Sweet Parting

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As Bahamut approaches the Dwarf Castle, a transparent and iridescent dome glitters with the red-glow of the Lava Sea. It looks like the castle is shrouded by a megalithic Shell.

The Lava Sea, now closer than every before, belches and bubbles with magma. Bahamut lands near a monolithic lava rock that at least shields us from the extraordinary heat.

"This is it, Rydia," he tells me, his voice still smooth and luscious, even in his Mithral dragon-form.

"That's the field Trancy warned us about!" Ifrit shouts. He bares his teeth at the enormous Shell. "Eidolon can't pass through it!"

I turn to Shiva, but before I say anything, she tells the boys, "We need to talk. King of Kings, you don't have to wait; Ifrit and I can return to the Land of Summoned Monsters by foot."

"Very well," Bahamut says.

We nearly fall over at the beat of his wings. Then he is airborne. And he is gone.

Shiva continues, "Ifrit, give us a sec?"

"Mmm-nhm," Ifrit starts, before opening his arms towards me. "Goodbye, Rydia!"

As I walk to him, I try to cast Shell, but of course it doesn't come.

Then I hear Shiva cast Shell from behind me, and I'm enveloped in her soothing and familiar magic. Her cool cocoon keeps me safe while I hug Ifrit's flaming chest.

Rob leaps into the middle of us, balancing where Ifrit and I connect, still hugging. "I'll-miss-you," the miniature Bomb whispers, slow as he can.

"I'll miss both of you," I whisper, squeezing them tight.

"Summon me whenever!" Ifrit bellows, his fire swathing around the Shell.

"Metoo," Rob says. "JustsayBomb. I'llgetthememo."

Then we separate, and Ifrit and Rob head towards the redrock horizon. Tears well in my eyes before I can stop them.

When I turn to Shiva, her cold, calm gaze pulls me in. I sniff back my sorrow, wiping the corners of my eyes with my sleeve, and whisper, "I'm sorry."

"I wish I could go in there with you," Shiva says, glancing at the wide curve of the gigantic Shell around Dwarf Castle.

"It's okay," I tell her.

"Dark magic waits in there," she replies.

"Golbez?" I stammer.

"Not yet," she says. "But I think a teleportation circle is forming. He'll be here soon."

I purse my lips. "Too soon."

She opens her arms to invite me in as she asks, "You going to be all right?"

I fall into her embrace. Shiva XIII wraps her arms up and along my back, bristling my adult body fully to life.

I know this is only the beginning of a new stage of life; and I'm only ready for it because Shiva's always been by my side. When I ached, she soothed me. When I wept, she listened to me. And when my heart swelled, I dared to dream how she would complete me.

"I'm head over heels for you, Shiva," I whisper, and just like that, I set so many feelings free.

My fear of my sexual attraction to men and women alike, of princes and Eidolon, released into the ether.

My anxiety of whether Shiva would ever requite my feelings, out in the open.

My happiness for all the times we shared, in full bloom.

My sorrow for our parting, laid out in its purest form.

Shiva pulls away from me slowly, keeping her hands on my shoulders. "I thought so," she starts, and for a moment, only briefly, my vision blurs.

Then I blink, and I can see again.

"I care about you, Rydia," Shiva says. "I even like cuddling next to you, talking closely with you; but I'm as asexual as asexuals can come. I've never felt what you feel for me, not in the same sense."


Oh wow.

"I don't feel that way about much anyone, really," Shiva chuckles. She's laughing, yet she seems so sad.

The words spill out of my mouth before I can catch them. "Are all eidolon—"

"No," she interrupts softly, with that cool smile that'll always break my heart. "Eidolon are on the same spectrum of sexuality as humans. It's just me."

I lower my eyes to the ground.

Though I'm not looking into her steely blue eyes, or her expressive face, I listen as she continues, "I love you, Rydia. It's just not the romantic love you dream in your mind's eye."

I nod, looking away, ashamed of the thoughts she now knows I harbor.

"Hey," she whispers, "I hope you summon me. Summon me a lot. But," then she kisses my forehead, murmuring, "Set your heart free. Love someone who wants to make the dreams in your mind come true. Honestly," she laughs a little more, tears flowing freely on her cheeks then, "I've always thought there's something wrong with me because I don't...well, feel attracted to people, not that way..."

I swallow my welling sadness and smile at her. "There's nothing wrong with you," I whisper. I squeeze her hands in mine. "I mean it. You are perfect. And I'll summon you, for sure."


Author's Note

This chapter made me emotional!

My husband worked on the cover art more, but he seems unsatisfied with it now.

I think it's fun! But I'm updating the cover with some PicsArt magic, since I don't want to push him too hard to work on something that isn't naturally enchanting him

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I think it's fun! But I'm updating the cover with some PicsArt magic, since I don't want to push him too hard to work on something that isn't naturally enchanting him.

The pattern of her clothes is a paper cutout from art paper I bought while visiting my sister up north. Cool, huh?

First & second drafts: September 18

Word count: 931

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