This was my second challenge for yuri_challenge on LiveJournal. I didn't think I'd get it finished until right before the due date, but I did. I really like the ending for this one. My challenge was to use Aaeru/Neviril and these lyrics: Can't get my mind out of those memories/Now time to tell them don't take my dream.
She snapped the hairclip into place, sighing heavily. Another day, another day that she would simply rather just have pass. She didn't want to leave the confines of her room, for within the four walls she felt safe and secure. Here, she could be alone with her grief and loss. Here, she could still lose herself in the memories that seemed so real, the memories she never wanted to disappear. They brought the pain with them, but she would endure the pain, if only she could see Amuria one last time.
A sudden loud rapping started on her door. Even though it was still quite early in the morning, she knew exactly who was outside. Surely, the girl would have given up by now, but no, she was more than happy to bang on Neviril's door.
She steeled herself, staring into the mirror. It would be a test of how long she could hold out until the blonde went away. She knew the girl to be persistent in her task. However, she also knew the girl only wanted her to be her pair. "She only wants to be with the best," Paraietta had told her. "Don't mind her. She'll only hurt you more."
Patiently, she waited for the girl to leave. The pounding only got louder and she couldn't seem to get it out of her head. She covered her ears, hoping to block the shouts directed at her. She couldn't handle much more. She tried to focus on something else, something that would distract her.
And just like that, her love was inside her head, her voice whispering soft words, words that had been spoken many times before, but may not have been cherished as they should have been. If she imagined it just so, she could feel her love's arms wrap tightly around her, pulling her in, pulling her out. It will be all right, Neviril… I'll never leave you. Hearing those words inside her head, in that voice, caused her to break down in sobs. She simply couldn't hold it in any longer.
Exiting her room was always the most difficult of tasks. It was hard for her to face the rest of Chor Tempest and appear strong on the outside. She could do it, but it was the hardest thing for her. No one would approach her or risk being close enough to ask if she was all right. She knew she would have only given vague answers. She couldn't bring herself to be open about her grief. She couldn't bring herself to show others her weakness. It was bottled up inside, always there, always lurking, always building.
Her attendants of course, would never ask a word. As cadets, they were too caught up in the fact that they were assisting the Sibylla Aurea. They would never dare ask her personal questions because it was considered inappropriate conduct. Even if it wasn't, she knew they would never cross that invisible barrier; they were too caught up in being amazed by her. It was not something she would approve of, but her mind was focused on more important things. Having the cadets follow her meant that she had support behind her, even if it meant that she would never truly have that support when she needed it most.
"Going for a walk, Neviril?" called a voice softly.
She didn't have to turn to know that Paraietta had found her. Her best friend since childhood, Paraietta always would keep an eye on her, protecting her. "Yes, I thought I would clear my head."
Paraietta fell in step beside her, and the cadets paused, going no further. Without Amuria, Paraietta was considered to be the second to the Regina of Chor Tempest. Though she was revered in a sense, the cadets were more afraid of her than anything. "Have you decided anything?"
Neviril shook her head. "I'd rather not discuss it, please."
"I won't push you then." They walked along the path, two Sibyllae in silence. Paraietta wanted to say more to Neviril, wanted to console her, and yet, she could not. She held back on her feelings, for the sake of Neviril's current state of mind.
"Have you ever…" Neviril trailed, stopping herself. She wanted to ask if Paraietta had ever loved, but realized that she would have to talk about Amuria, and that was not something she was willing do to.
The two completed the round and Neviril looked to Paraietta. She did not smile, but simply nodded. "Thank you." She headed for the dormitory, the two cadets falling in silently behind her. Paraietta watched her go.
It was a few nights later, and darkness had settled across the Arcus Prima. Neviril shot up in bed, still caught within the nightmare. She called out Amuria's name, but there was no response, and that was when she realized once more that Amuria wasn't there. Amuria would never be there. She had once again let herself get caught up in the nightmare. As she drew up her knees, she sobbed into her nightgown. All she could wonder was Why?
