Bexley’s downfall often came in the form of her diaries, she learned a long time ago that she needed to document everything in her own language or else someone could take something important from her. So she had been locked away in her secret room reading through her diaries one after the other desperate to find something to bring back Crane, and the others who lose their lives in the fall of the Isle. She looked at the photo of Crane and her holding one another feeling tears in her eyes. “How dare you, save me.” She said to the photo like she did every day. Blaming herself for his death the most.

Turning back to her reading she raised her brow as she came across a name. She couldn’t place a face to the name though. She tried so hard feeling the blood dripping from her nose as she tried to picture the face. Confusion crossed the dark diviner's face, she kept reading though learning that the reason she couldn’t remember the person was because Reus took her memory of the person. She wrote that they were extremely dangerous and that it was for the best. “I need to know.” She said to herself and closed the diary page and took a deep breath. She knew she could teleport into his room where the doors to the hall of memories. Yet getting past the doors would test her lock picking skills.

She searched her home finding her lockpicking kit. She opened a portal to his room hoping since it was mid day he would be off doing something. As she stepped through the portal she looked over her shoulder. All clear. She needed to be quick. She moved the entrance to the hall of memories. Seeing the door was unlocked, meaning he must be in his hall. “Fuck.” she said under her breath and pushed the door open slowly and slipped in. Standing quietly for a moment listening for him, but not hearing him. So she moved along the back wall taking the long way to where she knew the guards memories where. She worked quickly, finding the orbs that sat there, searching for hers.

She stood there a moment seeing there was more than one. Causing her brows to push together, how many times had she asked him to remove a memory. She didn’t have time to focus on this but she opened her bag and stuffed a few of the small orbs into her back and went to take her leave from the memory room. She managed to make it back into his room. She moved to open a portal before hearing her name with a sigh she turned around to the memory hall door that opened and gave the best smile she could. Even though it didn’t touch her eyes. “Reus, I was coming to see if you needed any help with a mission but saw you where in your hall. So I figured I would just go check in with the other aspects.” 

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He hated hearing how little she thought of her existence in this world. Some days he wished he could shake the diviner and somehow make Bex see reason and sense. Aureus put an arm around both her shoulders before pulling her against him for a moment, resting his chin to the top of her head. He gave a gentle squeeze before just as quickly letting Bexley go. Attempting to give anymore affection would only prove awkward for them both since neither was great at the emotion. He motioned to sit down with him on the couch before taking a breath. He hated keeping the secrets he did and Bex was not the first. Pulling all those memories from people meant he knew things others didn't and wanted to forget. Trying to keep it all straight was maddening at times, but specifically with Bex, it was to keep her safe as well as potentially the entire timeline.

"I don't know.." he said, looking to her and folding his hands together as he leaned forward onto his knees to consider her request. "It could be dangerous to flood them all back in. Maybe a few at a time, but you have to make peace with his decision, Bex. He wouldn't want to see you this way. If the roles were reversed, I know you would've saved him in a second without a thought to your own life as well. Would you want him to agonize over the choice you had made to save him? Living in this guilt and grief you are still feeling? You would want him to continue and push forward, living his life to the fullest. You can't tell me he wouldn't want that for you now."

As much as that was the truth, there was something else that concerned Aureus even more. Giving back her past with Crane could solve some of the issues with her spotty memory and perhaps keep her satiated, stopping her pursuit of gathering what she'd forgotten. However, the Aspect had to keep vigil for some of the memories that he could not return to her. He hated having to keep the secret and he had hoped for so long that it would somehow stay gone, but Bexley could not see remnants of the spell she had stumbled upon. He knew all of the promises she was making now would shatter in an instant if there was some small chance of getting him back.

Protection of his element above all else. What a burden to bear.

As his arms moved around her she felt her body tense under the action. Feeling him trying to comfort her made her want to either push him away or crumble. She was caught in an in-between state that just turned into an awkward moment of her holding her arms open but not fully placing them around him to hug him back. As he motioned for her to sit down she shifted and sat back down on the couch that her loving cat had betrayed her and showed the aspect what she had taken from him. She folded her hands in her lap as she waited for more yelling, anger, and scolding even though the mood had seemed to fully shift into somberness.

