Breaking Midnight

This is how we break midnight

And its moonlight, unforgiving of our treasonous, silent hands

000

"Perhaps, Queen Ashe, we should look into finding you a suitor? An alliance that would bring the kingdom to prosperity?"

The day had been far too long.

Ashe could only wonder how many times a councilman would hint at her widower status, suggesting how great the county would once there was a queen and king to rule it. It wasn't hard for the Ashe to get the idea; many people still doubted that a lone woman could lead the county. She just couldn't wrap her head around the idea that marriage was the one solution they thought of.

With a sigh, Ashe forced herself to put it out of her mind. Before that, before even thinking about how she should respond to these growing suggestions, Ashe knew that above all, she just needed some sleep, and opened the door to her room.

There were many things that usually greeted Ashe when she returned to her bedchambers. Ever since she had moved a desk into her living quarters, papers of legislations and amendments and proposals had slowly, but consistently started to pile on her desk. Then there were the bookshelves of law, politics, geography, that she began to take from the library and keep for more convenient access. In essence, her bedchambers had become a second study, and it was beginning to become crowded, if the slight clutter was to show for anything.

However, one thing that Ashe was not accustomed to, was the sight of Vaan, lying flat on her bed. At first, she only froze, blinking in surprise, and for a moment believed she was actually hallucinating from her fatigue. Then she wondered why her mind would ever conjure of Vaan's image.

But it was only when she realized just what he was holding in his hands that Ashe quickly broke out of her stupor and began to quickly advance.

"Vaan!"

"Hey Ashe." He didn't turn to acknowledge her.

"Vaan, put those down," she warned.

Instead, his eyes continued to skim the papers he was holding, even deciding to read out a few choice lines.

"Notes, Thoughts: Dalmasca's main economy relies on its location as a trading point but with more and more airships being manufactured, location will soon be irrelevant."

Ashe darted a hand out to grab the papers out of Vaan's grasp, but the other boy nimbly stepped out of each.

"...Besides establishing fees to fly through Dalmasca's skies (unfeasible, hard to establish and maintain), there must be some other way to maintain a sustainable economy-"

"Vaan!"

"Fine, fine, here you are," Vaan acquiesced and finally put down the notes.

Ashe quickly walked up to grab her papers out of his hands, feeling a slight sense of comfort wash over her as she found her notes back in her hands. She couldn't explain it, but seeing someone else with her thoughts, her fears, shook her heart out of its casing and she had to take a second just to wait for it to settle down. Already, she was dealing with doubt from all sides and had to front an air of confidence and knowledge; these writings were her only outlet, her only permissible expression of vulnerability, and no one was ever to see them.

And yet here Vaan was, just reading them, out loud, like he was reciting poetry; leave it to him to stomp all over private business. At the very least, Ashe told herself, he probably didn't understand much of it.

Feeling a semblance of control returning, Ashe turned back to Vaan, a frown settling upon her face.

"Honestly, Vaan, what are you doing reading my notes?" She shook her head, realizing that wasn't the important question. "Not even, what are you doing here?" She looked around, on the small off-chance she'd see a secret passageway explaining Vaan's presence. "How did you even get in?"

Vaan shrugged. "I've broken into the castle before." He looked around, eyes lingering on the state of her desk. "Those were some pretty heavy thoughts by the way. Is that what has been keeping you from visiting?

"Vaan, that—that's beside the point. Going through my personal belongings, not to mention breaking into the castle and my study, because I haven't come by lately?" She let out a frustrated sigh. "Just because we're not fighting in a war doesn't mean can just revert to immaturity-"

"You don't need to say it like that." Vaan suddenly interrupted. Ashe startled out of her phrase and suddenly found herself looking at Vaan, his usually clear eyes far more hooded than she had seen for a while. She remembered that look of his, appearing on some the bleaker nights of the journey, especially when a conversation about his brother would come up.

"I'm sorry?"

"You keep treating me like a kid, calling me immature, impractical, things like that." He crossed his arms defiantly at her. "Ashe, I'm maybe a year younger than you, that doesn't give you some right to look down and condescend on me."

The accusation struck her harshly, but Ashe pushed away the slight gnawings of guilt. "Vaan, this has nothing to do with your age."

That only seemed to incense him further. "You can't even admit it?"

Now, she only drew back, her grip tightening upon her notes. She could feel the skin wrinkling between her eye brows as an even deeper frown settled upon her face. Yes, he wasn't completely wrong-but nonetheless, he had still come to her quarters, unannounced, during rather questionable hours, and he thought that wouldn't reflect on him badly? The anger, and perhaps some extra frustration from what had been a couple of long days, began to fill her as she drew herself upright.

