Like Namine was really expecting anything else. She existed alone, and she'll fade into Darkness alone. At least, that's what her plan was. It was a good plan. All she had to do was make sure to help out anyone else who needs her help, as payment for what she did to Sora. The debt grew when she realized what happened to Roxas as well. You can say that Namine never really lived a whole minute of her non-life without guilt stabbing through her mind. Although she was a Nobody without a heart, her conscience was still there. And it knew what's right or wrong. All she ever did under the control of Marluxia and DiZ was hurt others. But never again, she vowed.
And so she had set off to set things right. To chain Sora's memories again, to help Xion discover who she is, and to inform Roxas of his fate. And as a final redemption, she had sought out Kairi and halted her own existence, by merging with her. She never aspired for anything else, because she knew she might hurt others if she did. She was content to live as a part of Kairi for a while, and would smile at Roxas through Sora whenever they had the chance.
Until, that is, recently.
Sora had once again stepped forward to save them, those who are still sad. After everything was said and done, all battles fought, everyone had came back. Seperate, whole, and as themselves. Through Sora's heroics, she was actually blessed with a heart. Before, it had been something she would have gladly accepted. For so long had she wanted to truly feel. To experience real happiness, and to feel what she wanted without guilt, or Kairi's memories stopping her.
But she felt her new heart sink once realization settled in.
She didn't have anyone to feel it with. She didn't fit anywhere.
She watched as Sora, Riku and Kairi hugged each other in happiness and relief. The original Destiny Islands Trinity. Once upon a time, she had wished to be a part of them, up to the point that she stubbornly erased Kairi from Sora's memories. It never worked, and it back fired, and all it left her was the start of a guilt that wouldn't go away, as she realized that she did more harm than good. She was selfish, for wishing she could fit in the perfect scene of a beach horizon.
She watched as King Mickey, Donald and Goofy congratulated each other on a job well done. Their bond had been strong for years, and nothing was going to change that. From His Majesty's apprenticeship, to being part pf the heroes that finally saved the world; they were together through it all.
She watched as Roxas, Axel (Lea?) and Xion had reunited in true happiness. Before, she had fancied that the blonde boy could somehow be someone whom she could finally relate to. She even swore on their promise in Twilight Town that they would be together again, delighted when he agreed. But the moment the black haired replica had materialized in front of him, together with the flaming red head, Roxas seemed to have forgotten everything. Leaving behind the Nobody in the white dress in the shadows, who struggled with her new found emotions.
New heart heavy, she stole into a portal, watching with sad eyes as Roxas pulled Xion along by the wrist, ice cream in hand, the two of them laughing at Axel's absurd choice of clothes. ("Seriously, Axel? A scarf?") She was supposed to be living with them in the Old Mansion. But Namine found it hard to stay. Sure, they paid attention to her at times, but still, she was still an outsider.
And that was how she found herself staring up at Castle Oblivion.
The place she had existed in. The place didn't affect her, the memories she had not fading even if she stepped into the realm. After all, she possessed power over memories. Why should they turn against her?
The air was cold, and she shivered lightly. Half from the temperature, half from the empty feeling of being back there once again. As she contemplated marching up to the doors and entering, she felt a jacket being draped over her shoulders, just as a voice spoke up.
"What are you doing here? You'll get cold."
The voice was familiar. And for a fleeting moment, her heart soared with hope that maybe he didn't ignore her after all. But it was quickly replaced by confusion as she realized that even though the owner had the same face, the clothing and expression on his face was different.
He wasn't wearing an Organization coat, nor checkered clothing, save for the white-lined wristband on his wrist. He had armor pieces on him, and a smile that would fit Sora's face more than Roxas'. She knew his name.
They never really had time to talk, as everything in the final battle was a whirl. She had only been around to watch as he had woken up from deep sleep, only seen him around during battle meetings, and barely saw him without the company of Terra and Aqua. Yet, while they prepared for the final battle, she would notice that Ventus would walk over to her and ask her if she's alright, sometimes staying long enough to crack a joke for her (no matter how lame). King Mickey had told her that he was like Sora and Roxas combined, and she believed him. He was a combination of both, with Sora's spirit and Roxas' body.