She kept her eyes on his hands for a long moment as she felt those tears spilling over silently wanting to keep her face hidden from the Aspect. She felt so weak, something she utterly hated. “A few at a time, they come back anyways. There is no point in having you constantly taking them from me. I need to accept the pain that I am agonizing with as is. I am not allowing myself to grieve his loss every time I have asked you to take those memories.” struggling through the statements not wanting him to hear her tears in her voice and yet she couldn’t stop it being so either. She frowned deeply as she finally looked up to him with the tears rolling down her face.

“No, I wouldn't want him to agonize over the choice I made if I had been the one to save him. Though knowing Crane he would have moved one easily. I am nothing special. He was one of a kind.” she reached up to collect her tears from her face looking at them as they made a small pool in her palm. “I know, I know he wants me to move on and live my life. Just feels wrong I guess.” clearing her throat she shifted in her seat for a jar and placed her tears there for later use in a spell if needed. 

She reached up and tucked her hair behind her ear and let out a soft breath before looking back to him. She tilted her head trying to read him. She gave a soft hum before she moved and held the book out to him that she had borrowed from Malva. “Take it back for me?” she asked as she looked back to the phone. “Still wanna eat?”

Aureus closed his eyes for a moment as she agreed to have her memories back. He thought it was the best and worst thing for her. Sitting next to Bex still, he laced his fingers and tried to decide what was true. In the end, it wasn't his right to hold onto what she wanted forgotten. It was just a mercy he gave to others, especially the ones who had been through and seen the worst of what life could give. He also hated having the knowledge of what people had felt and gone through while they knew nothing of it after he'd stored away their discarded memories. It felt like an invasion of privacy to the most intimate fractures of crumbling lives.

"Bexley, you are special," he said softly, looking over to her then. "You and every Guard that joins the Ailwards. You wouldn't have been able to step foot on that Isle otherwise. Not everyone can be in the position you're in right now and it's because you are special. Unique. Needed. You have to realize that otherwise you wouldn't be part of this faction meant to keep the world safe. I wish you could see it. I see it. Crane saw it."

He watched as the diviner collected the tears of sorrow that fell softly down her face. He'd never seen Bexley this emotional beyond the flashbacks he'd been through when she'd asked for him to start removing bits of her life. Reus accepted the book from her and nodded, giving a reassuring smile when she asked if he wanted to eat. "Sure, you still pick. Anything Japanese is good for me, though make sure it's ramen that's the star." 

Once her attention was away again at ordering, Reus glanced at the orbs waiting to be broken, and the memories seeping back to their owner. The dilemma was now making a knot in his stomach. He couldn't let her see the spell that could possibly alter the timeline should she be successful or even if she failed miserably and something worse occurred. Then what? She would still see the bits of memory seep back in and find the missing pieces to the spell somewhere down the road. There didn't seem to be any way to prevent what he feared most of all. 

The young looking Asian woman couldn’t help the deep set frown that played along her face to his words on calling her special, just like every other guard that made it through the barrier. All words she was sure he had told her many times before, yet she couldn’t bring herself to accept or argue these words he spoke. After all she would express how maybe the barrier made a mistake when it came to her, she left black marks in every life she touched. She felt cursed to others, not that she would ever admit that out loud. “You and Crane always seem to see the best in people. It was probably why he liked you the most out of all you and your siblings.” She gave a weak smile towards him. 

Moving the tears into a vile to use in the future if she needed for a spell. She gave a nod of her head as she moved over to pick up her phone once again, along with a tissue to clear up the stains the tears had left with makeup. With a quick duck into the bathroom in the hall she cleaned up her face properly. With a quick call into her favorite Japanese place she ordered too much food as her emotions were ruling the cognitive functions of her brain. After she was done ordering she stared at her reflection for a period of time. Before pulling herself together.

