Yuna felt her heart stammer as Tidus' voice began to fade. His face; once bright in the sun's fading rays, shimmered into darkness.
His name ripped from Yuna's throat only to end as a choked gasp. As her hand reached for his, her feet lifted beneath her and the sensation of falling engulfed the young girl.
She spiralled into the abyss below, helpless and heart broken while hot tears streamed down her face. Tidus was gone…and she was alone.
"NO!" Yuna's eyes flashed open in shock. Her breathing was heavy and her fingers were twisted painfully into the folds of her bed sheets.
Slowly, she allowed reality to dawn upon her; her hands stiffly unfurling. She caught her breath as the sweat on her forehead was quickly brushed away with a sweep of an arm. Her eyes closed, the clear image of Tidus still imprinted in the back of her mind. The nightmares were becoming much more frequent, plaguing Yuna's mind like a disease. Only her blessed hours awake could free her from their grasp.
She trembled slightly but hid the reaction by swinging her legs from the bed. The world seemed to tilt as she hit the floor; the drop down slightly further than she'd estimated. Yuna paused in confusement and gazed wonderingly around her. Only now did she notice her unfamiliar surroundings and realize she was not were she had believed to be.
From her gaze she saw that the area was a large room, lavishly decorated with a marbled fireplace already crackling with life against a far wall. Two high-backed armchairs rested close to the fire's mouth, their long shadows stretching across the stone floor to Yuna's bare feet. The walls were painted a dark green that matched the colour of the four-poster bed behind her, three of which were covered in a medley of bookshelves while the fourth opened out into a large glass window that glinted in the moon's luminescent glow.
She shivered as the cold of the stone floor crept into her skin and she turned to the fire, the flames licking and curling; instinctively drawing her closer.
Tentatively Yuna lowered herself into a chair. She thought she knew where she was now: Guadosalam. Or at least that's what the décor told her. The designs on the walls and expensive ornaments laid upon the fire's mantle were very similar to those she had seen several weeks prior in the city's manor.
She gazed one final time across the room before her attention was drawn to the garment she now adorned. Her body was covered in a fine silk dress, sleeveless and cut low at the chest. She couldn't recall dressing in such an item and a faint blush burned into her face. In fact when she thought about it, she couldn't remember how she had gotten here at all. The last thing she could remember was the Hymn of the Fayth; it had been playing so beautifully, then an empty darkness had swallowed her. Now she was here.
A sudden knock caused Yuna to jump from her seat and she spun to face the door.
A brief silence followed before another knock; louder than last reverberated through the wood.
"My Lady? My Lady Summoner?" A female voice echoed lightly into the room and Yuna sighed in relief. She had always felt much less pressured when faced with women.
Hurriedly she stammered a reply then waited as the door pushed in and a small, middle-aged woman scurried into the room.
"Good evening Lady Summoner. Are you rested? I hope your quarters are to your liking."
Yuna wasn't sure how to answer. For starters, she hadn't been aware she was in said quarters until several minutes ago and also, she was more captivated by how un-guado like the other woman appeared. She was so certain this room had matched the style of Guadosalam.
Finding her voice, Yuna fought out the question desperately eating at her mind.
"Excuse me but…where am I?"
"Oh, um…" The woman, or servant as she appeared to be, seemed to be caught by surprise. "You're in Bevelle My Lady. If I recall, you arrived early this afternoon and, on his insistence, were sent to the private chambers of his Grace, Maester Seymour Guado. I hope you forgive my intrusion, I was just worried you would awake during the early morning and become panicked."
Yuna didn't comment. She had stopped listening after Seymour's name was mentioned and a sudden apprehension began to form inside her. Surely he had lost his interest in her by now? Did he still intend to force their marriage? Coldness settled across the young girl's heart and her face turned pale.
"My Lady? Are you well?"
Yuna roused herself from her thoughts as a warm hand touched her arm.
"Yes I am fine, thank you. I think…I must still be tired."
Still unsure, the servant turned and began towards the door. "Are you certain? I could send up a Doctor if you would like?"
"No, its okay, I promise you."
"I don't want to leave you alone if-"
"I'm fine." Yuna couldn't help noticing the slight snap of her own voice and quickly smiled in an effort to cover it.
The woman smiled briefly in return, the look of uncertainty still clear on her face. She bowed her head to Yuna then left the room.
As soon as the servant's footsteps faded, Yuna felt her mind spin with questions. How was she going to get out of this? Where were her guardians? Where was Tidus?
Yuna's hands twisted together nervously. What was she doing? She was normally so calm and collected. Then again, she had never been alone…
Taking a deep breath, the young girl allowed herself to collapse back into her chair, her head falling loosely into her hands.
