A Heart's Longing

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The day had started out so…strangely. The sky seemed the same lovely lilac color as always, a few thin clouds scudded across the horizon but without the promise of more gathering for rain. But something had felt off regardless. 

Icarus had traveled long and far enough that he didn’t really know where he was. He didn’t navigate the way that most drakiri would, he used landmarks in the form of people he had met and places he had visited in the past. He didn’t own a map, but he had one formed in his mind’s eye. And where he chose to set up camp was somewhere he’d not yet been. 

There was a waterfall to his left, cascading over boulders into a river that quickly slowed and became lazy as it wound along its sandy banks. Icarus found himself tossing broken twigs into the water and watching them float along until they were out of sight. It made him feel a bit less alone with his thoughts. 

“What did those sticks ever do to you?” asked a painfully familiar voice. 

Icarus stiffened and turned to face the person who intruded on his solitude. The man was broad-shouldered and tall, with salt-and-pepper hair, yellow-gold eyes and a warm expression. He wore the golden armor that Icarus had last seen him in, and it bore the gouges and scratches of war. 

“Leonidas?” Icarus breathed, his eyes widening as the man stepped out of the shadows of the trees. “Uncle, is that you?” 

The man opened his arms in an invitation for a hug, and without hesitation Icarus ran to him and threw his arms around him. He closed his eyes as he trembled in a mixture of relief and disbelief. 

“You survived the war,” he breathed, his voice shaking as tears spilled down his cheeks. “I never–I thought surely you–” He couldn’t finish his thoughts, his heart beat so quickly in his chest. There was too much to say in too little time, how long would he have before Leonidas had to flee? Surely he must be wanted?

“Are you safe, nephew?” Leonidas asked, wrapping his arms around Icarus and rubbing his back with large, rough hands.  

“I’m safe,” Icarus promised. “Safe and loved and happy.” He pulled back, but not out of the circle of his uncle’s arms. He studied the man’s face in confusion and asked, “Why are you here? Are you safe? The war has been long over, why are you wearing your armor?” 

A smile came to Leonidas’s lips as he lifted his hand to cup Icarus’s cheek. He rubbed his thumb against the younger’s soft skin to brush a tear away as it fell. “Icarus, you are smart enough to answer that question yourself.” 

Confusion and concern clouded his relief and Icarus’s brows pulled together in consternation as he studied his uncle’s face. “You…aren’t you,” he finally said. “You can’t be. My father lost the war, you would have stuck by him to the end, and the only way he could have lost was if he was killed. You’re dead.” 

The vision of Leonidas flickered slightly, as if he were a mirage. “I am as real as you need me to be,” he said, his voice gentle as he pet Icarus’s hair in the way the real Leonidas would when he struggled to sleep as a child. 

Icarus hesitated as the fake Leonidas held him, unsure if he should pull away in disgust at the trick or lean into him for the support he had longed for for so long. He hadn’t learned of his uncle’s fate, but there had always been a spark of hope lingering in the back of his mind. He knew the phoenix had likely died long ago, but his heart longed to see him again, even if it wasn’t truly him.

Slowly, Icarus relaxed into the stranger’s arms, resting his cheek on the imposter’s sun-warmed armor and closed his eyes.

“I missed you, Uncle,” he breathed. “It’s been so hard without you and Mother. I’ve been as strong as I can be, but time takes its toll.” 

The imposter’s hand never stopped rubbing slowly over his back, and he didn’t speak a word in response. He didn’t need to.

“I’ve lived my life the best I can for the people I lost who I loved the most,” Icarus murmured. “I have so much I want to tell you about, so many things I want to share with you. Will you stay the night with me?” 

He lifted his head to look at his uncle’s face, but the moment his cheek left the armor, his arms were empty. He looked down at his hands and felt grief weigh heavily in his heart. But he felt a lingering sense of gratitude that he could see his uncle again, even if for a fleeting moment…maybe someday they would meet again, whether in this life or the next.

A Heart's Longing
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In Activities and Events ・ By Hellcatstrut
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Submitted By Hellcatstrut
Submitted: 1 year agoLast Updated: 1 year ago

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