Stitching Up (A Secrets in Stained Glass Story)

It's time for another Secrets in Stained Glass story! This is an Eliane and Dier story, set before the main series. We hope you enjoy! You can see all Secrets in Stained Glass content in our tag, and our last bit of main content will be an over three hour long video of some of the cast discussing Secrets in Stained Glass on Sunday, September 3rd, and on September 9th, we will have a Q&A stream!

For a PDF version of this story, click here


Stitching Up

By Verónica P.H. & FeatherWriter

1007 FE - One Year Before the Elariel Fire

It was past midnight, but Eliane couldn’t sleep. Her brother had been sent out on a mission, and ever since she could remember, Eliane hadn’t gone to sleep without him getting home safe and sound. They weren’t particularly close, as far as sibling relationships went, but she couldn’t really imagine life without him around. And, if she was being perfectly honest, she dreaded what her father would do if Dier got himself killed. Eliane stood up from her bed, setting her book on the night table with a ribbon as a bookmark showing where she’d left off. Dier normally didn’t take this long on a mission. Where was he? Was he even going to come back at all? She tried not to think like that, to take a deep breath and calm herself, going over to the window and cracking it open a tiny bit, letting the cold night air and some of the swirling mists come in. Though she was only in her nightgown, she didn’t mind the cold. It helped her focus. Eliane kept breathing slowly, and walked towards the other side of the room, when she heard a hard thud of someone landing against the wall followed by the rattle of unsteady hands against the window. She hurried to unlatch it, opening it wide enough to admit a haggard Dier, messy strands of his hair plastered against his face by a sheen of sweat.

He looked absolutely terrible. The dark fabric of his shirt was soaked with blood in three patches, around what were clearly arrow wounds in his upper chest and right arm. He’d snapped off the shafts of the arrows, though the heads were still in there, which was smart. He’d have probably bled out if he’d tried to take them out without anyone to clean and stitch the wounds back together. This was the worst she’d seen him in quite a bit.

“Dier, what happened? Come, sit here,” she said, motioning to the edge of her bed, which she’d covered with a towel so he wouldn’t get the sheets all bloody, and pulling out her medical bag from next to the night table, where she’d put it earlier, as was her ritual whenever Dier went out on a mission.

With an unsteady hand, he scattered a handful of coins across her floor, using his steel like a crutch to limp his way into the room to her bed. “What does it look like?” he said, stifling a groan with every step. “Our dearest cousin seemed to think this break in was supposed to be completely unguarded, but I end up squaring off against half a dozen hazekillers when I get there! ‘A perfectly simple job, cousin.’ I barely got out of there alive, damn him.”

His mocking approximation of Straff’s voice wasn’t a terribly convincing impression. He continued with a pathetic whine, shaking his head. “Lord Ruler, Eliane, do you have anything for the pain? I… I thought I was going to pass out before I even made it back to the keep. These damn things hurt like the depths of the Pits.”

“Well, I am glad you made it.” She uncorked the small bottle of alcohol so she could clean and get a good look at his wounds. “If you hadn’t, there’s nothing I could have done, but since you did… it’s not too hard to deal with, but it’s going to hurt, so please try to not make a lot of noise. We don’t exactly need Father or Straff to wake up. They can wait until tomorrow.”

Dier held his hand out, a silent plea for the bottle of alcohol, making a little whine for some to help dull the pain.

“Not this one, this is too bad to really drink, but I think I still have some to give.” She finished cleaning the outside of one of the wounds, and rinsed the handkerchief she’d been using in a bowl of water set on her night table, before rummaging through her kit to pull out the little bottle and hand it to Dier. It was one of those that some people liked to collect, and she’d repurposed for this, since it was a lot more convenient, and she could refill without it being too suspicious.

He took it gratefully, kicking it back with a hissed breath. “Straff… He’s going to kill me if he finds out I didn’t even get the records he sent me for. Should have stayed with the hazekillers, if I was being strategic about it. They’d have made it quicker.”

At her nudging, he lowered his good hand from the wound in his arm to let her start to treat it. He looked away from her as she carefully started to prepare the wound around the arrow for as clean of a removal as possible. She did her best to steady him with a hand against his shoulder, then set her nerves and pulled the snapped-off shaft free with a firm motion. Dier bit off another pained cry, curling forward on instinct to try to get away as she quickly pressed clean cloth to the open wound. She directed him to try to hold pressure on it, turning to take up her implements to start to dress it.

