Broken Lily : by SecretBox
There's a winding dirt path dotted with all kinds of wild shrubbery and fauna as it cuts through the swaying emerald grass just past the Bailey. Right, left and then another left over green and grassy hills. Past the broken stone pillars and the dilapidated water fountain, nothing but crumbling structures and ghosts of their former glory until you reach the first expanse of fields. The earth is speckled with wild botanical beauties as it stretches on out into the unknown. A secret garden hidden away from all of those who would hurt it, the very pride and joy of the Castle before it had fallen to the darkness. Once upon a time, it had been known as the Goddess' Fields.
A single woman lay amidst the endless pastel colored flowers, her hair decorated with a wreath of peonies and pink camellias as it fanned about her heart shaped face like maple-brown silk. That was how Squall found her in the beginning of summer. Eyes closed to the cerulean sky that lay overhead, chest rising steadily with every breath she took, breathing in the perfume of her flowers and the sweetness of the green grass around her. Liar, liar, liar, liar, liar.
He watched her with a thin, grim line set stern on his taut features -- watched her pine, watched her long, watched her wear her heart on her sleeve and wait. He waited for her to break, to tuck her hands behind her ribcage so as to catch her heart when it finally resounded in her chest and shattered into pieces with a silvery sting. He waited for her to snap in two like the delicate flower she was.
But she didn't.
Her eyes fluttered open slowly, breaking away from her love-laced dreams as she smiled, smiled up at him, still in a daze from her thoughts of her long gone beau. When she smiled with her leaf-green eyes half closed, yearning, calling, the edges of her delicate pink mouth trembling ever so slightly, he turned away and looked on as the poppy and tulips danced to lulling winds.
"I hate flowers," he grunted, flexing his arm so as to resist the urge to crush one of those, fragile little plants she so adored. His foot twitched as he ground it into the dirt, eyeing the bobbing flower in question. Its petals were stretched outwards towards the sky, silken and completely white on the inside. Pure, pretty, and pristine as it basked in what warmth the sky would offer, always looking to the sun. Like her.
"Hello Squall," she said and she was beautiful and fragile and all the things he secretly despised and envied all at once. "Hello Squall," she said, as if he drove away the horrible shadows in her life. He studied her with an unreadable expression etched across his face, his sapphire eyes skimming her ridiculously white lace bodice with the occasional ribbons amongst budding green before he looked away.
"Leon," he corrected with an air of icy finality as he merely stood there, awkward and not quite fitting in with his bright surroundings in his dark attire. She laughed and the sound fell off of her lips like flower petals. In a whirl of white and pink she got to her feet, graciously smoothing the invisible wrinkles from her dress as she flashed him a sunshine smile. He moved aside for her as she swept past him with the faint scent of rose-water hanging in the air around her, silver bangles jingling in metallic harmony. " . . . what's with the change in wardrobe?"
She laughed again, tossing him a coy emerald glance over her slender, pale shoulder, "First you say you hate flowers and now you're inquiring about my dress? Really Squall, you sure know how to impress a girl."
"It's different," he supplied with a frown, following after her in quick, long strides, gunblade slung over one shoulder. He shouldn't have come. Shouldn't have listened to Yuffie and the old man, shouldn't have gone to look for her, shouldn't have come at all. "Pink's more of your color, isn't it?" Damn, why did he even care? He didn't.
She laughed good-naturedly again and he instantly regretted asking her. "It's just white that's all," she murmured kindly. "There's nothing wrong with being 'different' every once in awhile is there?" It was voiced as more of a statement than a question and in all actuality coming from her it was pretty funny; funny because she was weak and fragile and he could break her by touching her, but she was contradicting him right to his face. It wasn't so funny. He wondered what she'd been up to in the Goddess' fields all by herself. What'd she'd been thinking about, what half-remembered dreams had flickered beneath those closed eyelids as the clouds had rolled by above her head? He wondered why he was even curious. It wasn't like it was any of his business anyway.
" . . . " His silence said it all; his dislike, his disagreement, his entire stance in the pointless argument. And then she looked at him, her pink lips parting delicately as those luminous orbs met his dark gaze. "Do you think he's coming back?" she asked.
