Always Wakeful
by Victoria P.

Tenar wakes from the nightmare, heart racing and skin clammy.

It is an old dream, that of the figures in the Painted Room, back at the Place of the Tombs, their mouths stopped with clay, their souls crumbled to dust.

She reaches out, making sure Ged is still next to her. Warm, solid, comfortable. He is old now, and without magic. Their younger selves would have scorned these aged bodies -- weak, wrinkled, slowed with age. But there is hidden strength in the man next to her, muscles firm from climbing the narrow paths of Gont, chasing goats and fixing the roof, and there is power in his warmth.

He stirs, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her close. "Tenar," he mumbles, voice thick with sleep, driving the nightmares away.

"Ged," she answers, burying her face in his shoulder and inhaling in his scent, sweat and grass on his skin, a hint of apples on his breath.

This has always been the bond between them -- he shows her what is real and what is illusion, while she provides him with a woman's true wisdom. He calls her by name and she follows; she calls him by his and his strength is hers to command.

She drifts off to sleep, comforted.


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