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- Final Fantasy XII - Woodword by Blazing Fool - You know, I didn't really expect to find anything much worthwhile on FFNET without a lot of major searching. But this one popped up on my first page of browsing and it promised a little Balthier/Fran and I'm so completely gone on that pairing... it was just bonus that it was set during their trip to the Euryt village, which I desperately wanted fic for. It's also a great little fic set from the POV of the Wood, not holding back on its anger and disgust at the humes, feeling very much like how I could believe the Wood would react to Balthier, a man it blames for stealing away one of its Viera. I really liked the way the author contrasted the feeling of nature versus the stink of civilization and machinery on the characters, the way the Balthier/Fran implications were woven into the storyline. ....I may have squee'd a little over that, shut up. (Some implications of Balthier/Fran.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Countenance by Mithrigil - It hadn't yet been more than a couple of hours after I'd seen Gabranth's final scenes, the ones that hurt me the most in the course of the game, the ones that nearly got me to break down crying because I knew it was inevitable and yet so badly wanted it to be avoided, and then I read this fic. The author has a really lovely way of capturing the tone of the game, the richness of the detail and word choice that reflects the imagery/language. But mostly it's the interesting use of a character showing up that I wouldn't have thought of, but is cool anyway, and the whole Noooooo! Noah.... ;___; thing I had going on. Rip my fangirl heart out again, why don't you. Very effective piece. (No pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Best Be Off by Janiqua - I suspect that, perhaps, I am simply extremely easy for Balthier angst, especially set during the final battle with Cid because that entire scen just tore at my heart, from Balthier's words with his father, the lack of apologies, the inevitability of that moment, to the complete disregarding of the idea to leave Fran, the "You best be off." and "You'd better hold on then." The writing fills in a few details around the scene, mostly the thoughts running through Balthier's head and it was a solid, enjoyable story about one of my favorite scenes from the entire game. (No warnings or pairings technically, but if you like Balthier/Fran you could squint and maybe see something.)


- Final Fantasy XII - My Choice by SilverLocke980 - After enjoying the author's previous Larsa fic, I was curious about his next one, a series of stories tied together by theme rather than contuinity, where each time the characters choose a different weapon for a different reason. One of the best things about FFXII is that it was so very customizable, the ability to equip any character with any weapon was awesome and this fic is a brilliant reflection of that, the choices the author makes with each character reveal insights into them that are fantastic. The details around each story, the background history for the Espers, all of it is fabulous. But it was chapter ten, Balthier's reasons for choosing the weapon he did in that chapter, that left me quietly devestated. That is the fic I've been needing to read about Balthier and his father. Breathtaking characterization here, the fic I didn't know I needed to read until I was in the middle of it. It's probably going to spoil me for the rest of the fandom, I imagine. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Circular Thinking by imadra_blue - Another lovely fic that takes a look at the scenes during the trip to the Euryt village, a beautiful look into the way Fran sees everything, both her past and her present, the Wood and the Humes, why she goes where she does. Her relationship with Balthier is lovely as well, which pleased me greatly, even if the fic is firmly gen rather than wandering close to shipping territory. But mostly what I love about this fic, other than the graceful use of language, is the tone, the way it captures how Fran doesn't think so brashly like the Humes, there's almost an etherial quality to her, even as she walks among Humes, but not so much that she's disconnected. The fic captures that well. (No warnings/pairings, it's very firmly gen, but Balthier/Fran fans may find it interesting.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Some Watcher Of the Skies by coloredink - This was breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking. Balthier backstory on how he went from Ffamran to Balthier, full of incredible detail and gorgeous writing. I'm not sure if I'm flailing this hard because it's brilliant storytelling, right down to the detail of how he picked his new name, or because it deals with the distance growing between himself and his ever more insane father or even because Fran is in it towards the end. I wish I could do this rec justice because it deserves better, I was a pile of goo after reading this fic. It hit all my buttons dead-center and... just... the Balthier characterization is amazing. Even the use of short scenes set over several years works beautifully to show the passage of time, from early years to just before the game starts, the way you can see the evolution of the character, feel the way his life was choking him and cloying at him... I'm in love. So in love. ♥_♥ (No real warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by mullenkamp - This post is actually two short fics posted together, but I'll rec them together anyway. The first is Balthier and Fran perfection, the sense of... everything they are, the hints of so many things and so much partnership, but without trying to be too much. It's sharp and clever and cute and smart and has the edge of burning hotness between them; all was gorgeous. The second. OMG. The second. Ashe and Al-Cid and it was perfection and I do all sorts of metaphorical fangirl things, like roll around and die of eternal love. That right there is why I came to eventually love Ashe quite a lot. (Balthier/Fran for the first one, some Al-Cid/Ashe on the level of canon in the second.