BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! My eyes fluttered as the beeping seemed to get closer and louder. The hazy dream's colors began to fade to black and then to the gray shades of my pillow. I lazily swung my arm out from under the covers and to the top of my bed side table. I felt around and when I finally located the surface of my alarm clock, I slammed my hand down over it to shut the beeping up. But it unfortunately still succeeded in its job.
I let my arm fall limply down off the table and hung it over the floor. I groaned and pressed my face deeper into the pillow. I heaved my arms up from their rest and put force onto the bed, tensing my muscles to lift my face up off the pillow. I slowly raised my head all the way up and straightened my neck. My eyelids hung half opened as I got up on my knees. I huffed and tucked my silvery bangs away from my eyes and behind the curve of my ears. I raised my hand up to the back of my head and shook my hair out of its lethargic tangles as I slowly turned my head and peered at my bedside table. I blinked awake as I noticed a note on my calendar.
I slowly slunk back into bed. I pulled the sheets over my face and squeezed my eyes shut so hard that it stung. I clenched the sheets in my fists and balled up to sleep again. I could go back to sleep today, it was Saturday. I can just...sleep through the day right? I huffed as I remembered what Light had told me the day before. "We will go see your parents' graves tomorrow." I smacked my head against the headboard. What made Light think that would make anything better?
Just as the thought came to my mind, Light opened the door to my room. "Morning Hope.", she said as she entered the room. I didn't move and feigned ignorance. But Light knew me all to well.
I felt the bed shift as she sat down next to me. "I made breakfast.", she stated. "Not hungry.", the murmur was muffled by the pillow. Light sighed as she peeled back the sheets and threaded her fingers through my hair. "Come on, it'll be fine.", she said into my ear. I pushed farther into the pillow at that. She ran her fingers through my silver locks again then shuffled up from the bed. To be honest, I had wanted her to keep playing with my hair and was disappointed when I heard the door close.
I pulled myself up from the bed again and swung my feet over the edge of the bed. I kicked them back and forth over the floor and twiddled my fingers. I closed my eyes and recalled the last time Light had played with my hair like that.
The pillow was hot and wet and I didn't like it one bit. But it was my fault that tears kept falling and I couldn't stop it no matter how hard I tried. Further proof of my weakness, I thought. Why did I have to be so dang weak? If I was stronger, maybe it wouldn't have ended the way that it did...
My dad had died while I was helping to save Cocoon. How I'm not exactly sure, but I really didn't want to know. I thought that maybe letting him stay away from me would ensure his safety but all it did was cause his death. I was supposed to return to a normal life after all of my l'Cie business was over but now there was no way. In fact, I'm even weaker in that sense. Sure, I don't have the curse of Cie'th now but I also don't have magic or Alexander anymore either. And if only I could talk to Alexander now...
I bit my lip, it's not like I can do anything anyway. Dad, Mom, Vanille, and Fang were all gone and I can't do anything about it. I can't even alleviate or fight the pain in my chest from this truth.
My lungs ached from hot, overused air but I didn't feel compelled to move. Everything hurt so what would air do for me? Maybe even silent suffocation would do me some good. I pushed harder into the pillow.
"You're just going to give up like this?", her voice came from above me. A chill raced down my spine and I pushed the edges of the pillow into my ears. A huff could barely be heard and the next thing I knew the sheets were rolled out from under me and the pillow flipped my head over. "You can't just sulk like this after all we did.", the blurred form of Light said. I quickly pulled my arm over my eyes so she couldn't see more of my dirty, tear stained face. I didn't want her glaring at me like before. I felt her eye daggers pierce my already bleeding insides and visualized a condescending glare on her face.
I jumped in surprise as I felt a hand toss-el my bangs gently. I moved my hand away and looked up at Light. Wait a second...is she smiling? I rubbed my eyes and hurried to look up again. I stared up in surprise as Light...chuckled! I opened my mouth to speak but a gasp from a lack of air came instead. Light snickered as she pulled her hand out of my hair, "No need to speak. You need the air first."
I simply blinked as she moved her fingertips in a circle on my cheek, wiping tears away. "Look Hope, it's alright.", she had said, staring into my eyes with her striking blue ones. Then she turned to her side and pulled what looked like a folded piece of paper from her pocket. "Sit up.", she commanded with her usual force. I fumbled up quickly, rested my back on the headboard, and examined her movements. She held out the piece of folded paper out to me. "What is...?", I mumbled in exasperation as I took the paper in my hands. I wiped my eyes as I focused my sight to read.
By authorization of the agency, Claire Farron has been selected to become the official legal guardian of the orphaned minor Hope Estheim.
I gasped at that first sentence and looked up at Light. She smiled at me and nodded. I hastily turned back to the paper.
Under the signed permission of the orphan in question, Claire Farron has passed all of the agency's requirements and is welcome to becoming the orphan's caregiver.
Everything else was more official, legal dribble so I skimmed over it. My eyes finally stopped at the blank line where my signature would go. I paused then looked back up at Light. I watched her lips as she whispered, "Is it alright with you?" I kept flicking my eyes from the paper and back to her. "I--I-...", came my muttering voice as I finally stared blankly down at the paper.
I felt a hand take hold of my cheek and I looked up. Light's face was close as she placed her lips delicately against my forehead. My cheeks grew warm as I felt her soft kiss and I stared at her neck in a daze. A single tear slipped down my face and she pulled away and whispered in my ear, "I'm here for you from now on." She pulled me into her chest and rested my head down on her shoulder. Did she really care for me this much? I had hoped she did and now I know. My pain just disappeared all at once at that realization. I opened my mouth to give my answer.
