selenias: (Forest Spirits)
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Title: A Tent In Kraken Pass
Fandom: Tales of Zestiria
Characters/pairing: Lailah/Rose
Prompt: Sappho #4
Rating: Teen
Word Count: 900

Rose’s hair twisted gold and coppery in the sunlight at twenty two, and the silver edged in at her roots the winter she turned thirty-one. It shortened as she grew older, silver bob feathery against the curve of her cheekbone from her hands combing through it.

Lailah brushed a strand that stuck out too far when Rose was distracted, immersed in the map she sprawled across her lap and the damp floor of the tent. She looked up, bored, and the lantern light bounced across the shiny buttons of her jacket, the loose folds of the tent’s canvas walls that looped around them in beige and dark grays. Lailah traced the lines across her palms when she couldn’t sleep -- the long white scar that ran across her palm when she’d caught a blade bare-handed. That palm was stiff with tissue, with regrowth. She didn’t trace it now, but the temptation was there. It was better when it was held.

Don’t go walking empty-handed if you go at all.

“Aren’t you going to sleep? If the light’s too bright, I’ll move it.”

Lailah startled, hand jumping. She pillowed her face in her palms and squinted upward, smiling. “No, it’s alright. Find the path yet?”

Rose tapped the butt end of pen against her cheek, sighing into it. “Yes, but this map is old and useless for everything else. The old geezer who wrote this couldn’t draw anything to scale to save their life.” Her hands slid to the edge of the parchment where her thumb had torn the folded edges and smoothed them out carefully. Lailah watched the muscles in her neck relax. “It’s gonna be another day before Marlind, probably. Hope you like jerky.”

Lailah’s mouth twitched, and she licked her lips to moisten them. “There’s really no rush, you know. I’m sure Alisha will not have made it there yet. Mikleo might keep them dry but he can’t do anything about the mud. Chances are we’ll have to wait anyway.”

“Well, I’m sure they haven’t, but still. I hate being delayed. It’s like -- god, it’s like being late to work with a client. Stupid.” She groaned into her lap and Lailah laughed, stroking her knee. She hadn’t overseen much of the Sparrowfeather’s trade in recent years, but Lailah had seen Eugille’s letters -- nothing was promising in the fallout of war.

“Maybe you oughta just go to sleep then. Shepherd duties clearly aren’t going anywhere right now. Reconvene when you can, but take care of yourself first. That sort of thing.”

Rose squinted at her, but her smile pushed her cheeks into her eyes. “What, can’t sleep alone? Let me make this change...” The pen dragged across the paper, wooden cap rolling and sliding off the edge. Lailah sunk against Rose’s hip and slowly slipped a frozen hand under Rose’s tunic along an edge of bare skin, making her yelp and lift the pen away quickly, a reprimand on the edge of her tongue.

“--Take the higher pass. Last time the lower pass was a mudslide, remember?”

“Wait, Kraken Pass? Really?”

“Yes. It snowed for two weeks straight.”

“Oh crap, you’re right. I did forget.” Rose looked at her meaningfully. “Thanks.”

Lailah drew a circle across the top of her knee, skimming the underside of the map with the pads of her fingers. She had most of the landscape memorized anyway, and the people changed, but mountains usually stayed the same. Rose capped the pen without looking and leaned over and kissed her gently on the mouth, then another, more faint, until Lailah’s hands stopped moving altogether. Lailah opened her eyes and was leveled by Rose’s. Immediately, she felt her face flush.

Rose’s voice was stern, but soft. “Stop. Worrying. I’m delirious because I’m tired, not because I’m that freaking old.

Lailah kissed the inside of the arm that hung over her, holding it there. “I’ll always worry. Even when I know you’re fine. That’s just how these things work. And with you -- it matters to me that you don’t pursue this too much.”

Rose sighed, folding the map the wrong way and kicking off her shoes simultaneously. She didn’t bother to fold her pants or jacket before crawling into the open bedroll, Lailah sliding over into the seam. “A conversation for another time,” Rose mumbled, “when we’re not about to die of frostbite,” and Lailah pressed her lips against an icy shoulder.

“Alright. But I maintain my stance. Don’t needlessly throw yourself away.”

“About to throw myself right off this damn mountain is what will happen first,” she growled. Lailah blew a raspberry against Rose’s cheek until she burst with laughter, not minding the knee to the gut. “Never-mind -- I’d like to sleep now, please!”

She couldn’t stand the look of exhaustion. Even if Rose laughed, she could destroy her in a single breath. Lailah slid her hand over Rose’s waist and into the curved dip of her back, holding her steady.
How many more nights like this was left for both of them was a thought Lailah held and released. How many more poorly written maps, adventures in old woods, badly swung blades, broken promises and poorly teased jokes? How many more dragons? That was a very bad thought.

“Lailah. The light.”

“Oh -- right!” Lailah slunk out a hand between them and flicked off the lantern, letting the darkness swallow them up.

(--Ultimately, she’d learn to bear it.)

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