"That's..." she faltered off, not exactly sure herself why she's here either. Ventus looked at her for a while before glancing up the Castle, frowning a little.
"I heard you were supposed to stay in Twilight Town. Did they sent you here alone?" his scowl deepened, almost looking as serious as Roxas would be. Namine shook her head wildly, making sure his jacket stays on her.
"N-no... I came here on my own..."
Why did she came here? Was it because she had no place to go? That she was hoping to fade into Darkness? She blended perfectly with the white walls. A being with no color save for her eyes. As she struggled to answer him, Ven made a sound, pounding his fist against his palm.
"Ah, of course! You existed here, didn't you?" he cried out triumphantly, proud to remember this little fact.
"Y-yes..." his grin was rather infectious, and she felt her lips tug a little into a small smile, the weight on her heart lifting a little as she felt the smooth movement of his jacket against her cold skin. How Ven knew this, she didn't know. But...
"That means this place is your home, just like mine!" he concluded, pillowing his head behind his arms. Namine blinked in confusion. Home? How can Castle Obliivon be a home to someone? Home was a place that was not dreary and dangerous; it was beautiful and lively.
"... your home?"
"Mm. Yours and mine both."
Her eyes traveled back up to the tall castle, with the lopsided buildings and numerous windows. Ven lived here? Or maybe it's because...
"... do you mean your home because you slept in it for nearly twelve years?" she asked tentatively, trying to remember what Aqua explained to them before. Ven made a face, lowering his arms and scratching his cheek.
"Somewhat. But there's another reason." he murmured, also focusing his attention back to the Castle.
"It didn't used to look like this." A new voice sounded behind them, and she and Ven swung around to see two Keyblade Riders touch down on the ground. The two armored figures dismissed their vehicles and armor simultaneously, and Namine watched in awe. Keyblade wielders ten years ago really did know their stuff. Aqua, walked forward, smiling, her hand laced together with Terra's, who was looking up at the castle with a somber expression on his face. They stopped right in front of Namine and Ven, Aqua continuing on.
"This place is my, Terra and Ven's home." Aqua said with pride, tucking a lock of her hair behind her ear with a free hand.
"And Namine's too." Ven interjected, grinning. Namine gave him an alarmed look, and Terra looked amused, tilting his head at her.
"I-it's not." she stammered out, backing away a little unconsciously. "I... I don't fit in here."
"What are you talking about, Namine? You don't need to fit in to have a home." Ven frowned, Terra and Aqua exchanging glances. Namine backed away some more, lower lip trembling.
"I'm... I've always been a Nobody. I'm not a Keyblade apprentice... I..." her voice became quieter as she looked away. She stumbled against her words, trying to cork in her emotions that were threatening to spill. "I'm not even real friends with anyone... I never had any real friends."
There was stunned silence as she said the last words, and she refused to look any of them in the eye, eyes trained on her sandals. Namine felt the prickle of tears making their way to her eyes, and she blinked rapidly. "I was destined to fade alone. I'm a Nobody--"
"Don't say things like that."
Namine gasped when she felt warmth on her palms, and with stinging eyes, looked up to see that Ven had stepped forward to take her hands in his. He smiled at her gently, giving her hands a light squeeze.
"... actually, you had a friend. All this time with you." he admitted quietly. When the memory witch looked confused, his smiled widened as he elaborated. "Me."
Namine felt like she had missed something. Obviously, she wasn't the only one, given that Aqua's eyebrows had shot up to her bangs too.
"Let me explain." Ven said earnestly, not letting go of her hands, and not tearing his eyes off of her either. His gaze captured her attention, and any attempt to get away from him was abandoned. Ven had a calming effect on her. "I was asleep in Castle Oblivion for more than ten years, right? There wasn't anyone in the Castle for a long time, and for that long, I slept without dreaming. And then, you existed."
Ven's eyes softened in recollection, looking like he's remembering something precious. "That was when I started dreaming. You were the first being that entered the Castle that had links to Sora. Maybe that's why I started dreaming when you arrived. I would get glimpses of how you lived, how the Organization forced you to do their bidding, and what you had to go through everyday."
He paused at that, biting his lower lip, as if he knew that it was a delicate matter for her. For Namine's part, her eyes went back to the ground again. Behind Ven, she could barely glimpse Aqua and Terra talking in hushed voices. "When you started to use your powers, I got glimpses of Sora and Roxas' lives too. Your powers allowed me to live even when I was asleep."
