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It's All In You Head

Fandom: Final Fantasy XII
Title: It’s All in Your Head
Author/Artist: iceprincessd
Theme(s): #1 cold hands; cold feet
Pairing/Characters: Balthier/Ashe
Rating: PG
Disclaimer/claimer: Balthier and Ashe do not belong to me. Property of Square Enix.
Summary: Snow isn’t all that lovely when you’re out in the middle of a blizzard

“The sooner we get out of this forsaken snow, the better,” Balthier muttered, rubbing his hands over the small fire that, despite the howling wind and damp snow that threatened to undo all his careful work, he managed to keep alive.

“I take it you don’t agree with the weather,” Ashe said dryly. She hadn’t taken third watch in a while, choosing the first one instead, when she was still alert from the day. Now she remembered why she disliked the other two watches. When Vaan had woken her up, all she had wanted to do was roll over and go back to sleep. She sat next to Balthier, holding the blanket she had draped over her shoulders closer around her as she pulled her knees up to her chin. “Growing up, I always wanted to see snow. It’s really beautiful.”

“If viewed from inside with a fire blazing in the hearth, perhaps. I’d rather be somewhere warmer. Even as a child, I…” He stopped, growing quiet before he shared anything personal. “I hate it. Snow isn’t all that lovely when you’re out in the middle of a blizzard with the barest of covers keeping the worst off, is it?”

Surprisingly, Ashe let out a laugh. “I do believe this is the first time I’ve heard you be anything less than cheerful.”

He snorted, feeding the fire. “Then you haven’t been paying attention. I’m a sarcastic and unpleasant person to be around.”

“If you are, then why is it that Fran has been with you for so long?” Honestly, she didn’t know how long the two pirates had been partners, but she was trying to fish for information.

“I attribute my charming good looks as the reason she hasn’t ridded Ivalice of yet another sourpuss by killing me in my sleep.”

Ashe gave him a faint smile. “You’re not all that bad,” she said, “once one gets used to you.”

He smirked, rubbing his hands over the fire again. “Glowing praise, I’m touched.” He shook almost violently, his teeth clattering together. “Why is it that you’re not freezing? I can’t keep warm.”

Her eyes widened slightly at the question. “I don’t know. I guess it’s more of a mind over matter thing.”

“Care to explain?”

She pulled her blanket closer as a gust of wind blew their way. “In the desert, you can’t really do anything about the heat. Dwelling on it only makes you that much more aware of how hot it is. I started thinking of colder things instead. Out here, I just reversed the process.” It might have been a trick of the firelight, but Balthier thought he saw a faint blush on her cheeks. “It’s a silly idea, I know, but it works.”

He reached out to put another handful of twigs on the fire. “Ingenious, rather. So tell me, Princess, what sort of things have you been thinking of?”

She picked up a stick and idly drew a few lines in the snow. “Nothing specific, just how the sun feels over my skin or how the horizon always shimmers during midday. That sort of thing.”

Balthier had a sudden thought of Ashe in the middle of the Estersand, wearing even less than she usually wore. In his mind’s eye, her skin was pleasantly sun-warmed under his hands. He watched as she leaned forward, her breath fanning over his lips, warm and inviting. He closed his eyes and…

“Balthier?” He blinked, bringing himself back to frigid cold reality.


“Your eyes were glazed and you didn’t answer me.” She looked at him in concern. “I thought you might have frozen on me.”

He shook his head. “Far from it. I think you’re onto something with this mind over matter theory.”

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