Is this what's it's all about? My feelings.my heart.

I threw myself onto the bed once more. The pillow was so soggy, but it was warm enough to give me some comfort. My blonde hair fell messily around me. How long had it been? I looked up a little over at the desk chair. There was my heavy armor.and the Defender that I held in battle.

With him.

With him.

The tears filled my eyes again so I buried my face in the pillow once more. Why?!

Meliadoul sighed. She walked back to the main room. "How is she?" Orlandu asked.

"Awful. I can hear her crying."

"That's all she's been doing for the past week," Beowulf added. "I hadn't even realized she liked him so much."

"I knew," Meliadoul said. "Of course we were very close."

"When you've seen as many things as I have, and lived as long as I have," Orlandu laughed. "You pick up things easily."

"I'm so worried about her though," Meliadoul sighed.

"I think, I think if we send her somewhere on a short mission. Being outside and holding her sword might make her feel better. It might make her feel alive," Orlandu suggested.

"But where?"

"Well, let's think. We're here in Igros. Why not to Goland to vist Mustadio and Cloud?"

"That would be good," Olan said, looking up from his desk full of papers. "I heard rumors of there being a pack of Behemoths."

"Why didn't you say so earlier?"

"It's only a rumor, and besides, there are plenty of warriors there. And they haven't struck a city-"

"Not yet at least!" Orlandu interupted. He scowled at Olan, but then turned back to Meliadoul. "Will you please retrieve Agrias from her room Meliadoul. And tell her to bring her armor and sword?"

"Of course." Pound. Pound.

What do you want? Go away. Leave me be.

Pound. Pound.

I told you! Leave me be!

"Agrias? Agrias.please answer! It's me Melli!"

I sighed and sat up. Wiping my cheeks for the millionth time I stood up wearily and walked to the door. I sighed again as I rested my hand on the door knob.

Pound. Pound. "Agri-?" I opened the door.

"Yeah?" I asked. I knew she knew how upset I was. I knew she knew why. Why did I still try to hide it? Why do I have to act like the tough girl I'm not? So many questions, and no god damn answers.

"Come on," Meliadoul said with too much sympathy in her voice. "Orlandu wants to see you. He says to bring your armor and sword."

I sighed. "I can't.I don't have the energy even to stand up."

"You're doing so now. Come on Agrias." Meliadoul pushed the door open, knocking me back a few steps. She walked to the desk chair and picked up my armor. "Come on! Come on! I'm getting this blasted armor on you whether you cooperate or not!"

I sighed again and strapped the armor on. She picked up my sword in it sheath and strapped it to my belt. "That's more like the Agrias Oaks I know. Now come on. Orlandu's waiting."

We walked to the main hall of Igros where Orlandu was waiting. "Agrias," he laughed. "It's nice to see you out of your room." I smirked a little. It was forced. "I think you need to get outside for a bit. You've been cooped up in that room since we returned a week ago. So I'm sending you to Goland Coal City to check up on Mustadio and Cloud. You're to assist them if they need any help. Also, Olan has told me of a pack of Behemoths that's been roaming the swamps and woods near it. I want you down there in case they decide to attack Goland."

"Single handedly hold of a pack of Behemoths?"

"We survived a hell of a lot more."

"Because we all worked together."

"Mustadio and Cloud'll be there. The three of you will be plenty enough. Now go on. Take a chocobo from the stable and leave today." I nodded and turned to leave. "Oh and Agrias, brush out your hair." I took my loose braid and draped it over my left shoulder. I nodded, forcing Orlandu a smile.

The hell with brushing it out! I wanted to get this stupid mission over as soon as possible. I undid the braid, then hastily braided it once more. I checked my armor and my sword one last time. I looked at the soft brown cord around my neck, and felt better for a brief second.

"Lady Agrias?" The young female Squire tending the chocobos asked.

"Yes."

"Sir Olan has told me about the mission Sir Orlandu has given you. Take your pick of a chocobo."

"Thank you Lady."

"Oh no! I'm nothing of a Lady. I'm just a Squire here working in the chocobo stables for extra money. My parents both were killed, so I'm trying to support my younger brother. Oh! I'm sorry about that. My name's Tina."

"It's all right. We all have our own stories for doing what we do. But from the sounds of your story, you certainly sound much as a Lady."

Tina blushed a little. "T-thank you Lady Agrias."

"Lady Tina," I started as I looked around the large stable. "May I ask which one is Ramza's chocobo?"

"Master Ramza's chocobo? I believe it's this one Star Shine."

I walked over to a small stable. The chocobo was small. It looked like it hadn't much training, or was the runt of its.its.What is a a newborn bunch of chocobos called anyway? I held my hand out to Star Shine, and he approached me warily. "Wark!" He cried happily and rubbed his neck against my hand.

Tina laughed a little. "Guess he likes you Lady Agrias. Do you have a riding cloak?"

"No, but this one'll do," I replied as I took the riding cloak off of its hook. Judging from the colors, blue and white, I figured it was Ramza's.

"Ahh, do I see a trend going Lady Agrias? First his chocobo then his riding cloak?"

"I'm sure you know how I feel Lady Tina. The feeling of losing someone so close to you."

Tina nodded. "Of course. It hurts.and the pain buries deep inside of you. Were you close to Master Ramza?"

"Before a week ago, I would've told you we were as close as any two people who fight together are. But now.I'm not sure."

