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And It Wouldn't Be Me

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"You'd have thought you'd never seen a naked body before," Maria teases him as the three of them rest. Firion is unconscious, exhausted by the evening's events. Guy is thankfully absent, having stayed up to befriend a squirrel and therefore ending up retiring somewhere else for the night, though Minwu suspects his choice is more because he had sensed what was going on. Guy isn't the brightest person ever, but he has a good instinct. Most of the time, the group sleeps in inn common rooms, but the people of Salamand had been so grateful that the four of them had gotten a private room for once. Adventuring often doesn't pay one's due debts or allow one those luxuries.

"Merely for medical reasons," Minwu says, shivering as Maria runs a hand through his chest hairs before her hand dips lower. "As a healer, my vow doesn't allow me to take advantage of my patients."

The four of them had been wounded, certainly, but Minwu is certain that the healing spells, potions, and a night's rest were all the party needed. They aren't his patients anymore.

Maria gives him the same laugh that she'd given the sailor back in Paloom who'd asked her to sleep with him. "Do you consider us your patients, Minwu?"

"...No." If he had, they wouldn't be in bed together and he wouldn't be exposing himself to them.

"What do you consider us, then?" she asks, as her fingers dip even lower, and Minwu gasps.

It's a good question, and a hard one to answer in his current state. Even as he isn't ready quite yet, and he wants to wait for Firion, it's hard to think with her fingers touching him in one of his most sensitive spots. Lovers happen, though the well-bred young men and women of his homeland didn't officially have them. He had always been obedient and studious back then; he'd never taken someone, even if they'd wanted to be taken.

But the same thing that told him that his fate was intertwined with them had told him that it wasn't just adventures that they were to have together. Minwu wishes he could tell Maria of what he'd seen, what he knew when he'd first touched them that gory evening when he was binding up their wounds.

Maria breaking down as she talks to a Mysidian; Guy talking to a beaver in a frosty cave; Firion grimly leading Maria, Guy, and a man he doesn't recognize into a lake surrounded by crystals.

Then again, these might not happen. After all, in another vision he's seen a different version of Firion, being handed a rose by a pink-haired woman. And sometimes his visions have nothing to do with those around him at all. He closes his eyes, remembering his first vision – holding onto the railing for dear life as the ship floats over the edge of the world, robe billowing around him – and still not knowing what it means.

"Dal'a Val'," Minwu said, catching Maria's hand in his own. "As I told you, my fate is intertwined with your own." He's sent a missive to his family, as he promised them when he left for Fynn, to tell them of the ones he'd found and his visions and premonitions.

If worst comes to worst, they'll take in the trio as if they were their own children. The fact that Guy is absent from the night will matter none at all.

Assuming the message gets to his family and the trio survive this, of course.

"I don't understand what that means," Maria says, trying to wriggle her fingers out of his. "But I bet that means lovers."

"Something of that nature, yes," Minwu answers. This is not a formal wedding night, the two of them have not consented to anything, and while he's sure that his parents would respect his vision and choices, he doesn't want to translate. While it's unlikely, he doesn't want Maria and Firion to say no.

He never wants them to say no, and he doesn't want them to get distracted from their destiny either, as the knowledge would do.

Maria gives up after a minute or two, because she's honorable, or Minwu at least thinks so. She's content to settled next to him, as if they were merely sharing a bed and he hadn't been burying himself in her not that long ago.

He realizes that Firion and Maria never brought up birth control, apparently trusting him to think of it; and he deliberately avoided the subject, not saying a word as they pulled him out of his robes and scarves, because he dared not discuss the sacred. There was a saying among his own people that a conception from the first night brought blessings to the new family.

But while it would be a blessing, Fynn cannot spare Maria; the world cannot spare Maria, even for Minwu's selfish desires.

"Do you want to be lovers?" he asks. A small step towards acknowledging their relationship, perhaps, or maybe a sign that it isn't meant to be. Even Minwu misinterprets things, sometimes. He's sure that these three will save the world, but he could be wrong about what he's done.

"I'm not sure I'm ready for something like that yet," Maria admits. "Not with Leon missing... but I have to admit that I'm glad for this evening. I needed it."

Minwu heals bodies, not minds. But he understands what Maria is saying. "You and Firion are the ones that chose. I merely did what needed to be done." In some ways, they chose him as he chose them, but he knows that marriage and family shouldn't be left up to chance, and even this slight betrothal can be broken if the other two choose, once they find out. Once there's time to discuss such weighty things.

Maybe after everything is done and the Emperor is dead, he will suggest that they have a talk about such things. If not, if that half-remembered vision of him collapsing on the ground, having given all that he was, is true, then it will not matter. Fate has a way of changing things that no mortal can see.

"I think we all did," Minwu says, putting a hand on her shoulder. "It's a natural response, given what's happening. We want to affirm life, and ties to others. Even I have to admit I needed it."

She laughs again. "It did take you a little while to admit that, you know."

"Yes." He sighs. "I'm not good at saying these things, Maria. My first concern is for others' needs, not my own."

Smiling at that, she brushes his bangs away from his face and plants a kiss on his forehead. "Silly Minwu," she says.

He might be silly, at that. Silly at binding the two of them after all. But it feels right; feels like it is something he should be doing, even if he never tells them.

"I am," he admits, and smiles back as she moves towards his lips.