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24 September 2011 @ 07:01 pm
The Long Shot (epilogue) [Balthier/Ashe; NC-17]  
Title: The Long Shot (epilogue)
Author: chaineddove
Fandom: Final Fantasy XII
Rating: NC-17 due to one scene in a previous chapter
Genre: Romance
Pairing: Balthier/Ashe
Wordcount: 1,447
Disclaimer: I don't own FFXII (well, I do own a copy for my PS2...).
Authors' Notes: In this epilogue, we discover that ten years later, not much has changed. Thank you all for sticking with me through the course of this little tale. I hope you enjoyed it ♥

”It’s a long shot, but I said why not,
If I say forget it, I know that I’ll regret it,
It’s a long shot just to beat these odds,
The chance is we won’t make it,
But I know if I don’t take it, there’s no chance,
'Cause you’re the best I got…”

-Kelly Clarkson, “Long Shot”

Epilogue

***


The princess runs into the room, out of breath, hair flying every which way, a grin on her face. She stops in her tracks when she realizes the room does not contain either of her parents, and is in fact empty but for one other person. She looks meaningfully at the shut door which leads into the inner chambers of the family wing. “I wouldn’t,” the viera says – amused viera, at least, she thinks so; she has spent enough time around this one to be very nearly sure. “They are fighting.”

She rolls her eyes – a habit her mother abhors and is trying her very best to break her of, and says, “They are always fighting.” As far as she is concerned, her parents can have a fight about nearly anything – she vaguely recalls one particularly heated argument over breakfast which seemed to be about the proper way to eat an egg, though both of them deny it ever happened if she brings it up.

“Even so,” the viera – who is very definitely amused, as she is smiling slightly – says. “They will finish soon enough.”

“Well, I wish they would hurry.” She plops down gracelessly on the gold and green cushions of the closest couch and stares longingly out the window. It is a perfectly beautiful day, though the heat is already rising in visible waves from the distant dunes. The sky is gemstone-blue, without a cloud in sight, and she wants to be in it, not stuck in her mother’s solar. Now that she is listening for it, she can hear the muted sound of raised voices behind the door, though the walls in the family wing of the palace are rather thick.

“I do not think expressing you impatience would serve you well this day.” With perfect grace – really, between her mother and her father’s friend, it’s amazing that she doesn’t have a complex over her own distinct lack of elegance – the viera sits on the edge of the couch and crosses one leg over the other.

Oh,” she says, as understanding dawns. They are fighting about her. She curls her legs under her and sighs in the world-weary way of a child forced to put up with the incomprehensible whims of her elders. “Mother did say I might go if I didn’t vex any of my tutors this week, Fran,” she ventures after a moment.

“The difference in inflection between ‘might’ and ‘could’ is, I believe, what is currently under contention,” Fran says mildly. “I counsel patience.”

“Father says I come by my impatience naturally,” she grumbles. Fran says nothing, which means she agrees. “Why are they always like this?”

The voices on the other side of the wall are abruptly silenced. “They are who they are,” the viera says with a fatalistic shrug.

A few moments pass before the door to the inner suite of rooms opens; her mother emerges first, smoothing a hand over her hair, then her father. He grins at her from across the room and raises a hand in greeting; she flies from her seat, nearly upsetting the nearby side table in the process, and launches herself at him. He hasn’t been able to toss her in the air for some time now, but he does make a valiant attempt, and she shrieks with laughter before wrapping her arms around his middle and mumbling into his vest, “I missed you.”

He ruffles her hair, mussing it still further, and tells her, “You must stop growing; I cannot keep up.”

Her mother’s voice interrupts the reunion. “If I find out later that she has picked up further turns of phrase from the Phon Coast hunters –”

“That was not entirely my fault,” her father protests, but she can tell he is fighting back laughter. “There was, if you recall, a wyvern.”

“It was a very large wyvern, Mother,” she puts in earnestly, looking up at her parents. “Marik couldn’t help himself.”

“Any more than you could help repeating his words to your swordmaster later?” her mother asks with an exasperated look.

“He was not fighting fair!” she says. “And anyway, I shot him. The wyvern, not the swordmaster. At least, I’m pretty sure it was a him, because –”

“There, you see? She shot him,” her father interrupts easily. “Never let it be said that these little sojourns are not educational. In any event, I’m sure your swordmaster has heard worse.”

“Not from the heir apparent, generally,” her mother mutters, but she doesn’t seem particularly angry.

“She does have a rather good eye,” Fran interjects; she has not risen from the sofa and her expression and tone are relaxed, but this is a rare compliment, from Fran.

Her mother shakes her head, but she is smiling. “Oh, very well. But I do wish the two of you would attempt not to forget the fact that she is only nine.”

Almost ten,” she stresses. “I’m nearly grown up!”

“Nearly grown up princesses tend not to run about with their hair ribbons untied,” her mother tells her, but she does step over to her to correct it with gentle and efficient hands. “Am I to assume, then, that starting next week this will no longer occur?”

