le chevalier mal fet

By llamajoy

how could i,
who loved you as you were
how could i
have shielded you from her
--into the woods

It was midnight in the Garden, and he had not returned.

Raijin was, predictably, asleep. In nothing more comfortable than a military-issue armchair, he was sleeping soundly, head tucked neatly against his shoulder, one knee drawn awkwardly to his broad chest.

Fuujin wanted to kick him, but that was nothing new. Maybe she was just envious of his rest, wishing she too could curl herself small on one of those too-stiff chairs and fall obliviously asleep.

Oblivion, sweet as it seemed, was apparently denied her.

Galbadia Garden was unfamiliar, but it was late and few enough people saw her wandering through the hallways.

She did not know why she sought trouble, why she could not let it be. But trouble she found, in a dark corner auditorium, in the shape of a too-familiar sorceress, one to whom they had allied themselves-- one more willingly than others.

"Good evening," said the sorceress, and her voice was iced with disdain. "Would you be looking for--"

"Seifer." The name fell stillborn from Fuujin's mouth, swallowed in that silence. She had interrupted a sorceress, and the quiet disapproval swirled between them like coagulating blood. Edea carried more threat in words not even spoken--

"Seifer?" and oh from her mouth it glistened in that high lonely room, syllables rolling beloved off magical lips, the name dancing bright with strength, potential. ~This surely is power,~ thought Fuujin, ~to say everything by saying only one thing.~ The golden echoes of that name-- his name-- skittered around her almost physically, like shards of light from a shattered stainedglass window. She could feel the sound on her very skin, touching and teasing and never quite within her grasp, leaving her breathless and bleeding.

She wanted to run. But when had that ever been an option?

"Affirmative," she nodded, and was grateful for the half-blessing of only having one eye, the way that the sorceress-- his sorceress-- turned toward her then. Fierceness lanced across Fuujin's veins, meeting Edea's eyes, not blinking. She was not a dream-besotted knight, to stride full-knowing into such a gaze, not Fuujin. Pulsing muted green like unwhispered spells, the depth of those sorceress eyes lapped greedily at her soul-- but she would not drown. Half her sight was still her own, her own cherished darkness. Dearly-guarded were her delusions, and she held them desperately. "Seifer, where?"

Winepurple lips pursed thoughtfully, and the witch tilted her fine head. "So determined to find your comrade, little girl? Has it occurred to you," she waved an elegant black-gloved hand, and Fuujin thought she could see ravenwings fluttering on her silhouette, poised for fatal flight, "little girl, that he might not be so eager to be found? Perhaps my knight enjoys his solitude and his... dreams."

The last word flamed across her nerves-- surely no word alone could carry such latent heat, it must have been a spell. She had to fight the rising tide of terror, the tripping chaos of her heartbeat. ~don't let the dreams begin don't let her touch your mind leave now leave now girl you'll go mad~

Fuujin lifted her chin. "Perhaps," she breathed, as if speaking against a crushing weight, "Seifer, enchanted." ~I don't know what you've done to him, and I don't have to like it.~

Edea laughed, and the room soaked up the lilting terrible sound, myriad dim sparks of laughter catching in the corners, the shadows growing murky with something darker and stickier that cobwebs. "Oh, well said, little girl." And somehow she was there, so quickly, pale painted face mere inches above her own-- and Fuujin had to dig her fingernails into her palms, the pain keeping her from screaming. Sorceress fingers brushed the silverwhite bangs from her face, and the touch burned like ice, so cold that scattered fireworks flashed and died behind her eyes. "You think I've taken him away from you."

Dizzy, Fuujin could only stare, falling up into the other woman's eyes.

"I've watched him since he was small, you know." The hands played conversationally in her hair, shiver-light touch trailing down the back of her neck. "I've watched him dreaming. He has always trusted me; and I will give him everything he needs." Her finger traced the line of Fuujin's scar, through the eyepatch, awful and gentle. "And in return, the boy is mine, Fuujin."

The tears were reflexive, to hear her name-- the name he had given her-- spoken with such hatred and such strength. She blinked them back, and found that she was shaking her head, shaking off that clever touch, shaking off the spell. "Lies! You know nothing," she managed, and a wave of warmth spilled over her heart. "What Seifer needs--"

"Enough," and the murmur was like thunder, and what few words Fuujin had were simply gone, as if they'd never been. "My power is more than sufficient to crush you, little girl. Why fight it?"

~Because Seifer needs me,~ she thought, though her tongue would not obey.

"My lady?"

Edea, swiftly as she had moved before, was sitting unruffled on her chair, tilting her head bemusedly. "What is it you need, my knight?"

~My lady?~ Numb and shivering, Fuujin fought her limbs and turned around, to see-- Seifer-- standing in the doorway. So wrong, the archaic words in his voice, so wrong, the obsequious stance of his proud frame. His smile was vacant, his icepale eyes glazed in dreaming. He did not see her, did not notice the hurricane noise of her quailing heart. More than anything, in his eyes, she saw something horrible beneath the sorceress' words-- the truth.

That familiar profile angled toward her once, in perfunctory acknowledgement. "Who is this, my lady?"

She wanted to scream, to faint, to run, to--

"Your... lover," Edea said, off-handedly, sharp eyes lingering on Fuujin's betrayed expression. "She has come to profess her undying devotion to you. And has it not been too long, my knight, since you've had a satisfactory partner?" Sweet deadly smirk. "You may have your will with her."

Fuujin wanted to dissolve and scatter to the four winds, in the face of such cruelty. She could only watch as Seifer nodded, not even looking at her. "As you wish, my lady."

A great wash of empty fury crashed over her, but for a moment she could not turn away-- not with that golden face before her, those broad leather-gloved hands ungentle on either side of her face, and a fleeting warmth of coveted lips against her own still cold silent mouth...

"Forgive," she murmured to his neck, suspecting sickly that he would not remember anything, nothing at all. Briefly she wondered if she would die before she managed to escape; wondered if she cared, now. Later, she could not say whether or not they had actually kissed. With a practiced maneuver, she swiveled and broke his grasp-- with surprising ease-- and kicked him, hard.

For half a second of clarity, she thought maybe his eyes were his own, looking at her as if from a great distance, looking lost and bewildered and-- hurt-- But the red-gold façade slid smoothly over his features, worn so easily that she thought perhaps he had always been sneering arrogantly at her.

She was fleeing before she even knew it, arms crossed, chest heaving, boots noisy on the slick Galbadian metal floors. Her hair was blown haphazard in the howling wind, and the unshed tears were dried before they could fall. Back at the Garden, Raijin was waiting for her, awake and worried at her absence. She buried her face in his shoulder and shook, and he did not ask questions. He heard the raging wind beyond their walls, thought anxiously of sorceresses, and simply held her.

If she had turned back, as she was running, she might have seen the gauzewhite fabric of the sorceress' train fluttering crazily, that same wind whispering through Seifer's bangs as he turned his head, confused, to watch her go.

And she might have seen Edea raise her hand to work a spell, only to let it fall again to her side-- with a look of curious angry surrender in her greenmagic eyes.



author's note: for those of you who don't know, "le chevalier mal fet" was the name for lancelot
when he was running mad; it's old french for "the ill-made knight." ooh. - / -

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