Faltering Will

Lightning clutched her scarlet cape-turned-blanket tightly against her shoulders, bracing herself against the chilly gusts of wind that would blow sporadically through the fissure. Somehow the temperature decided to spite them and make an already miserable night even worse. She had believed she hated the heat of the tunnels, but the cold that had settled in was far more intolerable. At least if it was hot, clothing could be removed to remedy the situation, or one could go for, say, a swim. In the cold you only had what was on your back and the warmth of those around you. All things considered, Lightning had very few options to warm up, and she'd be damned if she'd snuggle up against Snow for additional heat.

Snow. Though she lay on a rather unruly and protruding root in the ground, Lightning refused to move. This was the furthest she could distance herself from the unconscious giant without rousing any undue suspicion. Her back was to him now, as it had been since she had removed herself from his side after healing his arm. She was exhausted from the exertion of the day and the amount of energy she had placed into curing Snow had drained her, but she couldn't fall asleep. Her mind made sure of that.

She was entirely incapable of understanding the events that had occurred that night, nor was she certain of which course she wished the events had taken. She had been continually berating herself for various things since first abandoning Snow in the tunnels; for not pulling away from Snow sooner, for not hugging in closer, for not punching him back when she had a proper reason, for not arriving at Snow and Hope's scuffle sooner than she did, for not allowing Hope to burn Snow to a crisp, for not letting Snow beat some sense into Hope…the list went on. Her mind ran in endless circles, wishing for one thing and countering her wish with a valid point on the next turn. The battle of scenarios and desires raged on, with no one side emerging as the victor. The mental exercise left Lightning feeling as exhausted mentally as she did physically.

But sleep still refused to claim her.

She flipped onto her back, her fingers delicately stroking the top of the soft grasses that surrounded her. Champagne hair spilled around her head in a shimmering halo, the moonlight reflecting off thin strands and splaying in all directions. A soft sigh escaped her, one that she didn't expect, and she was startled by its coming. Her mind blanked as she wondered about the origins of such a miniscule, breathy act of discontent but her thoughts were disrupted by a loud, strangled snore from Sazh. An angry chirp from the chocobo woke the nearby Vanille, who threw a tantrum that resulted in her chucking her Binding Rods at Sazh. When it fell short by many feet, she insulted the group's technician a bit more before rolling over and settling back into her slumber.

Vanille's been acting so strange around me. It was a sudden thought, as unexpected as her sigh earlier, but its stealthy entrance did not lessen its credibility. It was quite true. The two women hardly ever spoke unless the situation necessitated a conversation. Ever since Lightning had returned from Mah'habara's depths carrying an unconscious Snow over her shoulders and had healed him, Vanille had been acting…off. The younger female danced on her tiptoes whenever Lightning drew within three feet of her, a question dancing on her tongue, begging to be asked. Yet, instead of asking, Vanille's eyes followed Lightning everywhere, for reasons totally unknown to the Cocoon woman. They were glued on her, watching for something, and Lightning could even hear Vanille whispering intelligible words to Fang or Sazh—whoever would be nearest—when her back was turned. It was quite disconcerting. One time Lightning whipped around to catch the young girl in the act, but was rewarded only with a loud squeal from Vanille, followed by her toppling off the small stone she sat upon. Though entirely humorous, it did nothing to quell the whispers or the staring.

So aggravating.

A low, rumbling voice floated over to Lightning, originating where Fang and Hope stood on watch—Snow had woken, apparently.


The name sent fire through her veins and draped ice over her heart. It made her feel dazzlingly alive and so horribly empty at the same time. Everything about him, surrounding him, concerning him confused her. He was no longer the man she assumed he had been. That, in itself, was the root of her frustration. If only he could have continued to be that bumbling idiot and lackadaisical, irresponsible moron! Instead, he had rescued Lightning and the others from harrowing, sometimes life-threatening situations. He had proved himself to be a strong, capable fighter, a trusted friend to all, and a genuinely good man.

Serah was right about him all along.


Snow being all these things - being so much more of a man than Lightning ever gave him credit for being - aroused emotions within her that had long been suppressed. He woke within her feelings she believed she had locked away long ago, never to return again; silly, romantic ideals like love, longing, and desire. Her heart ached to hold that which she could not have, that which she had to refuse for Serah's sake. Lightning would give up anything and everything to ensure Serah's happiness, even if it meant giving away the key to feeling again. She couldn't betray Serah.

