Character: Thiede, Velaxis.
Spoilers: Everything up through Ghosts.
Song: You can sample a bit of “Return (Coming Home)” on the Cruxshadows “Downloads” page — use the little built-in player to scroll down to “Return” and double-click. I’ve always loved the triumphal quality of this song.
Author’s Notes: This little fic is strongly inspired by “And The Flowers Bloom Like Madness in the Spring” & “After the Rains,” a pair of exquisite post-Ghosts fics by Camille Sinesis, focusing in on Thiede and Velaxis. That relationship, which made instant sense to me, is filled with so much poignancy and bittersweetness, to the point I wanted to touch on it a little myself.
Return (Coming Home)
Thiede gazed out across the rooftops of Immanion, out towards the harbor and deep into the distance, where the sun was quickly sinking beneath the horizon. The balcony terrace was tinted with orange-pink light. Thiede idly tapped his fingers on the arm of his chair as he waited. Waited for Velaxis to come home.
I’ve seen the terrible hand of struggle,
And felt the pain that hubris brings.
I have tasted the wisdom of divinity
And the horror of its sting.
Velaxis had spent the afternoon with the Hegemony, which was in session, and afterward, Thiede supposed, had kept himself busy working out details with individual Hegemons, striking deals and smoothing out problems as only he could. Thiede, meanwhile, had taken one of his periodical walks through the city, having lunch in an ordinary, simple restaurant and sitting on one of the city piers to watch the boats come and go. Then he’d enjoyed long bath and a glass of wine on the terrace. There was nothing else that needed to be done.
And though they tell you I am lost,
And their words report my death is come,
The Fates have left me breathing still –
And very much alive.
Thiede decided to cast out his mind in search of Velaxis. No, he was not yet in this wing of the palace. A pity. Thiede had finished a bottle of wine and had nothing to do but wait. Such a waste of time, really, he thought to himself, although how he was wasting his time, he really couldn’t say. It was just a habit of mind, thinking that he had things to do. The days of running Immanion, plotting intrigue, puppeteering – charting the fate of the Wraeththu race – were over. Now it was his turn to simply enjoy life and its simple pleasure. Thiede was still learning exactly what that meant.