||Okay, so, my first attempt at League of Legends fanfic. It's long, it's wordy, and it's written by someone who has never played as Diana and has only read her lore. Oh, and this person mains Leona. And he is really excited to play Diana.
Title: Full Moon at the Solstice
Characters: Leona, Diana
Place: Mount Targon
Summary: Those forced to walk alone are sometimes drawn to one another.
Diana's eyelids opened as the silver curtain of moonlight whispered over them, and the glow upon her exposed eyes forced her upright. She felt her pulse intensify with the light, stood and tossed the blankets aside without taking her gaze from the light at the window. Her hand reached for her robe automatically, lifting it from the bedpost and swirling it around her bare shoulders, falling over them with what felt like a much greater weight than any other night. Her fingers moved without guidance, first tying up her quicksilver ribbons of hair into a simple tail, then tying the golden belt at her waist into a simple knot. She bundled her robes up before tightening the belt, pulling them above her knees, leaving the calves and feet bare. She needed mobility.
Her pulse redoubled as she pushed the window open, silent and weightless on well-oiled hinges, and gazed up at the silent, solitary moon. No star could challenge its light tonight, and the few clouds in the sky hung at a distance, like an admiring crowd of spectators that dared not come too close. The sun gave light but burned those who looked upon it--the moon did not indulge in such vanity, but allowed itself to be seen and admired. It did not pretend to hold power over those below it--it simply watched in silence.
And tonight, as with every month, it watched again as Diana braced her arms against the window's frame and pulled herself up and into the open air; for the first time since she had come awake, she turned her face from the moon's light and swung her left hand high. Her fingers found the handhold, a simple crack in the building's face, and she pulled herself up so that she stood on the sill, fully exposed to the night.
Repeated practice from her monthly ventures had long since obviated the need for the moon to guide her path; she knew every rung of this unintended latter by memory. Yet still her eyes looked to each and every flaw and purchase that was given, accepting each gift that she had not asked for.
Diana reached the roof and straightened herself, finally turning to look at the moon; the clouds still shifted slowly around its silver face, and a grateful smile spread across her face. The sky received a single nod of thanks before she turned and stepped lightly across the sloping roof of the abbey's hall. She kept her feet close to the rocks that the building had been built into, making as little noise as possible. While elders and students alike would be fast asleep, she would take no chances. The thought of being caught may have thrilled her, but she had no desire to invite punishment yet.
She reached the top of the roof and began stepping on stony stairs; where there had been no footholds, the laborers had long ago carved some, that all points of the building could be reached by the students and scholars that they may study the sun from every angle. To the left, she could see the massive stairway that led to Mount Targon's peak, winding away into the darkness.
She paused as she reached the base of the stairs, looking up into the darkness--the moon was still too low to shine down upon this place, and when she began the climb, there would be no one to see her, and nothing to reveal those who might be watching her. Fear threatened to root her feet to the spot, to make her stand in the light until it reached the stairs, but the moon's call was too powerful. She had to risk the darkness.
Bare feet slapped lightly off the stones as she climbed, another part of her that had been toughened by experience. The stairs were cold beneath her feet. Everything was cold in the dark. The words spoken by all of her companions, words she had questioned until she understood that where the moon shone, there was no darkness, and that the night was not to be feared...
But the shadows were different.
She ran now, two stairs at a time, feeling her robe slapping against her knees, but there was no way to straighten it, there was no time, she had to reach the light at the top, it was there. She could feel it.
And then the pale light greeted her face, and she sighed with joy at the beauty of the full moon rising before her, flawless in its glory as--
The sigh clawed its way back into her throat as she saw the silhouette at the base of the moon. Her feet froze and she crouched, one hand on the ground at the top of the steps, the other gripping her hip to keep her legs from moving again. Her heart's rapid rhythm pulsed in her ears as she stood there.
