When the choices have been made, Freya goes back to her past and tries to reconcile Then with Now. One shot.
Freya Crescent, dragon knight extraordinaire, savior of the world, martyr of Burmecia, was practical. Beyond her skills and her strength, beyond the frightening cut-glass mind of thoughts, she possessed the knowledge of what is and what could be in a plausible reality. Such an ability made life linear and acceptable. Melancholy touched her rarely and almost never brought fruitless daydreams of impossible What Ifs.
She was practical. Practicality demanded she follow duty, never straying again, heart a half-step below loyalty. Cold, bone-damp, uncomforting devotion and duty. Duty was too woven, though, and tangled and snarled in the life of a lover she no longer recognized or knew. A fact that her icy logical thinking mind did not care to continue to the inevitable questions.
Did she care to know him anymore? Did she want to relearn that which was long ago lost?
It was small wonder she had nightmares. A sleeping canvas has no use for neat lines and consequences and obligations. When she slept, Freya Crescent was no longer practical. She remembered and reinvented and rewrote. Past, present, future. Everything glowed on that other plane. No black and white existed, the grey of her restrained reality banished itself in shame. All throbbed with color; every emotion and memory had its own flavor. Bittersweet flames and wind and earth and rain. When her eyes closed and the burdens lifted and sleep took her, she could feel it all again, intimate with her skin in a way that nothing else had been since or, she feared, could be again.
A campfire-lit night. Straining flickers against the pitch-black of night. The hulking body beside her more incendiary than the little circle of flames she fed with spikes of wood. The awareness stretched beyond training, beyond being the legendary Freya Crescent. In some ways, it had always been like that with him. In other ways, the distance was further than was imaginable. So much silence lay between them. So many unspoken words. Some where best left unsaid, of course, and the excuses chased their tails through her head like field mice on nights of dark and flame like this. Words ate each other, anyway, in the night.
When things escaped, she was "Rat". She was "Crescent". She was the unspoken "You".
Fair enough. He was another sort of unspoken "You".
The "You" who she would find her laying her bedroll beside and who never mentioned it.
Unless that was what his hand on her shoulder, dwarfing and cupping, meant. That he understood something she refused to even allow into her mind with the field mice of excuses. Their eyes were always shielded from each other's understanding, by helm or hair or the pull of the ground. Agreements slipped through barriers, never to be mentioned or acknowledged. Who needed the eyes when you had the hand?
He breathed like he was drowning when he slept. After a while, it woke her up in a cold sweat. After another while, it brought a dry laugh and a smile and a determined return to blindness.
Blind sleep left her strangely seeing, though, and the open doors of the mind allowed unbidden thoughts that kept the helm low in the morning. How swiftly could the past be erased when everyone who mattered had given it up for dead? She only had to release that final thread, untie that final knot, and it would drift away into nothingness. It would leave the Today and the Tomorrow which could be filled however you wished. They were blank and empty and full and colorful. Honeysuckle vines of the Now pulled you in and kept you.
There was never any Now other than Now. No one could ever forget the day they dwelt in, even if they tried and promised and begged. The present soaked into the skin and transferred through touches, real or imagined. It could not be stolen by a fall or a battle or a willful mind. It existed, forever changing, forever cherished. Every Now meant you breathed. Moments of the moment needed to be kissed and set free. The enjoyment only needed to last the length of a breath.
She had lied when she told the lost lover that he had taught her to see value in the current and the yet-to-be. It did not matter. He would not remember the tricks to finding her untruths. Not yet. He would learn them in time because he believed when he pledged his heart to her again. She did not envy him the task. Nor did she hate him for forgetting. It was impossible to hate the dusty past and drifting memories now. The new ghosts in her head would keep her company at night when he searched and prodded and tried to please her with his recollection, true or false.
The ache in her head whispered who had taught her to value the Now and discard the Then. Her shoulder shivered under the phantom weight of a Then that refused to go quietly.
Perhaps there was something worse than being forgotten, something worse than death. Perhaps it took the truly strong to remember, the truly studious to carve and learn existence once the other lives had passed. Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. Logical, practical, and duty-bound to keep the lives.
Freya Crescent no longer wanted to be practical. She wanted to forget that life. She never wanted to learn the deep-soul burn again. The strength was weakness and dust and all she wanted now was to forget the hand on her shoulder, pressing her to the earth with unspoken words.