|Lady In Blue
Author: Regann PM
COMPLETE. Squall finds himself in the midst of familiar people and vaguely recognizable places, but feels as if he's forgotten to do something important. How does it relate to the legend of a long-dead princess? Time & Space are strange, indeed.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Mystery - Chapters: 3 - Words: 11,892 - Reviews: 36 - Favs: 28 - Follows: 4 - Published: 03-10-01 - Status: Complete - id: 225797
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
After managing to calm both herself and Squall to a point where they were coherent, she forced them to scrambled out of the turret, across the storming walkway and down the spiraling stairs. They were mere steps back to the study which held the secret passage. Now, Christina wished for nothing more than to leave the spooky old castle where she could deal with her friend's problems in a logical manner. She only hoped that he hadn't already lost his mind. After hearing his broken babble about dreams and dead princesses and ghosts as she hauled him down the steps, she was beginning to worry that he was already past the point of rescue.
Heaving a sigh of exasperation, she pushed open the slightly ajar secret door and prepared to toss Squall out ahead of her, muttering under her breath. She stopped in mid-stride when she heard a thundering, "What the hell?" from the other side of the door.
"Irvine!" she cried out, thanking god she was no longer alone. She threw open the door, dragging her dazed friend behind her. She let go of the confused and recently scarred man and raced into the astonished embrace of the surprised cowboy.
Although confused, Irvine returned her embrace, glancing over her bowed head to Squall. The normally composed man was visibly shaken, his eyes vacant as he sank down to Steffie's favorite purple chaise-lounge, clenching and unclenching his fists alternatively. "What are you doing here?" his fiancee finally asked as she pulled away.
"I came to get y'all," he answered, his dark eyes scanning her face for some explanation of their nervous behavior. He motioned to the movable wall. "What's that all about?"
"It's a secret passage," Christina told him impatiently as if it were the most trivial topic. "Squall found it earlier...Let's just get out of here, okay?"
Irvine shook his head, which was devoid of its usual hat. "No can do, darlin'. The bridge is flooded over."
"What?" Christina gasped, wondering why her luck had suddenly turned so bad.
Irvine nodded tightly. "It washed out right after I drove over it. We're stuck here for the night, I'm afraid." He shifted his eyes from his blonde fiancee to her silent friend, noticing his unreadable expression. "Is that going to be a problem?"
Christina grabbed tightly to her hand, her blue eyes ringed with tears, wet tendrils of hair plastered to her skin. "I hope not."
Another streak of lightning, another roar of thunder and the heavy sound of silence filled the room.
"See? I did good," Irvine bragged as he lounged on the huge soft bed. "I not only got 'em dry, I brought 'em."
Christina rolled her eyes, but was glad to have a pair of clean, dry pajamas to wear that night. The couple was situated into one of the many aired guest-rooms on the castle's second floor, Squall's room located three doors down. "That's because you had to take them to the laundry mat after they were soaked," she said tartly. "That's why they were in the car."
"Okay, okay," he admitted, leaning up to admire his fiancee as she stood in the front of the hanging mirror and brushed out her damp blond hair. "But it all worked out in the end, right?"
Christina's motion slowed to a stop as she wondered if everything was going work out in the end. She didn't know exactly what was wrong with her old friend, but he was teetering on the edge, she knew that much. The look in his eyes when he reached out to touch her, his wet fingers on her face as if to assure himself that she wasn't going to disappear into the mist. He'd never so much as told her how he was feeling before, aside from polite conversation, but at that moment, he'd bared his soul, expressing all his fear and pain. She only hoped that it wasn't too little, too late.
Irvine came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. "It'll be okay, Christy," he told her softly, burying his face into her hair. "I promise. Whatever is wrong with Squall, he'll get through it."
Christina sighed, forcing herself to relax. "I hope so. I've never seen him like this before. I just can't help but worry."
"You worry too much, Miz Trepe," Irvine admonished.
She turned in his arms, her eyes dark with uncertainty. "This time, I think I may have worried too little."
