Categories > Games > Final Fantasy X > Resurrection III: Stolen Fayth

Dream, Child of Prayer

by helluin 3 reviews

A long night.

Category: Final Fantasy X - Rating: R - Genres: Angst, Romance - Characters: Auron, Lulu, Other - Published: 2006-05-06 - Updated: 2006-05-06 - 2010 words

Lulu kept drifting into the fringes of nightmares and floundering her way out again like a boat navigating a treacherous reef. Each time she came to herself with heart pounding, she would sit up mechanically, retrieve and rearrange her nest of blankets, lie down again and contemplate the six spokes of the roof beams until her eyelids drifted shut.

Meditation exercises did not help.

What helped was to recreate the Kilika dream in her mind one brush-stroke at a time, from the blazing glory of the clouds down to the humble wooden planks beneath her feet. The gulls' crying set her mind whirling on the wings of hymns, and she could distract herself by fitting chants to their wild tune. /Fire in the heart. Ice is in the bones. Thunder in the mind. Water in the womb/. Sometimes she would lose herself in the subtle, stately pulse of Auron's fingers interlaced with hers, savoring the image of his strong face in repose. She found that she had to handle the dream delicately, pulling it over herself like a thin blanket. If she clung too fiercely to the images, they would break apart, or, worse, Auron would start hurting her.

Dream, nightmare, waking; dream, nightmare, waking: it quickly became a dreary dance.

Once particularly vile nightmare roused her with a choked cry. She twisted away from the sensation of groping hands so violently that the cot tipped over, spilling her onto the carpeted floor. Irked with herself, Lulu climbed back onto the thin mattress and tried to clear her mind. No use. Her mind was in the mood for tricks. One moment she was imagining Auron's voice just outside -- no, that must be Kimahri fending off a curious sentry. The next moment, the billowing of the canvas walls began to sound like an intruder's breathing. Cool reason was not making much headway tonight.

Very well. Lulu threw off the covers and pulled a sputtering ball of flames into her hands, surveying the tent to prove to herself once and for all that--

Kimahri was sitting just beyond the foot of the bed.

"What are you doing here?" She glared at him, holding the flames rather longer than necessary to confirm the intruder's identity. Orange sparks danced dangerously between her fingers. "You should be watching over Yuna."

"Five other guardians," he replied, unfazed. His spear had been laid across the floor next to the cot like a barrier between her and the door, as he often did when sleeping near Yuna during the shift before his watch.

Crimson eyes locked with gold, but the Ronso's expression was as mild as it was immovable: he reserved tests of will for his own kind. One might as well attempt a stare-down with a statue. At length, Lulu eased her hands apart and let the fire fade. "Well, I don't need one," she said coolly. Turning her shoulder to him, she rolled over and resettled herself on her stomach, pillowing her forehead on her arms.

There was a faint rustle. When the Ronso leaned forward to draw the blankets up over her back and shoulders, she tensed. "Lulu unwell," he observed bluntly.

"Lulu is /tired/," she snapped. "I'm fine. It was just a bad dream."

Kimahri grunted. Tact was not a Ronso art, but the big Guardian still hesitated before voicing his cold accusation with a rumble that did not bode well for one member of the party. "Auron hurt Lulu."

"What?!" So that was it. Oh, Yevon, she was so tired of explanations, and if the Ronso thought that, she could no more budge him than ask Mt. Gagazet to move aside for Yuna's pilgrimage. "Has Sin's toxin gotten to you, too? Don't be a fool."

He just sat there. Lulu lay still, fuming at the lies hanging in the heavy silence, even more offensive than the truth. Finally she sat up again, twisting a blanket around herself and glaring at him. "Kimahri Ronso. I know what you think, but you are mistaken. If Sir Auron had dared to... /hurt me/--" her tongue slid around the dangerous words like one might skirt a sleeping Ochu -- "is there the slightest chance that he would still be standing in his boots?"

"Yuna needs Sir Auron," Kimahri said grimly. "Lulu knows this."

"Be glad Lulu also knows that Yuna needs Kimahri." The mage bitterly resented that the most laconic member of the party would pester her with his non-questions when Yuna had let her be. There was no way she could let his outrageous accusation stand; Yuna could not afford to have her Guardians doubting each other. "Listen to me. It wasn't Sir Auron. It looked like him, and it tricked me as much as your nose, but it was not him. Auron came to my aid. If he hadn't, Yuna would have no mage to guard her for the rest of the pilgrimage. Understood?"

Again, the Ronso's ponderous silence while he was mulling over her words nearly drove Lulu to prod him with a hair-stick, or something more painful. "I trust him, Kimahri," she found herself adding in a low, strained voice. "You can't imagine what you're saying."

Finally the quiet guardian bowed his head. "Kimahri sorry. Glad Sir Auron is a friend to Lulu."

"That's better. Now get out." She lay back down with a sigh and closed her eyes.

There was a soft whissh near her ear as he picked up his spear and stood. However, he made no move towards the exit. "What?" she snapped in that dangerous, low thrum that warned of an imminent lightning strike.

"Kimahri worried about /Lulu-trusts-Auron/."

