By: Manna (Kitten Kisses)

Sometimes at night, she could see them.

As she closed her eyes, curling one hand up beside her face, she would drift into the realm of dreams, and they would appear, their ghostly forms floating above her, looking down- always down- on her still form. Their eyes of blue and grey and green were sad and angry at the same time, their whispers telling her they were sorry as they moved closer.

"You will never be happy," they told her, and she couldn't be sure if they were really saying it. Their mouths moved, but it was as if their voices were not coming from them. She could hear them in her mind, twisting, turning around it- enveloping her very being with their accusations and apologies.

"This is your fault. You brought this upon yourself, Commander."

She knew they were right. They had died- all of them- and she had lived. She could see their faces, recognizing them all, and it hurt a piece of her to know that they could not return to the world where they had been born. They were gone forever, and she was still alive. Their families had lost sisters, aunts, mothers, daughters, friends, nieces… and if she had died, only two people in the world would have noticed.

It should have been me.

Most nights, they came to her. They told her that it was her fault they were dead, and that she could not be happy, ever, because of what she had done. The hate that twisted inside a corner of her heart was festering into something truly fearsome, but she wasn't sure if she was feeling it for them, or for herself.

It would destroy her if she did not do something about it; it would rip her apart from the inside, corrupting her mind and her soul to the point of no return.

They wanted her dead, too.

I hate you, she thought. I hate you more than anything.

She was half-talking to herself, directing the rest of her anger to the voices in her head that whispered at her- voices that echoed even after the sun had risen in the eastern sky.

"You will never be happy."

When her eyes fluttered open at the break of dawn, the voices stopped, and in her state of awareness, she knew it wasn't their fault. Nothing was their fault. It was all her own. Her fault they had been in that particular situation; her inability to lead, her uncertainties, and her state of mind had been what had gotten the trusting women under her command killed. They had done nothing to deserve a fate of death on the Dread Isle.

But she could not bring them back. No matter how much she prayed, or cried, or stood tall and strong, they would never come back.

She had decided, to herself, her own voice bouncing from one side of her mind to the other what would be done. When this is over… I will leave. I …will leave my sisters, and I will live a life of solitude and repentance for my sins.

She hadn't counted on falling in love.

She had tried to win his heart, tried so hard, but it seemed to be an endeavor that could not be won, and she thought of the voices, and wondered if they were the ones responsible for her unhappiness.

No, she reminded herself. It is my fault.

She stayed close to his side, never straying, never once failing in her duties. She became his friend. A shoulder to cry on, someone to listen, the person who said, over and over, that she would be there for him when he needed her.

She made him smile, got him to laugh… she patiently stood by, waiting for him to come to her, but he never did. His eyes were always on her.

I failed in my duties once before. Never again, I swear it!

Throwing herself into training and her work, she tried a different approach. She would become what he strove to be- dutiful, loyal, hard-working... She wouldn't admit to herself that she was taking it too far; overexerting oneself never did any good for anybody. When she had fallen ill, he had come to see her, and she had been embarrassed, though not unhappy that he was there.

"Are you feeling better?" he asked, his brown eyes worried, his lips curving downward with concern.

Her heart had fluttered, and she told him she was fine. He'd smiled then, and it warmed her heart completely through, melting away some of the anger, and the frustrations that had worked their way there. But he had taken his leave afterward, leaving her alone to go back to…her.

You fool! She wanted to scream, but she knew it would not do to act like such a cad. I thought that you were a Knight of Caelin! What about honor, and duty? How can you speak of such when you long for someone that you can never be allowed to keep?

No. She could do this! She could win him over… He could never be with Lady Lyndis, no matter how much he wanted to be. She could help him to love her, instead. She could be the one who was there when he realized that a love between a Lady and her knight was impossible.

Nothing will ever come of it.

When she was back on her feet, she returned to her duties, and went back to being a friend. She was the reliable one. Anything that he needed done, she would do, and it would get done without fail, without delay.

She was a rock, a pillar… steady and able.

Months later, they were ambushed in the rain. Fat drops of water filled the light feathers of her Pegasus, making it unable to fly. She had stayed on the ground, next to Kent, whose mind was only half on the battle. As she took down enemy soldiers one by one, she noticed his dark eyes darting from one direction to another, frantic in their search.

He had been too distracted to notice the arrow headed his way, and her javelin struck the sniper only a moment too late. His eyed widened in surprise to see the shaft jutting out of his side, and when his horse shied in fright, he fell to the ground, his movements too slow to get a solid grip on the reins.

Her boots had sucked at the muddy ground as she ran to him, kneeling in the mess to cradle his head in her lap. Tears were running down her face, but they mingled with the rain, and she didn't notice them. Words of comfort tumbled from her mouth as she smoothed back his hair that looked dark because it was so wet.

