Every day. Every day Mira woke in her bunk at Heathe Tower, and for a single, drowsy moment, tried to remember what Nolan's schedule was today. When she would see him next. And then the devastating loss returned, sharper and deeper than the gnawing, burning aches where her aura had been stripped by hellfire.
Nothing would ever be alright again.
Not unless she could find him.
This one thought kept her going from the moment she woke, pale and frail, a month and a half after she had fallen in the struggle to bring down the Spire. Find him. The descriptions the professors gave her of what had happened to him seemed like pure folktale - in her heart of hearts, she could never bring herself to fully believe it. That he had turned himself into a monster to save her, to save all of them, was simply unthinkable. There had to be a way to redeem him. To bring him home.
There has to be a way to get my heart back.
Because living with a hole where your heart should be isn't really living at all.
Because it wasn't fucking FAIR that that would happen to him after how hard they had all tried to get through it together.
No, Mira Westerril was not at all ready to make peace with that ending to their story.
* * *
Despite her determination, for the first month after she woke, she found herself in no state to find anybody. She had to learn to eat again. To speak. And finally, to walk. And it was another painful three months before her watchful caretakers would let her attempt even the simplest of spells.
Since trying to light a candle ended in her passing out and nearly giving herself a concussion, she supposed she couldn't really begrudge them their caution, even though she felt like screaming at the slowness of it all. Every day, even as her strength returned, she could feel him slipping further from her reach, the trail growing colder than the ice of worry in her gut. Even the civil war that swept over Terrenus seemed like little more than an annoying distraction compared to the urgency of finding Nolan. Soon she was spending every waking moment researching what could have happened to him, where he could have gone. She wrote letters to the other mage towers and even further abroad, to scholars as far east, west and south as she could reach. But it all came back empty handed. Every scrying spell (which she begged her classmates to try for her as she was still too weak herself) came back as blank as though he had been erased from the face of the earth. It was utterly maddening.
At the end of the tenth month since the fog had swept over the city, she could take it no longer. She was going to find him, if she had to go out there and turn over every stone on the face of the continent by hand.
And she had an idea of someone who just might be crazy enough to help.
* * *
Knock. Knock. Knock. Mira knocked loudly on the door of Gregor's home with her staff, before resting it on the ground and leaning against it once more. She was out of breath from the short walk from Heathe Tower to the address Gregor had left them, but she'd be damned if she let him see how weak she was. In the moments while she waited for the door to open, she took a few long, slow breaths to steady her heart and trembling muscles. She just hoped he wouldn't notice how she was white-knuckling the staff, or how much weight she had lost since last they had met.
Or the invisible gaping holes in her aura.