A/N: I've been thinking about writing this for a while, but after playing 'Episode Ardyn', I thought, why not? I hope that you enjoy this.
Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy or any of the characters.
A Different Point of View
She was five when she first met him. If anyone had told her that that meeting would have been one of the most important ones of her life, that this event moulded her very future, she would have laughed at them. After all she had only been five at the time, how could a simple meeting have a profound and lasting effect on her very future? Alas, the author is getting ahead of themselves, she was five when she first met him.
She had been brought with her father, a leading scientist of the Empire, to his research lab. Her mother had recently died and she had no other carers, so she was set up on a sofa with some books while he tapped at a computer at his desk.
She sighed and flicked her brown hair out of her eyes- she needed a hair cut. She sighed again and tried to read her book, but it was a moot point, she had only just begun to read and she found herself struggling to connect the letters into words. She put her book down on her chest and kicked her feet against the cushions on the sofa. She looked around the room to see if there was something to do. She was in a standard imperial office, it was white, it was sterile, there was a desk and some bookcases with books that were far too advanced for her. She closed her eyes and let out another sigh, perhaps she could sleep the day away? It took her exactly fifth teen seconds to realise that she could not in fact, sleep. She was a five year old, there was no way that she was taking a nap, too much pent up energy. The fact that her father's tapping was driving her crazy as well.
"Daddy..." she whined. "This is boring."
"Read your book Ellie..." her father mumbled, his eyes not leaving the screen.
The girl, Ellie, rolled her eyes, that had been the only response he had given her all day. She was bored, she had been there for what had to be at least a few hours. Which to a little girl felt like years. She sat up and kicked the base of the sofa. Her stomach rumbled, she touched it lightly and looked over to her father who was still typing!
"Daddy, I'm hungry..." her green eyes watched as her father continued to watch the screen. She sighed. "Can I get something to eat?"
The typing did not cease. "You know where the cafeteria is, go get something…" as she jumped from the couch he added. "Don't go anywhere else..."
"I know daddy." she walked past him and to the door. She opened it and looked back at her father with a frown. She wished that he would come with her, she knew that he wouldn't, she had asked before. She stepped from the room and closed the door behind her with a click. She had been there enough times to know exactly where the cafeteria was. She took a left and proceeded down the stark corridor. She hated this place, it was cold and metal and she felt uneasy being here. However, due to the amount of time she spent here she knew that it was safe enough, at least it seemed safe enough.
A man shuffled past her and proceeded down another hallway, either he had not noticed her, or he had seen enough of her to not care. She watched their retreating back until they turned again, she then took a door to her right and found herself in her desired location. The cafeteria was not much different from her father's office, there was just more tables, cupboards, a refrigerator and a vending machine. She felt in her pants pockets for some gil, she found twenty gil, enough for some cheese and crackers. She put the money in and waited for her food to drop out. The packet moved lightly but did not drop to the bottom. She frown and tapped the machine with her hand. Nothing.
"Why…." she let out a chocked sob. Why did the machine do that to her? She felt her lip tremble. All she had wanted was some food, why couldn't the stupid machine just give her the cheese and crackers? She bit back a sob and headed back to her father's office, maybe he could give her some more money? Or come and fix the stupid machine?
As she headed to the door she jumped back as it opened. She froze and watched as a man walked in. He was a strange looking man in a fancy looking suit, black slacks and a white frilly shirt with a gold vest. She had seen high class Imperials before but had never seen anything like his outfit before. She eyed him curiously and he paused at her presence.
"Why hello there." his voice was cheerful.
She watched as he stepped towards her, the first thing she noticed was that he smelled nice. He knelt down in front of her and his Amber eyes scanned her. "I didn't know there was someone so young here, what's your name my dear?" he smiled at her.
Ellie eyed him for a few moments before answering, her voice slipping into formal. "My name is Elise May Tummelt. I am here with my father."
He quirked a brow. "Oh?" he extended a hand to her. "A pleasure to meet you Miss Elise, I am Ardyn."
She took the offered hand, it was warm and strong. She looked at his warm smile and found herself returning the smile. He rose from his kneeling position but did not remove his hand. "Are you hungry?"
Her stomach rumbled before she could answer, causing him to let out a chuckle. "There is no honesty more true than that of ones stomach." he quipped causing her to flush embarrassed. He took notice and his lips twitched.
"Now my dear, no need to be embarrassed, come, I shall get you some nourishment." he stepped towards the vending machine only to stop when she made a sound of protest. "Is something the matter?" he asked with a raised brow.
"The… the machine isn't working..." she said quietly, at his questioning look she explained her predicament with her cheese and crackers.
