"I think we dream so we don't have to be apart so long. If we're in each others' dreams, we can be together all the time…"
-Hobbes (of Calvin And…)
It was maddening.
And it nearly made her grit her teeth in frustration.
How could she be thinking about something so… unthinkable? And at a time where doing such a thing could be a danger to her physically?
Despite all her knowledge of Magi-technology and the Ancient Karlahn War, Professor Raine Sage knew nothing of how she felt emotionally. And no matter how many historic books that were read, no matter how many hours she studied… She couldn't figure it out.
The way her stomach twisted in a sort of way that left a maniacal grin plastered to her face… The way that no matter how much she thought she wanted the grin to disappear, it wouldn't… And, why, no matter how many times she thought of him, she almost felt as if she were treading into an illicit territory, not meant for her at all.
It made her feel unwelcome, unwanted… And yet… An aching in her heart nearly forced her to turn away those feelings, to push them to the edge of her consciousness, hoping, somehow, that they would disappear forever…
So she let her mind wander, she let it entertain thoughts of his arms around her… Of soft whispers in her ear… Of a lingering kiss under the starry night sky… And through it all, she pushed the feelings of dismay and a forbidden hope to the back of her mind, telling herself that everything would be fine…
That everything would work out for the best.
And the more that she ignored those feelings hidden in her mind, the more that she believed that things really would work out.
'For the best…' she would tell herself late at night, conjuring up moonlit walks and kisses for only her to see.
Before she knew it, she was dangling from the sticky web of her own making. Every time he looked away, her heart sunk in her chest… But every word uttered to her from his lips brought her unspeakable joy, and she hung onto every word with delicate fingers, so as to not deform their beauty and grace.
And the images in her mind made her heart soar, and she nearly believed them to be real… Every dreamlike kiss, every tender embrace… She held them close to her heart, and replayed them at will in her mind…
And every morning, for a moment… she believed them to be real. As long as her mind was shut, her life went on in the form of a romantic dream… But when her lashes started to flutter against her pale face, reality nearly came crashing down, bringing her to remember that it wasn't real…
In her waking hours, she tried her best to get him to notice her in the way that she wanted him to. She was positive that her future was what she was dreaming of, that he would notice her, and her reality would be the tender romance she often thought of in the darkening hours.
After every dreamy evening, she would awake to find herself torn between reality and fantasy. Was he hers, yet?
Some days, she couldn't remember…
But the minute she laid eyes on the empty space beside her, she knew. And she would get up to try to impress him once again.
He seemed impressed by her intelligence, and she made use of it at every opportune moment. It always failed, but it was never long before she fell into a restful sleep full of hope.
Months flew by like minutes when she resided in her mind. And before she knew it, it had been almost a year. She was still sure that things could change. Things would change. She still had a chance.
And though the chance was slight, from her view-point, it was the grandest of all opportunities, and as easy as getting dressed every morning. She sat beside him when she could, and walked as close to his side as she could get.
But every night, she went to bed without success, going back to the world where he looked into her eyes lovingly and where his hand caressed the side of her face before he leaned in to press his lips softly against hers.
One spring morning, she awoke and decided that a year was enough. It had been nearly a year-and-a-half, and still…nothing. She would find out that day if anything was to become of them.
And when he spoke to her over lunch with their friends around them, she didn't hang onto his every word, she didn't blush and giggle with embarrassment… and she didn't flirt. She simply looked into his eyes.
She only saw the love of a man for a companion, a friend. The simple love that one might have for a student, or for a co-worker… But not the love of a lover…
He simply could not be the same man in her dreams! The man she had dreamt about for so long… The man she had imagined and planned out her life with…
She had bolted at that moment, choosing to go back to the small tent she shared with Colette. Rocking back and forth on the soft grassy floor, she sobbed tears that weren't there.
"He loves me… He loves me…" she had repeated to herself, over and over… tens of thousands of times.
And she believed it.
"Are you alright, Professor Sage?" Colette had asked, opening the flap to the tent carefully.
"We love each other…" was her only reply. "We do…""But…"
"No! We do!" she had shouted then, her blue eyes sparking angrily. "We just can't tell anybody! Nobody can see us together! That's the way we want it!"
And Colette had gone… a single tear gliding down the side of her face for the friend that she had lost.
Years passed as smoothly as warm summer nights to cool autumn mornings. Everyone led a different life, and they were all adults, even the youngest members of the group. And they had children, who were now young adults themselves.