"Vaan, it is nearing midnight," she stressed. "How do you think showing up, without any sort of forewarning-"

"You don't ever respond to our letters," Vaan burst out suddenly, obviously having kept up some pent-up frustration. "Larsa writes to Penelo every week like clockwork, but you, who lives in the same city, can't even reply to even one; if I had sent some kind of invitation, would you really have taken the time out of your day?"

"I am busy-"

"If you cared enough, you would make the time," Vaan argued.

"Vaan!" Ashe burst out.

But he didn't stop. "Is it because Penelo and I, we're just Lowtown rats? Now that you're royalty, you don't dare spend time with us again?"

"What do you want me to say?" Ashe asked. "Fine, my apologies. I have been quite the horrible friend, by all means, let us break off all associations. And you're right, I think you need to grow up." She gave him a level look. "Does that make you feel better? Now, will you leave me to some much-needed rest?"

He gave a long, unblinking look, finally silent. Then, he decided. "No." He sat himself beside her bed, and then patted the bedsheets. "We're going to catch up."

Ashe gave the boy an incredulous look. "Right now?"

"Right now," he repeated firmly.

Ashe looked at him for a long time. She wondered which would be easier, calling the guards out (or perhaps even taking up her rapier and doing the job herself) and kick him out, or to humour him. After thinking about her options, and also realizing she was just too tired to do the former, she decided that she would try the second option, if at the very least to keep from pulling a similar stunt in the future.

With a sigh, she slowly walked over and then sat herself upon her bed, and then foregoing all grace, effectively collapsed upon the sheets, spineless and flat as she lay still. Already, she could feel sleep crawl at her from the corner of her eyes, but the lights were too bright, and she was still far too aware of Vaan's presence to let the feeling take over her. So she merely closed her eyes and let out a breathy sigh.

"Alright Vaan," she said, tiredly. "Tell me. Tell me about your life."

Vaan chuckled from his seat on her floor. "That's not how it works, Ashe. I don't just give you a report and go on my way."

"I'd much rather have it that way," she found herself muttering, her usual speech filter obviously having been broken down sometime earlier in the day. But Vaan chuckled, though Ashe could swear she heard a slight bitter undertone.

"... I'm sorry," he said, after a beat. "You're right, I am being unfair, like this."

Ashe didn't say anything to this, didn't have anything to say at this point. She let the silence drift over them, only brief whispers of wind breaking the static as they sailed through her balcony alcove. She could imagine the city in her mind, a small sea of lights slowly flickering out one by one as street vendors finally closed shop, until all that was left were few and dim streetlights. It wasn't the true image of Rabanastre, she knew, but it was the one that kept her fighting through rebuilding the city and its economy back up again.

"Is it true?" Vaan asked, after a while. "Your notes on Dalmalca... is it true?"

"Which part?"

"That Dalmasca is becoming... obsolete. Or whatever."

She sighed. "It's nothing you should worry about; I just... it'll take time, but I won't let that happen."

Even though he said nothing in response, Ashe could practically hear his dissatisfaction from where she was lying down; she heard the short breaths before aborted sentences, and the long sighs that came after he decided against voicing whatever what was on his mind. She knew Vaan well enough to know what he was probably thinking, though; he probably would want to offer his help in some sense or another.

But they both knew that he couldn't do anything in this situation. Short of becoming a politician who could help her lobby her causes; what help could Vaan possibly offer?

"Look, about just now, I didn't mean to pick a fight like that, but… I don't know. Just reading your notes, just seeing how tired you look, and yet you don't even come to us? Even if it's just to talk and vent?"

Vaan sighed. "Even if I said that you could tell me about, whatever is on your mind, your worries... I want to do something, Ashe. I don't want you disappearing into whatever void of work you have and have years pass before Penelo and I ever see you again!"

She heard him shifting. "Was this going to happen all along? You know, we save the world, and then just... go back to our separate lives? Like it never happened?"

To be honest, Ashe had never meant it to happen like such. In the back of her mind, she had always planned to make plans to see Vaan and Penelo, always had told herself that she would respond to their letters and invitations as soon as she had the time. But then days passed, turning into months, turning into what was now half a year.

But she doesn't want to hash this out now, not with Vaan and his stubbornness. She's not sure she could explain, especially since she knows she's not completely blameless.