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Dance by tripoverhercats - You know what I like about this fic? Other than lovely, clean writing that's a treat to read and sharp characterization across the board that could totally fit into the scenes with the Garif tribe and how it expands on the little bits of potential culture in the FFXII world? That it has beautiful Penelo characterization without pushing too hard. As she dances, as she watches the others dance, it somehow manages to show the character that I quietly fell in love with, despite her extreme lack of development in the game. There are also tons of little lines that are great, the Balthier POV is fantastic and the mental image of Basch hovering like a hawk over Vaan and Ashe after they came back from that little conversation on the bridge is great and I bet that so totally happened. Loved this. ♥ (No real warnings/pairings, nothing more than you'd have seen in the game.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Portraits of Empire by Lady Sisyphus - I'm always a little wary of trying out new authors, but I've been so desperate for FFXII fic and Vayne genfic in general that I was willing to give this one a shot. I'm so glad I did because it's this really intelligent, sharp, brilliantly written look at a character who is neither entirely bad or entirely good. He is a very, very gray character and he has his loyalties and the way the relationship with Larsa is portrayed here--as well as young Larsa himself!--is utterly fabulous. The scene with four year old Larsa just... both tore at my fangirl heart and made me squee, it's the kind of thing I pined for without really knowing I needed to read it. Fabulous look at Vayne's character, who actually was pretty complex and this fic does him justice. (No real warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Divide by tokoyami - I've been wanting Basch fic, but not much has jumped out at me until I saw this short piece posted and figured I could give it a shot. It's an angsty little piece set post-game, the divide between Basch's loyalty to his family, to his brother, to Dalmasca, to Ashe, to Larsa, to peace, and how everything weighs on his shoulders. It makes me want to give him lots of hugs, which probably most Basch fics should wind up doing, yes. Very lovely and almost bittersweet. (No real warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - The Lady's Name by tokoyami - Another Basch fic by the same author, this time set pre-game, when Dalmasca was still whole and Basch watched over the young princess. I love that it's almost a sweet fic, the way you can get such a strong sense of Ashe's personality and Basch's loyalty, but it's not entirely happy, either. A soldier's life in this world rarely is, but the fic didn't hit the reader over the head with that, either. And I love the little detail about the name and the not!lie Basch tells her and it was just... yes, there should be more Basch&Ashe fic out there. (This is entirely gen, but Basch/Ashe fans may enjoy it.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Warrior's Understanding by tokoyami - This was a really interesting piece--Fran and Basch aren't characters that I would have drawn a lot of connections between (despite that they were my #1 and #2 tanks while playing!) but this fic did a lovely job of it, drew parallels between the people they wish to protect and how fleeting things will be. The angst is understated and the understanding is simple and quiet, the kind I could absolutely see between them. I adored this and the maybe-maybe-not hints of pairings. I'm not sure I'm ready to dive fully into pairings yet (or when there would be time for Basch/Ashe), so the dancing around it is perfect for where I'm at with the characters. (This is largely gen, but Basch/Ashe and Balthier/Fran fans may enjoy it.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Freedom by tripoverhercats - Another cute, fun fic that's a little bit angsty, a little bit humorous, set post-game. The fic nicely reflects how I felt about the ending--part of me loved the angst of it, the connection to family, the almost happy ending in that he has something to do again, part of me hurt for him because it wasn't what he dreamed of, it wasn't even his own name. Then the ending swooped in and was delightful fun and I heartmarked a lot and absolutely had to rec it. ♥ (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Portraits of Empire (part two) by Lady Sisyphus - When doing my giant game blogging piece, I bemoaned that no one would do House Solidor fic right, that no one would capture the shades of gray of Vayne's character, would write him the way he was in the game--surprisingly subtle and fascinating. Then this fic series came along and, god, it hits all the right notes of his character. All the way back to killing his two older brothers to killing his father and protecting Larsa, this fic weaves a story that hits the characters and tone of the world on the head so hard that I can completely stitch this together with canon seamlessly in my head. Also, the ending of this fic, that final scene, that is what I've been pining for, what I've been trying to say about the character, and, wow, does it pack one hell of a punch. Gorgeous, gorgeous writing and tone for House Solidor. