This came out of listening to Kamelot - Epilogue. I had the images of flat summer fields, and was considering DGM. They collided to form this fic that I wrote as soon as I got the idea. Listen to the song for full effect (don't worry, it's not pop, rap or death metal - it has not much singing at all, more slow piano.) Yet again, I admire Akky-chan's fics and I attribute to her the name of 'Damian'.
Summary: Fifty years. Fifty years have passed since the end of the war. But she remains. Even though she was the oldest, she's the only one who remains. Miranda and Lavi-centric, no pairings, ONESHOT.
Disclaimer: DGM belongs to Hoshino. The setting for this fanfic belongs to me. The name 'Damian' is from Akky-chan's fic.
Another year has left my life
One year bygone so soon
These were the days I sacrificed
These days were lived for you
She stood in front of the graves. The graves underneath the trees that they had danced under, fought under, loved each other under. The summer sun gleamed and touched the surrounding fields, turning them into a color of flat wild yellow and orange. It was Fall. The worst season in her opinion, because it marked the long march into the cold hell of Winter that made her bones ache. She was dressed in several layers and a scarf to ward off the cold, but it was a different pain that bit into her soul as she stood here.
It was as if time stood still here, that the memories held themselves still in the air in front of her. Allen and Lenalee dancing, her comrades cheering, Krory crying about holding the napkin the wrong way, Kanda relaxing in a corner until some Finders came over to piss him off.
A beautiful summer party.
But here they now lay, in the cold earth from which all were born from and all, including she, would return to.
She held her hands together, sat, and prayed. She prayed that they still danced in a world beyond, and that they could live without the torment of their lives on Earth. Although she was never truly religious, it felt like the right thing to do.
The brisque air pulled at her hair, and she remembered dear Lenalee. Her beautiful hair was always the thing she envied. That and Lenalee's magnificent strength. It was a jealousy that initially gnawed at her self-confidence, but eventually gave way to simple admiration. Lenalee had her bad times - she had a frailty because of her desire to trust. She had nearly died of starvation after Allen... 'changed' and escaped, and nearly died of exhaustion after trying to chase after him on one mission. But it was her strength too. She forgave Allen when he returned, and that trust had saved them all when he defended all the people in the area. Exorcist, civilian, scientist, artisan.
She felt the coldness of the grave. It reminded her of Allen's arm. She always admired him. For all his trouble and the determination of the world to drive him insane, he simply smiled. Even when he died, he maintained a cool sense of the world and who he was. He was tormented, though. Not just through one life, but two as the 14th's memories had granted him. She only knew a fraction of the terror that he had felt throughout his life – when he was abandoned, nearly murdered, facing a threatening other in his own mind. It would seem like so much chaos that no one could have ever survived, but he stayed noble till the end.
Her skin tore at touching a ragged edge of the grave. Like Krory. He had survived the war, but not his weapon. He had lived as a well-educated ambassador (after MANY remedial courses), but he remained very stuck to his friends. Not a day had passed without a note from Krory regarding how he was doing and trying to arrange meetings. He was always a little dumb, but his dedication was his amazing trait. She well-remembered when he had called his remaining friends to dinner 10 years ago. They had been dining when his body shut down in front of them. It was horrific and despairing. He collapsed and couldn't breath. His lungs and muscles wouldn't move, even though his blood still pulsed his heart. But without oxygen, he died a painful disgusting death within a minute. Krory never deserved to die like that, but it was the everlasting curse from his existence as an exorcist. It made her touch the spot where she had once had such a weapon to fight in the war with him, but it was long gone.
Kanda's grave was in front of her. She had never been close to the man. He had stayed aloof from everyone, only getting close sometimes with Lenalee, Allen, and Lavi. He smirked and mocked her incompetence, which was as close to a handshake and greeting with him. He died horribly as well, but she only had heard rumors. Allen was the only one who witnessed Kanda's death, and dismissed the topic with a sad glare every time. No one desired to challenge him when Allen had that face. Kanda had been a pain in the neck, but also loyal and just as determined as all of them to save lives. He suffered much in his life and, although she never knew what terrorized him, she could feel for him. He deserved a better life than the one he was condemned to in this world, and it was part of her prayer.
