it's a little too dark

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video: x 

“They’re still here!”

“So’s Magnussen. He should be at dinner, but he’s still in the building.”

2

I’m getting that déjà vu feeling again…

Shattered - A Moriel Fic

*possible trigger warning for PTSD/panic attacks in this one as well as mentions of violence.*

Title: Shattered 

Summary@allpaintedincolors​ prompted me for “Az flipping out after Cassian’s wing injuries in ACOMAF and having generally awful flashbacks and Mor comforting him/reminding him that it’s over.” 

Azriel/Mor, post ACOMAF the two of them are assisting in helping clear Velaris after the attack as well as strengthening its defences when a freak thunderstorm triggers flashbacks of Hybern in Azriel. Split POV. 

Link: A03

Lightning flashes overhead, a shocking burst of white light that obliterates his senses for a half a heartbeat. Someone screams piercing and shrill a sound that trembles through his bones. Azriel stops dead. Frozen. Trapped. As though invisible, impenetrable barriers have sprung up all around him, preventing him from moving.

The narrow lane around him seems to contract, squeezing in tightly like the walls of that black prison they’d stuffed him in to as a child, getting smaller and smaller until it might crush him. His body stops. He can’t lift his arms, can’t move his legs, can’t spread his wings the way he wants to and fly, fly away from this, somewhere safe, somewhere open, somewhere quiet.

His lungs seem filled with ash, every breath is rasping and ragged, there isn’t space in his chest to get the breath that he needs. His chest is shrinking too, iron bands around it crushing like vices until he can’t breathe.

And his heart. His heart pounds like the hammering of rain against a window, continual, uneven, relentless. Again and again and again like the clash of steel on steel that always used to fill the Illyrian war camps during drills, ceaseless. On and on and on and on until it drowns out the world, eclipses it all in thundering terror and there’s no room left in him for anything else.

His whole body begins to shake violently. He is a feather caught in the hungry maw of a hurricane. He can’t fly, he can’t fight it, he can only bend to its will as it drags him along with it. Bile rises in the pit of his stomach, stinging the back of his throat and sickening him. And his power flares, his siphons burning blue as that energy within him begins to rip free of his control.

Closing his eyes Azriel fights it, tamping it down, restraining himself. He forces himself to breathe deeply, inhaling the scents around him. Velaris. Velaris. Velaris. He chants over and over again. He’s home. In a street surrounded by people. Not Hybern. Not Hybern. Velaris. Home. Not Hybern. Over and over and over he repeats the words, leashing himself mercilessly, making a prisoner of himself, chaining down his emotions.

Then lightning flashes in the sky again and all the hell that he’s been trapping within himself finally tears his scarred, burned skin and breaks loose.

Lightning flares once more and he might have winnowed with it. The quiet, cobbled street bathed in gentle sunlight still visible beneath the darkening clouds overhead vanishes, ripped away and the throne room replaces it. He’s not in Velaris any more. He’s in Hybern. And there’s blood oozing from the wound in his chest where the arrow protrudes. Poison pulses through his body with every beat of his heart. His vision is blurred, his breathing ragged and pain bursts through him with every faint movement.

“I would suggest bracing yourselves,” that voice ripples through him like roiling black thunder. Then a burst of light as the king’s power flares. And Cassian. His brother standing before him, throwing out his wings wide as though they were a shield and not the greatest gift the world ever gave him.

Blood sprays in the air like mist, crimson rain falling from the shredded dark clouds that were once Cassian’s beautiful wings. And his brother is screaming. Screaming in agony as he crumples to the ground before him And Azriel groans, lurching forwards, pain half blinding him as he tries to get to him, to help him.

Power rips through him, roaring beneath his skin, as though his blood has caught fire. But it can’t get out. It has nowhere to go. The magic of this cursed court leashes him, prevents him from accessing it. And so it burns him. It burns and it burns him as he longs to let it out, to save Cassian, to stop him making that awful, unnecessary sacrifice for him.

The feeling of pain consumes him. The scent of blood fills him with every ragged breath. His heart pounds and pounds and pounds. And he can’t breathe. He can’t think. He can’t breathe. He has to get out. He has to, he has to, he has to.

****

Mor looks up from where she was standing using her power to help repair a shopkeeper’s front window at the flash of lightning that had suddenly flared in the sky above them. When she sees Azriel her heart stops. The shadowsinger has frozen in the centre of the narrow street, his outline gone rigid, his powerful muscles trembling. And his siphons…His siphons are glowing blue as he draws upon his power.

