Author's Note: First TotA fanfiction! Implicit Ion/Anise, but you could just as easily take it as friendship. Spoilers up to Mt. Zaleho the second time. If you're not that far in the game, please, please don't read, because it's full of spoilers. You've been warned! Also somewhat emo, but given the nature of the fanfiction, I thought that was somewhat unavoidable. I can't write romance unless it's implicit anyway. xD

One-shot, which means it's only one chapter. :B

EDIT: Fixed some small mistakes and choppy parts.

There was something about the way he always politely corrected her etiquette. When adults corrected her (and did they ever!), they did so unpleasantly. It annoyed her. Ion, however, somehow managed to make her heart pound with indignant anger. Furthermore, upon revealing her unladylike qualities and earning her rather minor wrath, he would smile. It wasn't just any smile, either—it was a bemused smile, and the way he looked at her when he did it made her queasy. Perhaps she had hoped there was an off chance that her bad language and unladylike tantrums would push him away from her, but she had no such luck.

She wondered later on how long he had known what she had been up to. Occasionally when she faltered, he would look at her out of the corner of his eye and not say a word. It was so subtle that it almost made her crazy, and a few times she just nearly screamed, "I'm sorry!" but instead she just swallowed hard and ignored him. Near the end, it had been especially difficult. She had maintained a sliver of belief that eventually she would find a way out of her traitorous situation. This event never came about, though, and so she had to resign to trying not to flinch whenever he smiled and put his hand on her arm. More than anything, she wished he wouldn't smile like that.

Not at her.

He knows, she thought bitterly all the way through Zaleho. He knows. He knows... And she tried not to cry. It was difficult; the air was hot and stung her eyes, and there was a very strange lump in her throat. She tried to be brave, though. Maybe if she looked soulless, like she didn't care what happened to him, like it didn't matter, maybe he would hate her. He had to hate her. She would make him.

"Anise," he said, without looking at her, "I'm sorry."

You're sorry? she thought amid her swirl of rising emotions. Look at me! Look at what I'm doing to you! You know, don't you? You should hate me, like we all hated Luke... Instead she said nothing for a moment, pretending all her lies were true, and pretending that he didn't know.

"I hope the others are okay!" she chirped in an unnaturally cheerful tone of voice.

He smiled sadly at her, but she pretended not to see.

Afterwards, she could remember very little, for the exception of part of the walk to their final destination, and the end itself. She didn't remember the Planet Score or anything it said. Her head had been hurting, and she had been trying very, very hard to think of something in the minutes she had left to make him hate her. But she couldn't speak. She didn't trust herself to anymore.

When Luke came, she tried to be soulless. She tried to stay rooted to the spot; to not care, to not plead for forgiveness out of what fleeting moments Ion had left in this world. She tried not to do anything. Maybe, she thought, maybe there is still time for him to hate me.

But when Luke's voice broke, she couldn't take it anymore. Was this all the Score was good for, really? Tearing people away? Destroying things? Destroying people? And when the end became visible, it took every bit of her strength not to throw herself down beside him with Ion and try to reason away death. Her voice returned to her, small and shaken. It all seemed so very convenient, the way everything was set up. He could save Tear, give the party some direction... Had... Had he planned it like this?


He looked at her, and a soft smile appeared faintly on his lips; his warm, benevolent smile. "You... don't have to watch over me anymore, Anise..." he said, and she could stand it no longer.

"I'm so sorry, Ion!" she blurted. "I... I..." But there were no excuses.

He didn't look resentful. "Thank you for everything..." he continued, voice fading as he spoke, "my most cherished..."

She hung on his words for as long as she could, but he hadn't the strength to finish. Instead, his eyes fell shut and he faded away in Luke's arms, fonons breaking apart like fireflies. She thought she could still see perhaps a very vague smile on his face as he disappeared.

Don't smile like that, she thought. Not at me.