Title: The Gentle Art
Rating: mildly NSFW (graphic injury)
Wordcount: 662
Summary: White magic isn't for the faint of heart.
Note: Written for the October Round of FFEX's Chocobo Races, for crankyoldman's prompt "Rosa and the dirtier aspects of being a white mage. Something with her in battle, how she handles it without getting (outwardly) emo about it. If post-game, some bonding with Porom would be especially nice. If during the game, some bonding with Rydia. Emphasis on the fact that battle isn't nearly like what you play in a videogame, especially if your job is to heal people primarily."

The bone jutted through Rydia's shin like a jagged tooth. She fell backward in a pool of her own blood, deadly pale, breathing fast and shallow as she stared not-quite-at her injury. Didn't even scream. Already in shock.

Edward had stilled in slack-jawed horror, so Rosa told him, "Take the potions. Keep Cecil and the monk safe." Firm, calm tone, like she learned from her elder mages. The momentum of purpose propelled Edward back into the fray as Rosa knelt.

"My leg." Rydia's voice came out frail and distant. Her lips kept moving without it.

"Shh." Something exploded behind Rosa, washing fiery orange light over the stones. She steeled herself against flinching. "You're going to be all right. Be brave for me."

The wobble of Rydia's head was near enough to a nod.

Rosa's father had acquiesced to, if never quite accepted, her study of white magic, even as he forbade her from any pursuit that involved close-quarters combat. It was her mother who fought it, because her mother knew that it was more dangerous to mend bones in battle than to break them. As she set her hands on Rydia's leg, Rosa blocked out the din of combat and the dread of a living bomb slipping past Cecil's sword.

"Take a deep breath," said Rosa. Rydia tried. "Let it out slowly."

Now she did scream as the broken ends of the bone scraped back together. This was always the worst part; a spell cast too soon would ease the agony but risked fusing the wrong parts together. Rosa made her adjustments as quickly as she could without sacrificing caution, sealing off the part of herself that broke with each of Rydia's sobs.

"Almost there." Rosa kept up a soothing patter as she washed the wound with a cleansing spell that bit and burned. Better to suffer now than succumb to blood fever later. "You're so brave. You're almost done. Keep breathing."

Rydia's teeth dug blood out of her lip. According to Cecil, she had torn apart mountains after her mother's death. This close, Rosa could feel the magic seething inside her like a boiling sea, bubbling up against her skin. She had to be brave; otherwise she could only be dangerous.

The wound washed clear. A whispered chant, a turn of the wrist, and Rosa sealed the fracture with heat, knitted flesh with light. The analgesic rush drew a sigh from Rydia; the storm inside her began to still.

Then Rosa was back on her feet, because something had exploded again and Cecil was crying out for her. In the corner of her eye, she watched Rydia sit up—arms shaking, ashen face resolute—to crystallize ice from the air.

Afterward, as they descended with haste toward Fabul, a tug at her cape drew Rosa's gaze downward.

"Teach me how to do that," said Rydia. Her clothes were still dark and stiff with her blood. Before Rosa could respond, she added, "Please. In case I need to do it to you."

Sometimes Rosa thought that a child had no place in this violence and that they were all irresponsible and cruel to make one. She never voiced the thought; all the words that she turned over in her mind sounded like her mother's.

"You have to be careful and precise," she replied. "Powerful white magic can do far greater harm than good."

Rydia set her sharp little chin. "I'm careful. If I called Chocobo wrong, he wouldn't fit."

Her flames licked precisely, too; she'd scorched Cecil's gauntlet once, near the foot of the mountain, and never again. "When we reach Fabul," Rosa decided, "I'll show you how to practice with fruit. For now, we must hurry."

Nodding, Rydia let go of the cape and picked up her pace. "What kind of fruit has bones?"

"We'll work our way up to bones."

The new scar on Rydia's leg was so smooth as to be nearly unnoticeable, but it would grow with her.