Without a thought she dives away from the couple she had been assisting, shouting for the people around her to get back even as she hurtles for him. The lightning flash, that playful shriek of a child splashing in the river below but to him, to him it was a scream of agony, of horror. It had taken her a moment to resist the drag back to Hybern at the reminder of that flare of power the lightning flash had jolted in her too but Azriel…Azriel.

The heavens open above them, showering them in an unearthly deluge but Mor barely notices the cool rain as it lashes against her skin, her eyes are focused entirely on him. As she bounds towards him she hopes fleetingly that the cold kiss of the sky on his skin might be enough to drag him back to the present but as she gets closer she sees his eyes.

His hazel eyes, usually so calm and relaxed, a constant anchor for her despite whatever else might be going on, those eyes always remain so steady and composed. But now they look wild. They’re hollow and unfocused, staring at something in horror that she can’t see and it’s terrifying him, terrifying him. In all the centuries that she’s known him she’s never seen him look that scared by anything. Angry, yes, furious on occasion, determined, defiant, shaken perhaps but never afraid, never like this.

The moment she’s close enough to touch him she seizes his wrist tightly in her grip and then winnows, pulling her shattered friend away from that quiet, residential street of Velaris as his siphons continue to burn. She knows the kind of power that lives beneath his skin, she knows exactly what he’s capable of unleashing, what he would have unleashed in Hybern if he’d been able to. She has to get him away, get him somewhere far away from those people, somewhere quiet, somewhere safe.

They land in the mountains surrounding Velaris and barely an instant after they arrive Azriel erupts.

His wings flare violently, the hooked claw of one catching her just beneath her eye a moment before she throws up her shields to block against the blast of power she’d been anticipating since she saw him standing frozen there. The mountains around her tremble with the explosion that rips through the air around them and despite her shield, Mor finds herself knocked back away from him.

When she rises again and finds him he’s hunched over himself. Alone in a sea of darkness. The rain continues to pound down over them from the heavy black skies spread out above them and they cloak him where he’s sprawled on the flattened grasses around him. His wings trail behind him, like the sails of a ship whose mast has shattered and left them crumpled and useless. His arms are wrapped tightly around his stomach, his forehead is pressed onto the ground before him and he’s shaking so violently she fears he’ll hurt himself. The siphons that had burned so blindingly bright with all of that power are flat and dull now. As empty as he is.

Pushing herself up she pads cautiously towards him, her heart ripping itself into shreds at the sight of him like this. He’s always so stoic, so in control, so cold and isolated from their court, distancing himself to make it easier to do the things he has to that it’s easy to forget about the battered soul that lives beneath his skin.

She sees it now. Raw and vulnerable, as exposed as he is, lying on the frigid ground at her feet and she despises it. This isn’t the male she knows and loves, not her friend, her battle partner. Seeing him this broken cracks something deep within her she never even knew existed. All she wants as she crouches down on the sodden grass at his side is to help him, to heal him, to make him stop feeling so much guilt and grief and pain.

As she draws close enough to kneel beside him, heedless of the mud forming around them due to the rain she takes note of his ragged, uneven breaths. It takes her a moment to register the fact that he’s crying. The shadows that always coil around him have deepened and darkened, becoming as thick and black as the smoke that pours from a roaring fire, all but concealing him from her. His face is now buried in his scarred hands, those startling hazel eyes hidden from her but the way his chest heaves, the way his body trembles, the way his breathing hitches says enough.

Her throat tightens with a thick coil of emotion and her own eyes sting with tears at the sight of him, at the thought of what he must have endured there to shatter him so completely. Taking a deep breath she swallows it and forces herself to be like him, steady and calm and composed, realising that he needs her to anchor him this time.

“Azriel,” she murmurs quietly, not daring to touch him until he’s noted her presence, the contact feeling somehow too intimate, too much like an invasion while he’s so vulnerable. “Azriel, look at me. Please look at me.”

Slowly he raises his head and his bloodshot eyes find her. At once the little colour that had remained in his sun kissed skin drains, leaving him looking half a corpse before her. He reaches out to her and his hand settles on her cheek, his thumb brushing over the small cut his wing had made in her cheek, which has already stopped bleeding and begun to heal.

“Did I hurt you?” he rasps, his voice hoarse and jagged, not at all the smooth ripple of midnight velvet that she’s used to.

“No,” she says at once, taking his hand in hers and moving in closer, pressing his palm to her chest so he can feel the steady pounding of her heart beneath her ribs and can anchor himself to it. It’s something he does for her whenever her nightmares overwhelm her, lets her feel the pulse of his heart in his chest and it helps, it grounds her, reminds her what’s real and helps her drag herself out of whatever horror she had been lost in. She hopes it helps him too.

