Disclaimer: I dont own any of the characters, places or anything else you recognize, they all belong to Trudi canavan. I make no money from any of this.
Summary: In Which the " Last Resort" was taken. AU. During/after The High Lord.
A/N: Sorry for the sudden change but I've decided, after a lot of thought, to re-edit this whole story, and create something, hopefully, better than that which was originally posted. I started this in 2010 and feel that I have grown a little since then in terms of skill. 'Devotion' is one of the first stories I posted and I had always hoped to rewrite it someday. So here it is, although theres a few things you should take into account before reading-
-Most, but not all, chapters will be edited although some of the original content from the first post will remain. If you've read this before you will most likely recognise it.
-The plot has changed ever-so slightly and I hope to make it clearer this time around and give the story a little more depth.
Again I am sorry for taking six steps back, but it is hopefully one forward. If you have any questions PM me and I'll get to back to you when I can.
'StuffRocksInnit' kindly beta-ed this for me, so a MASSIVE Thank you! to her.
The Last Resort: The only option left when all others have been exhausted. Used in times of desperate need.
The private room on the left contained a single iron framed bed, a reber-wool mattress and blanket, a plain bedside table, a wooden bedside chair and a small cabinet which contained a few things of this and that. It was plain and simple, nothing special, just like the rest of the wards within the Healers Quarter, and it did the job of providing a comfortable place to recover. This is what they had decided therefore this was how it remained.
The small room was lit by the low light of a lone globe that hovered above the bed, which made it possible for the room to be seen yet soft enough that it was possible to ignore, the room was cast in comfortable shadow. This light, which did not belong to either of the rooms two occupants, made Lady Vinara sigh in defeat at the sight it illuminated; the small figure resting their head on the bed, fast asleep.
This time she did not disturb the room with her presence. Too many times within the last two weeks had she found a slouched and tired figure resting in that chair, an empty bed in the following room. They had warned and scolded and advised and pleaded, but their words were never heeded.
Vinara sighed and resisted the urge to remove the young woman; instead she slowly eased the door ajar and quietly continued her shift on the ward, letting her globe light remain behind within the room.
Passing the expected empty room she could not help but allow a small sad smile to show despite her displeasure.
Sonea had not left his side throughout the last few weeks even though he had never wakened since that devastating day, even though she needed rest herself and recovery, even though she was asked and scolded and begged; Sonea remained devoted to the man. Yet there was a difference that set her apart from the others.
She saw what others did not, the private interactions between Sonea and Akkarin. She had seen the look in Sonea's eyes when she looked upon his sleeping form, the way in which she would softly brush his cheek with her hand when she thought no one else could see, how she would sit in that chair day in and out while throughout the night simply watching…waiting… showing strong such devotion…
Sonea's feelings ran deeper than what the rest of the guild and city believed, and Lady Vinara kept what she suspected to herself in silent respect for the two.
Yet she wished she never had seen, she wished she didn't know.
Her views of the younger woman had changed for good.
Yet Akkarin failed to ever wake.
She didn't mind. Not in the slightest. It was expected and natural and completely fine by her.
He would wake.
Sonea eased herself into the wooden chair and pulled the blanket she had borrowed-stolen-from her bed in the neighboring room tighter to her so that it met at the front.
'It's slightly chilly tonight…'
She lifted her legs up and tucked them under her to keep her bare feet warm and reached a hand over to touch the bed before her, and with a push of her thought, she sent a wave of energy evenly over the mattress, warming it pleasantly.
'There, that'll help keep the chill from his bones,'
Smiling, she ran her hand lightly over the blanket she sighed lightly when she reached his own warm one; she entwined her fingers though his long pointed digits and raised her eyes to his sleeping face.
'He looks so peaceful….after everything he deserves as much…'
After everything, wasn't rest all everyone wanted? she thought, carefully studying his relaxed features and unbidden the darkened thought of his near death, the never-ending rest, plagued her.
'Do you want to waken?'
He would wake. So Sonea did not mind his sleep. It was only natural. He was resting. She had taken two days to recover and even then she still had little energy; not even enough to form a globe light or to warm herself. And she had only been exhausted during the battle, Akkarin had been drained of all energy…all life...
She exhaled sharply and shook her head to clear such thoughts and pulled her chair closer to the bed, closer to his warmth, and lowered her head. She watched his face as she softly caressed his fingers and palm, noticing the slight flare of his nostrils as he exhaled, the little movements of his eyes under closed eyelids. His face wasn't just shadowed by the faint globe light above; he needed a shave. The slight stubble made her smile.
'I'll do that for you tomorrow, in the morning, before Lady Vinara arrives.'
