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[fic] FFXII: "By Halves", for Churched
the princess ASShelia
mithrigil wrote in ff_exchange
.

Title: By Halves
For: churched
Medium: Fic
Request(s): FFXII: OGC. Ashe/Rasler, their last night together. Max rating, R.
Fandom(s): FFXII:OGC
Characters/Pairings: Ashe/Rasler
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, as they are in bed, but it’s between, not during.
Feedback: By all means!
Spoilers: Only if you’ve played the game and know what to look for, so…that’s kind of the opposite of spoilers.
Word Count: 1000
Summary: On traps, and relics, and things neither will say.



By Halves
final fantasy xii


Heat compounds the complications of the night; the windows are open, the curtains are still. It is as if the winds that grace Rabanastre from Nabradia and the sea have stilled in anticipation of crafts-fire and magick, as if the field steels itself for battle the same as its men. On the morrow they will be sent off with pomp and parade, and the pilots will remark on the transparency of the skies, nary a cloud, nary a breeze, nary a catch in the Mist. Nary a moon, or so Ashe beholds from her window. The moon would be just past full, but perhaps Bhujerba hides her in the sky, a black scar on her mottled face, an abbreviated eclipse.

Ashe caresses her husband’s cheek, and remembers its rougher texture, not so long ago.

He sleeps beside her, naked in the sweat-drenched sheets. Ashe is rather pleased to have worn him out so thoroughly; she’d hoped to manage the same with herself, but cannot sleep at all. What perhaps even the temper of the air would allow, her memories do not permit in kind; that smooth skin on Rasler’s face was not always so. He was young, they both were, and his skin was as rough as gravel. She touches what’s there now, on his upturned cheek; he doesn’t have any stubble, he would not, he is only two years older than she after all, and her fingertips catch on nothing but sweat.

Rasler murmurs into the pillow; Ashe does not stop touching him. The better he wake now, and oversleep. A blight upon glory, she thinks, and its rot to filial piety, but her stomach rebels at the thought, her heart stirs. But a man who lives for love is no hero, but a scoundrel, and that is not the man I wed.

“Ashe?”

She trails her hand down from his cheek to his neck and back. There are dents from her fingernails there, fading welts, barely visible at all in the darkness. “It is too hot to sleep,” she says, and the half-truth is the same, half-comfort.

“The lack of it will ring your eyes tomorrow,” he says, as much into the pillow as to hers.

“Better that than tears.” She huffs slightly, neither a laugh nor a sigh. “I would not cry for you.”

“There’d be no sense in it,” he agrees. He turns over, reaches up to touch her face in kind. “You would have wasted tears, on my return.”

That is also half a truth, and half a comfort.

There are words yet to be said, but they have had all night to say them; it is easy for Ashe to forget that Rasler is in mourning for his father even as he lies with her, even as he does her the courtesy of a last indulgence that neither will speak of as last. It sickens her to think, last, chills her flesh and fills her teeth. They have endeavored these two months to get Ashe with an heir. Ashe counts the weeks, and wonders if the gods will be doubly cruel in their kindness, and if some pass tonight will enable her to serve her function as queen.

“You dwell on this overmuch,” he says, and props himself up to hold her, kiss her. His lips are warmer, wetter than the air. “Why look at me so sullen?”

“Must you ask?” She settles atop and beside him, their naked legs interspersed where the damp sheets are too laden to gather. “If you ask, I will be forced to explain.”

“And there is better to do than to understand one another? That is not like you.”

“Understand this,” she says, tautening her legs, lowering her head so that their brows touch, their eyes align. Though you pretend you shall return, “I will miss you.”

“I must go,” he says, regardless.

“One does not change the other.”

With that, she kisses him, possessively, desperately, incensed; it is not the first time she has seized his lips, nor even the first time tonight, but still his lips react to hers as if shocked, trembling before they part. He gathers her close, she clutches in return, hears the scrape of their bodies on the grain of the sheets and the mattress beneath, creaking. She puts it from her mind, kisses him until his gasp for breath will drown those out.

“—Ashe,” he manages when they are briefly parted, his eyes lost in shadow—

“When you are a shade, you will haunt me,” she whispers. It is half admonition and half command.

He pants, once, twice, and nods to agree. “I shall live so long as to make an impression on the Mist in kind.”

“Swear it,” she demands. It is childish; Ashe is not yet all woman.

One of her hands is in his hair, the short fair tufts now messier than ever; Rasler takes her by the wrist of it and draws it down between them, to his lips. He kisses her there, just above where his thumb presses, and then along her palm until it reaches the ring she wears. That too, he kisses; then higher, past the joints of her finger, to the tip, along the back and down.

“I am in this,” he tells her, perilously soft, audible only because the curtains are still. “Let it be as a relic, that when I am gone, I shall return to it and you.”

“Faram,” she says, though the gods have not shown themselves to care for her pleas.

No wind disturbs the curtains that night, nor mollifies the temper of the air; Ashe knows because she does not sleep. Rasler drifts in and out, between oaths and kisses and all that stems from those, but never deep enough to dream.

And he was correct, as in the morning, Ashe’s eyes are ringed with dark circles. The sun and her sweat unseat the powder she hides them with, but tears would have done far worse.

-

---

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  • 1
I might be dead from how amazing and lovely this is. ♥

:blush: Thank you so much! It felt wonderful to write FFXII fic again, especially for these two. I'm glad to have been your backup!

Oh my goodness. Beautiful character fic, sensual and sad and courtly and so real and un-clichéd.

A thousand, million times this scene has played out in the real world and in fantasy, the last night before a warrior goes into battle. This is one of the few times in canon it ever happens, yet this is the first time I've ever read it.

Excellent.

Edited at 2009-08-20 06:48 am (UTC)

Thank you so much!

I wrote a fic that mentioned this incident in it, but never got the chance to write it out. :smile:

Owwie, that kinda hurt to read. Sad, but absolutely beautiful. Not only the scene, but the prose - you have a great sense of flow. Loved it!

Oh, ouch. Beautifully written, but ouch. ♥

Wow. Just... wow. Utterly beautiful, and poignant, and devastating. I love it.

Good god, this is amazing. I very rarely react or FEEL when I read fics, but this left me gasping at a few parts. Beautiful and wonderfully detailed.

  • 1
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