Alistair laughed lightly at their reflection on their decision of their son's name, and that brought a smile to their lips. Somehow, Alistair's happiness continued to warm their heart almost nostalgically. Like a memory of the distant Gauthrien summer, they held his joy close to their cold, brittle heart. When they agreed to rename him, Alistair immediately prompted a suggestion for his name; Bjorn. "Bjorn?" Fridgar asked and reeled with a furrow of their brow. It didn't sound like a warrior's name, nor a particularly strong name, but Alistair went on to explain his reasoning, and the tension in their expression faded. Their first son as Azzas and Aedan was named Bjorn, and aaccording to Alistair, the name held significance in its meaning and apparently Riordan himself had named his child Bjorn.
Fridgar thought for a moment or two and hummed while they held onto the mage's hands. Idly, they brushed the back of his hands with their thumbs, then exhaled. They dipped their head a little and lifted Alistair's hands to their lips, where they planted a few tender, loving kisses upon his knuckles. "...Alright," they said at last. "We can name him Bjorn, but you must stop calling him Winston," they said their only condition, then smiled softly. Ultimately, it didn't matter what their son was named, as long as Alistair was happy. And so it was settled, from that trial onward, Bellator would be called by Bjorn, and no weakling human names, nor strange names that Fridgar thought of in the recesses of their mind.
When the discussion of becoming came to pass, however, all the lighthearted nature of their morning was lost, and it became a test of wits and evasion. They used Alistair's sense of self against him and challenged him that he would no longer be the man he knew himself to be, but this did not deter him. Perhaps... I want that man to die, or to change, he said, and Fridgar furrowed their brow. "Why?" it didn't make sense, Alistair had always had such a strong sense of himself, had always had such strong beliefs, that his body was sacred, that it carried noble blood. Would he throw all that away for this?
Then he began to cry, and they felt the motions of his tears running down his cheeks. Why? They'd only asked why Alistair wanted to change so suddenly, why had he started crying? And then he explained, I want to be a man that you can love again, and the words struck Fridgar at their core. What did he mean? How could he have possibly known how they felt? Did they not love him? Did they? Regardless of how they truly felt, Alistair's life could have rested on their next words, for they knew the darkness that threatened to claim him if he lost the Lothar he loved.
"...W-what?" They spoke with a quiet, almost whisper of a tone. "...You think ...You think I don't love you?" They made sure to use the pronoun that Alistair would have preferred. They stood then and took a step closer to him. They stood before him and moved their hand to touch him, to hold him and try to comfort him, but stayed their arm. He went on to say that he wanted to make them happy, as though he somehow knew that he didn't, that he didn't want to hurt them, as though he knew that he was, and that he wanted to drive them as if he knew how he truly didn't. How he knew all those things was beyond them, intuition perhaps? Had they really been that transparent? The rivulets of tears that ran down his cheeks built in intensity, and he began to sob loudly. He couldn't even form words properly in all his tears, and Fridgar was stuck.
He went on to say that he always thought of the letters Fridgar had written, prior to discovering that the man they'd made their kindal was dead, and prior to ending the man the world knew as Fridgar Calder. A time when they still loved this man, when he drove them to survive and go on. Before he ruined it by marrying another and whoring himself out. Before he filled the void that they left behind with the momentary pleasures of the world. And now, he had another husband lined up on the roster, a man to replace them. Before Alistair sacrificed the life they knew together and forsook their simple, honest life in the plains to chase the crown of Rynmere. Before he lost himself to his avarice and ripped up the foundations of all they had.
Before Fridgar had caved to his desperation, his solitude, and his misery.
And now, that life was gone. And they could never have it back. And Alistair knew it.
They didn't know what to do, what they could do. No matter how much they rehearsed what they believed Alistair wanted to hear, no matter how much they suppressed how they truly felt, he didn't buy into it. They were being backed into a corner, and the only way out from such a situation, for an animal, was to fight their way through, tooth and claw. But Fridgar didn't have the luxury of being entirely animal, nor could they ever harm Alistair. What could they do? Their honesty could end in Alistair's death, and so could their lies and deceit. And as much as they seemed to loathe who he'd become, they couldn't help but despair at the thought that they might lose him in his own misery.
Please... give me a way.
And there it was, right in front of them. There was no escape, they could either condemn themselves to walk at Alistair's side forever, or they could leave and condemn the only soul they loved to die... but perhaps there was another way? A way in which Alistair didn't have to lose them fully, and they could live at his side without feeling miserable, hurt or pressured.
"There isn't one, Alistair," they said after a long pause, then exhaled as they reached for him and grasped his shoulder. "...There's nothing left of either of our old selves, those people, who loved one another so dearly, are gone." Their thumb brushed against his shoulder, and they reached their blindfold before they lowered it, and peered into Alistair's eyes with their deep red rings. "These aren't the eyes of the man that you fell in love with, this isn't his body, not even entirely his soul." They took his other shoulder with their other hand, then shifted their hands to his jaw and cheek so that he had to look at them. "Alistair, I'm not what you think I am. I'm not a man worthy of holding your hand, nor someone that you see fit to parade around as your noble spouse."
Fridgar stopped then as the blacks of their eyes glistened, and gathered moisture toward the corners of their eyes, then trailed real tears born of their heartache. "And it's terrible, Alistair. I know it is. It's so tragic that we lost each other in Etzos, but no matter how much I wish we could go back to how things were, we never can." Fridgar shut their eyes, and reveled in the burn in their throat, the feeling of their tears which ran cold toward the ends of their cheeks. "We can't go back, never. So, I want this to end. I don't want to be your lover anymore, I don't want to go on with all this misery, this jealousy, and scorn. I'd rather it just stopped, and that we stopped trying to force something that's gone into being real. But..." and Fridgar paused, while he thought with uncertainty.
"...But maybe when it's gone, and the ground lays flat and fertile, there will be room for something else to grow?" Fridgar made sure that the mage was looking them in the eye again, and they wiped their tears in their shoulders. "I want to remain your Havendal, but as your guardian and not your husband. At your side, I will protect you and offer whatever counsel I can, and maybe we can learn who each other are and come to love one another again..." Fridgar closed their eyes again and exhaled. Their hands ran down Alistair's shoulders and arms, where they tried to draw the human's hands into their own. "If you prefer, I will leave. Bjorn will be better off in your care, anyway. He's a lot more like you, you see."
They opened their eyes again and looked into his. Their spark still recognized him as their kin, which they appreciated while they searched those golden vortexes for any sign of how Alistair might be truly feeling, beneath whatever he said.