Keyleth didn’t meant to do it.
But after everything with the Conclave, they’d all been spending a bit more time by themselves, processing what had happened in their own ways. Grog and Pike had been helping the people of Whitestone, Percy had been spending some much-needed time with Cassandra, sometimes with Vex embracing her role as a baroness of the city but sometimes just the two of them, and Vax had been spending some time in the Raven Queen’s shrine. They’d all needed some time.
(Keyleth tried not think too much about what Scanlan called That Day We Fought Two Ancient Dragons, Let’s Not Do that Again. And didn’t want to dwell on how happy it made her that she was finally dead).
So earlier that afternoon Keyleth turned into a eagle and had flown around Whitestone a while. She didn’t have Vex-level excitement about flying, but she couldn’t deny that there was something freeing about being in the air, coasting along the winds and ducking in and out of the clouds. It allowed her to stop thinking about things for a while (people kept calling them heroes, and it was weird and awful and maybe a little bit nice). She was grateful.
After she had flown for a while, scaring the hell out of a few hawks along the way (sorry, guys, sorry) she settled on a tree in the forest not too far from the city to rest. After a few moments, she saw some movement off to the side with her eagle eyes, and an armoured bear came into view - Trinket! He looked happy being able to run free, and not far behind him, as Keyleth suspected she would be, was Vex. To Keyleth’s eyes, she looked a little less tight around the eyes, less tired than she had before this had all started, and Keyleth hoped this was the case. Vex didn’t carry her burdens in an obvious way. It was all in the little things.
“This seems a nice spot to rest a bit, buddy,” Vex said, as she patted Trinket on the head and scratched behind his ears.
Keyleth watched as Vex looked around the trees and into the sky before having a closer look at the trunk of the tree they’d stopped in front of. Keyleth looked at it closely, it looked like it had stood in the forest for many years. It wasn't quite as old as her buddy the Sun Tree (heyyyy, Kiki, she could hear his voice in her head), but she bet it still had some good stories to tell. She should ask it sometime.
Keyleth was aware that she was pretty much spying on her friend, and was going to fly off, leaving Vex and Trinket to their own rest, until she heard Vex raise her voice. “I can hear you, you know.”
Keyleth had spotted him, too.
“Oh, so my non-existent attempts to keep quiet were a failure, then?” Percy asked, as he stepped into the small clearing where Vex and Trinket were resting.
“A complete and utter one,” Vex replied.
“What a shame.” Percy was smiling softly in Vex’s direction. It wasn’t until you saw Percy smile like that that you realised how little he really did it - really smiled so that it reached his eyes. It made Keyleth’s heart clench a little.
She couldn’t help herself: she stayed to watch them for a while. She was curious to see them together, unguarded, or as unguarded as Percy and Vex could be.
She’d always known Percy had a soft spot for Vex - the arrows, listening to her in ways he didn’t listen to the rest of them, how he’d reacted after the tomb - even if she hadn’t always thought it was romantic, because it wasn’t like Percy had ever confided that in her. (No, he’d very much kept that close to his chest, like so many things). But eventually she had had her suspicions. And then Vax had outright asked her one night, “Kiki, you talk to Percival, do you think he has a thing for my sister?”
“Uh, I guess maybe? We don’t really talk about that kinda stuff. Not with any specifics.”
“I think he does.” And at the time (a little while after the tomb) it had been a little hard to tell how Vax felt about that, even though now Keyleth knew he was fine with it.
She was genuinely very happy for them! Excited for them! Because she had been worried - even after hearing Vex’s confession - that nothing would ever happen, because Percy hadn’t heard and they were both allergic to genuine discussion of feelings (Keyleth sympathised, but she was trying to get better!).
Percy and Vex were still talking. Vex’s hand was still on the trunk of the tree she had been examining earlier, Trinket now curled up beneath it. Percy was standing right beside her. Close to her. Hand clenching a little at his side.
“This tree is beautiful.” She paused over a small carving of sun with initials beneath it. “Are these … are these your sister’s initials? Vesper’s?”
Keyleth saw Percy’s hard swallow. “Yes. This was the tree she often used to hide in.”
“She used to hide?” Vex’s voice was gentle.
“From our tutors, from our parents … from us, I imagine. We all knew about it, but we gave her some peace. Most of the time.” Percy’s smile this time wasn’t one that reached his eyes at all.
Vex reached out to take the hand that had been clenching at Percy’s side moments before, and Percy gave it to her.
“Also, you know,” he changed the subject, in that very Percy way and in that very Percy tone that meant he was going to impart knowledge, “it’s part of the route that the Grey Hunt goes past …”
Keyleth loved Percy - he was her best friend - but he could be so insufferable. A small part of Keyleth was happy that Vex didn’t get much more out of him about his siblings than she had ever managed to, but most of her just wanted him to talk to someone about all the things he carried around in his head. She hoped Vex could be that for him. And, honestly, that he could be that for Vex. Vex wasn’t without her own dark thoughts. Saundor had proved that.
Keyleth just wanted them all to be happy. To not live with regrets about things they hadn’t done or things they hadn’t said. They all had enough regrets about what they had done and had said. (Or they should have).
She shook her eagle head a little, attempting to clear out the thoughts that had caused her to seek out the air and this shape in the first place, and went back to listening to Percy and Vex. Far more fun.
Vex still had a hold on Percy’s hand, and she’d drawn him closer to her. “You know, darling, I don’t think there even is a Grey Hunt. I just think you made it up on the spot.” Keyleth always loved Vex’s tone when she was trying to wheedle something out of someone - whether it was extra gold or information.
“I assure you there is, dear.” Percy wasn’t giving ground.
“Then how come I couldn’t find any references to it in the Whitestone history book I read in the library the other day?”
Keyleth laughed in her head.
“Well. it obviously wasn’t a very good history …”
“I think it was written by your great-uncle.”
Vex was never one to stand down. They were so cute together!
“Great-uncle Otto? Totally mad.”
They were standing even closer together now, right up in each other’s space. Vex’s hand had migrated to the collar of Percy’s coat, and Percy’s hand was lightly on Vex’s hip. “You’re such a smug …” and then she seemed to be making a valiant attempt at kissing the smug smile off his face.
If Keyleth hadn’t been an eagle, she would have probably been blushing. (She didn’t think eagles blushed. She should probably know that).
She took off towards the castle in one swoop and left them to it.
If eagles could grin, she’d be doing that too.