Chapter 1: A Sweet Farewell

Minta, he lady's maid, smoothed the last of Ashe's clothes out. Another ridiculously large case had been filled with elegant dresses and expense jewelry.

Ashe was to be visiting Rasler Nabradia, her future husband, once she turned 17. Their parents saw it as a marvelous way to unite the two kingdoms. Many people thought because of this that it would just be an arranged marriage. This was far from the truth.

True enough, Ashe had at first been resistant, as she liked control over her own life, but on meeting Rasler, she soon grew fond of him. Rasler was an amazing man. Ashe still found it hard to believe that her parents had engaged her to a man so similar to herself. Now she was fervently excited about the wedding.

Minta sealed the case, smiling at Ashe.

"Congratulations, my lady." She bowed. "If it is not to bold to say so, I think it is a fine match."

"It is a fine match," Ashe agreed, feeling her face glow with pleasure. "I love him greatly."

Minta nodded with a small smile. She said no more, and hauled the heavy cases over to the door. Her own case was comparatively tiny.

Ashe couldn't stay in her room any longer. She wandered down the hallway and descended the ornate marbled stairs to the nearest guard post, where she spotted Vossler talking to Basch fon Ronsenburg.

She hurried over to Vossler excitably. In her childlike eagerness, no one would have ever guessed her to be a 16-year-old princess. She gave a polite smile to Basch fon Ronsenburg, who bowed in return.

"Is everything alright, princess?" He asked.

"Yes Captain," she smiled. "I just wanted to say my farewells, though they are only temporary."

"Are you to depart to Nabradia tonight?" Vossler asked with a soft smile that she rarely saw him give to anyone other than her.

"Yes," Ashe beamed, "it's a shame you cannot come too."

"Perhaps I will visit you," he replied.

"You had better!" She grinned.

Ashe recovered herself as she noticed that Basch fon Ronsenburg was still stood there, smiling politely through his intrusion on their little moment. She wished he would perhaps go for a short stroll, so that she could say goodbye to Vossler properly. She felt a little uncomfortable when he stood there like a watchful statue.

He mother understood why she confided so much in Vossler, instead of her lady's maid, Minta. Although Minta was a good person, all maids had a tendency to gossip, and she was no exception to the rule. Vossler had been her guardian since childhood, she had an unwavering trust in him.

"Would you like me to take your bags and cases to the entrance hall?" Asked Captain Ronsenburg, finally catching on to her silent request.

"Oh yes, please. That would be most kind of you."

Though it was not Captain Ronsenburg's duty to take her cases, she was thankful for it. He departed, leaving Ashe with Vossler.

"I am so excited!" Ashe giggled.

"Rasler is a lucky man," Vossler replied wisely.

"And I, a lucky girl. I still cannot believe that this is happening. I feel like a giddy child!"

"It is only natural. You must care for him greatly."

"I do, I really do!" Ashe laughed, becoming a little more subdued as she added, "It's a shame you cannot come with me."

"I know, but I am posted her, there is no contesting that."

Ashe considered for a moment asking her father if Vossler could be taken with her…like a wedding gift, but that was foolish. Besides, she doubted that Vossler would be willing to leave Dalmasca.

"Well make sure you write to me, and visit, no matter what is said of the matter," she added, knowing that foolish people would want to gossip about a Dalmascan knight constantly visiting a future queen of two kingdoms.

"I'll make sure of it," He nodded, raising a fist to his chest as a sign of respect. She always found it cute.

Ashe sighed happily, stepping closer. She glanced about, knowing that her parents were not keen with their daughter being overly affectionate to a soldier when she was betrothed to a prince. What was acceptable aged nine, was no longer acceptable as a soon-to-be-married 16-year-old.

Seeing the coast was clear, she wrapped her arms round him, though her fingertips didn't even meet because of the bulky armour he wore. She rested her head on his chest as he enveloped her with a warm embrace. She would miss occasions like this. Hopefully, Rasler was quite affectionate. He had proved himself to be kind, amicable, and quite romantic, so affection would be the icing on the wedding cake, so to speak.

Reluctantly, she drew away.

"I will miss our friendship," She told him as they walked towards the entrance hall.

"It will not be the end, I hope. We may still be friends, it will just be a little different."

"A little?" She grinned, raising an eyebrow.

Maids and soldiers bowed as they passed through the halls that were filled with memories. So much of her life had revolved around life at the palace, she had scarcely learnt anything of other walks of life.

"Vossler?" She asked. "Do you remember that time when I was scared to ride a chocobo…?"

"You thought it wanted to eat your hair," he smiled.

"Yes, and when my father convinced me to, I fell off it and broke my ankle in the Giza plains."

"I had to give you a piggyback all the way back to the castle."

"Well at least I wasn't very heavy, being so young."

"You were 15." Vossler reminded her with a grin.

"So you think me too old for a piggyback now?" Ashe asked, pretending to be offended by the insinuations. "Or perhaps I am just too heavy?"

"Why, are you wanting to test that, highness?"

Ashe smiled slyly, but said nothing as her parents came into view. She approached them, kissing them and bidding them farewell. Her father had wanted to go with her for a while, but changed his mind to stay with her ailing mother. Ashe hugged both her parents, and gave Vossler a courteous nod, as they had already shared a proper goodbye.

She climbed inside the chocobo-drawn coach that was to take them to the aerodome, with Minta beside her and Basch fon Ronsenburg opposite. He was to escort them to Nabradia, and her father trusted him greatly. Not that he didn't trust Vossler, but her father had decided that someone she was not so attached to would be more appropriate.

Ashe leaned out of the window, which was quite unladylike but she didn't care. She waved goodbye to her parents, and took one last look at Vossler's face before bracing herself for the brand new world that awaited.