"Do you think you loved him?"

".I.don't think so," I replied. My voice betrayed me. "Anyway, Lady Tina, I must bid you farewell. I shall be back as soon as my mission is finished." I jumped on the chocobo, and adjusted the reigns. Tina opened the gate for me. I brought Star Shine out towards the entrance.

"Go with God Lady Agrias."

"You too Lady Tina," I replied. "Come on Star Shine!" Star Shine warked and started running off.

As Star Shine and I crossed Mandalia Plains, I thought of what Tina said. 'Go with God.' That was something Simon told Princess Ovelia and I all the time. And I believed in it fully. I was going with God. I was going with St. Ajora's Will. Nothing could stop me. Nothing could stop my mission.

Or so I had thought.

What was it that made me change my duty? I was a Holy Knight. I was proud to be the only female who achieved that rank. It was a rank even few men had received. I was thrilled to receive the assignment of escorting Princess Ovelia. It was my first.or was it second?.mission since attaining my Holy Knight statis.

And I remember how infuriated I was to find from Gafgarion that he and his two mercanaries were hired. It made me feel as if I wasn't trusted.

I laughed a little. It's amazing what a couple years can do to you. Sure, I'd change. But I think he was a catalyst for it.

"Wark!"

"Hmm? What's wrong Star Shine? Tired?"

"Wark!"

"Ok, We'll rest here." We were at nearly the end of Mandalia Plain, towards Garland. I didn't mind sleeping out in the middle of the field. I prefered it from sleeping in an inn. Too many people knew my name and face now. They would ask about Ramza. They would ask too many things. And I would cry, I'm sure. Star Shine layed down and closed his eyes. I rested my hand on his beak for a moment, then curled up next to him. His feathers ruffled a bit, as if he were trying to tell me, 'I'll keep you warm and protect me Agrias.' It was comforting. Something I hadn't felt since the night before we went to Orbonne.

"Agrias, why you sitting by yourself here?" Ramza walked over and sat next to me. "Oh.hi Ramza," I replied.

"You seem tense."

"I'm fine.Ramza, you suffered some really bad wounds yesterday, you should be resting."

"I'm all right," he replied. "It's bandaged up. Besides, the group comes first anyway."

"I'm ok, I said I'm fine."

"You voice betrays your words," he replied calm, and cool.

I looked up at the stars and thought, yeah, you're right.

I awakened to the sun shining bright. Star Shine warked a little after feeling my tears on his feathers. He waited patiently for me to sit up before he stood up himself. "Wark!" I nodded and climbed on his back. I grabbed hold of the reigns and we dashed off. Going through Garliand, I covered my face with the hood. I didn't need to be side tracked.

I kept traveling east, and then south. I traveled for about a week.

"Did you hear?"

"I know I can't believe it?"

Can't believe what? The news was buzzing all over town. And eventually I heard at the inn where I was giving Star Shine a rest and some food.

"I can't believe it! They say the Heretic is still alive!"

"You mean the Beoulve?"

"Yes. They spotted him in the woods west of the Barius Hills. I can't imagine why the Heretic would show up around here."

"Ah, he'll be fine for now. I'm sure once the Church gains foothold again he'll have to be careful."

"And so won't the rest of them too. Agrias, Orlandu, the whole lot of them. They'll all be chased out of Igros and killed."

"Maybe they'll get forgiveness from the Church."

"With all the killing they've done? I'm sure not!"

I payed the stable hand and took Star Shine out. I jumped on his back and we went south to Barius Hill where it soon grew dark. My heart pounded. Ramza? Was he really alive? How had he made it out? Hell, how had all of us made it out? I touched the Gemini stone hanging around my neck on the brown cord. He told me to hold onto it, to take care of it. To make sure it never fell into the wrong hands again. But after what that man said, of all the killing I've done.what makes me right? What makes it okay for me to hold this stone and for Gafgarian or Marquis Elmador not to?

"Star Shine.do you think he's still alive?" Star Shine just looked at me. "Let's find out boy." I jumped back on his back and we dashed off to the forests of the east.

The sun was starting to shine through the grey clouds. It looked like it would rain. That would make my search for Ramza so much more difficult. Why had it become my job to search for Ramza?

That was Orlandu's intention. Did he know Ramza still was alive? Did he want me to find him?

I sighed a little. I jumped off of Star Shine and refilled my canteen at the small lagoon.

"Wark!"

"Shhh."

"WARK! WARK!"

"Star Shine what is it boy?" He was pointing down at the ground with his beak. I stood up and looked over him.

Two sets of chocobo tracks. "Do you think it's.?" It could be! Is Alma still alive too? Star Shine and I looked at each other with excitement. I closed my canteen, though it was only half full, and jumped on his back. "Come on! As fast as you can! Follow the tracks!" We were off. Off as fast as his small feet could take him.

Unfortunately, about an hour later, it started to pour. We tried our hardest to find the trail, but it was hopeless. The tracks were all gone, and any scent had vanished. I started crying and Star Shine drooped his head. We were both so full of hope that we would find our friend. I cried more until suddenly Star Shine perked up. Only a second later I heard a girl's scream. "Is that.Alma.? Quickly Star Shine!" We dashed off to the direction. I threw my hood off despite the fact it was pouring.