Meanwhile, in his own elaborately decorated guest chamber, Squall sat on the edge of his velvet-covered bed, his head grasped between his hands as he tried to make sense of everything that had happened. If he'd had any doubt that something was wrong, his newly-acquired scar served as concrete proof. The images had only been in his mind, but there was the battle scar as if he actually taken part in the fight. What did it mean? He stared at himself in the mirror on the wall, his reflection holding no hidden phantoms like the aged mirror in the abandoned throne room. Two serious slate-colored eyes looked back at him from beneath his long light brown bangs, the tender red scar lending his face an air of mystery that it had lacked before. As if it had always been missing that element to make it complete.
"Damn it," he growled under his breath to himself. "Why did I have to come all the way to France to go insane?" Feeling the need to work off some of his pent-up energy, he began to pace the length of the floor. When that did little to alleviate his agitation, Squall began to search for something to occupy his mind. Short of options, he decided to straighten up his meager belongings scattered around the room. Why not?
Dressed in his air-dried light gray T-shirt and dark jeans, he grabbed his leather bomber-style jacket, glad that he hadn't been wearing it during his sojourn in the rain. He yanked open the ornate wardrobe door, poised to hang up his unused garment, but was forced to jump back when a large, rather dangerous object spilled from the opened wardrobe. At his feet clattered one of the strangest yet most familiar things he could remember seeing. It was a weapon, with the long light-blue blade of a sword and a revolver-like chamber for bullets--a gun and sword? He hesitantly reached for it, trailing his nimble fingers down the polished blade to the smooth handle. No, a gunblade. That's what it was.
Squall took hold of the weapon and rose to his full height, holding out the weapon in a defensive stance, both hands gripping the hilt of the gunblade. "What a strange..." Squall's musing was cut off as he suddenly and completely remembered.
He remembered everything which had led up to that moment since his arrival in France and knew the complete error of it all. Images poured into his mind like a river no longer held back by a dam, escaping furiously to fill the space ahead. As he struggled to filter through the influx of information, he heard her voice. "Squall...I'm waiting...your promise..."
"Oh dear Hyne," he muttered. "Rinoa."
The Lady in Blue. Rione de Coeurtille. Rinoa Heartilly. She was waiting and he had to find her. To save himself. Hastily donning his jacket, Squall grabbed the Lion Heart and raced out of the room and into the shadowed halls of Ultimont's--Ultmecia's castle. He had to find Rinoa.
He was no longer Squall Loire, the Squall of this strange world where the countries were called France and England. He was again Squall Leonhart, commander of Garden, who would not let this last and cruel trick of Ultimecia seal him away in another world, a world where Rinoa was only a distant ghost of the past. In another place, in another time, she was waiting.
"Did you hear that?" Christina demanded as she sat upright in bed, an irrational fear gnawing at her. Irvine protested this intrusion into his sleep as he sat up. "Hear what?" he grumbled unhappily.
"Squall...I'm waiting...your promise..." The words were not Christina's, but belonged to an unknown female voice.
The couple exchanged looks. "That," Christina answered, jumping out of bed. "I'm going to check on Squall."
She held up her hand to stop his protest. "He's my friend, damnit. And he's losing his mind, or else we are. But I promised to help him and I'm going to. I'll be back." She marched out the door only to come skittering back a moment later. "He's gone!" she reported frantically.
Irvine felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise. "I'm going with
you," he argued with her unspoken declaration. He knew that she was going
The raging storm had dwindled to a cloud-filled sky noticed Squall when he emerged onto the stone catwalk which connected the secret passage with Ultimecia's throne room. The last time Squall Leonhart had walked that path, he'd been accompanied by two of his fellow SeeDs, Quistis and Zell, and they'd been preparing to battle the evil sorceress of the future. They'd won...hadn't they?
