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08 September 2013 @ 08:59 pm
Remedy [Vossler/Ashe]  
Title: Remedy
Pairing: Vossler/Ashe
Fandom: Final Fantasy XII
Genre: Romance, Drama, High and Mighty Moral Duty
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1,113



Remedy


And I have lost everything.

Wincing, he waits for her words to seep, germinate, and expand until their potency cover him like the webs of mycelium. Fast they grow and slow he fails.

He cannot stop as she continues, limping past the mottled, dank stone walls. He can do nothing but watch as she marches onward, brave and obdurate and so damned naïve.

"Princess, why don't you stay here? We can handle this."

"I will not cowardly remain behind barricades while my people need me, while those Archadian dogs roam the streets."

He sighs but refrains from another attempt. He has known her since she was a child (the age his daughter would be now had she—and her mother—lived). The princess can be quite hotheaded, easy to flare but swift to fade.

Quickening his pace to catch up with her, he only hopes that she simmers out soon.


--



With great sadness, he agrees to her request. Although small, seemingly inconsequential, he feels horrible, can't help except think of all the men she has loved (and died).

And how he might merely be another disappointment in her unending, miserable streak.

But when she glances over, almost shyly, slightly trembling, he cannot find the heart to refuse her. Given all she has suffered, she deserves a little happiness, even if it will only be a temporary alleviation.

And so, he bends down and tenderly kisses her.

Chaste and sorrowful, their lips touch briefly before he firmly pulls away.


--



It is he to whom she turns when she screams awake at night.

It is she for whom he fights and bleeds day after day.

Vossler, she whispers.

Princess, he breathes.


--



As their army gains in numbers and ammunition, she becomes more eager for combat. Softly, he admonishes her, thinking maybe he can win her over with sweet words since she flagrantly ignores common sense. But deep down, he knows it's futile.

Ashe never waits.

Though judicious and cautious, she charges head-high into battle. She comes first, furious with guns blazing. She does not heed the weak points in her armor.

Not this time, he is adamant.

"Why can't I come?" she asks angrily, raising herself up to challenge his gaze.

"It's too dangerous."

"I can fight."

"I know. That's not the point. Please, Princess, you must trust me."

"I do, but I cannot condone the idea of standing aside while you and the others risk your lives. What kind of a ruler abandons her people just to save herself?"

"You must live for the people. You must live so that they have hope," so that I have a reason to live.

"I will be fine."

"Nonetheless, I do not enjoy tempting the gods. This is one mission in which you cannot participate. Please respect my decision, Your Highness."

Frustrated but vanquished, Ashe watches him depart, his hand never straying from the sword's hilt.

Against him, she is powerless.


--



Five days later, he returns, battered and bruised and reeking of rot.

Panicked, she hurries over and catches him just as he collapses, nearly keeling over them both (he's deceptively heavy).

He smiles and tries to speak, but she hushes him. She could tell from the moment he entered that they were successful (that the casualties were great).


Thank you, Vossler—once more.



--



She is so cold despite the sultry air and blasts of heat emanating from the fire. Shivering, she shrinks inward, clutching at the rough, sand-bleached sheets with unsteady hands.

Vossler brushes back her fine hair and presses his palm against her skin. Her forehead is clammy and damp like an unctuous sheen of gloss has settled over and is unwilling to disperse.

Suddenly, she snatches his hand and presses it against her heart. He feels his own heart thumping wildly, thrashing against the boned cage of his chest. He wants to hold her, give her any comfort he can provide, but didn't trust his treacherous mind.

Did not believe himself capable of stopping.

And although she insists on foregoing with the old formalities, he cannot. He is her knight and she is his queen.

And he must respect (remember) that.

Delicately, he sponges the sweat and dirt from her face with a cool, wet cloth. She murmurs something incoherent before drifting again to sleep. Relieved, he finishes the ablution, lingering a second too long over her cheek.

Even sick and burning with fever, she is still so majestic—beautiful.


--



Frantic, she pushes him against the wall. He can taste her rage. Bitter and icy like metal-coated almonds, it claws at him, aiming directly for his organs. She is unyielding in her interrogation, demanding why he did what he did: do you know how many people have died? Because of you—

"Because you had to save me."

Calmly, he grips her thin shoulders and whirls her around, pinning her to the tattered tapestry. For a moment, he thinks her eyes reveal fear (distrust) but he banishes the unpleasant notion.

Ashe would never fear him.

She must not.

"There wasn't time to evacuate everyone. It was either them or you."

"We should not have attempted the raid in the first place."

"Do you not think I know that now! Mark my words, Princess, I am sorry beyond comprehension. But I did what I had to. It will always be you."

Paralyzed, Ashe gasps as his arms encompass her, pulling her closer and closer until she fits perfectly against his armor. She inhales the acrid scent of rust and explosives. Bile rises in her throat, and she swallows the urge to scream.

And then, his mouth descends upon hers. Only this time, there is no gentleness or patience (no reverence and restraint left to squander).

They could demolish their guards for one night and pretend that they weren't sovereign and subject (prisoner and jailer).


--



Neither one mentions the incident ever again. To speak would be sacrilege, to wonder (reminisce)—heresy.

She declines his help and hoists herself up. He tosses her the sword and indicates for them to begin.

Again.

Better.

Focusing all her power and passion to her blade, Ashe sprints forward for an attack. She winces as the wound in her shoulder snaps and snarls, increasing with each agonizing movement.

At last, Vossler signals a pause and grateful, she lets him cast a Cure. She always finds comfort in him—even though she wishes otherwise. Even though the solace is not permanent and leaves with a nasty tinge of guilt.

Silently, she orders herself to get stronger so that her name will not be scattered to the lilac winds like streams of vapor from air ships.