If he hadn’t been there while she broke down no one would have ever known she had cried. Though her scar over her eye was on full display since she cleaned the makeup off her face. “Food is on its way.” She said as she moved to settle back into her seat before looking at him with a gaze that was trying to burrow into his brain, understanding what emotions he was feeling and what was on his mind. Aureus was always a hard one for her to read. He didn’t seem to be one that would express his emotions easily, or maybe she was just so used to keeping everything locked inside that she projected that on another.

Yet the worry was in the air, clearly it made sense since she seemed to have acted this way more then once with him. “Reus…” she started to break the silence, “I know that when I came to you asking you to take my memories I was a mess, I mean I have been through some of the worst things and I would never ask you to take away from me what made me switch from a light to a dark diviner. So I know asking to give it back will probably break me for a while.” She picked at her nail as she spoke. “My feelings for Crane always scared me. I was used to always being in control of myself and in my own actions but Crane made me spontaneous and dare I say happy. Something I never knew was possible.” She sniffled to keep the tears from coming again.

“I know it was hard for you to take them and now it's hard to give them back not knowing my reaction. I don’t know what to say or if I can say anything to ease your worries. All I can do is be loyal to the oath I took as a guard.” she looked back up to Reus with a gentle gaze one many people didn’t get. “I am sorry I have placed you in such a situation, it's not fair to you.”

Reus had been staring off in deep thought until he was pulled out of it once he heard her footsteps. She reentered the room seeming much calmer now. More like herself. He gave a quick smile at her mention of the food, but he knew it must've seemed a little bit strained. She was probably thinking it had everything to do with her stealing the memories from his records, but really it was more on what would happen once those memories were flooded back to her mind. The need to protect his element was greater than anything else, even if that meant conflict with one of his own guards. He just wasn't sure if Bex could resist the temptation should she see the spell. 

As she said his name, the aspect knew whatever she planned on saying next would weigh heavy. And it did. Probably more so on him than her for the guilt became tangible like a stone in his stomach. Bexley spoke of loyalty and he so wanted to believe she would hold true to that honor, but he also felt what she felt at the time he was pulling those ghosts of the past from her mind to be shut away forever. The anger and sorrow that Bex went through, he did as well, but only in the brief time it took to complete the ritual. The loss of Crane and events of the isle were still ever present with her even afterwards while he simply shut them away in his library of people's anguish.

Where did that leave them now? Reus couldn't risk it. He couldn't. He knew what he had to do.

Leaning forward, Aureus smiled softly in response. The guilt was hard to conceal, but he had been very good at attuning how he presented himself given his long existence and need to always protect time no matter the cost. No matter who was hurt in the end. "It's alright, Bex. I know you had no ill intention for what you did. I understand the pain." Not only because he was burdened to feel it when taking memories, but because he had lost people he loved too and the consequences of that had killed others, long, long ago. "We'll start slow. A couple at a time so you can work through it if you need to and I'll be here with you every step of the way."

✧ Don't Play With Time ✧

Bexley watched him, her eyes trained like a Hawk to sense when the full truth isn’t being told. Years to develop this skill is one that kept her alive. Yet she knew the aspects well so having this skill wasn’t overly needed. She was sure she was causing him worry because he had made it clear this was the first time she had gone back and forth on the want of her memories. The want of Crane haunting her. She was on her way to pull out all the stops to bring him back. Yet she knew that wasn’t a choice she should be making.

Pain was something they both understood far too well. With a soft sigh she looked at him thinking of pain. “I was never sure anything could hurt me more than the day I lost my light and became a dark diviner. Yet when someone touches your soul in such a way as Crane seems to have done to me it only makes sense this hollow ache would stay. Especially since I refuse to let him go. Let myself mourn his loss. I rather run from the pain when I know all that does is hurt others.”

She scoffed more to herself at that moment. “If I was you, I would be knocking myself upside the head and telling myself to grieve before I turn even more toxic.” She had never been one to do things slowly when it came to kicking a habit or learning a new skill. She threw herself into it until she got over it or understood it. “Slow. That will be a new concept for me.” She tried to joke to make light of everything. She knew she was putting him through a lot and all she wanted to do was apologize and make up for it.