Caught. She was caught. The elders had suspected her and set someone to watch and wait. The full moon that had hidden her before was now her betrayer--there was no hope of remaining unseen, and no victory to be found in flight. Short of murdering the witness, there was no path of escape--the realization that she had even entertained violence sent a wave of nausea through her that was stronger than any vertigo. She awaited the call, the reprimand, the triumphant cry at the discovery of confirmed suspicions...
But the figure did not move.
Get ahold of yourself.
Diana blinked and forced herself to breathe steadily. She could see long hair blowing in the mountain wind, but besides that, there was no movement. Was it possible that the person was facing the moon and staring at it, too? Impossible. No one here paid the moon any attention...but perhaps...
She took one step back, deciding to retreat while still unseen.
"You'll lose your footing in the dark if you go back now."
Diana almost lost her footing anyway as a girl's voice echoed softly through the night, a voice that came from the figure seated in front of her. So. She was caught, after all. And that voice...it was new to her, but it was not the first time.
She smiled. It was the new initiate. What good fortune.
"Ah, Leona!" Diana breathed, standing and walking forward as though this had been her intention all along. "There you are, I've been--"
"Shh!" The girl hissed. Her red hair looked almost black against the moon as her head whipped around. "It's after curfew...you don't want to get caught!"
Diana scowled. This girl might be "the One" but where did she come off ordering her around like this already? The arrogance...and the knowledge that the girl was right only increased her frustration. Diana squared her shoulders and grudgingly accepted the invitation; every step gave her a new insult to yell at this girl, a new challenge to issue, or some other method to break the girl's haughty spirit. But all that came out was a question.
"How did you know?"
"The Rakkor live and breathe warfare," Leona replied quietly, not turning again. "If one of us died to an assassin's blade, our family's disgrace would never end." Her left hand patted the rock beside her. "Do you want to sit down?"
"No," Diana sniffed, still aware of the game that was being played. "I just came here to get you--"
"You don't have to pretend." There was no hauteur in the command, but there was...understanding? "Aurora would have come up here herself, calling my name, if she wanted me back."
Diana opened her mouth to argue, or to ask a question, but then realized that she had lost. Perhaps she should just accept Leona's invitation. The stone was cold, even through her robe; she tugged on it, allowing it to cover her legs now, though she felt as if the shadows chilled the parts of her that had been exposed to the moon only a moment ago. With that done, she turned to look at the newest member of the Solari order. Leona was not wearing the armor that she had donned earlier that day, but a twilight robe almost identical to Diana's--the only difference was a line of gold trim that ran along the center from just below her chin to the stone of the mountain; her feet were hidden, too. Though she had her hood down and her unbound hair rustled in the night, Leona's arms were wrapped around her knees to protect herself from the elements.
"You should be down below if you're cold," Diana offered.
"I'll be fine." Leona actually smiled here. "Rakkor training."
Rakkor training my eye, Diana thought as she watched the trembling shoulders. Whatever training the Rakkor received to endure cold on the slopes of Mount Targon, this girl was clearly not accustomed to the peak. Unless this is the training.
"You're a Solari now," Diana decided to voice the thought aloud. "You're one of us."
Leona's smile returned as she turned to look at her. "Thank you for your concern, but this is my choice."
Diana looked up into her eyes, and stifled a gasp. The light reflected in Leona's eyes was not that of the moon, but the molten glow of the sun. And just like the sun, Diana could not stare for long--she turned back to the moon quickly, but every time she blinked, the sun's light still burned against her lids.
"Is something wrong?"
Diana shook her head.
"No, no, nothing's wrong..."
"Except that you're out after curfew."
Oh. That. Idiot.
She decided to play it safe. "Okay, you're right. Curfew. You don't tell, I don't tell?"
"My lips are sealed," Leona assured her. "But I guess I have to ask you...why are you out here? You do this often?"
The wind was loud. The air was cold. Diana hesitated, uncertain whether or not she could trust this newcomer. She knew so little about her...but as she thought of the sunlight in the girl's eyes, she realized that she could, indeed, trust her.
"I love the night," Diana admitted at last. "Well, the moon, anyway...especially when it's full."
