Jaina character study, chapter ½, 2.5k. There will be Jaina/Moonshine next chapter I promise. Read here.
Jaina Bronzebeard is afraid. She doesn’t show it - she has been well trained by the court and by her father in how to conceal her emotions – but she feels it nonetheless, deep down in her bones. For once, she almost wishes her beard were longer, so that it could conceal the tension in her jaw, the slight trembling in her neck. She will be eighteen in a week, and as the oldest daughter of a dying house, that means that she will become the Lady of House Bronzebeard, forever, or until she disgraces the family enough that she disappears in the night.
She has no plans of disgracing her family.
Oath are meant to be broken. Egwene knows this. It’s part of why she’s not a paladin – she was trained to be one, yeah, but her parents had promised her they’d always be there, and they sure as hell haven’t been, so she isn’t planning on making any oaths any time soon. She can fight just as well as a ranger, serve Pelor just as well as a ranger, protect her stupid brother and his stupid friends just as well as a ranger, as she would be able to as a stuck-up paladin with shiny new plate and healing hands and an Oath to shelter the light.
Promises whispered to herself in the dark aren’t the same as oaths, though. A fucking threat to the gods above about what she will do if they take her brother from her isn’t an oath, and so it’s meant to be kept, she’s meant to keep Erlin safe even though he’s strong, now, she’s meant to hold that promise as sacred as she’s never held anything else and let herself die if there’s nothing else she can do.
But, nevertheless. The promise is broken, and she’s still alive.
Hardwon doesn’t have a father, and he never has, and so when King Coldain offers to choose him as his heir, he’s overwhelmed. He accepts, he thinks, and tries his best to be polite. It’s an honor. It’s more than anyone has ever offered him – to be a king, to be a dwarf, to be a son, all at once. It’s only when he finds out that Moonshine had been planning on leaving them and going to hell and he feels a terrible wrench in his heart that he realizes that that’s all wrong. Coldain isn’t his family, and he doesn’t need a damn father. He’s always been a dwarf, he’s the son of a mother who died to save him, and he’s never had any desire to be king. All he wants is Moonshine and Bev and Balnor and his mom and the Crick, and the real honor is that he has them.
It’s someone at the university who comes up with it. Naming stars after the four of them, her and Hardwon and Bev and Balnor. Hardwon laughs when he hears, his beard gone grey and laughter lines covering his face. I’m fucking positive I have a poem about this somewhere, he says, rummaging around his stump, and the conversation drifts away from the university’s decision to making fun of Hardwon’s early poetry.
It’s not brought up again until a few years later, after Hardwon dies. (In his home, with bev on his left and moonshine on his right and as many of his friends squeezed in as possible, the walls covered in his art.) Beverly and Moonshine are standing together in the Crick, looking up at the sky.
Hey Bev? Moonshine says quietly, arm around his shoulders. It might just be me, but, remember when they named some stars after us?
Bev looks at her quizzically. Yeah, I remember. Why, what’s up?
Moonshine rubs the back of her neck with her other hand. Well… I was looking at them the other day, and Hardwon’s… it looks a little brighter. But I don’t know, it might just be me, missing him.
Bev looks up at the sky, searches out the constellation the university had dubbed ‘the Titans.’
It doesn’t look like them, not really. Four vaguely humanoid shapes of three different sizes, but when the idea had been put forward it had been agreed upon almost immediately, and none of them thought it would come to anything.
But Bev looks and the cluster of stars that make up ‘Hardwon’ do seem a little bright. For just a second, Bev can hear Hardwon’s loud, joyful laugh on the Crick breeze, and he sniffles a little.
Well. We did a lot of pretty wild stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was up there, watching over us.
They lean closer into each other, and stare up the sky for a little while longer.
i always thought we’d retire to the crick
listening to things we lost in the fire and winter winds on repeat to feel alive
Moonshine isn’t quite sure when she stopped believing in a future. Maybe it was watching the way the crown burned Pendergreens when he put it on, or maybe it was watching Thiala kill thousands and thousands of people without batting an eye. Or maybe it was earlier, much earlier, when Marabelle died and she hadn’t been able to do anything but give her peace. It doesn’t really matter. She knows that Bev and Hardwon are planning for the time after the war. She knows that they think they’re going to win, are certain they’re going to win, and that’s why she says she’ll go to Hell; there’s no future for her, and she’ll happily suffer an eternity before she takes theirs.
It’s only when she talks to Lydia Stormborn, self-appointed Dark Lord of Shadowfell, General of the Undead, and Lydia tells her that she deserves to be heard, that she’s overwhelmed by a brief glimpse of light.
Spoilers for episode 89 of NADDPOD. Just a little drabble for the end portion cause everything hurts.
Returning home had always been a daunting idea. One that had crept up on him in his lowest moments. Of how he would return just like everyone said he would. A failure. A nobody. An orphan that no one could love. And looking at where Iron Deep should stand, listening to half of his family rejoice in saving their home, Hardwon cannot help but feel like everyone was right. Staring at the crumbling rocks that once were the only home he had ever know, Hardwon knows he failed. No one could’ve survived that mess, especially not his old friends, not the dwarphans he left behind, and not any of his family that was here to save people they had never met.
Dread fills his heart as Hardwon recalls that Moonshine had said that Beverly was alone…in the Sunset Sea…heading towards Galaderon. Something truly unimaginably terrifying must have happened to Beverly for him to end up on the other side of the world, alone, and heading directly towards Thaia’s stronghold. With panic starting to steal the air from his lungs, Hardwon tries not to think of all the people now crushed under what was once their home as he stutters to Moonshine that they finally made it back to his hometown.
Some of the panic fades as the S.S.Stormborn emerges from the storm and they’re reunited with Jaina, Mavris, Old Cobb, the dwarphans, and even more survivors, but the panic returns with a ferocity that Hardwon has never experienced as Mavris starts to explain the dwarven mage had kidnapped Beverly and Erlin. The mage Hardwon encourage his little brother to trust…..and now Beverly is alone at sea heading towards the worst possible place for him and Hardwon can’t be there.