Title: "The Goddess Inside"
Fandom: Final Fantasy X
Word Count: 750
Prompt: "Braska/any aeon, a covenant involves trust" (OK, so I totally diverted from the prompt)
Eyes unfocused, Braska knelt and prayed. His knees were numb with cold, and he shivered beneath his robes. The light of the fayth statue, a glorious figure frozen beneath pure crystal, glowed like moon lilies at sunset. The stylized figure of a woman— sinuous, wide-hipped, arms spread in exultation, rope-like hair radiating from her in ornamented spokes— had occupied his eyes for hours, despite his earnest attempts to remain fixed upon prayer. He was a summoner. He was a married man. Such beauty was not for his eyes to see.
And yet he saw it. If he were an artist, he could have drawn that vision of ice and flesh from memory by now.
He took another shuddering breath, staccato puffs of fog surrounding his face, and closed his eyes to attend to the Hymn.
A light tap on his shoulder roused him.
Warmth? His senses were growing confused. The touch was chill, yet his body felt warmer.
He opened his eyes.
The sight that greeted him drove inappropriate thoughts right out of his head. A sturdy-looking nun some ten years his senior stood before him in Macalania's heavy robes. She was a lady of ample girth with mirth in her eyes and a no-nonsense smile. Her homey features reminded him of the nuns who had taught him in the monastery: a square jaw, broad nose, crow's feet at the corners of her eyes that recorded a history of smiles, and lines around her mouth that hinted at stern lectures.
Why was a nun here in the holy of holies, where summoners alone were permitted? He sought tactful words to pose the question, then realized he was seeing the tapestries on the far wall right through her.
"My lady?" he breathed.
"Braska, is it?" Even her voice sounded frumpy. She chucked him under the chin. "Up with you. Let's have a look."
Smiling, he stood and bowed in Yevon's prayer.
She circled around him, gliding above the floor. "Penance for the wife, eh? Lovely little girl... you're leaving her behind?"
He dropped his eyes. "Bevelle Temple." He was not entirely happy with the arrangement, but he had been raised there himself.
"Hm." She tossed her head, a coquettish gesture at odds with her maternal manner. "Try one of the islands. Simple folk there; won't use a summoner's daughter as a political stepping-stone."
He nodded, finding himself quite at ease with this fayth who seemed to have retained more humanity than some. "Thank you, my lady."
"I come to you as a suppliant, my lady. I seek your strength to fight Sin for the sake of all Spira's children. Please, will you...?"
She regarded him with a tolerant smile. "Well, well. I might. You've come out of Bevelle, yet you're not a pompous ass. You don't put on High Summoner airs in advance. Refreshing. On one condition."
"Name it, my lady."
"My lady?" His expression turned quizzical. "But you were of the Order, and are now sanctified beyond mortal kind. It would not be proper—"
"Oh, proper!" She blew a raspberry. "I took the veil to flee a bad marriage, not for a vow of celibacy! Come now. You married a heathen, didn't you? Why be proper now?"
"I...beg your pardon." Flustered, he stepped towards her. With quiet reverence, he bowed his head and planted a chaste kiss on her lips.
Or it should have been chaste. Her arms slipped around his shoulders, and suddenly the goddess beneath the glass was there, shrouded by a nun's shapeless habit. Long icy nails caressed him. A body barely veiled by rime-laced webs was pressing against his, chilling him right through his robes. He shuddered, willing himself not to recoil.
Trust me, summoner. Ice I may be, but I am not frigid.
No, lady— and in that dizzying instant he understood: a plain-looking girl whose marriage had been arranged, fleeing to the cocoon of a convent; a passionate spirit frozen deep within where the world would never suspect it— You are beautiful.
There was a sly wink— in his mind's eye the aeon stood there, glorious, flaunting her unearthly beauty, and yet there was a twinkle in her eye, the mischief of a private joke shared with a trusted friend. Then the cold poured into him.
I will fight for thee, summoner. Let the world know me for who I am... and never was.