Hello to anyone reading this story! Greetings and welcome to my new story; "Yuki no Hana", which, if Google Translate did its job properly, means "Snow Blossom" in Japanese. If there is anyone willing to correct that, please do. Or if Google Translate has done its job correctly then please, also tell me. Anyway.
Summary: There are four people in the Malkuth Empire that considered the cold snow of Keterburg a curse. It caused their lives to be turned upside down. Jade Curtiss tried hard to forget the words that damned his mind, and Lythia Balfour tried hard to forget the brother she loved. But years wear down on the mind, and the secrets that have been kept by both can't remain hidden. Especially since Yulia's Score needs to be fulfilled.
Pairings: Nephry/Peony is my only planned pairing for now. More to come later maybe.
Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of the Abyss, nor any of the characters mentioned except Lythia. All rights go to their respectful owners, Abyss and its characters to Bandai Namco, and Lythia to me.
More notes at the bottom. Well enjoy the story!
Lost and Never Found
~12 months before Fall of Akzeriuth~
Two sisters met at Keterburg Bay, greeting each other as if they did not have such a familial connection. One wore a variation of the Malkuth military uniform, the other, just semi-formal clothes. They spoke as if they were friends of a mutual friend who had brought them together, talking and joking about the Emperor in a way that only friends of the royal family could.
After the two had exchanged greetings, the sisters were escorted to Keterburg where the younger of the two offered the elder to stay the night at her house. The elder accepted and then the siblings moved to what was the safety of the younger's house. There they could speak freely and act like the sisters that they were.
The elder sister was convinced by her younger sister to change out of her uniform into one of the dresses that were always kept aside for times in which the two sisters were together. The elder sister stares out the window, at the white snow and she frowns as she remembers a conversation from her childhood that had happened in a room like the one she was in.
"Jade…. If I died…. Would you…. replicate me as if it was nothing?"
"Of course I would Lythia, because it is nothing and you wouldn't be dead anymore."
"….. I thought that I meant more to you than that, Jade…. Perhaps I was wrong…. Again…"
"Lythia? What are you talking about? Hey! Where are you going?"
Black ribbon is pulled away from pale blonde hair as Lythia Balfour tugs at the bow that has been holding her hair in a tight bun for the past five days. In the reflection in the window she can see a sneer on her face, the same sneer that appeared every time she remembered the day that she had run away from Keterburg. Quickly she wiped the expression off her face, terrified, as she always was, of the hatred and malice that shadowed her eyes.
"Lythia Balfour is dead," she murmured to herself, closing her eyes. "All that's left is Lillian, Major in the Malkuth military, known throughout the city as 'the People's General'. Jade Balfour is also dead, and all that remains is Jade Curtiss, Colonel of the Third Division of the Malkuth military. He has no connection to me, nor do I have any connection to him."
Perhaps it was the fact that she wasn't focused on anything besides trying to quiet her mind, or because of the way that the door never seemed to make a sound, Lythia jumped when a hand touched her shoulder. Her eyes flew open and she turned to see her younger sister, Nephry Osborne, with a sad smile on her face.
"If Lythia Balfour is dead then I'd like to know why Major Lillian is standing in the one room I don't let anyone enter," she said, pausing before speaking again. "You have to be careful where and when you speak, big sister. If you aren't then all my hard work to disguise you will be for naught."
Letting out a breath, Lythia pulled Nephry into a tight embrace, letting the black ribbon fall to the floor.
"Forgive me Nephry," she sighed. "I know that you have sacrificed a lot to keep the truth hidden, lying to many people, and our brother. I…. I think I want to tell him soon. I can't keep wondering how much he's truly changed. But at the same time, I'm still afraid."
The two sisters looked at each other as Nephry stepped out of Lythia's embrace. They made a silent agreement and walked to the chairs in Nephry's living room, sitting down and just enjoying the quiet. Finally Nephry breached the topic that was sitting on both their minds.
"You can't run from him forever, sister," she started quietly, causing Lythia to look down. "You love our brother, no matter how you try and deny it, and hiding the truth is killing you. And him, if what you say in your letters is true."
Lythia gave a bitter laugh, tugging at her blond hair again.
"I hear from his Majesty that he gets this tortured look in his eyes every time he looks at me," she spat, keeping her head turned away from her younger sister. "Apparently he then goes through the lists of data collected for replicas trying to prove that I am a replica, but finding nothing he then destroys his office only to fix it later. Although his Majesty was most likely trying to make me feel better."
Nephry stared at her older sister, trying to decide if she had heard her say "Jade doesn't lose control of his anger" or not. There was years worth of loathing dripping from her words. The room remained silent until Nephry noticed that Lythia was shaking. She walked over to her sister and grabbed her hands.
"Is it so hard to believe that Jade might actually regret whatever it was that was said to cause you to run away?" she asked, causing Lythia to freeze, remembering that she had never told anyone of the conversation that she and Jade had that day. "Is it so hard to believe that he loved when you followed him around asking him endless questions and loved you when you looked up at him like he was the greatest person in your life? Yes, my relationship with him has been strained for years, and I don't think I could ever look at him the way you do, but I know you Lythia. I know that you have already forgiven him for whatever mistakes he made. You just have to get over your fear of facing the truth."
Lythia let out a sob, burying her face in her hands, trying to furiously wipe away the tears that had been streaming down her cheeks. Nephry pulled her sibling into her arms, and held her in silence as she cried. There was a strange peace to the coldness of Keterburg that calmed Lythia quite quickly, as the two sisters listened to the quiet, saying nothing, and not moving. Eventually their embrace was broken again as Nephry once again stepped away.
"I believe that it is time for you to have that chat with Fon Master Ion, like you promised," Nephry said firmly. "Tomorrow morning we shall set out for Daath and there you will meet with the Fon Master."
"Why?" Lythia asked, already knowing the answer. She sighed and changed the question. "We? You are coming with me?"
Nephry gave her sister a rare smirk that made Lythia think of Jade.
"Yes, 'we'," she answered. "If I didn't go with you than you would find a way out of it. Keterburg can run itself for a few days. They won't notice me missing."
The two shared a light laugh, before falling into a conversation about Keterburg. They spoke for a long time before retiring to bed, both with much on their minds. Though that night would find Lythia awake, unable to sleep worried about how her brother would react when she finally faced the truth she had been running from for years.
"Forgive me Jade…." She whispered, staring out into the snow.
Thanks for reading the first chapter of my new story.
I'd like to introduce my OC in this fic: Lythia Balfour, little sister to Jade and older sister to Nephry. A few things I need to point out now, I don't want hate reviews later. This is just notes that you don't have to read. Please feel free to ignore these footnotes.
Lythia will be addressed as 'Princess Lythia', 'my Lady', 'Lady Lythia' and so forth throughout the course of this story. This is because she was made the ward of the Emperor of Malkuth (Peony's father) when she was a child, and technically adopted. Why that is so will be explained later in the story. It must also be noted that at a point before this story begins, Lythia and Peony were to be married, an arrangement made by Peony's father, an arrangement that neither of them were happy with. Let it be said that Lythia doesn't like being addressed as 'Princess' and much prefers her military title.
Next - You probably noticed at the start of the chapter the words "12 Months before Fall of Akzeriuth". That is my time keep. I'm not going to write all 12 months before Akzeriuth, just the moments that are important to the story. I'll put at the start of each chapter the countdown to the Fall of Akzeriuth, until the chapter of the Fall.
Anyway, thanks once again for reading this story, please follow it if you want to see more and leave a review with your opinion. Until next time!
~Icetail of WindClan - Meta-If~