A/N: So first I changed chapter 3 since I felt it was a direct rip off of sapereaude13's "Adults Only" fic. The details were fairly minor and doesn't really affect the plot of the story (what little there is.) But I just wanted to make a note since I felt like a jerk about it afterwards. Also, I want to apologize for rotting your teeth all out, because dear lord, I did NOT write this to be so fluffy.
Balthier left Ashe to do her Queen things once more, and she continued back into the ballroom without him. She did her best to act normal, but after his kiss, she was simply unable to wipe the smile off of her face. It annoyed her slightly. Why was she acting like an adolescent with a crush? But even with that knowledge, it was difficult to disguise her happiness on that day. As she bid her guests good night and made preparations for her close companions to join her in the parlor, Basch just watched her. Those two years he spent in Nalbina were now worth it, just to see his Queen have such a day as today. When a servant came up to Basch and Fran, they both nodded that they were ready to join Her Majesty in the parlor.
Once he noticed that Ashe was back in the ball room, Balthier slipped back onto the balcony to be left alone to his thoughts. He wouldn't admit it, but he was still catching his breath. Her request for a kiss, and her response to his kiss on top of that blew him away. He had sauntered away in hopes of keeping control and making her want him more. Truth was, he was unsure that she could want him anymore then he wanted her at the moment. Despite his naturally calm demeanor, he just could not get his heart to slow down. He glanced at the ballroom, hoping to steal a glance of his new queen. But as he was, a palace servant approached him, asking if he would accept Her Majesty's invitation to join her in the parlor. He smiled and bowed slightly to the servant, replying that he would be honored. The servant smiled and escorted him to the parlor where Ashe, Basch, Larsa, Fran, Penelo, and Vaan were already waiting for him. Balthier thanked the servant as he stepped inside and the door was closed behind him.
"Nice of you to join us Fframran," Vaan said a little too loudly, holding onto his glass filled with more alcohol.
"Good to see you too Vaan," Balthier replied, taking a drink of his own and taking the last available seat, which of course was the furthest one from the person he wanted to be the closest to.
The next couple hours continued on with idle chats of airships, treasure, and Balthier's new, or old, name. Basch was the only one who commented on Ashe's and Balthier's dance, but that was because he was the only remotely sober enough to say anything about it. Aside from Fran of course, but Fran would say something to Balthier in private later. Eventually everyone became so exhausted that one by one they would finally depart to their rooms. Balthier fought off sleep so he could be with Ashe alone, but once he finally was, he could do nothing as she bid him good night, called for someone to show him to his quarters, and wandered back to her own.
As Ashe expected, Balthier remained at the palace for the rest of the week. He joined in the festivities in the streets of Rabanastre, where Ashe quickly found he was gaining the favor of the people too. The whole plot seemed odd to her, but if her advisors and her people adored him, then it made it that much easier to permit him to stay.
Two weeks after the coronation, Ashe stood at his door frame, watching him sit idly in a large chair, staring out the open window. She watched him carefully, as if staring him down would answer her questions. Finally, Balthier looked over to her. "Ah, Your Majesty." He rose and walked towards her. "And to what occasion do I owe this visit?"
"Well," Ashe began, speaking to him far less formally then she would to anyone else in the palace. "You've been staying here a while and you withhold how long you plan on staying in my walls. I enjoy your company, and everyone in my kingdom seems to adore you for some strange reason."
"That's because they're not as uptight as you are M'lady," Balthier replied, quirking his lip slightly.
Ashe sighed as she wondered why he always had to make things more difficult. "My advisors believe that you would be a helpful ally for peace talks throughout Ivalice."
"Do they now?" He asked, folding his arms. "And why is that?"
Ashe's eyes rolled slightly as she sighed, "Your apparent charm."
Balthier was unable to hold back the laugh no matter how hard he tried. "Is that so?" Ashe nodded slightly. "Well then, Your Majesty," Balthier gently took her hand and kissed the back of it. "I would be delighted to assist you in your battle for peace across Ivalice."
Her face flushed slightly, but Ashe did her best to hide it. She snapped her hand away, wondering why he was acting so strange. She turned her body away from him. "Shall I call you Al-Cid henceforth?" Balthier gave her a look of disgust. "Then why do you act as such?"
"I thought you liked it, that's all," he replied, arms folded once more. "So what does this little entail?"
Ashe looked into his eyes and smiled. "Lots of traveling around the Ivalice and the world. I am unable to go to every peace talk you see, so I need someone to attend when I cannot be there."
"So be away from you all the time?" He jested.