Instead of staying in bed, she rose, and padded softly into the hallway. Her arms were crossed over her chest, and she didn't know where she ended up. She simply didn't want to return to her bed, to her nightmare. Up and down the halls she wandered, never meeting another soul. It was late at night, and everyone else was deep in sleep. As she passed one door, she heard the faint sound of music playing. Her curiosity got the best of her, and she pressed her ear to the door, listening.
It was a soft, tinkling sound, something from a music box. It was a tune she'd never heard before, but somehow, it was relaxing. She closed her eyes, losing herself. All too soon, the music ended and didn't start again. She turned around, heading back to her room. She still dreaded the nightmare's return, but for the moment, she felt calm.
Months later, she stood across from Aaeru, sharing a secret promise with the younger girl. She had wanted to confide in the girl, to discuss what they had seen at the Spring. The only other person who had witnessed the conversation with the High Priestess and Onashia had been Yun. Yun was a wonderful Sibylla, but never someone she had ever felt any semblance of closeness to. Lately, she had been having mixed feelings for Aaeru, and she wasn't sure what she thought of the girl.
Holding Aaeru's hands, warm in her own, she felt alive, energized. Deep within her mind, a seed had been planted, and she wondered if perhaps, it was possible. Aaeru was happy to see that they shared a secret together, and Neviril caught that confident beaming smile that was Aaeru's trademark. The girl had no fear, looking toward the future and not the past.
As she closed the door to her room that night, she began thinking more about the conversation she had shared with Aaeru, and the conversation from the Spring. She thought of Amuria, and knew that in her heart, it was what she wanted to do. She had to know, and had the right to know what had happened to Amuria. Now that there was a chance that Amuria was not dead, she had a faint bit of hope in her heart that Tempus Spatium had carried her to a place of safety somewhere in space and time.
Her eyes looked to the ceiling, but she was staring beyond the confines of her room, to the starry night sky that was just above her. Could it be that Amuria truly was out there, and that all she had to do was find her? Was it as simple as performing the Emerald Ri Majon and finding her? These questions burned in her mind, and she had no answer. It was not an answer she could find in a book, or from the Dux, or even from her father. No one could give her the answer. The only option was to discover it on her own.
She would never be on her own though; Aaeru would have to come with her. She wasn't sure the girl would share her same vision, but they were the best pair in Chor Tempest. Even she had to admit it. After their feuding and Aaeru's bouts of stupidity, they still flew high with Tempus Spatium's blessing. She would need Aaeru to find Amuria. Surely Aaeru would see that it was important to her.
Then they had quarreled. It had turned out that Aaeru had not wanted to go to the other world just so that Neviril could find Amuria. She had been taken aback by the girl's remarks, but now she could understand why. Aaeru felt as though she was being used for the task. The task didn't give Aaeru a say in what she wanted, and Aaeru had no interest in Amuria. It both angered and hurt her. Why couldn't Aaeru see that this was important to her?
Why couldn't I see that Aaeru felt it important to find what her grandpa spoke of? Neviril wondered later. Then another thought occurred to her. Why couldn't I see that I… love Aaeru? The latter was much harder to swallow than the former, but the more she thought about it, the more it was true. Though Aaeru had upset and angered her many times, once to the point of fear, Aaeru had always pushed her forward, pulling her away from the darkness that had threatened to swallow her. And… she found that she wanted to be with Aaeru and perform the Emerald with her. It wasn't because others wanted to or because she only wanted to see Amuria, but because she wanted to be with Aaeru, and couldn't see herself otherwise. She had acknowledged the feelings that had built up, given them a name.
I love Aaeru.
After everything we've been through together, I love Aaeru.
Her heart had chosen Aaeru long before her head had acknowledged it as being truth. She had fought against it, she realized, but every time she had fought Aaeru had fought right back at her, pushing her forward toward something else, toward love and life, even if the girl was clueless about the former and headstrong on the latter. What she had refused to acknowledge had now manifested itself inside her being.
She wanted to tell the girl so, but Aaeru still wasn't speaking to her, hurt by the thought that Neviril only wanted to use her to find Amuria. She had wanted to make Aaeru understand, but the girl had simply refused to continue the conversation. Nothing she could have said would have made Aaeru turn around in that moment.
