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Title: Warm Like Summer
Fandom: Tales of Zestiria
Characters/pairing: Past Lailah/Muse, present Lailah/Rose
Prompt: Sappho #17
Rating: teen
Word Count: 479~

Notes: All these drabbles are inspiring stories for longer things, where instead of implying everything, I actually write it out! Wow, what a concept! :') (Muse/Lailah is just the right amount of bitter-sweet for me. Title from a song by Braids, bc it's agonizingly perfect.)

Once, a woman had pressed red flowers into Lailah’s curled palm and placed a promise there. Lailah felt even now her own stiffly smiling face, unsure if this was something she could pursue. It was worth it, certainly -- but it felt like a betrayal to love one and not the other. Muse stood still as stone on the rocky outcropping, staff planted in the cliff face like that would save her if the wind thought to howl hard enough. The cedar was more aromatic than normal from the rains, and when Muse was close enough, Lailah could smell the sandalwood oil she had dabbed behind her ears that morning.

She was estranged from the life Michael carried across the continent, yet she caught Lailah’s eyes every time as if they had their own reunion to conceive. Her hands, running low and dangerous between her curls and catching her ring finger to kiss a promise there, and when Michael had returned after a half month’s parting from her, a cord of gold and copper running through him and a small village on his heels, she’d felt the pact tug and disconnect. The last kiss she’d shared was just a ghosting on her cheek.

“I just wanted you to know,” Muse said, words echoing in and out of the stillness. Her dress hugged the fabric along her hips, brown braid a thick, messy rope down her back. Lailah pressed the mementos into Michael’s journal while he slept, pink petals soft and dewy from the fields she’d combed through. When they dried the memory would fade, too.

“What do you think will happen now?”

“I don’t know. That’s not truly up to us, is it?”

The afternoon of Camlaan’s destined fate she’d watched the old king and the new princess and her nursemaid kneel and pray, dressed in black and gray cloaks -- already. Lailah wondered sitting on the dais watching the child’s eyes look through her if seraphim could pray to other seraphim. Maotelus’ power lay dormant and quiet like a stone inside her, and the sacred blade didn’t hum under her hand. It was cold, calloused steel that wouldn’t burn even for her.

Lailah looked down at her lap, the perfectly folded flower made from fresh paper Sorey had pulled from a blank notebook, and Rose just beyond who laid asleep in the dirt with the fire at her back. This time, Lailah watched the rise and fall of her chest. She thought of tomorrow, how quickly shapes shifted into others, a transformative mess. Rose taking her hand on the belfry, how she’d felt her heart burst and leap like a bird against its gilded cage, loosening the latch just a smidge.

It fluttered nervously but steadily, and she felt confidence in the step forward. Her little paper flowers gained weight, and something changed.

Lailah had forgotten what a crush looked like.
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