"Well," Ashe began. "When I leave you accompany me. And your time here will be spent over papers." She couldn't watch him. She knew there would be a distant look in his eyes and that he would be leaving soon to join Fran, who had departed with Vaan and Penelo the week prior. This was her excuse to be able to keep him around without it looking suspicious, and it would also drive him away if his intention was to simply stay and play. She was now a queen, and a queen has no time for such nonsense.
"Very well then." Ashe was unable to hold back the surprise on her face. She knew she must have looked ridiculous, but this was not the answer she expected from Balthier.
Ashe just shook her head, none of this making sense. All she wanted to do was to yell at him and find out what was going on in that head of his, but she knew that would do no good. He would only answer her with nonsense and make her form more questions Besides, having him in this position would be good, she reasoned. He would be working with Basch and Larsa primarily, and surely Al-Cid might grow to appreciate him. Or would hold the fact he was a sky pirate over her head. All of this was beginning to give her a headache. So she bid him goodnight and informed him that he would be joining a meeting in the morning.
Time continued on. Fran was a regular visitor when her partner was in the palace, so Ashe figured that he kept in touch when he was traveling. It worried her at first, sending him off by himself, but Fran could attest to the fact that he did no more then cave explorations, more along the vein of treasure hunting now. And if Fran said that to her, then she would just need to believe it.
They grew closer then she ever thought they would. But there would be no complaints from her. When he went abroad he would always bring a small gift just for her, along with a new food for the head chef to prepare just for the two of them. After dinner most nights, he would insist on dancing with her, with or without musicians, to help her relax from her long days.
He continued above and beyond the job he had accepted, and when he was in Rabanastre he would sit with Ashe, or even for her in case of exhaustion and sickness, in meetings. He did work in the city, working with merchants to increase trade. He reached out to the people who thought Her Majesty would give no time of a day to prove that the nobles cared and Ivalice was changing. When questioned on it, he just explained that it was part of the job to make peace remained in Ivalice.
Months continued on in the same manner, and Ashe was more then pleased with the state of the kingdom and the state of Ivalice. There was more to go, but the progress made since the crash of the Bahamut was incredible. She stood on her balcony, hands resting on the white banister. There was a slight sprinkle that came in from the Giza plains that felt good against her skin. The cool wind was comforting to her, and she pulled the silk robe closer to her.
"May I join you, Your Majesty?" Came a voice heavy with an Archadian accent.
Ashe looked over her shoulder to see Balthier, whom now everyone knew as Ffamran, standing in the middle of her room. He bowed to her before walking any closer to her.
"I thought you were not returning for another four days?" She questioned as Balthier joined her on the balcony out in the misty weather and stood next to her.
He looked at the city below, content and relaxed. "There was miscommunication and Al-Cid was required to return sooner then Lord Larsa anticipated, so he sent me back." He caught her smile and returned it. "Come now," he said as he wrapped one arm around her back and his hand entangled hers. He felt her melt slightly as he began to dance with her on the balcony though there was no music. As he asked her how the last two and a half weeks had been for her, he mused on how strange things had been between them. Aside from a kiss on her hand, they had not shared a kiss since her coronation. They never spoke of anything towards each other, yet when they were close like this, he could read everything in her eyes. He was sure he could do the same to her as well. They both seemed to enjoy the heavy tension between them, especially since their eyes said it all.
But tonight he had a surprise for her that he had been planning since his return. He had not been sure things could ever get to this point, but the job offer was the best thing that could have ever happened for them. It made him well known throughout Ivalice, and her advisors approved of his plan. After a few moments of silent dancing, Balthier pulled back. Ashe looked at him questioningly. He took in a deep breath and began to speak. "He had one more gift for her; that he himself would deliver. A ring with a single gorgeous stone…" Ashe could only watch with wide eyes as Balthier pulled a small box from his pocket and kneeled in front of her. He showed her the ring as he finished the next line, "so that she would never be alone."
It took Ashe several moments before she even breathed. A slightly nervous Balthier could only make a joke to keep himself calm. "You're supposed to be speechless for the second gift, not this one."
"And… I was speechless for that too," Ashe reminded him. They looked at each other. Before she even said anything, he knew her answer. She said it anyway as he rose and slipped the ring on her left ring finger.
No other words were said between them as their lips crushed together with an intensity that had been building up from the distance of the last two and a half weeks, the last six months, and probably the entire time they knew each other. His arms held her close to him while her hand kept his head bent down to hers. They broke their kiss shortly only to smile at each other. He broke the kiss again and guided her inside, closing the balcony doors behind him.