Ramza's cloak flew up from the wind. My braid beat against my back as Star Shine ran. The rain dripped down my face. My eyes were set. My heart was determined. I was going to do this. There was no doubt in my mind now that I would see Ramza.

Star Shine suddenly stopped and hesitated. I looked up. There were four behemoths circling around Ramza. Alma was lying on the ground bleeding. His blonde hair was matted, soaked with the rain.

I jumped off of Star Shine's back and drew my sword. "Holy Explosion!" I used, aiming my best, hitting two Behemoths, killing one, and heavily weakening the other. Ramza and I looked at each other, though I could not see his face through the pouring rain. I dashed toward the weakened behemoth and slashed him swiftly with my sword on his neck.

"Look out!" I heard his voice shout to me. I looked over my shoulder to see the two behemoths charging at me. I let out a cry in astonishment. Ramza pushed me out of the way, taking both blows for me.

"Ramza!" I shouted. With every ounce of strength and might I had in me, I lifted Defender above my head and brought it down using my Holy Explosion attack once more. I knelt down after knowing I had killed the behemoths. I gasped for breath and shivered from the rain.

"Agrias.Agrias." I felt a hand on my back.

I looked up at him, my body weary from the small fight. He was alive.he really was. I almost started crying. "Alma!" I exclaimed. I started running even before I was fully standing up, causing me to stumble on fallen leaves and slippery pine needles over to Alma. I wrapped up her wound quickly and gave her an X-Potion. "She needs help."

"You do too."

"You do too," I replied to Ramza.

"There's a cave over here, get your chocobo and I'll get Alma. We'll build a fire in there."

I nodded, too tired to argue or fight that he shouldn't be doing anything after taking the two blows. I took Star Shine by the reigns and walked over to the cave Ramza had pointed to. We walked inside.

It was a narrow cave. Star Shine walked all the way in the back and layed down. We rested Alma near him for some warmth. Together Ramza and I built a small fire with sticks and branches that were inside the cave. We sat on opposite sides of the fire, just looking at each other through the heat.

A flury of emotions and thoughts ran through me all at once. I was ecstatic, but I was so damned tired. And I was cold.

"Hey, isn't that my riding cloak?" He finally asked.

"Oh yeah," I laughed a little. "I hope you don't mind."

"I'm glad it came into use for you. Can I have it?"

"Y-yeah. Of course." I untied the cloak, which was still soaking wet, and placed it on the ground next to me. Ramza stood up, picked it up, and walked over to the entrance of the cave. He stretched the cloak out enough to cover the mouth of cave, then tied it down.

"That should keep us a little bit warmer. He walked back over towards me, but then stopped. He took off his heavy armor and let his sword drop to the ground. He kicked them over to the side. "Stay a while. Take your armor off, take your sword off. Relax. We're certainly not going anywhere until this passes. Can't see a thing out there."

I nodded and rose. I took my armor off and my sword, and piled it next to Ramza's. I walked over to Alma. "She looks like she'll be ok."

"Alma's strong. I know she will. But you look like you're gonna catch a cold. Grab the blanket in my bag?"

"This one?" I asked opening up the biggest pocket and pulling out a black fuzzy blanket.

"Yeah. Come over here." Ramza sat down by the fire. I sat down next to him holding the blanket in my arms. He took the blanket and started opening it up. "Now see, Agrias, this is how you use a blanket," he teased.

"Oh stop!" I blushed.

The blanket was small. It covered both of us just a little bit, but I guess that warmth was better then none.

"So what's been going on?"

"We've been at Igros since we returned. We all found ourselves outside of Orbonne Monastery, except you and Alma were missing. I awoke a couple days later and found myself in Igros."

"And?"

"Orlandu's been pretty much leading Igros, Orlandu and Meliadoul are his secretaries. Rafa and Malak returned home. Beowulf and Reis were in Igros but were also returning back home. Mustadio and Cloud are back in Goland, trying to find a way to help Cloud back home."

"What about you?"

".Well." Did I have to be honest? My heart pounded and leapt. I knew I loved him. But what did he feel for me? Probably nothing. He probably just thinks of me as a war companion right? Yeah I'm sure.

"What're you doing down here?"

"Well.Orlandu." I trailed off.

I woke up much later. The fire was still crackling a little. My head was on Ramza's shoulder. He was asleep. Our clothes were dry now. I guess I had fallen asleep midsentence.

Was my head really on his shoulder? Wait.was that his arm around me? Yeah it was. It was so warm. Oh Agrias, you shouldn't be doing this. I feel like a little girl with a puppy love crush. I just closed my eyes and remained there. It was soothing, comforting. It was good that his arm was there. It was the first time I had been this close to him. No.

"I can't.breath." I gasped for air kneeling down. I was at the base of the main peak at Germinas Peak.

"Agrias is bleeding!" I heard Mustadio cry.

Ramza started running towards me. Orlandu grabbed his arm. "Don't you dare. There's three ninjas up there that'll strike you down."

"Then they can hit me too! But Agrias will die if she gets hit again! Cover me then if you have a problem with it!"

I looked up. My eyes were blurred a bit. My body ached with pain. I felt inside myself breathing myself my last breaths. I saw Ramza running towards me and I blanked out.

"Agrias.? Ah.I guess she's still asleep." I heard Ramza say softly.

"No.no. I'm awake." I sat up and yawned.

Ramza looked over to the cave entrance. "It's still raining pretty hard, but at least it's let up a little bit."