"It is beautiful," Leona agreed. Diana smiled and brushed a strand of silver hair out of her face; she began to wind it as she continued.
"I've watched it from my window for as long as I can remember. Eventually I began opening the window...I was reprimanded for letting in a draft, though, so I stopped...but seeing it through glass was never enough, so one night, I snuck out. And then I started sneaking out every month."
"Every month?" Leona repeated, making no attempt to hide her surprise. "And this is the first time you've been caught?"
"I haven't been caught yet," Diana reminded her. "But I've been caught twice...the first time, I was looking for some fresh air, the second time, I was sneaking over to the men's dormitories. According to them."
Leona gave a single "Ha!" of laughter, but then stifled it. "You let them believe that instead of...?"
"You're new, you'll understand," Diana promised her. "And I'm not counting what I had to use when I used the door."
"The window, then?"
Diana tightened the hair around her finger. "Yeah. The window." What was she doing, revealing all of these secrets? She trusted this girl. Why? "How did you sneak out?"
"I walked past," Leona answered. Diana let the hair fall and turned to gape at the grinning girl. "Aurora let me go; she didn't look excited, but she allowed it for now. She'll probably come to check on me in half an hour or so--don't worry, I'll let you know if she's coming." She tapped her ear lightly.
Diana felt a hot flush crawl from her cheeks to the back of her neck and down to her spine--envy? Yes. She was jealous of this girl. Of the girl's training. It was natural--Leona was a warrior trained from childhood. She had not grown up in the relative comfort of the abbey, with shared food and libraries and morning rituals...there may have been a lot of rules and regulations for Diana, but she never went to bed with aching limbs. Still, though, this newcomer had now entered into the life now, and if Diana was expecting her to be an equal, she was wrong. Leona was Chosen by the Sun...she was her superior, and Diana had to accept that.
So then why did Leona seem to treat her like an equal?
"Are you okay?"
Diana started at the question. "Oh, sorry...just...where was I?"
"Climbing out your window."
"Oh, right." Diana began twirling the hair around her finger again. "I found cracks in the walls, revealed to me in the moonlight--so I started climbing out. At first I just looked from the roof above my room and..." The breath caught in her throat as the memory filled her. "The nights are cold here, but when I looked at the moon and stood in its light, I felt warmth. The sky was so beautiful, with the moon set like a silver gem at its heart, like now, and its light shone on everything--I could see everything at night. The mountain. The cliffs. The camps. Even the fields below--they were all visible. And then I felt a strange urge--it wasn't enough to see it from there, I wanted to get closer. I wanted to be able to see it all around, to see the buildings below me, from as close to the moon as I could."
Her finger was growing numb as her hair cut off circulation, and she stared at it as it darkened. "And when I finally stood here, for the first time...I felt...stronger. I wanted to..." Her mouth hung open for a moment, and she traced her teeth thoughtfully with her tongue. "I wanted to just...this sounds crazy...but I wanted to let go, and jump, and just...fly."
She waited for Leona's laugh, but it didn't come. She turned and saw that Leona's eyes were fixed on her, her face rapt with attention, the sun pulsing behind her eyes. And when she spoke, her voice was serious.
"And did you?"
Diana frowned. "Of course. I jumped and turned into a magical moonbeam and flew around the camps and temples and back into my room, and I've done the same thing every night."
Leona blinked in confusion. "Really?"
Well, she was an expert at combat, but clearly, this was still a simple girl.
"No!" Diana snorted. "Of course not! Do you believe everything you hear?"
Leona's lips twisted into a pout between flushing cheeks and she narrowed one eye. "Hey, I was saved by a magical sunbeam the other day, I'm going to believe a lot of things these days."
Diana felt herself blush now. Stupid.
"Oh. Right. Sorry."
"It's okay, um..." Leona blushed again and ran a hand through her own hair. "Sorry, I can't remember your name."
"Oh, right." She smiled. "I'm Diana." She held out a hand welcomingly; Leona held out two in response, and Diana suddenly remembered the Rakkor gesture for peace. She took both of Leona's hands in hers as the girl returned her name.