Yet she knew there was no way she could truly make up for putting him and the other aspects through all of this. “Do we need to return to the manor to go through this process?” She asked wondering if she would in fact have to do a walk of shame through the manor doors. Even though she could simply take them to the door outside of his room. A walk of shame felt more fitting in that moment to her though.

Aureus smirked to her in understanding, scoffing as he looked down at his hands. "Being alive as long as I have, you would think I'd be more patient with a lot of things too, but no. Especially when it comes to myself. I'm my harshest critic. Always will be, but it doesn't change the fact that sometimes I'm so driven and focused on one thing that I forget the consequences of the actions I've taken to get to the endpoint." He rolled his eyes at himself and the many past behaviors and choices he was not proud of that still haunted him endlessly. In those impossible and harrowing instances, many innocent people perished. He could still feel the heat of the intense fire; The smell of the dead around him.

He reached for the beer he'd nearly forgotten about again and took another sip. "No, no, no. No need to head back to the manor," he quickly interjected. "I'm afraid as soon as I walk through the door, I'll somehow get pulled into something else. Even if it is just being inside somewhere else, I really needed to get out of the compound. Change of scenery. The worry and uncertainty everyone is feeling right now there is palpable." Reus's eyes moved over to her and realized how solemn and defeated his tone had gotten so he smiled with some reassurance. "Maybe make the space as calm as you can? Any magic to cleanse the area and make yourself feel comfortable would be helpful. Obviously these memories are not going to be the easiest to take in again."

Fingers lightly touching over the orbs, the aspect pulled one from the group as Bexley prepared for what was to come. The colors inside swirled together and would seem like nothing of what they actually were until the person it belonged to gazed on it. Of course, Reus could also see the memories within, so once he kept his focus on the orb, the memory began to take shape and play out as if watching a silent movie. He knew each of these orbs well, better than most he had in his library solely because of how important it was for Bex to never see the one memory he had tampered with. However, given that she was the one to take it back, the memory was now in its original form and he would have to edit it like someone would do a film without her noticing. 

"Here." Reus presented one of the more innocent memories with her and Crane in it. Something that had nothing to do with the Isle. Nothing to do with his death. Nothing to do with the magic spell she'd found which could alter the timeline. "Try and relax. Take the time to process."

✧ Don't play with time ✧

The more they talked, Bexley wondered if she and Aureus were more alike then either cared to admit. Bexley had always considered herself more like Cora or Erythreus, yet now as he was talking about being his own harshest critic she could relate. She had considered this man one of the ones that had their lives together, maybe that wasn’t the case. Even with everything that had happened with the Celestials, Bexley was one of the ones that stood strongly on the side that locking them away was the best idea. She stood by the Ailwards, because she knew over all they meant it for the greater good. “Seems we are of the same coin.” she muttered to him softly.

She found herself picking up her drink nodding her head, “Well if anything I am good for a change of scenery from here and the shop. You can visit whenever you wish. Maybe even spend some of that Aliward wealth in my shop sometime.” She tried to make the moment easier then it felt like it was, but she knew very well that they are the edge of some sort of change. She was only adding to that worry and uncertainty with her actions as of late. Her eyes drifted to her secret door for a long moment, “Maybe we should go in my magic room. The altar is big enough for me to lay on.” she said as her eyes hung on the bookcase. “Discomfort makes sense when you have removed such memories more than once.”

Bexley got up, pulling the book that allowed the shelf to become transparent and she led him into the room, the shelf would stay that way but the room had protective wards all along the walls. She moved to the altar that was there in the middle of the room. Removing her cauldron and candles from it allowed herself to lay on the altar. As he pulled the memory front he orb and offered it to her, she closed her eyes and allowed it to enter her body. She felt the sting of the synapsis snapping back together in her brain as the mental picture of her and Crane filled her vision.

