A/N: Set around Natalia and Asch's talk at Seridan. It occurs both before and beyond the in game scene. After all, if Natalia came back immediatly afterwards like the text implied she would have caught Luke talking to Tear about evesdropping


He sang.

Without voice, without words, he sang. His hands were cupped around nothing, but as his song continued the fonons around him became alive. The twined around his black clothed fingers like mist, colorless, little more than an ever shifting pressure that he could feel more than see. Eyes closed he imagined a grayish tinge to the mist and finally gave voice to the song that was throbbing through his soul.

The mist shivered in time with his pulse, then slowly, it took form under the intricate melody he wove with and without voice. At first it was simple, a shining rod of silver, but it smoothed and softened and took on a silken sheen. As the customary hardness of his voice was discarded it coiled in his hands, the whole of it developing a gentle curve to mime the rhythmatic rise and fall of his hymn.

Those of Lorelie were all taught to sing, it was requirement, but one out of a thousand could do more than just sing. Some were Scorers, able to sing the portents of Lorelie and become vehicles for interpreting the Score. Others were Melodists, using songs to call and disperse fonons with results that were similar to the spells favored by Fonists.

Some were a blend of the two, but in his case he was something else, something wholly different. And it was one of the guarded secrets that he'd held to as closely to his breast as he would his life. He was a seventh fonist capable of hyper resonance, that was true and well known amongst friend and foe alike, but his childhood talent for song was not wholly recreational. Vaguely he remembered the time one of his mentors had come to his abductor, the old man's mind afire with portents and schemes as he suggested melding the religious training of a Melodist with the practical heavy ways of the Oracle Knights.

Van had laughed at the old man, calling him an ignorant fool. Innocent rather than ignorant, the priest had only been trying to find a way to encourage the young displaced noble to exercise all his gifts. He'd been trying to give the boy a channel, a place within the world the child didn't belong.

But such a thing wasn't to be allowed. The misplaced child would have no place, save one, bound to the Commandant's side. The old man had been dismissed, probably killed…

Old anger stirred in his soul, he banished it, but not before a black blemish colored the tip of the gently coiled substance. Just a touch annoyed at his lapse, he considered the inky blotch on the edge of the shining silver. After a while decided it would have to do. Such practice was hard to come by, inspiration scarce, and he wasn't going to discard a project for one flaw.

His words changed then, the rise and fall of his chant smoothed into a flowing melody. He wanted his creation to be bent, not a knotted morrass, or a shattered ruin. Lazily he recited a word, only one word, but he conjugated it and altered it at least a hundred times without losing it's meaning in full. Practice allowed him to repeat the word without losing his song into the trappings of a dull monotonous chant.

It was something he was proud of, and in response to his more positive feelings the hues that his song called forth lightened. They spread from the black top and spiraled down, encasing the coiled substance in a lightening cascade of green.

Shivering at the power of creation -even on so small a scale it was a heady thing- he allowed awe to creep into his tone. He abandoned the one word and allowed his voice to swell. Emotion came to him then. In most cases he would have scorned it, contained it, but not now. This once, he embraced it. Spasmatically he broke one hand from the embrace of the thing he was creating, and lifted it high. His fists clenced and unclenched as raw passion became a colorlessness born of all colors sun. It lay trapped within the palm of his hand. Such strong, powerfull hands he lay claim to. He clenched his hand and though his fingers fell fine sand. It fell swift and cleanly upon the item he held. Weightless, without substance it cut though his creation as if it was nothing, leaving only a mess of hues behind that pulsed and spread, like ripples across a lake.

The hues, some gold, some red, all fitting of the forge... the crucible... that was his being smoothed and stilled. Then they burst out, a sun burst without light, soft as silk, born of a dark bud.

Indulgent to the last he allowed his voice to tapper off, and hummed the last of his song.

The final lines of the Kimlascan national anthum...

With a laugh he lifted the delicate flower to the sun. Without roots it would not last, not long, but it was his wholy and truely his. With barely a mark of taint upon it he rolled the stem in his hands, mindfull of the small patrusions that might have been thorns but were more likly course leafy edges. He laughed, and smiled, gestures so rare and precious all the more so for being unseen. Gently he tucked it upon his belt, shifting aside is cascot so it wouldn't smoother. Annoyed with how the fabric tried to overlap the flora he finally pulled the religious garment off, and folded and refolded it so that it could rest securly drapped over his shoulder.

As he worked at preserving his creation he decided that he darkness it held was a suitable contrast to the light in it's heart.

Whistling a merry tune Asch the Bloody approuched Sheridan, and the dawn behind him warmed the path and his heart.



He froze, his hunt had been a distant thing, lost in the pleasure of his morning and of seeing her. Still it was pressing, and waiting might not be the best thing to do... He stopped though, compelled by one of the many passions that stained the flower upon his belt.

"I... You..."

With a humored sigh he turned to face Natalia once more.

"I've things to do."

"You're going to look for Spinoza?"

"Natal." He sighed his old nick-name for her, this time the sound had a breath of bite to it. "You already know..."

"We have somewhat a more common experience base than before." Natalia blurted. The abrupt change of topic made him blink, then realizing what she was talking about he grimaced.

"We've already discussed it." Asch snapped. "You don't have anything to be worried about. Even if Uncle is still under Mohs' sway he can't touch you..."

"But he can hurt me."

Unspoken but not unfelt felt were the words 'he already has'. Unable to say anything constructive Asch mentally writhed. He hated being helpless, weak, and this converstaion was reminding him of times when he'd been both as well as forcefully showing him Natalia's weaknesses.

And truth be told he didn't want to see that either.

"Here." Unthinking he reached down and pulled the flower from his belt. "Take it."

She was the startled one then. Startled, then pleased? Well, it was better than the openly shown hurt in her eyes.

"T... take care of it for me, alright?" He said gruffly, pleased but confused by the strange flush that suffused her cheeks. Call it prenomition, but he harbored the uncanny sensation that he was walking into an ambush of sorts. One he'd baited, and built, than willingly walked upon... He tugged upon his casic, loosening the binding scarf of black that was drapped around his shoulders and fell against his talbard. Somehow the flimsy silk had developed a smothering edge. "I... have to go." He coughed, finally pulled off the damn thing and wound it around his arm... "Be careful, and do what you can."

She smiled at him, her hazle eyes warm. Then to his complete shock she tucked the flower behind her ear, leaned forward, and gave him a peck in the check. Mouth sagging open, Asch the Bloody went as crimson as his namesake. With some effort he managed to get his mouth to snap closed and gather his wits.

But by then it was Natalia walking away from him rather than the other way around.

"Wha... Yo... Nat..." Asch babbled, making half noises that might have been words or a feeble attempt to call her back.

Pretending not to hear Natalia turned around a corner, giving Asch the Bewildered one glimpse of a mysterious smile and one last look at the flower he had created earlier that morning.

Then she was gone.