"The Petals Unfurl"

Companion Fic to "Crimson Rose"

Setting: The Ossa Trail/Izoold

Pairings: Very, very, very slight Kratos/Raine. And it's only just hinted at a tiny bit.

Note- this is just a stab at something rather light-hearted, in comparison to "Take Me Away". It is also a companion fic to "Crimson Rose", but you don't have to read one to read the other.


Sometimes, I hate being the woman I am.

This is certainly one of those times.

I'm supposed to be watching out for Colette, but, how can I, when I cannot even watch out for myself?

It almost seems to be a reoccurring habit… The others' fight while I stay back and heal them when needed. I'm still new at this spell-casting, especially since I only recently was able to heal. Timing is important, especially in the heat of battle.

If I start to cast a healing spell too soon, I'll only be wasting energy, as it will be cast before anybody needs healed. Holding the spell back once started takes too much energy, and if I start casting too late, the person I am trying to heal will have already fallen.

Attack spells take all-too-long to cast, and once I start, I can't move from where I am standing without breaking the spell. Which is a lot harder than anyone might think.

My ribs still ache from fighting the Sword Dancer at the Ossa Trail. And though it was just the other day, it is still fresh in my mind.

"I've got it" I shouted, raising my staff into the air horizontally, gripping it with both hands. The words came to me as I spoke them, and, slowly but surely, the attack began to build.


I tried to ignore the sounds of battle around me, as Genis cast Fireball on the Sword Dancer in the dark, cramped maintenance tunnel. The sound of Kratos and Lloyd's swords clashing against their opponent was nearly deafening in the small area.

My eyes closed tightly, I tried to concentrate on casting the spell, but found myself unable to do so. Forcing my eyes open again, I saw that Lloyd and Kratos were having trouble against the four-armed skeleton.

Lloyd yelped in surprise as he rolled to the side, barely dodging a strike that would have killed him on contact.

Kratos seemed to be doing much better than Lloyd, but Genis didn't look to be doing very well. The Sword Dancer turned for a moment, swinging at Kratos, while Lloyd took the opportunity to strike from behind. The skeleton knocked Kratos aside easily and turned on Lloyd.

My mind was in overdrive, not sure what to do at this moment.

Heal… or use my new attack…

Heal…or attack…

I would heal. Closing my eyes, I starting chanting the familiar words for the healing spell. The mana stirred in my veins as I lifted my rod into the air. "First Aid" I called, noticing Genis' relieved look.

One healed, two to go…

Kratos was on his feet again, conjuring up his own First Aid spell, so I decided I would heal Lloyd.

Unfortunately, Kratos was using his spell on Lloyd too, though I didn't know it until it was too late.

A waste of my energy…

"Hmph" Kratos had said, shaking his head as he drew his sword.

I felt so stupid…

Since Kratos hadn't been healed, I decided I would heal him.

As the name of the healing spell left my lips, I felt my stomach churning.

"Professor Sage" Lloyd had yelled in warning, just in time.

My movements were slow, but I managed to dodge the Sword Dancer's swing, aimed right at my neck.

Closing my eyes from where I stood, I tried to get the feeling of dizziness to go away. Once again, I started reciting the words for the healing spell, my eyes closed tightly, to keep my concentration.

As the spell was cast, I felt the mana seeping from my body. Kratos uttered a 'thank you' as he continued to swing his blade at the four-armed swordsman.

The Sword Dancer still had quite of bit of health left, the way I felt, I knew I could only cast one more spell. A healing spell would be useful, but the battle was already drawn-out enough, and Kratos could use First Aid too.

I would attack.

I stood and held my rod tightly in my hands, speaking the words as they came to me. As I spoke, I felt my legs tremble at the weight being put on them. My energy was flowing to one point in front of me, and I barely noticed as I sunk to my knees.

"Professor" Lloyd called out, his voice small in the back of my mind.

"Raine" Kratos barked, his voice betraying the fact that I was in the way… again.

I was almost done casting the spell! I wouldn't move. I wouldn't be the healer who sat on the sidelines any longer.

I weakly thrust the staff into the air, using my free arm to hold me up as the mana abruptly left my body.

"Light…" I started, my eyes half-opening. The Sword Dancer was only a few feet away, his sword in an arc that aimed right for my head.

I felt my body dropping to the earth, but I couldn't give up. Just before the staff fell from my hand, I whispered the last word needed for the attack. "Photon…"

A bright white flash appeared in front of me, as my vision darkened, and my face hit the ground.

-

I tried to force my eyes open, though it seemed such a hard task.

"Sis" Genis called, and I felt a small hand on my shoulder. My eyes slowly opened to reveal my companions standing around me. Colette looked like she was ready to cry, while the others' just looked concerned.

"Are you okay, Professor" Lloyd asked, his brown eyes looking at me questioningly.

"The…Sword Dancer" I managed to ask as I tried to sit up.

"He's gone" Kratos said simply, moving to place his hand against my back to help me.