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - welcome by geekerypokery - I admit, if fandom is going to keep putting out the fabulous Larsa fic, I may have to fall even harder for the character than I already have. I adore, adore Larsa fic that touches on his relationship with his brother, with Gabranth, but also shows how very human and good-natured he is at the same time. That it can capture so many little facets of Larsa's personality, even while he's doing something so simple as returning home, that it's just lovely and beautifully characterized. The writing is lovely as well and the dialogue/language nicely suitable for the game, yes. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Mad World by Navie Chance - While combing through FFNET for more readable FFXII fic (which I think I may be officially out of now *mourns*), I came across this short piece with Larsa and Penelo. One of the things I like about it is that it finds a genuine connection between the two characters, set just after the scene at Mt. Bur-Omisace, it's not just about Penelo comforting him, it's about finding an actual connection/parallel there. I'm not sure about the timeline (I thought Vaan's parents died first?) but I liked the writing, it was simple and straightforward and clean, something I associate strongly with Penelo's character. A solid read that didn't push the relationship too hard, but still let me enjoy their interaction. (This is gen, but Larsa/Penelo fans may enjoy it anyway.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Slipped the Surly Bonds of Earth by rhiannon87 - This was a good, solid Balthier fic, set sometime pre-game when he first buys the Strahl. The thing that I wound up liking the most about this fic, aside from the solid writing and tone to the story, is that it nicely captured the sense of... the freedom of flying that Balthier would have been going through. The freedom of flying of all those who love the sky and love their ships and love flying in the clear blue sky and the twists and turns of knowing what their baby can do. There's a real sense of love here that I greatly enjoyed. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Der Wanderer by mithrigil - [ part 01 - part 02 ] - There is something so very... solid about this Basch backstory. I've been craving more Basch fic in general, there is something about the character that intrigues me greatly, calls to me, his loyalty, his devotion, his tragedy, his hope. All of that is captured in this story, all without beating any specific point too hard on the head, despite that Basch's life is one filled with great devestation, sorrow, and hardship. I love that the author captures how far Basch is willing to go, how much he's willing to cast off, how he seems to sink so low in life, yet he never loses the core of honor he has. The fic both starts and ends with him bloody, worn, scruffy, and tired beyond measuring, a lovely way to frame the story that I didn't even realize until writing this rec, yet there is no point during it which Basch loses the things that make him himself. There's dignity and, again, honor in every step of his painful journey here.

But it's not just that, it's also the level of detail that goes into the background, the way the author weaves in what we know of the FFXII world and history, the way she sets up a path between Landis and Dalmasca for Basch here, the way it fits with everything else we know of the character. The way the story evokes such a clear, solid picture of the events in my mind's eye. The way Noah is thought of, the way I ache for the twins, the way Basch missing his brother is so clear throughout the entire piece, yet hardly remarked on. The way that, too, fits with the game and even helps put the whole 'surprising plot twist' of the twin brother thing into perspective for me. But mostly it's the Basch characterization that I... I just... this is the Basch fic I've been waiting to read. Because it's so much of what I associate with the character and, once again, makes me love the character all the more after finishing it. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by wreathsandbells - I really don't know what to say about this ficbit that wouldn't end up spoiling it. Basically, it's set during a time pre-game, while Ffamran was a Judge and Gabranth decides he needs to have a conversation with Dr. Cid about this and it's just... perfect from beginning to end. Especially the end. The middle part is awesome, too, because Ffamran would indeed be the best Judge ever, but mostly it's the end that has me going LOL@poor Gabrathn. ♥ (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by wreathsandbells - Oh, oh, oh, this is Miguelo and Penelo pre-series, probably not too long after the war had claimed their parents and it's just... it packs so much into these characters, makes me re-realize how much I adored them and how much probably went on that we never got to see explored. This is a powerful little ficlet and the ending just... the ending totally makes me wibble and sort of want to melt into a puddle. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by wreathsandbells - I have a continued soft spot for the idea of Basch and Fran interaction, despite that they didn't really connect much in the game. Because, underneath the obvious surface differences, there are a lot of things they have in common and this ficlet does a beautiful job of showing that quiet, almost understanding. Or something like it, at any rate. The writing is gorgeous, the little details are fantastic, and I love the use of the story and what they're each going through at that point in time to connect them together. Fabulous. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by wreathsandbells - One of the most fabulous things about FFXII and the slowly blossoming fandom is that they do fabulous things with pre-series characters and connections, ways people might have gotten to where they were when we met them. This time, Basch post-Landis but pre-Dalmasca and there's so much... so much of everything Basch is/was/may always be here in this ficlet. I can't describe it any better than that, it's just... really very good and a neat idea. