Author's Note: For this story, I am using an English translation of a song from the Final Fantasy: Pray soundtrack. The translation itself was done by the Impresaria of the Opera House, whose work can be found at her fflyrics website. The song, called, "Não Chora Menina," is a softer and more melodious version of FF6's town theme. I highly suggest hearing it at least once during or before this story to get the full weight this story has to offer.

Cecil was the first to emerge from the cavern. From the second he stepped out, he brandished his sword and eyed the environs warily, sun gleaming on the blade. "It's safe. You can come out."

He looked back and watched as his other teammates emerged from inside. Edward moved over to Cecil, his lute slung over his back. Rosa followed with a gait so gracious and demure that for a second, he could see past the darkness that clouded his mind. Lastly, he saw Rydia. For most of the trip, Rydia was like a little firecracker of a girl, mouthing off to the grown-ups in a way that was more cute than rude. That had changed minutes ago, and he knew exactly why.

"Cecil," Rosa called out to him. She glided to his side, wrapping a slender arm over the back of his shoulder. "There is something we need to discuss."

"What is it?" Cecil asked.

Rosa leaned in closer. He could feel the gentle kiss of her breath licking along his ear as she spoke, her voice so soothing and eloquent that it enlivened even the Dark Knight's withering heart.

"Edward and I were talking...," Rosa whispered. "Rydia's had it really rough for the past few weeks. First her mother, then traveling with you to Damcyan and the Antlion Cave, and now the Fire spell. We want to do something special for her could we set up camp nearby for a little while?

Cecil cast another glance to the small, green-haired girl. He remembered how her village burned, Rydia's mother lying dead in the little girl's arms. He thought of the night he fought off Baron soldiers to protect her. Rosa's words at the mouth of Mt. Hobs had eased Rydia's nerves enough for her to cast the Fire spell, but one look at her sullen gaze to the ground and the tears on her cheeks that she tried to hide, and it was clear that Rydia needed more than a few encouraging words.

He nodded, and Rosa smiled lovingly. She thought of the many men in Baron, and how strictly the need to put the mission first had been drilled into their heads. Cecil was different. She knew it ever since their childhood together, and her heart melted with relief at such a vivid sign that his humanity remained intact despite his Dark Knight training.

Cecil led the party over to a nearby ledge where he saw four stone pillars standing upright in each corner. Setting down their pack of goods, Cecil opened it and removed a few of the contents. In no time, he set up what would be a campfire for cooking their lunch... if he could get the fire started. With the logs set in a circle of rocks, he struck two stones of flint against each other near tinder. Sparks flew from them, yet each time, the sparks refused to ignore the tinder.

Rosa and Edward settled down on a couple rocks, Edward pulling out his lute and Rosa adjusting her body for maximum comfort. Rydia meekly shuffled behind all three of them and stood there, silently looking to the ground. Rosa's brow creased with worry for the girl. "I can't be sad," Rosa reminded herself in thought, clearing her mind and doing her best to let warm affection take its place. With a nod, Rosa told Edward it was time.

"Rydia?" Rosa called to the girl in her softest, most gentle tone.

Rydia held back a sniffle, "Yes, Rosa?"

"Come here," Rosa patted her knee. She watched as Rydia slowly made her way over, every step of the little girl's walk plucking the sympathetic strings of her heart. The moment Rydia reached her, Rosa lifted her up and very gently sat the little girl down on her lap.

"Did I do something wrong?" Rydia asked. The tone of her voice was sad and defeated. As much as it hurt Rosa to hear that tone, she looked past it to keep herself in the right mood for what she was about to do.

"No, dear, you didn't do anything wrong. We have a special treat for you."

Placing an arm behind the girl, Rosa allowed her to lie back a little. She smiled warmly to Rydia as the green-haired sweetheart peered up to look at her. Rydia was nestled in close. They were ready.

Edward played, expertly moving his fingers along in the strings. The moving melody carried into the air and sank down deep into the very soul of all who heard it. Slow, light and airy, Rosa had to admire the man's skill. Anyone could pluck strings, but only a true artist could set the mood to be so beautiful and serene. As she heard the last few chords, she flashed back to her innocent youth, and the words her mother had sang to her then. In her arms was a girl who desperately needed them more than she ever had, and Rosa wished upon wish and hoped upon hope that she could carry even half of the heart and soul her mother did. It was her cue. She opened her mouth and sang harmoniously to the tune of Edward's playing.

Don't cry, little girl, don't cry any more.
Someday you'll know.
Life always has a reason,
And even sadness is worth something.

At the break for her singing, she kept her eyes on Rydia. She watched as the little girl's tears began to flow more freely now, a sight both painful and relieving to Rosa. It hurt to see Rydia's tears, to know the sadness that had filled her heart, but she knew they needed release. No girl deserved to be torn and scarred by bad memories. Rosa may have been a white mage, but even her ties to these energies gave her no easy way to heal a little girl's heart. Edward reached Rosa's cue to sing, and she poured all the love she had into making it perfect.

What puts tears on your face
Is the kindness in your heart.
And a girl who knows this kindness
Will be a most beautiful, beautiful woman.

With the last words of this verse, Rydia's resolve to hide her sorrow broke. She sobbed, tears streaking down her face.

This was the critical point, and Rosa knew it. She was quick yet gentle to react, taking Rydia up in both arms and rubbing the little girl's back as she wept.

"It's okay, Rydia. It's okay," Rosa softly cooed. "We're here for you. We always will be."

In time, the sweet, innocent little girl's tears came to a slow halt. A few vagrant sniffles came from her, along with a tight squeeze of a hug for her cherished mother figure. A new smile crept on Rosa's face, this one coaxed by the little girl's own affection. When Rydia finally released her hug grip, Rosa laid her back again. Lighting up a few green sparks that came at the start of her Cure spells, Rosa sang the last lines of her song.

A star appears,
Smiling for you, little one.
And a girl who knows this kindness
Will be a most beautiful, beautiful woman.

Cecil fell back in exasperation as a flame shot up from the fire pit. He cast a glance back toward the rest of his party to see Rydia looking toward the fire, hand outstretched in a way that could only mean the casting of a spell. Rosa beamed proudly at Rydia's little show of spirit, and Edward's notes drifted off into the afternoon sky.