And he walked away. Walked away from the one question that meant the world to her. Let someone else tear her apart with reality, with life, with just everything. He was too old to deal with another woman's tears. So he walked away, left her standing there with no answer. She should have never asked.
Standing on the walls of the Bailey overlooking the town, wandering in memories of thoughtful silence with blooming roses on her cheeks and chapped lips is how he found her in the beginning of fall. She was surprisingly alone, distant eyes watching the events of a certain martial artist's final departure unfold below. The whole town was celebrating, throwing her a go away party so to speak. Aerith had probably been invited; he vaguely remembered hearing something about Tifa asking where she was. He was there merely to bid a distant comrade farewell and he wasn't sure exactly how he'd wound up there, beside Aerith but there he was. Aerith who was silent and not really there, pining.
He stood next to her, watching her, watching her be distant in the past, watching her wander in her thoughts; he watched her dry up brittle in the wind, her braid swaying in the breeze. She still didn't break. He wondered if he touched her wind caressed cheek that she might just turn to ash and flit away.
He tapped the parapet, an erratic tempo of fingers on stone that ironically irritated him, and she slowly turned to look at him with wide eyes that peered up through her dark lashes. She smiled a dream smile and sustained it by gently biting her lower lip. "Hi Squall," she said and her voice was low and lost. "How are you?" she asked and she was a small, tiny, crushable blossom.
He didn't even bother correcting her as he leaned against the wall, gazing down towards the clusters of people moving around on the paved streets. She didn't say how she was. There was silence and that was all there should be. "It's a pointless gesture," she said of it all as the cheers and cries of the people in the little town below reached their ears, watching as a tiny woman encased in black leathers strode towards a gleaming, monochrome gummi ship. She seemed to be peering out into the crowd as if looking for one person in particular, hand clapped over her wandering eyes frantically. For a moment she looked sad. Seemingly giving up she waved one final time before disappearing into the ship, likely to never be seen again. If Squall wasn't so sure he could've sworn that there had been a glitter of tears in her eyes. Tears of disappointment most likely. " . . . bitter?" he asked and he shouldn't have said it, but he did, because he was him and all the not nice things that made her shine, glow like amber stars.
"I'm a little cold," she murmured, wrapping her pale arms around herself. The wind raced, teasing, taunting, and the stray strands of her hair were dark ribbons that danced and spun and enticed with countless depths. "I thought you'd know better by now," he muttered, inclining his head slightly towards her flimsy dress of pale pink and frills.
"You're not much better," she replied, gesturing at his clothes, stopping just shy of touching his bare arm.
"That's because I don't need it," he answered easily enough. He wasn't like her, all weak and fragile and susceptible to all sorts of things. She'd probably get sick or something from this and there'd be a big fuss because she's the healer Squallie, whaddya we supposed to do? and he'd have to carry her back. He watched as her breath rose in soft clouds of white and she looked coldcold and ice and beautiful.
And then she talked, opened her mouth and whispered out vile words. Vile for they were sweet and hopelessly hopeful; he thought of it as obsessed for his peace of mind. "I thought maybe he'd be here," she said, gazing down at the dispersing crowd, eyes scanning the little ants wandering the streets and creeping back into their cozy little homes. "I thought maybe he'd want to see Tifa off, make sure she's okay." She smiled endearingly to herself, as if just remembering something positively lovely. " . . . they've always been so close." She was about to continue and that was all he could stand to hear before he felt a stinging pain in his chest.
He turned to leave and almost hesitantly her small, fragile fingers touched his shoulder. He cast her an exasperated glance over his shoulder, her jade orbs beseeching as they sought out his gaze. He grabbed her fingers like wilted petals and crushed them in his grip and was surprised to find that she was still whole, no cracks or gaping holes in her perfection. Despite himself, his fingers grazed her lily-white cheek. At the cry of his name by a familiar, girlish voice some distance away he turned and crept down the steps and left her; left her to wallow in her love-sick delirium alone. He absolutely, positively despised the way she talked.
Making snow angels on her back, all flushed and slowly turning blue with disheveled clothes and a bright pink nose is how he found her in the beginning of winter. Powdery white snow fell all round her and turned her fuchsia gown white as her shining eyes stared blankly up at the gray sky, arms and legs moving rhythmically; sweep out, sweep in, out, in, all repetitive and dull, no thought, no amusement, just out and in. Repeat, repeat, and repeat.
