Author's notes: Sorry this took such a long long time!! this chapters really short too, so i'll put the final one up much more quickly. thanks for reviewing

Chapter: Betrayal

How was it, she wondered, that the ones we trust the most, are the ones who let us down?

Ashe stood, broken, in the port of the Shiva leviathan.

Vaan and Penelo, fearful about the arrival of more Imperials and the shuddering of the airship, began their getaway towards the Strahl. Balthier too had begun the leave, supporting the weakened Fran. He called to Ashe, but she just stood, staring numbly, unable to move, unable to speak.

She didn't expect them to understand how much it hurt, they had not known him as she had. Only she and Basch remained, watching him die. A gunshot wound and a few minor scrapes were all it had taken to defeat the man who had once protected her in the face of so many foes.

How ironic, that out of all the enemies who had failed to defeat him, it was his friends who had succeeded.

One betrayal was all it took to break trust. Just one. Now she would never know his motives, be able to reproach him, and finally forgive. She would never know why he could just cast her aside for Archadia.

Basch was talking to him, but she didn't know what they were saying. The sound was drowned out by the overwhelming sense of grief. She was not Rasler's lover anymore. She would never be Vossler's. She was alone, perhaps that was how it was meant to be?

Maybe it was all some great trial, to see how far the was willing to go to retake her thrown.

Ashe saw him gaze at her, eyes filled with regret.

She didn't know how to feel. At first her fury had been so overwhelming, but it had faded, to be replaced by the sense of longing that had become such a familiar companion to her.

He pitched forward, as the last breath of life was dragged from him. She couldn't watch any more.

Ashe turned, running to the Strahl and not looking back.

She couldn't break because of this.

She had been strong, determined after her father died, after Rasler died, and she would be the same now.

Grief would not help.

She pushed it to the deepest recesses of her mind, trying to concentrate on the Dawn Shard, and trying to forget the look in Vossler's eyes before he died.