"Is that so?" he turned his attention back to the machine and released her hand. "Well then… it is a good thing that I am magical." he raised his brows encouragingly at her before he hit the side of vending machine, causing the main glass door to swing open, revealing the treasure within.
Her eyes widened with excitement and she moved towards the machine before stopping, was she allowed to do this? Wasn't this stealing? He seemed notice her hesitation. "It's okay, I promise." he took out a cookie, unwrapped it and held it out to her. "We won't get in trouble." he assured with a wink.
She reached out to the offered item hesitantly, something felt wrong, this was stealing. But then she looked to his warm smile and everything felt alright. She couldn't name why but something about the man before her, Ardyn, was safe, she took the cookie causing his smile to brighten. He took some more treats from the machine and spread them out on the table. He turned back to her and gestured to one of the chairs.
"Come sit, I shall get us some milk." he walked to the refrigerator while she sat at the table. She watched as he took a jug of milk out and returned to the table with the jug and two cups. He poured a glass and passed it to her. She said a thanks and dunked her cookie into it. As she took her cookie out she noticed that he was watching her.
"That looks delicious, I think that I shall have some too!" with a grin he opened a cookie packet and put it into his own milk. She watched as he took a bite, he let out a pleased sound and grinned. "That is delicious."
Ellie grinned and dunked her cookie again. "Daddy doesn't like me doing this." she said taking a bite. "He says it's bad manners." she made a face and stuck her tongue out.
Her words caused him to chuckle and re-dunk his cookie. "But he is right," he smirked. "it is bad manners," at her frown he chuckled. "but bad manners can be fun." he poked his tongue out before finishing his cookie in one whole bite, causing her to let out a laugh.
He looked over the items on the table and picked up another sweet. "Now what would your father say to us having more sweets?" he opened the packet and pulled out some toffee.
"Too many sweets are bad, they make you portly, you'll lose your teeth and no one will marry you." she put on a stuffy voice, impersonating a speech her father had given her once when she had wanted some chocolate for dessert. Her voice acting skills caused him to laugh and she felt herself grin at him.
"So," he said suddenly. "What do you want to do, sweets or no sweets?" he raised a brow and leaned forward on the table.
Ellie eyed the items on the table and grinned. "I think, that I would like the sweets." she picked up a packet of chocolate and opened it. She grinned at him and he returned it.
She ended up spending some two hours talking to him. He was kind ad would always offer her something if he felt that she was hungry or thirsty. He had asked her about her favourite things and she had talked, she had talked so much that any other person would have sent her away by now, but he seemed indulgent to her chatter. For the first time in a long time, she felt as though someone was listening to her she really liked this man, Ardyn.
While she was telling him about school he looked up at the wall and frowned, causing her to stop. He looked at her with an apologetic expression. "I am sorry my dear." he said. "I am afraid that I must return to the dreary place that is work." he rose from the chair and held a hand out to her. "Shall I escort you back to your father Elise?"
Ellie frowned. She did not want to go back to her father, she was having fun with Ardyn. She pulled herself from the chair with a slump to show her displeasure. She lifted her hand to his and she shoulders slouched. "Hey," she watched as he knelt beside her. She looked at his face and he nudged her chin with his free hand. "Chin up, you're young, it's not the end of the world," he chuckled as though he found something amusing. "come on, let's get you back."
He walked her back to the room and passed her some more sweets. "Thank you for your wonderful company Miss Elise." he ruffled her hair.
She smiled at him. "I'd like to see you again."
"Perhaps one day you will."
Before she could stop herself she had flung her arms around his legs. "I'll miss you!"
"...My dear..." he touched her head lightly.
It would be two years before she met him again.
"Ugh Dad this is so boring!" The girl, who was now seven, complained. She was again sitting in her father's office. "I'm seven years old, why can't I just stay home- or even with my cousin Loqi?" she twisted some of her hair with her fingers- it had grown longer over the last two years.
"You know why that isn't an option." her father mumbled onto his finger as he stared at the screen.
She sighed. Yes, she knew why. Her father wasn't important in the Empire and had chosen to marry her poor mother rather than someone of class, causing his brother to cut off ties. Once her mother had died, the tension had lessened between the brothers, but her father still did not feel comfortable leaving her with her Uncle. he reason why she had to go with her father to the facility some days, days when she couldn't stay with a friend. She sighed again and looked over at her homework, she had already finished it and she was almost saddened by the fact, at least if it was unfinished, she would have had something to do, but no, she now had to find something to do. She looked over at the bookshelves, they were ll filled with tomes of knowledge about whatever her father was doing- she really had no interest in reading them herself. She had tried, but they were just so dry! Perhaps were she older…
"Can I go and get something to eat then?" she asked.
Her father pulled some gil from his pocket and placed it on the desk. She took the gil and left the room, "Would you like anything?" She called out.