The door wrapped unexpectedly again and Yuna's body tensed in annoyance and surprise. Assuming the servant must have sent up the Doctor despite her protest, she repressed her shout to go away. When it came again, she lifted her face and replied. "Please, I assure you I am fine."
"I am pleased to hear that Lady Yuna."
The cool tone of Seymour's voice drifted to the young girl's ears, causing an icy shiver to run down her spine. She didn't move.
"I was hoping if her ladyship was decent I could speak with her privately?" He continued.
Yuna couldn't speak. What was she to say? 'Seymour, how nice to see you. By the way, sorry about killing you then trying to send you to the farplane. No hard feelings?'
Yuna glanced nervously at the door then slowly rose. She had to wrestle with her emotions; all screaming at her to run and hide. Hastily she pulled her fingers apart and called an approval. The door opened surprisingly fast, revealing the tall, dark form of Seymour Guado. He smiled in greeting, quickly closing the door behind him. It made Yuna feel trapped. He crossed the room to her in three long strides before taking hold of her hand and placing a soft kiss to her wrist. "It is good to see you again Lady Yuna."
Yuna managed to force a smile. "And you, your Grace."
As he released her hand, Yuna took a quick step back but it wasn't noticed as Seymour moved toward an armchair, gesturing for her to do the same. As she seated herself, she couldn't help but notice how he was staring at her. It made her shiver. He was so calm. She had expected him to unleash the very wrath of hell upon her for what she had done.
"That gown is beautiful on you."
Yuna looked up in surprise then blushed a deep red, suddenly feeling ridiculous. She was sitting before a very Maester of Yevon dressed in nothing more than a skimpy nightdress and him, the finest cloth in all Spira.
He could see the crimson of her face and a look of amusement struck his handsome features. "There is no need to be embarrassed Yuna. You are dressed in the highest quality silks that the guado can produce. The very ribbon across your waist is worth more than all the machina in Bikanel."
Yuna's blush deepened yet her hands instinctively wound themselves tightly around the material. Was he trying to impress her? Or was he waiting until her attention was most distracted?
His gaze was penetrating, as if he could see through the very fabric of the dress. She felt a cold sweat break out along her back, knowing she had to divert his attention before she became nauseous.
"Please, Seymour will do just fine. I grow tired of these trivial formalities."
She was taken aback but managed to collect her thoughts to continue.
"I was curious to know why you wished to speak with me…Seymour." It was obvious how uncomfortable his name was for her to speak. She shuffled restlessly in the silence that followed, anything but wanting to know his reply.
He was gazing at her with a strange thoughtful look, making her feel like she was an item on display. A corner of his mouth turned up into a wry smile as he spoke.
"Dear Yuna, surely you have not forgotten our wedding already. Perhaps Sin's toxin is more potent than we first thought."
Yuna's hands clenched tightly. "Our…wedding." She had to look away, her stomach feeling as if a stone had just been hurled into it. Her eyes averted themselves to the dancing flames of the fire. A rustle of movement told her Seymour had risen but she still stared blankly into the amber glow.
The young girl sat unmoving, knowing he was mere inches from her, crouched at her feet. A long-fingered hand caught her chin and forced her head to turn. His eyes shimmered in the fire's light, serious and intimidating. "Our marriage will unite Spira and the people will feel joy before the Calm has even begun. Then together…you and I will bring a new peace the world has never known before. I will defeat Sin, with you at me side."
Yuna trembled as she listened. The tone of his voice was sending alarm bells spiralling through her head. It was dangerous and demanding, cornering her without an escape.
Seymour's grip tightened as he drew closer. His face became shadowed but a fire still leapt in his eyes. Suddenly an overwhelming fear began to choke Yuna and her hands flew up to her oppressor's shoulders, forcing him away.
"No, I…can't." Yuna slid from the chair and walked quickly to the far wall, the cooler air causing goosebumps to rise across her skin. She pulled her arms close, more for comfort than warmth. Tidus…where was he?
Heat slithered up her back and she knew Seymour had followed. His cold fingers gripped her shoulders and turned her body to face him. "You will."
Yuna stared at the man above her, felt the strength of his hold, saw the demand in his eyes. She felt sick as he leaned in close to her ear; his voice a soft whisper. "I'm not giving you a choice."
She held her breath as a slender finger traced her lips, quivering as his hands began to slide down to her waist. Why was this happening? His mouth rose up to hers and she gasped as their lips met. The kiss was firm, colder than she could have imagined. Her eyes shut in disgust and she tried to force him away but only induced his arms tighter. He travelled lower and a muffled shriek broke from Yuna's throat as his hands cupped her rounded bottom. She felt his lips lift in a grin of amusement.