He leaned over, stared back, and it was a contest, a contest of wandering minds. Her dainty mouth formed a perfect "o" and gave birth to small clouds that disappeared in the cold air. "Hello Squall," she said and he didn't know how she even found he was there, her eyes still large and glassy, her motions not so much as slowing. "Is it a nice day?" she asked and it seemed a random question; a pointless one at that for she could see herself.
Still. " . . . no," he answered and it was a frivolous response; he never answered stupid questions. "Crazy yet?" He wondered and again he didn't know why he was even curious. He didn't care about her, didn't care about her sanity, didn't care about anything at all, not one single thing. Still, "Crazy yet?" He asked and it was a question from him to her, an actual piece of instigated conversation.
"Not yet," she told him offhandedly and she was beautiful; iceice and cold and blue in ways that a wilting flower like her never should be.
"Want to make snow angels with me?" she asked and she said "with me", was talking to him, meant it seriously. He grunted and flopped down next to her. He didn't make snow angels. " . . . What a kid," he muttered and she heard and she laughed; the sound was thin like wind through lake reeds and dead leaves.
"I am twenty-two and some months," she said and her snow angel had puny, little wings that would never be useful for anything, definitely not flying. "How old are you?" she asked and it was another stupid question.
He remained silent and she laughed again, all girly and silly in the most annoying ways on him. "I think you're eyes are ancient," she told him and he was, in a way, "I think you're older than you look on the inside. You've gone through so much, lost so much. But I don't mind."
"We all have," he said as he looked at her, looked at her as she stared up into the dim sky.
She said, "I think he is twenty-one and some months too." She continued, "Pretty soon he'll be twenty-two, just like me."
He stood and her snow angel halted, its pathetic wings finally stilled, as she looked up at him and upup and reached a hand towards him. Ice glittered on the edges of her downcast eyelashes and he gazed down at her, her with her fragile, useless little angel that would never fly, never go to heaven and never see the sun because as soon as she rose it would be smothered quietly in snow and no one would hear its last moments. He dropped down on one knee and let her strands of hair run through his fingers like water, studying her lack of response. Then he walked far off and didn't look back, not once. He was irritated by her feeble snow angels.
Running through the fields with a poetic grace to her steps is how Squall found her in the beginning of summer. She saw him and positively beamed, turned, waved, was clad in nothing but a coral pink sundress that shimmered in the sunlight, completely void of any visible sleeves as she moved against the breeze. And then she fell, was gone, swallowed by too tall wild grasses that whispered in the wind. For a moment all the world was silent and Squall merely stared unblinkingly at that very spot he had last seen her before she had been swallowed by the Earth. If he set a quick pace, it wasn't because he cared about her well-being or that he was worried whether she had sprained her ankle or not; on the contrary he could have cared less. He convinced himself that there'd be a fuss: Yuffie would throw her infamous tantrum and demand why didn't he do this, why he didn't do that, whereas Cid would growl at him and curse him a thousand times over again, and Merlin would zap him with his Firaga magic. Squall ran, ran, ran and ran. Not because he was worried but because it would simply save him time to make sure she wasn't fatally injured.
The land sloped down dangerously and it was a good thing he had good reflexes; Squall scrambled and grabbed for anything to hold onto as he skidded to a stop on the edge of the curving precipice. The gentle murmur and trickle of water below greeted his ears and there she was floating in the middle of a calm, blue lake. The water lapped at her eyes as she laughed, and her dress clung to her like a second skin.
"I wonder what it would be like to drown," she said, and something about the distant, longing look in her eyes made him pause and wonder. She sunk deeper, exhaling slowly. "I think I am going to die," she continued and she coughed, a rough, uncommon sound from her pretty, slender neck. Velvety pollen danced in the air around her face and she submerged herself deeper in the lake's clear depths, suddenly despairing.
"I will die alone," she whispered, pinpricks of tears uselessly pricking at her filmy emerald eyes. "Without him," she sighed in such anguish that annoyed him because she did not break, shatter into little, irretrievable pieces of fine glass as he would have thought, but remained like a shadow to dress in her own misery, braid it in her hair and dangle it from her ears like jewels.
