Clandestine Sentiment

Baralai makes her mad, sometimes.

He allows her to use him as a scapegoat, he allows her to ask for anything, he allows her to seduce him; in reality, the Praetor manipulates Yuna to have her way every time, if only to keep her near. He convinces her "I am indebted to you, forever and always", that "I am under your mercy", and "I will come at your beck and call"; in actuality, Baralai woos the High Summoner into emotional submission, entrancing her with romance-disguised notions.

Leader of a splintered holy system, figurehead of national reform; a selfish, selfish man.

Baralai loves power, loves to dance under the whimsical wishes of his lady; how hands that have banished Sin can summon sin of equal proportions within his own mind, body, and heart. Baralai loves control, loves to wrap his lady around his proverbial finger; how his control falls apart at the seams and possesses him to seize the moment, only to repeat the cycle. He knows full well, has heard the rumors, that Yuna has no future without her dream, and so he provides her one, because nobody can satisfy her otherwise.

Baralai may not have claimed her heart, but it does not matter in the long run; Yuna turns to him without missing a beat, a man proven superior to a ghost despite their bittersweet relationship. Whenever she wants his companionship, needs to be touched, she will seek him out or tantalize him to make the first move. Regardless of the course of events, the result remains ever the same.

Love-making marks the eve of their clandestine nights, very much like this one.

Yuna shifts on her side, indulging in cozy laziness, dozing. The warmth of his arm embracing her abdomen, the warmth of his breath breezing her ear, the warmth of his naked body enveloping her own, she blushes from his absent-minded ministrations. Lips brush her shoulder, wandering, nestling to her nape, suckling the skin, building pleasurable pressure–

"Mm, I'm tired..."

Neglecting to regard her whine, he persists. "I still have strength to perform. Please, do not deny yourself any minute of my services..." His murmur rumbles her nerves, torching her resistance to ashes, tempting Yuna to reminisce the hours before. Somehow in the midst of her sleep-induced fog, she revisits their very culmination of lust and reverent desire, cheeks flaring a shameful crimson.

"Please, do not talk like that. You are a human being, not a servant..."

He pauses for a heartbeat; slight fidgets of the fingers betray his pensive thoughts. "Am I not? Once upon a time a servant of Yevon, and now my Lady High Summoner by extension..." Eyelids flutter, relaxing, moaning soft at the deliberate flicks of his tongue, until Yuna pulls away in lieu of sinking into the performance, shifting in his arms to face him. A finger on his lips bids silence, and Baralai sighs. Holding her hand to his cheek, he implores her to excuse his erotic wiles for crossing the line.

"You don't have to go through great lengths to degrade yourself... in order to redeem your dignity..." His calm indifference cracks under her intuitive remark, shame aging his usually pleasant features, and Yuna quells his inner demons once again with holy love. One on his hand, his palm cradled in her gracious grip, and another on his mouth, multiple kisses, each a magnitude of emotion of its own right. Sympathy. Fondness. Affection. Compassion. Grace. "Do you not see? I already have forgiven you."

"You are the one who does not see..." Chuckles whisper in the quiet air, the amiable sound awkward in its rare sincerity. He hugs their entwined hands to his chest, ruminating on feelings never once expressed. "I return to you not because I seek forgiveness. When the world becomes too much for me, you are my refuge, my source of comfort and relief. There is no other who can make me feel this way, milady. Only you."

His metaphorical barriers crumble that night, the last night of mind games, the first night of an eternal liaison, allowing Yuna to enter the fortress of his heart at long last.