You know, I was surprised, after writing my first story of unusual pairings (Lloyd/Presea), that people actually

liked it. I had thought that because there were no stories with that pairing that no one liked it, but I was wrong. I

am so relieved, because I love that pairing! Anyway, this is a Lloyd/Raine fic, which is the other unusual ship in

ToS that I am fond of. No, I'm not a fan of Kratos/Raine. Having seen Raine's ending, and making connections to

that in this story, I am putting up a neat little spoiler warning: WARNING! SPOILERS! Is that spiffy or what?

Also, I don't own Tales of Symphonia, and I'm too lazy to write an amusing disclaimer, so don't sue me for either.

Iselia to Palmacosta

It had started out as a normal day. Well, as normal as could be managed for Lloyd. He had been so tired that morning that he had walked in the opposite direction of the stairs and ran smack dab into the wall. "How smooth," he groaned.

Though Lloyd was muddled in the early hours of the day, before his brain kicked into gear and/or he had coffee, the young swordsman had a few titles to credit to his name that weren't all that shabby. Having been one of the saviors of the twin worlds, and caretaker of the great tree, Lloyd felt that he actually had a purpose in life. Well, most of the time. Right now he was wondering groggily if it was worth all the effort to drag himself down the stairs for breakfast.

In the end, the smell of Dirk's cooking won out. Lloyd ended up practically falling down the stairs, but the important part was that he had made it to the food. Not until the messy haired brunet had waffled down all he could eat and had a mug of strong coffee, did he notice the very worried half-elf and former Chosen standing by the sink, talking with Dirk.

"HeyGenisandColette!" he mumbled, slightly incoherent, "Whatsupwithyouguys?" Genis raised an eyebrow, then walked over and helpfully hit his friend over the head.

Lloyd blinked, then appreciatively said, "Thanks, Genis." Genis nodded, "No problem, sleepy head." The worry lines on Colette's forehead deepened, "Stop chatting! We need to figure out how to find the Professor!" Lloyd stood up sharply, looking alarmed, "Where's Raine?"

Genis set a restraining hand on the older boy's shoulder, "My sister's gone missing. I woke up this morning and she wasn't there, but I don't think we should panic just yet. There is probably a reasonable explanation, and she'll turn up soon. Don't get yourself worked up."

Lloyd frowned at his silver haired friend uncomprehendingly for a moment, "But she also could be in danger! Did she leave a note? Anything?" Genis shook his head, looking slightly downcast. Lloyd slammed his fist down on the table in momentary frustration, "We have to do something, damnit!"

Colette had started pacing, muttering to herself worriedly, while Genis began frantically writing down everything he could remember about Raine's behavior in the last twenty four hours incase it was something psychological. Lloyd interrupted him only once to ask if Raine's rheaird was gone, the response returning affirmative.

Dirk watched this display of borderline panic in the teenagers for a few more moments before intervening, "You know, Lloyd, if you find the need to make yourself useful, I suggest going out and looking for her." Lloyd paused, turning to look at his adoptive father, "But she could be anywhere!" Colette stopped her pacing and faced Lloyd, hands on her hips, "What would you have us do then, Lloyd? Wait around here until we get all old and wrinkly and your hairline starts to recede?"

Genis giggled at Colette's choice of words, but more because of Lloyd's expression. The young swordsman was blushing furiously out of embarrassment and slight irritation, "Fine then, this is completely wild, but I guess it's worth what it's worth. Genis can start in Tethe'alla, I'll look in Sylvaraunt, and Colette can wait here incase Raine comes back while we're gone." Genis shrugged, looking at Colette, but she seemed fine with the arrangements, so he nodded.

After agreeing to meet up again that evening to see if anyone had found Raine, Lloyd boarded his rheaird and began flying south. He wasn't really sure where to start, truthfully, but a sudden image of the ocean suddenly came to the top of his head, and it occurred to him that while he was out searching for Raine, he could also check out how the rebuilding of Palmacosta was coming along. It had started slowly at first, with the terrible state Sylvaraunt had been in, but now that the worlds were righted and a new tree was growing in the old one's place, so people had begun the laborious project. Still, Lloyd had faith that it would eventually be a functioning city again. Lloyd and Co. had after all, helped rebuild the city of Luin, which turned into a much livelier city than it was before.

