~*Whispers of the Heart*~

"You're not alone," she murmured to him. "I can hear you, Ventus."

~***~

Naminé pretended not to hear Larxene laughing at her as she exited the room, the Dark Corridor that she had summoned vanishing into oblivion behind her. The witch waited five seconds before resuming her sketch, forcing her hand to move across the paper as she formed Sora's spiny brown hair.

Her eyes slowly closed and she put the crayon down, folding her arms on the table and resting her head on them. Loose, pale blonde hair spilled around her as she sank into deep thought.

She was so tired of being alone, and like the Organization said, everything that she wanted was only a few drawings away. Sora was coming; she was calling him, dragging him by his heart's strings like a vicious puppet master.

The bad part was, her loneliness overpowered her shame.

Castle Oblivion's winding white corridors were slowly forcing the Keyblade Master up to her, and soon she could have a friend…Naminé tried to reassure herself with that, but the Nobody knew that what she was doing was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Worse, even, than the Replica that she fooled into thinking he was Riku. He could, if he wanted, one day obtain a life of his own. He just had to gather his own memories and create a unique personality from that.

If only the heart was that simple.

One pale blue eye opened—light as the arctic icecaps—and she had the oddest urge. She just wanted to move. She wanted to walk and walk and walk until all of the nervous energy had been beaten out of her. Maybe, then, she could get back to work.

Naminé rose slowly from her seat, and as long as the Organization was busy watching Sora, she could take a few minutes to explore the hallways. If she didn't go down, she wasn't in danger of encountering the Keybearer and upsetting their plan before it was ready.

Her sandaled feet made barely any noise against the floor as she exited her room—filled with memories that she had stolen—and headed off in a random direction. Naminé closed her eyes and let her thoughts flow freely as she meandered around the Castle, enjoying the silence and solitude that it offered her.

And then, suddenly, a strange pain pressed down on her chest. Hard.

The breath was knocked out of her and, unused to pain; she gasped and leaned against a wall for support. Slowly, it faded…only to come back a second later.

Bah-thump. Bah-thump. Bah-thump.

Her mind recognized the rhythm. A heartbeat…? Impossible!

Bah-thump.

Sluggish, but there. Naminé frowned, taking several steps back. Even though her senses felt foggy, the bizarre sound vanished. More steps forward.

Bah-thump.

Fighting against the unfamiliar feeling, the witch willed herself to keep going. As she traversed the corridors, the sensation either increased or decreased. She realized it was some sort of compass, and the odd ache in her chest was leading her somewhere.

One. Step. After. Another.

Naminé was lost and she knew it, but now the pain was almost comfortable, no longer an alien feeling. A whispering began in her ears, the voice unfamiliar. Ethereal fingers brushed her mind, trailing feather-light across her thoughts. She didn't hear any words, but she could sense the feeling beneath. It wasn't quite a language that she knew, but it was unrealized possibility and raw emotion, and that she could understand.

It was like scanning Sora's memories, except that this new chain wasn't directly connected to Sora. These links were separate, but still there, close enough that if she closed her eyes and stared past the Keybearer's silver memories; she could just make out a hint of bright gold.

The whisper became a murmur, then a mutter, then a voice that she could finally hear properly. Mild, by some standards, but at the same time strong and quiet.

Where…am I?

Freezing, Naminé took a deep breath. She had reached some sort of alley, and directly ahead of her was a doorway. It was emblazoned with a faintly glowing crown that shimmered every few seconds before fading out again, like a blue firefly.

"Can you hear me?" she asked aloud, drawing a hand to her chest. If she had been with someone else, she would have felt foolish. But she was alone, and in the white hallways of Castle Oblivion, reality could easily become fantasy, and vice versa.

A reply was long in coming.

Who…are…you?

It was a boy's voice, young, around Sora's age…or Kairi's. She didn't recognize it, so Sora wouldn't have either. He sounded wary.

"My name is Naminé."

Really…

He seemed exhausted, and his mental tone carried such a vibe of pain that she longed to help him, but how…? Naminé dipped her head, searching the area, but there was nothing besides the door, which had no handle.

"Are you okay? Tell me what's wrong," she pleaded, feeling small and helpless—as usual.

An extraordinary feeling passed through her. Like a hot wind sliding down her body, caressing her skin. Naminé stared in shock as she saw her hair actually flow in the invisible breeze that, by all means, had no right to exist.

I'm…sleeping…

"Is that bad? Who put you to sleep?"

I did.

"…Why?"

To save…them…he… His mental "voice" became fractured, and at first she feared he was fading. But no, this boy that she had never seen nor met was simply crying. Silently. But when the unseen force slid down her form again, despair rained down on her senses in waves.

"Please, don't worry. What are their names?" Naminé prayed that she could somehow comfort this person that she barely knew. She didn't even have his name. Some part of her demanded that she turn around and go back to her room and finally get a real friend.

Her other half knew that Sora belonged to Kairi, and no amount of tampering would ever change that.

Aqua…Terra…I don't know what happened to Terra. But Aqua…she's…lost.

