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Castles Fall In The Sand That We Made In The Air

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The first time she was here, she didn't have time to appreciate it properly. While sand had been nothing new, the sea very much was, and the combination of the two was something she had never expected. It had been beautiful and exhilarating, and she'd had to leave far too soon.

It had been the same with Fran, in a way. Except Penelo had not been the one to leave, and going back to where they had parted did nothing but bring back memories that were painful now.

For now, she merely sits in the sand. The hunters leave her alone as she watches the tide creep up the shore, and she presses her toes into the wet sand. To her it feels nothing like flying: here the sea and the sand move around her, rather than moving her.

On the Strahl, the turbulence had sometimes been so strong she could barely stand, only narrowly avoiding stumbling into anything important. Fran had caught her once, and Penelo had been so amazed by the power in the Viera's arms that she had forgot to thank her until much later.

Occasionally airships fly overhead, and she idly wonders if any of them are the Strahl. After completing most of the repairs, Vaan had been desperate to fly, and had even taken to flying alone when Penelo was busy. Both of them knew that Balthier would kill him if he ever found out - not for risking his life by flying without a navigator, but for risking his ship.

Balthier has to be alive. Has to be, because if she lets herself think otherwise, she'll have to admit that there's a chance that Fran isn't either... and she can't bear that thought. She just can't.

She stays there until the hunters light their campfires to compensate for the dwindling light, and allows her tears to fall while no-one can see them. It is all that she can allow herself before she has to return to Rabanastre, where she has to be grateful for everything the city has gained, while she herself has possibly lost the one person who had started to mean everything.