Then there was Marie. Her dear husband. They had married immediately after the war. It was a beautiful marriage, though not fantastical as they had there share of spats. He never cared for looks. He was blind. But he told her about her musical voice. She had taken courses in singing, and although the professor told her she had failed (she got nervous), Marie had told the professor off. But he was a magnificent man. He believed in truth rather than beauty, works rather than capability, hearts rather than fractious intentions. She loved him. It was last year he was mugged and stabbed through the heart while he left to get groceries. It was a violent death, and she pressed her rights to the courts, who sentenced the muggers to 6 years. The sentence was reduced from 20 years because the muggers had described the death in detail. It made her rage inside, because the truth was that they had gotten away with murder. It made her heart sing for the violent deaths of them. But she realized that would not have made Marie happy, and she simply grieved.
She felt the scarf around her neck. Passed from Kanda to her, Lavi's orange scarf. It was a bitter warmth. He was not among the graves or dead, but simply gone. He had disappeared from everyone once the war finished. He had not even said 'goodbye' to their friends who had lay dying. When she called out for everyone to come over, she glimpsed the fiery red head walking away into the forest. Everyone else ran over and rushed the dying to the hospital, but Lavi ran away just as the older man who came with him had told him to do all along. It was a bitter thing. She remembered the confusion after pursuing him when she had asked "Allen and Lenalee are calling for you Lavi, why don't you come?" He just ran further away, never stopping.
That was an action that was unforgivable for her, Miranda. Betrayal.
It tore at her heart. All of her friends were gone. She was the oldest of them, she kne- she thought she would always die first, succumbing to some frailty. But no, she had lingered on the Earth. She lingered on and grew old, past the end of the war, past Krory's death, past her husband's murder. Her face became wrinkled and skin folded, but she never died. She had wished to die. After Marie was dead, she took out a knife to take her own life. She had thought, perhaps I will finally act my age and die for them. But then something strange happened.
It was like a spirit whispering into her ear, saying. "Live for us. Do not weep for those whose time has come." It was the voices of all her deceased comrades melding into a strong voice. After that, she couldn't bear to draw the knife on her neck. Part of Marie did not want her too. She could never bear to ignore him.
So she had lived. She had taught at a nearby rural elementary school after pursuing an education at one of the new 'community colleges'. The Church's power was weak in America, so she achieved a degree in botany and music. Teaching the young kids made her feel like she was young again. Despite how some were impossible and saddened her, there were those few who were amazing. One 7-year old girl had been given a detention by another teacher, but the girl had instead walked to Miranda to talk about it. The children saw her as their mother a lot. Whenever she felt like she would never make it, she heard Marie speak the same words to her. And she lived, never dwelling on the past.
But today was the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. Many years had passed. She had canceled all classes and meetings to travel to the old land of the Black Order HQ. But the building was no more. It was long ago destroyed in the World War. What remained was a field of light grasses and a few trees. This grove was the only part that seemed untouched by the test of time.
Miranda rapidly turned, a feat difficult for her aching bones and joints to a sight she never thought she'd see again:
The man was only recognizable by the red hair and eye patch. Now he red hair melded with gray in several areas. At his side walked a brown haired child, carrying a large basket holding many scrolls. "Why are we coming here, master?" pestered the child. Lavi chuckled. "This land used to be the head of the Black Order. When I was little older than you, I recorded many logs here in the duration of the last war with the Earl." The child's face lit up. "Really? That's amazing!"
Miranda was frozen with shock. Lavi seemed so different, and yet held the same grace.
Lavi noticed her standing still. "Can you leave us for a while, Damian?" Damian pouted. "Here's some candy," offered Miranda. The child's face lit up. "I like you old lady!" he exclaimed. Miranda was slightly taken aback, but not severely (she was an old woman afterall) and Lavi snickered. Lavi took the basket the child held. "Go into the fields and play while I talk to Miranda, okay?" Damian grinned and ran into the field without a second thought.
