Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 9 > Love is not Enough


by Myshu 0 reviews


Category: Final Fantasy 9 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Humor - Characters: Garnet Til Alexandros, Zidane Tribal - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2006-03-19 - Updated: 2006-03-19 - 2721 words

Freya never won the bet again.

Like the seventh, the eighth reunion didn't have staying power in her memories because of the party, but rather for what took place after.

The formalities had to be addressed first, though.

She could hardly forget His newly christened Majesty King Puck II ("Didn't know I had a fancy number after my name either, didja Garnet?") making an appearance. That past winter, the Burmecians' liege had finally come of age, and Puck readily shed the official supervision of his royal retainer and regent, Minister Uthor. The minister still attended him like a hawk at every function, politely snipping at the king's errant language ("Your Majesty, 'Are there any pimpass ho bitches in da house' is not a proper way to announce yourself,") only now Puck could legally tell him to "bugger off" when His Majesty grew tired of the censorship--this, of course, was opposed to Prince Puck's former policy of just doing whatever the hell he wanted behind Uthor's back.

Fratley watched Zidane teach Puck, Adele and Brit how to rig a Tetra Master deck with flan cards and a double-sided coin, and responded to Uthor's question of Burmecia's "coming along" with, "I pray for our future."

In light of Puck's visit, the reunion became more his "royal coming out party" than anything, and Garnet's ballroom bustled with an usual crowd of nobles. Her friends either lingered on the fringes of the festivities or wove themselves into it, everyone losing track of each other in quick time. Soon all Garnet could hear was the thrum of her many guests, their cacophony battling the rich melody of violins across the high domed ceiling.


The queen spun away from a tray of biscuits, her pearly evening gown bunching around her ankles. She spotted her husband pushing through the throng to meet her, two strange men tailing him.
One was clothed like a Treno nobleman, his sash branded in the House of Bishop. Dark hair was glossed back from a clean, young, plain face and smart eyes.
The other man was old, stout and hairy, save the crest of his head--his bald sheen could blind overpassing birds on a sunny day. He was heavy with a clutter of chains and amulets that sat across a field-green mantle fringed with gold. Garnet gave a short smile and bow to acknowledge them while Zidane introduced his companions.

"Dagger, this is Barley, the Earl of Bishop," he indicated the younger and leaner of the two. Zidane wore a satisfied grin as he spoke, as if he were showing off a prized catch.

Barley swung low in full courtesy and kissed Garnet's hand. "Your Majesty, it is an honor to meet you."

"And, speaking of, this is the bishop of Esto Gaza," Zidane played a poor pun, though it bounced safely off the mentioned party.

"It is likewise an honor," the bishop uttered in a bellow, imitating the earl's posturing with more waddling than gentlemanly grace. He righted himself with a jingling clatter and gestured to the Genome. "I must say, madam, your husband has some very interesting theories on domestic policy."

Garnet vaguely remembered Esto Gaza's bishop from her journey to his icy shrine, though this was a different man. He must be the new bishop, she conjectured, the old one a casualty to Gaia's war (the holy grounds he was tending were, after all, ravaged by Iifa's roots.) The queen didn't neglect to donate a pinch of Alexandria's funds to Esto Gaza's reconstruction, as part of her general policy of good will.

"Does he?" Garnet's brow lifted incredulously, and in turn Zidane waggled his eyebrows suggestively, smug smile still stuck where she last saw it. She shot him a quick, wary leer before returning pleasant attention to her guests.

"Why yes, and if he isn't the spitting image of the late Lord King, I wouldn't know any better!" the bishop cawed into a bellylaugh and slapped Zidane on the back.

A prickle crawled down Garnet's spine and both she and her consort blanched. Zidane, suddenly struck abash, excused himself with a restrained smile. "Gentlemen, I'll leave you to your fun." He bowed out of the circle and stepped clear of Garnet's sight, disappearing into the dizzy parade of polite dance, drink and laughter.

The earl looked over his shoulder and slightly bit his lip, as clueless as the next man, but retaining enough sense to see that something amiss had been said. The garish bishop was entirely unfazed. "Look at him, taking off like that! I wonder what got into him. Well, Your Majesty will surely provide us happy company this evening, yes?"

Garnet drew a tall breath, put on her best company mask and nodded. "Of course. So, what was your relationship with Lord King?"


Zidane made a bee's course to the doors, but was snagged just short of the exit. He twisted a look down at the hand that tugged his belt, followed a milky arm up to a face and jumped a notch, surprised at whom he meeting eye-to-eye, now.

"Well well," he clucked, planting his hands on his hips and granting his interruption a full, grinning appraisal. "Look at this lovely lady. You've gotten so tall!"

