Title: Love from the Flames

Author: The Watcher

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: Dart/Lavitz

Summary: A conversation by the fire reveals that Dart is not as blind as everyone thinks, but his feelings are not what everyone assumes.

Disclaimer: Legend of Dragoon is owned by Sony Computer Entertainment. I do not own these characters. No copyright infringement is intended. Please do not sue.

Dart stared into the crackling flames of the campfire, thinking about the events of the day. The party was on its way back to Bale, and were taking the opportunity to rest. Shana had already fallen asleep, and Lavitz had stepped away for a quiet moment. Dart had shifted a short distance away, then settled down to think.

All the way here, Shana had been droping hints. Even Lavitz had joined in the persuasion. They all assumed that Dart and Shana were meant to be. How could he tell them...how could he tell her that he didn't share those feelings? That he knew fully well what she was constantly trying to say, but that he didn't return her longing? He did care for her, and wanted to protect her, but she was a sister to him! He couldn't force himself to see her as more, not when...Dart sighed.

Yes, he did have feelings for one, but it wasn't Shana. And that was the problem. Never had this happened to him before. He had traveled with many different people. But never had he felt such an instant connection with anyone as he had with the Serdian knight. Lavitz seemed to instantly understand what he was thinking. Even Shana had seen it, when they discovered the rock fireflies, so much so that she was jealous of it. And in the limestone cave... Dart shuddered to think of what might have happened if Lavitz had fallen. He would surely have been dead. The horror of the idea left Dart gasping.

It was at that moment that Lavitz returned to the camp. He had stepped away to do some thinking of his own. In his heart, he felt a connection to this young man. It was like nothing he had felt before, but fighting alongside Dart, he found his thoughts turning and returning to him often. Even with his knights, whom he had known for years...even with his king! He had never felt this rush of...what? Affection, pride, fear, longing? It was impossible to fathom. With these thoughts in mind, he returned to the camp. Shana appeared to be sleeping peacefully,and he paid her no more heed. Dart...Lavitz frowned. Dart appeared to be gasping for breath. Concerned, Lavitz rushed to Dart's side.

"Dart?"

Dart had his arms tightly folded, as if trying to hold himself in, and his eyes were far away. Lavitz gripped his shoulder. "Dart, are you alright?"

Slowly Dart focused on him. "Lavitz?"

"Dart, what is wrong?"

Dart shook his head. "Nothing, just...nothing." Slowly he seemed to calm. "I was just thinking about things."

Lavitz shifted to sit beside him. "What sort of things?"

Dart returned his gaze to the fire. "Shana, for one." Lavitz started to grin, but then he listened as Dart continued. "She has always been like a sister...the family I never had. And I've always cared for her, and tried to keep her safe. But now that she has grown up...I'm not a fool, Lavitz. I hear what she says, I see the looks...even you have joined in. But I don't see her in that way. I still care for her, as family...I can't force myself to return the feelings she wants. I know it will hurt her, but...I just can't. Not when I..." Dart hung his head, unable to go on.

Lavitz was silent, thinking over what Dart had said. He understood Dart's problem, knowing that Shana would be hurt when Dart finally was forced to confront her. Silently he placed an arm around Dart's shoulders, intending to comfort. He drew back upon hearing Dart's sharp intake of breath.

"What's wrong? Did I hurt you?" Dart slowly shook his head. Lavitz thought over what Dart had said. "Dart? You said there was a reason you couldn't feel for Shana. What is it? What makes you so certain that you will have to hurt her?" Lavitz spoke gently as he asked his question. He wanted to help his friend, but to his suprise Dart turned away at his question. "Dart?"

Dart wasn't sure how to answer his friend. How could he tell him of the feelings raging inside him, that told him Lavitz was one that he wanted to always be near? That he felt a greater connection to this new friend, who he had only know for a few days, than to Shana, who he had know almost all his life? Surely Lavitz would not understand what the feel of his touch had meant to Dart. Surely he would pull away, maybe even... The thought made Dart tremble.

Lavitz was confused when Dart pulled away, but he grew concerned when Dart began shaking. "Dart, what is it? What is the matter?" Dart only trembled more. Trying to think of a way to calm him, Lavitz pulled his friend to him. He was startled when Dart leaned into the embrace instead of fighting, and held on to Lavitz as if afraid Lavitz would disappear. Slowly an impossible idea began forming in Lavitz's mind. "Dart? Is there someone preventing you from feeling for Shana? Someone you already have feelings for?" Slowly Dart nodded. Lavitz finally asked the question. "Who is it? Who has captured your heart?"

Dart clung to him even more. Finally, he spoke. "Oh, Lavitz. Have you not guessed by now? I've known you only a few days, and yet, I cannot seem to be apart from you. Ever since I met you, I've felt a connection that I can't explain, yet it burns in me."

Lavitz closed his eyes. He couldn't believe that Dart was saying these things. This young man, who had saved his life, was now telling him that he treasured that life. The source of all his confusion, and he felt equally what Lavitz felt. At that moment, Lavitz knew...this was one he would risk his life for, not for duty or honor, but for love. Slowly he lowered his head to press a kiss to Dart's forehead, and when Dart lifted his head, he gently sealed their mouths together.

When Dart felt the kiss to his forehead, he looked up in wonder. He had expected to be turned aside for his confession. When Lavitz pressed a kiss to his lips, he almost groaned at the contact. Finally they seperated, and the tender look on Lavitz's face melted his heart. "I would never have spoken of this, if you had not bared your heart to me. But now that you have, I cannot let this chance get away."

Dart reached up to lay his palm on Lavitz's face. "I know that one of us must stay on watch tonight. But could we...that is..." Dart was unsure of how to ask, but Lavitz knew what he wanted. Calmly he took Dart's bedroll and layed it out beside his own, then streched out and reached for Dart. Dart joined him without hesitation, and the two lay silently for a time.

After a moment, Lavitz spoke. "When will you tell Shana?" Dart sighed.

"I don't know. Up til now, I hadn't wanted to hurt her. And I wasn't sure if I should say anything at all. I certainly didn't think you would return my feelings." Lavitz nodded. "But now you know." Dart smiled. "Yes, now I do. I know I have to, it's just hard. I will tell her when we reach Bale. It's not something she should be worried about when we're still in the wild."

Lavitz privately thought that Dart should tell Shana now, but decided not to say so. It was Dart's decision to make. Instead he occupied himself with running his fingers through Dart's spikey hair. After a moment Dart pushed himself up to face Lavitz.

"I can hardly believe that this is real. I spent so long worrying about what you would think if you discovered my feelings."

Lavitz pulled Dart into another embrace. "I'm glad I did. I would have let you go when the time came, but I would be empty without you." Lavitz hesitated for a moment, then softly asked Dart, "Where will you make your home after our journey is over?"

Dart shrugged. "I will help to rebuild Seles, but I don't really have a home of my own."

"Would you consider coming to my home?" Dart looked up in suprise. Quickly Lavitz added, "You don't have to, if you'd rather not. Or you could just stay for a short time. But it would mean so much to have you near..."

Dart shook his head. "It's not that. It's just...you would offer your home to me, to have me near?"

Tenderly Lavitz ran his hand across Dart's face. "I would offer everything I have to you. I could face anything, knowing that you're near."

Dart layed his head on Lavitz's shoulder. "I will stay with you. Wherever you are, I will go."

Quietly Lavitz wrapped his arms around Dart's body, and Dart tipped his head up to meet Lavitz's kiss. The two held on for the rest of the night, and the crackling fire gently illuminated their entwined forms.

It also reflected, unseen, from a single glistening tear.