Author's Notes: I'm back! :) Finally, after all this time, I've found a way to start Arc 3. There was a lot of struggling and shuffling (the scene order not what it originally was) and a lot of doubts. This will be a far happier story than the previous two, but not yet.

I hope those of you who have been waiting patiently enjoy what I've written and that it was worth your wait. I want to thank you and everyone else who have given me encouragement and kind words. Thank you.

Now, onto the fic...

Pairing: Seifer/Squall
Warnings: (For the whole story) Yaoi (male/male romance/sex), angst, violence, foul language, references to sexual abuse and suicide.

First reading Arcs 1 and 2 of The Bloodcross Key is strongly recommended.


The Bloodcross Key: Arc 3: Knight's Return
by Lady Tempest

Part 1:

Arms crossed over his chest, Squall stood silently before the large, arced window. Outside, the sky was perfect blue. A perfect day.

However, the thick, clear glass dividing the Headmaster's office from the world beyond distorted that world. Tricks of the eye: birds a little too large, too slender, wings a little too long. A lie only apparent if one knew the truth. Knew crystal clarity often was only clear on the other side of the glass.

He closed his ocean-blue eyes, the sun warming his face. Ah, but the sky... the sky was perfect. Perfect blue; The sun, perfect gold, and too bright for mortal eyes.

Cid was leaning back in his cushy, leather chair, fingers laced across his vest-covered paunch. The chair rocked lightly back and forth in motion as he spoke.

"I understand, my boy, I just wish there was another way. I hate to lose you, you've done such a superb job here."

Squall sighed, the scent of sun-warmed leather surrounding him. "I'd rather Garden not be associated with must be done." He opened his eyes and stared at a faraway nothing. "And I can't do what must be done if I'm tied here."

"I understand, I understand..."

Squall grunted but said nothing. He knew Cid understood Squall had responsibilities more important to him than Garden, but the young man couldn't tell him why. Hell, Squall had barely admitted it to himself.

All Cid knew was Seifer had tried to kill himself, and that was all Cid would know. The reason was for Seifer to tell, not Squall. And he knew Seifer never would. Not that Squall could blame him.

Yet, bumbling though the old headmaster was, he wasn't a complete fool. Three students in the detention cells; Squall's order that no one, not even the headmaster, be permitted to speak to them, except for himself; the mysterious absence of Seifer's two closest friends, even after Seifer had attempted suicide; Or more significant, that the most stubborn, brash, and cocksure student in Garden had attempted suicide in the first place...

Squall closed his eyes. His throat was tight, thick, and his lips thinned, pressed together, grimacing away their trembling. Attempted. Thank Hyne, that's all it was. So close. So fucking close. He had been mere minutes away from losing Seifer forever. Just a fraction of time, and time afterward would have been meaningless. Forever.

No, Cid wasn't a fool. And because he wasn't, he hadn't forced Squall for more information than he was willing to give. The headmaster's blue eyes were pained, concerned, too shiny and desperate to help his 'children', but he didn't press. For that, Squall was more grateful than Cid would ever know.

"If I need..." Squall began, turning slightly to look at Cid, forcing his voice to be flat, professional.

Cid shook his head and chuckled. A sad sort of chuckle. "Of course, my boy! You can have anything you need."


"I'm sure we can work out something." Leaning forward, arms folded on his desk, he gazed at Squall with intense eyes. "And personally, I could care less if Garden gets mixed up in whatever you have which 'must be done'. You're a good boy... No, a good man. You have been through so much. You have dealt with problems, evils, most could never imagine."

Cid smiled proudly. "You were a part of a historic moment, a war where not just the lives of your fellow students were at stake, but the whole world! And you won. Millions of people are alive and free because of you and your strength, the strength of your leadership, and the strength of your friends. And again you show that strength in your concern for one who had been your enemy. I'm proud of you, Squall. I trust you and trust you to do the right thing. Whatever that may be."