"Tee hee," Eiko Carol giggled and twirled in place, her blue dress and its white frills billowing like an ocean wave. She abruptly stopped and likewise put her wrists to her sides, looking ever impetuous. "You silly! Of course that's what lovely ladies do when they grow up!"

She was growing up, wasn't she? He spent a blink calculating her age--fifteen now--though the effort felt lame when he remembered that he just had to deduct ten years from his own age. It was actually a point of contention when they'd first met ("You do realize that I'm sixteen and you're /six/, right?" "Just give me a few years!")

Eiko had shot up fast, tall and reedy, even if her horn-nub notably hadn't (he remembered catching her at Trance, once--that dinky little summoners' ornament had transformed into a long, graceful unicorn-spear that split her ethereal green tresses down the middle. Trance had strange effects on one's appearance, it seemed.)
Hell, Zidane fleetly thought, he had more of a figure than she did, but then again he'd taken enough ribbing from the Tantalus guys over that to last through Eiko's puberty. She was probably going to be one of those "late bloomers," and gods help the menfolk of Lindblum when she did.

"And now you have to dance with me, because that's what gentlemen do at times like these!"

He took the girl's assertive hand, kissed it and amiably led her out to the dance floor. "How could I refuse?"


Freya nibbled embarrassingly rodent-like on a cake that had the misfortune of passing her way. Never mind that it was the waitstaff's job to walk around with trays of goodies; the Burmecian amused herself with the thought that the cake was doomed from birth to cross her path. It was the best she could do to stave off all the other boring alternatives.

Garnet all but staggered into Freya's corner. "Goodness gracious, I think I lost him," she huffed.

Freya wiped stray crumbs from her muzzle and had to ask, "What happened?"

"Have you met the new bishop of Esto Gaza?"

"No, why?"

"Good, don't," Garnet flatly insisted.

Freya smirked. "That bad, huh?"

The queen dipped like a duck and stuck out her tongue with a petite gag in comically unlady-like pantomime. Freya offered a good-natured laugh for her trouble.

Her point vaguely (if humorously) made, Garnet righted her bearings, straightened her apparel and cleared her composure with a brisk sigh. "I just got free. Have you seen Zidane? I could kill him."

Freya admittedly shook her head. "Perhaps you're too late. I saw Eiko carry him off to dance a while ago."

"Oh." Stumped on that note, Garnet settled for standing in discourse with her friend. "So how're you? Where's Fratley? And the twins?"

"I'm fine, thank you. Fratley's putting the children to bed."

"Oh. How considerate of him." The queen cast a scanning glance over the room. She wrung her thumb with her other hand and tinged her heart-shaped face with a frown. "I hope Zidane doesn't stay up all night and wear himself out. The doctor warned him about that."

Freya's ear nearer Garnet picked up. "Hmm? Doctor?"

"Oh," Garnet snapped back to look at her, as if just noticing that she was speaking out loud. "It was horrible. Zidane drives me sick with worry, sometimes. I guess you didn't hear."

"Hear about what?"

"It was a few months ago. One of Steiner's knights found him collapsed at the foot of the stairs in the grand vestibule."

"Zidane?" Freya begged clarification, alarmed by the tale.

"Yes. Seems he fainted and fell. He didn't break any bones, thank God, but the castle physician said he has a bad heart. Doctor Tot recommended a healthier regimen to him, but God's blood, Zidane is so stubborn. I can't make him stick to it."

Freya swallowed the last of her cake, looked at the ground and scratched her chin in consideration. "I'm sorry to hear that."

Garnet shook her head, her concerned visage shrinking into the pits of her eyes. "It's all right." She picked up her dress and braced herself for another voyage into the crowd. "I'm going to find Mister Barley again. He must be wondering where in the world I disappeared to."

Freya nodded her off, not knowing a Barley and not daring to ask. She, like many, never overcame the novelty of Garnet's ability to integrate into any concourse. Any other queen would be given a ten-foot royal berth at every turn, especially in her own castle. Perhaps Alexandria's court was acclimatized by now to their queen walking straight up to issues and confronting them, forsaking the decorum of her position. Conservative nobles squawked at the indignity of it, politicians admired her direct approach, and the castle guard groaned at her vulnerability. The straight of it was that Dagger could blend in anywhere, to Beatrix and Steiner's everlasting chagrin, Freya imagined.

The Dragon Knight wondered how much of that quality Her Majesty owed to her adventures with her friends.

"Good luck."


Zidane rolled his shoulders, working free of the tight, itchy dress clothes his wife sweetly demanded he wear, and with a smile, to boot. That never stopped him from whining before and pouting after the fact. He'd never be able to stand nobles' wear for very long.