She would often speak to him within her own mind, especially when touching him, secretly hoping that somehow he may hear her. No-one had been able to enter his mind since they had revived him. To her, it seemed that the darkness that had been so close to capturing him had swallowed his mind, or blocked any access to it. No thoughts, dream or otherwise, came from his slumbering form yet he was still there. Breathing, living; simply sleeping a sleep too deep for any of them to penetrate.
It depressed her, yet she assured herself he was still there. Akkarin's presence had not vanished; it was there, hidden within that darkness. Faint and fleeting, but still pulsing.
Shifting, she moved her other arm up and raised her head so that it rested in the crook of her arm, moving their hands as she stirred.
Even in the faint light, his blood-gem caught her eye as the shine passed over it and she turned her gaze and thoughts to it.
They had left it untouched from the battle.
It is useless anyway, she thought spitefully, almost angrily, a scowl briefly gracing her face. Her own remained hidden in her own pocket, always within reach yet never in sight. She didn't know how the Higher magicians would react upon knowing she had Akkarin's blood-ring.
'Many may get the wrong idea, hmm, with you giving me a ring before battle.'
She got no response but liked to imagine that he would be smirking at her.
Right idea or wrong idea…
Perhaps deep within her she hoped it was the right and in some way, she mused, it was. They were together now, had been, and were still…something…right? Or wrong?
It confused her, so many things needed done and asked and she just didn't have the strength to concentrate, neither mentally or emotionally, never mind physically as she was reminded at each corner.
Her health still wasn't up to standard and wouldn't be for quite some time, until she had Akkarin's' well-being sorted in some form. It just didn't feel right leaving him alone, under the care of those who had banished him-them, us-and she suspected this had to do with the many weeks when they were all each other had, with a homeland that distrusted them to save it. Those sorts of situations did things to people.
She also suspected it had a lot to do with him almost dying for her and their motherland. It definitely had roots within the warmth he gave her, the times they had slept together, the happiness his mere presences gave her; that devotion from her days, not so long ago, when she was his novice. Her love for him.
Maybe. It was useless anyway.
No, she thought forcefully, it was not, none of it was useless, yet she could still feel the depressing thought burn her.
She forced her gaze from the ring. Perhaps she should take it off, he couldn't use it and it only made her think of things she couldn't afford to think of or remember.
Returning her eyes to his sleeping face calmed her. He was peaceful, wasn't he, so why couldn't she be, just for now.
Sometimes…sometimes she thought that if she stared hard enough or thought strong enough or held tight enough, that she would get something in return from him, anything. A flicker of dark orbs or a quirk of those lips, a touch from those fingers, a brush from his mind. Gods how she wanted him back…
How could one man crawl under her skin and into her life so deeply that every day without him pained her in ways she never thought possible?
No one had taught her loving another so deeply could cause such pain and hurt.
Yet as she watched him, searched his face and ran her gaze over his exposed neck, it was all worth it. This man was worth it.
He had proven himself too many times over.
That day of the battle drew the line and closed over any doubts for her and for what she hoped were many Imardin citizens fears. This man loved his city, his people, enough to die for them.
And that is why she had done all within her power to save him then.
From the moment he had reached out and tightly grasped her arm, his life had been in her hands, and in those moments she hadn't even realized. The jar of her knees hitting the ground from his weight on top of her hadn't been enough to force her mind to work. She had been in shock, paralyzed in fear as she'd taken in his paling and pained face. Not even his blood, the jeweled blade rammed deep into his chest, could force her into action. It all happened too quickly and then he'd been on his back, his face full of pain as blood trickled through his pale fingers.
Her thoughts had been clumsy, brash, and all she could think was 'Heal, heal him, stop the blood, HEAL HIM.' Yet his strong grip and hissed "Not yet." had stopped her, not making any sense to her blurred mind.
Kariko's harsh laughter abusing her ears, his sneering tone of "So, that's where I left my knife.", had the same effect as a bowl of ice water on her face; her blood had chilled to the bone, her heart slowed. Her mind had slowly tried to work as she'd gazing unseeing at Akkarin, and again she watched as Kariko dropped his knife into the ground, setting his trap. And they had walked right into it. Well, Akkarin had. And she had never felt rage like it.
As Akkarin's voice had drawn her from her thoughts and to the flashes enlightening his face she had looked up at the three Magicians defending from the tower above. She'd time, she could do it, she could save him. It had been an unexplainable emotion that had flown threw her then; she hadn't looked back at him, couldn't, and set her sight on an unseen structure. Rising from his fallen form, she'd forced herself up and away, pushed the fear and longing to look back at him and help but she assured herself that her doing this was her saving him, no matter how much it hurt. She had sprinted, pushed what energy she had into getting to the Arena whilst keeping her gaze on Rothen and Balkan, making sure they continued to defend Akkarin.
