Repine with Torment
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by Liminal Raz

Disclaimer: As you all know, I don't own Final Fantasy VIII; it belongs to Square-Enix.

--
Altruism-

The town was small and quaint, far removed from the modern city-scape. A single clinic sat on Main Street, a tiny school house right next door. Small shops lined the narrow cobblestone road, the end of which met a tiny train station. That was her destination this morning; a good distance from her house in the hills, but just a short walk through town.

The few townsfolk knew very little of her, her deepest secret safely kept just that. They knew she'd left a troublesome past behind and never pried at her personal life. Friendly and caring, the people here supported her needs while respecting her right to privacy. Edea deeply appreciated that, but as much as she would have loved closeness, a friend to confide in, it was simply far too dangerous.

Ticket in hand, she took a seat at the back of the platform as she awaited this morning's arrival. The only source of time she had, a large clock above the gates behind her. 9:06AM; another nine minutes she had to endure.

The silence out here was imposing; it fully enveloped her senses and forced her to take notice. Silence such as this, one could never truly get used to.

A mild breeze whisked gently along the tracks, bending blades of grass with its caress. A few birds rode the wind high above as their songs declared harmony over the lands.

Looking around, Edea saw not a single person here save for herself and the man in the ticket booth. He was playing a small radio, the volume too low for her to hear the lyrics of the songs. In his hands, a black hardcover book opened somewhere towards the end.

Such tranquility this place held. So pure and untainted was the life of these people. Had she risked all that by coming here so many years ago? Now that her identity had been compromised, would she have to leave never to return? Her greatest fear at the moment; Galbadia would return and disrupt the lives of these people forever.

Perhaps, it was indeed time she accepted her fate. When she left her house this morning, she was certain she'd return. Now, waiting for her train out of here, she knew that was impossible. Her leaving would not stop Galbadia from finding her again, but at least it will save these people the horror of a sorceress's last stand.

The sound of a train whistle caught her attention; looking down the tracks a black locomotive began to round the hills. She glanced at her ticket again to be sure the destination was correct. Round trip to Balamb Harbor. Maybe, she should have made it a one way.

She needed to see her husband one last time, feel his touch she'd pined over for more than a decade. No worries troubled her there; he would be there for her, ready and willing to embrace her return. He would remain faithful no matter how long they'd been apart, no matter what circumstances separated them. He would accept her in her time of need, and for that she was eternally grateful. She could never express to him in words the depth of her love.

Day transformed into night, birds to stars, and country hills to urban sky scrapers. The ride was not an unpleasant one, only a lonely one. However, she'd been alone for so long, another day would not be beyond bearable. Sleep would come easily, and when she awoke, the end of her journey would be in sight.

It was late now. She had the small passenger compartment to herself and decided she would lift her legs onto the seat so that she could lie down using the arm rest as a pillow. The light flickered slightly with the vibrations, but was dim enough already that she didn't notice behind her closed eyes. The vibrations from the wheels' hard friction on the rails provided a sort of comfort with a rhythmic pattern of noise and bumps. It was just right in fact, any louder or harder and comfort would have been impossible.

Seconds stretched, moments inflating. As her consciousness drifted, her awareness lost its edge. She imagined herself to be in bed, but not the empty one she'd left behind. Her husband had his arm around her, holding her close. Despite the time between them, she remembered his touch; some things one could never forget. She felt him, it was so real. Their connection was on a level that defied the laws of space and time.

A jolt in the cars evaporated the illusion. Perhaps they'd made another stop. She did not open her eyes and instead freed her mind of the distraction. It would be only mere hours now before she'd no longer need to imagine her lover's warmth. That was what she looked forward to, and that was what gave her peace tonight.

Those hypnotic vibrations had returned, but the noise grew louder amidst the darkness. It tugged at her, pulling her. She had to open her eyes.

A woman stood over her, staring at her. She whispered something; time. Edea immediately sat up and rubbed her eyes, but as her hands left her face they erased the figure. She looked around; the compartment was empty and showed no signs that anyone else had entered.

This was not the first such encounter. Throughout the past few months similar apparitions had plagued her. Was this really the best time to visit her husband? Was it already too late for her?

Her's was the last arrival for Balamb Station, the hour; 3:00AM. This train had reached the end of the line and would not depart Balamb for another five hours. Would she be here for that departure? Asking herself that now, she didn't have an answer. She didn't know because she had no where left to go; and that included staying here.

She'd never actually seen Garden before, even though it was her very own brain child. The academy was larger than she imagined and an impressive sight that stole her breath. The children here, they were Destiny's children, and in a way, very much her own. Although fate would have them as enemies, this was the first place in over ten years where she truly felt safe. Her husband, Cid Kramer; she needed to see him.

The Headmaster was sleeping soundly when a loud buzzer stole him from his dreams. His slumber disturbed, the groggy middle-aged man switched on a light beside the bed. "Who is it?"

"You have a visitor, sir."