"I've lived in Lowtown, you know," she found herself suddenly saying. "To hide myself. I wanted to stay in Rabanastre, stay close to Vayne, to bide my time. It ended up being... two years."

"Really?"

"It was eye-opening, to say the least. I hated the close quarters, the smell, the feeling of being so utterly invisible that no one above dares meeting your eye when they hear where you're from." Ashe paused. She never liked to remember much of that time period. "And I was always... so angry. So many times I saw the horrible laws Vayne would enact, or I would see some of his troops coming in and abusing their power, and would just want to charge into the castle and proclaim my identity.

"I had sometimes imagined that perhaps my name alone would be the spark of a revolution; maybe, if I just let everyone know I was alive, and I was willing to fight for them... they would fight for me. With me. And we could take back the city."

"And why didn't you?" Vann asked.

"Vaan, I was eighteen at the time; no rational being would join the Resistance follow a teenager, a girl no less, who knew nothing to military battle and strategy against a force that was superior in near every aspect: numbers, supplies, support, so on." Ashe let out a derisive snort. "I assure you, every time I had notions of revolution, Vossler drilled this point into my head all again, telling me we had to wait for the perfect opportunity, we had to build up our plan slowly and without weakness."

"But that must have been really harsh," Vaan said. "Two years, watching Archadian forces run the city and being able to do nothing about it."

"It... could have been better," Ashe admitted. "But I still gained perspective. Patience. I learned all I could. And," she added, as one particular memory came back, "Lowtown wasn't bad. It's rough, but there is also... community. There was this one block party I remember, where all the vendors gathered along one street, and there was music playing..."

"And someone brought in fireworks!" Vaan exclaimed. "I remember that!"

"Yes, that's the one," Ashe said, letting a small smile spread across her face. "I had ideas for another such festival, for the whole city to partake in, but... the council passed on the idea, suggesting we prioritize other issues before spending the money on a festival."

"Well, but a festival is a great way to bring moral!" Vaan argued. "It brings people together!"

"But the planning and co-ordination takes resources that we really cannot spare right now. At this point, if Rabanastre were to hold a festival, we would require a rather large donation to even get started... The council was right, Vaan. Other things take priority over this."

"Let me see your idea," Vaan said. When she heard him standing up, Ashe turned her head towards his direction to see where he was going, and found him at her desk, eyes scanning the papers on her desk. "You must have a proposal written up somewhere, right?"

"It's on the second drawer," she said, gesturing towards it, thought Vaan wasn't even looking in her direction. Within seconds, the boy had found it and pulled it out with a triumphant grin, before coming back to his seat besides her bed. With a unceremonious thump, his back landed against the side.

"It is recorded in our history that before, when the desert was still water, we would celebrate the passing of our loved ones by lighting up lanterns and floating them along the river, as if we there with our beloveds as we wished them safe journey into another life-"'

"Must you read it out loud?" Ashe interjected. Vaan ignored her and kept on.

"When the water dried up into sand, that day was discarded. However, recently, we have all lost people dear to us and I think more than ever, we need such a celebration; even if the water is unavailable, let us continue our tradition, and instead let our lanterns rise up into the air, where our thoughts may one day may reach our loved ones... Ashe, this sounds like a great idea!" Vaan exclaimed, turning around to face her.

Ashe sat up a bit, resting her head upon her palm as she looked back. "I appreciate the thought, Vaan, but it nonetheless, is not feasible at this point..."

"Nonsense," he said. He held up her paper. "This I can do. I can't single-handedly save the economy, but this I've got the connections for. I've been doing a lot of export work, so I have a network of vendors who would love a festival like this."

"Export work?" Ashe questioned, finally pushing herself upright to look at him.

"Yeah!" Vaan said. "I started a delivery business! I pilot a private aircraft to ship whatever people need easily."

"That's... impressive," Ashe admitted. And it truly was. She had always imagined Vaan to be the slacker; she had imagined that he would have simply reverted to his previous lifestyle, running whatever miscellaneous errands and odd jobs he could for cash, but to hear that he opened up and sustained his own business. Ashe looked over the boy in front of her and wondered just how else she might have underestimated him.

"Well, Penelo probably manages more of the finances than she should, but it's still in business!" Vaan had a cheeky grin, and Ashe found herself returning his smile.

"And Penelo then? What is she up to currently?"

"Dancing, still," Vaan said, making pirouette motions with his hands. "Though she's moving up the ranks in her company; she actually was the understudy for the lead role a couple weeks back, which was exciting. So the one time the lead had called in sick, Penelo had actually rushed back to Lowtown to let everyone know, even though there were only two hours until the show started." Vaan smiled proudly. "Of course, everyone still dropped everything to come watch."