Squall, oblivious that his newly-acquired scar had faded to old, squared his shoulders and retraced his former steps. He'd noticed that this strange world was partly his own: the castle was on the model of Ultimecia's, details frighteningly similar. Even the unnamed painting was the same. Vividarium Intervigilium Viator was what he learned the name to be. All the paintings in the study had been the same, except for the one of Rione...Rinoa. That hadn't existed in his world. Nor had she been a long-dead ghost, condemned to haunt the castle halls. And he could only hope that she would not be a ghost in his world. What if this was some kind of mirror-reality?
The door opened easily for him on this visit, almost bursting from the hinges from his force. Empty and stilled, only the dark shadows danced against the fading painted walls. His cold eyes stared hard at empty throne where once the evil sorceress had reigned over them in the compressed realm of past, present and future. That was when he noticed the mirror.
Christina and Irvine rushed into abandoned tower with a gust of frigid wind. Christina's oversized pajama pants fluttered madly as she leaned against the door gasping for breath after her frenzied dash to the tower. Irvine was a step behind her, his long chestnut hair streaming down his back and shoulders, his dark eyes full of fear of what they'd find. Squall did not turn away from the mirror, his eyes glued to its surface in unbelieving fascination. His blue-bladed weapon clattered to the floor from his slack fingers as Christina tentatively moved toward him. "Squall?"
Christina sucked in a breath at the expression of her friend's handsome face. He'd always been good-looking, but his face had always lacked the spark of life, of vitality which it held at that moment. It stoic gaze to the mirror and nearly fainted from shock. What she had expected was to see his radiant sorrowful expression looking back from beside her own pale, doe-eyed visage framed by long wild hair. Instead of that, she found herself looking into a sweeping flower field, pale green leaves and stems contrasting with the pink, white and yellow blossoms dotting the field like drops of paint from an artist's brush. On the gentle breeze pale pink petals swirled on the breeze, sweeping around like dancing fairies against the background of the gold late afternoon. There, in the far distance, was a lone figure, her long black hair fluttering as was her pale-blue duster. "Oh. My. God."
"Christy? Darlin'?" Irvine's dark eyes were soon riveted on the same impossible image, the mirror no longer a reflective pane, but an invisible looking-glass, a window into another world.
"Rinoa..."Squall whispered, his voice full of wonder and longing. He moved closer to mirror while Christina and Irvine huddled together, Irvine mumbling a prayer to the God Almighty. Squall reached out to the mirror, expecting his hands to connect with cool smooth glass. Instead, his fingers passed through as if it were a thin barrier of light and morning dew. He yanked in his hand back out in surprise while Christina bravely reached out to the mirror, her hand stopped by solid glass.
Squall turned to her, smiling wanly. "I'm not losing my mind," he told her gravely.
"I think I am," she said as she choked back tears.
"She's waiting for me," he explained quietly. "I don't belong here. I never did."
"Please, Squall--don't leave," she begged. "You're my...friend."
Squall blinked, foreign tears clinging to his long lashes. He gazed at the lithe blond, her long hair loose and blue eyes solemn. "Quistis," he said under his breath. He recognized her for who she was, his former instructor and childhood friend who'd tried so unsuccessfully to shatter the walls around his heart. She'd laugh to know that this counter-part of hers had succeeded to bring him to tears with her quiet plea. "You are my friend, Quisty. I have to."
"Why," she inquired imploringly.
Impulsively, he clasped her hand as he did earlier. "I couldn't imagine not seeing her tomorrow or the next day, or next year or...well, you get the picture," he mimicked her words for earlier.
"Indeed I do."
He glanced to the man standing protectively at her side, knowing that he also waited in his world. "Irvine."
Squall Leonhart, after saying his good-bye to Squall Loire's friends, collected his gunblade and boldly pushed through the thin barrier, into the flower field, one word on his lips, "Rinoa."
"No!" Christina tried once more to stop him and she lunged for his retreating form as it crossed the filmy veil between the realms. As her grasping hands made contact with the mirror's surface, the room exploded with light as Squall was finally on the other side. A jolt of lightning shot through Christina's arm, sending her reeling to the floor. When the light died down, she and Irvine were both sprawled on the stone floor, heads spinning.