The mage gripped the edge of the mattress-frame, but some of her irritation evaporated. She could hardly fault him, after she herself had grilled Tidus for much the same reason. Once again, Lulu found the truth too difficult to put into words, but Kimahri's veiled kindness deserved more than another sharp retort. "What's one more goodbye?" she asked obliquely.

The Ronso gave a soft /huff/, the kind that usually accompanied a head-shake. Finally he slipped out, leaving the curtain-door swinging behind him like the hem of an old red coat.

Lulu drew a deep breath and slowly gathered herself again, steeling her mind for sleep like one might prepare for battle. She must rest. They tackled Gagazet tomorrow, and Yuna needed her. That was all that mattered.

~ * ~

Dream. Nightmare. Waking. A sweet sunset on Kilika's shattered docks, and a memory of the impossible. Dawn could not come too soon.

Something else came first.


At first she thought she had merely imagined the swordsman's gruff voice, cutting through the mental chant she was using to muffle the throb of bruises and more intimate transgressions./ From the mind to the spine through the bones to the ground. Feel the steel of will that burns deep inside. Feel the pulse of life in Spira's soil. They are the same, in flesh and earth bound. Breathe out, breathe down, into the earth. Breathe in, breathe up, into your spine.../


A spasm of fear and relief flashed through her. Her eyes snapped open, but the silhouette she saw was cast against canvas from outside. She hesitated, but claimed the choice before he turned to go. This was their story, not Yojimbo's. "Enter," she said firmly.

The door was brushed aside. A wreath of fitful orange light limned Auron's silhouette briefly as he stepped across the threshold, backlit by a few guttering torches. The door dropped behind him, sealing them in shadow. He came to her cot and settled on one knee.

"It's late, Auron," she murmured tiredly.

He shrugged. "Spot of trouble with a Ronso."

"Same here." Quietly her hand stole out from under the covers, found the knotted sinew of his shoulder, and slid down until she hit upon his hand. Their fingers interlaced and locked in a strong grip that belied brittle words.

The warrior's gaze drifted across the huddle of furs and his rumpled coat draped across the top. The latter drew a crooked smile. "I heard you couldn't sleep."

"Wakka's snoring again." Lulu watched him from beneath her canopy of hair, cheek pillowed on her forearm.

"Hmph." Wakka usually snored, of course. "I couldn't either," Auron confided.

"I was afraid of that. Auron, I'm so--"

"Shh." He growled in exasperation. "One apology was already more than you owed me, Lulu. Just rest." He reached out to smooth the coat flat, stroking her back through several layers of fur and fabric. When she tensed beneath the blankets, he withdrew and resettled his hand on his knee.

There was a poignant silence. The older Guardian settled into a sitting position, watching the rise and fall of her shoulders peeking through the tangled mass of unraveled braids like the moon through bamboo leaves. At first, he guessed that she had taken his advice and drifted off again, beaten at last by sheer exhaustion. Suddenly the covers went flying, the cot flipped on its side, and the mage sat up and lunged for him. She flung a white arm around his neck to keep from falling face-forward. Taken by surprise, Auron caught her in his arms. (/Gleaming like a fish in deep water, all womanly curves and long legs and skin, with a mane of black hair that spilled out like Shiva's tresses -- curse her, maybe it was mere lust after all, but on the whole that might be simpler/.) Lulu folded herself against him with a staggered sigh and buried her face against his collar. "If you do that again," she muttered, "I will bite you."

"I'm sorry." Arms did not seem to be an issue, so he kept holding her. "You'll have to explain what I must do to get you to bite me. Another night, perhaps?"

That elicited faint, precious laughter. "Don't pull away," she insisted. "Whatever my body thinks, I want you here."

"I...can see that." Auron leaned forward and kissed the the tip of a pale shoulder cautiously. "Lie down."

Reluctantly, Lulu disentangled herself, noting with weary satisfaction his sharp intake of breath despite the dim lighting. She stretched out beside him, kicking the wooden frame of the cot away. Carpets over bare earth were not much of a bed, but then, they had been camping out under the stars for months. Quietly and efficiently, Auron rearranged the furs and blankets over her, shed his metal shell and slipped in beside her, lying on his back. She snuggled over and against him with an arm curled across his chest.

There was a world of things that needed saying, but dawn was creeping closer. Auron laid a hand over hers.

What Yuna would think if she found them in the morning, Lulu could not imagine, but she was too tired to worry about that just now. Once again she closed her eyes and tried to make herself relax.

Auron stirred beneath her. Barely above a whisper, he began to sing in a high, breathy tenor very different from his usual gruff tones. "Ieyui nobomeno..."

Lulu went quite still. She had heard a ghost of that voice in the sphere Jecht had left behind, but more than that, she knew with awed certainty that she was hearing the pure, unshaken soul of a young novice at temple, before the world had taken away his eye and taught him to see its scars. She wanted to ask how a fallen monk who had turned his back on Yevon could still bear to mouth the words, let alone sing like he still meant it. Instead she kept quiet, too entranced to risk breaking the spell.

The white magic of the Hymn soothed her. Auron's rich, soft rumble coiled around her like deep furs. She nestled into the sound of it, not realizing that the scent of her hair and skin was having much the same effect on him. By the time he fell silent, Lulu was sleeping soundly. Yuna's whistle would find both of them wrapped together and at peace, come the dawn.
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