"That's wonderful," Ashe said. "She must have been beautiful."

"She was, of course. Auditions for the next production are coming up soon, so of course, we're hoping she'll actually get the lead this time."

Watching Vaan enthusiastically tell her about life outside the castle, Ashe couldn't help the slight pang of longing. It would be nice, if she was able to be part of that life, to have shared experiences and stories with another person, to have a feeling of history with someone.

"Should that happen, if you send me a ticket, I... will most definitely make the time to come," Ashe said. Vaan stopped, and gave her a long, meaningful look, seeming to understand what she was truly saying; this was her apology, her promise that she would try harder to make it work.

"I know," he said, quietly. "You're doing your best, I know."

The words caught her in the middle of a heartbeat, and she felt something grab her in her chest, something like relief, something like gratitude, something like anticipation. The oddest blush of heat rushed to her cheeks, and Ashe found herself unable to keep contact with him, quickly looking away.

Perhaps the day had truly been far too long, if such simple words of appreciation reduced her to convoluted mess of emotions. Is that what she had been waiting for all along? Someone to tell her that what she was doing was right?

"Thank you," she allowed herself to reply, equally quiet.

A brief pause of silence that passed between them, full of tension and discomfort.

"Ashe, I...I didn't just come here to catch up," Vaan finally said. He reached back into his back pocket and pulled out something. "I... I only just meant to deliver this."

As soon as Ashe laid eyes upon the glittering object, despite the distance between the two, she knew immediately just exactly what Vaan was holding in his hand. Her breath suddenly catching in her throat, she froze, not even daring to move.

"Is that..." she forced out of her throat, "... mine?" Without even realizing it, her hand started to reach out towards the object. "Then, then they're..."

"...alive," Vaan finished for her, placing the object into her hand. "I didn't actually see them, but they left a message... and that."

But Ashe had barely registered the words, drawing her hand close. There, within her palm, was her wedding ring, adorned with it's familiar jewels and designs. She had never thought she would see it again after watching the Sky Fortress, but if the item was truly here within her grasp, then... they must be alive.

Fran and Balthier were alive.

Harsh, stinging tears began to gather around her eyes, and she blinked them away quickly, though she could still feel the hot, trails fell down her cheeks as some escaped her eyes despite her efforts. As the most overwhelming feeling of relief enveloped her body, she didn't even realize how badly she was shaking until she saw the ring the in her palm unsteadily trembling in its grasp. Fiercely wiping at her eyes, Ashe closed her grasp, forcing herself to calm down. She wasn't going to break in front of Vaan, out of all people.

"I can't believe it," she said, shakily. But the words didn't even leave her throat properly as she choked ungracefully through the phrase. "...how are they...?"

"They're just fine. They've been exploring the sky," Vaan replied. "Apparently they found a new island that just might have treasure."

Ashe found herself sagging, as all the tension left her body, feeling herself begin to calm down slightly. So they were fine. All along, they had been just fine. Not to mention, there was treasure. Of course there was.

Looking down, Ashe took a moment to gaze at the ring in her hand. It was funny how the ring continued to represent her lost loves; first, it was Rasler. Then, it had been Balthier. She had never told anyone, didn't even have the pride to really admit it to herself, but she had always harboured the slightest affection for Balthier, always getting the smallest feeling of anticipation when it came to their altercations.

But now, as she stared at the piece of jewelry, she found she didn't want the ring anymore. She wanted to stop lingering, and just move on already, already having grown used to the lack of the weight upon her hand. First, it had been emptiness; later, however, the feeling eventually turned into smallest feeling of hope, of freedom one day. So instead of putting it back on, Ashe found herself placing the item on her bedside table in slow, measured movements.

"You're not gonna put it back on?" Vaan asked.

"No," Ashe said, simply. "Not this time." She turned to face him. "But thank you, Vaan. For coming."

A slow smile spread across his face. "Then I believe that's my signal to leave," he said, suddenly getting up. Turning around to face her, he waved a piece of paper, and promised, "Remember, I'm going to make this happen! Just you watch!"

"I look forward to it," Ashe responded, smiling.

And then, quite suddenly, Vaan dropped down on his knees. Before Ashe could fully comprehend what he was doing, he picked up her hand and kissed it chastely. "Goodnight, my Queen."