Christina quickly looked up at the mirror.
All she saw was the ordinary reflection of herself and Irvine, cloudy from age and neglect. Then, the mirror shattered, sending millions of shards slicing into the air. Squall was gone.
"Rinoa!" Squall Leonhart raced across the flower field, the warm golden light almost blinding as he sprinted through the high blooms. "Rinoa!"
He slowed when he saw her just a few strides away, her graceful back to him as she waited, her dark hair gently falling around her as her duster fluttered on the breeze. He paused to catch his breath, taking great heaving gulps of air to cool his flaming lungs. He'd made it back to his own time, following her spirit's calling from another dimension, despite the time paradoxes created by Ultimecia. They had won.
"Rinoa!" he called out again, but she didn't answer. "Rinoa!"
Suddenly, Squall realized that his time with Christina in the other world had not been the end of his trials in Ultimecia's compressed creation, but the beginning. Everything around him swirled and rushed away and Squall Leonhart lost sight of his prize, Rinoa. She'd been lost back into the depths of Time Compression, swirling him into another place, another time.
His search would continue until she was with him again, over mountains and desert and sea. After all, he'd found her once.
And she would save him.
"This has to be a dream," Christina was repeating over and over as she stalked the length of study in Ultimont's castle, near the tiny French village of Coeurtille. "A terrible, horrible, horrific dream!"
"It was real, Christy!" Irvine argued. "I was there and I saw it, too! I can't explain and I don't even want to try, but it happened! He stepped through a god-damned mirror into fucking wonderland." Irvine's nerves caused his mouth to spill obscenities in abandon.
"This can't have happened!" Christina wailed, biting her neatly-manicured wails. "This is insane. Insane."
"Well, I don't know about that," Irvine remarked dryly. "But the exploding mirror cut me." He held up his hand as proof. He reached for the towel which Christina had causally draped over the Lady in Blue painting she'd been restoring.
"Maybe Steffie slipped me some kind of hallucinogenic drug earlier," Christina tried to rationalize out loud. "People don't simply follow ghostly apparitions through mirrors."
Irvine's eyes were was wide as saucers. "Um, Chris?"
He was staring at the Lady in Blue painting. "Come here and look at this."
"I don't see what this has to do with anything," she complained while she walked over to him. "What does this painting have to do with...Squall...oh...dear."
Now, couple stood open-mouthed gaping at the painting. Only a few hours earlier, Christina had expertly restored it to reveal the lovely lost soul, Rione de Coeurtille. He had not been in the painting.
Now, the young woman's half-smile was radiant, all joy possible reflected in her dark eyes. Christina could only blame the change on the fact that now the painting included a tall man dressed in black who stood at her side, his handsome scarred face and light eyes half-hidden beneath a fringe of light brown hair. His hand rested lightly on her shoulder and, although his face was composed, the happiness there was undeniable.
Irvine had long since moved away while Christina stared. He shoved a ledger into her hands. "Lookee, here," he ordered softly.
She looked down at her catalogue ledger where she had recorded each artifact painstakingly in her neat script. She skimmed until she found #143 A, the lot number originally assigned to "Lady in Blue." Now, the title, in her own writing, read "Rione de Coeurtille et son chevalier, Rafale de la coeur du Lion." She pale visibly.
"What does that mean?" Irvine wanted to know, his French limited to colorful phrases such as "the palace of hell."
"Rione de Coeurtille," she translated softly, "and her knight..." She faltered on the word "rafale," her heart quickening when she caught its meaning. "Rafale de la coeur du lion...Squall of the heart of the lion. Her knight, Squall the lion-hearted."
The ledger hit the carpeted floor with a soft thud, tears blurring Christina's view of the happy painted couple. She felt Irvine hold her tight, murmuring soft words of comfort. She held onto him, grateful for his support. "I guess he was right," she smiled softly through the tears. "She was waiting for him."
"I'll be right back!" the couple heard Selphie Tilmitt holler out to the assembled crowd in Balamb Garden's ballroom. "I gotta grab my camera!"
