Magic in Ruin
"Should we risk a rest?" Celes said, warily eyeing the shadows murmuring around them. The Serpent Trench was horribly unquiet at nightfall, restless beasts and dimly-seen silhouettes of shipwrecks not even ancient. It was not fear, she told herself. She had fought monsters, and men, and worse, and she would not let herself falter in the unnatural magic of this new world.
Sabin alone seemed unchanged by the World of Ruin, lifting one powerful shoulder in an easy shrug.
She was half-leaning on him, by that point, drained of magic and nearly exhausted. Perhaps at one time the ministers of Figaro had said he lacked his brother's grace and diplomacy-- and yet, her head on his shoulder and her hands unable to stop trembling, what he said was, "You're right. I am pretty worn out."
Celes wanted to laugh but her voice burned in her throat. (Do we even have a chance, the two of us alone? Will we manage to find our friends?)
He was making a thoughtful noise, his gaze fixed intently on something she couldn't see. "Too bad neither of us has a tent-- hey, hang on a bit." He stretched a hand experimentally. "Just hold still."
Her vision swam as she tried to look up at him. When had she lost her balance? She started to speak, but suddenly there was a cascade of sensation over her skin, fresh and sweet as mint, as bright as sunlight without the burning. Then the same burst of healing magic swirled around his form, and she recognized the spell this time. Her voice was her own again; her hands unshaking. "Sabin?"
He rolled his head, residual magic glinting off the muscles of his neck, his throat as he swallowed. "Finally," he said. "Been trying to learn that since before the end of the world."
He mentioned it so casually that it didn't send shivers of fear up her spine, the too-familiar burn of hopelessness beneath her breastbone. "Truly you have amazing timing," she said, though the words tripped over themselves into laughter as she spoke them, feelings of relief and the flutterings of something suspiciously like hope. "You wouldn't happen to have a tent somewhere hidden away, too, would you?"
Sabin helped her to her feet, though truly she could stand steadily without help for the first time since their journey had begun. If his hand lingered at the small of her back, if her shoulder rested a moment longer against his own, neither mentioned it: a silent warrior pledge, hardship halved between them, strength shared unspoken.
"Next town we find, we're spending a whole night at the inn. I don't care how much they're charging for it."
Celes smiled. "It's a promise."