She tells herself this, over and over as she stares into the mirror. The Sorceress--emblem of fears throughout generations. She is the incarnation of a power more ancient that the nations of the world. With less than an offhanded gesture she could bring men to their knees, burn villages, or uproot poplars.
But, she thinks, brushing a stray lock of hair off the blue fabric on her shoulders, she doesn't feel terrifying. She hardly feels the power, resting easily at the back of her mind. When she looks into her own brown eyes, she does not think Sorceress--the thinks Rinoa Heartilly, who tried to save Timber and instead saved the world, who has made friends in places she could never have predicted, and who is standing in a building full of people who have been raised and trained to kill Sorceresses but have offered her nothing but hospitality and respect.
There is a full moon tonight, flooding the world with light. The full moon has always been a symbol of sorcery--of fear and mystery and magic. But, she thinks, as she stares into skies full of ancient constellations, the moon is beautiful tonight--and not something she would be ashamed to be associated with. There is no shame in such beauty, there is--
She is the Sorceress.
She is the Sorceress and when she walks it feels different and when she sings it feels stronger and when she sleeps it feels as if she's not really sleeping, and when she pulled and pulled to move the fallen tiber it should have been impossible but it was moving, inch by impossible inch, and if there is anything shy weakling Adel wanted more than strength she didn't know what it was.
She thinks they can see it, something in the way she walked and the way she smiled now and the way she didn't have to gasp and strain to walk up the hill to her house. She is the Sorceress.
She is the Sorceress, and if there was a gift from the gods this would not be it.
The real gift comes now, standing in the cool night air with the Sorceress moon overhead, in the strong embrace of her Knight--someone who she's never thought of as a Knight, because she's never thought of herself as the Sorceress. He is Squall, not Knight, and she has fought alongside him and wandered Time Compression to find him and if there is a gift from the gods this evening, the evening is the gift from the gods. She is content, she is overjoyed, she is--
She is the Sorceress, and the air is cold, and her skin is cold, and the purple fire that leapt through the wind and the snowing sky is her only chance for heat, and with a last desperate thought before the cold and the snow takes her she sets herself alight. She is burning, a crying, screaming brand of self-immolation, but it is not a killing flame. It is--
She is burning and screaming and weeping and laughing now because she is the Sorceress, and she is--
She is the Sorceress, and her feet trace intricate patterns on the polished floor as the band plays on and on.
She danced this floor once before, to the same melody, with the same partner, but it is not the same dance. She is the Sorceress, and her feet move in circles and circles and circles and
She is praying.
She is praying with her chin tilted up to the moon and the wind in her hair and wishing there was a Castle in which she could hide away, in which she could cloister herself to await the coming of a Prince who would take her in his arms so that everything would be all right, the way no one ever has, the way she remembers from a part of herself not herself--an impossible memory, all but remembered.
Adel pulls and pulls, and soon something is pulling back. If she could just pull aside the curtain, she might be in for such a wondrous surprise--
She is the Sorceress, and she stares into the mirror and tastes words on the tip of her tongue. Ultima, Ultimata... Ultimecia. She doesn't like the word, doesn't want to keep it, but she does. And it feels as if she might be the seventh Ultimecia, or the ninth, or the last. She thinks that this is what Ultimecia means--last. But she does not know.
She tastes the word, thin and sour, on the tip of her tongue. She
She tastes his lips on hers, and it might be the seventh kiss or the ninth kiss or the last, but she doesn't care.
We have to appreciate the time we have--right?
She is resting in his arms, and everything is all right, and her feet move in circles and circles across the dance floor with the light of the moon hanging above.
Once, when she was young, she went out to count constellations under the moon.
Once, when she was young, she went out to sleep in thin canvas tents under the moon.
Once, when she was young, she went out and wept and wept and wept under the high uncaring moon.
Once, when she was young, she was--
Her name is Rinoa Heartilly, and she cannot feel the Sorceress power because it is not there. This is what she tells herself, over and over.
Her name is Rinoa Heartilly, and she does not compress Time because the Sorceress power is not there.
Her name is Rinoa Heartilly and she does not cast Apocalypse on Rinoa Heartilly because the Sorceress power is not there.
But then, wrapped in the blankets in a small room in a building full of those raised and trained to kill Sorceresses, she remembers that it is.
She is the Sorceress, and she is taller and stronger than any man, than any human, than any beast. And her hand closes around the arm of the girl before her and she does not cower and is not afraid because she is not the girl before her. She is not. She is
She is praying.
She is dancing by the light of the moon, with the constellations cold and hard above her. She is dancing alone. She does not have a Knight because no Knight would have her, because she is the Sorceress and she is the incarnation of terror.
Somewhere, a meteor burns brightly and plummets earthward. She does not see it, because she is not there.
It is burning and chilling and silent sleeping furiously within her, because she is the Sorceress and it is Sorcery, and she does not feel any different as she brushes a stray lock of hair from the blue fabric on her shoulders. She looks in the mirror and thinks Ultimecia, just the way she has a thousand times before or perhaps only once before or possibly never, tasting the thin sour word on the tip of her tongue.
Her name is not Ultimecia, and she does not compress Time because she has already done so. Her name is not Adel, and she does not take the young girl by the arm and hear her screaming before her because she has already done so. Her name is not Rinoa Heartilly and she does not dance on the polished ballroom floor in the embrace of her Knight because she has already done so.
She is the Sorceress, and she is dancing in impossible circles and she is not herself.
She stared into the mirror at the old tattoos, and couldn't remember getting them because she did not have them. She wondered if others could see them as well.
She stared into the mirror and saw purple fire tracing its way from her temples toward her eyes and would have cried except that fire fed on tears.
She stared into the mirror and smiled and applied a bit more blush so that she would look perfect for dancing and dancing under the constellations she could recognize but could not name.
She is the Sorceress, and she is eternal and impossible. She is
She is the Sorceress, and her name is Ultimecia, but it is not. It is
She is the Sorceress, and her power is sleeping inside her, and it
She is the Sorcery, and she moves in circles and circles under the uncaring moon.
She is the Sorcery, and she stares into the mirror into her own brown red golden eyes, and dances in circles without moving at all.
She is the Sorceress.
This thing came out of nowhere and broadsided me like none other. It's a little seed of an idea that took root and grew impossibly, but I guess I do have several people to thank for fertilizing it:
Ben Folds Five, for the song "Magic," which I swear is now the FF8 Sorcery theme inside my head.
code epic, for an incredible and atmospheric Final Fantasy X insane!Seymour shortfic "Metronome" that can probably only be accessed on LJ. (Maybe it'll get uploaded to Whatever. I haven't asked.)
Patrick Phelan, for his Silent Hill 2 shortfic "Life Of A Woman Who Is Not Jack Davis," which is creepy and just cool.
Baconfat, for two Final Fantasy 8 Adel shortfics "something precious" and "only the dead," which are the best glimpse into Adel's character you're probably ever going to get.
Plug, for his Silent Hill 2 shortfic "Linoleum," which I like to call "Conclusive Proof That James Has Rather Serious Issues."