And yet…and yet I almost did. Earlier, when Snow's hand rested so easily upon her heart, she would have succumbed to any further actions on his part without much hesitation. She would have given in to her weak will, to her wants and needs. She would have swooped in to greet his oncoming lips with passion.

Those sturdy walls she had shed so much blood and so many tears to build nearly collapsed at the tender touch of Snow's hand against her skin. The gentleness of his fingers against her chest affected her in a way that no other man had, and she blamed her own weakness for Snow being able to have such a hold over her now.

She recalled with horror that moment of clarity when she understood Snow's intentions to kiss her and realized she would have willingly remained rooted in her spot. She had done nothing about it. She had not withdrawn from him. Choosing instead to remain in her position, she waited—eagerly—for their lips to crash together in a passionate display of her long-oppressed affection towards the man. Only by the grace of Fang interrupting had she understood, at the last moment, what she had been about to do and leaped backwards, safely out of harm's way, where she would be unable to betray her sister any more than she already had.

Snow's countenance as she marched from the cavern had very nearly broken what little dignity and will she had managed to scrounge up. She was furious with Fang for interrupting them, furious with Snow for putting her into such a position and it had manifested itself in her behavior and speech. She was cold and callous and the crestfallen expression Snow had worn on his face when she retreated spoke volumes. She had wounded him, deeply, perhaps, but it was for the best.

…But Snow! He should have known better in the first place! He should have behaved differently! Serah was his fiancée, the love of his life! Though their relationship had been short and Lightning had questioned it several times, he had still chosen to promise himself to Serah, and she'd be damned if she allowed him to forget which sister he was engaged to. Snow's top priority should be Serah. What the hell had he been thinking? Me and Snow…that…it was almost some sort of affair. It was unthinkable!

Lightning heard Hope sob quietly in the distance and her mood softened quickly. She wanted to rush over and make sure everything was still well, but Snow and Fang were there and her anger had yet to fully subside towards them, especially Fang. Stupid idiot. It's her fault things got as far out-of-hand as they did. She should have gotten me sooner…

Her thoughts slid back into mulling over Snow and his actions towards Lightning during the past few days. Maybe Snow is like Hope was and he's just lost. Maybe he's just confused. Maybe he thinks I'm Serah and…no, wait, would he really think I'm her?

Oh, did that ever put a sour taste in her mouth. The thought certainly made sense—it would explain all of Snow's attitudes and actions lately. Lightning as Serah's substitute? Made all the sense in the world. Why the hell else would he willingly want to spend so much time around Lightning? Why he always seemed to want to be near her or within an arm's reach? Why he tried so damn hard to make her smile? Lightning would be the first to admit the uncanny resemblance she had to her sister. Why wouldn't Snow try putting the moves on her? If he pretended hard enough, Lightning could easily pass as Serah…

The grass that she had tickled with her fingertips earlier was now clenched tightly in her fist and soon was tugged from the ground. Did he really think that she was Serah? Was it so hard to think of Lightning in a romantic light? Would she always be a lesser version of her sister? Would everyone always be unable to recognize that she was her own person with her own dreams, fears, and aspirations?

How much longer would she have to fight the bad guys for Serah to ensure Serah's happiness while completely overlooking her own?

She sat up and ran a green-stained hand through her tangled locks, feeling utterly exasperated. Once Snow married Serah, well, he would be responsible for fighting the bad guys. Maybe Lightning could run off and have her own damn life, for a change, and let Serah live her own happily-ever-after with the man of both the Farron girls' dreams.


This is all so stupid. She was pining for a taken man; one that was engaged to her sister, no less. She was complaining about her lot in life. She wanted all that she could not have. She was acting like a spoiled child. It was time for Lightning Farron to finally grow up and accept fate and reality. Life was a bitch. She'd have to live with it because there was nothing else to be done. It had been her choice to be Serah's guardian, and she did not regret it.

She stood and straightened her skirt for a moment before moving on to flatten the creases in her vest, noting all the while the silence that had fallen between the three who were still awake. She clenched her fists, trying to install the newfound resolve, which included ignoring Snow, into her brain as she tiptoed over to the small guard post in the center of the fissure. Her reasoning for coming was simple: make sure the guards were still on duty. That was all. It had nothing to do with Snow being present, or to check on his condition. Nothing.