He struggled to sit, and grabbed onto the shaft of the arrow as tightly as he could manage before pulling. It came out, ripping at his skin, tearing the wound, and he threw it on the ground beside him, letting the rain wash away the blood that had run into the fletching, soiling it.

"It's okay," she said, "I killed him. It's okay, it's fine. Everything's fine."

She was speaking in a hurry, and she didn't care. Blood was not good- it was never good- and she could only remember seeing the blood that had darkened the Dread Isle as the women under her command fell one by one. Their blood had soaked the grasses and the sands of the shore, and it was imprinted on her mind for all of eternity. It was all she had seen as she had flown away, nursing her wounded pride and sorrowful heart.

She did not want to see it again. "Don't move. Don't move…just… stay still."

"No, no," he was saying, but she only half-heard him as he pushed against the ground, struggling to his feet. His eyes locked onto someone in the distance, and his hair plastered against his forehead. "I have to… Lady Lyndis…"

As if it explained everything.

"I should never have left her alone… I should not have let us get…separated."

She stayed on the ground as he got to his feet and managed to mount his horse before riding to the aid of his liege. Her Pegasus came to stand beside her, nuzzling her soft, but wet, muzzle against her back. She stood and turned to face her mount, throwing her arms around its neck.

"What is wrong with me?" she asked her winged friend. "Why would he go to her despite his injuries?"

She only received a soft whicker for a reply.

His life had been spared that day, thanks in part to St. Elimine, and with the help of Priscilla and Serra.

When Fiora had gone to see him, she had found Lady Lyndis there, the other woman's green eyes full of worry. The Lady of Caelin had smiled when she looked up to see Fiora in the doorway, and she moved over to make a spot for her beside Kent's bed.

The man was asleep, looking more relaxed then Fiora had probably ever seen him. She wanted to reach a hand out to his face, to brush away his bangs, but Lady Lyn was already doing so, herself.

"He will be fine," Lyndis said, not looking at Fiora, her eyes locked on her wounded knight instead. Her eyebrows furrowed together in frustration and concern. "I should have stayed near him." She turned then, smiling slightly at the Pegasus Knight. "I know it will sound strange, coming from me… but… Kent… means a lot to me. I don't think that I could bear to lose him."

She forced a smile on her face, and nodded before leaving, trying to ignore Lyn's hand tenderly running through Kent's hair.

She had lost.

"What did we tell you?" the voices taunted her. "You can never be happy."

Their sad eyes looked down at her- always down- and she sighed, hanging her head in defeat.

Is this what I deserve?

"It is your fate, for putting yourself before another."

I'm sorry, she said to them. I'll never do it again. Duty first.

They didn't listen. Perhaps they could not hear her. Maybe they didn't care… They only floated there above her, their eyes staring at her blankly.

Her heart twisted with anger and hate, and she wanted nothing more than to rip them from their plane of existence.

I did my best. I tried as hard as I could!

Heads shaking, they repeated their mantra, "You will never be happy."

No, I will be! I can be!

"You…will never be happy."

She closed her eyes as tight as she could, and covered her ears with her hands. I will be happy! I will be! I will!

But she could do nothing to drown them out. Their voices penetrated her very existence, shaking her to the core.

"You will never be happy. You will never be happy. You will never be happy."

But I want to be- I want to be!

They fell silent for a moment, as if they were thinking of a response. Perhaps they could listen to her, if they wanted to.

"Our families are worried," they said, sounding concerned. "Tell them of us. Tell them what you did."

She agreed.

The land of the Pegasus Knights was as barren and cold as her soul felt after she finished telling the families of her deceased wing of their demise.

She slept peacefully for the first time in almost a year. She was not happy, but she knew that she could get there with time- a lot of time. The voices of the families of her command unit still wailed in the back of her mind on the rare occasion, making her heart ache with guilt and remorse.

She had decided that it was something she would have to live with, like an ugly scar, or a missing limb. Time did not heal all wounds, but it made them easier to bear. She would carry the weight of her burden for the rest of her life, but that was okay.

Lord Eliwood himself had offered her a place in the army of Pherae, and she intended to go there and fight for him and his people. She would be under Marcus's direct orders, and she was certain that she could do nothing but improve herself with his help.

A new home, complete with new people and a whole new setting… Things could only get better. She would be happy.

Author Notes:

This is probably one of the weirdest things I've ever written. It's been done for more than a month, now, but I'm only now posting it for two reasons. First, I wanted to have the chance to edit it when I had pretty much forgotten what I had written, and secondly, I was not sure how it would be received.

Fiora is a pretty interesting character. At first, I thought this 'fic portrayed her to be absolutely crazy, but I suppose it only comes off that way a little bit. She's not really insane- just haunted by her past. I feel pretty sorry for her- it would be such a hard burden to bear, wouldn't it?

As always, thoughts and comments/critique are welcome. Thank you for reading!