I stood up and walked over to Alma. I looked at her face and turned around to Ramza. "What is it?" He asked. "You turned pale as a ghost."

"It's Alma." I managed to muster out.

He stood up and dashed over next to his sister. He knelt down next to her and looked at her. Alma's left cheek was purple. Her hand was swollen. Her right shoulder, where she was attack was pink and purple. "She's been poisoned," he said.

"What do we do?"

"Calm down." He took my hands. "Our chocobos were killed by the behemoths, but with Star Shine, I'm sure we can find more. Stay here with Alma, and I'll go out with Star Shine to find another."

"I'll go with you!"

"Stay with Alma."

"Then I'll go in your place!"

"I'll be fine."

"But the two attacks you took yesterday for me." I looked at him, trying to sound determined not to let him go. But my heart wasn't allowing myself to raise my voice to show my resolve.

He put his hands on my shoulders. "Agrias Oaks, I'll be back in a short while." He squeezed my shoulder a little bit, and kept his hands there for longer then a second. There was a quick smile between us. I watched him as he walked over to our pile of armor and weapons. He pushed mine aside and picked up his armor.

"Ramza," I said walking over to him. "You're struggling just to pick it up. How are you gonna hold your sword?"

"For Alma, I'll survive." I took the armor from him and put it back against the wall. I picked my armor up and slipped it over my head.

"I'll be back shortly." I tied one side of my armor. While I was tying it, Ramza tied the other side. He picked up my Defender in its sheath and tied it to my belt. "I owe you one."

"Nah," I replied. "This is for all the times I owe you. Y`know.like all the times you pretty much saved my life."

A smile flashed between us. I took a deep breath and slipped out of the cave. The rain poured down and chilled me to the bone. I thought of the warmth I had felt curled up next to him, and it gave me the strength to push on and find a chocobo. I ran through the forest. There had to be one around here somewhere. I made sure to run in a straight line, so I could find my way back to the cave in this rain.

An hour or so passed I think. I started coughing and I was so cold. The rain soaked me straight to the bone. I found the strength to move on by thinking of Alma suffering, and of thinking the pain Ramza was also in.

Finally, I saw one. It was a bright yellow chocobo. I slowly advanced towards it. I walked in front of it and held out an ungloved hand. I looked straight at it. The chocobo backed up a bit.

I remembered what Alicia taught me. Her father owned the inn, and she had always worked at the chocobo stable before entering the Academy. Alicia took a course once at the Academy from a top chocobo professor, and told me to catch a wild chocobo, you need to stand out and hold out your hand.

The chocobo took a step toward me again. I'm sure she figured that I needed her help desperately if I was fool enough to stand still in the pouring rain. She took one more step to me and pushed her beak against my hand. She warked a little and took one more step to me. I smiled and climbed on her back. We dashed back toward the cave. I jumped off and motioned for her to stay. I ran inside.

"Agrias, you're ok!"

"Of course. Come on, we can talk more later. We've got to get Alma somewhere safe."

"Where?"

"Limberry's very close, but I don't think it's wise to go there.after all, the Church still has a strong hold."

"What about Zaland?"

"There's a lot of rumors and talk going on around there. I think it's best to spend an extra day or two and go straight to Goland."

"Then let's leave now. Agrias, take my riding cloak. If you get any more wet you're going to catch pnemonia."

I nodded and removed Ramza's riding cloak from the cave entrance. I threw it around me and put the hood up. I saw Ramza put Alma on Star Shine, then jumped up on Star Shine himself. I walked outside and jumped back on the female chocobo that I had just captured. Using a compass that Mustadio had given me a long time ago, we figured out the way south and dashed south.

We traveled throughout the day, and smiles crossed our faces when we saw the sun peeking out. It was late in the afternoon, but we kept riding on. Even after the sun set, we kept riding on. We were in the Zigolis Swamp. With a few words we decided to keep traveling as weary as we were. There was no place safe to camp on Zigolis Swamp, and it would be better for Alma if we got to a doctor as soon as possible. She was getting worse and worse. The swelling increased.

As the sun was rising, we were weary, the chocobos were weary, but persevered for us, for Alma. We were arriving in the outskirts of Goland. A little bit further and we found the mechanic shop that Mustadio owned. I jumped off my chocobo letting her wander a bit. I ran inside.

"Agrias!" Cloud looked up exclaiming.

"Hi Cloud! Is Mustadio here?"

"He's downstairs, I'll go get him."

"Thanks," I said exhausted.

In a moment Mustadio came upstairs. "Agrias! What's up?"

"We need a doctor immediately! Alma was attacked by a behemoth, and she was poisoned."

"Alma?" Mustadio asked.

"Ramza's here too.just get a doctor here quickly and show me someplace where Alma can rest! I'll explain later!"

"Of course. Cloud, show her to the extra room upstairs. I'll go out and fetch a doctor," Mustadio ran outside motioning to Ramza quickly as he passed him and ran off. Ramza picked up Alma from Star Shine's back and walked in the door Mustadio had left open. Cloud showed us to the extra bedroom upstairs. Ramza rested Alma on the bed and clutched her hand. My braid hung over my left shoulder. My loose hair was a mess. Ramza's riding cloak still hung around my shoulders. I stood paralyzed. I thought I should do something. I wished I had had some magical power. Even if it was just a priest's Cure 4 or Esuna. I wish I had something. But the truth was, I had nothing. There were enough magicians in our group, I was needed as a front line fighter. I had no problem with that. I loved standing in the front line. I loved protecting Victoria, and Sachiko, and Cloud when he first joined our entourage. Now I wished I had seriously considered training with some white magic. I would have to start that immediately.

