Author: Arabesque Rhapsody PM
Ingus isn't ready to save the world a second time when darkness threatens the land, though neither are Refia, Arc, or Luneth. Feeling as if he has returned to groping about the shadows, Ingus fails to realize that his light was at his side this entire time. Two years post-game with Ingus/Refia pairing, R&R plzu this couple needs more love!Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Hurt/Comfort - Ingus & Refia - Words: 2,254 - Reviews: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 11-25-12 - Published: 11-18-12 - id: 8716309
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Welp, here goes my first fanfic on FFN and my very first fanfic in a long time. This fic is dedicated to my friend, Ari, whose own writing inspired this story.
I personally find Ingus as a strong character, but I felt that he always had a kind of vulnerability to him from pressures of fulfilling a particular image. Also there is not enough Ingus/Refia fanfic in the fandom. I have chosen to remedy this.
Disclaimer! I do not own the Final Fantasy franchise in any way, shape, or form.
It was becoming awfully difficult for Ingus to keep his eyes open much longer. He felt that he could stay awake a little while longer if he treated the evening as a vigil. All of his willpower was channeled towards fending off the thick veil of sleep that threatened to devour him. Nightly watches were common during training for knighthood at Castle Sasune, but the greatest extent that trainees were forced to keep their eyes open were twenty-four hours. Ingus, on the other hand, was running on a grand total of seven hours of rest for the past five days. It was not insomnia that he suffered from, rather, Ingus forced himself to stay awake. Three years ago, he learned that danger lurked in the darkness, and he would never be able to revert to the blissful ignorance of his fourteen-year-old self. Not after Hein, not after Xande, and especially not after confronting the Dark Crystals.
He pressed the heel of his palm into an eye, as if it would somehow help keep sleep from him. Upon returning to Castle Sasune with Princess Sara, the King had appointed Ingus his own platoon of soldiers along with the title of a Captain despite his youth. He was given his own quarters as well, which had taken some time to become accustomed to. He was so used to sleeping in the same barracks as the rest of his comrades, that the private room, although humble, seemed rather spacious to him. It was odd to fall asleep to the sound of silence, as opposed to the haphazard peace of deep breathing. Still, there was a perk to the privacy, one that Ingus would have preferred was not necessary. It was only the first two weeks upon his return from sealing the Cloud of Darkness that he was plagued with images of fiends in the night. After that, they disappeared into the recesses of his mind.
But now, they were back.
Ingus leaned against the wooden wall of his room. Perhaps if he stood up, he would be less likely to fall into slumber. But he had stood all day, and his legs were weary.
If I sit upon the mattress for a little while, I should be all right...
Something stifled Ingus, and with each breath he took, he felt as if he was retaining less and less oxygen. He rubbed at his eyes, hoping that if he rubbed hard enough, his vision would return. The world before him unfolded in complete blackness, leaving the knight to grope about to find his way around. It concerned him that he failed to find a wall to steady himself with. He lit a gentle Fire spell in his palms, and although it did not give off much light, it at least showed the knight where he stepped. He crouched on the floor, gingerly pressing his fingertips against it, but was alarmed to find that his fingers appeared to go through the floor as if it did not exist. It troubled Ingus because he was fairly certain that he was walking upon some sort of physical ground, but he decided to press onward anyways.
He froze as he felt the air around him shift, as if something hidden in the fringes of the shadows was skirting about. Ingus shifted the fiery sphere hovering in his palms to his left hand, his free hand's fingers curled around the grip of his sword. He held the blade out in front of him as the faint light from the Fire spell glinted off of its metal neck. In an attempt to feel what might have been lurking a few feet before him, Ingus wove his blade before him, only to feel something tug on its blade and suddenly have it yanked out of his grasp. He blinked, stunned at how quickly he had been stripped of his weapon, and the feelings of helplessness that clouded his mind only amplified. It was an amateur mistake, to shift his weapon into one hand while approaching something blindly. But Ingus was not entirely defenseless, for he immediately began to recite a Firaga spell under his breath.
A tendril of coldness snaked around his ankles and wrists, coiling around them tighter until Ingus was biting back cries of pain. A third one curled over his mouth, effectively stopping him from completing the spell. Ingus' pulse skipped a beat, and he felt his body numb with panic, frantically tugging at the tendrils around his wrists. With horror, he discovered that he was unable to free himself. He knew precisely what was going to happen next.
This was why he had fended off sleep with all his might.
The shadows wrapped around Ingus' limbs, each touch sapping at the energy of every fiber of his body. He felt himself growing colder, colder, consciousness slipping away, until a wave of darkness threatened to swallow him whole. He felt tears lace the corners of his eyes as he opened his mouth in a silent scream.
Somebody was screaming in Ingus' chambers, and although the noise was choked off as soon as he heard it, Ingus did not realize that it had belonged to him. His breathing came in quick, short breaths. His hand rested upon his chest as his heart hammered against his ribs. It was as if he had to double check that he was alive. He raised a hand to his forehead to wipe away beads of sweat that had gathered there with his wrist. Every night, it was the same cycle of nightmares. Ingus crawled to the head of his bed, propped a pillow against the board, and leaned against it with knees drawn up to his chest. He counted to one hundred, clenched and unclenched his fists, did anything and everything that would just stop him from shaking so much.
He did not understand, for he was seventeen years old, and being afraid of the dark was so childish.
