Author: Belle Auteur
Pairings: Ashe x Rasler, Ashe/Amalia x Vossler, Ashe/Amalia x Vayne, Ashe x Vaan, Ashe x Basch, Ashe x Balthier, Balthier x Fran (friendship)
Summary: Ashelia B'Nargin Dalmasca has always been one to have loved and lost. Before she and her friends invade the Sky Fortress Bahamut, she looks back on her moments of love...and her moments of sheer passion.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything pertaining to Final Fantasy XII, but wouldn't it be cool if I did?
Author's Note: This is my first fan fiction in a few years, so be gentle with me. I bruise easily. Now with that aside, here we go! Let me also say that in this chapter; I added a little honor to Priestess of Groove, whose story "Illusion of Freedom" is one of my favorites. Priestess of Groove, you'll know the honor when you see it.
Prologue: The Night Before the Invasion
It was three in the morning and Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca couldn't sleep. In a few hours, her and her rag-tag band of resistance members was supposed to invade the Sky Fortress Bahamut and finally bring down Vayne Solidor, once and for all. Not all of them were going to make it out alive, she knew that for sure. However, that didn't mean that she was prepared for it. She had lost a lot of people in her life and she was not ready to lose more of them. In a way, she had lost herself and along the way, she had started to find it again with each and every one of the people that had volunteered to help her in her task to get her kingdom back.
Vaan had given her the curiosity and sheer will that he had. Penelo had given her the innocence that the young girl embodied. Basch had given her protection when she needed it the most. Fran had given her strength when she thought that she had no more, and Balthier…Well, Balthier had taken her ring and given her a living fit. But, she figured that he had given her tolerance for ornery mad scientist's sons turned sky pirates. Whatever way it went, she had become more whole than she had been. When she looked back on whom she used to be and what she used to do, she couldn't believe that she was that person and she did those things. However, she didn't feel bad about her actions, thoughts and words back then. She had been taught by her father to do any and everything to survive, and she did. He would've been proud of her.
She sat up in her bed and watched as her friends slept soundly. She was amazed by how impending doom was almost as good as warm milk to them, especially Vaan. The boy was very physically fit, but he could snore like an eighty year old man. It amused Ashe that he snored like that, and there was many a night when Basch and Penelo pushed him to his side so he could stop. He sounded like a blow horn when he slept on his back, and it was hilarious at times. Basch was a light sleeper, perhaps from being imprisoned for two years for allegedly killing Ashe's father. She had spent so long hating him and glad that he had been executed but in the end, her heart hurt because of what he had to endure. Fran was a deep sleeper, though her ears twitched like a Hume that talked in their sleep. Ashe could see the dynamic of Balthier and Fran's relationship whenever she watched them sleep. Balthier would turn in the opposite direction that Fran slept, turning to face her whenever she turned.
It was so clear that he looked to Fran for protection: From the world, from his father, from himself. Fran was there for him, and he appreciated that more than he probably appreciated his life. He talked in his sleep sometimes, as well. He would have one sided conversations about his past and the trespasses that were made against him in his youth. On the night that his father died; Balthier started to cry in his sleep. He was unaware that he was doing it, but he refused to let anyone comfort him. Finally, Fran took him in her arms and his sobs subsided soon after. Fran ended up going to sleep wrapped around him, and he relaxed, like he was in the arms of his mother.
Penelo was also a light sleeper. She tossed and turned every other minute and Ashe had to stroke her hair on occasion to calm the young girl. Ashe had once wished for a little sister and if she'd had one, she wished that she was like Penelo. The girl was so innocent, and Ashe did regret that the young girl had to go on this journey. Penelo tried so hard to protect Vaan from himself, and Ashe thought that it wasn't fair to her. Vaan was potentially an accident waiting to happen, but he and Penelo did care for one another. Their affection towards each other reminded Ashe of how she was towards a young man at that age. She and Rasler were inseparable when she was seventeen and then, her world fell apart a million bricks at a time.
Before she would let herself think about the bad things in her life; she walked over to Penelo and stroked the side of the young girl's face. Penelo smiled in her sleep and started to mumble something that she was obviously telling someone in her dreams. Ashe smiled sadly and prayed to the gods that Penelo would not be the one whose life was lost when they went to defeat Vayne once the sun rose. Then, she walked back to her bed and lied down on her pillow, hoping that she would be able to get some sleep this time. By then, Balthier was beginning to talk in his sleep again. This time, he was talking about a friend named Marskot, and his migraines. Fran unconsciously touched Balthier's hand and he calmed with a sigh. Ashe turned her back to the rest of the group and immediately thought about her beloved Rasler. With that strength, she closed her eyes and allowed sleep to envelope her.