"Oh. I'm so sorry. Did she…?" Naminé was secretly pleased. He sounded stronger. She knew instinctively that he was on the other side of the mysterious door. Somehow. She stepped towards it and pressed her hands against its cold white surface, sighing and resting her forehead on it. If only she had a Keyblade…

She's not gone. She's lost. How long…have I been taking refuge in his…?

"I don't know them. I'm sorry. But, can you tell me your name?"

Naminé…my name is Ventus…Ven.

"It's nice to meet you," she murmured. "Have you spoken with anyone else?"

No, not since I sensed Aqua's…sadness.

"How can you talk with me?"

Heh. That small tidbit of laughter made Naminé smile, because for a second, she could feel his good humor. It flooded into her body via that strange breeze that touched her deeply—past her skin, to something inside—every time he answered her.

I don't know how. I can almost…I can…Some part of me is close by. Who are you, Naminé?

"I'm a Nobody."

No you're not! Everyone's a somebody. His tone turned indignant, as if he was insulted by how little she thought of herself.

A rueful smile. The girl closed her pale eyes. "No, Ven. I'm a Nobody. I really am."

How?

"Have you heard of the Heartless?"

And so she explained the whole concept of Nobodies and Heartless to him. Ventus didn't interrupt once, and after she had finished, the witch feared that he had disappeared back into his waking dreams. But her worries were unjustified, it turned out. His reply was slow coming but reply he did.

I don't believe that for a second. You have a heart, even if it's just a piece of mine.

"How…do you…why would you think that?"

Naminé. Can you come in?

Surprised by his sudden subject change, the Nobody shook her head, and then remembered that Ven couldn't see it. "No. I don't have a Keyblade."

Really? You seem like the type that should. You seem like a good person to me.

Person. Not Nobody. Not witch. Naminé found herself feeling very pleased indeed. She liked this Ven, whom treated her like a normal human being. Then his words sunk in and her exultant grin faded. "No. I'm a bad person. I'm…hurting…someone that never did me any harm."

Why?

Naminé closed her eyes. "I'm lonely, Ven."

Me too, Naminé. But you can't do that to anyone. Never hurt anyone if you can help it.

"I know."

But…can I meet you?

"How? I can't get in."

There was no response for a great deal of time. Naminé blinked herself fully awake, realizing she was probably in serious trouble with the Organization now. (Un)luckily, she had already altered enough of Sora's memories to send him hurtling up the stairs after her, regardless…

"Naminé?"

Gasping, she turned around and locked her gaze with none other than Roxas, her twin Nobody.

…But no, that wasn't right. Frowning slightly, she looked him up and down. She had never formally met Roxas, but she knew him through Sora's memories…and they were linked together. This boy before her was not Roxas.

But he was very similar.

He was transparent, and his body gave off a radiant golden glow. His stance was loose, casual, wearing unfamiliar clothes. Naminé saw that his shirt was white on one side, black on the other, with a bronze shoulder piece, armored shoes, and some other bits of metal in various places on his outfit. Gray slacks hung from his wiry frame and upswept blonde spikes formed a mane of hair identical to Roxas's. His face was young but his blue eyes were dark with unimaginable experiences.

Regardless, he smiled at her, blinking once. The grin transformed his serious features in a heartbeat.

Bah-thump bah-thump bah-thump.

"V-Ventus?" Naminé managed to stutter.

He laughed, and the sound sounded both well worn and rusty. "Call me Ven!"

"But…how…?"

His face became stoic again. "There's something in you that calls out to me…I know that sounds weird but…" He shrugged. "I wanted to meet you. At least once." And Ven grinned at her, earning a tentative smile in return.

"Ven…"

He reached out to her and closed his fingers around hers. They were warm to the touch, though insubstantial, and another warm wind rippled through her body. "You know what you need to do, right?"

Naminé nodded, not looking away from his sure sapphire eyes. "I need to…free him."

"Right. Don't hurt him because you're lonely. Besides…I'll be with you, I promise. Even if you can't hear me. While I'm asleep, I'll dream of you, until our hearts bring us together again."

Powerful words, Naminé thought privately. "I don't have a heart…"

"Yeah, you do! Don't start that, alright? Is this guy you're hurting in danger?"

"Yes." Naminé knew this without a doubt.

"Is there still time?"

"Yes."

"Then run! Save him!" Ventus urged her, pointing down the corridors of Castle Oblivion.

Biting her lip, Naminé knew what she had to do. She had to set Sora free. Somehow. Could she undo what she had done…?

She had to try. There was no shame in trying.

Quickly, she started down the pathways, stopping before the hall turned a corner and looking back. Ven was fading, standing near the door that she could not open, watching her with his bright blue eyes.

"Go!"

Naminé ran.

The bah-thump in her chest gradually faded until it was entirely gone, and Ven's voice dropped out of her hearing also. She felt strangely empty.

But a comforting breeze seemed to follow her everywhere, and seemed to send her faster on her way as she ran to save the Keyblade Master from…herself.

She imagined someone was shouting far away, "Hurry, Naminé!"

But it might have only been her imagination, because there were no words to the silent plea.

Just raw emotion.

And that, for some reason, she understood.

~***~

The product of late night boredom. How was it? I'm so sorry, I haven't played Chain of Memories in ages so forgive any storyline errors.

Um…yeah…review and stuff. Hehe.