A Promise I Never Made

Chapter 1: Goodbye to Freedom


'What can be done?'

Luke sure did not know, but someone had to be held accountable, and since Asch had not returned...

He stared down at Baticul from the highest level of the city – that upon which the castle and his own manor were built. He stood at the edge, next to the rail, but not touching it as the setting sun burned holes in his retinas. Wind pulled his hair, long once again after only a few years of wandering the world in secret. While he had wanted to return home after freeing Lorelei, it had taken quite a bit of time to first reconstitute his own body... and second, separate himself totally from Asch. Then it had taken some time to crawl out of the center of the planet.

Afterwards...

Luke sighed softly as the wind changed, flipping his hair into his face. He lifted a hand and pushed the long strands back over his shoulder. "So, here you are," Tear said, startling him from his thoughts.

"Was it a secret?" Luke replied, turning to look at her, watching the way the wind pulled at her hair – wanting to tangle his fingers in it. But... Someone needed to be held accountable... And unfortunately, it was Luke. Funny how this always seemed to happen to him, how he never realized the beauty and preciousness of something until he was on the verge of losing it, and how he kept getting put in situations like that.

"No," Tear said softly, voice nearly lost as it was caught by the wind and carried away, "I suppose not." Her gaze dropped and, clasping her hands together in front of her, she turned to look out towards the ocean. She was wearing her uniform still. She had never left the Order, now being run by Anise with the help of other high-level officials in the Order.

Unable to help it, Luke gazed at her. He truly respected her. She was incredibly strong and self sacrificing. His own efforts to save the world were still selfish compared to what she went through.

The woman who had fought and killed her mentor and refused to cry.

The woman who had fought and killed her own brother... and refused to cry...

Had cried for him.

And now she would not look at him.

"I'm sorry. If... I could change it..."

"Laws are laws," Tear interrupted. "I understand." Lifting her chin, she blinked once as the wind blew her hair back from her face completely. Her expression was as schooled as ever. Once again, she was pretending to be alright, pretending that the pain she felt was imaginary. How often she denied her own heart for the greater good.

On the other hand, Luke almost envied her.

Before, he had thought her heartless, now, he was smart enough in the ways of the world to know what she was hiding underneath that calm expression. Or maybe he had just finally learned to look past his own needs and wants to see what lay in another's heart. In the past, he would have raved that it wasn't fair, ranted that he had never made the promise he was now being held to. He really wanted to scream now, but watching Tear just stand there like that, knowing that it was only a matter of days until the ceremony, and she was just so damned calm. He wished she could just be a little more selfish sometimes – throw a fit, scream in frustration, maybe cry a little more often!

But, he had changed, and he had to hold to that change. He had to. Nor could he expect her to change the one thing that really made him respect her.

On the other hand, there was still a bit of time left, and it was only Tear watching. Why couldn't he indulge in a fit now and then? There was precious little time he'd have for that later. Grinding his teeth as the fury simply overcame him, Luke turned away and stared out at the ocean as well.

"You're getting that expression again," Tear pointed out.

"What?" he asked sourly.

"The one that looks like you ate something sour. Or maybe swallowed a bug."

"The one that means I'm really damn pissed?" Luke retorted. "Can you blame me?" Tear shook her head slightly, "I don't want to do this!"

"But it's for the future of Kimlasca-Lanvaldear..." Tear replied.

"I know that! I never said I wouldn't do it. I – it's just..." Turning towards her, Luke stepped forward, "Don't you understand? This is just... another kind of prison for me. First, being confined to the manor for the first seven years of my life, then... tied to Natalia for the rest of my life! I didn't even make that promise! Yeah, I repeated Asch's proposal to her once, but... that meant nothing! It means nothing to me!"

Tear was staring at him, her eyes wide, lips slightly parted, and he knew that his words hurt her, just as much as they hurt him, but what could he do? It was only the truth.

"But the fact of the matter is... she's not really of royal blood and I am."

Mystearica's gaze dropped to the side.

She turned away then and took a step, intending to just walk off and leave him to his fury.

"Tear!" Reaching out, Luke caught her wrist, pulling her back. The wind now was whipping him in the face with her hair, and lifting his hand, he caught the writhing strands, gently pushing them away from her face as she turned to look up at him. There, at the edge of her control, was a tear, and releasing her arm, he cupped her face.

"Tear... I never told you... but – I heard." Taking a breath, he gazed into her eyes, "I heard the last thing you said to me... After you made me promise to return."

Caught by his eyes, Tear remained where she was, even as the wind changed again, blowing his hair forward over his shoulders to block view of everything beyond his face in a sheet of flame-red.

Luke was not quite sure what had come over him, but somehow, the rest of the world had stopped existing. In that second, nothing else had mattered. Even as he apologized, his lips touched hers in a gentle caress. Tear stiffened and Luke feared she would pull away, then, her head tipped slightly, giving him better access to her lips, even though her eyes were open, watching him as he kissed her, as if afraid to close them.

Drawing back, he sighed, "I'm sorry – I... guess I shouldn't have done that."

"No..." she said softly, but her hands lifted to catch his before they left her face. "But... I'm glad you did. At least... I'll have that moment."

Swallowing as the wind changed again, Luke's attention was caught by a blonde in blue dashing back towards the palace. The warmth of Tear's hands left his, and before he could blink, she had stepped away from him and was running the opposite direction.

Hanging his head, Luke's fingers curled into his palms, and finally, overcome with fury, he let loose a scream at the sky.


Author Note: My first ToA fic, I hope it's good. I'm thinking of making this into a multi-chapter story. Please review, though. I want to make sure I'm getting the characters IC!