Fang glanced up at Lightning as she neared, but the Pulse woman quickly busied herself with pouring something into a cup. Lightning was satisfied by knowing the meddlesome woman hadn't forgotten the verbal onslaught she had been victim to earlier. Fang had deserved it, anyway.

Lightning kneeled next to Snow to check his arm and was surprised to see Snow's failed assassin clinging tightly to his broad chest. The failure of a murderer was sleeping soundly within strong, warm arms, seemingly without a care in the world.

She later remembered saying something, probably something incredibly stupid. She neither knew her words nor particularly cared as the entire time she was trying to reinforce the newly erected barriers with an extra layer of ice and steel. She only spoke to distract Snow from staring at her as he had been.

Memories of occasions when Snow's muscled arms had saved her or held her dangerously close flashed to the forefront of her brain, threatening to send those walls crumbling again. Her attempts at constructing the barrier between them were almost shattered when she laid a gentle hand upon his arm without so much as a second thought.


In a fluid motion she rectified the mistake. It hadn't been her intent, but she needed to do something with her hand rather than hastily withdraw it and thus make her weakness all the more obvious. She quickly swept her hand away from his forearm and gathered Hope within her own thin limbs, drawing him close to her chest as she stood and walked purposefully away. She had to retreat, lest she change her mind and reclaim the kiss that should have been hers earlier.

No, Snow just thought I was Serah. That kiss was for her.

She placed Hope on a soft patch of grass beneath a scraggly tree, brushing silken hair from his youthful face as he nestled into a more comfortable position on the turf.

Hope would be the only one to receive her affection, albeit motherly in nature, she vowed to herself.

It would be a long, difficult road to ensure that she no longer succumbed to the traitorous desires of her heart, but it was a trail she had to embark on, alone, for her sister's sake. She was determined to succeed.

The following morning passed with little excitement. Hope stuck close to Lightning, hanging his head in a rather defeated manner. Lightning didn't question why: his battle with Snow the day previous had shaken him, badly. He had confided in her that he was deeply regretful of his actions and that he wished he could take everything back but, of course, the past couldn't be changed. It was there, permanently, like a glaring flaw that could never be erased.

Lightning knew this far too well.

To be honest, everyone was quieter than normal. Fang or Vanille would toss in random comments about the passageways of Mah'habara, but never anything particularly insightful or useful. Vanille was still giggling madly every time Lightning drew within three feet of her, as she had been the night before, and the young girl's eyes were always mindful of Lightning's whereabouts. Whatever the hell her problem was, Lightning grew tired of it.

Sazh hummed tunelessly directly behind her. This had been his usual position for a few days now and his proximity was somewhat unsettling. She was annoyed enough as it was, and to have Sazh bump into her whenever she stopped was not easing her nerves. Finally she had to adopt the habit of sidestepping a bit before pausing in her tracks just to avoid a collision.

Snow was the worst of them all. The others would at least offer some semblance of a conversation throughout the day, but he refused. The most he had managed was a grunt for "okay" when Lightning decided to wake them all up early to head out. Fang had tried to argue that Snow needed his rest and that they should consider taking a day off, which resulted in Lightning impatiently, though gently, kicking Snow's hips and demanding for him to wake. One final, cold glare at Fang told the woman to shut up and do as Lightning commanded which Fang, with little more argument, did.

Though the quiet was awkward and contrasted greatly against the normal behavior of the group, Lightning didn't complain much. She had been busy plotting her next words to Snow and the silence was a welcome opportunity for her to think in peace. She had never been good with such conversations, giving her all the more reason to require time alone, and eventually she came to the opinion that her words mattered little. The more cold and distant she sounded the better off everyone would be, in the end. She only needed an opportunity to speak to Snow, alone, without the prying ears of Fang or, more likely, Vanille.

At one point Snow stopped dead in his tracks to pull out Serah's tear, a sight that Lightning hadn't seen in some time. This made the rancid taste in her mouth from the night before return and she promptly jogged past Snow and Vanille, both of which had begun to speak of Serah.

Figures that the first time he speaks all day has to be about Serah.

It shouldn't have bothered her. It shouldn't even have entered her mind. She should have been happy that Snow was remembering his fiancée and forgetting Lightning. This is what she wanted, after all.

But, damn it, did it have to be so easy for him to do so?

She waited, several dozen paces ahead, with Fang at her side. Fang kept tossing her questioning glances, always on the verge of speaking.

"What, Fang?" She snapped, eyes boring into Fang's skull.