Mustadio ran back in with an old lady, the local doctor. "She's here Li."

The old lady, with perfect posture, walked over to the bed. "Well, she's been poisoned."

"Yes," Ramza said. "We were attacked by a pack of Behemoths."

"I didn't know Behemoths could poison," Cloud replied.

"It could have poison from some other animal it killed, such as a Red Panther. When did this happen?"

"Three days ago," I replied.

"I'll need you all to leave so I can run some tests. You can come back and visit her in a couple of hours."

The four of us walked downstairs to Mustadio's mechanic shop. Ramza and Mustadio got in a conversation while Cloud walked back behind the counter attempting to fix a Romanda Gun someone had dropped off that morning. I walked outside.

For some reason, I felt like crying. And I needed to find a place. We were sort of on the outskirts of town. Star Shine and the female chocobo I found were standing outside. I tied both of them to the building and pat both of them. I walked off a bit to a grassy field. There were a few trees and wildflowers. I didn't even realize that I still had my armor and Ramza's riding cloak on. I just sat down and cried.

Alma's weak body appeared in my mind. I felt weak. I felt hopeless. I knew Ramza was worried sick about her. And there was nothing I could do. I was lost.

I rested my hand over my heart. It beated.like it normally did. Why did it feel different? It was something indescribable. Do I really love Ramza?

I've never been in love before. The only love I ever felt.was the one that was drilled into me about God. I.

My tears came down harder.

I felt a hand on my shoulder. He whispered something, not even whispered, just breathed. And I knew it was him. I threw myself into him and cried. He had taken his armor off, so now it was just his white shirt and then his warm skin. His arms wrapped around me, and through the armor and riding cloak I could feel his hands.

After I quieted a little bit, though I was still crying, I pulled up and looked at him. He untied my riding cloak and put it on the ground beside me. He proceeded to take my armor and sword off and rest it on the riding cloak. He sat down indian style and pulled me on his lap.

Embarassed, I quickly just sat next to him. We were quiet, and I just thought. Love.was it really love? I had never loved anyone. When I joined the Academy, I concentrated myself solely on my studies. I quickly rose through the ranks. My superiors had respect for me because I didn't try to sell my body to rise through the ranks. Even though I rose faster then them, Lavian and Alicia were my best friends. The three of us were a good group. I was the main frontline fighter, even before I trained as a Holy Knight. Lavian was a knight, but acted as the medic for our group, well training in chemistry and basic white magic. Alicia was the nature girl. She worked well with monsters and chocobos. The three of us were so close, that even on my mission to escort Princess Ovelia to Zeltennia. I remember the conversation we had before I left with Ramza and Gafgarian.

"Agrias," Alicia said. "I don't know if this is such a good idea."

"I have to find the Princess. I can't go back if I fail on my first mission," I countered.

"But the royal family will surely worry about you," Lavian said.

"Then do me a favor, return to the Academy, and tell them. Tell them that the mission is about to get more dangerous, so I have sent you two back to inform that the mission will take longer then previously thought."

"Agrias," Alicia pleaded. "Please don't do this."

I looked over to Ramza, Gafgarion, and Rad. "There's something.I don't know."

"I bet she likes him," Lavian whispered to Alicia, but loud enough for me to hear.

"Don't be silly. I just have a feeling that this is going to be long.go back to your training. And don't worry, I'll be back quickly. God will watch me."

"Agrias.Be strong. We'll be at Zeltennia Castle waiting for you," Lavian said.

"You two both better be Holy Knights by the time I come back," I teased and smiled.

"Go with God Alicia, Lavian."

"You too Lady Agrias," Alicia replied.

"Go with God," Lavian added in.

What about before the Academy.?

Before the Academy.I.

"Ramza.?" I asked meekly. Was this really me?

"What's wrong?"

"Can I tell you something.?"

"Sure."

"I haven't told anyone this and I."

I was sitting on his left side with his left arm around me. Now he put his right hand on my hand and squeezed it softly. I swallowed hard and started talking again. "I'm.not really Agrias Oaks.I'm Agrias Naci. During the 50 Year War.my grandfather.was a spy. He was caught and hung. My parents were hung.my older brother and I became orphens. I was six.he was sixteen. We were found by the Oaks. They were an old couple, and despite the fact that we were heretics because of our grandfather, they took us in. So I abaondoned the Naci name.and even at six I understood about being an Oak. I don't know where my older brother went.but in a few years I was placed in the Academy.And it's just.something I never told anyone.I know it seems kind of random but."

"Hey, it's okay.sometimes we all have secrets that need to escape us." Ramza moved his right hand to my left shoulder. He squeezed it softly. "I've always thought that we've had words for a reason. And that's to talk to the people we trust.and the ones we don't trust."

"I trust you," I said a little too quickly.

"I know," he smiled. "But you're not you're grandfather. I trust you."

His words brought a small smile to my face. There has always been something special about him. But this was the first time we were close outside of tending for each other's wounds. His hand was large, and I could feel him radiating to me.

I suddenly then remembered the angst he must've been feeling about Alma.

