The Queen of Dalmasca got from her bed, still holding the light blue bed sheet to her chest, and went over to the balcony. As she walked over to the rail and looked over it, the wind came and gently blew into her, causing the cloth to fit her slender form. The warm summer air of the morning sending a strange shiver up her spine, her body was cool from the cold night before. She looked down, the rope that Vaan used to escape dangling from the rail. Ashe could only smile, the feeling that Vaan had gotten away entered her heart and mind, and she sincerely hoped that that feeling was not ill gotten.

The sun came from behind a cloud, the shine hitting the Queen, putting a hand over her eyes to shield them as a response. She walked back in, closing the doors behind her, and stopped to look at the mirror near her dresser. The mirror was a full body one, as tall as she was, and she saw the reflection of a Queen. A queen in her early twenties, in charge of a kingdom she had regained after two years of resistance to the Empire. A queen with a seemingly indomitable will.

A Queen that was conquered by a sky pirate named Vaan.

Slightly lowering the sheet down her chest, to the point where the tips of her breasts were peeking out, she saw evidence of Vaan's work: small blue and red spots on and along her breasts, as well as red spots on her neck. Not with malicious intent, but one out of love. Ashe closed her eyes, her thoughts going back to the previous night…

Her mind envisioned Vaan lowering himself onto her, his hands touching her body in the sensual way she knew by heart, and remembering the heat rush through her like a fire. A fire burning in her heart, yearning for his touch again…

"Your Highness!"

Ashe snapped out of her vision, looking at the door, hearing the young voice of one of her maids. The Queen pulled the covers up to her shoulders, not wanting to show the evidence, and ran to her bed, trying her hardest to feign sleep. She closed her eyes just in time too, as a couple soldiers rammed the door, bursting into the Queen's private room.

Ashe sat up, the startled look on her face genuine, but her response was thought up and ready, "What is the meaning of this?"

One of the guards went to the balcony, peering over it to find Vaan's rope dangling from the rail, "He must have come here!"

The other guard didn't have a chance to explain before Ashe stood up, holding the sheet to her chest again, "What are you thinking? Barging into my chamber like this?"

"My lady, the pirate Vaan escaped from his cell last night. We have evidence that he came up here to your room," he explained, his voice rather nervous, as his queen was angry.

Ashe's tone lowered, "Is that right?"

The guard nodded, "You're not hurt, are you?"

She shook her head, "I am fine."

The two guards left as quickly as they came, and one of the Queen's maids came into the room, going straight to her bedside, tending to her Majesty.

After she had taken her morning bath, Ashe dressed herself in an elegant light green gown lined with gold leaves on them hems. Her maids did up her hair and other things. Of course, Ashe had used make-up to try and cover up the marks on her neck, but she could only do so much. She was lucky no one noticed them.

She arrived to the council's chamber later that morning; it was made obvious from the start that she was paying no mind to them.

The quarrel at the time was about Vaan's escape, no surprise. As the men argued about upping the security at the fortress, and how Vaan could have gotten out of his cell, they never would have guessed that their own Queen played a hand in the whole affair. Not that she would mention it to anyone either.

Politics never interested Ashe, so she let her mind wander off; she began to think about Vaan again. After they slept together, Vaan had left to escape the executioner's block, leaving Ashe alone. She had expected that, and it wasn't too difficult to accept it, he would have been killed in front of her had he not gone. What she hadn't expected to be so difficult was how she felt so disinterested and seemingly deprived. It was like she couldn't live without him, and the visions in her mind of him were never enough to sate her wanting…

"Lady Ashe?"

One of the Councilor's voices came about her, snapping her out of the trance she was in, "Yes?"

"We have a guest, waiting outside, requesting a private meeting," he replied.

Ashe nodded, "I shall see who it is." She got up and, after saying she would rather be alone, made her way out of the chamber through the back.

Making her way around, Ashe began to wonder who could want an audience with her.

She didn't have to wait long to find out. Standing outside the Council's Chamber, was a man in black armor. A style of armor Ashe had not seen in over a year. Armor of an Archadian Judge.

The man walked up to her, and removed his helmet, "Your Majesty."

Ashe was obviously not expecting this, "Basch? What are you doing here?"

Then, another person stepped out from, a younger man, "We're just stopping by to visit an old friend, Lady Ashe." It was Larsa Solidor, Emperor of Archadia.

As unexpected as she was of Larsa's sudden arrival, Ashe was happy to see him. The two were walking along the halls of the fort, talking about many things. "But why did you not announce your arrival, Lord Larsa?"

"Forgive me for that, but even the Emperor of Archadia feels a honorary welcome is not always needed. I am just a man, after all," he replied.

Ashe smiled, "So, may I ask why you are here?"

"Besides a simple visit, I came to check up on you, you know having heard a pirate escaped from here the previous night," Larsa said.

Ashe looked away, "It was Vaan."


"Yes, he escaped execution with help," Ashe said, holding her hands on her stomach.

In a whisper, Larsa said, "You helped him escape, didn't you?"

The fact that she didn't look at him gave him a crystal clear answer.

"Very bold move, Your Highness. If the Council were to find out you helped a sky pirate escape—"

Ashe snapped, "They will not!"

Larsa laughed, "No need to get all worked up, Ashe, I have no need to let them know."

The Emperor's words made her regret her snap at him, "I apologize."

Larsa looked over the stone railing, out in the direction of the fallen Flying Fortress Bahamut, "A while ago he helped us fight for Dalmasca's independence. Now he's on the run from the law. How odd is it for fate to play with the heroes, isn't it."

'And how your words deem so true, Larsa Solidor…' Ashe looked out at the fallen machine, her mind wandering once again. If the circumstances had been different, if Ashe had been a common born girl instead of royalty, there was no doubt in her mind she would have stayed with Vaan to this day. However, Fate, as Larsa said, had other plans for her.

And now, she wished she had been common born, it would have put less strain on her heart.

"You want to see him again, I take it."

She looked at him, "I do. I really do."

Basch stepped forward, "however, to send an invitation for an audience with Your Highness would attract too much attention. Vaan would not be able to come under such a suspicious circumstance."

Ashe turned to her former knight, realizing his words to be correct. Vaan would never be able to accept a formal invite, even if Ashe signed the paper herself. Vaan, with his knowledge in forgery and deepened suspiciousness, would have declined. He'd think it was a trap, even if he wanted to see Ashe. There had to be some other way…

"Well, if my opinion is needed…"

Both Ashe and Basch turned to look at the young Emperor, Ashe with that familiar look, the one desperate for hope.

Larsa was smiling as he looked Ashe in the eyes, "I do have a solution. One even Vaan could not pass up in order to be with his Queen."