Disclaimer- I don't own Final Fantasy Tactics.
"Alright, we'll camp here for the night!" Ramza Beoulve shouted, his normally quiet voice easily reaching the ears of his warriors, as it always did- even in the thick of battle.
Instead of an answering military response, grateful nods were the norm, for this was no ordinary band of soldiers- these were Ramza's soldiers.
Many times, nay, every night, he wondered what he had done to command such loyalty. Even as he made his nightly rounds about the camp, casually nodding and discussing mundane topics with the others, his mind turned to those thoughts again.
He had lived by a simple code, one given to him by his father.
Follow your heart.
His footsteps found him on a hill overlooking the camp, looking down upon his men, lost beneath the stars.
It had lead him to the life of a Heretic, hunted and pursued, used, and battling the Devil and his minions.
And his heart had also forced this fate upon his soldiers, his friends, his responsibility. Oh yes, some of them had reasons to stay- Orlandu to bring justice, Meliadoul to avenge her brother, Agrias to find the Princess Ovelia. But the others, the others didn't have to.
They could easily have turned away, abandoned him and cursing his choices.
Instead they followed him into battle after battle, against horror after horror as the world they knew fell apart around them.
"What troubles you, Ramza?" a voice asked.
Blinking, his eyes found Agrias Oaks standing over him, glancing at him with inquiring eyes.
"Agrias!" Ramza said, startled, cursing his lack of concentration. If they had been attacked... "It's nothing."
"Nothing wouldn't make you so flustered." The Holy Knight remarked calmly, sitting herself next to him. "Now. Tell me." Her tone was demanding, though still as calm as before.
Knowing that he would not escape the stern knight's questions for long, Ramza caved. "I was merely wondering why so many follow me. I can understand yours, Agrias, but some of the others..." he paused, and his troubled eyes found Beowulf and Reis, the two of them huddled together, smiling silently at one another.
"Beowulf and Reis should be in a town somewhere enjoying their love." He said quietly. "Instead they chose a life which could very well get them killed." The Beoulve's eyes found Mustadio next. "Mustadio should be in Goug, working on his machines with his father, not being forced to use his gun for my own purposes."
"You make it sound as though you have coerced them into helping you," Agrias noted dryly, raising an eyebrow. "But if I recall, they chose this path on their own. And isn't that what you said we should do? Follow our hearts?'
Ramza blinked. "You have outwitted me, Agrias." He said lightly, chuckling before his eyes darkened. "But why? Why did they choose to follow me?" he stood, framed in the fire, blonde hair darkened by the night as he turned towards the Holy Knight. "I'm a deserter, Agrias. I'm no one special. I have no special training." His voice picked up speed, as though he needed to say such things and they were coming out too fast. "Orlandu has more experience and is far more powerful... why not let him lead? Or you, Agrias? You have years of experience on me, and you are a Holy Knight of Ivalice.
"Is it the name Beoulve?" he asked, a bitter taste in his mouth at his surname. "Tell me!"
"Calm yourself, Ramza." Agrias said neutrally, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Yes, Orlandu and I wield powers that few other soldiers posses. Yes, there are others who wield abilities that you will never posses. But you have something none of us posses.
"Justice and the will to execute it." Her eyes shimmered in the flickering lights, and Ramza was entranced. "You are what holds this band of warriors together. Our purposes are united by you, our paths defined by you. You are a fire which leads us into battle and through this chaos."
"Fire will burn you," Ramza warned darkly. "I will not see anyone killed because of my decisions."
"That is not your decision to make." The Holy Knight responded, in a tone some would consider cold, if they did not know her. "You cannot make the decision to follow you for others. They have chosen their paths." She paused, and swept her hand about the camp. "Look around you, Ramza. These are adults, not children. They understand what is happening, and they still choose to follow you."
Agrias' eyes shined in the firelight. Ramza's own were shadowed. "They see you as a leader, a hero." She said, her gaze boring into his.
He laughed bitterly, and it echoed around them with a hollow sound. "A hero, am I? Nay, Agrias. I am simply a man who follows his own brand of justice, masterless and homeless."
"And that is why they choose to follow you. They know you have no other intentions besides justice and saving your sister. These two goals are all that matter to you. And that is why they trust you." Agrias paused for a moment, and somehow, with neither one moving, the distance between them shortened. "That is why I trust you."
Ramza was thrown off by this statement. In all the time he had known the stoic Holy Knight, she had never been so vocal to him before. For her to admit that she trusted him freely...
For some reason, he laughed slightly. At her somewhat hurt and confused look, he explained, "It's been a long time since anyone has said they trusted me. As a mercenary, no one cared to. As a Beoulve, everyone around me, aside from Delita, was trying to use me."
"A lonely life." Agrias noted, an empathic look in her eyes.
Noticing this, Ramza smiled slightly, and turned away, facing the stars. "It wasn't so bad. I had Alma, Delita, and Teta" thanks to the wears of time,he only choked slightly on the last name, "And my brothers treated me with kindness and respect, despite my being only their half brother."
After a moment of brief, uncomfortable silence, Agrias (surprisingly) broke it. "It was different for me. My family was uncomfortable with my choice to become a Holy Knight. They did not disown me, per se, for their disapproval was private. Even after I became Princess Ovelia's protector, they could not condone my actions." She paused, taking a glance at him.
"They were a peaceful people, my parents. They hated war. And yet I, their daughter, rose to the ranks of the coveted Holy Knights." She smiled, in a way that looked bittersweet on her face. "Is that not ironic?"
Ramza found he could say nothing, slightly shocked that the normally private Agrias was saying so much about herself.
Then, as though it was never there, the smile disappeared and her face regained its stoic guardedness. "You should rest." She said, turning aside. "It is not wise for a leader to be exhausted on the field of battle." And with that, she began to walk away. A shout caused her to stop.
"Agrias!" Ramza shouted. The Holy Knight turned, a quizzical look in her eyes. "Thank you." He said sincerely, smiling, feeling better than he had in a long, long while.
She turned away, hiding the small smile on her own face. "You're welcome."