"Hi Miranda." Silence quickly fell after those words. "Are you going to say hi after all this time?" he hastily asked.
She turned around. "Why Damian?" she asked. "Why the 14th's name?"
Lavi shrugged and chuckled. "It seemed the right thing. He also likes being named after historical figures. I find it hilarious, but Damian finds him his favorite historical figure." They both laughed, despite the dark irony. But silence quickly ruled, and Miranda was left to her smoldering anger at him.
"We need to talk. You…" she started. "You left us. Allen and Lenalee were dying and you never said a word to them. Krory was consumed. Marie was murdered. But it's only now you talk to us. Why?" After she said it, the anger in her voice dimmed to only a raw sad desire for understanding.
The lines in Lavi's face creased, lines that she had never seen on his face. "I'm sorry Miranda. I never anticipated what would happen then. I've had fifty years to think about it. Y'know, the old man always told me it was the duty to observe, record, and forget. But after I left the Black Order, I never was able to forget. I could never change identities. It drove me mad for a period of time. I could not come to terms with myself for five years. Five long miserable years."
"You still have not answered me, Lavi. I have also had fifty years to wait, so spare me the crap. All I care about is the truth. Why."
He looked even more pained, and kept staring at the graves. Lenalee's grave. "I loved her. And yet in her final moments, she held onto Allen. She only saw him." His voice nearly dipped into a growl. "I was never part of her world, and nor should I have. But I wanted to. She was… magnificent. But she never looked at me. How could I face her? How could I face him?"
Miranda considered Lavi's words. In her years, she had only accumulated one of the things she always had desperately wanted: wisdom. She looked away from Lavi as he turned towards her. "Her world was everyone, Lavi. You were a part of it, just as Allen-kun and I. You walked away over a jealous lover quarrel that was not destined to happen."
"But I knew! I could never face her, especially not-"
"And that's where you're wrong," she said as she turned towards the old man. "Lenalee treated you as a friend. You wanted to treat her as more. Whether she desired such a relationship or not, she would have still considered you a valuable friend. As would Allen. You had missed so much of human interaction in your life, you saw her and she touched your heart that was opening. That was all."
Lavi stared. "I thought I might be able to face her now," he whispered. "But…" tears began to leak from his eyes. "… I still feel for her. Even after this time. I now know that I should've never left and detached myself from all of you. But I did. Losing the old man… it hurt too." He was now choking on his sobs, obviously bottled up for a long time. Miranda felt her anger dissipate. She still hated him for what he did. It was unforgivable. But to lead a life like that... it made her nearly cry. "I felt lost and directionless. After ten wasted years of indulgence, I realized I failed his memory. So I traveled the world and tried to make up for the lost time. I found Damian in my travels in the wilderness of Iceland. He had no name. I thought of raising him like the old man raised me, but I decided against it. Because I understand the doctrines that he strictly adhered to now."
"The ones about Bookman not having a heart? Being detached?"
"Yeah. The indulgences I went through… Everything I did was against being not involved in the history. In the end, I guess I was trying to rebel and escape from the world."
Miranda knew. "Marie had endured many terrible things. For the first two years after the war, he had been angry nearly all the time. He tried to bottle it up, but it always exploded. He needed an outlet. It took a while, but he eventually sorted himself out and managed to live a happy life. Lavi, it happened with all of us. It was a terrible war. It was more horrible than any of us deserved to go through."
He scoffed. "I understand, but I have seen worse since. Believe me, the new weapons of the world can do horrible things to humans. But to the point, I shouldn't have rebelled. Although you had the support of living on a stipend from the Black Order, I had nothing after the war. It's different for us who have no support but have responsibilities. The world won't hold still for us to get ourselves back together, and it never will. We lose in those times. I learned that the Bookman doctrine was meant not for us to only live as impartial writing, but for us to become personalities in order to see how humans lived. What's the point of history if one never learns from it? It only means something when there's a person. Robots cannot understand the pain, but humans can. The doctrines are there to prevent the Bookman from losing sanity from the pain of history."
