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Disentanglement

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She makes love to me every morning.

Oh, not that way, don't worry: Yuna's playing the virgin sacrifice so perfectly that all Spira is holding its breath for her to die the part. When Sin bursts over the Calm Lands like a flower flaming out, they'll pine and sigh and cluck their tongues over the tragic beauty of innocence cut short.

Like Chappu's bones rolling in the muck at Djose, only that wasn't pretty at all.

I have no claim to her love: all Spira loves her, and she loves all of Spira. She is dear to so many.

She is dear to me in ways that make me fierce and proud and vulnerable. I went on two pilgrimages before I was ready, in order to save her the trouble. I failed one summoner, and the other failed me. I don't think either will be a problem on this pilgrimage.

I wish she'd fail me. I wish she'd lose her nerve, run away with that fool boy from the sea who tries so hard not to see what's coming.

Ah, Yuna's awake. Brushing out my wet hair, I listen to the quiet murmurs of a summoner's devotions in the gray-blue light before dawn. She prays with such sweet conviction. Yevon is always atonement for me, belts and buckles meant to keep me from going astray. For her, it's wings, sacrifice made easy. No wonder Valefor always comes to her with a look of pure devotion. They are almost the same soul.

"Good morning, Lulu!" Her buoyant greeting's barely changed since she first resolved to die. There's a quick hug sometimes, if one of us has been having nightmares. Soft words, confidences, girl talk. Mage talk. What the next aeon will look like. What to do when Wakka finally discovers Rikku's a heathen. Why I should put off roasting Tidus one more day.

Her fingers, now. With practiced speed they spill along my scalp, tucking the ends in and leaving neat, tight rows that pinch my eyebrows back. It's the same taut strain as the corset, curiously comfortable when one gets used to it, subtly reminding me of my body and skin. A useful counter; I think too much.

Our hands join briefly as we sweep up part of the undisciplined mass into a bun, tucking pins into place. Yuna divides the remainder into four parts. Then it's a slow, gentle, tug-tug-tug, weaving my braids with a deft rhythm that feels like music or something more intimate.

We each take two plaits. If we're not talking, there's another, deeper kind of conversation, the communion of fingertips' touch. Sometimes it's teasing, getting in each other's way and making a race of it. Sometimes it's unspoken reassurances, comfort, solace, the caress that says, "I know you're hurt" or "I'm listening." Sometimes it's unacknowledged flirting, a tactile duet that flows between us until it's all I can do to keep my breathing steady.

"I win!" she says. I don't dispute her.

Yuna has her role, I have mine. She licks the tip of a braid and slips several blue beads over the end to keep each strand in place. I do the same.

Dawn's coming.

Just once, I wish I dared ask her to brush out my hair under the moon.