"Are you okay?" I asked.

He was quiet.

"Ramza?"

"Come here." He completely wrapped his arms around me. I brought one hand up to his shoulder.

There were no more words. I just looked at him. In his beautiful eyes I could see the eternal optimist, the self-sacrificing leader. In the same set of eyes I could see the loneliness and betrayal. I knew some of his past from Gafgarion and the battles around Lionel Castle. Other parts I had picked up from stories he ocassionally told me. Others I had heard from Orlandu. However, in those eyes, I also saw something else I had never seen. It made my heart leap.

I brought my hand to his cheek and rubbed a small scar slightly. And then it suddenly. He lowered his head down. I turned my head sideways a bit not understanding. He pulled me closer and brought his lips to mine.

My mind flurried with emotions. My heart pounded. There was only confusion I was feeling. But I liked it. I froze a little which made him pull back. "Sorry," he said meekly. "No," I replied in a voice that wasn't mine. "I just.haven't kissed before."

"I did once before." he laughed a little.

I rested my head on his chest. I felt him breathing and it comforted me. He held me as close as he could. I think I was a consolance to him.

The kiss had made me forget again. "Alma!" I almost exclaimed and jumped. He jumped a bit too. "L-let's go check on her."

"The tests should be done. All right, let's go."

I stood up and then extended my hand for him. He took it and I pulled him up. We walked back side by side, but very quickly. Sure, we pretty much admitted our feelings for each other, but Alma was far more of a concern.

As Ramza and I walked in, Cloud stood up and walked to us from behind the counter.

"Well?" Ramza asked.

Cloud looked down frowning. "She said it's not good. That the poison has advanced to her heart and she doesn't have long to live."

"No!" I exclaimed in shock as Ramza's face became blank. My jaw dropped and I could feel my eyes widen. "No!!" I ran upstairs ignoring my braid bouncing against my back. Damn, I had forgotten my armor in the field didn't I?

I ran into Alma's room to see Mustadio standing looking at her. Dr. Li was closing a suitcase. She turned around when she heard me walk in. "What.? What's wrong with Alma.?"

"The poison's gotten to her heart. It won't be long until."

"What can I do to save her?! Just tell me what?!"

"I'm going to say put her out of her misery now."

"But.y-you can't-"

"I'm sorry young lady, but the poison will mutate her once it infects her brain."

".How long until that?"

"A few hours if she's lucky. I'm sorry, but.this is out of my reach now."

"Thank you anyway Li," Mustadio said solemnly.

Li nodded and walked away. Ramza walked upstairs and quietly sat down next to Alma. I could tell that he heard what Li said.

But I have not been living in Orbonne Monastery. I know of the world outside. I know of lies and deception all too well. And my instincts are roaring right now. "If you'll excuse me." I said shaky.

Ramza looked at me. I knew he wanted some comfort. But.I just had to know. "I.I'll be back quickly," I added.

He just nodded and looked back at his dying sister.

I ran downstairs and waved quickly to Cloud as I was leaving. I slammed the door in such a flurry that it opened back up. But I looked around frantically and finally saw the old lady.

"Doctor!" I shouted. I ran after her.

"Hmm? Can I help you?"

"I.I need to talk to you." I stammered. She had the glare of Lucavi in her eyes, and I could tell she was pissed at me.

"I told you, there's nothing I can do."

"Hear me out!" I exclaimed.

"Lower you voice child!"

"But-"

"All right. All right. Come with me." I followed her across town to her office. She held the door open for me and allowed me to walk in first. After shutting and locking the door she stared at me again. "What?"

"There's something.I know it. What can save her? What can save Alma from the poison?"

"There's nothing! I already told you that! There's no way to save her. She's damned to change!"

"To what? What is going to happen to Alma?!"

"Are you deaf? She's going to mutate. That's what I told you."

"Why is she going to mutate.? I've never heard of such a thing." I was out of breath and tired.

"The Red Panther poison is incredibly dangerous. It's fine if it's only taken from a claw and is healed within a matter of a couple hours.but in Alma's case.the poison was injected in high quantities and also with the incredible physical damage of the Behemoth horn."

"What will she mutate.?"

"I don't know. It could be a minor one, or she could turn into a monster."

"Are you sure there's nothing I can do. No magic or item I can find.?"

"What, do you think this is a faerie tale my dear? Do you think this will have a happy ending?"

I narrowed my eyes. "I'll find a way to make it one."

There was a couple buzzers going off and a strange type of steam filled the room. "What's that?" I asked.

"Nothing. Now leave little girl!" She walked towards the door, opened it a crack, and slipped in.

I was able to peek in for a moment and saw mysterious bottles lined up along the walls and strange lights. Where had I seen something like this before.? I thought long and hard. Li was a doctor.Think Agrias.think!!!

"Of course!" I exclaimed. I ran out the door, leaving it unlocked, and ran as fast as I could back to Mustadio's place. I opened the door, left it open again, and ran upstairs.

Cloud laughed, placed the gun on the counter, and walked over to shut the door. I heard him yell up. "We don't live in a barn Agrias!!!" I ignored it and ran into Alma's room.

Mustadio was standing in the corner of the room, leaning against the wall. Ramza was sitting in a chair next to Alma's bed, holding her hands tightly. "Guys." I said a bit winded as I walked in.

"What?" Mustadio asked looking over to me.