And Raine still resorted to sleeping, and lying in bed all hours of the day, to relive the romantic fantasy she believed to be true, ignoring those who really cared about her. Including her nephews and nieces… And her friends' children, who were never in her dreams, and therefore were not real.
Colette came to visit occasionally, only to leave crying. She would go home to her teenage children, who would ask about their aunt.
"Why is Auntie Raine like that?" they would question her, their eyes full of other, unsaid things.
But she wouldn't answer.
Because in her dreams, Raine was the bright, beautiful Professor she had been when Colette and Lloyd were in her class. The silver-haired healer who helped on the battlefield, but who would still give you a lecture, to force you to learn even outside of the classroom. The intelligent woman that Colette had looked up to in her teenage years.
On a winter morning, Colette had stopped to visit the Sage household. Genis, Presea, and the kids were eating breakfast at the time, and they had allowed her to climb the stairs that led to the Professor's room.
Though the title 'Professor' seemed more like a joke than the reality it had been.
She'd opened the door to the dimly-lit room, immediately noticing the former healer lying in her bed, almost as if she were in a coffin. Straight, stiff…
"Oh! Colette!" she had exclaimed, her aqua eyes lighting up, and a hand immediately going to her stomach.
Colette stepped to the woman's side and put a hand on her arm, squeezing gently. "Good morning, Professor Raine," she'd greeted her. Motherly instincts kicked in, and she pulled the quilt up to Raine's chin, to cover the other woman's nightgown-clad body.
"What?" Colette had asked, wondering what could have happened to make Raine so enthusiastic.
"I'm pregnant!" The silver-haired half-elf cried joyfully. And before Colette could open her mouth in shock, she continued. "Five months along! We're so excited! We've decided to name him after his daddy…"
"Shut up!" the blonde-haired woman had yelled then, angry with Raine, and angry at the world for letting Raine be the way she was. "You're not pregnant! It's all in your head! He doesn't love you! He left this place over 25 years ago!"
Raine's mouth hung open in doubt. "But we-"
"There is no 'we'!" Colette nearly had scowled. "You've been in bed dreaming about him in a fantasy world for over twenty-five years! None of it is real! None of it! None!"
"Y-yes it …it is!" Raine had insisted, tears starting to pool in her pale eyes. "I teach school, and I married him, and we're expecting a baby!"
"No no no!"
"Yes!" she had said darkly, glowering at Colette. "You're just jealous of my perfect life! You're just upset because Lloyd doesn't like you like you thought he did! You don't have a special someone, and I do!"
Colette's eyes had widened at Raine's harsh words. She, herself, had three children with Lloyd… Genis and Presea had two, and Sheena and Zelos had twins. Raine was still stuck in the past, only believing her dreams.
That day, she went home with tears running down her cheeks, straight into Lloyd's comforting arms. And when her children asked about Auntie Raine, she found the courage to speak about the past. About the woman she had looked up to so much.
And how that woman had been reduced to believing only what she wanted to believe. How she saw only what she wanted to see…
By the end of her story, Colette had started to cry again, remembering the signs that Raine had given so long ago, and only wishing that she would have noticed them long before it was too late.
That night, as she lay in bed beneath layers of blankets, she closed her eyes and remembered a past that had been beautiful. But when she opened her eyes again, she found that nothing had changed. Raine was still too lost to find.
But she prayed, with her hands folded in front of her, that she would wake in the morning to find the Professor restored to her old glory.
And she smiled at the memory of that fateful day which seemed so long ago… when the oracle appeared, and the whole journey had started…
Ending Author Notes
I've been quite into angst here for a little while. When I started this, I had planned for it to be no more than a page and a half. Now it's nearly five. This is a one-shot. No continuation for this. Though, personally, I feel that I jumped around too much.
I found the scene with Raine and her mother (in the game) to be rather disheartening and depressing… and, if it had been an anime movie, I'd have surely cried at the desolate feeling of it all. Either way, I just went whatever direction my own mind told me to take with this piece of writing.
It's supposed to be implied Raine/Kratos, however it's completely possible to make it implied Raine/Regal, if that's what you want. It's completely up to you.
Thank you so much for reading. But what good will it do me for you to read, and then not review? If you have any advice to improve my writing, or if you have thoughts on the story that you think I should know (or even if you don't think I should know!), feel free to tell me!