Disclaimer: Sorry, nope, I don't own it. Fooled ya, didn't I? XD
A/N: The first draft of this had been sitting in my computer a while, and I thought, "What the heck?"; I liked the concept, and I haven't been writing much DK anyway. So, there ya go: R/C angst, bottled, steamed, and thrown around (or something like that). Just to warn you:this is ANGST. Angst angst angsty angst.

Promises

I.

Rath was slipping farther and farther away from them by the day. No one had the heart or courage to say it, but Cesia knew anyway. When it came to Rath, she always knew; could sense the subtle changes in his moods and actions; the way his gaze would drift away and linger on some faraway place only he could see. He was restless in his new body and consumed with self-hatred.

Cesia remembered her long ago promise to Rath:

"I will never let you die."

She hadn't realized at the time that physical death wasn't the only thing she had to look out for—that the worst demons and punishment Rath could suffer came from inside himself. She'd known about it—him being a demon—but never the extent. She hadn't known the crimes he'd committed and the torture he put himself through because of it.

She hadn't known that Rath was hurting and slipping away.

And now Rath was acting weird and she was pretty sure that he was starting to give in to his demon side. If Nadil was going to come back—and he probably would—then she knew what to do.

It wasn't what she needed to do; not what she wanted or should do. But if the time came, she knew that it was what would be done—if it came down to it, regardless of everyone else, she would go through with it:

She'd turn herself in to Nadil.

The thought is fresh in her mind, and already Cesia feels more satisfied, and even relieved—she'd always felt better when there was something to do. Cesia liked control. She was good at getting it, and even better with it. It was just one of those things about her.

Her decision made she made her way through the castle hoping that the demons wouldn't arrive just yet…and halted when she heard a crash. They're here, she thought.

She sat on the floor and leaned against the wall, surprised to find that she was almost completely at ease. Cesia had a plan, however vague; and as long as there was a plan, a structure that could guide her through all her experiences—well, then, she was okay.

"Rath!" someone yelled, and it startled Cesia out of her reverie.

Rath! How could she have forgotten? Wasn't this whole thing worked out because of him?

Cesia couldn't believe she'd forgotten.

Broken promises, she thought unexpectedly, not knowing what it meant to her, exactly. But it was there; and she sensed that it was important to her. Maybe it's because I was so occupied with that promise I made, I forgot about Rath, she thought. There was a certain irony about the situation, when she thought about it. It wasn't very funny.

Chagrined, she searched throughout the castle for the infamous Dragon Knight. Cesia went through the dining halls, the kitchens, Thatz, Rune, Alfeegi, Kai-Stern, and Tetheus's rooms, and she found no sign of Rath. She looked in the Dragon Lord's room and the Queen's room; frantically, she practically ran from room to room, trying to catch sight of the Dragon Knight.

II.

She didn't find him.

Yet another promise I've broken, Rath, she thought dryly. Every time I tell you I'll do something, I'll have accomplished something entirely different afterwards. Wonder what'll happen to 'I will never let you die'.

III.

She comforted Rath in the way that only she could and the way only he seemed comforted by:

"Do you understand now? I am here for you, Rath Illuser."

Immediately after, she left the room and made her way to Nadil; already she was breaking the silent promise hidden in her last words. She would not be there for Rath, because she would be with Nadil.

Knowing full well what she was doing, Cesia faced Nadil, taking a deep breath. Softly, she said, "Okay, Nadil. You win."

He smirked smugly, the bastard that he was; he knew exactly what he was doing, and she had played exactly into his hands. She hated him for giving her no choice but to grant his wishes—hated him even more for making her lie to Rath.

IV.

"Don't follow me. If you do, I swear I'll never come back!"

Rath said things like that a lot. Who was going to be there when he said them again? She thought. Who would bring him back to his senses and stop him?

She wondered why she was thinking of such foolish things then.

She hoped to whatever god was out there that he would be all right. Cesia knew what it was like to try to battle your dark side and didn't want him to give in; even though she knew Rath would, because even he wasn't strong enough to resist it.

"Nadil, please. I'm not the same little girl you knew."

If only you knew how much, she thought.

There had been too many promises too fast; all easily made, and just as easily broken. Cesia was sorry that she had only been able to keep one promise so far (I will never let you die). She was sorry that she had to leave Rath, on his own, in order to keep it.

As Nadil prepared to depart, she whispered, "Good-bye, Rath."

Nadil took her into his arms and prepared to leave; right before he left with her, she said only one more thing:

"Don't ever let go," she said to Rath's diminishing form. "Don't ever let go of the bit of humanity you've found—" and the next was said in a whisper, "and don't ever let go of me…"

(One more—just one more promise, Rath. But this time, it's your turn to keep it; an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth…)

"Another day." she whispered to herself. "I'll be back another day, and I'm going to fulfill my promise."

With that, she left Rath behind, taking with her the near-fulfillment of her promise: I will never let you die.

xx

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