"Diana. I'm Leona. But you knew that."
Leona's hands were warm. Or perhaps Diana's were just cold...she realized suddenly that the only light came from Leona's eyes, and that the moon had vanished. She whirled and saw a cloud obscuring the light from above; disappointment filled her stomach as she released Leona's hands, and then excitement grew. She put a hand on Leona's shoulder and spun the girl to look over the land.
"Whoa, what are you...?"
"Shh! Just watch!" Diana hissed, pointing to the valley below. The world was still bathed in the pale light of the moon, but the shadow of the cloud currently hiding it spread across the base of the mountain. Even as she watched, though, the shadow rose up the mountain, pulled away like a curtain, revealing cliffs, trees, the Rakkor camp, the buildings, and finally the moon itself appeared above them.
Diana heard Leona gasp softly.
"I know!" the silver-haired Solari whispered. "Every time. Every time..."
"Really?" Leona sounded bewildered. "I would have thought it would get boring."
Diana shook her head. "No. Every cloud has a different shape--things are revealed in a different way each time. Sometimes, if the night is cloudy, you get to watch the world revealed in pieces, when the moon shines through holes in the clouds, revealing bits and pieces...once, a storm passed through, and left, and I watched the entire world become as beautiful as it is tonight."
"And this is how you spend your nights?"
"Once a month." Diana sat down again and leaned back on her hands. "How about you? You spend your nights doing this, too, or is this a new experience?"
"Oh, we'd do things like this," Leona said. "Pantheon, one of my friends, was usually with me...there were others, too. Molik. Nya. Arniel. We would watch the stars together. Talking. Arguing. Making plans. As we grew older, though, and we turned fifteen one after another, we stopped our meetings. We knew what was coming. What we would have to do."
Diana nodded. The solstices of the Rakkor saw the youths who had turned sixteen pitted against each other in battle to the death; it kept the population in check and certified that only the strong survived. The Rite of Kor demanded one survivor and one corpse, and friendships mattered not; only one warrior had been an exception to the rule, and she was shivering on the peaks of the mountain tonight.
"Pantheon was the only one who stayed. I think he enjoyed challenging our culture like that--he was always a prodigy. And perhaps he wanted to have a handicap in our duel."
"Or maybe he was hoping that you would spare him if you beat him." Diana suggested wryly. Leona smirked.
"No. If I'd been paired with Pantheon, I would not be here." She took in a breath and let it go. "Either he would have killed me..." Her hands tightened on the robe. "...or I would have killed him."
"Really?" Diana tilted her head. "I thought you were a pacifist?"
Leona shook her head, her hair rippling around her. "Those who refuse to fight invite death...but if you have the power to take a life, you have the power to save it. Everyone has a right to see the next sunrise."
"You get bored with them eventually," Diana sniffed. "It's a morning routine."
Leona turned to look at her, and Diana saw her eyes burning. "You've never faced death, have you?" she asked quietly.
Diana blushed again--she'd just offended the girl's culture, hadn't she?
"Oh, I'm sorry. The Rakkor value each sunrise, right?"
"The Rakkor see each sunrise as a new day to fight, a new opportunity for battle and warfare. But yes, there are a number of phrases about the dawn." Leona sighed. "Even though I'd heard them all, I never actually understood the meaning of a sunrise until the day after the Rite of Kor." She looked back to the moon. "When I spared Molik's life, I knew that I was forfeiting my own life. They surrounded me, preparing for my death, and I prepared in kind. I surrendered myself, welcoming the end...and then my world became light. The sun saved me. And the next day, when it rose before me in the ceremony of the dawn, I realized that I would never have seen that sunrise at all if it had not intervened before. And I know that this is going to be how every sunrise will be, from the one that ends this night to the one that rises before I fall. Every second that I live, I owe to the sun."
Diana nodded. "I guess that makes sense...but there's more to your life than sunrises. Have you ever felt the pull of the moon?"