"You're awfully edgy today," Fang retorted, folding her arms neatly over her chest.

Lightning rolled her eyes. This was not the day to be bothering her. In fact, no day was ever a good day to bother her. "Is there a point to this, or…?"

Fang peered at her curiously through her fringe. "You were awfully worried yesterday when you were healing Snow, you know."

Another eye roll. "Sorry if I didn't want Snow's arm to be completely useless. He needs it."

Fang clucked knowingly and didn't say much else until the conversation between Snow and Vanille ended and the two drew nearer. Without warning she shot a "You should let him know how you feel," in Lightning's direction, much to Lightning's fury, before joining Vanille's side once more. The group went into motion again with a fuming Lightning in the lead.

Let him know how she felt? Fine! She'd tell him exactly how she felt!

She'd tell him how his complete inability to understand anything beyond his own fists was infuriating.

She'd mention that his little tiff with Hope the day before was disgraceful and it had shamed her to see him behave in such a manner over such a trivial issue.

She'd remind him of how he had struck and even bruised her because he was too much of a fool to think before he acted.

His display in Mah'habara yesterday was totally unwelcome and misplaced. And who the hell told him he could lay his hand on her in the first place? He may have placed the bruise there to begin with, may have knocked the wind out of her and possibly broken her sternum, but still…that gave him no right!

Or who told him he could keep his hand on her chest when he finished healing her? Who said he could remain so close to her during that time? Who told him he could attempt to kiss Lightning?

She stormed ahead of Hope a few feet, much to the boy's distress. Oh, I'll tell him how I feel, all right, Fang. Lightning would tell Snow everything! She'd tell him that he has a fiancée, that he better keep his hands to himself or she'd chop them off. She'd tell him exactly what she thought about his mistaking her for Serah, about how confused she had been because of it, by how she actually may have fallen for the dumb bastard. She'd tell him everything.

And then, once she told him everything, she'd tell him to get the hell out of her life. Marry Serah and move to a city so far away that she'd never have to see him again.

She stopped short when she saw sparkling water stretched around her on all sides. It was some sort of spring or…something. It didn't matter. Barely taking time to admire the new change of scenery, she drew her sword and vented some of her anger and grief on the nearest monsters she could reach. Each slice of her blade was relentless and brutal in the assault—even Hope kept a safe distance, which was unusual for him, and Fang barely had a chance to join in the charge before the first grouping of beasts was finished off. Fang opened her mouth but was silenced by yet another hard glare from Lightning.

A second grouping of the same scaled beasts, which Vanille claimed were called Ceratosaurs, were unlucky enough be fed the full force of Lightning's wrath. Lightning stood between three of them and called a storm of bolts down around her, shocking the three creatures into a sort of paralysis, of which she took advantage. With her sword drawn and firmly within her grasp, she leapt high and dug her heel into the back of the nearest beast, thrusting the blade—now in its gun form-into its spine and pulling the trigger. The kickback propelled her upwards yet again, and from this height she called upon a devastating storm to drive her enemies into submission. The ceratosaur she had attacked quickly fell, and the other two were weakened while four others crawled onto the scene from the pools of water below. She bellowed a ferocious battle cry, flicking the gun back to the typical blade and allowing gravity to take over. She smirked in satisfaction as one of the idiotic creatures haplessly stumbled beneath her projected path and, with no small amount of pleasure, Lightning felt her blade slip easily past its scales and through the beast's heart.

By this point the others had joined in. Vanille and Sazh stood back-to-back, summoning spells simultaneously and sending them hurling at the nearest beast to reduce the cooldown time between their attacks. Fang was trying to distract the enemies by shouting and cursing vehemently, stomping her feet at times if all else failed. Her antics worked, and four of the remaining five began crawling her way.

Lightning charged at the straggling ceratosaur, who was making its way towards Hope, but stopped short when Snow burst into the scene, his fists burying themselves into the monster's body. Its scales were broken- shattered, really, and a weak point was created within its scaled armor.

"Hope, here!" Snow shouted, pointing directly to the hole he shaped while advancing on the group that was beginning to surround Fang. Hope got the general idea and joined Sazh and Vanille, all three concentrating their efforts on the gap in the armor.

Another down. Two others, one being weakened from Lightning's first assault, fell until only two remained. Vanille and Sazh were on the sidelines now with Hope hovering over them, applying cures where needed. Fang, though still technically in the fight, was doing relatively little other than dancing on the outskirts of the field of battle, trying to hurriedly apply salves to her wounds. Snow and Lightning were the only two still truly fighting.