It was a blur.
The flow of power from the Arena had been immense, overpowering and it had blinded her as she'd drained what she could as fast as she could, all the while watching and listening for the others.
Her chest had ached running back, struggling to pull enough oxygen into her lungs, her legs had threaten to drop her weight with each pounding step she'd taken.
Rothen had called out to her as she made the turn to the front of the University, it'd been weak, exhausted and faint and as soon as that turn had been made she'd seen why. The three Magicians could not hold Kariko off any longer and the Black Magician had advanced until he had stood over Akkarin's pone form. There he had stood smirking, his hand raised, palm out.
She had simply lost it, given herself over to the fear, panic and anger that spread up her spine. Her hate for the Ichani, for the man who had hunted Akkarin like some slum-rodent for years and shadowed whatever happiness he could ever have gained, burned in her veins and she had hummed with the Arenas power. She'd raised her own palm and in a heartbeat, a flash of blinding light and smoldering heat, the air shook with the power and she'd focused all it on the Ichani before her.
The next few moments had been a blur to her.
Collapsing by Akkarin's' side; he was passed out, he was pale, dieing, gone, her hands on him, pulling the knife out, pulling at the ripped robes, her hands pale, covered in his lukewarm blood, on his cooling, still unmoving, chest. Panic, and she had reached for whatever she had left and pushed herself, all that she was, into him, searching, stitched flesh and repairing severed blood paths, she healed torn tissue and skin, poured energy into the heart's main muscles and ordered it to pump, to beat, to work and warm him, to bring him back.
She remembered searching his mind, calling out to him only to receive no answer and to find darkness where there should have been light, life.
Upon opening her eyes, he had looked as though sleeping, as he had ever since. His heart continued to beat, his body continued to function, returned from the edge and yet…Akkarin remained gone.
She'd barely left him since.
Too weak. Too afraid.
Of far too many things.
Was he gone? Had he let go thinking she had run in fear and left him there to die?
Her thoughts often took such paths and lead her into haunted dreams.
She hadn't slept a full night in weeks and it was one of the main problems affecting her health.
She dreamt of him, of the battle, of him never waking, of him dying then and there on the cold ground with Kariko's blade stuck through his chest. Cruel laughter invaded her sleep and in the grasp of a nightmare, she failed to pull herself away from Akkarin, failed to save him.
Therefore she had taken to coming to his room and watching his chest rise and fall as life surged through him and she would imagine when he would wake. On nights when she could no longer keep sleep from her, his resting face and even breathing was enough to chase away the nightmares for her to regain enough energy to rise when the morning came.
Pulling herself from her thoughts once more she wondered if tonight would be such a night. Would his easy breathing lure her into a decent nights rest tonight? She wasn't as exhausted as usual so doubted she would, she only usually slept soundly, however how little, when near collapsing point.
No wonder Rothen looked as bad as her; he slept as much as she did. At the thought of the man, she smiled in fondness at the only fatherly figure she'd had. Uncle Ranel had always been just that; Uncle Ranel, so Rothen took the place where a father may stand in her life.
Such thoughts lead her mind from one to the next and she let it drift, pleased that she could smile with each one.
Akkarin's' wound was healing nicely, his heart-rate and breathing-rate were normal, and his brain was in perfect health despite being starved of oxygen for a short period; his magic-store was slowly, painfully so, returning. Lady Vinara made sure to inform her each day on how he was doing. The older woman had been strangely kind to her since their return, to the point where Sonea had found herself seeking the woman out for company; those days were filled with side glances and unwanted questions on her health which she avoided along with the scolding's. It was nice though, to know others cared for her well-being.
Thoughts like this made her smile grow.
Sighing softly, she once again rested her head on the bed and tightened her grip on Akkarin's hands, watching carefully for any sign of movement.
She felt his warmth through the bedclothes, his heat, smelt his scent that had embedded itself within the thick fibers. She closed her eyes at the sound of his even breathing and felt his unresponsive touch on her hand.
Still smiling, she buried her head into the blanket, grasped his hand tighter and pulled it to her, kissing his knuckles and keeping her lips there, brushing against his skin.
She lay there, still and silent, breathing him in, touching and tasting him, until he was all that she knew in the small bare room. Her thoughts took her back to another time, a similar yet somehow simpler time, when he had been all she knew; his heat, his touch, his taste. Back then his breathing hadn't been so even, his touch hadn't been as still and unresponsive.
Instead of the heat she felt now, he had burned and she had blazed with him, for him.
'You will again,' she didn't tell him but promised, 'We will again. I always will, for you.'
He would wake.
Please review! I really need feedback from this, this time around!-pouts-