A/N: Inspired by Kulyok's [amazingly awesome!] Xan Romance Mod (bonded path). Some knowledge of mod recommended. Spoilers! if you haven't played the mod before. Sorry. *shrug*


She laid in an unfamiliar bed, stiff and cold, eyes fixed on the ceiling, though she didn't see it. She saw only visions of the past and the dead future that somehow remained lodged within her. Voices murmured nearby; voices she knew and might have loved long ago. They spoke of her, she knew. Spoke of her condition and whether there was anything that could be done. It was hopeless. He was right: she'd been doomed from the beginning. They both had.

Vivid images, would-be dreams if she were asleep, seized her mind, forcing her to relive moments both precious and horrifying. She saw them together, him and her, at their first meeting. He'd been so sullen, so utterly hopeless that she would've done anything to brighten his face a bit. She tried for weeks, slowly picking away at the black wall he'd encased himself in until one day…

A shiver crept down her spine as she recalled the night they shared reverie. Butterflies had assaulted her stomach, though she disguised it under her usual mask of humor. More than once she considered telling him to back off and allow her to her own devices, to leave her in the unlearned darkness she was comfortable in, but the faint, tender smile she was rewarded with at dawn made it worthwhile. She felt her cheeks twitch in a vain effort to smile when she thought of the "elf lessons" she would later learn from him.

The look on his face when they discovered what she was… Could she even really remember it? Maybe. It might've been similar to his reaction to the Slayer. Shock, fear, despair…perhaps she had been imagining it, but she could have sworn there was still that faint undercurrent of admiration that he spoke of sometimes. Admiration for her "unwavering optimism despite the odds she fought against that surely would kill her." Her spirit chuckled darkly though her mouth remained still. What optimism is there now? Where's it gone? Oh yes: it's dead on the cold stones of the graveyard.

Their parting had been too brief. He wanted to leave as soon as he could to Evereska and she yearned to return to the thrill of the road. Hesitance and fear had shown in her eyes, though, and he'd seen it. He would come back to her, he promised, and this time he would stay. Forever, until inevitable death took them both. A goodbye kiss at dawn, a lingering embrace, and he disappeared into the sunrise. They agreed to meet back in Baldur's Gate after a month's time.

The voices hushed outside as the door opened. They thought she couldn't hear. Laughable. She was an elf, after all. She couldn't remember the name of the woman who walked in, though the pink hair that obscured a bright blue gaze seemed eerily familiar. Im…Immy…Imoen? The woman looked on her with pity.

"Oh, Ril," she sighed. "You're so pale."

Pale? That might imply that I'm sick. That's funny. I've never felt so alive in my life! She almost wished that her voice would work, but she didn't have the energy. She kept her unfocused eyes on the spot on the ceiling that didn't exist.

She felt the bed dip as Imoen's weight sank onto it, but made no move to stop her. She felt the younger woman's warm hand touch her own cold one; it burned. "What happened to you?" she whispered.

You know. You should know. You were there. You saw.

"You used to be so happy, Ril. You always had something good to say about everything – even when things got so dark you couldn't see past your nose! You'd make some joke or do something crazy to get everyone back on their feet, but now…"

Now that person is dead. She died long ago, along with her "optimism". They still rest on the stones – you can see if you wish.

"You never were the same after he…"

She almost looked at the girl, to sate the curiosity that somehow lingered. "You two were so close and you loved him, I know. I really do get it. But Ril…you can't let it eat you. You've got to move on."

She would have snorted if her body allowed it. It didn't eat me; it devoured me. There was nothing left. I'm sorry, Im…you don't get it.

It was impossible to "get it." Love? No, she didn't love him. That word love had been tossed around too casually for it to be that. She loved Gorion and Candlekeep. She loved Imoen. She loved Jaheira, Khalid, Dynaheir, and Minsc. She loved her party members, all their different quirks and attitudes. She loved the road, the thrill of adventure. She loved gold. But she didn't love him.

She adored him. Worshipped the ground he walked on. Would have done anything he asked and everything he wouldn't. She couldn't get close enough to him to satisfy the longing within her, couldn't touch him enough, couldn't feel his soul through their bond enough times to know for sure that he was really there, not some figment of her tattered mind. He was her own special brew of wine, her black lotus, her god. If she would have chosen a deity to give herself to entirely, it would have been him. He was her world and her life.

Now he was gone. And so was she. She couldn't move on. To try would be a hopeless effort.

She could feel the disappointment radiating off of Imoen as she stood to leave, but she didn't care. How could she? The only thing that mattered to her now was gone. Had been gone for a while. Why couldn't it end?

Would it have been better if she'd died at the hands of Irenicus? She would have never seen him again, but then she wouldn't have had to see him fade, either. Which was the lesser of two evils? Her chest jolted slightly in a silent chuckle; the torture at the hands of Irenicus seemed such a little thing in comparison to what she'd endure these past few years. She almost wished to be back in his dungeon at the hands of his gruesome ministrations. It might've been better.

But she'd somehow survived his hellish torture chambers. Reunited with the other half of herself in Amn, of all places. When she had first seen him, she had frozen in place, her body suddenly ceasing to heed her commands. He'd spotted her and rushed to her, though he didn't embrace her right away. Instead, he paused to look into her eyes and gently, hesitantly, caressed her cheek, convinced he was hallucinating.

"Rilsine," he'd said, unbelieving of her presence.

She'd smiled at him. "I'm here, love." He then took her into his arms, promising to never leave her side again.

