This Lullaby

By: Miroir du Symphonie

Beta'd By: DDL

Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

Chapter Rating: PG

A/N: Oh, dear god.

When was the last time I posted ANYTHING - February? Maybe a little later? Earlier? I don't remember. From those who got my author's note and have been keeping up with my journal, you know I've been going through a very hard time. I am so sorry for the lack on progress on GB - I keep making and breaking promises about when the next chapter is going to go up. For that, I'm sorry, but I....I just couldn't handle it, and I gave myself hell for not being able to handle it. No, I am not quitting that story, but I am going to focus on this short little thing for a while. I'm trying to get myself out of this blue funk and into the right semblance of mind to start writing again. I need something new before I can go back to writing what's familiar to me.

I want to thank everyone for their positive and encouraging reviews - they meant the world to me, honestly. I read each one and felt better about what was going on. And I especially want to thank the lovely cattypatra, who's been commenting my journal for months now and keeping me encouraged and not wanting to quit. Catty, you're amazing, and this fic is your request. (Can I have my fanart now? Pretty please?) Zombie Kid also gets a dedication, as I promised him a reward fic for winning my contest MONTHS ago and never came through. I hope you like this, dear.

To everyone else - thank you so much for supporting me in my rough time - my silent readers and those who have spoken out. Toothpaste Addict for the LJ stalk, Zeff N Company for the in-fic encouragement, and others who have left me breathtaking reviews.

Thanks goes out as well to the lovely and ever-faithful DDL, who has stayed with me over my months of drama and has been betaing me since forever, despite her penname changes. You're wonderful, stalker mine.

I encourage everyone and will continue to encourage everyone to read my LJ - it's how I let everyone know what's going on with me and that I haven't kicked the bucket or something of the sort. It can be found at http : // mdsymphonie dot livejournal dot com. I'm going to try to be more active here from now on. I just hope my writing hasn't gone down the tube after months of inactivity....

Enjoy, and please spare a review for this poor, confused author. :3

This Lullaby

A wind ripped across the barren plains, rustling the weeds left behind by scarce harvest and rattling the windows of the weary and poor. Adults huddled in gutters and hovels to escape it, feebly shielding their meager possessions. Children turned their faces away, its chill rendering their noses red and dribbling on the colorless rags moonlighting as clothes. Babies pressed closer into their mothers' breasts, suckling feverishly with a subconscious knowledge that their food would soon dry out and that its rage would bring no more.

Seeking a worthier opponent, it entered the cathedral, spurring shudders from the bustling friars it streaked past. Up it spiraled, higher, higher—to be thwarted by contemptuous fire, blazing in the hearth of the highest room. Cowed, the wind fled, racing beneath the bolted door to terrorize the weak.

A large bed with deep red sheets stood in a corner of the dim chamber, depicting battles and temptations on its sturdy wooden frame. The carpet was the same intense scarlet, as if someone had spilled a pitcher of wine upon it, and thick enough to sink ankles in its plush expanse. An oak bookcase took up one wall, filled with thick tomes, while ornate robes spilled out of the armoire in the farthest corner.

Beautiful as they were, none of these pieces commanded the attention of the solitary figure kneeling before the fire. Above the hearth caging the inferno loomed a golden cross, two small nails holding it fast to the wall. Upon it hung a man, his obsidian eyes cold and unseeing, iron blood running down a chiseled cheek—yet not even this impressive display commanded the attention of the man.

His focus was trained on nothing of opulence, or beauty, or even remote cleanliness. Instead, he was held spellbound by a small, dirty box—stained and damp in several places. A number of ragged objects lay within, and he fingered each with an abject tenderness that made self-loathing beat in his chest.

The first was a ribbon, shredded and caked with grease. He could barely tell its original shade, only that it had been well abused. A few strands clung to it, and as he held them up to the fire he blinked—they were a hot, passionate blonde, gaining invisibility against the bright backdrop. Replacing these, he took up the next object: a child's thimble, so small it squeezed the very tip of his pinky in a merciless grip. Were the owner's fingers so frail, so dainty, that this tiny aid could cap them with ease?

A dark thicket began to materialize in the eye of his mind, shielding a small frame from the view of his captors. Small fingers worked a needle and thread through shredded garments under the absent light of a new moon—

Shaking his head, he let the image go, and dropped the thimble into the box.

The third was a piece of parchment, folded tightly. It had the crinkly quality of paper that had been wet and then dried, and from its worn creases it had been opened and closed a number of times. Gingerly he eased it open, peering at the smudged and runny print. There were almost no intact words, only fragments of verses and scattered letters. To still keep it in this horrid condition, one must know its contents by heart, he thought as he gave up on squinting.

The parchment fluttered back in with a flick of his wrist.

Finally, his palm closed around the last object, lifting it out of the box. And as he held it to the light, it blazed, blazed bright, startling him into a muted gasp.

What would someone of his stature be doing with a pearl?

And nothing like the lumpy, misshapen pearls he had seen in the marketplace—beautiful to look at, but unappealing in shape. No, this one was perfect, a flawless sphere, set in a ring of burnished silver. Quite the pretty penny in any shady pawn shop.

And through it was knotted a lock of soft hair, clean and black as a raven's wing.

Reluctantly, he placed the ring with its bedfellows and closed the dingy box, reaching for the sheaf of papers sitting beside him. Practiced eyes traced the lines of elegant calligraphy, taking in every detail about his current case.

The prisoner had been brought in last night after leading the holy forces on a wild chase for months. The charge was heresy.....frowning, he skimmed farther down the page. No accomplices to speak of, allegedly working alone, no status, no surviving family. A simple street urchin who had spoke in contrary to....

Here, a rather long word was crossed out, obviously considered too secular to be found in a blessed document. Instead, an explanatory text had been written above it.

Leviticus 18:22.

There was no need for him to fetch the Scripture. He knew that one by heart—and it meant that they were dealing with a sodomist, most likely. Snorting, he continued to read, his smirk fading as he reached the interrogator's report. Witness interviews from the prisoner's hometown had confirmed the heresy, but there was no mention of any additional sodomy charge. The man was most likely hiding the filth of his sin. Refusing to confess. Refusing to recant.

His lip curled.

Well, that was what he himself was for, after all. There was no way this man would be allowed to die without complete confession. He would see to that.

Glancing out of the window, he noted the late hour, but his curiosity buzzed within him like an insect he couldn't kill. After all, he rationalized as he put off his habit and reached into the armoire, it would not do to allow the prisoner a full night's sleep. The confession would come when he was tired, groggy from the procedures of being captured, unable to think well enough to generate lies.

And no one in the prison was suicidal enough to deny him access regardless of the time of day.

His heavy crucifix was the last thing to go on, the familiar weight settling comfortably around his neck. Stooping to retrieve the reports and the dirty box, Father Leonhart swept from the comfort of his room and shut the door. Delighted, the cold converged upon him, and followed him like a demented pet to the basement prison.