by llamajoy

Gagazet was not kind to those who sought to surmount her skirts-- but then, Braska had not come expecting welcome. The Ronso's holy mountain was only a stone on the path, one step closer to the end.

Still, huddled side by side with his guardians to ward off the chill, Braska found himself weary. Summoner robes were not as warm on the mountainside as they had been in the Calm Lands, and the fiends were stronger. Another nightfall meant another spell of sleepless hours, another shivering watch, another sunrise again before they would reach Zanarkand.

He sat with his hands tucked into his sleeves, and thought of the sweet warm breezes on Besaid Island, and the way that water would move when it was not ice. Even in his imagination, though, the waves were capped with frost instead of foam; the gentle sea cracked and froze as he watched.

Let me.

Too used to their voices by now to be very startled, Braska opened his eyes and blinked snowflakes from his eyelashes. He recognized the sharp and sweet timbre of the fayth's voice; it was Shiva. It was the first time she had spoken unbidden. "Let you?"

Beside him, Auron stirred slightly in his sleep; Jecht snored on unconcerned.

This cold troubles you. It is nothing to me. I do not mind the snow. Let me.

Even her voice was smooth and slick, like sheets of ice. Braska shook his head, apologetic, and spread his hands. The winter wind of Gagazet bit his skin. "I do not know what you mean."

She sighed inside him, and the shiver that ran along his spine was altogether distinct from the weather.

You dislike the cold. I crave it like my own breath. Let me take it from you.

It was a simple thing to summon her, his hand on his staff: a swirl of wind moving his robes, his hair, his headdress, all shades of red to blue to purple like living blood turned to frost.

Shiva's advent seemed to catch all the chill in the air and absorb it into herself. Rivulets of ice were her braided hair, panes of frost were her blue-smooth limbs. Her eyes shone like distant frozen stars, and her small sad smile like the unexpected warmth of a blanket of snow.

So Shiva came to his call with ice and frost; she came in flurries of snow. And to his surprise Braska came in her wake, his hand not upon his staff but on himself.

Auron swore the next morning that it must have been a dream, for certainly anything so out of the ordinary would have woken him from his slumber. But Jecht said (and even Auron had to admit) that Braska was not as subdued as he usually was, on the bitter-cold dawning.


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