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[personal profile] selenias
Title:Pathways
Author: [personal profile] lavendre
Fandom: Tales of Zestiria
Characters/pairing: Rose/Alisha
Prompt: Sappho #8 -- their heart grew cold / they let their wings down
Rating: all audiences
Word Count: 945

Notes: Bleh. Spent way too much time on this / over edited a ridiculous amount, etc. But I DO enjoy the idea of Rose encountering the same problems as Sorey, and having Alisha as candidate kind of plays on Sorey's foil to Rose's... so. Will have to reattempt at some point. Probably more words, too. v_v

“This isn’t going to work,” Alisha sighed, for the seventh time, teacup clattering against the table as testimony to her frustration. She watched the leaves swirl in the bottom and wondered what divine telling they would give her, if any. The peonies painted on the front had faded ages ago from too many washes and today they looked particularly beaten down; certainly no one would say that Alisha Dipha didn’t take the company of others if they judged her by the quality of her tea sets. How reassuring.

“--So you keep saying.” Rose plucked dead stalks from the noreastern lily that hung suspended from the macromei, collecting them into a small pile by her feet. Azaelas bloomed below the rails. She took note of the yard, nice and neat and flourishing under the gardener’s care. She was hardly around to appreciate it, but Rose’s restlessness kept dragging her away from the work that lay in front of her. “--A squire-squire pact shouldn’t have side effects though. At least, please consider it.”

“Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think the consequences happen immediately.” She wrinkled her nose. Rose’s eyes were such a sharp blue, they were unsettling to meet for too long. “Are we talking about something that’s even possible?”

“I... don’t really know, honestly! But I could really use a squire and you’re the best candidate. If, you know, you’re up for it. Your Highness.”

Alisha let that sink in, felt annoyed for one or two seconds, and then thought about the uselessness of it all. She twirled her birchwood pen and remembered to cap it almost too late, ink blob threatening to stain the embroidered table runner. Rose made her nervous, made her flustered in a way only Lady Maltran ever had. Her appearances were rapidly becoming more common, expected, less of the in-your-face treatment Rose delivered to people she didn’t know well enough to treat with kindness.

“You’re missing the point entirely. It’s not about you or Sorey, really. I’m not like either of you. That’s the problem.” She sat up with reluctance, then flicked her eyes across the table. “My resonance is simply poor.”

“Did anyone tell you that Sorey nearly went blind when I was his squire? He hid it really well for a while, but the consequences could have been catastrophic, and Sorey, while brave, would never say the full-truth if it meant letting someone go. And you two are awfully alike, from what I’ve seen.”

Rose finally turned to look at her, expression startled and then suddenly distant. She brushed the dirt from her fingers on her pants, mud trails lingering on her thigh. Alisha watched the blooms get crushed underfoot. “Funny. I -- hadn’t really considered that you would see it that way. I guess you don’t really know me yet, sorry.”

“Wait -- what did I miss?”

“You know what? Forget I said anything. I’ll make do, sincerely.”

“Rose, please... I would if I could.”

“Would you? If you didn’t have obligations and a country to scurry after -- would you drop whatever you were doing for me?” Her voice brooked no anger but the nervous shuffle of her feet broke the charade, almost too quick to notice, a mouse peeking from it’s winter hole.

Alisha pushed the cup and saucer away gently, then shuffled the stack of reports before her. She’d broken the seal by mistake on one of them, Roland’s royal crown scraped away from a careless hand. She held it up for Rose to see. “Of all the people I’ve met in Roland, the only one who doesn’t strike me as insincere is Sergei. That means... I have my work cut out for me. But in time, certainly -- I want to go with you. I would like to spend time with you, and maybe, even...”

“But, to be fair,” Rose continued, “--we don’t really know each other yet. That’s what you were going to say.”

“Mind reader, too? Strange, I feel like I do though.”

Her shoulder hiked up to one side and dropped, her body following in the chair Alisha didn’t recall her moving. Her nails were blunt and short, and they were attached to the hand that lay halfway between them. “There are these little invisible birds that follow me around and whisper the occasional suggestion in my ear. Sometimes the advice is pretty good, sometimes notsomuch. I keep getting ahead of myself, and apparently that’s not good for leaving a good first impression.”

Alisha fought a slow smile. “So I’ve heard. I have my own little birds.”

Rose’s expression narrowed, and then she laughed, a quick, sharp sound. How she could look so serious and tell such light jokes made her a little charismatic. “Alright, I’ll get out of your hair now. I know you have enough politics going around to shake a stick at without adding myself to the list. Thus, I’ll try not to be one of them from now on.”

“Oh, Rose, you would never be. Come see me again soon, please. Um -- if you’re in the area! Or write me -- I may not be able to travel, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care or don’t wish to know about how your business goes, too. And perhaps -- we could try your suggestion.”

Rose’s smile was small, perhaps the most sincere Alisha had seen, but just the slightest turn of her head and it warmed her whole face. She scurried across the porch, descending down the steps into the soggy afternoon. It was colder than she realized when she stood to wave goodbye.

“An invitation to write the princess of Hyland! I’ll remember that.”

Alisha reached for her tea and missed entirely.
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