As she was moving on to the next task, Eliane registered what Dier had actually been saying, underneath that resigned, miserable tone. “Why are you even saying that, you can’t just…” Eliane stopped herself, took a couple of deep breaths and stayed silent for a moment while she applied a salve around the first of the arrow wounds to help counteract infection. “I know they push you, that your experience with Father and Straff is somewhat different than mine, and you hate that, but please, don’t leave me here.”

The plea in her voice seemed to catch him off-guard, shaking him out of some of that fatalistic stupor. “El, I wasn’t…” He grimaced, wincing as her ministrations hit a sensitive spot. “Look, it’s not like I’m out there trying to get myself killed. I couldn’t have—I mean there wasn’t anything I could have done! I was lucky to make it out with just three of these damn things in me. Not that they’re going to care about that. No, just another task Dier didn’t manage to do right, even though it might as well have been impossible. I can’t imagine anyone, even you, would be terribly heartbroken if I just didn’t come back one night. Sure, House Venture would lament the loss of their valuable Coinshot of course, but no one would actually miss me.”

“I never said I thought you’re trying to get yourself killed, I’ve seen enough of the aftermath of these assignments to know they aren’t simple get in and out quickly missions. Why Straff decides to go for such complex targets instead of protecting the house, I don’t know.” She tied off the knot on the thread she’d used to stitch the first wound closed, and cut it, and turned her attention to the second arrow wound. “Look, we may have had our ups and downs, not always getting along the best, but as much as I love Charisse and Elend, their experience is different. You’re still my brother and I would miss you. Who else am I supposed to talk to who knows what it feels like to have your emotions tugged at so hard you don’t know what’s real anymore?”

“C-can we not talk about him right now?” Dier begged, clearly trying to summon up his nerve for the next extraction. “It’s just… Vasha doesn’t get it. He tries to say things about h-how I could be more than this, if I wanted, that I’m not living up to my potential or whatever. Like I should think about how fun it could be to make something of myself and prove Dad and Straff wrong. But it… It wouldn’t be enough. Even if I did try, they’d just find something else to get onto me about instead. If I woke up tomorrow and was magically as good at Allomancy as Mom was and as well-behaved as boring, stuck-up Jenna Tekiel and I’d still get screamed at for not becoming perfect sooner.”

There was something raw about Dier when he got like this, with his proud, defiant confidence stripped away, a side of himself he never showed the rest of the world. A side Eliane only managed to glimpse in moments like this, when he needed help. She could see how much the expectations were weighing on him, and in some corner of herself she was glad that she wasn’t the only one who felt caged by what Renholm wanted. By the tug of wanting to avoid a confrontation, the zinc, but the need of being her own person, make her own decisions.

“You… you probably don’t think I know what that’s like, since I’m not an Allomancer like you, but I do. And I’m here for you when you feel like this. We should be able to support each other. Lord Ruler knows, Dad certainly won’t, and Straff even less so.”

Dier went quiet for a few minutes, though whether to stew in his own thoughts or to not distract her while she prepared to remove the second arrow, it was hard to say. He grit his teeth around another awful groan as she slid this one out too, slumping heavily in the aftermath once it was free. As though she’d pulled the last of his strength from him with it.

“You’re lucky,” he rasped as she started to apply the salve, “that it didn’t get you too. Allomancy. In this family, it’s a curse.”

Eliane started her stitches as she spoke, the motions having become muscle memory after so many years of practice. “I’m tempted to agree, except for the fact that Father seems to be as disappointed in me for not having Allomancy as he is with you for ‘not using it to its full potential’.”

Dier winced again as one of her stitches pulled at the wound, staring into his empty bottle forlornly. “You really should keep something stronger around than spirits, Ellie. A splash of alcohol isn’t nearly enough to endure something like this. Are you… nearly done, at least?”

“It’s not exactly easy to just fill it with something stronger without someone else noticing. And don’t call me Ellie, or I won’t be as careful,” she said, giving him a stern look.

“Fine, oh magnanimous Lady Eliane Venture,” he said, sticking his tongue out at her.

She shook her head, and pulled out the final arrow without warning him. She was still careful so that it wouldn't injure him more, but if her brother was being stubborn and annoying, then she was going to pay him back.

He barely managed to choke off the yell that threatened to rise when she did, turning it into an entirely undignified whimper through an awful grimace instead. “Okay, okay,” he said, when he’d managed to unclench his teeth once more. “I might… have deserved that one. That’s it though, right? No more? Please?”

A little smile tugged on her lips. Even if she genuinely wasn’t a big fan of the nickname, the mutual teasing was one of those moments where she felt the two of them were closer than had been the norm. “Yes, that’s the last one. I still have to close it though.”

