Two Thousand Years
By Sciathan File
Disclaimer: I do not own Magic Knight Rayearth or the lyrics to Billy Joel's "Two Thousand Years." I am merely a poor, starving college student who wants to play with Clamp's lovely world for a while.
"Time is relentless
Only true love perseveres
It's been a long time and now I'm with you
After two thousand years"
"Two Thousand Years" – Billy Joel
Chapter 1: Beginnings and Ends
It was as if, since that moment, all of Cephiro held its breath.
An invisible tremor had rippled throughout the world touching land, tree, beast, and human being alike. They all spoke, in that moment, of a common sadness, a common loss, a common mourning.
A slow, sad song of parting.
And, for the first time since Shidou Hikaru had become the pillar of the world, an exquisitely rare event occurred…
The sky had turned the color of steel and it had begun to rain large, ponderous drops – the tears of Cephiro itself, grieving at its loss. Tears unseen since the deaths of Emeraude and Zagato.
Amidst the gray mist stood a lone figure, silently observed from a distance by two others. All three were silhouetted against the raging sky in a silent tableau.
The lone woman stood within the rain's grasp, seemingly apart of it and untouched by it all at once, arms outstretched before her, glancing up into the steely sky. It was difficult to tell whether she was welcoming the water or unsuccessfully warding it away.
The blue that colored her hair and her delicate robes seemed to have seeped into the air around her, coloring it with a quiet melancholy.
But, if she was crying, her own tears were indistinguishable from those of the sky.
"Umi-chan…" Her distant companion, a petite woman with long, red hair whispered. Her quiet words were carried away on the wind.
The other woman, who, until this moment, had merely watched as her blue robed friend contemplated the stormy sky, put her hand on Hikaru's slender shoulder.
They both knew Umi well. She was the most private of the three, but still someone who would always reach out when she needed them. For the time being she could merely look up at the rain and remain with her memories.
Memories of 2000 years.
2000 years was a very long time, but all of those years had been a gift. All of them had held something precious for him…and her as well.
Both her companions understood this and so, merely remained in close proximity, lending comfort through their nearness.
After a moment, Hikaru's companion, who until this moment had merely given her silent solace, thought it best to verbalize this fact.
"Umi-san will be alright. She understands."
Hikaru merely nodded, raising her own hand and putting it on top of Fuu's.
A thought occurred to Fuu as they stood there, watching Umi reach out to the rain…after almost 1,500 years spent in Cephiro, in these times they still returned to the language of their homeland.
…for an ephemeral moment she mused about those 1,500 years of living on by the force of their own powerful hearts. But she was also realistic. Cephiro was a land of will, not miracles. Immortality was no more attainable here than in their own world.
Time eventually catches everyone.
Will merely kept time at bay…but time always overcame even the strongest will.
After more than 2000 years of living by his own strong heart, time had finally caught the Master Mage of Cephiro.
The Knight of Fire and the Knight of Wind knew that, despite her many years together with her consort, Umi knew without a doubt that his long life had been good.
She would miss him, everyone knew without a doubt. She would miss him as if a part of her own soul had been irrevocably lost.
But she could also go on, using the strength of her own will…simply because that was what she needed to do. That was what Clef would have wanted her to do.
Their worry, however, was not at this point for Umi herself.
She had become the public face of the death of the Master Mage.
The private face was still looking out of a window, not wanting to touch the tears Cephiro shed for her father. Not wanting to revel in them, celebrate his life, step out into the world.
Umi, content with her silent vigil, walked slowly towards her fellow Magic Knights.
Her eyes were red-rimmed and her robes sagged with the weight of her own element.
But her eyes were bright nonetheless, not hollow and dead. Clef did not want her to be that way. Clef would have hated causing her to become that way.
She knew that. Her daughter, Aria, did not.
Although she greatly resembled her father in both her peaceful, quiet demeanor, and love of books and learning, she did not understand his final wishes for her.
Aria, who had received both of her parents' power, had also received their stubbornness. It had long been predicted that, upon her father's death, she herself might succeed him. However, this is a point she refused to talk about, knowing what her advancement was contingent upon. Now that it had come to pass, she had seemingly lost her voice altogether.
Umi's daughter needed her. She did not have to be strong and not show her pain to the world. Umi merely had to assure her (just as she had assured Clef himself so many years before) that it was a different kind of strength reflected in feeling and sharing that pain.
It took the strongest heart to reach out to the tears and let oneself be baptized in them.
Drenched and dripping, their arms around Umi's shoulders, the three women made their way back to the castle.
Umi had made up her mind what to do about her daughter.
…Her stubborn, beautiful daughter, the product of a flash of lightning hitting the sea itself. Just as difficult as Clef had been…and she herself could be.
The three women made their way up to the room where Aria sat, gazing out upon the rain, but never really seeing it, only pausing to remove their sodden robes and to exchange them for dry garments.
Umi than proceeded into the room where her daughter had remained for the three days after the Cephiran equivalent of a funeral.
At the funeral Aria had not yet been this way and, although she was largely silent, she had done one small gesture to show her love for Clef and to honor his memory. She had cast a single elaborate spell, causing a winged heart to rise up into the sky, sparking and hissing and lovely.
Umi had thought at that moment she had understood that, although Clef was now gone, 2000 years was a very long time. There was nothing wrong in loving her father in that manner. But she had 2000 years of her own to live.
Clef had loved and he had lived not merely in the sense where you breathe and sleep and eat, but in the grandest sense of the word.
She did not see that life. She saw only its absence.
It was Umi's job to help her see her father in that light, as she had seen him and loved him in all of her many years at his side.
She entered the room, noticing the spell that normally guarded the door had been disarmed. Her daughter stood, merely looking out onto the rainy sky outside of the window with a hollow look in her eyes.
Nothing in the room had moved for almost an entire week. Her formal robes hung from her wardrobe, still crisp, neat, and untouched, and her magic staff, crowned by an angel lovingly clasping an infinite ring of gold, merely lay, disused, on the floor near the door.
Hikaru and Fuu sat down on the bed as Umi moved to Aria's side, pulling up another of the room's armchairs.
Tenderly, she ran her fingers through her daughter's long lavender hair, currently bereft of its usual heavy ornamentation. Aria leaned into to her mother's caress, burying her head in Umi's shoulder.
"He wouldn't want you like this."
The girl did not respond. Clef and her had that same stubborn silence when anything bothered them.
At times, she was painfully like him.
She buried her head deeper, losing herself in Umi's own long tresses. She had begun to sob silently.
"You and I are going to celebrate his life, so you will understand." She glanced briefly in Hikaru and Fuu's direction, "We all will."
She would weave her daughter a story…a story of 2000 years of his life…their life.
End Chapter 1
A/N: I am going to emphasize that this is a non-linear narrative, i.e. although I am starting with this, does not mean this scene will be the basis for the story. Yes, this is Clemi, but definitely not your standard Clemi fic. Basically, with this story I am going to do an experiment and move through time backwards through a series of memories so that you will have to wonder how events got to the point they are not where they will go. That said, please no one kill me for this first part.
Also, I have taken some liberties with the life span and effects of will upon it in Cephiro…yeah for artistic license! Also, the characters may appear a bit OOC, but that is due to both the nature of the events unfolding and the fact that they have had a very long time to mature and grow. So, all that said, I'd like to thank you all for reading!