I couldn't think of anything to say in the author's note except to renew my disclaimer. I don't own Tales of
Symphonia. –sigh- Oh yeah, and spoilys.
Asgard to Lake Umacy
Lloyd stood some feet away from the entrance to Asgard, leaning against the side of the hill, silent. He had left there oh, hours ago, and had been standing in the same position since, thinking. Moving his head slowly to throw off the stiffness, the brown haired swordsman stared unseeingly into the distance.
The sun was lower in the sky, as the afternoon rolled on, nothing stirring. Lloyd let out a long sigh and tried to re-form his thoughts again. Awen's father had told him of many things, fragmented yes, but still enough. It had been hard for Lloyd to imagine Raine as anything but the firm, organized, motivated, down-to-earth woman that he was…but now, now things were beginning to change.
"Seems like I hardly knew her at all…" he murmured to himself, starting to walk over to Colette's rheaird, not really caring where he went next. He felt tired and worn down from all this searching.
The young swordsman boarded the rheaird, idly flying in the direction of Luin. The wind whistled through his hair, cooling his face, but not quite able to sooth his heavy heart. Raine should not have had to deal with any of that alone…and now that she was stubbornly not showing up, he felt a stronger and stronger need to find her. To tell her…that it wasn't her fault…
Luin was in sight now. Lloyd carefully descended, leaving his rheaird just outside the city entrance, and walked on in. The city had always been a beautiful place, but when it was rebuilt, it was even more of a wonder. Lloyd roamed around, looking through the crowds to see if his teacher was at all among the masses. Ever since Palmacosta was destroyed, this had been quite a big city. Though, Palmacosta was slowly returning to what it had once been…
Pausing, Lloyd smiled as he noticed Raine's statue a few feet away. There was one of Sheena and himself somewhere else in this city, but he had always liked Raine's the best. She had her staff raised in the air and looked like she was casting a spell. Probably 'Ray'. Whenever she cast that, all the surrounding darkness vanished and there was only light.
"She was here this morning," an old man standing beside Lloyd who he had not noticed before commented, "That Raine Sage did so much to help our city, along with all the other heroes. Such a wonderful, wonderful woman…" The man started to move away before Lloyd's brain kicked into gear.
"Hey…wait!" he called, scrambling after the speaker, "She was here? Did she say where she was going? Please, she's been missing and I've spent all day trying to find her!"
The old man chuckled, amused by Lloyd's disheveled appearance and anxious expression, "Calm down, sonny, your girlfriend is just fine. She said she was headed to Lake Umacy. It's a mighty good place to think, I say. Quiet and peaceful like."
Lloyd blushed furiously, "She's not my…I mean, thanks for telling me! It means so much, mister!" He dashed off as fast as he could to get on the rheaird, shaking so badly it took a few tries to get the machine started up.
Flying the short distance over to the lake, Lloyd paid much more attention to where he was going then he had before, now bent on his mission, and filled with new energy. He was probably the most awake he'd been all day. Surely Raine would be there, and then his search would be over…surely. She had to…
The point of destination was in view now. Lloyd could see the dimming sunlight reflecting off the waters. Coming down just outside the forest borderline, the swordsman in red walked carefully through the trees, his boots making crunching noises as they made contact with the dead leaves that were littered all over the place.
The trees thinned slowly, and Lloyd arrived at the lake. It was indeed a peaceful place. A perfect place to think, it was no wonder Raine would come here. In fact, he wondered why he hadn't thought of it before. Still…where was she? He looked in to the left, then the right, scanning the area carefully. At first he thought that maybe she was actually long gone and that he had been too late, but then Lloyd glanced back at the first spot and his eyes widened in surprise.
Raine was lying against a tree trunk in the shadows, her eyes half-closed, and one hand loosely grasping her staff, which was positioned across her lap. She looked tired, weary. Lloyd bit his lip, wondering how to approach her. He paced his walk as softly as he could so as not to disturb her.
"Raine?" Lloyd spoke gently as she looked up to the approaching figure.
Raine straightened and tried to gather herself together, her voice only coming out half-heartedly sharp and commanding, "Lloyd! What are you doing here?"
Lloyd smiled, almost pityingly, "Ra…Professor Sage, you left this morning without leaving a note. I came to look for you!" His lungs didn't seem to work right over the formalities. Lloyd took a deep breath and exhaled.
"Oh, I did?" Raine's response came back faintly, as though her mind wasn't really there. Lloyd bent over and touched her shoulder lightly, making her jump.
"It's odd how many people in these parts know you," he said, trying to sound cheerful, a familiar twinkle in his eye. Raine smiled slightly.
"Well, I seem to be creating mess after mess without cleaning anything up. They've probably got wanted posters up for me by now," her tone was lighter, probably supposed to be amused, but that moment was not like Raine Sage. She was hiding something…they both had facades, really.