Dier closed his eyes, nodding in a bit of a daze. Now that the danger had passed, it was clear that between his blood loss and coming down off the adrenaline of his fight had taken its toll. His breathing was deliberate as she pulled her needle through again and again, steady and slow as he tried to stay still to get it over with quicker.

“Sorry about… the mess,” he mumbled after a few minutes of silence between them. “Though I guess it’s not the first time you’ve had me stumbling in here to bleed all over your bed at this point.”

“I’d rather have this than the other options. And I don’t mind. It’s not too hard to clean up, since I was prepared.”

He cracked an eye and glanced down, perhaps noticing for the first time how she’d covered the bed before his arrival. “Right,” he said, sullen. “Suppose it’s not exactly a vote of confidence that you were ready and waiting for me to fail miserably and stumble in here like this, is it?”

“That doesn’t mean I don’t have confidence in you, it’s just for my own sanity. It’s what I can control in this whole situation.”

“El… How often do you have things like this ready, just in case?”

“It’s not as often as you may think, if I’m reading that tone right. But I do keep track of the missions, I do my absolute best to find out what they are without Dad and Straff finding out. And experience has given me a meter for how possibly dangerous an assignment may be,” she explained, without taking her attention off the bandaging process, so it would have enough tension, but leave enough space for Dier to move relatively comfortably.

He gingerly tested the binding, wincing as even the slightest bit of motion jostled the wound. “You really should be careful about that sort of thing. Can’t imagine Straff would be terribly pleased if he caught you snooping about. And you know how good his hearing is. Just… I’m not worth you getting caught doing something like that, really.”

“Thank you for the concern, seriously. I am well aware of both the consequences and Straff’s hearing. I’ve figured out how to do it. It’s not like our cousin even thinks I’m capable of doing something like that. And the risk that I do run, it’s worth it in my mind.” She started putting everything away, now that she was done. “Anyway, you’re free to go, but please try to be careful while they heal. I wouldn’t want the stitches to rip out.”

With a bit of help from both her and his steel, he shakily found his feet. “No promises.” He managed a little laugh at the look she shot him for that. “Fine, fine. I'm probably going to pass out as soon as I make it back to my room. I won't get up to any trouble, okay? I'm too perforated to misbehave, anyway.”

“Rest is a good thing. Do you want me to help you get there?”

He shook his head, leaning with his good arm against the doorframe. “I’ll be fine, the hard part’s over. But you know, if you hear any mysterious thumps of a body hitting something hard… maybe I wouldn’t mind if you came to check it out just in case?”

“I will.” And then she closed the door behind him and then settled in for what was hopefully a good night's sleep.


1009 FE - One Year After the Elariel Fire


This time, Eliane wasn’t awake and waiting when Dier nearly crashed through her window. A strong rattling woke her up—something that wasn’t hard after the fire, because she hadn’t been able to sleep very well ever since. She looked around, wondering where the sound was coming as she came to her senses, and quickly realized it was the window. She hurried to open the latch, figuring out from the shadow outside it was Dier, and let him in. It had been over a year at least since the last time he’d come for healing, and even other than that, their relationship had turned sour. But Eliane still kept track of when he was sent out on missions and this was certainly not one of those nights.

He stumbled in, cradling his right arm as it hung oddly from his shoulder. He’d clearly been on the wrong side of some kind of beating tonight, with a split lip and blood from his nose having made a grisly mess of his face being the most notable of the injuries, but she was sure there were more. He climbed through the window with a pained grimace, cursing at himself under his breath.

“Dier? Why? How did this happen?” She rushed to get out her medical kit from her closet, and brought some towels in from the bathroom so he could sit. “Here. Now, can you please explain what’s going on? Who hurt you like this? Is there any risk of internal bleeding?” Though she hadn’t gotten along with him lately, that didn’t prevent her instincts from kicking in to see what she could to do help.

“Why would it matter who did it?” he growled, temper as short as it ever was these days. “Just fix it. And get me something for this… pain, damn it.”

She sighed, but she wasn’t in the mood for arguing with her brother too much, seeing as she’d been woken up in the middle of the night. “What can you tell me? I need to know so I can actually fix the injuries properly, and not miss anything.”

“Got caught in a scrap much too close at hand, managed to take down two, but the third caught my wrist when I went to Push away, threw me back down by the arm. Dead now too, but not before he got a few good hits in, which is obvious, I’d think. That's enough detail for you, Ellie, or do I need to make a whole bedtime story out of it?”

