Fandom: Baten Kaitos I: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean
Title: So Late Ago, Chapter 5 - Window
Theme: #22 - flushed cheeks
Rating: G. Maybe slightly slashy if you turn your head and squint. There will be F/F slash in future chapters - if that's not your cup of tea, stay clear. Spoilers for the entire game, so don't read it if you haven't finished.
Summary: Xelha tries talking to Melodia again.
She could barely hear the words, but Melodia's voice was still too alien for her to have imagined them. Xelha laid one hand on the door and gently pushed it open.
The room, at first glance, was much like any of the other guest quarters in the castle. Only the little trunk at the foot of the bed attested to its being in use. Worry began to seep in at the corners of Xelha's mind. She hadn't imagined the words, had she? What if Melodia was lost somewhere? It was probably easy to -
A shadow spilled across the floor from the window. Turning, Xelha was suddenly filled with dread. The little white lady was standing on the windowsill - right on the edge, the soft soles of her boots curled over the ice, a breeze picking at the skirt and sleeves of her black dress and playing with a few stray wisps of her hair - oh, no. No. She wasn't having that.
"Come away," she said softly. After a moment, she added, "Please."
"I shan't fall."
"I can't be sure of that," Xelha insisted. "Your boots don't have much grip for walking on ice."
"Would it help if I held on?"
If she had been talking to Melodia two years ago, that might have been a cutting remark. "...Maybe. Not really. I'd prefer it if you just got down."
"...My apologies. I was savouring the experience of a window without a lock."
And without glass, part of Xelha reminded the rest of her. It was mostly ignored. "...Your window was locked?"
"All the windows were locked, your Majesty. For my protection, of course."
Just a hint of cynicism nestled beneath the bleak, lifeless words, but it wasn't in the least bit cheering. Oh, Skies. She'd known it would be bad, but...every window in the Manor... Oh, it was done to keep the world out rather than to keep Melodia in, but it served both purposes quite adequately. That was no life - certainly no life worth being saved for. They might as well have left her to die.
Perhaps she would have preferred it.
Unable to face the thought of being a jailer, especially to Melodia, Xelha had to fold. "...Stay up there as long as you need to, then," she said. "Just be careful, please - if you fall I haven't the wings to fly after you."
But the little heiress was shaking her head, resting one gloved hand on the windowframe as she turned to step down. "No, I - I'd better not. I shouldn't like to frighten you."
Still no eye contact, Xelha noted. It was hard to deal with someone who wouldn't even look at you. There was a slight tinge of pink to those pale cheeks - probably the wind chill. She couldn't be used to breezes with teeth.
"Are you cold?" she ventured, watching the white lady step down to floor level.
Melodia looked awkward. "...A little. I don't mean to be such a bother, I - oh - "
While the heiress had been looking elsewhere, Xelha had been neatly unbuttoning her jacket and stepping forward. Now, heedless for the moment of propriety and personal space, she draped it carefully about Melodia's shoulders. It was slightly too big, and she seemed almost to be swallowed by the fur hood, but little fingers were creeping up to adjust it and she was looking at the Ice Queen now, red eyes half surprised and half wondering, and maybe in their depths there was just a whisper of gratitude.
Was it her imagination, Xelha thought to herself, or...was the pink flush a little darker?
"...How very gallant of you," she murmured, perhaps finding a simple Thank You a little too risky to voice.
Xelha shrugged slightly, smiling in what she hoped was an encouraging fashion. "What can I say? In the absence of handsome King Ladekahn to wrap you in his coat," (and yes, that was a tiny quirk of an answering smile...) "someone had to be chivalrous."
Melodia looked away, embarrassed or feigning embarrassment. "Handsome King Ladekahn," she pointed out, "is over six and a half feet tall, almost twice my age, and definitely spoken for. Several times, if we're to believe the popular press. ...But thank you all the same."
"Keep it," Xelha said, gently but firmly. "I know it's not quite right, but hold on to it for now. I'll try to find you something better in the morning. Okay?"
The tiny nod was all the answer she got, but it was enough. It was a response. She had to be grateful for what she could get. Baby steps, she told herself. No sense rushing her. The poor girl had been through hell on earth - expecting her to function perfectly would be unfair. "Will you come to dinner?" she asked. "You won't have any trouble, I promise."
Melodia shook her head slowly. "Thank you, no - I ate a little while ago. I'm just tired."
"All right. I'll let you get some rest." She headed for the door. "Oh, would you like me to call for you in the morning?"
"...Yes, I'd like that."
Xelha smiled, one hand on the doorhandle. Things were looking up. "Goodnight, then. Sleep well."
"Goodnight, your Majesty."
She'd have to work on that, Xelha thought to herself as she left the room. That and the eyes.
And maybe, once that was done, she could try getting her to smile.
Reviews always welcome. ^w^