‘You aren’t going without protection!’ Oh, normally she would listen.
Stay behind. Wait. It’s dangerous. Don’t go there.
But they were going, somewhere dangerous, somewhere she couldn’t get them if they fell. Lysenna, Isabel, Sophie, Lunette–all of them. And he was going there. And she couldn’t explain exactly how he couldn’t go there. Exactly why he shouldn’t go there. She had to be there, or else she couldn’t interfere.
‘I’ll be fine, even without protections. Lysenna said it would maim me or harm my mind, and I’m prepared for that. We’ll be fine.’
So she followed.
Alphonse couldn’t protect the Veneaux–he’d leave Lysenna unprotected. She convinced him to protect Lysenna. She thought about making him protect her, but it felt.. Weird. Weird to force that on him. She’d be fine.
It wasn’t fine.
The moment they walked through, it was everything they’d said in the worst case scenarios. She’d never felt this before. She’d always been too strong. Not this time. Her heart slowed, her breath barely came to her lungs, and she knew she’d be gone afterwards. She stood, outside her body, staring at it as it stopped moving, like a doll, and she looked forward as things converged upon Sophie and Lunette and Isabel, and she looked down at her body and willed it to move.
It lurched. At first, completely gracelessly.
‘It will be fine.’ she thought again, ‘This is frightening, but it will be fine–let’s figure it out now and worry about later later.’
Another step, a shuffling. Forward. And another. With each it got a little easier to puppet the body she wasn’t inside. Sing, now. Open your mouth and sing.
Something grabbed the lifeless corpse. It stared at her and spoke in nightmare tones. Shadows erupted from her hair and pushed it away. She felt warm, protected. ‘Thank you,’ she tried to say to them, but the cacophony of sounds and the separation from her body prevented the communication.
Keep singing. Keep moving forward. A tendril came up from behind; and Hugo slammed into it like a beast tearing through a meal. They swarmed on the back, on everyone there, and Hugo broke them apart, taking injuries and shuffling off their attacks. It wasn’t until one reached out for Sophie that she pushed herself forward and into the way.
Even detached from it, the pain resonated in her. She hurt. Her body fell and stopped moving, the ability to puppet it briefly cut off as the resonance between soul and flesh was impacted by the sheer pain that tore through Marinette. She whimpered. Lysenna grabbed her. Isabel screamed. Shadows, again, erupted up and tore thorns asunder, keeping them from the corpse on the ground. Hugo rushed back and lifted her from the dirt and started pushing his way out.
He was slammed into, flying and dropping her. She would have rolled like a mine cart downhill if Lysenna hadn’t caught her, but her weight was too much. Help. She focused in. Made the corpse move with Lysenna. Isabel was with them. Etienne came up on the side and grabbed her other arm. Out. Out.
Isabel went back.
“Where is Isabel…?”
Nobody could hear her. She was whispering in a crowd of screams.
Lysenna leaned in, but couldn’t make it out. They stepped out, past the rift.
Her soul came back into the body like a snap. The pain made her gasp. It had been intense before, but this was new. Now she was inside. She collapsed fully.
The world was muffled. She could hear them, but couldn’t understand what was going on.
Oh. We’re dying. This is what it actually feels like? How… novel.
“Master could save us.” The voices whispered. “We can ask. He’ll save us!”
She saw a black spiral open up in front of her. They reached for her, the Rocheaux, desperate to help. Marinette took their hand and smiled apologetically. She was about to speak when the green light appeared behind her. She looked over her shoulder and felt Vecatra. She felt Etienne.
“I’m going to go this way now. Don’t worry, okay?” She consoled them like her family, because they were her family, and then… awoke.
She looked up at Etienne, his hand on her heart, as bark grew over both of them. She saw the terror in his eyes and wanted to reach up and hold him. Oh, she was tired, though. ‘Hello, curmudgeonly hero. Hello, my family.’ She smiled. She touched his shoulder, and she closed her eyes. This was what the world should be. Safety and warmth. Her whole family, unhidden from one another.