Lightning grabbed one ceratosaur by the tail and flung it towards Snow. "Here!" she snarled, bringing her blade up at the last moment to cut a long gash in the belly of the beast. It wasn't fatal to it, of course, but the blood spattered across Snow's handsome features. Snow sputtered, his jaw dropping in surprise as he tried to wipe the gore from his eyes.

"I guess I deserved that," Snow scowled once his face was cleaned, drawing his fists back to deliver a punishing blow to the reptile's head.

Lightning grunted in reply as she worked on finishing the one that hadn't been preoccupied with surviving Snow's fists of fury. To say he deserved it was only a slight understatement.

They finished the fight, each having battled their own monster in silence, and turned away from each other. Lightning cast Vanille, Sazh, and Hope a quick glance, asking if they were ready to move on. Vanille groaned, but the men, after seeing that the boss was in no mood for games, quickly agreed that they were prepared. Not bothering to check on the other two, Lightning set forward once again.

Another winding cave followed after they hopped over several rocky platforms floating in the water. The change of scenery may have been nice to the others, and the battles had certainly been an improvement over fighting rusted pieces of metal, but nothing had changed in Lightning's mind. She still bubbled over in anger and she still had every intention of cornering Snow when the opportunity arose. She was bound determined to shatter whatever illusion Snow had placed himself in. She'd prove that she wasn't Serah, once for all. She'd tell him everything, all right.

How much time had passed, she wasn't sure. When they emerged from the tunnel, though, Lightning noticed the position of the sun in the sky with some distaste. "It'll start getting dark soon," she said through gritted teeth. "Let's set up camp."

She whirled around to find Snow so she could pull him aside and vent her thoughts properly, but instead found him absent from the group. Puzzled, she cast quick, successive glances all about her, finally finding the man a good distance away from the others. She trudged over to Snow, who was standing stoically on a grassy field near the edge of a cliff, crystal dust floating lazily around him. In his hands, much to Lightning's dismay, was Serah's crystal yet again.

This stopped her in her tracks. How could she tell him to go back to worshipping Serah when he was already doing just that?

This is all a mistake. I shouldn't talk to him now. I should just… she turned to return to camp but, when she looked up, she saw Vanille and Fang standing a few hundred feet away, their eyes locked on Lightning. Fang held up her index finger and shook it side to side.

Dumb bitch. She couldn't leave now. Fang wouldn't let her live it down. Lightning would prove that she was no coward. She would do this. She would confront Snow.

Lightning faced Snow again, collecting her thoughts. Tell him everything. Don't let him leave unscathed. Let him hurt like you do. Start strong so he gets the message.

And of course, she always did as her mind told her to do.

"How's Serah?" she asked nonchalantly, gazing distractedly at the sun. Even she was asking herself: What the hell?

This was not going according to plan.

Damn it all.

"Same as we left her," Snow replied, dropping Serah's crystal to his side as Lightning walked past.

She held her hand up and captured a floating seed within her palm, staring numbly into its depths. How could she tell him everything? She'd embarrass herself. She wasn't good with this sort of thing. She couldn't do it. He should just forget about her. Talking about the situation would only bring it back up. Besides, he had gotten the point during their battle earlier…

The seed imploded in the wind, its remnants scattered to the four corners of the earth. Snow strode forward a few steps, his head bowed in thought. "Feels…so far away now. Heh." He forced Serah's crystal into Lightning's palm, the same one that had held the seed. "Serah says she wants to talk." Snow sounded so forceful, almost…angry when he said it. Spiteful, perhaps. His hand lingered over Lightning's for a few brief seconds before moving closer to the cliff edge. Lightning held the crystal up, marveling slightly at the clear image of Cocoon reflected in its center. "She'd probably prefer it if you skipped the lectures."

He grabbed a large seed floating past and held it between both palms before glancing up at Lightning, a strange, foreign emotion brimming his eyes. Unlike the emotion he tried to convey, the meanings of his words were not lost to her. Immediately Lightning's anger returned tenfold and she drew her sword. In one fell swoop she cut the floating seed in half and, in his shock, Snow stumbled backwards and fell on his rear. "Hey!" he cried.

