"Do you remember me?" he asked. His voice was deep and sonorous.
"Who are you? Let me out." Kairi clutched the bars of the cage until her knuckles turned white.
"No," Xemnas said, with a little sigh, "I suppose you would not. You were quite young."
She clutched her grandmother's hand tightly, looking up a million miles at the two very tall men—of course, she was so small that everyone was tall, but these two especially so. One of them—the one with a yellow beard and a little smile—knelt. "Kairi, is it?"
"You're a very special little girl, Kairi," he said. "You're what we call a Princess of Heart. Do you know what that means?"
She shook her head, too awed by this grand place to speak.
"Neither do we," he said with a little chuckle. "So I would like you and your grandmother to live here with me, in my castle, while I find out. Is that all right with you?"
"Okay," she said.
He rose and moved on, but the other man with him paused. He was very grand—even taller, with dark skin and hair that glittered like new snow, and his eyes were the warm yellow of sunlight. "I came here some years ago myself," he said, "and now consider it my home. I hope you will feel the same, Princess."
"It doesn't seem to do me much good," she said, sitting on the ramparts, kicking her feet. "Being a Princess of Heart, I mean. I didn't turn into a Heartless when I lost my heart, but that's all. I wish I could . . . help more."
"Yeah," Yuffie said. "Princess is good. Ninja is better." She turned a cartwheel, cheerfully uncaring of the sharp drop just inches away from her as she tipped feet over hands.
"You could teach me," Kairi said, half-joking. Half-not. "Then I could be a ninja princess."
"Well, I could try," Yuffie said, drawing out the last word. She stood with her hands on her hips, staring out over Radiant Garden. "But you gotta start early, yanno? Although, ninja princess, I like the sound of that."
"I think the importance of it isn't what it is," Belle said. She stepped up on the footstool to retrieve a book, and handed it down to Kairi. "Would you put that on the table for me? —Anyway, it's what you do with it. At least, I haven't found that it gives me any powers that are day-to-day useful."
"So what do you do with it?" Kairi asked, flipping the book open to admire the alien map in the frontispiece.
"Me?" Belle chewed on the end of the quill pen she was using to mark off the catalogue of the library. Then she laughed. "I solve . . . complicated dilemmas."
"Well, with my elbow, if you want the honest truth."
"Xemnas seems to think that there is some import in the fact that you are a Princess of Heart," Saïx said, his voice even. Kairi glared at him, and didn't dignify it with a response. "For myself, I tend to think that it's more important what influence you have on the heart of one particular person . . . and that is considerable. Make no mistake. You will be useful, whether you like it or not."
The most charming thing about Sora was that he didn't seem to care that she was a Princess of Heart. He acknowledged it, he didn't seem to have a problem with it, but it was as if the fact of her being a Princess of Heart just wasn't important compared to the fact that she was Kairi. She could have loved him for that alone.
Riku didn't love her because she was a princess either, but he cared more. Mostly, he cared because he could use it as a stick to beat himself with. ("You belong to the light," he would say when he was in A Mood, "and I belong—"
"To darkness," she said, lowering her voice in gentle mockery, and Sora joined in: "daaaaaaarkness." When Riku gave them his look of injured dignity, she kissed him and said, "We love you.")
Oddly—or perhaps not oddly—it was Roxas who was most interested in it. He would come out sometimes—he pushed forward and took over a lot more often than Naminé, but then she and Naimne had a very different relationship than did Roxas and Sora—and asked her about it.
"What does that mean," he would ask, in his blunt way, his eyes the hard unyielding blue of a very clear sky. "What does it mean, that your heart doesn't have any darkness?"
"I'm not exactly sure," she began.
"How does it affect you, though?" His voice was a little cool, a little challenging.
"Well," she said. "There are some feelings I just don't . . . have. I mean—I can get angry, but I can't feel rage. I can be sad, but I can't despair. I can't hate. I've tried. I think I would hate Maleficent for what she did to Riku, if I could, but all I can feel about that is sad."
Roxas glowered. He brooded; Sora never brooded. It was one of the ways they were different. "I hate that," he said. "To not be able to feel something."
She pursed her lips and shook her head a little. "It's—it's just how I am. It's how I've always been. So I don't—there's nothing to miss."
Roxas looked unconvinced, but then Naminé rose up, gentle as a butterfly, and her voice came out of Kairi's mouth. "It's how she was meant to be, Roxas," said Naimné, in her high sweet voice, familiar and alien all at once. "She—we—are not incomplete. We're exactly what we're supposed to be. That's the difference."