“No, Az,” she says again, more loudly and firmly this time, over the tattoo the rain is beating into the ground and their bodies, “I’m all right. You’re all right.”

He looks dully down at their joined hands where they’re pressed against her and he sees the dull, empty siphon on the back of his own and tightens. Dragging his eyes away from her he scans the clearing, the obvious destruction and devastation that shadows the clearing around him. His breathing turns ragged and his eyes go wide, horror blooming in them as he stares down at his battered, burned hands as though he can see blood on them.

“Azriel,” she says sharply, taking his hands in hers and squeezing, holding them to her and stopping him as he starts to shake his head, “You didn’t hurt anyone,” she growls at him, “Look at me,” she says again, punching out each word. She cups his face in her hand and says again, “Look at me,” softer this time. He obeys, “You didn’t hurt anyone,” she says flatly, looking straight into his eyes, willing him to believe her.  

She wonders, for a moment, if those words sound odd in his ears, if they ring hollow. He, more than anyone, has hurt people. Tortured and blackmailed and manipulated and killed them for the sake of his family, of his court, of the people he’s sworn to protect.

She knows why he does it. Why he does it alone. And why he refuses to talk to her about it when she tries to open him up, tries to urge him to share the burden with her even a little. It is his weight to carry. Blood that is to stain his hands and blacken his soul and his alone. And he will drown himself in that blood, in that pain to spare them from having to see it or know it as he does.

But the look in his eyes then, that haunted, defeated, lost look is one she hopes never to see there again. The people he hurts he does because he must, he does to protect, to make things better. But the thought of what might have happened today.

“You didn’t hurt anyone, Az,” she whispers, feeling the tears she had been trying so hard to suppress slide down her cheeks for him.

“I would have,” he whispers, his whole body shaking again, his wings drooping even further behind him, “If you hadn’t pulled me away I, I-“ he breaks off, his head hanging, covering his eyes with one of his scarred hands. “I thought I was in Hybern,” he chokes out to her, every word more cracked and broken than the last, “I was watching him hurt Cassian. His wings- His- I-” He swallows hard as a fresh wave of tears fall to the ground around them, mingling with the rain that still falls around them, “I just wanted to help. I just wanted to make it stop. I just wanted it to stop. I just wanted it to stop…”

He breaks down at that and Mor surges forwards without thinking. She can’t stand his pain, can’t stand the agony that’s so obvious and so present in him. Wrapping her arms gently around his broad chest she pulls him close to her, cradling him in her arms as she tries to make it stop for him now. “It’s over,” she whispers, closing her eyes and rubbing his back, “It’s over now. You’re safe. We’re all safe. It’s over.” She promises him. He buries his face in against her neck, breathing in her scent, grounding himself in that, in the feel of her soft, solid, warm body against his, “I’ve got you. I’m here,” she soothes softly, saying words he’s said to her in the darkness of her nightly torments back to him and hoping that they’ll help, “It’s over. It’s over. I promise. It’s over.” she says again, holding him to her.  

The rain gradually stops, leaving the world smelling fresh and new around her and as the sky clears of the heavy, oppressive black thunderheads that had gathered above them, Mor holds Azriel in her arms. She stays with him in those mountains for hours, letting him break, letting him be vulnerable and shattered and all the things he never allows himself to be.

Her body grows numb with the cold and she finds herself remembering horrible things from that throne room. Cassian’s scream. The spray of blood from his shredded wings. The ash bolt that had pierced Azriel’s chest. The choking, crushing, awful feeling of being useless. Of being able to do nothing while those she loved suffered. Of realising that they might die. Both of them. That she might watch them both die, these two males who had come to mean more to her than either of them would ever know.

But she weathers that storm. She closes her eyes and takes it all for him, the way he’s done a thousand times for her; the way he would for her again in a heartbeat, without a thought. So she weathers it for him, lets his raging emotions batter her body and absorbs them all for him, to help him if she can.

“It will get better,” she promises him softly , once he’s quieted and stilled in her arms, fingers absently stroking his hair, “This war will end. And we will survive it. A new world will be born from the ashes of the old and there will be peace, and quiet and we will get to live in it. I promise. I promise. It will be all right.”

“I love you, Morrigan,” he whispers onto her neck in answer and she squeezes him tightly in her arms.

Leaning in she kisses his forehead, her arms still wrapped around him in a tight embrace and murmurs back, “I love you too, Az.”