[[WOW OKAY time really got away from me. I blame starting college and general writers block. I had like half of this done for like, ever, and then got stuck. SO IF THIS CHAPTER IS AWKWARDLY WRITTEN THAT'S WHY. I have to thank Sarah (wingedsenea) again for bugging me relentlessly to work on this and helping me work through my writers block. This fic would have died long ago if it weren't for her and you should totally go read her fics too because she is awesome and cool!]]
Something about the figure sitting in the bed before him frightened him. It seemed so inextricably foreign, and yet unsettlingly familiar. He was reluctant to approach, but felt he had to do so. Stepping gingerly, still, a floorboard creaked underneath, giving away his presence. The figure turned, fixing him with a blank deadened stare, just like always.
"H-Hey Yuri," he said as he donned an unconvincing smile.
Silence from the man, then, "Why didn't you save me, Raven?" the dark eyes drilled through him, causing him to wince slightly.
"I tried, Yuri, I-I really did, I'm sorry..." A sharp intake of breath as the face changed.
"Why didn't you save me, Damuron?" Casey asked, "I've always protected you, why couldn't you do the same for me?"
"Casey..." he didn't know what to say. He couldn't move, couldn't respond, and could only stare into the dark eyes gazing back at him.
"What is it? Was it because you're weak? Because you're a coward? Why? Why can't you answer me? Why?"
Raven sat up suddenly, blinked, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Sunlight poured in the window, indicating it was already late morning. Raven glanced to his side, seeing a vase of flowers on his bedside table. They were fire lilies, the same kind Casey always loved. "Figures..." Raven muttered, a sad smile coming across his face. He stared at the flowers for a minute, before a low whine brought his attention down to the side of his bed. Repede sat there, a sort of concerned look on his face. "What's the matter, Repede? Ya ain't worried about ol' Raven now are ya?" he laughed lightly, patting the dog on the head as if to reassure him he was okay. He got out of bed with a yawn, stretching his arms above his head. He was just about to remark on how it was odd for Repede to get up without Yuri when he heard a loud noise come from the other room. Panic washed over him as he bolted out of his bedroom, into the kitchen.
"Oh, good morning Raven! I'm sorry; I didn't wake you up, did I?" Judith smiled, reaching down to pick up a pan she'd dropped. "You seemed tired, I thought I stop by and let you sleep in for once." Yuri was fine, sitting at the table, eating breakfast. Repede trotted over, settling into his usual position at Yuri's side.
"Nah, I was already awake, don't worry about it..." Raven mumbled, still frowning slightly as he sat down.
"I heard about what happened yesterday, so I thought I'd get you a new vase, since I was coming over anyway," Judith remarked, as she finished washing up, and sat down as well. "...Is something wrong?"
Raven blinked, snapped out of his thoughts, looking up with a smile, "Hm? Nah, of course not. Don't worry about it."
Judith was unconvinced as usual, but knew that trying to weasel a real answer out of the man was a nigh impossible task. She moved on, "Karol's going to come over later today."
Yuri's head perked up at that. He seemed to be regarding Judith with an air of mild suspicion. Raven's reaction was decidedly more enthusiastic, "That's great! Ain't that excitin', Yuri? Wait til ya see how much he's grown."
Once Judith left, Raven and Yuri moved to the living room, awaiting Karol's arrival. Yuri still had yet to speak again, and Raven was unsure whether to mention it or not. A thought struck him just then. What if he had imagined it, as Harry had said? He wasn't going senile, by any means, but what if he had wanted to hear Yuri speak again so badly that he had imagined it? It had been late, after all, and he had been tired. And really, like the first thing Yuri was going to say was going to be something as innocuous as that, really. Raven's second guessing his memory was cut short by a knock on the door. He got to his feet, glancing over at Yuri, "I bet ya anythin' this is Karol~" He strode over and answered the door, and sure enough he was greeted by the sight of the bushy brown haired boy. "About time ya visited," Raven grinned, ruffling Karol's hair, and then letting him inside.
"H-hey Raven..." Karol nervously hovered in the doorway, and hesitated before entering the room. Yuri looked up to Karol blankly, blinking in recognition that he was there. A small frown of worry etched on his face but it quickly receded.
"Yuri... I-I'm sorry I haven't come to see you," Karol looked down at his feet. Yuri remained quiet, absently patting Repede on the head as he walked over. Repede sat at Yuri's feet, as if to protect him. "I've been trying really hard to be brave and strong... it's not easy b-but I'm trying my best..." Karol stumbled over his words awkwardly, unsure how to express them. "But... if I wasn't sure what to do... I-I'd always think what you would say or do... S-So I guess I was afraid... a-afraid to see you not being the strong confident Yuri that I remember..." Karol seemed somewhat confident with this conclusion. He looked up at Yuri cautiously. Yuri stared back.
"Th' fact that you can figure that out for yourself proves that you've done a lot of growin' up," Raven commented. He was standing behind Karol, leaning lazily against the door frame, arms crossed over his chest.
Karol turned his head to the older man, "R-really?"
Raven nodded. "Of course; now, how 'bout you tell Yuri some of the things Brave Vesperia and the great Captain Karol has been up to, hmm?" He gave Karol a reassuring pat on the back, "I know he'd love ta hear about it... Right Yuri?"
Karol glanced over at Yuri, who nodded. Karol smiled at this, and trotted over to Yuri. "A-Alright then!" he sat down beside Repede, looking up at Yuri. Raven couldn't help notice how much bigger Karol seemed, sitting next to Yuri as he hadn't in almost a year. Yuri was still taller, but also much thinner than before. He wondered how long it would be until Karol was taller.
"So um... Let me think... Oh! Well the other day some of us went out to Keiv Moc and suddenly this big monster showed up! We totally took it down no problem! I-it was great! Then this other time..."Karol continued to recount various stories of the guild's exploits. Yuri listened, of course, quietly. His attention was clearly fixed on Karol though. Raven smiled softly, remaining in the doorway. It could have just been his imagination, but Raven could have almost sworn he glimpsed a faint smile on Yuri's face. Maybe he had imagined Yuri talking the night before. It didn't really matter. This was enough for now.
[[ALSO UM I would have put this note at the start but I didn't want to spoil the flashback. I'm sure you're all familiar with the Casey's bow sidequest, but probably fewer are familiar with Damuron/the light novel. Damuron was Raven's identity before he died. He was a noble and a giant flirty douche until he met Casey. This is all from the light novel Empty Mask writen by one of the writers for ToV, and is thus canon. It's very interesting and you can learn more about it by googling "empty mask summary" since apparently eats links.]]