She had been willing to not say a word, but then they had come across Paraietta, telling the tale of what would happen once they performed the Emerald Ri Majon. She needed to speak with Aaeru. She needed to let the girl know. She needed to know Aaeru's answer; otherwise they could let the rest of the Sibyllae down. It wouldn't bother her if Aaeru chose not to fly with her, but she wanted to make sure the other girls had a chance to let that soak in.
Aaeru had led them outside to the open air of the deck. The sun was setting in flaming hues around them, reflecting the fire within Neviril's soul. Her heart pounded inside her chest, but outside, she calm and composed. She spoke gently to Aaeru, who seemed afraid. Still, she would get her feelings off her chest because she wanted Aaeru know not only know that she loved her, but that Aaeru had also saved her by pulling her away from the dark path she had been heading on.
Neviril knew that she had dropped a heavy confession on Aaeru, but she left the girl to absorb and consider all that she had said. As she walked away, her feet felt lighter. If Aaeru never returned her feelings, she couldn't say it was because she had kept her feelings to herself. She had tried and now would place the rest in Aaeru's hands. Surely, Tempus Spatium would guide the non-believer in the proper direction. And if not, then perhaps Tempus Spatium would help her, the faithful follower, find a new path on which to walk. Still, it was preferable if Aaeru was there, by her side.
All too soon, it was the day the two were meant to do the Emerald Ri Majon. Aaeru still had not given Neviril any kind of answer, and so Neviril wasn't sure if Aaeru was still going to do the Emerald. It was too late to tell the others; they'd already left on the helical train for the Spring. Aaeru had stayed behind though, and Neviril wasn't sure if that was an indication of her choice, or simply because she had chosen not to choose her gender, regardless.
She was beginning to think that Aaeru was not going to go with her, and that she would have to soon go to the Spring and choose. She hadn't really thought about choosing a gender; it had seemed far from what she really wanted to do. Would she choose, if it came down to it? Would her father—No, she wouldn't use his opinion to make her choice. Would she choose female or male or—
Her door opened, and there stood Aaeru, a fire in her eyes. Aaeru pushed forward, asking her questions about her heart. Neviril softened and knew, deep down, that Aaeru had figured out that she felt the same. It was a relief, and thoughts of choosing at the Spring flew out of her mind. It was no longer necessary to consider such a possibility. As each of them looked out the window to the wide sky, Aaeru turned to look at her, expression changed.
"You still want to find Amuria, don't you?" she asked softly.
"I do. I told you I wanted to know what happened to her. If she's not dead, then where did the Emerald take her? I know you don't share my dream but—"
Aaeru shook her head, which caused Neviril to stop mid-sentence. "No, I get that you want to find her. She was special to you. I figured that out. If someone's special, you want to know what happens to them."
"Aaeru…" Neviril was touched by Aaeru's insight.
"And I want to help you find her. If she's a Sibylla and a member of Chor Tempest, she's still alive somewhere."
Neviril felt a lump growing in her throat. She could not express to Aaeru what she was feeling. Her emotions could not be put into words, not words that would clearly express herself. She didn't want to cry, but she knew her eyes were beginning to water.
"What's wrong, Neviril? Did I say the wrong thing?"
Shaking her head, Neviril drew Aaeru into a gentle embrace. Aaeru wasn't sure if she had done something wrong or right. She wasn't used to this thing called love or what it entailed, but she knew that she felt warm all over, and she hadn't just a moment ago.
"Neviril?" Aaeru still questioned Neviril's actions, but all she got in reply was Neviril's lips pressing against her own. She opened her mouth to speak, but her words were muffled and she soon closed her eyes, knowing it was the right thing to do, but unable to figure out why.
After a short time, Neviril pulled away, but still kept Aaeru close to her. The girl said no more, but Neviril could feel Aaeru's heart beating quickly. She was sure it matched the rhythm of her own heart. She was nervous and knew that deep inside Aaeru was nervous too, but she knew that together, they could find the other world. And maybe, just maybe, Amuria too.