It was a Dalmascan custom, an old Dalmascan custom that Ashe liked to discourage, that required the Queen be greeted by kissing her hand. Usually, the gesture annoyed her, especially when it was done by shady nobles attempting some ploy at courtship. But as Vaan disappeared in another blink of a second, leaving only a whisper of movement in his wake, Ashe could only wonder why it suddenly felt as though her heart was about to leap out of its chest.

"No more," Ashe found herself whispering. "Not this time."

000

As dishwater prayers stain our skin

And insomnia finally becomes another way to dream

By the time Ashe realized that she was attracted to Vaan, out of all the cursed people in the land, it had been far too late.

The idea of attraction was something that Ashe never really understand, and something that for the most part, she never really had to. With Rasler, they had been young and aware of their obligations to their respectivec countries; like that, it had been easy.

It wasn't really until Ashe had met Balthier that she began to understand that attraction wasn't so simple, that it wasn't simply just a feeling of butterflies and roses. She began to notice her reactions around him, her dry mouth, the chill of anxiety and anticipation when she realized he was in her periphery, the way her eyes were always seeking his.

And the more she thought about it, the more it drove her mad. Really it just didn't make sense. How was it possible to be attracted to someone she barely knew? She didn't know his favourite colour, what kind of things he feared—not even, she hadn't even known his real name for the longest time. So what exactly was it? If she didn't even the know trivial details that made him who he was, what exactly—beside his looks—could possibly draw her to him? What rational explanation could be the foundation of such a feeling?

In the end, Ashe had taken it to be latent teenage hormones finally manisfesting and decided, quite firmly, that she was never going to act upon such illogical, irrelevant feelings. It was a phrase, she had decided. This too, shal lpass.

And it did, and Ashe was eternally grateful that she never had to taste the bitter, nonsensical jealousy that she did when she had seen Balthier flirting with yet another girl.

So whatever had happened with Vaan that night when he had suddenly kissed her hand, the sudden flurry of heat and heartbeat, that would pass. She was sure of it.

And Vaan, in fact, never did drop by for another visit. Instead, he began leaving letters upon her pillow (she once placed a note telling Vaan that in many circumstances, this would be considered quite creepy), detailing her of his progress on the festival. First, it was the names of a committee that he had put together, then it was a list of sponsors and possible vendors, and so on.

Her replies were always much shorter, a little note that it looked good so far, or a suggestion on how to talk to certain nobility, yet she began to look forward to their correspondence. She anticipated reading the little stories he would include in his letters, and began collecting anecdotes of her own. Suddenly, she found herself full of little epiphanies and thoughts she wanted to share, with him, out of all people, about life in general. Like how she thought that compulsary education would be the way to bring Dalmasca back to its former strength, how she thought that monarchy was far too archaic of a system to work in a globalizing world, and that she actually quite liked the dusty pink shades of sunset that fell over Rabanastre's evening and perhaps would consider that her favourite colour.

But it's not until she saw him again, face-to-face, after having extended an invitation to him and Penelo for a ball at the castle ("A venue to find more sponsors, if you so wish", she had written), did the realization actually hit her.

There he was, standing with Penelo, a wide smile on his face. Penelo, of course, looked as beautiful and sophisticated as any regular lady of the court, but Vaan was considerably more unkempt. The suit wasn't tailored to his frame, his hair's odd style was still the same disshapen triangular mess, and formal Dalmascan wear looked far too stiff on him.

Yet despite all the flaws Ashe could pick out with only the most cursory of glances, she found her mouth suddenly dry, her heart suddenly clenching in her chest. It was ridiculous, absurd really, that she would have this kind of reaction over Vaan, but when he came over to kneel and kiss her hand, as per custom, she found an undeniable chill travelling up her skin.

She liked Vaan.

But then when he grinned and asked her what she had been up to, for a brief second, the dread disappeared and Ashe found herself returning his smile.

000

A movement so large and overwhelming

That even clockwork is unsettled

Befor she knew it, the festival was upon her.

And before she knew it, the festival was ending.

All that was left was to finally release the lanterns into the sky at midnight.

Ashe stood on stage, finishing the last speech of the closing ceremony. "…And now, as we end this lovely night, I'd also like to thank all the peoplewho made this happen. I hope everyone had a good time. Goodnight."

Ashe retreated off stage, releasing the breath she had been holding the whole time. The whole event had gone by perfectly, so magically that Ashe had feared a little that she would be the one to mess it all up. But as she exited the stage, she felt herself regain control of her emotions, the fear slowly dissipating away.

