TITLE: Last Sunrise
AUTHOR: Jos Mous
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters and I'm not making a profit.
NOTE: Final Fantasy Tactics Advance gives rise to many questions, such as 'why would a whole bunch of people help a guy who's trying to destroy their world and in doing so will erase them from existence?' and 'if you were a girl who enters a fantasy world where all your dreams are fulfilled, why would you end up with the only race consisting solely of very athletic women?' This fic is kind of an attempt to answer at least one of these questions.
Ritz stared gloomily into the fire. Somewhere behind her were more fires, as well as the rest of the Clan, celebrating another job well done. Ritz wasn't planning to join them. She wasn't exactly in the partying mood.
It was her cu- it was one of her curses to be a smart girl. She'd never asked to be. But there she was, with a mind that just wouldn't stop working. She thought and she thought and she thought. Sometimes she thought in circles, sometimes she didn't. Often she thought about things she didn't want to think about.
She was thinking about Ivalice again. Not St. Ivalice, but this Ivalice - the fake, dream one. For the longest time she'd thought that this Ivalice was Mewt's personal little dream world. After all, he was the prince and everyone bent over backwards to fulfil whatever whim he had. Both herself and Marche didn't have lackies. They just seemed to have been kind of dragged into this world by accident.
But that wasn't true, was it? Ritz hadn't become a princess simply because she hated sycophants. So instead the force that had created this world had given her red hair. Ritz liked to think she wasn't shallow, but her hair was important to her. She hated the fact that it was white and now that it was naturally red... well...
Ritz' hands clenched into fists.
She was being manipulated. By a book no less. It had given her mirrors and shiny objects, trying to convince her to stay, to forget the world. And it had worked. She'd fallen for the bait without even putting up a fight. In the end she'd even... she'd even raised her rapier against Marche, simply for trying to drag everyone back into the real world.
Well, she'd failed and now Marche and his Clan were probably marching towards the palace, trying to destroy the book's power.
Could you destroy a dream using dream tools?
Ritz rolled her eyes. Just what she needed - something else to think about.
Ritz looked up briefly, then back at the fire.
Shara sat down. "Not in the mood to celebrate, I take it?"
Ritz shook her head.
Shara sighed. "You've been very distant lately."
"I think I know why," said Shara. "You want to hear my theory?"
"The world is going to go back to the way it was. Which means that I will disappear."
"No," said Ritz. "You won't. You won't go away."
Shara smiled. "Yes I am. I'm going to be nothing but a distant memory."
Ritz stared into the fire. "No. You won't."
"Yes I am," said Shara. "You're trying to make me a distant memory. Because if you do that, it won't hurt so much. Will it?"
Ritz didn't respond immediately. "Aren't you scared?"
"No," said Shara. "I thought it over and... well... I think my purpose for existing is to be with you. After all, Mewt has Babus, Marche has Montblanc. You have me."
Ritz nodded. "But Babus is just Mewt's nanny, really. And Montblanc simply plays the spunky sidekick in Marche's heroic tale. But you..."
"I'm not your nanny, I'm not your sidekick. You don't have need for either." Almost without thinking, Shara reached out and started stroking Ritz' hair. "You didn't want either."
Despite herself, Ritz sighed and relaxed a little. "Doesn't it bother you?"
"Doesn't what bother me?"
"That you don't have free will?"
"What makes you think I don't have free will?"
"If you were made... if you were dreamed up for me, what choice do you have? And can you really..."
"Love you?" said Shara.
"Yes," said Ritz.
"I think I can. Who's to say I cannot? The book has probably made Montblanc as well and he's cheerfully working together with Marche to destroy this world. The book... created me, perhaps, gave me a certain disposition, but that's it. It doesn't control me."
"I wish you hadn't said that," said Ritz.
"See?" said Shara. "More proof that I can think on my own. That I can lead my own life, such as it is."
"With me," said Ritz.
"Of course," said Shara.
Ritz allowed herself to be pulled into an embrace. Shara's short fur tickled a little, but Ritz had long ago grown used to that.
"I... I'm..." Ritz stopped and Shara pretended not to notice the choking swallow. "I'm really going to miss you."
"Maybe you won't have to," said Shara. "From what I managed to piece together, Judgemaster Cid wasn't with you when you read the book, but he got transported into this world all the same. And he didn't know who he really was either, until Marche showed him. Maybe it's the same with me. Maybe I really exist in your world and I just don't know it yet."
"You really think so?" said Ritz.
"Of course," said Shara. She nuzzled Ritz' neck. "And I promise I'll come find you, like I found you here."
Ritz sighed. "Thanks. Shara...?"
"You think we'll be here long enough to watch one last sunrise together?"
"I don't know," said Shara. "Let's find out."
With a bit of difficulty, Ritz turned around. "Shara, I... I really do..."
Smiling faintly, Shara tilted her head ever so slightly to one side. "What is it about your world that you can't bring yourself to say it?"
Ritz smiled a bit sheepishly. Then she leaned forward those last few inches and kissed her. Shara leaned back as well, possibly guiding Ritz down with her, possibly being pushed down by Ritz. Not that there was much of a difference.
A few hours later, the sun rose. Ritz and Shara didn't see it, because they'd eventually fallen asleep.
But it rose, all the same.
Ritz wandered into the school library. It wasn't something she usually did. It would've surprised people who didn't really know her to learn that she wasn't much of a fan of books. She'd never really seen their appeal. If she wanted something to spark the imagination, she played videogames.
Of course, ever since The Incident three weeks back, Ritz had really started disliking books.
But, sometimes, dealing with books was unavoidable if she wanted to finish school. And so she let her eyes wander across the spines of books, trying to steer the rest of her thoughts away of certain book-related topics.
"Can I help you?"
Ritz spun around, almost expecting to see a girl who looked rather like a bunny. Instead she saw a girl who looked exactly like a human being. The girl's hair was short and brown and her face looked puzzled.
"Sorry, have we met before?"
"Y- No," said Ritz. "No, we haven't. I'm Ritz."
The girl smiled. "Sarah," she said.
"Sarah. Really? Do you... I mean..."
"Do I what?"
Ritz shook her head. "Nothing. Never mind. I just thought... Forget it."
"Alright then," said Sarah. "Is there any particular book you were looking for?"
"I need something for History," said Ritz. "Are you the librarian? You look a bit young to be the librarian."
"I'm not," said Sarah. "I'm a student, same as you. But I help out sometimes."
"Oh," said Ritz. "So... why haven't I seen you around more often?"
"Well, I do spend most of my time in the library. Even when I'm not really supposed to."
"I don't," said Ritz.
"Obviously," said Sarah.
"Well, I guess the book I need isn't here," Ritz said louder than necessary. "So I'll be going now."
Ritz turned to leave, but the girl's voice stopped her dead in her tracks.
"Hey, how'd you like it if we hung out some time?"
Ritz tried not to blush. "I think I'd really like that," she said.