Eliane schooled her reaction, biting her lip and throwing on a robe before saying “It’s enough, are there any other areas that hurt more than a normal bruise, other than the obvious?” She avoided meeting Dier’s eyes, looking for the small bottle of liquor she kept for pain management. She’d optimistically taken Dier’s advice a over year ago to find something a bit stronger, and then it had gone unused for that entire time. Under normal circumstances, she’d be glad because it meant he wasn’t getting hurt, but she’d seen enough evidence to tell her that wasn’t true, and that he was just avoiding her until now. Well, he’d better appreciate the effort she’d made, because he didn’t really deserve it with his attitude lately.

He snatched it without so much as a thank you, kicking the whole thing back. “Why don’t you start with whatever you can see and then if anything else happens to come to mind, I’ll tell you then. Can you do that much at least?”

“Internal bleeding is serious, you know that! There wouldn’t be too much I could do about that here and quickly, but it should be the first priority. I’d appreciate it if I could know for sure. Otherwise I could just start poking, look for a reaction, and none of us wants that to happen.”

“I don’t know!” Dier yelled, then winced, cringing down as he glanced at the door, realizing the last thing he wanted was for anyone else to overhear. He repeated himself more softly: “I don’t know. Just... Just do what you can. It’ll be better than nothing. If I die, I die, and then everyone in this damn house can just be glad to be rid of me, right?”

“Alright, it’s going to hurt, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do what I can.” She wasn’t going to try to dissuade Dier from the thoughts of the family being glad if he died, she knew how pointless that would be already, and their relationship was in a very different place from the last time he’d brought it up anyway.

As she started to clean away some of the blood on his face, trying to get a sense of what she was working with, Dier settled into a sullen mostly silence, glaring at a spot beside her like acknowledging who was assisting him was a step too far for his liking. His ever-foul temper these days made him disinclined to speak it seemed, aside from cursing at her whenever she tried to address a tender spot.

“Look, I know you’re not going to talk about tonight, so I won’t even try, but please answer this one question Dier. Why? Why do you antagonize Father? I know the general reasons, those are the same they’ve always been, but why now, when things are worse than ever before? Shouldn’t the losses we experienced a year ago bring us closer together as a family, not drive us apart?” She didn’t cover up the anguish, the solitude she’d felt since the fire. Eliane needed to know. Because, if whatever he answered gave her nothing else, at least she could use the information to figure out a path forward. A way to protect herself from her father’s anger, and help Elend as much as she could.

Dier’s expression twisted, and despite the softness in her words, he seemed to take them as an accusation. “I’m not the one who’s driving us apart! I’m not the one wielding zinc like a bludgeon whenever he’s so much as slightly inconvenienced! What, you think I should just give him what he wants? Duck my head and say, ‘Yes, Father, of course, Father,’ like a good little well-trained Venture? Cower and cringe whenever he starts working himself up again? I’m sure that’s what you’d do, but that’s what’s always made us different, Ellie. I’m wise enough to know that doing what he asks won’t stop him from finding something else to take out on me, and I refuse to give him the satisfaction of seeing me bend. Why don’t you go ask him why he antagonizes me? Why don’t you tell dear old dad that he ought to be better behaved because we’re family, huh?”

Eliane recoiled, even if she tried not to. She hadn’t been expecting that response, though looking back on it she should have. She barely even thought before speaking, lashing out verbally in a way she couldn’t remember responding to anyone in her life. “I’m a little well trained Venture? I know Father doesn’t care how he affects other people with his zinc, of course I know. What do you know about how I have to deal with it? You’ve been so busy thinking of ways to antagonize him that you haven’t even stopped to think about the side effects of doing that, and how you’ve made things worse for everybody by extension, not only yourself. And you know he won’t care if someone tells him to stop. He’ll only double down, so it’s useless anyway.”

Dier’s lip curled, no vulnerability or gratitude in him now. “Well if he’s not going to change, I don’t see why I should either. Let him be the one to break first this time. I can hold out as long as he can. Just watch me.” Seeming to realize it was unwise to antagonize her while she was still treating him, he dropped his voice to a mumble and looked away. “And maybe it’s high time you got your share of the misery in this house anyway.”

Her tone of voice dropped to match his whisper, but lost none of its solemnity. “Didn’t. I. Just. Tell you about the misery I’ve had to deal with? Just because Father isn’t screaming at me all the time, doesn’t mean I don’t get my fair share of it.”

Eliane took a deep breath, placed her hands on his dislocated shoulder, and gave him a quick signal before moving the shoulder back to its proper place. If Dier didn’t breathe properly to help control the sudden pain, then it wasn’t her fault, she’d given the warning.

Dier let out a strangled yell as the sudden resetting jolted him, eyes watering from the pain. He breathed shakily in the aftermath, just staring at the floor with a hard glower. “If you’re expecting me to feel bad for you and how hard your life has been, Ellie, I wouldn’t hold your breath.” He looked up at her slowly. “Are we done here?”