"I know you better than you think, Namine." he continued on, eyes focusing back on her as he gripped her hands. "You have no idea how much I willed my body to move just to try and help you when the Organization had you under their control. I know what you were going through. And I wanted to save you. But I couldn't. I was trapped in dreams and sleep. Both of use were prisoners in this place."
Namine listened with rapt attention, and as he finished, her mouth opened a little, unsure of what to think. She remembered the days of suffering and loneliness in the Castle, and how she desperately wanted a hero to save her. But she didn't realize there was someone deep down in the basement, willing to save her from misery if given the chance. It overwhelmed her a little, and a single tear traveled down her cheek. Ven noticed, and with a light chuckle, reached up and wiped it away with his thumb. A light flush painted on her cheeks, and Ven grinned at her.
"... you have a real friend right here. And you're always welcome here at our home." he finished, before glancing back at his friends. "Right?"
"Of course! Since you played an important role, and that you practically lived here too, this is your home too, Namine." Aqua nodded, smiling down at her and bending a little on her knees to look at the memory witch in the face. Terra stepped forward too, and Namine was temporarily stunned when he clapped a hand on her shoulder, a smile that looked so foreign on the face that had the same built as Xemnas' forming on it.
"Our home always has room for one more." he stated, and Ven glanced at the both of them with pride. Terra's next words sounded odd coming from him, but it made her feel better, nonetheless. "Nobody or not, no one gets left behind. And we can't ignore someone who's been abandoned."
"Because long ago, we admitted someone in who was equally abandoned." Aqua said softly. Ven looked away pointedly, smiling a little, and Terra reached over to ruffle his hair affectionately. The youngest apprentice batted his hand away, grinning.
Namine's eyes traveled to the three faces before her, stopping at each one before looking at the the one in front of her. And slowly, she nodded. Ven's smile widened as he laced their fingers together, and Aqua straightened up, her Keyblade flaring to life in her hands.
"Now then, let's go home for real." Aqua said cheerfully, the Keyblade glowing with power.
Light shone around her, and the keyhole appeared in the sky, glittering as if in welcome. Aqua leapt back and pointed her Keyblade at it. Light sparkled at the end, and with a decisive click, the lock was opened, flooding the whole world with light, drowning them in it. Namine shielded her eyes, and she felt Ven move to shield her too. As the light faded, Namine was surprised at what she saw.
The ugly castle was gone. In its place was a majestic one, chains holding together the building. The land wasn't barren anymore, and there was actual greenery and water flowing all around. The sky was star studded, and not just a mass of Darkness. If someone told Namine this was Castle Oblivion in its prime, she wouldn't have believed it.
"The Land of Departure." Terra announced, smiling up at the castle.
Namine felt Ven gently pull her with him towards the double doors, and the four of them entered the hall (that still looked familiar to Namine, despite the drastic makeover). What she recognized as the throne Ven slept in was set in a row with two others, overseeing the hall. Glass stain windows adorned the hall, and the aura of the castle was simply welcoming and regal. The three Keyblade apprentices glanced at each other, nodding, before turning to Namine. Simultaneously, they all said the same thing.
Namine genuinely smiled, feeling what has to be pure happiness for the first time.
As Aqua started asking what color of charm she should make for Namine and if she would like to be taught how to use the Keyblade, and as Terra pointed out that if they couldn't find a spare room for Namine, she and Ven would have to share rooms (to which a spluttering and blushing Ven had protested almost too loudly), Namine gazed out at the window thoughtfully. She saw a shooting star streak the night sky, and marveled at the warm feelings in her heart right now, the source coming from listening to the three melodious voices chattering (not to mention the warm hand that was still holding hers).
And for the first time, she whispered two words she had wanted to say all her non-life. It didn't matter if she didn't had a childhood, and that she didn't grew up in the Islands. It didn't matter if she wasn't a part of the Organization, and that Sea Salt Ice Cream would not be her favorite. And it didn't even matter that she wasn't a Keyblade apprentice (but with the way Aqua is convinced into taking her as her apprentice, that's likely to change.) What's important is that...