Lloyd altered his course slightly to the east and soon arrived at his destination. About half the city was functional now, though not 'ironed-and-pressed' quite yet, so Lloyd began walking idly along, keeping an eye out for the Professor. He wondered briefly if he should ask someone if they'd seen her, and decided to pop into the nearest store, the one that at one point had sold Palmacosta's famous Palma Potion. He guessed, as an afterthought, that most of the supplies had been destroyed with the city, so the shop owner probably wouldn't have any customers quite yet.

A bell tinkled in the background as Lloyd entered, softly shutting the door behind him. There was no one in here today except for the shopkeeper Lavena, a plump, middle-aged woman who was leaning on the counter, absorbed in her reading. The first time Lloyd had visited here was back in the beginning of the journey of world regeneration…how silly it seemed now. The fake Chosen's group had demanded a replacement for the Palma Potion Colette had accidentally broken, and he had looked here first, but there was none available at the time. Though, he wasn't exactly sure Lavena would have been so keen on selling it to minors, anyway. The presence of that woman was rather…severe…in a different way than Raine was…Raine! He needed to find her!

"Umm…excuse me?" Lloyd asked tentatively. Lavena looked up from her reading, "Yes? May I help you?" Lloyd nodded, "Yes, I was wondering if you'd seen a friend of mine in the area today? Her name is Raine Sage and she's kind of tall with short silver hair…"

"Oh, Raine? You know her?" Lavena set aside her book, with her full attention focused on Lloyd, surprising him. "Well, yes, of course," Lloyd stumbled uncertainly, "She's been my schoolteacher for as long as I can remember, and she just left this morning without telling anyone and I'm trying to figure out where she could be…" He trailed off, at look on Lavena's face. She looked kind of sad…distant…as if she was recalling a memory from years gone past…

"So that's how she ended up…" she murmured to herself. "Excuse me?" Lloyd asked, breaking into her thoughts. Lavena's eyes refocused, "I'm sorry, child, but I haven't seen Raine Sage for twelve years. Not since…the woman you speak of…was eleven…"

Lloyd's eyes widened, "You mean you knew her…when she first came to Sylvaraunt?" The people of both worlds were still getting used to the fact that there had actually been a whole other world existing parallel to them this whole time, but Lavena did not seem to take as long to digest this as many had. Perhaps it was her encounter with Raine…and he was curious to know more.

Lavena nodded, sighing deeply, "She was a young slip of a girl, that Raine, when she first came to Palmacosta with her baby brother. She was clothed very simply…with no money…no family… I think it was the last part that I felt for her the most though. My daughter, Morgana, was a year older than her at the time, but she never really had the same spirit, the same flame Raine did. I suppose that comes of having my husband die when my daughter was very small, but…this story is about Raine, not my family…I took her and Genis in, you see…and Raine and Morgana became quite good friends, as I do recall…

"In the beginning, Raine would never leave her brother alone. She insisted on being his one and absolute caretaker, but I could see that it was wearing her out. A child should not have to carry the burdens she did, and even less the ones that came after… I do not know what magical pursuits Raine has followed now, but when she was staying with us, she began to practice healing arts with a small wooden staff that supposedly was given to her by her mother…Goddess knows what ever happened to her parents. I remember how delighted she was when she was first able to heal the scrapes Morgana got from playing outside all day long…it was the first time Raine ever asked me if I could look after the baby for a while and she go outside to play with Morgana. I was delighted that she was finally interested in starting to live life as a normal child, but I never could have dreamed…

"At one time, before the destruction of our city, Palmacosta had a lighthouse. It was once a very useful tool to our port, but after a time it became kind of…queer. There was this…feeling around it, kind of like a gloomy aura. I regret that I hadn't watched the girls more closely that afternoon…I think I will always regret it…"

Lavena was beginning to look weary. "You don't have to tell me the rest of the story right now, Lavena," said Lloyd; "We can take a break, if you want." Lavena nodded, "I'll go make us some…tea?" Lloyd shook his head, "No, you sit, I'll go make it." Lavena nodded her thanks and leaned back, wiping her forehead with her sleeve. She hadn't thought back to the incident in a very long time…

Lloyd came back with some tea for the both of them and watched Lavena take a few sips before gently urging her back into speech. "You see, that day Raine and Morgana were out running everywhere – playing everything, causing general mayhem, though I don't think anybody minded – and Raine was, I expect, feeling lighthearted and easy as she had not experienced in a long while. This I think…well, it sort of intoxicated her. Raine was more bold that day than I had ever known her to be in her short stay, and she…she suggested to Morgana that they go and explore the lighthouse…try to find out what was going on there. Ahh…Morgana…she went along with Raine's scheme quite happily, not knowing…

