Note: I was never quite happy with this and felt like I rushed too much. I'm not sure how to handle this since it is the same story, so I didn't want to repost it, but I felt enough was changed and expanded on that it didn't feel right to just overwrite the original either.
Main changes were more added to the beginning and giving Edgar an actual reason for his tea, but there are little changes/additions/tightening up all through the piece.
Banon's words echoed around Terra's mind, repeating in an endless chant. Last ray of hope. Last ray of hope. Hope. Her? How could she be? She didn't even know who she was.
She hugged herself with a small shiver as the rough walls of the hideout seemed to close in. Who or… what. What was she? What did the Empire do to her? Why was this power, this, this magic hers?
What was she meant to do?
The hall ahead ended at an entryway and a warm light spilled out. Terra approached, thoughts still bouncing in endless circles when she stopped dead at the entrance. Inside the room Edgar sat alone at a small table.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Terra stammered. "I didn't mean to disturb you."
Edgar looked up with a broad smile.
"On the contrary! You are not a disturbance at all. Come on in. I made a small pot of tea, Figaro's finest straight from the royal kitchens."
She entered slowly and perched at the edge of the seat opposite him. She gave the simple teapot and cups resting on the table a curious look.
"The Returners have such a thing…?"
"Ah. No I brought it myself." He poured her cup. "Give it a try."
She sipped at it and smiled at the rich taste and spread of warmth. Had she had anything like this before? She took another sip. There was an unfamiliarity to it, but it felt… nice.
"It's really good," she said with a smile.
Edgar returned her smile with a bright grin. "Now there's a rare and beautiful sight."
Terra blinked at him then stared into her tea. "Um…"
"I still don't have it, eh? Oh well."
She cocked her head at him. "When did you have time to bring tea? Kefka he…" she swallowed, remembering the flames. They were after her. Figaro castle was attacked because of her.
"I started keeping some in my pouch some years back." It was his turn to stare into his cup and Terra wondered if it was his tea he looked at or something else.
"Good for a long night," he said distantly. "And it was always his favourite…" He broke off with a small frown and a shake of his head then turned his gaze back on her.
"But my tea habits aren't what's bothering you."
She shook her head and waved a hand vaguely.
"It's… all of this. I don't know anything. I feel as though I'm just being blown from one place to another, from person to person. What on earth can I possibly do for anyone? Everyone is telling me it's up to me. It's my decision." She stared at her hands. "Even I can see the hope when you all look at me. Hope… and fear."
50 soldiers. Everything was hidden behind a fog, but surely she hadn't. That number had to be a lie. Even if it was…
Edgar leaned forward, his hands cupped around his mug. "I can't say what you did or didn't do. Whatever happened in the Empire is blood on their hands. I can't pretend that magic isn't frightening or awe inspiring. But, what I can say is that in the short time I've known you I've seen a warm and lovely person." He looked her in the eye. "I don't see a monster."
"I… " She bit her lip. "Thank you, Edgar… But I'm afraid. Part of me wants to run away from everything. I don't want to see any of you hurt. I don't want to see the Empire hurt people. I don't want to hurt people!"
She took a shaky breath. "I don't know if I can help or if I even want to…" There, the last of it was out. Shouldn't a ray of hope want to help? Shouldn't the light help? Who was she to give them anything?
Edgar leaned back again, looking thoughtful. "You know, I had to make a difficult decision once. It wasn't one I wanted to make at all. I can't say it wasn't tempting to run away and leave it all behind. Maybe I could have."
He chuckled. "Maybe I'd be living some small, happy life with a lovely wife in a little village far away. Or be a fellow, heh, treasure hunter to Locke! Maybe I would have been happier."
"But, you didn't run away…"
Edgar sighed. "No. I made the decision. I felt like I had to. A country to run, no easy task…"
"So you were stuck like me."
"I had a duty to my country and people."
"And my duty," Terra said hesitantly.
He smiled. "Well now, that's the thing. The only duty I see is the one to yourself."
She blinked. "But, my magic."
"None of us have a right to it."
Terra fiddled with her mug before looking at Edgar curiously. She didn't expect any of this from him. A king was a king, holding all the power and riches. They were in command and aloof and… Weren't they? But he didn't seem much like what she thought a king was.
"Are you… unhappy with your choice?"
Edgar leaned on one hand and traced a finger around the rim of his cup.
"Sometimes I hate it," he admitted. "But, you know those are only some times. If I could go back and do that decision all over again, I'd make the same choice. Of course I wonder what life would be like if I made a different choice, but this where I am. I don't regret it."
"My life… my choice…" Terra murmured. "I think I want to walk around a little more. Thank you Edgar. You've given me something to think about. And the tea was delicious!"
"Always my pleasure," Edgar replied warmly.
She rose and with a last look at Edgar, quietly left the room.
I feel I know what I should do. Is it what I want to do? Locke… Edgar… Sabin… A duty to me… If I leave what then? Can I find a life of my own? Will I be happier? If I go with them… can I really help? I don't want to leave them… I… Is this what caring is? I think I care about them.
If I didn't have this power, would I want to help?
She found herself drifting closer to the cave's exit where she knew Banon waited. A decision to be made.