This was it. Now or never. She had to ask him. She had to know. "Once we're home, what's your plan?" Her sword was held steady at her side, a constant reminder of the damage she could inflict if prompted. The damage she would inflict if Snow gave the wrong answer. "You're getting married, right?"

Snow pushed himself into a seated position. "What's that?" Confusion clouded his eyes and, much to Lightning's relief, blocked out the disturbing, alien sentiments that had been there before.

With a flick of her wrist her sword retracted back into a firearm. "Serah wants to know," she said lightly, betraying the surging emotions within her. Did he feel something for her, or was it all for Serah? Would he marry Serah, despite what had transpired between them? Would he postpone everything to think it through? Or was she just deluding herself?

Could she handle the truth?

Snow laughed, slightly uneasily. "Don't scare me like that!" Was he biding for time, thinking up an answer?

Lightning turned back to face Snow, crystal still in hand. She stared deeply into its depths, trying to sort out what answer she desired before asking the question. "You are getting married…" she quirked a brow towards Snow, "…aren't you?" There was no response from Snow, not immediately, and she began to worry. She didn't know what reply she wanted, but she knew she had to keep Serah happy. Serah had to be happy. Lightning couldn't be pining for Snow like this. She had to take matters into her own hands.

But the words she had rehearsed in her head wouldn't come. She didn't hate Snow. She couldn't act like she did, not now. She had to choose a different route to get her point across. "Don't you let her down, you hear me?" That sentence was the only one she could muster. With a careless toss she returned the tear to its rightful owner. Sadness, the depths of which had been previously unknown to Lightning, was threatening to overtake her. She didn't trust herself to speak.

Snow stood in one graceful movement and caught the tear easily. "Don't worry. This tear will be her last. I'll make sure of that."

Those words…those words would never be uttered for her, to her. Those words weren't meant for her. At the end of the day, no one was there to ensure her happiness, but Lightning and Snow were there to ensure Serah's. This is how it had to be. "That's all I need to know."

Now unable to even trust herself to look at Snow, she stepped beyond him, ever closer to the edge. She didn't see Snow's face fall, would never know that his tongue fought with his mind to speak words that were best left unsaid. His mind prevailed and once more his face was downcast, defeated. "We will see her, right?"

Lightning acted without thinking. Her fist found the small of Snow's back easily. She couldn't have thoughts of Serah not returning enter her mind. It..confused her to think of it. Of course, she would be saddened to lose her sister. Her despair would know no bounds. But, at the same time, it would allow Lightning access to Snow when they both sought the consoling embrace of the other…

"Don't go there," she spoke her thoughts aloud. She shook her head slightly and pushed forward on Snow. "No room for doubt."

She couldn't wonder about the what-ifs. This is how it had to be. Snow was for Serah. Lightning was Serah's guardian. She couldn't be the one to hurt her sister, especially not when Snow had every intention of marrying her. There was no room for Lightning. There could never be room for Lightning.

"You're right." Snow's words rang in her ears, confirming her silent thoughts.

"We'll see her again, and soon."

You two can live happily ever after. You don't need me here to mess everything up. "You convinced me of that, so stay strong." You convinced me that there's no room in your life for me. Only Serah. You need her and she needs you. You need to be strong for her. Once you're married, I'm gone.

A tear, a damn tear, fell from her eyes as Snow spoke. "Don't worry." Snow glanced back and saw Lightning's head bowed under the invisible weight that she struggled with, that weight of guilt and fear. "We'll finish this and go see her…together."

Lightning looked up at Snow's back, marveling at his audacity to even speak of them being together when Serah returned. The thought sounded so nice, so warm…

…but she couldn't succumb to that. She had to be strong. She was being weak, she was crying. This wasn't Lightning.

Pull yourself together…but not yet.

No. She would allow herself one last moment of weakness before becoming the hardened woman everyone expected her to be. In their last moment together at the cliff's edge, Lightning drew herself tight against Snow's back and allowed the tears to fall silently, watering the blades of grass at her feet. She took some small semblance of comfort in knowing that Snow didn't pull away in disgust by her failing walls. She was calmed by his scent, so earthy and masculine in nature. Mostly she thanked him for the quiet strength that radiated from him, comforting her and enveloping her in his warmth even though Snow remained with his back to her.

But that was how it had to be.

She pulled away after a few minutes, wiping the tears from her eyes before returning to camp with nary a backwards glance towards Snow.

To ensure Serah's happiness…yes, this is how it has to be.

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