A Bad Dream

The dream is warm and sweet, full of him wrapped around her, laughing and happy for once – such a contrast to the tenseness they've carried between them for years – together only for hours then separated by armor and empires. Ashe smiles in her sleep, snuggling down further into the chocobo feathers of her pillow, breathing in his scent.

He is with her, free of his brother's burdens, and she is happy to receive him into her arms.

Only one thing can pull her from them, and that is reality, which rushes back upon her with a violent crack of thunder.

The rains have come to Dalmasca, and though they are short, they are loud.

Ashe sits up in the bed, immediately feeling the space beside her for Basch. Though she is alert and awake, the truth has not yet settled on her that this is not her dream, and he would not be there when she woke.

He is not here. He is in Archadia – he has been for so long – but the dream was so real that she can almost smell him on her skin…

Tears spring to her eyes and she begins to cry, shaken so deeply by the loss of the comfort of his presence that she cannot control the rush of emotion – cannot muster a stony façade and a cover for her feelings.

She misses him. He has been gone for so long, watching over Larsa instead of her.

"I need him more," she whispers to herself through her tears, mopping under her eyes with the sheet, though it is useless. More tears replace those now absorbed. "I always have."

She sobs again, leaning into her knees and burying her face in the quilt, so lost in the frigid climate of a world without the man who loves her that she cannot comprehend her surroundings. She cannot decipher the sound of the running shower only a few yards and a door away from the torrential rain outside.

It is only when one of them stops – and it is not the rain, that she comes back to her senses and finds herself confused, but she hasn't the time to think, nor the wit while she tries to stop her sobs, now built up in her chest so far that she feels she could cry for days. She looks to the washroom door to see steam coming from beneath it, and it is only when it opens that her body unravels and finds warmth again in the blankets – warmth perhaps left from when Basch laid beside her.

He stands in front of her, a white towel wrapped around his hips and a frown upon his lips, his hand still on the door handle.

"Ashe?"

"I am fine."

He steps towards her, water still glistening on his body as the last two weeks rush back over her and she remembers his return, his hands on her, his vow never to leave her side and hers to love him endlessly. She watches as he kneels on the bed and leans over her and closes her eyes only when he kisses her temple.

His damp hair brushes against her cheek and she shivers.

"Did you have a bad dream?"

She shakes her head, smiling to herself. The dream itself had been lovely, but as she looks at Basch and runs her hand down his side, she knows reality is better.

"I woke up confused. I thought you were still in Archades."

He smiles sadly. These mornings have been too frequent, but he knows that as time goes on they will lessen, and soon she will be tormented by them no more.

"Nay. I am here."

She crawls from her warm, dry place beneath the sheets into his arms, not minding at all that water still clings to him and that it will soon cling to her and chill her once again. There is no price she would not pay for his nearness. Too much time has been lost, she thinks, as she feels his arms close around her – feels him rest his fresh-shaven chin atop her head. There is too much to make up for."

"And you always will be?"

"Yes."