As Yuna glanced about the room she considered her options. Creeping over to the desk she gazed over the piles of paper, scribbled in Baralai's flowing yet hurried script. Scanning the pages she saw nothing of interest. Mainly domestic disputes between the priests, budget allocations and an agenda for himself which was covered in more of his notes, one was circled in particular. "MUST GO" she read above the words: "Maesters ball."
Yuna gasped. She remembered very well the annual festival where all the Maesters of Yevon would congregate and celebrate the power of Yevon. She remembered Lulu saying how when she visited with Lady Ginnem, Lulu's summoner before her, that she had taken part in the festivities with the other summoners by summoning her aeons.
When Sin returned in his cycle, the event was always held ten weeks after to bring hope anew to the people of Spira. The Maesters would mingle and dance with the people and give their blessings.
Yuna remembered as a little child, dancing with her father at the festival the night he had been proclaimed a Summoner. The memory was bittersweet, as he had started his pilgrimage the very next morning and she had started her very own pilgrimage to the safety of Besaid Island. A new life for both of them.
Straightening from his desk she realised that that was what all the preparations around the temple were being made for. She smiled lightly at his reminder that he must attend. She didn't envy him. The event would be highly controversial; she just hoped that it had been planned carefully. Though, this was Baralai, she doubted that he could be careless about anything.
Turning away from his desk, she regarded the table covered with books. Flicking through one of them, she saw pages of dry text that would have sent Rikku to an early grave if she had been forced to read it. Leaning back, she sighed.
This is no good, she thought to herself. This is all work, there's nothing personal here. Nothing that would hint at what is really going on behind those brown eyes.
She felt ashamed with herself that she had told him so much about her own problems and yet knew so little about his. And she didn't mean Praetor problems, she meant HIS personal problems. The issues that had made him into the man he was today. That was the thing, Tidus had always… She stopped herself mid thought. No, I can't compare Baralai and Tidus. That would be unfair to both of them.
On a gut feeling, she decided to explore his bedroom. In his room she found: a grand four poster bed in his token colour of green, a dresser, a wardrobe and a bedside table. The dresser had a single comb on top. Walking towards it she opened the drawers and had a nosey. Some shirts lay inside, gently pushing them to the side she delved further to find… Oh! So that's what his underwear looks like. She blushed furiously as she realised how invasive she was being. But just as she was about to pull away in embarrassment she found a little black key sitting at the bottom. Curious, she thought.
Taking the key out she peered around the room to look for the matching keyhole. Ah-ha! In the door of the wardrobe lay a little keyhole that was just the right size. Rushing over to it she turned it in the lock. A soft "thunk" noise emanated above her. Glancing up she found that the panel above the doors was creaked open a little. Slipping her delicate fingers between the crease she eased the panel open to find a small bound book inside. Trying not to raise her hopes up too high, she fingered the leather bound book and opened its contents. Yes! It IS his diary. She rippled with excitement as she held in her hands the key to unlocking the mystery that was Baralai.
Opening it to the final entry her eyes devoured the elegant script.
"…I cannot seem to remove her from my mind. Everything I think about, every decision I make, I find myself wondering what she would think. I find my days plagued by daydreams of her smile or her beautiful eyes of green and blue. I have even been taken to task at the council! How am I to continue to be driven to distraction? What am I to do when my heart yearns to see her again? Even in sleep I cannot escape her in my dreams.
I see no other solution but to tell her. But how can I do so when she is in so much pain? No. Right now I must remain silent. She needs my help as a friend and if that is all that I can be then I accept my part. What it would be like to see her smile again…"
Yuna closed the book rapidly, her heart thumping wildly. How had she been so stupid? How had she been so callous and cruel? Her heart ached at the memories she held where she had sought to avoid him. When she had been letting her own frustrations leak out towards him. He didn't deserve to be treated like that. She had never met a more kind-hearted person.
She felt sick in her stomach with the remembrance of her past behaviour. And even now she was snooping about his rooms and reading through his diary! Closing the book, in haste she returned his room to its original state.
Feeling so ashamed, she decided she had to leave… NOW. Walking towards the door she reached for the handle only to find it already turning…
"Baralai!" she exclaimed as she saw him come in to view.
His eyebrows rose. "Yuna, are you alright?" Concern filled his voice.
"Oh… yes. I… I just didn't expect you to…" She stammered.
"To return?" His eyes were playful as they regarded her. "I apologise for the wait, Captain Tunmar can be quite demanding on a man's time."
She smiled back at him awkwardly.
"Are you going to let me in?" He asked kindly.
"Oh! Oh yes of course. I'm so sorry." She stepped aside briskly. Arghh! Why couldn't she keep it together? She was being so silly!