Fran snorts, which, from Fran, is outright laughter. “Unlikely.”

Hair ribbon arranged, her mother steps back and runs a critically appraising glance over her. She tries not to fidget and is secretly rather relieved when she passes inspection. “Please,” her mother says, “for my sake, if you see another very large wyvern –”

“Shoot him?” the princess ventures.

“Not quite,” her mother replies. “I was going to say, let your father shoot him; he needs the target practice more than you do.”

“I think I’m insulted,” her father says. “If you are so worried about my deficient skill with a firearm, you can always come along.” He nods his head toward the window. “Come out this way; no one will ever know.”

The thought of her mother – poised and lovely, in her silk gown and golden coronet – climbing over the windowsill is not entirely absurd; there have been occasions, once or twice, where she has done exactly that. But today, she shakes her head regretfully and says, “Not this time, I think.”

“For my birthday next week?” the princess asks, because there is only one thing better than a day on the coast with her father and Fran – her mother can be great fun, when she wants to be, but only when no one important is looking. At the very least, the princess has never seen anyone else out-spell Fran in a fight.

“We will have to see,” which, from her mother, generally means yes. “Now go on, before I change my mind.”

Her mother kisses her forehead, and then she kisses her father; the princess wrinkles her nose and turns away, because as far as she is concerned, her parents spend at least half as much time kissing as they spend fighting, and they are wasting daylight. Fran seems to have the same idea, as she rises silently from the couch and heads for the door. “Come on,” the princess says, tugging on her father’s sleeve. “It is nearly noon.”

With a laugh, he separates from her mother and levels a look full of mock irritation at her. “All right, all right, I surrender. Never enough hours in the day.”

“I demand at least one of those hours to myself, sooner or later,” her mother says with an incomprehensible little smile.

“In that case, perhaps I will stay the week,” her father replies. “But for now, duty calls.”

Finally,” is the princess’ opinion on the matter. “Come along, already; look, Fran has already gone ahead.” Her father finally offers her his hand and she immediately begins dragging him towards the door.

“Fly safely,” says her mother.

“I’ve had just about all I can take of your insults and insinuations, Your Majesty,” her father warns with a perfectly unconvincing frown. “I could fly with my eyes closed and one hand tied behind my back.”

“Can I pilot the Strahl today?” the princess asks hopefully; in perfect unison, they tell her, “Absolutely not,” but she is not discouraged. She’ll be big enough to handle the controls any day now, and her father can never deny her for long – and if he does, there is always Fran. Besides, she has the rest of the day to worry about nothing more important than whether she can wheedle them into staying out past dark. If history classes and dance lessons resume on the morrow, well, if she’s honest, she doesn’t mind them so much. But today, the sky is calling.
 
 
♥: happyhappy
♫: Kelly Clarkson - "Long Shot"
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
Maaya: balthier/ashe caught by surprisechaineddove on September 25th, 2011 07:45 pm (UTC)
Yay, you found an icon! I'm really glad that you enjoyed this! It does seem like they have settled down, in their particular way. I've always hoped they would find a compromise, so here's my version ^_^.

I'm really glad you stuck with this story and that you enjoyed this! If you like, you can find more FFXII fic under the tag. There may or may not be more set in this canon later, too.
flonnebonneflonnebonne on September 26th, 2011 06:36 am (UTC)
Of course their kid is a handful. Fran makes a good aunt--one of those cool ladies you know who teaches you stuff the stuff your parents won't/can't.

If you do produce more stuff in this universe I will definitely read it. :D
Maaya: yachiru can wail on youchaineddove on September 26th, 2011 12:24 pm (UTC)
Well, naturally. Dalmasca, I hope you are ready *lol*

Have you read A Change of Perspective? It's from the same universe. ^_^.
DCR: kain heartsdeadcellredux on September 30th, 2011 01:42 am (UTC)
/delurks

I've been an avid follower of this fic from start to finish, so it's about time I left a comment. Such a wonderful story! I really enjoyed every word of this. You have such a great grasp on these characters and the politics of the world in which they live. And LARSA... I loved your Larsa in this and how you depicted his growth into his role. This wonderfully sweet happy-ending-epilogue really captured exactly how I would imagine Ashe & Balthier's child turning out. The best part about this is that I'm not even into the Ashe/Balthier pairing, but this fic was just so good, I was completely drawn in regardless. Beautiful writing. XD
Maaya: hugschaineddove on September 30th, 2011 02:37 am (UTC)
Yay! Delurkers get hugged around here. Just thought I'd warn you.

Also, the fact that someone who isn't a Balthier/Ashe fangirl even read this is supremely flattering. Thank you for your many compliments (oh, Larsa, let me count the ways in which I absolutely adore Larsa........), and I am really happy to hear that you enjoyed this!

Oh man, their kid would be such a terror, too. I'll bet she completely ties her tutors into knots, but she's so freaking charming that they can't help but love her, anyway ♥ XD

Anyway, thank you for reading, and for delurking, and invite you to check out the other stuff floating around the comm *cough-there's-more-Larsa-cough*