Freya and Beatrix come to an agreement. One shot.
"You and I, Freya, are too alike to ever be friends." There was a pause and then the husky voice, laughter lurking in its depths, added, "But we can be companions, I think."
The lithe Burmecian turned to study her traveling partner from beneath the jutting brim of her helmet. Companions? It was a strange thought, to be honest, but not something distasteful. Not anymore, at least. It was marvelous how saving a world together could alter your view of someone. Yes, Beatrix was stubborn and unyielding and the last person anyone in their right mind would turn to for comfort. In the end, though, those things were only aspects of her full essence. Her stubborn nature only pointed to a view towards duty as strong as Freya herself's.
Of course, duty could be wrong and Beatrix's certainly had brought her to acts of dishonor and violence which had Freya hard-pressed to contend with for a considerable time. But a soldier was a soldier and Beatrix did not know how to be anything other than a soldier. To be anything less than the best soldier, no less. It was in her soul to succeed. Whether by her own blood and sweat or by happy fate, the Alexandrian would survive and excel.
She would also learn from mistakes and amend them as best she could. Forgiveness and redemption were part of her vocabulary.
So were vengeance and consequences, of course.
Beatrix was cut-glass sharp, clever as few things were, in that honest way. Finding her goal and striding towards it. She was not built for dark nights and quiet alleys. Freya had to respect that.
She had to respect a lot of things, actually, if she were to be honest. The other woman's strength and skill were top of the list. Beatrix had been, after all, the elusive Best which Sir Fratley had left Burmecia to find and conquer so many years ago. She had spent six months loathing the name "Beatrix", hating her for simple existence, blaming her for Fratley's perceived abandonment. It had taken years for that to fade completely with the final blow to come from an unexpected source - Fratley himself.
Freya almost laughed out loud at it all. Reflecting back on that time, on that day when he left, she was amazed that she had seen it through such thick rose-tinted glass. Neither of their fault, the plain fact had been that Fratley and she had not then had the love she dreamt of as solid. Oh, he was fond of her and she adored him with the innocence of a disciple but they had never been even. They had never been equals. If they had been, he never would have left her to hunt the challenge of the Best Knight, the legendary Beatrix. Ah, well. Vision of the past is perfect. What was hidden then would be open later.
Her own blindness was not Beatrix's fault.
Burmecia was Beatrix's fault, though. Beatrix as Brahne and Kuja's tool, of course, but her nonetheless. Freya tilted her head minutely, claws absently scraping the pole of her weapon. Warriors did all sorts of things in the name of duty and, in the end, they had to live with the consequences as much as any of their victims. The dark-haired Alexandrian lived hard beside those results daily. One could read it in her step and single-eyed gaze. Especially if one happened to be a member of the victims' race. Beatrix never flinched when she met Freya's eyes but the ice and reflexive horror remained behind everything else. Her apology, forthright and without cowering misery, was in the look as well. Years ago, months ago, that would not have been enough. The dragon knight would have exacted her vengeance and continued.
She knew the pain now, though, and knew it reflected from her own eyes as well. They had all seen so much, survived so many dark places. Huddled together for warmth and hope. All of them, everyone in the ragtag group. The difference rested in how some of them know just how precious and impossible the hope was. The soldiers, the warriors, the monk, the thief... All of them with a past so thick that it was hard to see the truth through it all. The trick was to avoid selfish blindness to rob them of the finer emotions in the name of survival and strength.
Finer emotions held more power than simple survival.
To forgive is to have the most rare strength of all. It is precious, priceless, something to be extended to enemies and friends and, always, to those who laid in the land between the extremes. Some souls would never meet and meld but would always pause to salute each other. In the end, the sweetest thing would be the respect and recognition, the knowledge that such in-between contacts could save lives.
Finally, Freya nodded, blood-red helmet and ghost-white hair masking her faint smile. "Yes, Beatrix. I suppose you are right," she answered mildly. "We'll be quite good companions."