping form, your face still slightly reddened from your earlier cries, as he inquired with Aerith.

“Her heart is reassembling itself, filling the fractures that have been empty for so long. It’s...not the kindest process to the body.”

Silence fell over the two of them, the healer absentmindedly running her fingers over your knuckles as she sat by your bedside. You had fallen limp in Leon’s arms shortly after you spoke his name, like some sort of spell had awashed over your distraught form.

“...How long?”

Aerith let out a hum, emerald eyes coming up to connect with his. “Until she awakens?”

Leon nodded, arms crossed in front of his chest as he leaned against the opposite wall.

“It shouldn’t be long, perhaps tomorrow. I think she just needs a good rest, but for now I’d rather not leave her alone.”

Her voice was sincere, tinged with a maternal worry that only Aerith could carry. The swordsman closed his eyes with a sigh, returning to making a feeble attempt at organizing the thoughts and emotions that ran wild within himself.

The forefront of them all was…

Guilt .

What kind of man walks out on a person who abandoned all they had built up just to… come back to someone like him ?

What kind of man allows someone to apologize for mistakes they never even made?

You were always so empathetic, and kind, and loving

Perhaps that’s why one part of him yelled at himself to stay away, while the other ached for the ardor of a love’s past.

Leon opened his eyes, irises falling once again on your peaceful form. You were still so...

“I can stay.”

He blurted out his offer a little more clumsily than he liked, his own words knocking out the next pattern of his thoughts like water on a fire. Aerith looked up at him in surprise before her lips settled into a knowing smile. Her bangles jingled as she let go of your hand, carefully moving it to rest at your side, before her own hands came to settle upon her lap.

“I suppose… I should be checking in on Yuffie. I worry that a part of her thinks that this is her fault.”

Leon’s voice was gruff, his attention shifting away to the door so as to avoid the perceptive look of his companion. “Obviously it isn’t.”

He heard her shifting to stand, her footsteps, however, were so light that he barely noticed her close proximity until her hand reached up to land on his shoulder.

“Everything’s going to be alright, Leon… It’s not that one owes an apology to the other- you owe it to yourselves.”

Leon’s eyebrows scrunched up in confusion, mouth slightly agape as Aerith made her way to the door. “Knock if you want to switch, I’ll have Cid brew a pot of coffee for you.”  

She left without another word.

He sighed, moving off the wall to remove his jacket and gloves to place them on the nearby table. Perhaps, he thought as he fiddled with the fabric, she was right…

Regardless.

The brunette settled into the chair at your bedside, arms crossing over his chest once more as he leaned back to make himself comfortable. Night had already begun to fall, the golden color of the disappearing sun spilling in through the window and washing your still frame in its light. Despite how hard he tried to distract himself with the intricacies of your room, like your knick-knacks and scattered jewelry, he couldn’t help but glance at you from the corner of his eye.

That’s when he saw them:

Tears, fresh and new as they slid down your face and onto the pillow upon which your head rested. A small whimper fell past your barely parted lips, face twisting into an expression that he could only conclude as pain.

Leon immediately sat up, his one hand reaching up to dangle near your cheek, his fingers shaking slightly in hesitation.

Another weak cry from you had him moving to wipe away your tears with a tenderness that he himself barely recognized. He brushed loose strands of hair behind your ear, his own heart beating rapidly in his chest as yours began to calm. You let out a contented sigh, face softening as whatever plagued you began to fade.

And Leon fell back into his chair, relief rushing through him before the inevitable what-ifs and how-comes plagued his mind like they always did.

Your heart was rebuilding itself, was it not? How long would it be before you even remembered everything?

Surely not instantly.

And you… you deserved your space to grow, to become one with your memories. To reconcile with your past…

You deserved to decide if he was even worth it.

And God, he hated how selfish he felt in that moment... because he really hoped he was.

He knew you were.