"Hyne save us all," Rinoa Heartilly, sorceress and leader of the Timber Owls smiled serenely at her companion. Squall Leonhart rewarded her with a faint smile, his smoky eyes alight with humor. "We'll have to spend the whole evening running from her and that thing."
"Maybe we can just stay out here," Squall offered. "She won't think to look to check."
Rinoa laughed. "I'm sure." Inhaling deeply, Rinoa gazed over the balcony edge of the floating Garden, admiring the effect of the Garden's glowing lights on the blue sea, and the misted edge where the velvet sky met the dark sea. It was a breathtaking sight. She glanced over at Squall to see him lost in thought, deeply pensive. She giggled. It was all over; they'd defeated Ultimecia and made their way safely out of Time Compression and yet he still furrowed his brow in contemplation. "A gil for your thoughts?" she offered.
He looked down at his hands. "I was just thinking...about Time Compression. The things that happened there."
"Oh." Rinoa could sense there he was holding something back. "Do you want to...talk about it?"
"I saw you in the flower field and I called out to you," he revealed softly, still looking ahead. "but you didn't answer me, couldn't hear me. Before that though, I was in a strange world, a world where I forgot that you even existed."
Her black eyes watched him imploringly and she laid a light hand on him for comfort. He nodded gratefully before he continued. "Everyone else was there. I saw Quistis, Irvine, Selphie and even Zell. But you weren't there...and I was miserable." His voice trailed off with his last comment. "I was completely miserable even when I didn't know why." He looked at her, his gaze softening. "But I still heard you." Without realizing it, the whole story of the other place spilled from his lips, and he told her about Christina, the castle and Rione de Couertille. "And when I realized the truth, I..."
"You came back for me," Rinoa finished softly, smiling. "Thank you."
"I had to find you," Squall told her. "Because you were the only one who could save me. The only one that mattered." She inched closer, her soft smile widening at his heartfelt words. "Oh, Squall. I--"
"Irvine Kinneas!" Their moment was ruined by Quistis' loud admonishment. The couple glanced into the ballroom to see the usually calm instructor forcibly pushing the amorous cowboy away from her while Selphie caught the whole thing on tape.
"What's her problem?" Irvine frowned into the camera as Quistis glided away from him.
Selphie giggled. "She obviously doesn't appreciate your charm."
Rinoa giggled in turn. "Quistis and Irvine, huh? Now, that had to be the strangest part of the whole place."
Rinoa's smile turned mischievous. "Maybe we should tell them and see what happens."
Squall shook his head. "I'd rather not think about any of that right now--or any of them for that matter." His smile was warm and tender.
Rinoa found herself getting goose-bumps. "Then what would you like to think about?" Just then a shooting star streaked across the sky. "How about that?" she asked, pointing up at the night sky, smiling.
"Hey!" they heard Selphie squeal in the background while they were involved in more pleasurable things. "My camera just died!"
Author's Notes: This is based loosely on an original fiction of mine and I wanted the same supernatural love-story motif, but I didn't want to have to kill off any characters--so I played around with Time Compression ^_^ I think all the switching around of names and people in the 'other' world is pretty clear and all my French is translated within the text. It's as accurate as I can get it with my knowledge of the language. If there are any native speakers would like to correct it for me, I'm open to all help. Oh, 'coeur' is the word for heart in French, so that's how "Heartilly" became "Coeurtille."
Why did I change the girls' names and not the guys? I dunno. It was
easier and I felt the guys' names were so weird, while Quistis and Selphie
just strike me as odd, so I gave 'em similar-sounding names. Selphie to
Steffie and Quisty to Christy to Christina. Just in case you wanted my
logic. And the Christina/Irvine pair-up? That's due to my complete belief
that Irvine is the easiest character to translated into the real world,
more so than Zell or anybody else. I know it's kinda of fuzzy in some parts,
but it's supposed to be; Squall's a very confused little boy. Now, with
all that said, I hoped you enjoyed my little story and I do hope
that you'll review it. Please, pretty please?