Around her, everyone was moving to whereever they wanted to be when it was finally time to release the lanterns into the sky, and for a moment, Ashe found herself momentarily lost, eyes scanning through the crowd in a brief daze. And then, when her eyes met Vaan's, she realized that she had been looking for him.

The epiphany stopped her so suddenly that when she came to again, she realized that Vaan was weaving through the crowd to approach her.

"Hey," he said, casually. "You want to release ours together?"

She hesitated for only the briefest of seconds. And then, quietly, she answered. "Okay."

"Then we better hurry!"Vaan took her hand in his, and suddenly began to drag her along alleyways, and backstreets, yet Ashe didn't even see anything, somehow focusing all of her attention on Vaan's warm, calloused grip.

She wondered what would happen after this night, when Vaan didn't have any more reason to break into the castle, no reason to keep in such close contact with her. In all likelihood, nothing would change. She would carry on with her duties and probably forget about the whole experience soon enough when enough time had passed. One day, she would probably look back at the moment fondly and laugh at how she had once been young and silly enough to fall for boys, only because of a kiss on the hand and few letters.

"Alright, we're here!" Vaan announced, finally letting go of Ashe's hand. "Highest point of Rabanastre! And it looks like we just made it! Look!"

As Ashe turned around, she saw it, the single red lantern floating in the distance while the clock chimed midnight in the distance.

"But why did we have to come all the way here?" she asked.

"Just wait," Vaan promised, and sat down on the desert ground. Ashe, after a second of pause, delicately followed suit.

For a odd, silent moment, there was only the single red lantern. But then, there was another one in its wake, a pink light, soon followed by a purple one… and then soon, as Ashe blinked, she couldn't keep up with rising lanterns, all forming a bright parade of colours, swirling in the sky.

"Oh…" she said, breath catching in her throat at the sight.

"I know, right?"

Ashe looked over at Vaan from the corner of her eye, feeling the sudden to urge to reach for his hand and twine her fingers with his, or even rest her head on his shoulder, as if it was the scene from some frivolous novel. She was so burningly curious as to what it all felt like, as to comprehend why people made such a big deal over these small, physical gestures. She had never gotten the chance with Rasler, always having been too young and shy to initiate such contact.

But now, even if she were to be that brave, to risk that step to see if he possibly reciprocated, what good would it possibly do? She didn't have the time or the position to explore the possibility of such a relationship, not to mention the scandal if it were found out the Queen was being courted by a Lowtown orphan, one who was younger than her, no less. Right now, she needed to focus on the country and not let anything get in the way of success.

But…they were alone here.

At the very least, this moment was theirs, and theirs alone.

Ashe, promising herself this would be the only time, finally came to her decision, and before she could change her mind, broke the silence. "Vaan, I just want to say… thank you."

"Hmm? But you already did— "

And as she moved in, Vaan happened to turn his head at the exact moment; suddenly, where Ashe had only wanted to peck Vaan on the cheek softly, she had ended up dangerously close to the corner of his mouth, close enough that she could feel his breath as she pulled away.

There was such a look of complete surprise on Vaan's face, that Ashe found herself almost apologizing. The words "I'm sorry" were the on the tip of her tongue, an apology about suddenly making everything awkward, but Ashe quickly swallowed the phrase down. She wasn't going to apologize; she wasn't going to try to take back what she had just did like that.

So finally, she just looked to the lantern in her hands, dusty pink. "Now it's our turn, right?"

But then there's suddenly a warm hand on her cheek, turning her away.

And suddenly, Vaan's lips were on hers.

Without even realizing, she let go of her lantern, the light lifting up into the sky.

000

Or maybe, it's just with a simple breath

"Yeah, it's our turn now."

Author's note: This is a re-write of an old fic from another account. FFXII is actually my favourite of the series, so I wish the fanfiction section for it was much more popular, but ah well.

Rather than get plot bunnies, I get pairing craves, where I suddenly want to read some random, noncanon pairing and I end up writing it when I don't find any that I particularly like (like, I'm working on a Penelo/Gabranth right now). But then I always get stuck on the actual romance part, because I want to keep it in-character and realistic, but I don't want to spend the time writing a multi-chapter. So I end with a jumpy jumpy one-shot that tends to rush character development, haha. Like this. (So hey guys, if you know any good Ashe/Vaan, let me know!)

Actually, if you know of any good, completed romance fics in any of the FF/KH/whatever popular fandom you like, please let me know! I'm really curious how good romance is written!

Anyway, thanks for reading!