Sunset Reflections.

Final Fantasy XII and everything in it belongs to Square Enix. I own only my brain and it's not worth much.

The end of another day, another wilderness sunset, another campsite in a place she never expected to see. They were another day closer to Arcahdes, they had spent the day travelling through the Tcita Uplands, before stopping for the night. As usual they had built a campfire, and were gathered loosely around it.

During the day they were focused; on their surroundings, on the fiends that attacked them, on their destination. In the day, she fretted constantly. Can we reach Arcahdes? Will we get to Draklor? Will we destroy the stone? And secretly, unspoken in the back of her mind, she wondered; Can I destroy the stone? She was not the only one who worried. In the day, they were all brooding on their own thoughts, their own pasts and fears.

But in the evening, as the dusky light softened into darkness, they laid their worries down at the campfire. In the evening, they simply sat together, resting, speaking of small things. The evenings were peaceful times, precious times.

She looked at them all, at the companions who had tied their lives to hers. Penelo was practicing with a bow, supervised by Fran. Vaan and Balthier spoke of airships, Balthier describing to Vaan some of the ships he had flown, and how the Strahl was superior to all of those. Basch was cooking. The best thing you could say about his cooking was that it was filling, plain soldiers' fare (The worst thing about it, for her anyway, was that his cooking was better than hers. She had never expected to ever have to cook for herself).She was polishing her sword, something she did every night whether it was needed or not as she found it oddly soothing.

She was a vagabond princess, and this was her court; two street children searching for answers, two sky pirates, one an exile, and one who was running towards his past (for her sake!) after spending years running away, and the most loyal traitor that any kingdom or empire had ever produced. This was her life now, a blanket over a rock instead of a throne, a sword in her hand instead of a sceptre, bowls full of simple food instead of banquets eaten from silver plates, commoner's clothes instead of royal robes. Her hands were calloused, used to the rasp of weaponry against her skin, her nails ragged and dirty, no longer the hands of a genteel noblewoman. Her collection of scars were only half-hidden by her clothes. Her mother would have been horrified, if she had seen them. She had never expected her life to have gone down this route. She never expected to have lost everything that had ever mattered to her. She had never expected, never wanted, to be a warrior.

She had lost so much, but on her journey, she suddenly realised that she had begun to hope again. She hadn't noticed it at first, but the bitter anger that had driven her onwards for two years had begun to fade. She could not decide on the exact moment. Was it on the Strahl when they had all decided to accompany her? Was it in Jahara, when she realised that Vaan believed in her? Or as she walked through the Ozmone Plain talking to Basch about Larsa's offer, suddenly realising that he had not, could never have, killed her father? Was it seeing how the other viera treated Fran and knowing that she could at least be certain that her family had loved her? Was it Balthier confessing his past to her, telling her that he believed in her strength? She didn't know.

She did remember, as they were camped in the Paramina Rift, huddled closer together than usual for warmth and dreaming of reaching the summit of Mt. Bur-Omisace, Penelo, a child of the desert, had suddenly exclaimed, 'Who knew snow could be this cold!' Everyone laughed, and Ashe had smiled and told them of a time that she visited Rasler in Nabradia and had seen snow for the first time, how strange and exciting she had found it, and how he had teased her when she tried to catch the flakes in her mouth like a little child.

Her story had made them all laugh, but she saw Basch watching her closely, and she suddenly realised that she had shared a memory of her husband without bitterness, even if the telling had made her a little sad. This mixed-up group of people had healed her aching heart in a way that Vossler with his two years of planning and conspiring had never managed. She had no words to thank them, there was nothing she could ever give them to properly repay them for all they had done and all that they were still doing for her (although she was sure that at least Balthier, and probably Vaan, could make some suggestions if she asked). They had become her strength, her support in more than just battle.

Moved by some common sixth sense, or perhaps simply hunger, the various different activities around the campfire ceased as everyone shifted to sit in a rough circle around the warm glow of the fire. Plates were passed, extra ingredients were passed to Basch, bread was sliced, drinks were poured. They moved around each other with the easy familiarity that comes with living and fighting with the same people for days on end. Each of them knew what to do without asking, and how to do it without getting in someone else's way. They all knew their role and moved in harmony, like a dance troop or pack of hunting wolves… like a family who bickered together but would stand by its members no matter what.

She could not help smiling a little as she watched. It was not until she started this journey that she realised how much she had missed smiling.

She looked up when she felt someone's eyes on her. Basch was looking at her in some concern, and she realised that her hands had been still for some time, the polishing cloth unmoving against her blade.

'Are you well, Highness?' he asked, and she nodded in reply.

'I was just thinking,' she assured him as she put her sword away and leaned forward to help set out their meal, slipping effortlessly into their routine and knowing what she needed to do.

She was thinking: If I am homeless, how come I feel so at home?

Written for no reason but revision avoidence. Hermenutic phemonology is not really that interesting, Please review!