The smile came to her face as the memory of her and Crane were on a mission together, the first time they were assigned to work together. They were at a river tracking a rare animal that Malva wanted, Crane had gracefully jumped over the stream daring Bexley to follow in suit, even mocking the diviner. Leading to Bexley to keep her pride which ended with her landing in the river having to be fished out by a laughing Crane. Whom Bexley turned around and pushed him into the river as pay back. A sniffle left Bexley as she opened her eyes once the memories finished playing out. “Next one.” she said as her eyes met his for a brief moment.

It was then Reus had to act. Watching as Bexley closed her eyes to let the innocent memory pass from its safety to the confines of her mind again, he waited for the right moment in which to alter the orb he knew would cause irreparable damage to her and time itself. The rapid movement of her eyes indicated she was deep within the past as he cautiously moved through the remaining orbs that seemed so innocent where they sat. His fingers moved through them as quickly as would seem innocent as not to disturb the connection she was having with her memory or cause for any alarm. Or suspicion. 

Should he feel bad though? Yes, but that was something he was used to when it came to being the caretaker of time. He hated lying or bending the truth, but if it was for the greater good, he would be the bad guy every time. The familiar parts of the memory played out over the orb he was in search of then and Reus moved it aside to keep track of its location just as Bexley's voice broke his focus. His head turned to face her, noting the pain she was holding back with masked effort. Reus sighed for a quiet moment between them before nodding once and pulling another memory from the collection of her bygone days. 

He handed it over, watching the internal struggle she was clearly trying to keep in check. Reus wanted to find something he could say to ease her through it all, but really, what could be said that would make this any less bittersweet? Instead, the aspect kept quiet and let her process the next of the memories of the two together which were still moments of them doing the mundane and nothing of the devastating awful which tore their connection forever.

Aureus lifted the orb he knew would eventually make its way to the front of the line and waited for the moment in the memory which Bexley was sitting on the floor, buried in grimoires around her. She was in a frenzy and frantically flipping the pages of the books in order to find the spell that could essentially break the timeline. Her goal - Changing what happened on the isle and bringing back Crane. The single ripple alone would devastate everything continuing forward and he couldn't afford to let that happen. He knew Bexley was teetering on the edge already and seeing this again could spiral her back down the road in doing anything necessary to bring him back. 

He altered the memory. Reus's eyes glowed into a golden hue as he used his power to change what she would see when the orb was returned to her. It would be nothing more then her seeing the frustrations of her efforts now with no fruit to bear. It would be painful, but it would be necessary, along with all the breakdowns that were to follow in more of the memories she would soon have again and he hated to have a hand in worsening it.

✧ Don't Play With Time ✧
Taking in the memory that played out her body tensed before relaxing once again allowing the warmth of the memory to wash over her. Even if she wanted to pay attention to Reus her eyes were closed and her sense lost to the gentle memory of her and Crane. How she felt her guard slowly fall with him. Her heart swelled with pain knowing that he was gone and no longer with them. She had no iota of an idea that Aureus was going to alter one of her memories, for the greater good.

With the end of the memory rejoining the, the severed nerves snapping back into their place as the memory found its home. She winced in pain as she forced her eyes open, her vision fuzzy from tears that had welled up in her time under. She couldn’t see anything clearly as she spoke towards him. As he moved to place the next memory back in her memory she once again closed her eyes. The pain shot through her body once again, she tightened her jaw before relaxing once again as she got lost in the memory once again.

What played out this time was the time she came to him, asking for his help in hand to hand fighting. In case she couldn’t use her magic, which wasn’t ever going to happen, she just wanted a chance to be closer to him without admitting she was falling for him. She sank her teeth into her bottom lip while lost in the memory. She replied the times Crane tossed her onto the mat like a rag doll pinning her, how the heated training sessions turned into their first make out session, into more. Lost in those memories longer than the first as the nerves snap back into place in her brain wincing slightly with each connection.

Soon the good memories were gone, all their times before the fall and she opened her eyes and stared at the few orbs left. Allowing the tears that had been holding in the whole time knowing that she was about to see his death even if she couldn’t remember it. The ding of the door came as if to say it was time for a break. “I know we probably shouldn’t stop.” she sniffled as she stood up from the altar and she wiped the tears away. “But I would like to hang on to the good memories for a few moments and eat before I have to watch him die.”

