disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: to best friend & rhys for coming to ComiCon with me. :)
notes: lawl, the title is longer than the summary. #winning

title: this place where the sea and the sky collide
summary: She might as well have been Aphrodite. — Lyude, Xelha.

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Lyude's first impression of Xelha was… sparks. Just sparks, the kind that he could only see out of the corner of his eye when he wasn't particularly looking for it. That's what Xelha was like; little sparks of happiness that skated along the edges of his consciousness, melding and blurring in the background.

He knew from the start that it was impossible. He was not blind.

He'd seen the way she looked at Kalas.

(Everyone could see the way she looked at Kalas. Even Mizuti could see it, and Mizuti was deaf, blind, and dumb to anything that was mundane. The only person who couldn't see it was Kalas himself. It made Lyude the littlest bit sick.)

But even so.

Sparks.

It was her magic, he thought. It glittered around her fingers and along the tips of her wings (she could fly—she could fly); nipped at her heels when she walked. Gold twined with blue and fuchsia, it was; it glimmered tauntingly as she moved.

Witch magic.

Lyude thought he might have been the only person to notice that.

There was something uncanny about Xelha. Something a little Mira-esque. She didn't fit the normal rhythms of everyday life, was not bogged down in normalcy and all that was ordinary.

It was wonderful and different.

The six of them—friends, Lyude thought. He had friends—sat in a circle in the joined common room, almost restless. Mizuti hummed a haunting song under Savyna's watchful eye. Kalas and Gibari argued over the best handling of international relations.

Xelha sat in the midst of it all, still like a painting with a perfect smile on her face.

She sparked up in laughter and exploded in a shower of fireworks, and Lyude could only watch, stricken.

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When Lyude slept, a girl darted along the edges of his dreams.

She moved too fast for him to catch. She was a small pink blur edged in yellow-sunshine hair and sparkle-lights at her fingertips.

Her name was Xelha.

And he knew he had no business with a girl like her.

Rather, a girl like her had no business with a boy like him. Xelha was meant for bigger things, meant for adventures and mountains and forests—nothing like the steam engines and burning summer that Lyude had been accustomed to, in his youth. The Empire was golden guns and haze, and he knew that Xelha would be out of place—

(she was always out of place)

—there. She wouldn't like it.

Lyude knew he could never force something on her that she wouldn't like.

She didn't even know he existed, anyway.

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After the fifth End Magnus. After Kalas went rogue (he'd always been rogue, but Lyude preferred not to dwell on that fact). Camped out in the middle of the desert; every last one of them still in shock. Still hurting. Still horror-stricken. Still unable to comprehend what had just happened.

That was when Xelha sat down next to him on a jutted-out rock in the middle of nowhere, and exhaled.

They sat in silence.

Lyude shifted uncomfortably. He'd never been one to fidget, but he couldn't help it.

What did this girl do to him?

"Are you—are you alright?" he coughed.

"Why shouldn't I be?" Xelha asked, tilting her head. Her eyes were too bright. "I—I mean—I knew that… this… would happen. I knew it. Why didn't I—?"

She broke off, hiccupping laughter that was quickly turning to sobs, and Lyude watched her shoulders shake for a full five seconds before awkwardly putting an arm around her.

Xelha pressed her face into her hands, and did not push him away.

Her breathing turned ragged as she quieted. Lyude almost dared to tuck a strand of soft blonde hair behind her ear. Almost dared to pull her closer. Almost.

"It's stupid. I was so stupid. Because sometimes I—sometimes I thought that he a-actually c-cared…" Xelha trailed into silence. She took one last shuddering breath in, and then pulled her hands away from her face.

Lyude could see no tears.

He thought that she was far stronger than a girl her size had any right to be.

"I'm sorry," she said quietly. "You shouldn't have seen that."

"It—it's quite alright," Lyude managed.

She looked up at him and smiled brilliantly.

"Thank you, though," she said. "I needed it. I—really, really needed it. So. Heh. Yeah. Thanks."

Lyude thought he might have nodded solemnly, but he couldn't quite remember. Her smile had burned itself on the backs of his eyelids, and he was too busy trying to save it in his memory to give her a proper answer.

Xelha pushed herself up and off the rock.

For a minute, Lyude was caught staring up into the sun watching her silhouette smile without eyes. In his mind's eye, she was reaching down towards him and offering a hand up, but she was so far away—

"Aren't you coming? We can't stay here, we've gotta go!" she called over her shoulder, already on her way back to camp.

Lyude got up, and followed.

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Kalas came back and begged and Xelha forgave him in a flash and Lyude didn't forgive him at all.

It was night.

Lyude could see the two of them through the tent's thin wall. They were sitting very close together, whispering so softly that Lyude couldn't make the words out.

Not that he wanted to.

He knew what they were saying.

She might as well have been Aphrodite, for all he could touch her now. For all he could have ever touched her—peasants did not touch goddess'. No, only magic of the sort that ought not exist.

Kalas.

Lyude had never hated another being, but he thought he might hate Kalas.

(Who wouldn't?)

Lyude threw an arm over his eyes, and pretended to sleep.

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fin.
notes2: i actually ship Kalas/Xelha so hard, but i legit can't help myself. i love angst.
notes3: please don't favourite without leaving a review. :)