Cid removed the covers, exposing his bare legs to the cold. Wearing only a white shirt and boxers, he made his way to the door while combating slightly blurred eyesight. "This had better be an emergency." Standing outside his door was a fully uniformed SeeD in attention. Cid eased him from his formal stance with a wave of his hand. "A visitor at this hour? What time is it?" He rubbed his eyes, but that only blurred his vision further.

"0400, sir."

"Who is it? What business does he have that can't wait till sunrise?"

"She, sir. Sacera was her name. I told her you were sleeping, but -"

Cid's face suddenly froze in shock at the name Sacera. His wife... Was it really her? After so long, did she really return to him?

"Sir?"

"Send her up immediately! Go on, don't make her wait!"

The SeeD saluted his commander. "Y-yes sir!"

As soon as he ran off, Cid closed the door. He needed to clean up a bit. Hyne, what time was it again? He wasn't even dressed. He hastily ran over to the bathroom, but the closet stopped him halfway there. He needed to put some pants on and so grabbed a pair first and foremost. He shoved one leg in, and then the other.

"Cid..."

A voice; hers. He spun around, the pants only half way up. At that instant, seeing her standing in the doorway, he forgot how to speak. "E... Edea..."

She smiled, a heavenly expression so full of love and longing. She'd changed in appearance, her hair slightly shorter than he remembered. Her eyes changed the most though; countless nights of crying to herself were evident like scars. Scars of sorrow. Seeing her like this, so sudden, he lost all train of thought and spoke only with heavy breaths. His only movements; finishing the last pull on his pants.

Edea wasted no more words, no more time, and paced towards him, closing the final gap with nothing short of a leap into his arms. Wrapping her own tightly around his back and neck, she squeezed him and felt tears escaping her eyes. "I've missed you so much..." she whispered into his ear. "Don't let me go this time... Hold me, and never let go."

The embrace lasted well into dawn, the two of them sharing little more than simple silence and each other's company in the large room. Laying in bed beside him, she absorbed the warmth and the comfort only his soul could provide; she never imagined a peace so fulfilling. No longer just a dream or a distant memory, his touch was real and it made her whole again. She almost forgot what other matters had brought her here.

It was pushing six o'clock, the sunrise beginning to climb the majestic snow-capped mountains to the east. The two of them simply laid there for the past two hours, waiting for dawn to break. Now that it had come, Edea found the strength to talk. As much as she hated to break the serenity, she knew how important it was to warn him.

But... He already knew. "Edea. It's finally upon us, isn't it?"

She nodded, her head snug against his chest. With each breath he took, it raised her head as if being rocked gently by a loving parent. She couldn't bring herself to leave such blissful comfort.

"You were discovered then?"

Again, she nodded. Her eyes fixed on the horizon, she found pure unadulterated beauty in her surroundings. There had to be some divine force within this moment that allowed her to move forward. "Do you know what they came to me for?"

Cid closed his eyes and caressed her neck softly with his fingers. "Tell me."

"The president of Galbadia had an offer. My freedom in exchange for an alliance." She cursed that man internally.

"What did he really want?"

"To use me. The people... fear me. He wanted to use that fear to further Galbadia's reach." She pulled the blanket closer to her chin and closed her eyes, imagining herself and the hatred the world held for her. They simply feared what they didn't understand. She couldn't blame them for that; it was people like Deling that gave the Sorceress a bad name. Not all were evil. "I would never allow myself to ally with that man. If I took his offer, he promised to take my fear away, but it wouldn't truly disappear; it would still exist in the minds and hearts of the people, myself continuing to be the source. That is not a fair trade."

Cid smiled and continued to caress her softly as he pushed strands of her dark hair aside. "I agree. You sent him away telling him this?"

She shook her head. "More or less. They will come for me again."

A moment of silence fell between them. Cid understood what all of this meant; the signs were clear even to him.

"Cid..." Edea whispered. "I'm not sure I'm ready."

He smiled and pulled her closer, kissing her on the forehead. "Do you remember that day at the orphanage?"

She knew exactly the day to which he was referring. "I won't ever forget it. It changed our lives forever..."

"It was around this time of year, wasn't it? Perhaps just a month or two off?"

She nodded. "Yes. Time is running out for me."

"If you don't want me to let go, I will hold on to you forever. Edea, you don't have to face this alone." He knew in his heart the only reason she came here was to say goodbye. She couldn't do it though, and instead held onto a hope that she wouldn't have to. However, they both knew the truth. Edea was not going to allow herself to hurt him. She would break away again, pushing back the comfort, the love she needed; she would do this to protect him.

Edea drew a deep breath and buried her head deeper, holding on tighter. "I've been having hallucinations, visions... Dreams."

"Of what?" he asked softly.

"Her. The sorceress from the future. I think... I think she's trying to come through." The darkness underneath the blanket and behind her eyelids allowed her to picture the face of evil, the woman within.

"Is she here now?"

"Yes," she answered almost inaudibly. "Since the train. I can hear her whispering inside my head." It was becoming too real, and she felt herself slipping away each day. Tears filled her eyes, but she did not cry. Forcing the fear back, she made eye contact with her husband. The window into her soul was open and it was so full of pain.