"Coffee!" came the reply.
She walked to the cafeteria, a way that she could navigate blindfolded, she had done it enough times. She walked into the cafeteria and turned on the coffee machine before turning to the vending machine. She narrowed her eyes at it. "Now..." she said darkly. "You are going to give me my food." she put the money in the slot and pushed the key for the item she wanted. She let out a sound of frustration when the machine did not give her the food.
She glared hotly at the machine and attempted the trick that she had been shown all of those years ago. She smacked the side of the machine, when nothing happened her scowl deepened. She raised her hand and tried again, but alas it was not meant to be, the machine remained unresponsive. She growled and raised her hand to try again.
"Having some trouble are we?" she let out a shriek and jumped away from the machine. She slipped her hands behind her back and tried to look innocent, even though she knew that she would fail. She looked at the person who had caught her and her eyes widened.
He grinned at her and leaned against the doorway, his stance was lazy ad at ease. She felt herself relaxing, it had been years, but she still remembered him, how he had helped her, how he had spent time with her, how safe he had been. His eyes glittered with humour as she relaxed, his clothing style had not changed, she noted absentmindedly.
"The one and only." he replied. "How nice of you to remember me, Elise."
Ellie smiled at him and gestured to the vending machine. "Would you possibly, please, help me?"
"Such manners." he pushed himself from the door frame and fluttered to the vending machine. He then repeated the action that Ellie had tried so many times by herself. Only he was successful in his endeavour, the door swinging open.
Ellie's eyes went wide. "You have to tell me how you do that!" she exclaimed before moving to collect her prize.
Ardyn grinned and tapped his nose. "Magician's and tricks my dear." he walked over to the table and sat down. He watched as she brought over the food to share with him.
Ardyn became, something of a feature in her life from that point, at least once a month she would meet him in the cafeteria. He would help her with some food and she would regale him with stories of her life, she liked talking with him, even if she did get the impression that he found her amusing at times.
He was her friend.
When she was the age of eleven her father died and she was placed in the care of her Uncle, Ignacious Tummelt. So she was unable to return to the facility. As if the death of her father had not been enough, she had lost the only real friend that she had had. She had tried to ask her Uncle once, if she could return to the facility to meet with her friend, if only to see him once more. He had scoffed and sent her off to her studies. So she pushed herself into her studies, knowing there was not much else left for her. Her cousin was training to become a soldier and her Uncles focus was on him. This gave her the opportunity to study as she pleased, she studied science, history and art. As the years went by she grew into a young woman, and before she knew it she was fifteen years old.
"Elise, come now!" A deep voice called from the downstairs.
"Just a minute!" Ellie called back, she looked at herself in the mirror of her armoire. She pinned her long dark hair back with some pale red crystal flower barrettes. Her green eyes flashing over her face and down to her sleeveless red dress. She tugged her dark gloves up to her elbow and patted at invisible dust on her silk dress. She was happy enough with her appearance, and smiled to herself.
"Elise Tummelt, you will come down this instant!" the voice was louder and she found herself rolling her eyes.
"Coming!" she called out. She took one last look at herself, winked at herself and walked out of her room. She walked down the grand staircase into the foyer of her uncle's manor. Then man in question was standing by the double doors with her cousin. She came to a stop in front of the imposing figure. "Sorry, sir." she said demurely.
Loqi made a face at her and her Uncle frowned. "Let us go." he said simply and turned from the foyer and out of the doors.
"Come princess." Loqi sneered at her before following his father.
"Good luck to me..."
They were at a party. An Imperial party. And being an imperial party, it was fancy, filled with people and uncomfortable. Ellie hated it, she hated the hordes of snooty rich people who would all look down at her. Just because she didn't act like them or perhaps they had some sense to tell when people didn't belong. Either way she hated it.
She sipped on her juice and wished it was wine. Her Uncle was discussing something with Verstael Besithia, the creep. Something about him disturbed her, she took another sip, it would only be a matter of time before she was called over and made to talk to the creep. Her Uncle gestured to her and she sighed, here it was. She slowly walked towards them, Besithia's eyes watched her as she stopped in front of him. He took her hand and her skin crawled as he gave her a light bow.
"How pleasant to see you again, Miss Tummelt." his voice sent a chill down her spine. She pulled her hand away and ignored the glare her uncle sent her. What? She was fifteen for goodness sake, she did not want some creeper touching her.