She squirmed beneath him, every twist pulling his arms in harder until it was almost painful.
An arm returned to her waist, supporting her as Seymour bent her backwards. She gasped as he finally relinquished her mouth, a look of fury and fear seething in her eyes.
A deep laugh emerged from Seymour's throat. He was clearly entertained at her lack of cooperation. "Do you despise me that much that you would let all of Spira suffer for your selfishness?" There was a husk to his voice that made Yuna tremble.
Her eyes widened in shock at the question. It made her cease her retaliation as she lay in his arms, her mind bombarded with evermore questions. Was she being…selfish?
Seymour grinned wickedly, knowing how the question would put her into an inescapable position. Once again he lowered his head and began assaulting her delicate neck with kisses.
Yuna's eyes turned to stare blankly at the floor, now beginning to speckle from her fallen tears. Was this what she truly had to do to save Spira? Was this her duty?
Her eyes shut tightly as the only answer her mind could respond was 'yes'.
A hand grasped the nape of her neck and her gaze turned to the ceiling. Seymour towered above her, a smile of triumph gracing his mouth. As his lips met hers, a small whimper broke from Yuna's throat and the grin widened. Leisurely he scooped her body up from beneath him and began to glide across the room toward the far wall. Yuna's eyes flickered open and she stiffened as she saw the bed drawing closer.
Eagerly Seymour laid her body across the silken sheets, watching as her movements pulled her dress tight around her luscious curves. He dipped his head to her mouth once again and began to suck restlessly at her lower lip. She writhed from the sensation, throwing her head back in refusal as his tongue demanded entrance. Roughly Seymour took hold of her neck and forced her mouth back to him, his tongue sliding in as she gasped in shock. He explored her mouth with needy ferocity, causing Yuna to tremble.
Nails raked her bare skin as his hands glided up her arms to her shoulders were they travelled beneath the fine straps of her gown. He pulled lightly and watched with a lustful expression as the fabric drifted away. Yuna's eyes widened and a hand rose up in protest but the man caught it first, forcing her wrist to the bed. Eagerly, his other hand slid beneath the silk and pulled it down to her waist, revealing her creamy breasts beneath. His eyes seemed to burst into flame as he lowered his head to her chest, a long tongue lapping across her skin. He stroked languidly, pleased at the silent whimpers he dragged from her.
Yuna squirmed and twisted but his weight kept her pinned. A moan of disgust passed her lips as Seymour began to ravage each nipple, sucking and kneading until it was firm and erect.
She could feel nausea washing over her as he butterfly-kissed her belly, moving steadily lower. Panic slammed into her as Seymour's hand moved down between her thighs.
Hastily she tightened her legs, much to the man's disapproval. He lifted his head to stare at her, annoyance turning his mouth down at the corners.
"Please…" Yuna fought to find her voice. Her tone was hoarse and a lump had wedged painfully in her throat. "…Don't make me do this."
Seymour looked at her in bemusement then stroked a hand seductively up her leg.
"To save Spira…you have no other choice." His gaze burned with lust and she knew she couldn't prevent the inevitable. But that didn't stop her from trying.
Again Seymour tried to pry her legs apart and she fought in protest, pushing herself further up the bed until she was backed against the headboard. "Stop…please…"
"As a Summoner, your duty demands it."
"But I can't. I won't do this…."
Seymour opened his mouth to retaliate but a sharp knock to the door broke both their attentions.
"Your Grace? Forgive me but your presence is needed at the council. I could tell them to wait if you so wished?"
There was silence. Yuna didn't dare breath, terrified she would only bring Seymour's attention back to herself. She could hear the servant shuffling restlessly on his side of the door and for a moment she feared he would leave.
"That is quite all right. I will be there momentarily."
There was another silence as the servant's footsteps faded down the corridor.
Yuna's breath shook as it escaped her lungs but caught painfully as Seymour turned back to face her. His expression was void of anything but its usual serious formality.
"Till after the wedding then." He nodded his head graciously then glided toward the door, casually adjusting his creased robes. "My Lady."
The door closed with a dull click, leaving Yuna alone in the dark. Immediately the young woman clawed the blankets around her, her head falling to the bed in a cry of dismay. Her eyes were red and swollen, stinging as fresh tears flooded her cheeks.
Disgustedly she swept a hand across her saliva-coated lips and pulled the sheets tighter across her chest.
As a Summoner she had wanted to help people but she had never imagined anything like this. What had she really gotten herself into?
The fire had crackled and sparked into nothing long before Yuna finally drifted into sleep, her head filled with fresh new nightmares.
But unlike her previous dreams, these would last long into her waking hours ahead.