"Thankyou," he walked in and stopped by one of the chairs artfully arranged in the room.
Yuna closed the door and found herself watching him, intrigued, as he deftly removed his coat to reveal a white shirt underneath. As he turned around she found that his neck was now exposed. She found herself staring at his chocolate brown skin, marvelling at it. It just looked so… She shook herself mentally and seeing that he was watching her she quickly gazed to the ground. She clasped her hands behind her back.
"Truly Yuna, is there something troubling you?" He asked softly.
Yuna cursed herself internally. There's no need to be so prudish now, especially since you've already kissed him! You like him don't you? She glanced up to catch his eyes and took in his elegant form. Yes, I do. Very much. Then why are you so afraid? Because she still felt the shame coursing through her. It burned in her veins.
"I'm sorry Baralai." She forced herself to look up. "I just find myself to be awfully shy around you."
He smiled reassuringly at her. "Would it surprise you to know that you've had the same effect on me?"
She warmed to that. "Then surely we are in dire straits sir, if neither one of us can express what we truly desire?" She said playfully. She saw him pause for a moment and consider her jest. Just when she thought maybe she had gone too far, he responded.
"Indeed we are my lady." He walked closer until he was barely a breath away. "Perhaps then we should talk not and let our actions reveal our true intent."
She felt his warm breath tickle her cheek, and that wasn't the only part of her that was warm! She knew she was melting. Her insides were going all gooey and she couldn't help but smile at him coyly.
"Then you have my silence." She whispered.
Wrapping his arms about her, he rubbed his nose gently along her own before gazing deep into her eyes and kissing her warmly. As her lips parted, she found herself moulding into his form and letting all her worries fall away as he kissed her so tenderly.
Ending the kiss, they rested their foreheads against each other and looked into each other's eyes. Yuna smiled as she felt his platinum hair tickle her cheek. She felt so safe and secure in his arms. She relished the feeling after being so long in isolation from the rest of the world.
Thinking about the rest of the world, her mind came back to the diary she had found. She closed her eyes and sighed.
"Yuna… you seem tense." He gently stroked her hair away from her face. "Why not tell me what is on your mind?"
Looking up at him she felt her eyes watering, she didn't want to ruin it all but she had to say or she'd never be at peace with herself.
"Baralai I need to apologise." She pulled away slightly but still held his warm soft hands. She took a deep breath. "My behaviour towards you before was unacceptable and I'm sorry."
To her surprise Baralai chuckled gently.
"Yuna, I have been treated far worse by Yevon officials. You have nothing to be sorry for." He squeezed her hands reassuringly.
"But that's not all." She said haltingly. "I… I… I read your diary. I'm so sorry." She confessed, squeezing her eyes shut. She was terrified of how he would react. What if she had unknowingly ended what had barely begun?
Hearing nothing, she opened her eyes a little. Well… he was still there. His face looked sombre yet he still held her hands.
"Why?" He asked simply.
She breathed heavily. Well she had better finish what she started. The damage was done.
"Because I felt bad that you knew so much about me and my problems and I wanted to know yours… So I could try and… help." He still looked at her impassively. "But then I found that it was me that was your problem and I felt terrible."
Silence descended upon them.
"You know… all you had to do was ask Yuna. I wouldn't deny you anything."
"I know." She whispered, her heart pounding against her ribs. "You're… you're allowed to be angry with me. I shouldn't have done it. It was wrong of me." She pulled away slightly but he held firm.
"It was not the way I had intended for you to find out. But in some ways it is easier now that you know." His eyebrows furrowed as he seemed to consider something in his mind. "I would hope that… I would not wish you to feel… forced Yuna. I care for you and I would want you to choose me. Not to feel trapped, now that you know how I feel about you." His brown eyes sought her own and she could tell how vulnerable he felt.
Stepping forward, she slipped her arms around his neck and kissed him gently.
"I want you Baralai, no one else." She whispered. A smile pulled at the corner of his mouth as he replied: "Good," before kissing her once more and in doing so releasing the passion he had kept restrained in fear of rejection.
Breathless, she smiled at him as they broke away; they held each other close in silence.
"So…" Baralai said. "You were looking for my underwear were you?" He teased.
She blushed hard. "No! I…" She shook her head. He laughed.
"Your cheeks turn a delightful shade of pink, did you know that?" He grinned mischievously.
Yuna stuck out her tongue in return before they both laughed together.
"Truly, it is good to see you smile again." He said as he held her tight in his arms.
Thanks to all of you who have read, reviewed and followed this story :) I know I've been incredibly slow to update but life just seems to get in the way! I promise to get it finished! I hope you enjoy this chapter and please review if you like :) x