I felt a light blush cover my face at the mercenary's touch. I wasn't used to being touched by anyone, let alone an attractive man.

"It was your attack, Raine" Genis said excitedly, as Colette nodded in agreement beside him.

"Your Photon is awesome, Professor" Lloyd smiled. "It was so cool"

I managed to smile weakly. "T…thanks" I said slowly.

"Do you feel alright" Colette asked, obviously noting my rather disheveled and dirty appearance.

"I'm fine" I tried to assure them, when in reality my legs felt like jelly, and my chest felt like it had been crushed by a ten-ton weight.

"That's good" Lloyd said, reaching out a hand to help me up. "I was sure you'd be out for at least a week with that big old skeleton landing on you like that."

I raised an eyebrow. No wonder I felt so awful…

I took Lloyd's hand and tried to get to my feet.

I failed miserably.

"Do you think you can walk" Colette asked, an innocent smile on her face. "We could carry you if you can't…"

I felt my face flush crimson again at the mere thought of being carried. The only one strong enough was Kratos, and, he probably thought me annoying and weak enough as it was.

Even though it was tempting…

I ducked my head to hide my embarrassment at the situation. "I can walk" I said stubbornly, even though I wasn't so sure I could.

"Well" Genis asked, waiting for me to get up.

"I… I just need some help standing up" I said resolutely, my gaze fixated on the ceiling supports of the maintenance tunnel.

Colette and Lloyd each grabbed a hold of one of my hands and pulled me to my feet. Kratos' hand didn't move from my back. My legs still felt like jelly, but at least I was standing.

"See? I can stand."

"Barely…" Genis noted, watching my trembling legs.

"Heh." I could almost picture the smirk on the mercenary's face.

I wouldn't let them win. I was going to walk all the way to the next town, even if it killed me!

Putting my right foot forward, I winced.

Damn. This would be harder than I had thought.

But I wasn't about to give up. I knew that I could keep going, well, at least for awhile.

It was slow going, but we finally made it to the entrance of the maintenance passageway.

"C'mon Professor" Lloyd finally said, becoming bored with the situation. "Can't you just let someone carry you or something" He swiped a hand through his thick hair and looked sideways. "It's so slow this way… Izoold will be a ghost town before we arrive"

I sent him a glare even though I didn't blame him for his comment. It was slow going, after all. "I can walk perfectly well" I told him firmly, taking a few steps one-after-the-other in quick succession. "I'm just a little ti" I stopped, my vision going out of focus. The rocky cliffs of the Ossa Trail swam in front of my eyes, making me feel as if I'd been spinning in circles for awhile. Putting a hand up to my face to rub at my eyes, I winced. It took too much effort…

Thankfully, after a few moments, the world stopped spinning, and I was able to finish my sentence. "Tired, I'm just a little tired, that's all…"

"Do you want to rest, Professor" Colette asked concernedly, watching me with wide blue eyes.

"No, no I'll be fine… I think." My knees were starting to wobble under my weight, but I still put a foot forward to show them I was okay.

"Don't overdo it" I heard Kratos mutter from behind me, his hands now at his sides.

I could feel another blush coming on, and I wanted to hit myself. Thankfully, nobody noticed, or, perhaps they simply chose not to. It didn't matter either way. My ribs were starting to ache madly, and there was nothing I could do about it.

I didn't want to give in either. I wouldn't rest until I reached Izoold, with the others. I wouldn't make them do more than their fair share of work

I suppose that perhaps it was just foolish of me to try and keep going, even though I knew I needed my rest. Strange, isn't it, how mankind holds such a high value for valor and courage? In reality, I suppose that courage and valor can be taken to extremes.

Nevertheless, on a journey to save the world, one could not be weak. It simply wasn't fitting, nor was it intelligent.

The weak are picked out first by their inability to keep up with the others in the group.

I knew all about migratory patterns of birds, how ancient civilizations had lived, and how they fell, and about precious stones and monsters that roamed the world.

But I just didn't know well enough to quit while I was ahead.

Looking around my surroundings, I noticed that we had made it to the very foot of the Ossa Trail. Ahead, the small buildings of Izoold stuck out against the blue sky and patches of forestland.

"Look" Lloyd shouted in his normal excitement at finding something new. "We're almost there"

Unfortunately for me, I guess, he dashed forward to get a closer look at the fishing port, letting go of my arm, and leaving me without support.

Colette watched Lloyd romp in the distance with a slight smile on her face, not paying any attention to me; until I slipped, that is.

Well, I think that 'collapse' might be a better word for it, as there was nothing to slip on.

My knees buckled beneath my weight and I found my nose ground into the dirt of Sylvarant.

'Nice going, Raine,' I chided myself, mentally smashing my face in with a brick. Out of all the ways in the world to look stupid, I had to choose the fall-on-your-face-and-look-like-a-weakling one.