He kicked the last of the odious clothing off his foot and into the lap of a nearby chair, and then stepped into the loose, silky comfort of his favorite (well, only, actually) habit. He threaded his tail through the slit in the back and pinched the soft, airy, cotton-heavy fabric, still marveling at the Cleyrans' technique. It was a shame what happened to...

Zidane blinked back the memory, opting not to relive it at the moment. He sat on his side of the great four-poster bed in the castle's master bedroom, blew out the lamp on the bed-table, beat his pillows into a cushy pulp and nestled in for a nap.

Far downstairs, a party still stepped and flowed to the music, but he was too tired to put up with it any longer. He liked the other reunions, the ones where he didn't have to run around and look "presentable" for all the high-class snobs--he only ever did it for Garnet's sake; he couldn't care less what the nobles thought of him.

He'd camp out on top of the bed, waiting for Garnet, and then... then...

A deep, timeless snooze later, he was roused to shifting sheets and the muffled creak of the mattress. A lithe human form slid into the covers, its heat pooling at Zidane's back. He didn't even have to move an eyelash--he knew her by her flowery perfume, the breezy gloss of her satin shift and the alluring shape of her body as she cozied up to him.

Her hand reached across him, parted the fabric closed at his collar and slipped under his robe, feeling across his chest. He felt her breath on his neck and repressed a grin. Like a birdwatcher fretful of disturbing the view, Zidane didn't budge one inch or otherwise let her know he was awake, though his tail gave one involuntary, betraying flick.

He felt her playing his tender ribs like a piano and choked down the pleasured rumbling in his throat. It was definitely getting harder to keep quiet. What exactly was she doing?

As much as he was enjoying this, curiosity bid him speak. That purr he was fighting broke through the first word, making him sound like a bumbling teenager. "Looking for something, babe?"

Garnet sighed, relaxed and squeezed him into a hug. The game was over, whatever it was, to Zidane's disappointment. "You think I didn't see you? You didn't touch your plate at supper. You're still all skin and bones."

Her husband rolled his eyes at the impromptu check-up and rolled to face her. "You worry too much about me."

She scoffed faintly. "And I don't have good cause to? You heard what the doctor said about--"

"Yeah, yeah, eat right and all that. I will! You make it sound like I never eat," he chuckled.

"As far as I can see you never do," she dourly remarked.

"Tch. You know that's ridiculous." He kissed her cheek, making light of her worry.

"I know, but I don't see!" Her resolve propped her up on one elbow to talk down at him, "Zidane, why are you always so difficu--"

"Okay, okay!" He reeled her back to the pillows with a steady hand. "I'm fine. Really. You can quit worrying." He petted her raven hair, trying his best to console. Her flicker of a smile showed it was working.

"So what, party's over?" he asked, taking a more pleasant sidetrack.

Garnet sank into the sheets with a weary sigh, eyes yet wide and boggling. "Thank goodness. I can't believe all those people showed up with King Puck."

"They were probably just curious to see how he'd make a scene and embarrass Uthor."

"He is very good at that, yes." Garnet then made a miffed frown and poked him again in the ribs. "Anyway, quit changing the subject. You're terrible, you always do that when you don't want to talk about something. Next time we're at supper I want to see you clear your plate or you'll be in trouble!"

"Yes mommy," he jokingly patronized. A pinch later, his cry was, "Ow!"

"Hehe, I mean it. Please don't make me worry about you."

Ridiculous or not, her gentle, concerned smile drove all the argument left out of him. Capitalizing on her improved mood, Zidane shifted to lean over her and said in a deep, salacious tone, "Well, now that you mention it, I am hungry..."

Tail fuzz snaked around her leg, and she stifled a ticklish laugh. "Oh?"

"Yeah..." he breathed, and a rogue hand groped the giving flesh of her thigh. "Maybe for a little of this..." He punctuated the idea with a kiss, and then another, each deeper, until Garnet was too captivated to stop the northerly exploring hand. "...and this..."

She gave his kisses back and caught a breath, just enough to protest, "Zidane! Hehe. Hey, you're changing the subject /again/!"

Garnet narrowed her blushing gaze on her husband--his pale hair was a canvas to the red and blue tint of the moons outside the balcony, and purple shadows accented his wily grin. "Tell me you don't like it."

She didn't say.


"When's the last time I had you all to myself like this?"
"I can't remember..."
"Me neither. Hey Dagger, what did you think of that Barley guy?"
"Hmm? Oh, I don't know. He was polite."
"Yeah, he's a nice guy. He has honest eyes."
"Zidane, what are you talking about...?"
"Nothing, nothing. ...I love you."
"I love you too. Now try to get some sleep."


The heat of their bed gradually dissipated, and in her cool sleep she didn't even feel the feather-light kiss on her forehead before her husband dressed and left.
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