Silent, Squall completely faced Cid. There was nothing special in what he had done. Squall had only done what needed to be done. What he was supposed to do. What choice had there been? No one else was stepping up to save the world. Not that it had felt like 'saving the world' during most of the war. It had been surviving. Pure and simple.

Just as pure and simple as his concern for Seifer. It just was... is. Nothing noble. Nothing strong. How heroic was it to want to save a part of himself? Or to sacrifice it because he was too weak and blind to find another way? Because the crying and need of a defenseless girl drowned out the torment and pain of a warrior brought low, lost in the fight to 'do the right thing'.

Perhaps Cid trusted him to do what was right. But a broken young man left to drown in the tides of war proved 'right' wasn't always.

"Squall? Son?"

Blinking, Squall took a breath. Right or not, he had Cid's trust, and his support. They weren't anything he had asked for or expected. With or without them, he would correct past mistakes. But Cid and Garden behind him gave his task a sense of completeness, rightness. He had failed in saving Seifer during the war. He wouldn't fail him again! And neither would Garden. They would save one of their own: a lost soldier, a lost friend.

Squall nodded and flashed a crisp salute. "Thank you, Sir."

Cid just smiled. "Was there anything else you wanted to discuss with me?"

"No, Sir..." As Squall shook his head, a knock on the door interrupted him.

"Yes? Come in." Cid called.

The door opened and Cid's assistant took one step inside the room. Hands clasped stiffly at her waist, she gave a brief bow. "Sir, Commander Leonhart wished to be informed when Raijin and Fujin arrived?"

"And?" Squall stood hand on hip, the appearance of complete calm. But inside, his nerves were jittering, like millions of tiny sparks crawled along his skin.

"They're here," the assistant replied. "I asked them to wait in the Commander's office."

"Thanks." Squall turned back to Cid. "I have to go, Sir."

"Yes, yes." Waving at Squall with a shoo-shoo of his hands, Cid chuckled, that same sad chuckle. "Just remember you're more than welcome back when this 'business' is finished."

With a nod, Squall hurried from the room.


She stood silently, her long black hair and dress bleeding like ink into the darkness of the doorway and the room behind her. She watched, a sadness on her pale face. Sorrow. Guilt.

Across the room, Seifer slept. He was such a beautiful boy: hair golden, and bright under a sliver of sunlight falling through the dark curtains; An angel. With a demon's fire, but an angel's heart.

A blanket was tucked, snuggly, over his long body, nearly to his chin. Tucked with a mother's care. Loving. Not hers. Another's.

A ghostly pale hand fluttered to her face, clamping over the sob escaping her lips. She had failed him, her precious child. She had failed him greater than she could ever have imagined in the most horrible of her many nightmares. Nightmares she no longer could differentiate between those of her own guilt-ridden mind or the taunts and torments of an evil sorceress.

Tears trickled over her slender fingers, then fell into darkness. Oh, dear Hyne, how she had hurt him. Used him. And his dream. Destroyed him. And his dream. Violated everything precious and pure in him. And so easily, because he loved her. Like a mother.

Because he loved the dream she had offered, had promised, to fulfill in some small way, by merely being what she was. Because no matter how much he had protested, he was still just a boy against the terrible power of a sorceress. His defiance had been like an infant swatting at a hurricane. Futile. Devastation the only result.

She choked on another sob. Her sweet boy. So fierce. So strong. Once upon a time. No longer. Perhaps never again. Her dear husband had told her to keep hope, Seifer would heal. With time and care. But she knew too much to hope. Had seen too much. Had done too much. Oh Hyne...

With a faint rustle of sheets and creak of the bed, Seifer stirred. His eyes remained closed, but she was unsure if she had awakened him. She watched him for a moment more, lingering, wanting to hold him in her arms, like when he had been so small. But she couldn't. Not yet. Because she loved him.

Kissing her fingertips, she reached toward his golden hair nestled on a pillow as if the distance of the room was not between them. She turned, a pained smile on her lips. And like a shadow in darkness, she was gone.