Ingus sighed deeply, and decided to be grateful for the few hours of sleep he had squeezed out instead. It had come at the price of being wracked with nightmares, but it was something. When King Sasune had notified him that a spiraling cloud of purple had been spotted above the lower continent, Ingus could only brace himself for the worst. That was when the nightmares had begun to resurface.
But he would visit the Village of Ancients, where a handful of the Gulgan had retreated to after the lower lands were freed from darkness. They would know what was happening, that the purple cloud was just a weather phenomenon, and that his mind could rest easily once again.
I am over-thinking everything. The darkness is gone and sealed away. There is nothing to fear.
He would find Luneth, Arc, and Refia again, and they would investigate together, but that would warrant them seeing what he had been reduced to. It was why Ingus had made all efforts possible to keep himself isolated at Castle Sasune. He had grabbed Luneth's hand and pulled him to safety when the floor gave out at the Tower of Owen. When Arc struggled to light the campfires when the Heroes of Light settled for the evening, he took the flint from the boy's hands and showed the freckled brunette how to correctly create sparks. When they had found their first Chocobos, Ingus was the one who had taught Refia how to properly saddle the large yellow bird and how to properly ride it. Ingus pressed an index and middle finger against his temple. Answers would come tomorrow, and he did realize that he was only adding extraneous thoughts to his already-busy mind.
"... Tomorrow," he muttered to himself as he curled up on his side. Ingus tugged the thick covers over his head, but they flew halfway across the bed when an unexpected rapping of knuckles sounded upon the door. He snatched the unsheathed Excaliber lying at his bedside before he stepped cautiously towards the door. Not a soul stirred past midnight in the castle halls, sans the nightly watch, but none of them would have dared to disturb Ingus at such an hour. He sucked in a quick breath through his nose, prayed to the Light, before he thrust the door open to impale whatever fiend lurked beyond -
"Y-your Highness I -"
The blond princess pressed a single index finger against Ingus' lips with her free hand. The other one clutched a lit torch, whose warm orange light cast dancing shadows throughout the otherwise still hall. The princess blinked as she quickly regained her austere air, but Ingus had already caught a glimpse of the shock that had been in her eyes. Instead, the corners of her lips tilted into a smile. "Firstly, Ingus, I believe this is the two hundred and forty-third time I must remind you that Sara will suffice. Secondly," she began as her lips slanted into a frown, "I heard you shout from the other side of the door. You're not... hurt are you?"
"Of course not, your - Sara - simply, a dream disturbed my sleep." Ingus straightened his back and quickly lowered his weapon. It was an automatic response to being in the presence of royalty, but his weariness had taken its toll upon his reaction times. The knight's eyes fell to the ground. How dare he draw a weapon against a member of House Altney. He must be sufficiently punished for such careless actions, for disrupting Sara to the point that she had visited his chambers. He saw that she was clad in her silk nightgown, a clear enough indicator for him that she had been enjoying sleep. Despite the fact that the royal family's chambers were far from the knights', Ingus wondered if she had heard him from there. A lump began to form in his throat as he feared that others had heard him -
"Ingus, please do not lie to me."
A hard expression in the princess' eyes replaced the tender one that he had caught a glimpse of earlier. She took his fingers into her hands and invited herself into Ingus' room despite his meek protests. Sara smoothed the beige covers of the knight's bed before taking a seat on it, dainty hands folded in her lap. "Ingus," she began softly, gesturing for him to sit beside her, "do you realize how many nights I have spent outside your door to check how you have been sleeping?"
Ingus balled his own hands, resting in his lap, into tight fists. "No, Sara, I do not," he replied in a hushed voice. He felt a slight heat rising to his cheeks as he wondered if the darkness was enough to conceal his shame, despite the torch that Sara had set in the indentation of the wall. "... not many, I hope."
"Forgive me, Ingus, for I have heard you shout in your sleep one too many times. I could not allow it to continue." Ingus' skin crawled as he felt something on his shoulder, but the tension in his body was released when he realized it was only Sara's hand. "Tell me, what are you seeing?"
But Ingus was stubborn, and he only pursed his lips in response. He refused to show any weakness, especially towards Sara, whom he was assigned to defend with his life. At such a sign of obstinance, the woman sighed, and gave his shoulder a light squeeze. "I suspect you will tell me when you are ready, won't you, Ingus?"
"I will try, Sara."
"Good. Then my work here is done." Sara rose with a queenly grace before retrieving her lit torch from the wall. Her fingers curled around the metal while a she pursed her lips in thought. "Ingus?" she spoke again.
"If you are feeling fatigued and do not wish to journey to the Village of the Ancients, I will request that you stay to my father."
Ingus shook his head. Her Highness was simply too kind to him. "Sara, perhaps this journey will help... ease my mind," he replied.
He flinched as Sara suddenly clappd her hands together. "Wonderful, yes! I was thinking the same," she said with a smile. "A good old-fashioned journey is just what you need."
The princess then rose, leaned over, and planted a quick peck on the knight's pale cheek. Ingus blinked, for he never quite got over how affectionate Sara could be with him. He forced a smile because he wanted, rather, he needed Sara to believe that he would be all right. Perhaps if she believed it, he would be able to believe it as well.
When Ingus looked up, Sara had already retrieved her torch and was halfway out the door. But she paused before she stepped fully out into the hall to whisper over her shoulder, "Sleep well, Ingus."