Life was so complicated…

"Oh no! Professor, I'm so sorry" Colette cried in apology, kneeling beside me. "I knew that we should have made you rest"

Normally, I would have let her know that I was fine, but at the moment my face was in the ground, and I found myself unable to speak. Ouch…

Lloyd finally came back to the group, probably bored of the scenery. "Aw, man" he said, disappointment obvious in his voice. "Now we'll never get to Izoold on time"

"Shut up, Lloyd" Genis replied, rolling his eyes and pushing Lloyd lightly.

"Some help, please" I asked, my voice muffled by the ground.

"What did you say, professor" Colette asked me, putting her ear close to the ground.

I sighed.

Kratos let out a long breath, obviously bored of the stupidity of the group. "We will rest" he said shortly, kneeling beside me and resting a hand on my shoulder. "Are you all right"

"Does it look like it" I asked sarcastically. My limbs were nearly numb; there was no way on this green land that I would be able to move myself!

"Hmph" came the standard reply from the mercenary.

But, he started to help me to lie down, and soon enough, Lloyd joined him. From this point of view, I was able to look up at the cerulean sky. It was gorgeous. White fluffy clouds dotted the vast space, floating along aimlessly.

I decided that one particular cloud in the northwest looked almost like the Balacruf Mausoleum.

But I decided not to say anything about it, for fear of boring my companions even further. Though, I suppose it might not have hurt me to say it, since the younger ones were already on their backs, arms folded behind their heads on the soft mossy ground.

"Colette! That one looks like Noishe, doesn't it"

"I think it looks like you, Lloyd" Genis replied. "It even has the large inflated head…"

"Shut up, Genis"

"Ohh! That one reminds me of a doggie" Colette giggled, hand in the air.

I sighed, finding the ground not-so-comfortable without my hands behind my head to support my neck. Feeling movement beside me, I rolled my eyes to my right to see a blur of purple.

Kratos…

"You should try to get to sleep" he told me, crossing his legs one-over-the-other. "How else do you expect to regain your strength"

I rolled my eyes and closed them momentarily. "Why don't you try falling asleep when you feel like a marshmallow"

"I have" he answered. I opened my eyes for a second, just in time to notice a slight smirk on his face. "But it wasn't easy."

"Right. I bet someone had to take a weapon to your skull to get you to rest." I closed my eyes again, fully intent on trying to fall asleep. Which was hard, with the constant bantering of Genis, Lloyd, and Colette in the background. After a few minutes with no success, I sighed again.

"You have to shut out all the background noise" Kratos informed me.

"It's not that easy" I whined, probably sounding more like a child than the adult I was.

"Here" he mumbled, pushing my head up from the ground. When he set my head back, I felt something soft beneath it.

"Wha" I started to ask, my confusion obvious.

"It's just my pack" he said roughly, going back to his cross-legged seating arrangement.

"Oh" I answered him, unsure of what to say. "Thank you…" I smiled lightly and let my exhaustion take over; the bright daylight sunshine slowly fading from my mind as the dark-edges of sleep closed in around me.


And I ended up here, in Izoold, even though I didn't walk here myself. Of all the annoying things…

Argh!

We only stopped to "rest" in the first place, because they wanted me asleep… Hmph. The second I was asleep, they carried me here.

I feel so …oh, I don't know. Useless?

Yes, useless. How do I expect to make it through the entire World Regeneration if I can't even make the forty-five minute walk from the end of the Ossa Trail to Izoold?

Some teacher I am, falling like some kind of idiot in front of the children I am supposed to be helping to protect, while Kratos does all the work. That poor man had to carry me all the way to Izoold. I almost feel sorry for him.

Okay, I do feel sorry for him. 108 pounds can be a lot to carry, especially for an extended amount of time. I hope I'm not blushing again… I really need to get my emotions under control!

Just because Kratos is tall, and good-looking, and strong…. Doesn't mean anything! Right?

Right.

At first, though, I thought that he could care less about all of us. But I'm glad that he does. I'm very glad, actually. If he didn't care, I'd just have to refuse to heal him when he hurts himself.

Oh… wait… He can heal himself anyway.

Darn.

Uhmm…

Oh well… Lloyd, Genis, and Colette all look out for one-another, so I suppose that Kratos and I will do the same. But from now on, I'm going to stand up for myself! I won't look stupid in front of the others again.

I'm just as intelligent as Kratos is, though maybe not as strong….

I can defend myself perfectly well!

Though having him hang around wouldn't be all that bad…

But just as added protection, mind you.


A/N: Gah, that was… ermmm…. Pointless. I can't say I'm 'proud' of it, or anything. Am I disappointed? Yes. Yes, I am. I was hoping for something a little better than this, but yeah. Sorry for any OOC-ness, or any grammatical errors. And, thanks for reading!

Something I really like… is to have my reviews really 'review' the story. If you wouldn't mind, please grade it on a scale of 1-100 (like a math test, for example). And please, please, PLEASE be truthful! I know this doesn't deserve a 99, or 100. Yes, it's flattering to get such a review from someone, but it isn't honest. ) Critique as much as you desire, PLEASE! I want, more than anything, to improve.

-KK; February 9th, 2005