"Do you have a pen?"
I smiled at the memory and no tears fell. She was right. She helped me get back on track with a relatively normal life as I began my studies again. She would take care of the bills and such and upheld a job for the two of us to live off of. We shared the chores although I end up doing most of the stuff for her because I don't want her to work more. If one of us ever got sick or something was up, we would take care of each other and sometimes call in Snow or Serah for help. Most important was that she genuinely cared for me and whenever I had lost myself, she was there ready to lead me back. I was doing fine now and she was the one who helped me to my feet. Without her, I don't know how I'd have gotten along. Or IF I would have gotten along but I don't really want to think about it.
I ran my hand through my hair strands like she did while I pondered. Something clicked and I suddenly was driven. I quickly jumped off the bed and changed. I got ready as I normally would, then opened my door and peered down the hall. I couldn't see Light but could hear her feet shuffling over the kitchen floor around the corner. I waited in silence for a second and seeing as she was not coming, quickly snatched a phone from a hall table and closed the door behind me. I dialed a number and prayed Serah would pick up.
"Hello?" "Hey Serah, it's Hope." "Hi! How are you today?" "Fine..." "Uhmn...did you need something?" "Ah! Yeah.." "Well...what is it?" "Uhmn...can I meet up with you before Light and I go over to see my parents-" I hesitated to add 'graves'. "Say no more. I'll come and get you now. Let Light know okay?" "Okay. See you in a little bit. Bye."
I turned the phone off and sighed. I then exited my room, dropping the phone back on the table as I passed it, and walked into the kitchen. Light looked up from her plate of food, fork twirling in her hand. "Hey.", she acknowledged. I greeted her back, "Morning." She put her fork down and handed me a plate of pancakes. We had breakfast in silence. I would occasionally look up at her and even though she never looked at me I knew she knew I was staring at her uncomfortably.
"Do you still want to go see your parents?" she said without looking up from her plate. My brow furrowed but I stated flatly, "Yeah. I want to thank my mom for all she's done again." Light nodded as she placed a bite in her mouth. "But I'd like to get something to put on her grave first if that's fine with you." She looked up at me as I continued, "Serah offered to take me. Uhm, she'll be coming to take me. I'll come back here so we can go afterwards if that's okay with you." Light nodded to me and examined my face, I assumed it was to see what I was thinking. I tried to avoid her eye contact for this reason, as she always figured everything out just by looking at me in the eye. And I wanted to surprise her for once. The thought of what her impression might be made the thought of visiting my parents seem a little less sad.
I chuckled. Light helps me even indirectly.
Light's lip curled a little at my chuckle and got up from the table to wash her dish. The door bell rang. I quickly got up and went to the door. Sure enough, Serah was there waiting for me. "I'm heading out. Be back soon!", I called to Light. I then closed the door behind me and went with Serah into her car.
"Where do you want to go Hope?" "I have something planned." "Care to tell me?"
I explained all that had happened and what I had planned and Serah smiled at me. After that, she helped me pick out all the stuff I needed and we headed back home quick. On the way back, Serah turned to me and said, "Thank you Hope." I looked at her in surprise, "What did I do?"
"You make Claire happy."
I played with one of the white lilies in my hands. "Why did you choose those flowers?", Light asked as we drove to the cemetery. "They were Mom's favorite. I would give them to her every year on Mother's Day. She really loved traditions." Light nodded.
I was surprised when I didn't cry at all in front of the grave. I guess I was too nervous about what I was about to do. I placed the white lilies down on Mom's headstone and gave a respectful nod to Dad's. Then I hung my head and said a silent prayer, thanking my Mom and that I hoped she and Dad were happy. I also asked her to help me do what I was about to, that she wouldn't think badly of me and maybe even make sure it worked out okay.
Light watched from a ways behind me, holding her hand up over her face to shade it from the sun. I stood up and nervously walked towards her. Light turned to walk away but stopped when I caught her wrist. She turned her head back towards me and then looked down in her palm. I had lodged a single pink rose in between her fingers.
She turned all the way around without a word and examined the flower in her hands. Her face was blank and my stomach twisted. Did she not like it? My brow furrowed and I imagine I grew visibly anxious, looking down at my hands. I then said with a little bit of a shaking voice, "Thank you."
She didn't move. I continued without looking up, "You've done so much for me. I feel like I really owe you for everything I have now. I..." I paused and swallowed hard, "I'm glad you're my guardian." She would have hated me more if I said step-mom or something of that nature.
I expected her to scoff and maybe toss the flower away. I decided if she was to do that, then at least I had told her how I felt and how much I appreciated and cared for her. But she didn't throw it away.
I looked up at her face and saw her smiling again. She lifted the pink rose to her nose and sniffed it. I blinked as I thought I saw a single tear cascade off her cheek. Maybe it was a trick of the light or my imagination because the next instant it was gone. She didn't move otherwise and so I decided to walked forward to her.
I repeated "Thank you." and slowly clasped my arms around her waist. I looked to the side and waited for her reaction, anxiousness biting at my insides.
"Thank you Hope.", she said as she hugged my shoulders. I looked up at her and she looked down with loving blue eyes at me. We froze like that for a while until she finally parted her lips.
"I expect two pink roses next year.", she whispered.