Could she hold him accountable for breaking his promise? Could she convince herself that he was to blame for their fading? Perhaps and perhaps not. Truly, it was Bodhi and that thrice-damned Moonblade that took him from her. It couldn't have been his fault. After all, he hadn't deserted her in their darkest hours, when even those whom she'd thought were closest to her had considered abandonment.

The Shadow Thieves, Spellhold, Yoshimo's betrayal, the Slayer, the Underdark, and finally the return to the dungeons where it had begun…he never left her side, just as he promised, holding her hand.

But when faced with vampirism, with the threats of Bodhi and her undead clan, he wavered. Perhaps he was trying to save her from the misery of having to kill him herself, or perhaps it was pure selfishness, she didn't know. But the moment when she realized that the Moonblade had simply sucked the life out of him, she crumbled. She couldn't say now what the vampire mistress had threatened, but neither did she care.

She had fallen to her knees, lifting his limp body into her arms, and rocked back and forth. Tears streamed down her face as she begged him in choked sobs not to leave her alone.

"Estel'amin," he whispered, bringing a trembling hand up to caress her face. My hope. She shuddered at the irony: she had no hope left. He'd taken it with him.

He'd asked her not to leave his side as he passed into Arvandor, and she hadn't. She stayed, holding him for what seemed like hours, just rocking… He tried to whisper soothing words for her, to comfort her in his last moments, but each word he forced from his mouth seemed to tear at her heart a little more. She promised to find a way to rid herself of her cursed divinity, so that she might see him again, but he had laughed at her. "It will never happen," he said with some finality. She believed him. In that moment and for months afterward, she believed him.

"Rilsine." He struggled in his last breaths. "I love you." And like that, he was gone.

She'd screamed until her voice went hoarse, clutching him to her breast, pleading to whatever god would listen to bring him back to her. She shrieked at Jaheira to resurrect him, but the half-elf turned away, memories of her own lost love coming back to haunt her. She stayed on the ground for a long while, not daring to move away from him, not caring about Imoen's stolen soul or her own.

A hand touched her shoulder, and when she finally looked up, she realized that one of her friends – she still didn't know who – had convinced a fellow mourner to keep watch over his remains while she fought in the crypts below.

She had torn into the vampires without mercy, her face a blank slate. What few words she rasped out were harsh and unforgiving, and when finally faced with the vampire Mistress, her countenance turned almost black with hate. She didn't let Imoen revel in the restoration of her soul, didn't linger to collect the valuables from the dungeon. She merely grabbed the Lanthorn and Bodhi's withered heart, turned on her heel and walked out of the tomb as if nothing had transpired.

They burned his body at dawn. Her head had been bowed, never once looking up, her gaze fixed on the extinguished Moonblade. Until her final moments she would carry that sword, a reminder of the two that had died that night. The Rilsine that he had known and loved had died alongside with him, and in the darkening of his sword, a new Rilsine emerged. A rogue tear slid down her cheek, making its wayward path to her ear. She let it stay, not having the will to move her too thin hand.

The door opened again, but this time, many people came in. She ignored them all. From what she heard on the outside, the priests were expecting the worst and had motioned to bring in her closest friends for a final farewell. Let them. She had said goodbye a long time ago.

The rest of her journey was a blur. She could only vaguely remember Irenicus's death, and could not recall the feeling of her soul being returned to her, if she had felt anything at all. She didn't know the faces or names of the siblings she'd struck down, nor could she remember what she'd said to the Solar to make the taint go away forever.

She did remember the dreams, however. Remembered them vividly. Those moments in her subconscious spent with him again, though never touching, only talking. She would wake drenched in a mixture of cold sweat and bitter tears, always refusing whatever "help" her companions thought they could offer. They couldn't help her. They didn't understand. Would never understand. How could they possibly know what it felt like to have their souls ripped out twice and never truly returned?

The years following didn't exist for her. She no longer dreamt of him, though she spent countless hours casting sleep spells on herself in a vain effort to see him just one last time. She knew that she was fading. Her muscles withered and she became sickly. She would lie in bed for days at a time, not once getting up, until she was finally sent to live in a temple. She didn't even know which temple – it could have been a temple of Cyric, for all she knew. She doubted this, but didn't care either way.

Faintly, as if far away, she heard the prayers of the priest. Prayers for her safe passage into the next realm, wherever that may be and prayers for her companions, that they may be comforted in this difficult time. She would have laughed, but she felt as if someone were sitting on her chest. They know nothing, she thought bitterly.

Regret washed over her as she thought of the pain she had put them through. The bubbly, eternal optimist Rilsine they had known for years had changed into an empty, black husk in a matter of seconds, and had remained that way for years.

I don't know who's listening, if anyone is…but please, if you are out there, comfort them. Tell them that…I'm sorry for being such a burden.

As if her thoughts were spoken aloud, she felt a warm hand take her cold one in a tight squeeze. She tried to squeeze back, but her fingers wouldn't heed her command. The effort seemed exhausting, and suddenly she was tired. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift into the blackness of sleep, a near invisible smile creeping its way onto her corpselike face. Finally…

She opened her eyes to find herself standing on the white beaches of Arvandor, the mess of her hair blowing in her face with the salty ocean breeze. She looked around, disoriented, until her gaze came to rest on an approaching figure.

"There you are. I wondered when you would come."

She smiled for the first time in forever.

"Xan."


A/N: Hope you enjoyed this! Please let me know if there's anything you think I should try to improve on - I'm always open to suggestions. But not flames. I like the cold. *wink* Anyway, this mod is absolutely incredible. No joke. You haven't played it? Go. Download it. Now. It's awesome. ^_^