Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts Square Enix.
Perched on one of the white stools that were scattered around the castle, Larxene is a black brush stroke on blank paper. Her blonde hair is a shade or two darker than Namine's and her eyes a much lighter blue. Electric blue, like the daggers she plays with that are tipped with a canary's yellow. Namine has never seen any of the birds, though. She dares not ask Larxene.
Not even when the Nymph perches like this, watching her draw with the Replica kneeling beside her. He offers her a small bunch of flowers, shyly. Small, bright flowers, from a worldlet in the castle. The scent of grass still clings faintly to the springtime blossoms, a promise of fresh air in the stale rooms that smelt of heavy nothing.
When Namine reaches out to accept it, just as hesitant, Larxene laughs. It's a mad little laugh, full of bitter nothing and cruel delight. But she won't say anything with the Replica around. He thinks it's because of his scorn. But Larxene obeys nobody but Marluxia. Why she kept her thoughts secret is as vague as the cruel smirk she gives them both.
Replica shoots the woman a dark look and smiles at Namine, a small smile that lights up his entire too-familiar face. It echoes the one in her drawing. And with a dull ache, she knows why Larxene reveled in her mirth.
"Thank you," Namine whispers, and she wishes, her pale hand trembling on the crayon she held, that she could mean it.
Because when she sees him, with his quicksilver hair, the jewel-bright eyes, she doesn't think of him at all. Instead her mind wanders through the white shadows in her mind from another girl she wasn't. From a girl she was slowly, surely, erasing from Sora's mind. Her chest hurts when she thinks about those meories. Like the hollow there remembered the ghost beat of a heart.
And the longing, like the loneliness, only intensifies when she draws the silver boy making his way up the bowels of the castle. Her pulse quickens, when she sees him, which must mean something. That maybe she loves him, the boy with the cocky smile and the protective air. The boy who teased and walked with her in her dreams.
The Replica looks like him.
When she had been ordered to strip him of his identity, his own consciousness, it had been too easy to make him her ideal. She had filled the pages of his memory with childhood scenes taken from Sora's heart, taking care to include herself in each one. So many memories that she only wished were true.
Marluxia knows. He chuckles in almost the same way Larxene laughs, his whispers full of dark implications when he rests a hand on her thin shoulder. They know.
They know that she's a Nobody, too. Just like them.
The Copy shoots a dark glare at Larxene and smiles at her reassuringly, squeezing her hand lightly before going to meet Riku, once more.Namine nods and watches him go, the large doors closing soundlessly, heavily, behind him.
"Your sweet dark knight. I wonder when he'll find out that you've filled him with your selfish little dreams?" Larxene crosses her legs and wedges one of her kunai into the white-painted wood Namine had been drawing on. The table chips, exposing wood just as pale as the paint.
"Don't..." Namine pleads. Even when she knows Larxene is absolutely right.
"Can't stand to look at your dirty little hands, Princess?" Larxene coos, taking Namine's left wrist and jerking it up. She runs the flat of her kunai on the palm, lightly skimming over the scrawny wrist with the fragile spiderweb of blue veins. Just as abruptly, she releases it, leaving not even a bruise. That had never been her style.
"He's your devoted slave. He jumps at your beck and call. He even thinks that he loves you, for memories that aren't his-- or anyone's." The woman draws out the last word delightedly, leaning in.
"You sit here, looking so pure in your white virgin's dress," the Nymph continues, "that nobody but a Nobody would suspect you of holding such a nasty little not-heart."
"Do you hate me?" Namine whispers, more to cut off the flow of words than anything else.
"Hate you?" Larxene asks, savoring the words on her sharp tongue. "No, Princess, I think you're absolutely lovely."
When it all goes to hell, she knows what will happen. In her mind, there had never been any question of the other choice. There hadn't been since she had decided to take up Axel's offer and fled. She is ready to sacrifice the Replica for either of the real boys. Either one of the photo negative silhouettes in her memory. And Larxene finds that funny, too.
But she doesn't keep quiet, this time. Deliberately, with her sharp, sharp tongue, she unravels all the little lies that made up the biggest truths.
"She broke his heart. More like smashed it, really."
And maybe she's surprised that it hurts so much, this time, to break a mind she already had, once before. It's quick, like a dagger tearing through thin white paper. She can crumple it or wipe it clean; mend it with memories that she can make out of old ones and crayon wax. She never feels as powerful or as weak as she does when she is a Witch.
She can do anything she wants to him, this boy with the Darkness at his fingertips and who fought so fiercely with his sword. The power in her grip is as enticing and double-edged as it had been before.
She can do anything to him. But she can't do anything to save herself. It's irony at it's finest. Her power only works when there is a heart to keep memories in.
And left alone by the boy she has saved, Namine pulls the Replica onto her lap and rests her color-stained fingertips on his brow. She can't do anything to save herself. But she can do one thing, the only worth of her being; the reason she had been trapped to service, just like Larxene had so mockingly said. She can only do one thing, and do it right, this time. Somehow, she had to.
Carefully, she wipes away everything. The memory of playfights and shooting stars, promises and sand, affection and devotion. Until he isn't someone who thinks he's Riku, anymore. Until he's almost as much a Nobody as she was. And perhaps even less.
He wakes up, and his eyes, when they look at her, are blank.
Riku stands before her, quiet and far-away. His silver hair is fine, softly brushing his jaw. His eyes are jewel-bright in a soot-lashed frame. The way he holds himself is entirely Riku. The Riku who had gone through Maleficent and Ansem; who had seen the Deepest Dark and Light of the other side of the Door. Who had chosen to keep those memories..
She can make him love her. It won't take much. A sketch, some lines, a curling coral line for his mouth and the half-spent turquoise crayon for his eyes. She can make him love her.
She picks up the glass-handled calligraphy pen from the table, a present from a boy who thought he loved her. As soon as she touches it, a memory, one of the rare, precious memories that wasn't from a redheaded girl with an impish smile, flashes through her mind. In it is a blood-soaked hand and a strong violet-clothed back, shielding her.
She puts the pen back down.
The tinkling clatter must have brought Riku out of his stupor, because he looks at it, curious. One of the rare times that she sees anything besides determination or a mourning guilt (like her own) in his eyes.
"Do you write?" he gestured to the pen with one hand, noticing, perhaps for the first time, the small bottle of ink mixed in with the crayons and pencils on the table.
"No," Namine replies quietly. "I don't have anything to write."
What is most precious has no name. No name at all.
Riku understands and places a hand on hers, on the table. His hand is larger than hers,warm, steadying the tiny tremor of her own. They are far more alike than she had ever thought. Except Riku never wraps his wrongdoings in white silk. He never pretends to be weak. He sacrifices himself. And unlike Riku, it is too late for Namine to make amends to the one boy who had thought her the world.
Gently, Riku squeezes her hand.
It's everything she has ever dreamed of, but it doesn't feel the same.
Notes: I took liberties with Namine's power in how she can wipe away memories. I reason that Riku Replica never had that many memories, so it would be relatively simple to take away all the extra ones that she implanted. Artistic License/slight AU, call it what you will ;P. Annnd edit! I never realized that I was tense-skipping- some of it is still kinda weird with the past participle, but I couldn't find out how to make it work in present tense all the time ;P .
Tell me what you think?