The discussion hung in the air. Miranda smiled at Lavi. "Lenalee would be proud of you. Raising an apprentice, holding onto your life. You've done well. Maybe not perfect, but how can anyone in the human race be truly perfect?"
Lavi's expression lifted into a genuine pained smile. "I hope she would."
The wind seemed to speed up all of a sudden, and Miranda had to grab her scarf to keep it from flying off. Her bones ached at the sudden chill despite the layers of clothes. But for a second she thought she saw someone…
"Oh my God. My… my darling!" she croaked out.
"Hello Miranda," whispered the figure of Marie back to her. Miranda reached out the the man and her eyes closed against the dust and tears. She held his figure, the figure she had missed for so long. He looked just as he did when she fell in love with him. The moment stayed and then vanished. She opened her eyes to see him gone. The tears began to fall onto her wrinkled face.
"Oh no…" she wept. "I can't cry!"
"Cry, Miranda," said Lavi. He also stared into the wind. "I saw her. She said it was okay. 'Not all tears are evil'. I don't think they ever intended you to never weep. It's only the human condition. Because all we are is human." Somehow, Miranda knew of whom he talked about.
The two ex-exorcists turned to see Damian running to them, holding a stone in his hand. "Look what I've found!"
In his hand there was a shingle. A bright gold-colored roof shingle, untouched my weather or insects. Both of the adults eyes widened at the sight of the brick. "You can have it, nice old lady!" he excitedly said, and passed it into her hand. Before they knew it, he was chasing a dragonfly in the fields.
"That's… a brick of the old HQ…" said Lavi incredulously. "But it was completely destroyed. I saw the firebombs drop. It's taken 25 years of hard work to turn the area into land again."
"I know, I saw it too," whispered Miranda, just as astonished. "But I think we were meant to find this." She gripped onto it. "In order to come to terms with the past that hounds us."
Miranda began to hand it to Lavi. "Keep it," he shoved it away.
"Are you sure?" she asked carefully. Lavi nodded. "What I needed was to come here," he spoke. "To talk with you and her. As for mementos, I have all of the mementos I desire in my memory." He grinned, and she was reminded of when the man was fifteen. "Thank you, Miranda-san, for helping me. I will never forget you."
Miranda turned. "But it's already closing on night. Can't we head into town to eat?" Lavi frowned, and began whispering to her. "I can't. Listen, Miranda, I need to tell you this. Major changes are occurring in Europe and Russia, changes that will cause conflict. You must get back to America. If my assumptions are right, we are heading into a second major war."
"Another one?" she thought she was surprised, but her voice only sounded tired and wearied. "A worse one. I need to know you are safe. You're the only one left who remembers me, and I don't want to stand still and let you stay in Europe while I know there's a good probability you could die. No man ever could. So get back to the states. Please, remember me. I might die, but at least Damian will live. I'll keep in contact with you by letter. You're the only link I have to the past."
Any other day, she might have laughed and called it a lousy joke. However, it was all deadly serious. She knew of the signs he spoke of. She couldn't visit her homeland because of these signs. She felt tears again. "Please keep in touch," was all she could say at the magnitude of the words. She wrote her address on extra log paper. Don't die.
"Goodbye, Miranda," Lavi said in a normal tone of voice. "Damian!" he called for the little apprentice, who ran straight into the old man. "Ow! That hurt! Don't break my joints!" but the comments were said in a joking manner. "Now say goodbye to Miranda."
Damian turned around towards her. "Goodbye nice aunt Miranda!" he squeaked. Miranda was touched, and for a second, she thought she saw an outline of the shadow of Allen next to the child. She blinked and it was gone. "Bye, blessed Damian," she said. Damian smiled, and turned to follow his master out of the field.
Miranda leaned over the graves again. "Goodbye, my friends. I shall see you again, in the place where no shadows fall." She headed away from the graves through the fields to return to her responsibilities back home. But it was this place, be it desolate or occupied, that would always remain home.
One day, she knew, she would return home once and forever.