For: Moogle 14
Request(s): FF12, Balthier/Ashe.... I love them snarking. I love them being bittersweet. I love Balthier's performative aspects, and Ashe's need for personal control.
Fandom(s): FFXII (OGC)
Characters/Pairings: Balthier/Ashe, mention of Fran
Spoilers: Balthier's backstory, vague for the end of the game.
Word Count: ~750
Summary: A game of "what if" on the eve of an important state event.
Notes: I'm in the midst of a replay of FFXII, and I just got to the Phon Coast on Saturday, so this bunny had been bouncing around in my head for a few days. I actually started writing it last night, but when I saw that one of the MF requests hit it so closely, I tweaked it a little bit and finished it up for posting here. I hope you like it! This is sort of a follow-up to a kiss battle story I wrote a few years ago.
Two figures stood on the rooftop of the Castle, marking the passing of the hours, next to one another on the ramparts, only a hands-breath of space between them. Much of the night they had spent in this fashion, standing together and watching the sky, talking but little, mostly enjoying the view and the quiet. The last of the stars were still visible behind them, but the pair faced east, the sun peering over the edge of the world, where it glittered off the distant ocean.
"So, today's the big day." Balthier glanced at her, turning his head just enough for Ashe to see both of his eyes. "Ready for it, princess?"
"I've no choice but to be ready," she replied quietly. "But still, I have appreciated your company this long night. Will you be staying for the festivities?"
He shook his head, lowering his eyes. "I fear not. Too many complications, given the guest list. Fran will be back in a few hours to retrieve me."
She looked out over the land, her land, stained a soft pink by the sunrise. The Sky Fortress Bahamut lurked at the corner of her vision, a dark reminder of things past; she forced herself to notice it without shivering, but still she moved half a beat nearer to him, resting her hand atop the wall, palm facing the sky. "It's a pity, in a way. Ffamran Bunansa would have been a perfectly acceptable consort for Queen Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca: a former Judge, younger son of a ranking Imperial councilor, scion of an Archadian house respectable enough to be suitable but not so respectable that Rozarria would feel threatened by the alliance."
"Mmm." He rested a hand on the wall as well, his pinky finger laid just next to hers. "Likely so. Just as Amalia, leader of the Dalmascan Resistance, would have made a fine sky pirate's lady."
Ashe cast him a quick glance, just out of the corner of her eye, and saw he was smiling. "Perhaps. Unfortunate that she never truly existed."
"Didn't she?" Balthier stretched his fingers outward, walking his hand over the wall to settle on hers, warm in the cool morning air. The matching warmth in his voice melted her knees, just a little, and she found herself pressing into his side. He cocked his head sideways, held her eyes with his piercing blue gaze. "Ah well. Ffamran Bunansa no longer exists either, and so both points are made equally moot."
She nodded, and tightened her fingers that had laced through his, her next breath coming shallow. "And just as well, in truth; from what I know of Ffamran Bunansa, it seems unlikely that I would have fallen in love with him."
Balthier said nothing for a long time, motionless but for the thumb that drew long strokes over the back of her hand. "Nor he with you," he finally murmured. "My lady--"
"Hush." They had turned to face one another now, their linked hands falling from the wall, and Ashe raised a finger to his lips. He pressed a light kiss against the fingertip, and then she was leaning into him, kissing him, twining her hand around the back of his neck. His arm came around her and held her up as his mouth traveled over her face, leaving soft kisses on her brow, her eyelids, her temple, then back to her lips. She shuddered with pleasure and heard his quiet groan.
"A few hours, you say?" she asked between kisses. "That being the case, we should make the most of them."
"Then we should get to it." Ashe felt his smile against her cheek. "Wouldn't do for Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca to be late to her own coronation."
She drew back enough to look into his eyes again, brushed her fingers against his hair. "I am queen, or about to be. The coronation starts when I say it does, no sooner."
He chuckled. "I am sorry to miss it. But I will be back. Just send word, and I am here, hovering outside your window again if necessary."
Ashe shook her head with a wry smile. "Two lies in a row. No better than I would expect from a sky pirate. You'll be back when it suits you, and no sooner."
Balthier stepped back, still holding her hand, and sketched a quick bow. "That too, princess. Never doubt it. Now, about those few hours..."
She moved in close and kissed him again, hard enough to stop his breath. "Follow me."