"I went to Li's office to try to talk to her because I knew she was hiding something."

"Absurd," Mustadio replied. "Dr. Li is the best doctor around here."

"But while I was at her office, a strange steam started to emit into the main room, and she walked into a smaller room. I only got a peak, but there were all sorts of bottles and."

"Bottles?" Ramza asked looking up at me.

I nodded. "They were different colors, and smelled kind of funny."

"Like the ones Simon had at Orbonne?"

"Exactly! Milady Ovelia used to study it while she was at Orbonne for so long. It was a magical type of chemistry. She never did too well at it, but Simon wasn't bad. He had rememdies for everything."

"Alma used to as well," Ramza replied.

"Would it still be at Orbonne? Why don't we.?"

"If Li has something she is required by the laws to help us!" I shouted.

"But that's with regular medicine, if it's under testing she can become liable for it and in trouble," Mustadio replied.

"But if Alma's going to die-"

"She isn't though, she's going to mutate," Mustadio replied. "There is a difference to the law."

"But-" I held my hand out to counter.

Ramza stood up and walked to me. He took my hand, and brought it back down to my side. "Agrias, take a breather."

"But Alma."

"Take me to see Li," he said.

I nodded and we walked down the stairs. As I opened up the door Cloud called over to me from behind the counter, "Make sure you shut it this time Agrias!"

"S-sorry!" I exclaimed as we walked out.

Silently, Ramza and I walked to Li's office and walked into the unlocked building. "Where?" He asked. I pointed to the dark door across the hallway. He took a step forward and opened the door.

"What do you want?" Li hissed. At us.

"I know what this workshop is," he replied in a hesitant tone I had never heard from him before. "I know that this medicine may not be able to help Alma.but please try something. I need my sister."

"I won't," Li replied.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because this medicine that is supposed to be stronger didn't help my husband and my only son."

"But you've been working since haven't you?"

"Oh just leave it be! You might as well put that girl out of her misery now!"

"No!" Ramza and I yelled back at her.

"Did you use enough magic? These medicines can only be used with the right amount of magic," I asked looking at the shelves.

"My friend is a black mage."

"That's why," I replied. "It was the wrong type of magic."

"You need a special type of strong magic," Ramza said. "I was never sure what it was, Alma played with it a little."

"It's a strong type of spiritual magic.much like Alma's Mbarrier."

"Can any of you use that.?" Li asked.

"No. Rafa and Malak have their magic," Ramza suggested.

"They went home. It'd take too long to get a message to them," I replied grimly.

"If you can find the right type of magic.I am willing to try it on Alma. Give me an hour or so to work on this."

Ramza and I looked at each other and nodded. We walked out and stood on the front stairs. "Are you ok?" I asked looking at him concerned.

"I'm fine," he walked off back to the field where we were sitting. I followed him, my mind thinking more quickly then it was used to. There HAD to be something I could do.

Of course! "Ramza!" I exclaimed. He looked over to me. I undid the brown cord that was tied behind my neck and pulled it up to show him.

"It's the.Gemini Stone?! I thought I told you to get rid of that! I told each of you to throw their stones to someplace where no one would find it!" Ramza tried to pry it from my hand, but I wouldn't let him.

"It might be our key to save Alma!"

"Agrias please don't! Don't submit yourself to that power! Please!" He pried it from my fingers and threw the stone to the ground.

"It saved Malak's life," I tried to reason with him.

"Look what happened to everyone else!"

"Ramza.Ramza." I put my hands on his shoulder and squeezed them tightly.

There was a long pause and suddenly he drew me close to him. "Agrias.I can't lose you.I can't lose Alma.I can't let you do this though." I drew back a little to see a tear rolling down his face. I wrapped my arms around him and held him tightly, like I had wanted to for a long, long time. He did the same to me, and we didn't let go of each other for a while.

He drew his head back and whispered something in my ear. I couldn't believe I heard it, and my heart fluttered. "I love you Agrias." I looked at him with a stupid smile on my face. He brought his lips to mind and kissed me. It was soft and sweet, strong and passionate, it was everything all at once.

"You won't lose me," I said. "When I told you I'd fight with you, I meant it. I'll stay with you Ramza, I.I've loved you for a while now."

"I know.I know."

I broke his embrace and walked over to pick up the Zodiac Stone. I clutched it in my hand. I turned to look at him, but then I suddenly heard Cloud screaming for us. We looked at each other, and dashed back.

Cloud was standing in front of Mustadio's shop, with the door wide open. "You shouldn't leave the door open; I thought you didn't live in a barn."

"Not now Agrias.Alma is. Just come inside!" We followed Cloud and ran inside, running up the stairs into Alma's room. Ramza and I ran to her bedside.

Alma's breathing was heavy and she was breaking into a sweat. She kept crying out and moaning. Her right arm was beginning to change. It was growing shorter with another hand growing out about where her shoulder was. The hair on her arm was growing longer. Her face was also beginning to look more grotesque.

"She's mutating!" I exclaimed. Der Captain Obvious! "I'm going to go get Li!"

"Agrias you can't do it!" Ramza shouted at me.

I stood at the top of the stairs and looked back at him. "Watch me." I jumped down several of the stairs, stumbling a bit at the bottom, then ran out the door to Li's office. I threw opened that door, and the one with her lab door. "It's starting!" I screamed desperately. "It's starting!"

