Disclaimer: I disclaim.
Under the Light
"He is still sleeping," someone said. He did not know the voice but it was steady and somehow, calming. He was too tired to open his eyes and see who it was. Instead, he continued slumbering and suddenly, he was back home at Caemlyn, half-awake and looking bleary-eyed at a mop of red-gold hair as the child kept muttering, "Galad is sleeping. Galad is still sleeping, what am I going to do?" but not waking him up. Yes, he never had any trouble with the too energetic little boy rousing him but Light, Gawyn did drain him the rest of the time.
"He's still sleeping," he heard once again and this time, he was so tired of sleeping. So he opened his eyes. The light was so bright that it almost burned them but he forced them stay open.
"Galad," someone said and he blinked at them. His mother. She was holding his hand and smiled when she saw that he recognized her. "How are you feeling?"
The answer burst from him so fast that he had no time to think it over. It surprised him no less than her. "I lost."
"No," Morgase said. "No, we won. The Dark One is sealed away once again. The world is safe under the light."
He shook his head against the pillow. Even this slight movement pained him. "No. I lost…" He didn't even know why he said it and his head was swimming, so he couldn't find the reason. He only knew it to be true.
Elayne who had been standing at the window came near and sat next to her mother. He blinked in surprise. Was this some plot of the Shadow? Elayne would never come to his sickbed if she were in her right mind. Was she a Dark One's puppet? One of those who were rumoured to have been Turned against their will?
"I knew it was time for you to wake up," she said. "With this mulishness of yours, you couldn't just stay comfortably asleep while your body recovers its strength, now could you?"
His fears immediately assuaged, Galad relaxed against the pillow. This was his sister as he remembered her, always ready to pounce at him. Had she not been, he would have been concerned about her. So, they had won. It still did not feel like victory.
"I lost," he said once again.
Morgase and Elayne looked at each other. "You lost your hand," the former Queen said, reluctantly. "It's a small price, though. You live. That's all that matters."
His hand, his sword hand? It was terrible beyond imagining, yet there was something else that made him pass this over. Something far more important.
Their red-rimmed eyes told him what it was – or maybe it was the memory of how he had lost his hand, fighting the man who had taken from him something else. Something far more precious.
"Light. I lost… I lost Gawyn," he breathed. "I couldn't get him to Aes Sedai in time. I…"
"It wasn't you," his mother said firmly but Galad saw the tears that would fall any minute now. "You didn't lose him. It wasn't your fault. He died fighting the Shadow. You couldn't have done a thing."
Yes, he could have. He could and should have sought him out as soon as Bryne told them that he had left Egwene's side. He should have known that Gawyn would do something reckless, something that would put him in the harm's way. He always had before. Not this time, though. Not when it mattered most.
"I should have."
"No." This time, it was Elayne, teary-eyed but firm. "I was there, remember? I was there, with you, when Gareth Bryne spoke. I didn't do better than you. We won't beat ourselves over what might have been. I won't have it," she finished and glared at him. Still, there was something in her eyes that he could interpret only as… regret? Why should she be regretful?
Light. He was dead. Gawyn was no more.
Under the Light, the world that was celebrating victory felt suddenly cold and dark.