"A voice from the moon?" Leona asked. Diana's eyes brightened with excitement and her heart tightened with anticipation. No one, none of the acolytes, none of the elders, not even a visitor had ever shared this particular quirk of hers; she had not even been able to find someone who could understand. But this girl was different, and her people were different, perhaps...
Her eagerness crashed back down around her ears and settled as disappointment in her stomach. Of course not.
But she refused to give up, and pushed on. "What about the others...and him...did any of them, or did you, ever feel anything like what I've felt?"
"No, I'm sorry," Leona shook her head and pressed it into her folded arms, tightening her knees to her chin.
So there was no one else like her. Diana bowed her own head. So that was it, she was truly alone...
Realization hit her like lightning. Alone. She snapped her head around to look at Leona, suddenly understanding why she shivered. Why she was up here, on her own, looking down at the world below her. Why she had not refused Diana's company. The air wasn't what chilled her at all. She wasn't training to endure it. She probably didn't even feel it. The sun wasn't glittering in the eyes of a champion who had been rescued from death.
The tears were glittering in the eyes of a sixteen-year-old girl who had been taken from her family and friends, who had lived her whole life for a purpose that she had refused to fulfill and chosen to die in its place. The sun had postponed her body's death, but the life that the sun had given her was not the life that she had owned. She was a new person, shivering and alone in the night. And the sun was gone for now, hidden, and thus, she was free to look back on the life that had been hers, and she was allowed to want it back again.
It was unfair, she realized. It was not fair for the sun to force her to be alone like this.
The moon glittered in a tear, and Diana reached out and touched her face, wiping the tear away. Leona gasped and flinched, turning to look at Diana in shock; Diana hastily pulled her hand back.
"Sorry!" she apologized. "It's..."
"I'm okay, I just...I'm fine." Leona waved a hand, and Diana rubbed the tear on her fingers dry as the breeze took it.
"Well, winter nights up here can freeze your tears if you let them linger," Diana explained hastily. "But...I am sorry. For this. For...for what I said earlier."
"What are you talking about?" Leona sniffed, wiping her eyes with a sleeve.
"Never mind." She paused, realizing that the statement she was referring to was not something that should be forgotten completely. "But believe me when I say that you're not alone. You're part of the family." She smiled warmly at her for the first time, and to her relief, Leona returned the expression.
Diana extended both of her hands. ""You're one of us now, Leona. Welcome to the Solari."
Leona smiled and stood, taking Diana's hands in her own. "Thank you, Diana." The Rakkor's fingers were warm as they locked with the older Solari's--not only were they warm, but they were strong. Calloused. The hands of a warrior, and then the warrior spoke again.
"But remember, Diana, you're--"
She fell silent and whipped her head to the side; Diana opened her mouth to ask what was wrong, but suddenly Leona's hands had left her grip. Diana felt one hand clamp over her mouth and the other grab her shoulder and shove her roughly to the ground; she wanted to cry out in protest, but Leona was speaking first.
"Aurora?" Leona called, in a voice just loud enough for anyone at the base of the steps to hear, and Diana realized that her time was up. "I'm coming back down."
She straightened and turned, whispering back, "Wait here for a while...I'll see you tomorrow at the Dawn Greeting." She raised her voice again and walked toward the stairs. "I'm feeling much better now, thank you...much better..."
Diana held her breath as she saw the glow of a lantern illuminate the rocky arches beyond the stairs and the front of Leona's body, but it stopped as Leona stepped forward and eclipsed its light. Diana lay on the ground, motionless, waiting for the light of the lantern to disappear.
It was then that she realized how warm the lower half of her face was...everything was cold above it, but she felt warmth; Leona's hand had burned her, somehow.
She turned and looked back at the moon, and could not tell if the moonlight warmed the rest of her face to match the temperature of Leona's touch, or if it cooled the burn away from her face and brought her back to normal. She stood straight, allowing the moon to illuminate her fully, her robe billowing in the wind. Leona. The moon. They were so similar. So alike...
And now she knew that neither of them were alone.
If you made it to the end, help me summon the parrot, please. ^_^ I want to torture him with this...