Content warnings: None.
Notes: Written for Jashi Week: Feudal Friday.
He stepped quietly into Ashi's room where she was curled up in her futon, sleeping. The Samurai smiled to see her in such a state of peace and comfort. It was something that had taken her a while to achieve on her own--Ashi would often be in the habit of waking up in the middle of the night, still shaking away the custom of practicing the training routine that had been instilled into her as a child. The Samurai would hear her pacing about the hallway--"Monitoring the palace," she'd tell him--and the Samurai would gently take her by the shoulder and guide her to bed, where she'd rest her head in his lap as he stroked her hair, reassuring her that she could rest, and Ashi's eyes would gradually flutter closed.
The Samurai didn't want to disturb her slumber, but he knew this was something Ashi had been longing to see since he relayed his childhood tale to her. He knelt down and lay a hand against her shoulder, shaking her softly.
"Ashi," he whispered in her ear, "Ashi, wake up."
Ashi mumbled a noise sleepily and stirred awake, rubbing her eyes.
"What is it…" she asked groggily. "Are we under attack…"
"No, no," the Samurai chuckled, "Nothing of the sort. There is something outside you may want to see."
Ashi's head fell back against her pillow. Truly, she'd grown accustomed to the comfort of a warm bed and a good night's rest, and she wasn't likely to leave that behind anytime soon. The Samurai understood this all too well; he, too, had taken a while to adjust to waking up with a roof over his head on a regular basis.
"If you'd like," he said, "I could carry you out to see it."
Ashi nodded drowsily, and the Samurai scooped her body up from her bed. Ashi lay her head against his chest and he proceeded towards the doors that opened up to the outside. He felt Ashi's body shiver in his arms as the cold morning air nipped at their skin, and he hugged her close against his body, rubbing her upper arm to warm her up. He stepped out into the balcony, feeling the cool wooden floor beneath his feet.
"Ashi, open your eyes, just for a moment."
Ashi grumbled to herself before rubbing her eyes once more.
"I swear, this had better be worth--"
No sooner did a gasp escape from Ashi's lips than she had jumped out of the Samurai's arms and ran toward the railing in front of her, grasping it. A sea of clouds unfolded before the two of them. Ashi rubbed her eyes, this time not out of sleepiness, the Samurai had ascertained, but to make sure she wasn't witnessing a dream. She reached down and dipped her hand into the clouds, running her fingers through it. She pulled her hand back, clearly surprised as he had been as a child when discovering that clouds did not, in fact, feel like the wool of a sheep. This did not break Ashi's immersion, however, and she dipped her hand back in, mesmerized by the sight in front of her.
The Samurai folded his arms in his sleeves and walked up to join Ashi. He sat on his knees, resting his arms and chin against the railing. He stared out at the blanket of clouds, feeling a rush of childhood memories coiling themselves around his heart.
The creaking of wood roused him from his nostalgic musing and he turned to its source. The Samurai saw a flash of himself as a child in the form of Ashi standing atop the railing. She had no need to hold her arms out for balance as he did, of course, and walked as nimbly as a cat across it, surveying their surroundings.
"Feels like we're in a floating palace," said Ashi.
"It does indeed," said the Samurai. "Shall I return you to your chambers?"
"No," said Ashi, sitting down beside him on the railing. She wrapped an arm around the Samurai's shoulder. "I'd like to enjoy our floating palace a bit longer."
The Samurai smiled, bringing an arm up to return Ashi's embrace. A precious new memory was being formed here, one of many that would nest alongside the ones of his childhood. The first time he had shared the sea of clouds with his beloved.