"It is good to see you as well." she replied with a frown before she was launched into a dull conversation about battle strategies. She feigned interest and nodded when she needed, but she really did not want to hear about it. People were dying and they were having a party, how was that fair? While she was listening to them prattle about something, a laugh caught her attention. She frowned, she knew that laugh. She scanned behind her father and uncle before turning. At the other side of the room he was there talking with a pale blond man, Ravus, her mind supplied. Before she could stop them, she found her feet moving of their own accord. She heard her uncle make a sound of protest but she ignored it. Her heels clicking as she sped towards him. Her heart raced and she felt her eyes sting. Could it really be him? She stopped beside them, catching the attention of the blond.
He narrowed his eyes at her. "What do you want?"
"Now now,"He said and his voice made her heart stop. "where are your manners?" he was chastising, or taunting the other. "Is that any way to speak to someone?" He turned to her and she swore that his eyes widened a fraction before he smiled widely. "Especially someone as gentle as Elise?"
It was him. Her friend. Ardyn. "A-Ardyn…?" her voice shook and before she could control herself, she had jumped at him. Her arms winding tightly around him. She had missed him so much. Her friend. Her friend. She squeezed him tight as tears began to fall, her arms tightened as she felt a hand pat her on the head.
"Elise!" Her Uncle's scandalised shout caused her to jump back from Ardyn. "Get away from Chancellor Izunia!"
She gasped. Ardyn was the Chancellor? She had spent the entire time that she had known him, thinking that he was just one of the workers at her father's lab. But he had been the Chancellor all of this time? Why would he spend time with her then? Why would the Chancellor spend his time sitting with her eating sweets? She eyed her Uncle and the 'Chancellor' wearily, she could feel the eyes of everyone at the party on her. Embarrassment tinted her cheeks.
"Ah Tummelt." Adryn greeted with his smile and an incline of his head.
Ignacious bowed and sent his niece a scowl, before looking back at the Chancellor. "I would like to apologise for my nieces, uncouth, behaviour."
Ardyn let out a chuckle and put an arm around the girl. "It is quite alright Tummelt, myself and Elise are old friends." he patted her head again and she was unsure whether to laugh with him or fuss over her hair, she oped for a small smile. "Aren't we, Ellie?"
Ellie smiled at the use of her nickname, it had been years since anyone had called her Ellie. Not since her father. She turned to him and nodded. "Yes sir!" he laughed and she felt herself join him. It had taken some time, embarrassment and dirty looks, but eventually Ardyn led her from the party and she found herself sipping tea with him in the kitchens.
"Do you still enjoy cookies?" he asked, sliding her a plate.
She smiled, took one, and proceeded to dunk it in her coffee. At his laugh she felt her cheeks redden. "Old habits." she said quietly.
"Are hard to die." He replied softly.
"I missed you…" she said quietly.
"I'm flattered that you think so highly of me." he sipped his tea.
"You were my only friend." she said quietly. "I didn't think that I would ever see you again." she was pensive and she found herself stroking the edge of her mug.
"Oh now don't be like that." came his reply.
She felt herself relaxing at the sound of his voice, he still sounded the same, even after all those years. She felt a smile tug at her lips. "So," she quipped. "….Chancellor Izunia?"
She had missed having conversations with him. The two of them spent what was nearly the entire party laughing at the people and their silly parties. They ate sweets and laughed when she spilled her milk on her fancy dress. He laughed when she stole his hat and did her best impression of him. It was the best fun that she had had in years.
"Elise!" came the angered voice of her uncle from the stairway into the kitchen. He stormed in and was met with the sight of his niece, with the Chancellor's hat on her head, covered with milk stains, and chopping vegetables. While the Chancellor sat on a stool laughing and clutching at a cup of coffee. His eyes flashed red. "What are you doing?! Get upstairs, we are leaving this instant!"
Ellie stilled and slowly reached for the hat on her head. She held it out to the Chancellor and he took it from her gently. She slowly walked towards her Uncle, not before stopping towards the smiling Ardyn. "Thank you, for everything." she said quietly then walked to the stairs.
"I would like have a chat with you Tummelt." she heard Ardyn say, but she did not hear their conversation.
From that point on she found herself being treated differently. Her uncle was cooler to her. People around her treated her as more of an outsider than before. Apparently her friendship with the Chancellor had further skewed people's views of her. Why, she could not say, and in the end she did not care, her friendship was far more important to her than the opinion of others.
The years went by and on her twentieth birthday she received some news from her Uncle…
"I…. I what?" she gasped.
Her Uncle's lips tightened and he took a deep breath. "You have been selected, hand picked, by the Chancellor Izunia himself, to be his personal assistant." he held out a piece of paper to her.
She accepted the sheet and looked down, scanning the words…
How lucky you are, from this day onward, you are to be my personal assistant. How lucky! I expect to see you a nine sharp tomorrow!
See you soon!
Chancellor Ardyn Izunia.
P.S: Do dress nicely.
A/N: I hope you all liked it, let me know! Ideas and suggestions welcomed!