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Title: Coasting (on your shore)
Fandom: Tales of Zestiria
Characters/pairing: Lailah/Rose
Prompt: Sappho #14
Rating: all audiences
Word Count: 988

Rose walked the edges of the tide, not knowing how she got there or what it meant that she wasn’t currently buried six feet under.

Her thoughts and legs pulled her toward the shore, so she trudged through the water, wet sand sinking beneath the heavy weight of her feet until she hit the dry loamy soils of the inland. Grasses scratched at her legs and pollen caught in her eyelashes. She stretched her shoulders now, wondered absently about where she would sleep tonight when the sand was no longer warm. Her body remembered beds and dinners -- surely those weren’t too far from here.

She left the water behind and began the climb above the cliffs. It must have been afternoon. Rose didn’t know how long she’d been standing out in that great blue puddle.

At the highest edge, she halted and spun around, overlooking the clear landscape of sea and smarmy clouds. The air felt sticky and scratchy, and smelled improbably sweet from where the sun warmed the rocks and thin clusters of pine behind her. Patches of flowers she didn’t recognize grew in odd patterns all around, some already shedding their petals. It seemed like the beginning of summer if she were to guess. She was good at taking chances.

Rose walked further up the hill, collecting pieces of leaves and grass between her toes as she went. The wind threatened to batter her off the cliffs if she stumbled too close, so she leaned into it, enjoying how it tugged along her cheeks and the feathery frames of her hair. A name for these winds sung on the tip of her tongue, then faded away when she tried to recall it. No dice, there.

Everything familiar was nameless, including the blades that rested at the stone marker at the peak of the hill, a pair of complementary names, opposites, sameness -- it drew her in before she could understand why.

Rose stared unhappily down at the crooked, slender handholds worn and faded from use -- probably the sun had gotten to them in recent years. She tested the edge discreetly alongside her index finger and frowned at the dullness. It’d be her luck to get cut while violating someone’s private resting place. She’d deserve it, then, but a shame that they’d withered away.

“Alright, pal. I’ll pull some weeds for you and then be on my way.”

She rested her hands on the stone slab that lay half buried and brushed off the grasses, the moss, the thin layer of pollen and sticky remains of bugs come and gone. And paused.

Rose glanced over her shoulder. A woman dressed in red stood ten feet behind her, looking startled. She almost jumped out of her skin and settled for clutching her heart instead. “Crap! I’m not robbing this grave! It’s not what it looks like!”

The woman merely blinked. “I didn’t think you’d make your way here so quickly. I thought it’d be a couple decades, at least. Usually... that’s how long it takes...”

“Um.” Words rung hollowly in her head, and for a moment, Rose felt incredibly slow-witted. “I just woke up. Do you know me?” Brilliant. Charming. Rose brushed her hands off on her pants and held our her hand. “I’m Rose, I’m pretty sure. Or at least that’s what I’m recalling right now. Pleased to meet you!”

“You know your name?” The amount of shock could have broken bones.

“Uh,” Rose faltered again, hand falling to her side. “Well. It sounds right? Well. That sounds ridiculous now that I’ve said it out loud, but believe me--”

“No, that’s right. You’re Rose.” The woman moved to her side and gently rearranged the blades back against the stone, in the exact position before Rose had curiously beseeched them. The action was strangely remiscient of something she couldn’t recall. “Do you remember me?”

“Huh? You’re Lailah.” Rose blinked, startled. It rolled off her tongue before she even thought to think about it. Lailah’s tense features melted away into a slow, watery smile. It was overwhelming having it directed at her, and she looked down at the water instead, the large open space of blue and dark grays slamming against the rock. That was a long way down. “I don’t know how I know that, but I’ll assume it was right since you’re smiling so big. Also, can you tell me what the date is? Uh, and where we are? It’s really pretty out here and all but I don’t think I want to stay here forever, you know?”

Lailah leaped to her feet, dusting off her knees and the folds of her dress. “Oh! Oh, of course -- you can come with me even, if you’d like. There’s a lookout post just a mile ahead. This view is very popular with humans who knew this girl.” She said it proudly, staring down at the dual swords. Rose couldn’t help but feel it was mostly special to her.

“And the seraphim? What’s it mean to them?”

“A final resting place for a friend. There’s only good memories here.”

“I see.” Rose bit her lip. She kicked the dirt. “You knew this person?”

“Yes. She was my partner. She was human, but we made it work.”

“Oh--oh. That sounds serious. I’m sorry.”

Lailah smiled, raising her head. “It’s alright. I’m sorry if I startled you. I visit here when I can -- which isn’t as often as I’d like.” She rapped the gravestone with her knuckles, skirts sweeping against it. “It’s not wood, but she’d appreciate the sentiment, at least. She always said there were better things to be doing.”

Rose laughed, staring down into the waters far below. Lailah’s face was twisted with an emotion she couldn’t bear to look at. “Yeah,” she said unsteadily, “I can imagine. Maybe you’ll see her again if she’s that restless.”

“Maybe,” Lailah murmured. “If she wants.”

“Believe me, she definitely wants.”
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