Author's Note: This ficlet/drabble/cookie/whatever-it-is appeared basically full-formed in my mind as a riff off a line in Chapter 17 of "A Guardian's Legacy". It's from Baralai's POV, and if you read it as a background piece to my other story, it's clearly Baralai/Paine. But I also like the ambiguity of it, that it could also be Baralai/Yuna after the normal FFX-2 ending if you consider it a stand-alone. I'm not sure how I would characterize this; maybe fluff with a tinge of sadness? Anyway, I'll leave off now before the note becomes longer than the story.
She loves me now. I can't ask for more than that.
Maybe our love isn't the kind of passionate affair that people will be writing stories and singing songs about after a thousand years, but what does that matter? We're happy now, a quiet kind of happiness that will last throughout our life together. A thousand years from now, we won't know the difference.
She had that other kind of love once, and it almost destroyed her. I should know: I was the one to pick up the pieces afterwards. Not that I was waiting to swoop in, hovering like a vulture over a wounded beast. We'd been friends; she trusted me; she turned to me for comfort on her own. I honestly never expected anything to come from it. She'd made it clear some time earlier that her affections were already claimed, and I was satisfied with her friendship. But gradually it developed into more on her part as well as mine. I'd loved her from the moment I saw her -- all right, not really, I don't actually believe in love at first sight. But I knew from that day that the potential for me to love her was there. So for her to return my feelings was a dream come true.
At first, she used to call his name in the middle of the night, waking from some dream or nightmare, I could never be sure which. I would hold her until she stopped shaking, she would apologize, we would move on. I didn't mind. She had a lot of pain to work through, and she needed me to be there for her. It happens rarely now, and she no longer wakes, nor does she remember the episode in the morning. I haven't told her about this. I don't think it would help her to know.
"You know that I can never be what he was to you," I told her once.
"No," she had agreed, tracing my jaw lightly with her fingers. "You're something better."
I asked her to marry me that night and have never had cause to regret it. She shares her life with me, her thoughts, her body, her soul. Does it matter that there is a piece of her heart that I can never touch? I think not. After all, I have secret places that I keep from her, too.
No, I can't ask for more.
But sometimes, when she speaks in the darkness and reaches out for a body that is not mine, I do wonder if I should have.