Cathedrals In My Heart

DISCLAIMER: Yggdra Union, Blaze Union © Sting. I seek to gain no monetary profit from this writing.

(don't think your life didn't matter – we carry on)

In the end, she settles on the nicest outfit she has that can still handle wear and tear, jams her hat on her head, and sets off.

Alone, it's not really that far to the capital from where she lives, so she just sets out at dawn and walks and walks and walks. It's a pretty nice day. She reaches out and gathers up some wildflowers as she gets closer, crosses the mountain bridges with quite a bit of sighing, and by the afternoon she reaches Flarewerk.

The gatekeeper asks her what her business is, but not in a hostile kind of way, so she holds up the flowers a little lamely and nods in the general direction of the Obsidian Castle and says "I'm here to see him". The young man standing there bows her in, and she walks down half-remembered streets to mount the castle steps.

The city has been rebuilt, and there's even been grounding for reconstruction of the Gates of Triumph, but the castle is still a burned-out wreck. She's pretty sure that even if anyone could bear to go in and start cleaning it out, no one would. The place has turned into a monument.

She picks her way through the rubble of the castle carefully. It had been beautiful once—she'd never seen it up close, but she'd looked at it from a distance loads of times, and it had been beautiful then. Now everything has been reduced to slag and charred rock, still ugly and twisted two years after the fire.

The mountain shrine—the one built on the slope of the old dead volcano that the priests said Brongaa slept beneath—had had its walls and pillars knocked down and now stands in the open air, looking out on the sea.

And there are flowers laid on the floor near the crack that ran through the center of the shrine. Some of them are fresh, and some are dried. It's not like there could've been a gravestone, and with the entire castle as a memorial it probably doesn't matter. She feels like there should still be bloodstains underneath those flowers, but the fire would've burned them away.

It doesn't feel like just a token, even though maybe it'd look like that to an outsider. She knows it isn't, because that's the kind of guy that he was. She'd watched what he'd done for the country, watched him with the people, come and spoken to him a handful of times over those three years.

Five years ago, when she'd still been trying to kill him, he'd jumped into a river to save her without hesitation. He hadn't believed that what he'd done was wrong, but he'd still wanted to take responsibility for the lives that were lost because of him, the lives he'd taken. And he'd proven while she watched him that he could do that by living better than he could by dying.

And right when she'd begun to believe that, really believe that, the war had come. Like David would've said, it never rains but it pours.

She sets the flowers down, fusses with them a little to give herself time to think, then stands back up and stares at the place where he probably died.

"I've been meaning to come here for a long time, I guess, but I couldn't bring myself to do it, really. 'Cause I didn't know what I should say to you, or what I'd think or feel."

Honestly, she still doesn't know. She just knows that she needs to put what she feels into words somehow or other.

"You know, I think—I think we're probably gonna be okay in the end. Everyone in Bronquia, I mean. Not like, we'll be okay even if you with us anymore. I think we'll be okay because you were with us.

"People still believe in the things you always talked about. After what you did for this country, everybody's… well, we know it really is possible to live honestly and survive and support each other and all that stuff. You believed that we could do it, and I've seen a lot of people trying to follow your example and take care of each other.

"It's been five years since we met, and two years since you died, and people still come here all the time, y'know? They loved you. They still do love you, so nobody's gonna forget about you and the others. We're doing what we can, and I think we'll be okay."

She pauses, makes a face at the flowers on the floor, and shoves her hands into her pockets. "I don't know if what all the priests and things say is right or not, so I dunno whether you can hear me or see me or what, but I bet wherever you are, you're still worrying about this country. So I just wanted to say you don't have to anymore.

"'Cause—what you were to Bronquia can't be erased by you dying.

"…That's it, I guess."

It's a curious feeling—at the same time, she feels like an idiot for talking to the air, but reassured, as if maybe he might really have heard her.

She tips the brim of her hat and nods, then crosses her arms and turns around to go.

There are footsteps against the rubble that aren't hers, and she stops to stare as a familiar man ducks into the shrine. She'd know the green hair anywhere, at least, even if the flashy shoes and smattering of stubble at the very base of his jaw aren't new. There are three peonies clenched loosely in his hand.

His gaze falls on her, and his eyebrows go up. "Cerica?"

She nods at him. "Long time no see, I guess."

It's obvious what they're both here for, so she doesn't ask and he doesn't ask her. She goes to stand over by the ruined castle wall and waits while he puts his flowers down in the same general spot as all the rest and bows his head, clasping his hands together. He doesn't say anything out loud—maybe he's keeping the words in his head because he isn't by himself—but after a while he turns around and starts walking back toward the door, gesturing that maybe they should leave.

They navigate the ruin of the Obsidian Castle silently, then climb down the wide flight of stairs to the city side by side. Once they're on the last few steps, he stops and looks at her. He probably wants to say something, so she waits.

"I think he'd be happy you visited," Mizer says, rolling a shoulder in the general direction of behind them, and she doesn't know what to say to that so she doesn't try to answer. Then, after the silence has started to get awkward: "You've changed a little."

"It's been five years, duh. The only people who don't change over time are idiots like Gulcasa." She jabs her thumb over her shoulder at the grave that isn't a grave.

Mizer laughs. "Yeah, he'd've been happy you came. C'mon, I'll buy you a drink. We can catch up."

She looks at him for a while, fingers the brim of her hat, and then nods.

"Sure. Besides, there's some reconstruction jobs that I've been looking at that are too much for just one person."

They leave together under the clear sky.