Kashaw is used to horrible dreams. He is used to dreaming of his blood. He is used to being haunted by Vesh’s memories. He is used to the faces of people who’d fallen around him that he didn’t revive out of fear. He is used to the memory of the soulless husks of everyone in his village. He is used to fear and fire and pain. It came with the life he’s led. It was something he’s learned to live with. Something he couldn’t change.
What he wasn’t expecting was to dream of Vax. His kind smile and the mischievous glint in his eyes. Their days together in Zephra when Keyleth had official Tempest business where they’d just enjoy each other’s company. Vax the ass would braid flowers into his hair while he napped. Them watching each other’s backs. Kash had made sure the idiot didn’t die then. Them messing around before going to what Kash thought was a death sentence, fighting an ancient red dragon. Vax pulling him into a quick kiss before he ran to fight the Cinder King, trusting the Fire Giants to Z and him. Vax’s pleading look for him to help his little sister. Him introducing Kash to Velora as his boyfriend before pulling him into a kiss. Vax’s goodbye, one last kiss because Vax could, snowdrops littering the ground, Keyleth sobbing into his shoulder.
Then the dream changes suddenly. He is surrounded by inky blackness. His hair’s down and the only light coming from his scars, faintly glowing crimson. Everything too present to just be a dream. The smell of blood and tears and so many other horrible things Kashaw wouldn’t admit to knowing the smell of. He was cold. Why was it so damn cold?
Then claw-like nails trail up his back. If he hadn’t frozen in fear and suddenly fighting off a panic attack he would’ve wondered why he was shirtless. She slowly pulls him flush against her, one arm on his shoulder the other around his waist. He does his best not to panic, not to pull away, not to set her off. He’s more used to this then he'll ever be willing to admit.
“Hello husband.” He could hear her satisfied smirk at his complacence.
“My lady.” He manages to breathe not daring to look at her. He’s barely fighting off those memories threatening to consume him without seeing her face.
No matter what happened in his life no matter how much good he saw or the power of the people around him he’d fear her and she knew it, probably relished in it too. She was sadistic and terrible enough for it, she’d proved that many times. Gods the things she’d done.
Nope avoid those memories, think of something nice uh shit, Keyleth! Her smile, the way she’d barely touch his shoulder when she needed reassurance or affection from him. The way her eyes would soften when she saw someone she loved, the rage that would harden in those same eyes if you hurt someone close to her.
“I heard you were going to a wedding.” Vesh purrs in his ear pulling him away from the comfort and relative safety of his own mind.
Oh that’s what this was about. “I am.” He acknowledges not knowing what to say, he’s never known what to say to her.
She didn't speak again just trances his scars, physical reminders of her claim over him. He stands still and lets her do it. As she finishes tracing one the light emitting from it goes dark. Her skin’s cold, almost freezing. Slowly, painfully, she traces every scar, robbing him of any light. Distant screams could be heard. He could feel her hands on his chest, in his hair. Her lips on his neck. She pulls his hair, scratches his chest. He keeps his eyes closed and his mind blank. The screams get louder. He knows he’s turned to face her now. She kisses him harder, deeper, rougher. She bites his lip, drinking his blood.
“Open your eyes.” She orders.
He does and meets the same solid white eyes that haunt the worst of his nightmares. She smiles. He tries not to break.
“You look so good like this.” She says as her sharp nails trail over his face, as if to categorize it.
“Like what my lady?” he asks cautiously.
She smirks but doesn’t answer. Instead she pulls Kashaw into a passionate, violent, one-sided kiss. He wishes he could scream or cry or do anything besides take it. Her nails claw his back, drawing blood. She pulls his hair.
Suddenly the dream ends and he’s in bed, Keyleth next to him, asleep. He slowly gets out of bed, as not to disturb her. She looks so peaceful. He grabs his cloak before scribbling down a note for when Keyleth wakes up, assuring her that he’s fine. He knows from experience she’ll panic when she wakes up if he doesn’t leave one.
He slips the cloak on and walks out to the blossoming trees, leaning against one and waits in the slow creeping of dawn for the sun to rise. Time passes, his scars burn, and he greets one of the most beautiful sights in the world, sunrise in Zephra. Pale pinks, oranges, and yellows paint the sky. The clouds turning dark purple along with deeper pinks. The wind further tangling his bed head. He hears footsteps that stop behind him, he doesn’t look.
“Kash?” Keyleth’s voice is soft with worry and he feels a pange of guilt about his shitily written scribble of a letter.
“Yeah?” He says, doing his best to keep his voice steady.
He can almost see her biting her bottom lip, “Can I touch you?”
“Yeah.” He says doing his best not to make it come out too fast.
She steps next to him before she takes his hand. He leans into her touch almost instinctively. He puts his head on her shoulder and is a little more grateful for the fact she’s a bit taller than him. The sky is almost entirely blue and orange by the time either of them speak.
“It was her.” He says answer her unasked question, neither of them are very good at the whole not to the point conversation thing but they know each other well enough that it works, “She just wanted to be a bitch because we’re going to a wedding.”
“You’re ok?” She asks.
“I’ll be ok ya.” He assures her, “I’ve got you and Z and I’ll get to be really sarcastic to your friends in a couple days.”
She laughs a bit at that “Just don’t do something to actually fuck up the wedding, Vex would kill you.”
“I won’t,” he says, “I’m kinda curious to see what a good wedding is like anyways.”
“They’ll be wine and cake and a lot of dumb fancy people.” Keyleth says.
“That sounded great until the fancy people bit.” Kash admits.
Keyleth squeezes his hand, “It’s in Marquet so most won’t show up I believe.”
“That’s good.” He turns to face her, “Less awkward conversation hopeful.”
“Knowing us they’ll be plenty of that.” Keyleth jokes before more seriously asking “Can I kiss you?”
Kash nods. Her lips are soft. There’s love there, not unrequited violent dominance. Keyleth is gentle. She pulls away after a few seconds. She’s careful as she slowly walks him back to the house, giving him the ability to stop her if he’d prefer to stay by the tree, he appreciates that. There's nothing controlling in what she just, there’s concern for sure but she gives Kashaw the reins when he needs them.
He sits on the bed, Keyleth next to him. Her hand in his. Snowdrops bloom on a table. Sunlight filtering in. Muffled howls of wind creep in from outside. Her circlet sits beside the bed. His armor glints gold from within an open closet. Her staff and his spear propped up together by the door. Their feet wet from the morning dew. A raven lands at the window sill.
She brushes the windswept tangles out of his hair. He does his best to breath in and out meditatively, “Do you want a braid or a bun or just down.”
Kash thinks for a moment, “Bun.”
Keyleth hums as she methodically makes sure she didn’t miss any knots. He glances over at the raven watching them intently and lovingly flips it off. The raven’s caw sounds suspiciously like laughter. He smiles and he gets the feeling someone on the other side is smiling too.