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gentle dreams for the watcher

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When Fie was a small child, she used to have night terrors—likely a consequence of the life she lived before Boss took her in. She doesn’t remember what she used to dream about—maybe it was blood and smoke and war. All she remembers is that she would wake up with tears in her eyes and a dull sense of pain in her chest. After that, she would go to where the boss was sleeping(he was occasionally still awake, guarding the others while they slept on overnight missions) and let him hold her in his arms. If it wasn’t him, than it would be any of the other members of her family, like Leo or Xeno. They would always let her cling to them in wordless understanding, never pressing her to speak.

As she got older, it became easier to sleep anywhere and at any time. Fie quickly learned that sleep was crucial to performing at her best on missions, and thus it was beneficial to sleep whenever possible. She grew out of her night terrors quickly afterwards as she grew older, and she eventually just stopped dreaming. Of course, the former jaeger never stopped dreaming completely, an impossible feat by nature, but for her to dream at all nowadays was rare.

Fie appreciates her lack of dreams now more than ever. Trapped in an old, musty windmill with Elliot and Machias, Fie doesn’t need to imagine what kind of nightmares she would be having if she had grown up like a normal girl. She can see it through the boys; through Elliot’s occasionally red-rimmed eyes in the morning, through Machias’ bags under his eyes growing deeper and deeper. Between the stress of being caught by the provincial army that patrols Celdic daily and the continued disappearance of Rean, Fie isn’t surprised to see that they’re starting to crack under the pressure. Elliot’s father is likely fighting on the front lines of the war and his sister is unaccounted for, and Machias’ father has been imprisoned. They don’t know if the other members of class VII are still doing well either.

They’re students, not soldiers prepared for war. Even Fie herself was starting to get complacent this past year. She got used to being Fie Claussell the student and not Sylphid, the swift jaeger.

While awake, Fie already has enough problems to worry about. She doesn’t need to be worrying in her sleep too.

Fie wakes up to the sound of thunder outside the windmill. It was fairly loud, loud enough to quickly jolt Fie out of her post-slumber daze and keep her on edge. After a few seconds pass, Fie takes a deep breath and composes herself, letting the fact that she woke up to the sound of thunder and not the sound of a provincial guard's musket sink in. We’re safe, Fie thinks, listening to the storm raging on outside. And it’s still raining hard, so no soldiers would be outside unless they were in tanks.

The silver haired girl’s attention is drawn to Elliot when he makes a noise beside her. The three friends alternate between sleeping in the windmill’s bed and on the couch. Today, Machias has the bed while Elliot and Fie have the couch. Fie had insisted that she didn’t need it, since she could sleep anywhere, even on the floor, but the boys had protested against her two to one, claiming it was only fair that she get to sleep in it as much as they did.

Next to her, Elliot continues to mumble in his sleep. “Please,” he murmurs. The rest is incoherent. Fie sees his gentle features contort with pain and his small hands clench against the leather of the couch, and she frowns. She knows that they all need as much sleep as they can, but she doesn’t think sleeping through a nightmare would count as a good rest. “Elliot,” Fie hisses quietly, controlling her voice so as to not wake Machias up. She shakes his shoulders softly. “Wake up.”

Elliot makes a confused noise as he stirs. “Fie?” he asks faintly, while taking in her image through bleary eyes. She allows him to observe her for a moment, and Fie notices how his hands shake when he says her name. “What’s wrong? Do we need to go?”

Fie shakes her head. In the distance, she can hear a faint rumbling sound. “No. I just noticed that you were making noise in your sleep. Probably a nightmare. You can go back to sleep if you want.”

The silver haired girl squeezes his hand. Or we can talk about it goes unsaid.

Elliot takes a deep breath and squeezes her hand back. “Thanks, Fie. You were right. I just had a dream. All three of us were out at Celdic getting supplies. There was a commotion by the station, so you told us that you were going to scope out the situation and to wait for you in the marketplace. But you didn’t come back after a while, so Machias told me he was leaving to look for you. I wanted to come, but he said I should wait in case you came back. So I waited for a long time, but both of you didn’t return.”

The kind musician lets out a shuddering breath, then continues. “I came back here, hoping that you guys had escaped and were hiding here. But when I came back, there was nothing here. Machias’ siphon was gone and all our equipment was gone. There was no sign that we ever lived here. So I panicked and went back to town. I ran and ran, and I called your names. People were staring at me and I knew it was risky, but I never realized how afraid I was of being alone.” He chuckles awkwardly. “It sounds kind of dumb when I say it out loud. I know you guys wouldn’t leave me behind without saying anything.”

Fie stays quiet. It’s not silly, Fie thinks. Because it’s possible. It’s possible I might go out and never return. I might never get to hear your beautiful music again.

“To be honest, I’m still a bit tense,” Elliot admits, sheepishly rubbing the back of his head. “So I’ll stay up a bit longer. I wish I could play my violin, but that would just keep you up and wake Machias up.”

That’s not ideal. If Elliot doesn’t get enough rest, he might be too tired to go on their reconnaissance mission at the Twin Dragons Bridge tomorrow. Think, Fie. What would boss—no, father and the others do?

Elliot makes a confused noise when Fie takes his head into her hands and lowers his head down next to her on the couch, keeping him in her embrace.

(“Careful, Fie,” Fie can hear Edel’s melodic voice in her head. “Flowers like these require you to be a bit gentle as you tie their stems to the stake. Use a light touch.”)

“Fie?” Elliot whispers quietly. “What are you doing?”

“Keeping you here,” Fie replies, already closing her eyes to go back to sleep. “I’ll be here when you wake up.”

Fie does not promise anything. She knows she can’t, and there’s a very real chance of Elliot’s nightmare coming true. But for now, she hopes her comfort is enough.

Fie keeps her eyes closed and waits until Elliot’s breathing to even out, then finds that his hands have found themselves wrapped around her too, keeping them both in each other’s embrace.