wallwalker: Painting of an orange sun setting behind hills, a tree and a flock of birds. (orange sunset)
[personal profile] wallwalker posting in [community profile] personalapocalypse
Now that I have crossposting working, I'll probably post some of the fills from various places that I haven't already posted to this journal. I'll try not to spam anyone.

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Title: Ruined Places
Fandom: FFVI
Characters: Setzer/Celes
Summary: Missing scene in the Ancient Castle.
Notes: Second-person POV. Written for [community profile] fic_promptly. Includes my weird headcanon about the castle and about magic use in general, because I'm a dork who thinks far too much about these things.

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You were as shocked as anyone to realize that the cave that led to this place was in truth the remnants of an ancient road. None of you had expected to emerge into something like light, or to realize that you were staring at the ruins of a great castle.

The place was pockmarked with the remnants of an ancient battle. You can see the burns and cracks in the stone - you might not have the experience that Edgar has with stone, but you've learned a bit about ice and fire. There are no bones about, human or animal, just the eerie silence of a ruin that had stayed untouched for centuries.

It might've surprised you a year ago, but not anymore. You've grown too accustomed to ruined places. This would hardly even rate, if the glow around you hadn't been far too dim and bluish to be the sun. You look up, see the patches of light - where did they come from? Edgar had said something about mushrooms, but the thought is sheer nonsense. The man really should stick with engineering and leave this to... to whoever did such things.

Your scalp throbs, and you run your fingers through your hair, curling it with your fingertips. The feeling had started when you first touched a shard of magicite, an occasional itch; ever since waking up in this ruined world, you've felt like your head was on fire, more often than not. What you wouldn't do for a cool bath right now -

"Focus, Setzer," Celes says behind you, in a quiet voice that nonetheless allows no argument. "This place isn't safe."

"I'd imagine not," you mutter, trying your best to compose yourself. At least you have Edgar's assurances that the cave itself seemed stable; hopefully he would come the same conclusion about the castle itself, or else his brother would be able to clear enough of the rubble to get them out safely. But you still hear the soft, damp sounds of footsteps against the stuff under your feet, the green carpet that looks like grass but squishes under your boots and stains the pale leather. There were monsters everywhere; why should this place be different?

She huffs slightly, or at least that's your first thought. But when you turn to look at her, you don't see the drawn eyebrows and narrowed eyes that accompany her irritation. She's examining you, you realize quickly, and let your own exasperation fade.

"It's not getting any better," she says softly.

"Not really," you answer. "Especially not down here."

She nods. "There's more magic here than up above. Something powerful is protecting this place. I can sense it."

"Is that what it is? I couldn't tell." You force out a sad little laugh, nowhere near your usual standards. She's explained part of what's happening in your head - a sixth sense for magical things, an apparent holdover from some distant ancestor. The Empire, she'd said, had chosen her in part for her sensitivity to magic; she'd practiced using it since birth. But you... this is all still very new to you. Almost as strange, you think, as walking through these ruined streets, cobblestones speckled with green and yellow, surrounded by half-intact stone buildings.

Her mouth twists upward a bit, but the laugh is quickly silenced. Pity, that. "Here," she says, drawing her sword and holding it up in front of you. "Touch the hilt. I want to try something."

You raise an eyebrow, but do as she says. This is Celes, after all; the only time she ever lied to you was a bluff, a clever one at that, and only to be expected in the sort of game she was playing. Your fingers touch hers, but only lightly; there's little space left for you to fill. You can feel her magic too, but it's colder and sharper, and you've become accustomed to it.

You feel the blade humming in your hand, and then... the constant pressure, like hot coals against your head, starts to fade. Not completely, perhaps, but it dwindles down, back to something bearable. You blink, shifting your gaze between her and the sword, trying to form an appropriate question before finally settling on one word. "How?"

"Trial and error. Cid figured it out when I was a child. I was learning to siphon magic, and sometimes that can help take some of the pressure off of someone else's mind. It'll build up again over time, but it helps for a while, at least."

She gently pulled her sword away, and I let go reluctantly, expecting the pain to flood back in... but it stays at its background level, only a minor irritation. "Thank you, Celes. I wish I'd said something earlier now."

She put her sword back in its sheath, although her sword hand did not move far from it. "So do I. It might've made our games of poker on the Falcon more entertaining."

Ah. That was a smile on her face that time, and you can't help but smile back. "Oh, come now. That was only bad luck!"

"We'll see. If you agree to a rematch, of course."

"As if I would do anything but agree! You surprise me, Celes."

She only laughs a bit as she turns away, surveying the broken streets. She has never been the most graceful at accepting gratitude, you think, and smile as you stand beside her to help her keep watch until the others return.

You've grown too accustomed to ruined places, but then again, you've found beautiful things in darker places than this. Best to keep an open mind about them, really.

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