"I…they told me…many things…" Lloyd muttered, slumping down beside his friend. The lines in Raine's forehead lengthened.
"Oh…oh, I see…" she would not look at him, "Listen, you don't have to worry about me, I'll be home in a little while."
Lloyd frowned and shook his head, "If there is something bothering you, you should tell someone, Pro…fessor…" Raine sighed, her weakness apparent now. She set down her staff and looked out across the lake.
"It wasn't your fault," Lloyd began when she didn't reply immediately. "Morgana's death…Yukio…everyone…Raine, you mustn't blame yourself!" He sharply inhaled, realizing his slip up on addressing her. Raine didn't' seem to notice. Instead, she clenched her fists, looking down at the ground. Tears sprung into her eyes, though barely visible.
"No Lloyd, it is. I can't seem to do anything right! I've failed my mother, my brother, and so many other people, the only people who had faith in me. Even now I can't…" she began desperately, so quick now to put herself down. Lloyd instinctively pulled her into his arms.
"No, you're wrong. All the people I've spoken to only spoke in favor of you. You have done so much good. And…I have faith in you…" he said the last part softly, sadly, as if afraid that whatever he had to say meant little to her. Both of them were silent for a time, and then Lloyd spoke again.
"I guess we're both lost, aren't we? I never asked Kratos…before he left…where I was born. You know…I was going to build a boat…and we were going to sail around the world together. No fighting, no quests, just being together. Father and son. So many things that I intended to do…"
Raine shook her head against his chest, then pulled slightly out of his embrace to look up at him, the sure look in her eyes returning, "Once again you're not entirely correct, Lloyd."
Lloyd looked puzzled, "Huh? How?"
Raine smiled faintly, "Because I'm not lost anymore. You found me." She moved to stand up, brushing herself off, and bending over to retrieve her staff. Lloyd stood up hesitantly.
"I think we found each other," he said slowly. Raine looked up, and, in a not-so-thoroughly-calculated decision, moved over and kissed him lightly. Lloyd froze, surprised.
"Wha…huh?" he asked bemusedly.
Raine laughed and began dragging him back through the trees towards the spot where the rheairds would be. Lloyd was still slightly clueless, but he did care. And that was enough...to be cared for…
"I was afraid to open my heart to anyone, you know." Raine lay with her head against Lloyd's chest, looking up at the stars. Her house, as the others in Iselia, were still being renovated, and Dirk had invited the Sage siblings to stay for a night. The previous night they had stayed at Colette's, but even here, the former blonde Chosen still seemed to be very present. After explaining most of the story to everyone, Lloyd and Raine had gone off onto the balcony to talk.
Lloyd smiled, half-asleep, but warm and happy and relaxed now, "I know…it was hard for you…" Raine wrapped her arms around Lloyd's middle.
"I'm going to try once more to hope. You have no idea how much you've helped me…all of us. The lives you've touched, the things you've been able to change. Well, I never dreamed it possible," she responded sleepily.
Lloyd shifted slightly to hug her back, "Raine."
"Yes?" Raine's voice was getting fainter as she drifted towards sleep.
"Oh, nothing, I just like saying your name. It beats 'Professor Sage' and 'Professor' by a mile," he responded, grinning in the moonlight.
"If I had enough strength, I'd hit you over the head, but…too tired…" she mumbled, managing to give him a partial glare.
"Goodnight Raine. Sweet dreams," Lloyd spoke softly, running one hand through Raine's silver hair. She had already fallen asleep, he could tell, by her slow and steady breathing. Summoning up his last bit of energy and courage, Lloyd bent over to give her a goodnight kiss on the cheek. Raine smiled in her sleep.
"Goodnight Lloyd…you mean more to me than you know…"
Short? Yes. Poor? I know. Sudden ending? I'm evil. Now, in response to the unsuspecting reviewers:
DeadEdBoy: Perhaps because all the time she needed Lloyd! Heh heh… -sweatdrop-
Nightlight Ninja: Yeah, I know. But things turn out better for her, I think.
Zaivon: You're right, I took a few liberties on Lloyd's character. But there are moments, especially under great stress, when things aren't so lighthearted that Lloyd isn't quite so dense.
MoonCannon: Yes! It's going to be humor though… -raises eyebrow- Different, yes, but still… -grins-
Kitten Kisses: Thank you for reviewing all my chapters and giving me all those tips! I appreciate it. The thing with Lloyd calling Raine 'Raine' was kind of an affection thing… -sweatdrop- And yes, must work on dialogue! I hope this chapter was a little clearer in that respect?
Alouete: Thank you. Yes, that was kind of the climax, so I was thinking very hard on it. Hee hee.
And for those readers who don't review, if you exist at all…I hope you liked my story.