“I doubt you will even try to understand. If you wanted to tell me about how things have been since the fire, how you’ve been dealing without Vasha, I’ll be around. I lost people too, but I’m not going to hold my breath on you ever wanting to be forthcoming or empathetic about your feelings. Now, let me look at the rest of those injuries. They don’t look too complicated, they’re more superficial, but I’d like to double check, so you’re going to have to stand me somewhat longer.”

Dier hissed a breath in through his teeth at the mention of Vasha, like Eliane had unexpectedly pressed upon a wound. And maybe she had. A wound of a different sort. “Oh, is that it? You think you've got me all figured out, do you? You think I’m out here crying at night over Vasha the way you cry about your nice little friend Charisse? You know why Vasha’s dead, Eliane? Because he listened to his damn family. Because he tried for them. And you know what? They never appreciated him either. All he ever got for all his efforts to prove them wrong was killed. Because he showed up that night when they told him to. Elariel didn't deserve his effort and Venture sure as hell doesn’t deserve mine! Vasha. How dare you even try that with me. I don't need Vasha. I don't need any of them. What I need is for you to shut up about things you know nothing about and finish so that I can leave.”

Eliane sighed, of course he wasn’t going to open up and he was just going to deny everything. “You still remember Mom before she died. I never had that. Charisse isn’t just a friend, Dier. She was practically my mother, of course I’d be mourning her. And I may not know Vasha personally, but I know enough about you to know he’s been a mentor figure to you. It’s not wrong to mourn, it's a normal part of the human experience.” Like she suspected, his bruises weren’t that bad individually, and just were very extensive because of the beating he’d taken.

“That’s enough. We’re done here.” He yanked himself out of her reach, fixing her with such a look of naked disdain as he cradled his injured arm and stood. “You know, he always tries to play Mom against me when I’m not giving him what he wants too. You really are our father’s daughter, aren't you, Ellie?”

“I’m not done yet. And, you aren’t listening. I’m not saying you have to be Mom, that you need to somehow do everything a Mistborn can, or even be what she was as a person. What I’m saying is that you had her for support, to teach you, to raise you, at least for a while. You had an actual mother. Charisse was that for me. I think I don’t have to ask you to imagine how a loss like that affects someone, because you’ve lived it. I understand. You don’t have to hide it.” Even though she was saying all of these things, she didn’t think Dier would care, but she wanted to at least leave the option, and the offer of understanding on the table.

Dier's mouth thinned to a hard line, his breathing tense as he stared her down. “What do you want from me, Eliane?” He asked with a reluctance so thick, one could think she’d dragged the question from him by torture.

“For you to be my brother again, not just a half stranger in the same house.” She handed him a small glass container with a balm that would help both the pain and the visibility of the bruises and gave him one last look, surveying her work. “We’re technically done, but I don’t know what to do about your arm healing properly. It’s not like I can give you a sling, because that would be too suspicious, but it needs to be relatively immobilized as much as you can make it until it heals properly. So the best I can think of is having you wear one in private, when there’s no risk of Straff or Father finding you. So you can go if you want.”

He took it, tucking the salve away so that he could keep the arm she’d re-set supported. He hesitated, caught in the door between her offer of kindness and his pride. For a moment, it looked like the former might stand a chance, as his mouth worked around some kind of response. But before anything resembling gratitude could escape, his expression hardened again, and he turned away without another word, Pushing the hardware of her door to close it behind him as he walked out.

Eliane went about the task of organizing her room, as she reflected on what had just happened. Dier’s barbs had hurt her more than she let on, and having had a little time to sit on it, the anger and indignation she’d initially felt had faded, leaving flakes of resentment suspended in the resignation of knowing that she’d tried her best but her brother was too caught up in his own pain to realize that she was also hurting. But what had really stayed in her mind was the accusation of being just like Renholm. That hadn’t been her intention in bringing Mom up, but what if she’d internalized the way Father approached it, the ways he’d tried to make her be the perfect young noble lady, so much that Dier’s accusation was true, even if she’d actively worked against it? Had she actually hurt Dier’s feelings, or was he just retaliating without thinking much like he tended to do? Had she definitively broken the sliver of the relationship that was left, leaving her all alone with nobody to trust, with Elend being too young? She took off her robe and got into bed, curling up underneath the covers and putting her arms around her knees.

In the end, Eliane just turned the light off and tried to reclaim that elusive sleep.



(Portrait Sketch by Elisgardor)

Edited by Chaos


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