"But I don't know if this will work! I haven't had a couple minutes to test it!"

"We'll try it! We'll make it work! Let's go! Please!" I begged with her.

"All right.all right." She picked up a flask and put a cork in the top. "Let's go child."

Li and I ran as fast as we could to Mustadio's place. We ran up the stairs. Cloud, Mustadio, and Ramza were around the bed watching as Alma mutated. "We have to do this now," I said, my voice and face in panic.

"You need to ready whatever magic you're going to use now before I pour the potion in," Li instructed me.

I nodded and held the Gemini stone in both of my hands. I concentrated my power into the stone. I believed if Rafa could revive Malak, then I could easily save Alma from mutation.

"Agrias, you can't use the stone," Ramza told me. "You're too frantic! You're too desperate!"

"But I have to!" I exclaimed back. "Do it Li!" The old lady nodded and began to pour the contents of the flask down Alma's throat.

I closed my eyes, and the world suddenly disappeared. There was nothing but and the stone in my hands. I felt the energy running through my body. I felt it heating up with the passion I felt in wanting to save Alma. Please! I begged the stone. Please save Alma.

You are desperate, are you not?

Just save her! Use my energy and save her!

As you wish Agrias, Holy Knight. Grant me your soul.

What?!

Grant me your soul. I will give you the power to save her.for the cost of your soul.

"NO! AGRIAS!" I heard someone yell and push me down. The stone fell out of my hand.

I opened my eyes back to the real world to see the Gemini Stone glowing, on the floor near Alma's bed. Ramza pinned me down on the floor. "Don't do this Agrias! Please don't!"

"But Alma will die if I don't!"

"It's too late! Li said the potion won't work!"

"But I have to try!"

"I'm not going to lose you!"

"But.!" I tried to reach over to grab the Zodiac Stone, but as I did, Cloud kicked it away to the other side of the room. I looked at him as he knelt down on the floor.

"Listen to him Agrias. He's choosing you over his sister. He loves you, and he needs you."

"But he said he didn't want to lose Alma.isn't family.?"

"She's too far gone," Li replied sorrowfully. "If only I had."

"There might be a chance! There's always a chance!" I pushed Ramza up a bit, but Mustadio walked over to pick the stone up by its cord.

"Don't Agrias," Mustadio said.

"Br.oth.er."

"Alma?!" We all exclaimed.

Ramza and I quickly jumped up to Alma's side. Ramza took her hands and squeezed it. Alma looked at me. "Th.thank.you.for try.in.g."

"Alma! I.I'm sorry!" I started to cry.

Through her pain, she managed to bring her good hand to my arm. "I.love all.of you.T..take ca.are of Bro.th..er."

"I will Alma. I promise I will." I took her hand and brought it to my lips to kiss it gently. I then rested it back down on her stomach.

Ramza brought his face close to Alma's. He kissed her cheek softly. "I'm sorry. Sis.I love you.

A smile crossed Alma's face. We all smiled back at her. She closed her eyes and breathed her last breath.

I fell onto my knees burying my face into my hands. I had failed. I couldn't save Alma. I failed miserably. Ramza wrapped his arm around me and together we cried. Li left the room and walked downstairs.

Cloud knelt down next to me and put his hand on my shoulder. "Agrias, she was happy. Look at the smile on her face."

"But I couldn't help her.I couldn't help her!" The tears poured down my cheeks.

"Let's go downstairs. All of us. We'll leave Alma alone for a couple minutes," Mustadio said. "I want to show you something Agrias."

Mustadio and Cloud walked down stairs. "Ramza, I'm sorry."

"Don't be. It's ok Agrias." He kissed the top of my head gently, but I still found no solace. We got up and silently walked downstairs.

Li had already left. Mustadio held up a paper. "This was from Orlandu," he began to explain. "He sent it Cloud and me, telling us how depressed you were, and how you needed to get out. He told me of the mission he gave you. I think you need a reminder.

'Agrias Oaks' mission is the following:

To find out about the rumor of the Behemoths. If true, she is to work with both of you to destroy them.

She is to realize how much this world needs her, and how much she means to her friends.

If possible, she is to see if the rumors of Ramza & Alma's existance is true. And make sure she admits how she feels to him!!!

Remember, the Behemoths must not make it to any city or town! We must protect the citizens.'

Agrias," Mustadio continued. "You've achieved your mission. You stopped the Behemoths from attacking any city or town."

"Alma did too," I replied. "Mustadio, give me the stone please."

"What are you.?"

"I'm going to finish the order you gave me that I ignored. I'm going to through it into the ocean. I need to get my armor anyway."

"I'll go with you," Ramza said. Mustadio handed me the stone on the cord. We quietly walked out the door.

Ramza took my hand. "I wished I could've saved Alma."

"Think of it this way," Ramza said. "You saved my life from the Behemoths. If you hadn't been there when you did, I would've died."

I thought long and hard about what he said. I brought my arm back and threw the Gemini Zodiac Stone into the sea from the cliff. I picked up my armor and his riding cloak, and we walked back to Mustadio's place.

A week later we buried Alma near her father at the Beoulve family grave. Ramza and I stayed at Igros for a while, but we then decided we didn't want a life in the government. We went off on a journey to visit all of our friends who were spread out over Ivalice, and eventually, find someplace quiet to settle down. But for now, riding on the backs of our chocobos was enough for us.