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by wreathsandbells - Man, I wish there'd been a flashback or two of Ffamran's time as a Judge, just because there's so much to do with that era, as this little ficlet beautifully illustrations. I just. I flail at how great a Judge Ffamran would have been, especially if they couldn't fire him, and, yeah, okay, perfect little ficlet and I'll be over here LOL'ing in the corner for quite possibly the rest of my life. (....nothing I'm going to properly count.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by wreathsandbells - More adorably fun Larsa and Penelo (with a touch of Vaan) fic, another little piece that the author wrote without feeling like the story was shortchanged. As much as I love longer stories, sometimes I greatly enjoy reading short bite-sized fic memes like this because these ideas are so perfectly captured each time. The writing is lovely, the characterization is lovely, and the pieces always end on the perfect note to wrap everything up. And just. Larsa is so. Larsa and the way Penelo neatly reads between the lines and is firm without being bossy is absolutely everything I loved about her from the game. This is why I love Penelo's character so much. ♥ (It's gen, but if you want to read Larsa/Penelo into it....)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by ladysisyphus - Basch and little!Ashe fic! With archery and little!Ashe being so damn cute and so obviously having that same inner strength and fire that'll carry her through difficult times in the future and Basch being that strong, unwavering presence behind her and it's both bittersweet (for knowing what they'll go through in the future) and completely awwwwww-inducing. Lovely! (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - An Order to Things by asprosdrakos - I tend to rather often wonder if I like Basch because he was my tank and would kill everything that was trying to stop me or if I really did fall for his character the way he was in the game. Either way, I have mad, passionate love for the character and short but incredibly powerful fics like this leave me feeling breathless afterwards. The very first line socked me in the stomach and then the ending line just... knocked me on my ass. It hurts, but beautifully so. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by wreathsandbells - This was... what I love is that it combines the two sides of Ashe that we see (or are implied by flashbacks/etc.), the lovely princess and the determined steel that lies underneath. The story is sweet and almost like part of a princess fairy tale at first and then... you start to see the person Ashe has always been by the ending and it's just... it was really, really good. (No real warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Shah Mat by canis_m - [Note: I label all FFXII fic with spoiler warnings for now, but this one is extra spoilery for the ending.] This was a lovely post-game fic set over a game somewhat similar to chess as played by Basch and Larsa, with an atmosphere that was just... all the right little touches. Painful, bittersweet, still with the fresh aches of loss, yet not without the quiet undertones of healing and hopefulness. At least that's what I got out of it while they played their game and the little details were so fabulous and I just. If all Basch&Larsa fic were like this, I would be absolutely riveted by them, rather than wanting to kick Basch into running back to Dalmasca with Ashe. Gorgeous writing here. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by Mooncalf - I know I should stop reading fic memes and read some of the longer works I've got sitting in my backlog, but... these are so much easier and they're such fun, especially when Balthier is being so completely... Balthier as Vaan buzzes around him and he's trying to fine-tune the Strahl and just... hee! This is one of those perfect little moments that I love about the sky pirates. (No real warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by Mooncalf - One of the things I really do like about the slowly growing FFXII fandom is that they've often put two characters from the party together that don't necessarily connect a lot in the game, but still have these interesting moments together. Like Basch and Vaan this time, teaching him how to weild a pole without falling over so easily, and Basch totally, totally not enjoying picking on poor Vaan. Because no one enjoys making fun of Vaan. No one at all. XD (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by Mooncalf - [Note: This ficlet probably isn't going to make much sense if you're not at least passingly familiar with Vagrant Story.] I. I. I got to lines five and six of this ficlet and promptly laughed so sharply that I practically choked. And then I laughed so hard I cried. Montblanc is now my favorite Moogle EVER EVER EVER. And, oh, god, Vaan. Vaan would behave just like this. And this is my current favorite FFXII fic ever ever ever. *violently heartmarks* (No real warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - untitled by Mooncalf - Yet another post-series fic that focuses on Basch and Larsa, except this one... it's sad without being gratuitous about it and it's a beautiful use of the line from the prompt and a beautiful legend is spun out of it and the details of this are fabulous and it's one of those things that I could just utterly see and hear in my mind's eye. It's brilliantly written and the emotion of it packs one of the best punches in the fandom that I've read even in such a short ficlet, and just... omg, go read it now. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Water Lilies by Touch of Gray - [Note: There may be some spoilers in this? Ahh, I'm not sure anymore.] Oh, I loved this. I wound up liking all of the FFXII main characters and I have a great fondness for gen pieces that examine a connection between two characters that previously wasn't touched on very much. This time, it's mostly an Ashe piece, mostly a story about a carefully tended guardian that fell into ruin and is slowly blooming again, with Fran winding her way in by the end. It's a story that's meant to focus on the imagery of it, the slow pace a lovely thing, and it's just so... pretty. I loved the style of the piece as much as I liked the characterization of both women, so different, yet with such a fascinating connection here. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Shadows by Touch of Gray - Basch is totally one of my favorite characters from the game (in as much as I can pick a single favorite), so I tend to pounce on fic about him by authors I like and this one was... it plays with Basch's guilt, with the ghosts that haunt him even before they could possibly be ghosts, the way the Mist affects even Humes in certain places. Basch has so many issues roiling around in his head and this simple, quiet piece did a good job with them. (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Farewell by Touch of Gray - Vaan fic! Vaan fic that resonates with me is really rather rare (not helped by the way I rarely click on links for fic, mind), especially not ones that deal with Reks and what their lives might have been like before everything went to hell. There's a sense of... solidity to this piece, that the characters are very much themselves, the people they may have been before, yet with those glimmers of the people we're going to see them as later in the game. But especially it's the relationship dynamic between Vaan and Penelo that so nicely mirrors how I saw them in canon, not pushing them too hard in either direction (romance or purely platonic friendship), just... understated and good. (Possible implications of Vaan/Penelo, but it's so not the point.)


- Final Fantasy XII - The City with its Towers by Mithrigil Galtirglin - What I liked about this fic, aside from the usual way the author has of capturing the detail of the FFXII world and the time period it's in, is Ashe's bitterness and rage from early on in the game. It burns in her, her words fierce and scathing, and it's really interesting to watch her as the fic progresses, not that she becomes any less angry (at this point in time) so much as it's tempered into other forms, that she begins to trust and believe Basch again, just a little. This was almost a difficult piece to read, especially as she examines his scars and Basch doesn't complain, never complains, about his unfair time in prison, he doesn't even harp on it, but you can still feel that he feels it's deserved. For all the detail put into the fic, I really liked that it didn't have to spell out the important things with these two. (This is more gen than anything, but Basch/Ashe fans may enjoy it as well.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Helping Hand by greywarrior - This was a very short piece, almost fluffy as Basch and Ashe walk through the streets of Balfonheim, tired and hot and weary. But what I liked about it was that the sense of actually being there with them, Ashe's discomfort (while refusing to say anything about it) and the grimy heat of the place was very well done, I could just imagine it. The interaction between the two of them was nicely done as well, the quiet way they had around each other, the way not much was said or even done, but there was a connection there, you could feel the deep well of emotion Basch had for her even when he wasn't so much as looking her way or just helping her up onto the chocobo. I don't know that I would always favor a fluffier take on them like this, but in this story it worked very nicely for me. <3 (Basch/Ashe, though it could just as easily be gen.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Night and the Oasis by logistika_nyx - I generally stick to reading rather selectively with FFXII (meaning, mostly at this point, I just want my certain characters/pairings) but sometimes a gen piece will catch my eye and I'm always up for good gen pieces. The fic is centered on the general relationship between Balthier and Basch, which isn't usually my favorite since they had hardly any interaction in the game, but I was immediately intrigued by the well-written first few lines. It's difficult to write in a style that matches the FFXII world/tone without appearing pretentious about it, but this story does a lovely job of that, of weaving in little details from the game's background and the characters' histories and writing something that's really quite lovely out of it. The use of the other characters around them (especially Fran, who is utterly lovely here, and Vaan, for what little he's in the background) is also well-done and I find myself curious about what else this author might write. This was a very nice little fic! (No warnings/pairings.)


- Final Fantasy XII - Match by shanaqui - I appear to be in a bit of a mood for some FFXII fic again, out of all things. Which is why I'm delighted to have stumbled over this fic, as it's a reversal of the above, this time with Balthier being the one that needs support as he tries not to stumble too badly through the alleys of Bhujerba while Fran quietly supports him. Again, the writing is lovely and clean here, the characterization of both of them is utterly delightful--Balthier still talking and still somehow rather smooth despite the intoxication, the utterly lovely Fran who says little but certainly gives off the impression of something even if you can't quite tell what. Amusement, perhaps. The author does beautifully with her character and this was a fantastic little piece. (This could be Balthier/Fran or it could be entirely gen.)


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