Cid felt that pain as if it were his own, his heart tearing down the middle. Seeing his wife, her beautiful face scarred with torment, it drove a stake clear through him. It'd been too long since he held her like this, and it was destined to end far too soon. He loved her. He wanted to be by her side. He wished... that he could protect her.

It was not his decision to make. His loyalty to her was absolute, and her wish was truly his command. When she broke away, he could only tell himself it was for the best. But... was that really any way for a Knight to behave? "Edea... Do you resist her?"

She squeezed his arm. "Of course, but... There's no stopping her from getting inside. It's as if she's only watching right now, but I'm... Cid, I'm afraid she's going to..."

He couldn't see her eyes, but he knew there were tears. "Shhh." He had little thoughts about how to console her. He couldn't stand seeing his wife in so much pain; the separation alone had been pure agony. With time running short on them, the cards clearly not in their favor, sacrifices needed to be made. He could think of only one thing to say. "Join them. Take Deling's offer, even if it is a lie."

"What?" She lifted her head in shock of his words. "What are you saying?"

"Edea. Soon, this sorceress will cross the boundaries. The wheels of fate are turning. We must move with it, or spend the rest of our lives running in fear."

"How do you know?" she asked softly. "How can I... How can we be sure of what awaits us? How do you know this would be for the best?"

He kissed her again. "Faith. It won't be easy, I'm not saying that. But I believe in our children. I believe in Squall."

"As do I, but..." She thought back to that day at the orphanage, Squall standing there, gunblade in hand; the sorceress, on her knees breathing her last breaths. That was the day everything changed. If that was truly a destined outcome, did that mean all of her decisions now were somehow scripted? Was there anything she could do to change the future, or would every choice she made only lead her closer to the inevitable? Why couldn't she resist?

Cid began rubbing her arm, feeling her goose bumps melt away at his touch. "Whatever happens, whatever awaits us in the end, at least we know our children will make it through. That is the most important thing."

She understood now, and she agreed with him; it was destiny. There was a larger part of her, however, that simply needed closure. One night with her husband after so many years was not enough. She simply wasn't ready to accept her fate and couldn't surrender her soul so easily. "I'll never join Galbadia. I will resist this sorceress until the bitter end. I have hope. And hope can change the world, right?" She watched as the sun neared the mountain top, its rays slowly peaking the horizon. "The only sure thing, I suppose, is that whatever choices I make are the only choices I can make. Cid, my husband..." She looked up to his face. "You know why I came to you tonight..."

He closed his eyes, dreading the words.

"I won't say good bye. I believe in my heart we will be together again." She reached behind his neck and pulled herself closer, rolling on top of him; their foreheads met and their lips touched with the slightest sensation. "My love," she whispered, her breath mixing with his. "This kiss will bind us. Never forget this moment, always keep it in your heart. When all is said and done, our love will persevere. Our souls will transcend time itself."

Cid felt his heart squeeze, tears stinging his eyes. Her put his hand behind her head and sealed the gap.

At that instant, the sun peaked the mountain top and its rays penetrated the room, illuminating it with a heavenly glow. A moment in time, frozen by a kiss so pure, so divine, Hyne herself could not have interrupted it. An aura of intense brightness manifested in the twilight, the size making it undeniable. Cid opened his eyes and saw only white filling his peripheral vision; there was texture in it, and it all appeared to emanate from Edea. The kiss broken, time once again began to flow; the sunlight dimmed and the aura faded.

Edea rolled over to the side again, her eyes closed. "I love you." No sound escaped her lips, but her words couldn't have been heard any clearer.

Cid stared at her tranquil face, all sense of despair erased from her expression. He felt something just then, something unlike anything he could possibly describe. Being a sorceress, was her love somehow manifested through her powers? He knew in his heart that she'd spoken the truth; that kiss indeed bonded them. Knight and Sorceress, the love they share; no force in heaven or on earth could come between that.

He turned his head to the window for a moment and felt a soft tickle in the palm of his hand. When he opened it, there sat a small white feather. Legend goes, that when a sorceress finds her true love, she grows wings and is then free to soar above all adversity.

He looked back to his sleeping wife, her beauty unmatched. Placing the feather in her hair behind her ear, she unconsciously graced him with a smile. Maybe, just maybe, there was some amount of truth to that legend. Edea deserved it. Even being her Knight, Cid was still just a man. Edea, however... She was so much stronger than he could ever be.


A/N:

Thank you Susan and Ayato for the reviews! I'm glad you liked it!

In this chapter, I wanted Edea to return to Cid because she doesn't know with any great certainty what will happen to her after the possession and she's afraid she won't get to see him again. But at the same time, she doesn't want to be near anyone she loves when that time comes, so she can't stay with him for very long. I hope you are all enjoying this story so far. There are two chapters left - Edea is a strong woman and she won't surrender herself without a fight.

Let me know what you think so far, ok?
- L Raz