She stood up going to the door, paying the delivery man taking the bag she moved back to the living room and sunk into the couch. She pulled the food out and looked towards Reus. “Do you know why it was so hard for me to lose him?” She wondered if she had ever told him. “Before him, the other guards often left me alone because I give off the vibe that I am not friendly, nor that I want to be bothered. It's a front. With what happened in my past, the reason I am a dark diviner instead of the light one I use to me. I was scared to let others close. Especially males.”

She paused to take a bite of what she ordered, “He didn’t let that faze him, he just kept coming around, annoying me, learning about me. He was the first I told about my past besides the Aliwards.” She smiled remembering that night he held her as she cried over her trauma she never resolved even with all the years she had been alive. “He wouldn’t leave me alone, and I never realized how much I wanted companionship till he showed me what it was like to be loved and cared for. When he died, I pulled away. Everyone just let me.” she sniffled, she knew it wasn’t their fault after all they all lost people. But she was convinced no one noticed her not being gone till they needed something translated, or a mission taken care of.

Reus's jaw set, clenching from having to alter one of her memories. He closed his eyes briefly to force himself to just deal with it like he always did when he was required to do something like this. It was never personal. It was just him being dutybound and he had to believe he was chosen for a reason to be in this difficult position as a keeper of one of the most important elements in existence. He could feel the pain of pressure behind his eyes. The weight of it all felt impossible at times.

As the bell rang, his eyes lifted from staring off in his thoughts. They rounded on Bexley as she lifted from the alter. He couldn't really form words then and simply nodded to her in response with a strained smile. Once she left the room, his gaze fell back to the remaining orbs which would only bring more sadness to the guard. The altered orb glowed dimly as it repeated over and over and over again like some taunt in its falsehood. Now it ended with her finding absolutely nothing in regard to the spell she was after instead of the hesitant joy that was once there when she stumbled upon a timeline shattering magic. He could even see the brief conversation in his mind he had had to have with Malva afterwards when he'd first seen this memory to ensure they could both keep that secret away from Bexley.

The aspect tore his eyes away and followed her out into the living area again. He sat back where he'd been before and waited as she returned with the food in hand. His appetite had long since vanished. Still, he took his food and placed it in front of him, but paused as she seemed to want to share something deeply personal. Aureus sighed as she revealed how lonely she had been ever since Crane's passing. He could sense the ache in her. He knew the feeling very well.

"I'm so sorry, Bex," he started, wishing there were better words to really convey how truly sorry he was. "The isle..." Aureus hated talking about it. There was always going to be a definitive line drawn in the proverbial sand when it came to the destruction of the isle and the events leading up to it and Aureus was in the dead center of it. All of his decision-making during that time had more than just ripple effects on the people involved. They were more akin to devastating tsunami waves and those waves had led to the deaths of many. "It was a horrible time for everyone. People were coping in their own ways, me included. I shut everyone out. The guilt was..." he let the thought trail off as there would never be a way to put what he was going through into words.

"We should've been there for you more. I should've. I know what it's like to be in love and then to have it ripped away from you without warning and gone forever." The familiar ache that resided in his heart amplified as he chose to recognize it then, when he'd been so used to living with it, that it was just a part of his everyday. Reus didn't dare let his mind start flooding him with memories of her. His resolve would weaken in letting Bexley see that false memory. "I just shut myself away. It was hard to face everyone again after what happened. I lost my sense of self and purpose. Spiraling. I was ready to end my time as an aspect." 

He forced himself to look at her then. "Facing you again was one of the hardest things I've done in my long life, Bex. I knew how much you two cared for one another. I had so much guilt over it. I still have guilt over it all." Reus lightly placed his hand on her shoulder in an act of comfort. "You must know you are important to the Guard and us aspects. We understand the sacrifices you and the others have chosen to make in order to serve the Ailwards. It's not something we ever take for granted nor can any of you be replaced." 

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