She said she was going to die and he was going to die some day too and her forsaken lover might already be dead and she was still there, right there, alive and breathing and aching with revolting emotions to bear the tale like scars etched into her skin.
"You don't know what you're talking about," he mumbled before he could stop himself and she quieted as the bugs hummed around them. "Everyone dies," he grumbled and she was a six year old little girl who he could step on and crush, yet she was twenty-two and some months and not so naïve as when she was merely twenty-two and no months.
"I hate you," she whimpered as her lips parted against his chest, and he felt his breath hitch as he held her closer against him while wading through the cool, lake water easily. The first time he had ever heard her make such a venemous statement and it wasn't to him but to somewhere out in the sky, possibly to a man who lied and pretended and gave false promises even as he loved and stole her heart with his thieving hands. She couldn't, wouldn't ever know, and she wondered what it would be like not to care.
"I miss him," she began again and Squall didn't want to hear this, listen to her sorrows, like little nails that pinched everywhere, pulling this way and that, hesitant, yet sharp all the same. He placed her on the lake's bank and stood with water dripping off of his body. She grabbed his arm, struggling to her own feet. "Squall!" she pleaded, wanting an answer to that question all that time ago back in the Goddess' Fields, back in summer, back in the past that neither of them could forget. As she gazed up at him with her flickering eyes she looked lost, perfect, emotional, and beautiful; all the things he couldn't stand.
She pulled on his arm and he gripped her delicate hand, agitated that she would try to cajole an answer out of him. Her hand was soft and slim with small fingers and he pressed the valley of her palm to his mouth, both of them shuddering brightly at the indecency of it all. And then he stalked away because she was irritating with her childish demands and wants and tempers. She remained with no answer.
Sitting in an empty room in an equally empty bed that wasn't hers, hair loose and flowing in auburn waves as vacant eyes roamed long reaching shadows is how he found her at the end of summer. She was quiet as he entered, head bowed as she clutched a pillow close to her chest tightly. It was sickening; he didn't know what made him want to vomit more, the room or her, lying like a love struck fool on the bed and holding his pillow because it smelled like him. The place drowned in desperation. He wanted to regret being there, wanted to regret having taken that first step into Goddess' Fields alit with the warmth and light of a great past love. He wanted to know what regret felt like coating his skin, but he didn't feel it, not one bit. Instead he approached her until he was but a few feet away from her. She didn't even look up.
"Do you think he's coming back?" she asked again, again, and again with her green eyes, and she sounded weak and almost broken but not quite. He grabbed her, grabbed as he'd been dreaming in his mind for so very long, and shoved her back into the hard, cold bed post where she had been sitting, listless and lifeless, kissed her and attempted to make her forget.
He kissed her and tasted her desperation, her dying hope, and her fading light; she returned his violence with a ferocity of her own and suddenly it was a battle, a challenge. Her soft, slim hands that were oh-so weak grabbed his face and they were oh-so inconceivably strong, the perfectly manicured nails digging into his skin and drawing his blood. Not a single tear graced her features as he pulled back and began to pull at her ribbons and lace and girly frills. He left a trail of kisses down her exposed neck and still she didn't pull away, didn't break, didn't crumble into nothing.
Where were all his pretty principals, his promises on never touching another man's girl? He didn't know, gone out the window with his common sense because he was kissing the flower girl in the very room her dead boyfriend used to reside in and she was letting him slide his hand up her thigh and anyone might see at all. He was kissing the fabled hero's woman and he wasn't going to stop and she had gone insane because he was touching her and she didn't pull away, didn't push him away. All these months she'd been waiting, waiting, waiting for Cloud to come back and he couldn't figure it out at all. Not one bit. Instead, she pulled him closer and brushed her hands through his mahogany hair, murmuring her forgiveness as he drowned in the smell of flowers, drowned in her, because he never ever wanted to stop.
The taste of her, Aerith, burst through his teeth as he stuck his tongue in her mouth and she continued to weave her hands through his hair feebly whilst he consumed her whole. There was a savagery in the way he touched her, and she clung to him weakly as he pressed her down against the mattress, downdowndown and harder, harder and harder until he thought she might finally snap from his wild, shaking force.
Squall told himself he wasn't taking advantage of her longing little heart as he kicked off his pants and she was bared before his cobalt gaze in all her lily-white glory.
She turned to rose-dust in his hands.