"From what I'd heard from the man who worked guarding the lighthouse, something had been doubly strange that day about the place, but he hadn't thought much into it when he agreed to give the girls a bit of a tour as a special treat. Apparently he left them alone up in the top room where the core mechanism is rigged up while he went to go get some snacks, leaving them looking around curiously, not like to do any real harm. How wrong he was…"

She paused, squinting into the depths of her cup of tea, "Lloyd, have you heard of the Dark Book of Necrominicon?" Lloyd's eyes widened and he nodded, "When we collected the devils arms weapons, Abyssion used that book to revive the Dark Lord Nebilum. Come to think of it…Raine was the one who identified what it was for us." Lavena nodded sadly, "I do not know how that evil book came to be in our city's lighthouse, but I believe that the girls came upon it and Raine…such an insatiably curious girl…possibly opened it…unleashing the horrors within…such an innocent girl…"

Lloyd's eyes widened in horror, "Wh…what happened next?" Lavena was gripping her teacup very hard, her whole body shaking, "I do not know what evil came from that book, but everyone in the city saw the sudden dark pulse from our pillar which had once given light, and…and…I only found out later, but…" she shuddered, "Whatever came out of that book killed my daughter. Raine herself barely made it out of there, but she did not speak for days afterwards, so deep were the psychological scars."

Lloyd then realized why this was affecting Lavena so much and reached over to give her shoulder a reassuring squeeze, "It must have been hard for you. And her as well." Lavena took deep gulp of air and nodded, "The last, and only time she ever spoke to me after that, was when Raine said goodbye. She couldn't bear to stay in Palmacosta, where she was an outsider, and was only causing harm. I think she felt guilty for my daughters death, and I never really got the chance to tell her that it wasn't her fault…" A tear rolled down the brown haired woman's cheek. Suddenly a memory flashed through Lloyd's mind, sharp and fresh as if it had only just happened. The group had been in Palmacosta, intending to question Dorr, the Governor General, but after questioning a strange demon disguised as his daughter had shown itself and killed him. Lloyd and the others had fought off the demon, but later Lloyd had heard Raine say, "I can not save even a single life?" Now he knew. Oh, how Raine must have suffered.

"Raine didn't deserve any of the things that happened her, but I do hope that she somehow found peace in your village, young Lloyd." Lloyd slowly stood up, letting out the breath that he hadn't realized he was holding, "Thank you for telling me your story, Lavena. It means a great deal to me to know a little bit more about my friend's past." Lavena nodded and stood up as well, wiping her eyes and then scooping up the teacups. She smiled faintly at him, "In a way, it's a bit relieving. I haven't been able to, or rather have not been able to bring myself to talk about this since the incident, and it is almost as if a weight has been lifted from my chest. Do come by again sometime, and bring Raine too when you find her. I should like to see her again…very much so…" Lloyd moved towards the door, pausing at the threshold, "Goodbye, Lavena. I intend to take you up on your offer once I've found Raine, and that is a promise."

Lloyd walked out into the morning sunlight, deaf to the hustle and bustle of the city as he stared up at the clouds. The swordsman stood there for quite some time, memories flashing through his mind. The man standing in front of the lighthouse, not letting anyone in because they'd been getting sick…the day that they had encountered the dark book of Necrominicon and it's wielder…but mostly, Raine's face, with that look of pain on it that went farther down than he had ever realized. It strengthened his resolve to find his teacher, and to tell her that it wasn't her fault…that she mustn't blame herself… "Well, on to Izoold, I guess," he murmured to himself, and set off towards the docks, running his hands through his hair feeling mentally exhausted.

Yay for the completion of the first chapter! –cheers- That took quite a few days to write, and though I'm being

pestered to finish the fifth chapter of my other story, I only seem to be bubbling with ideas for this one, and I

don't even know what people think of it yet. I have the story mapped out in my brain, but there are some moments

(the comment Colette makes about Lloyd balding) that just pop into my head while I'm writing and I love the story

even more! Anyway, I love love love happy reviews, though it is not reviews that are writing this story, so you

don't have to worry too much if you're too lazy to review, but they are really good motivators!