AN: Short little oneshot. So I originally posted this under Grand Guignol Orchestra just a few days ago, not being able to find the Japanese title. And today I found it? Aha, switching it over may have been pointless, but whatever. I'm stupid, and for some reason, this makes me happier. And now I must go read the stories for Ningyou Kyuutei Gakudan, because there were only a depressing 2 or 3 under the English title. x)

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Rights go to Kaori Yuki. ^^

"Mother is resting, Celes. You shouldn't bother her," said Elestial, lightly scolding his sister as they walked through the halls.

"Let's just check on her. We'll be quick, okay?" She ran a few steps ahead of her brother, suddenly twirling around, relishing in the pleasant swishing of her skirt around her legs. Celes smiled and skipped back to her brother, grasping his hand to hold in hers, slowing down to match his pace. Her brother may have been born with weak legs and needed the support of a crutch to walk, but she never looked down upon him. The son of a lord was expected to be healthy, tall, and strong – able to take over the duties that would fall to him when his father was no longer able. Some townspeople were disappointed, and other children would laugh when he couldn't participate in their games, but she didn't care. The two siblings were as close as could be.

"If you insist," he sighed, smiling back and giving in to his sister's wishes. Brother and sister stopped in front of their mother's bedroom door, knocking softly before turning the door handle and entering.

"Mom, we brought you flowers!" Celes announced, happily dancing around the room, searching for a spot to brighten with the colorful ornaments.

Her brother, more conscientious, remained near the open door and inquired in a gentler tone, "Are you alright, mother? How are your injuries?"

Celes, after placing the flowers in a small vase on the mantelpiece, rejoined her brother and watched quietly as their mother slowly raised herself into a sitting position on her bed. She looked weak – her complexion was pale, movements dragged out, and the once gorgeous hair was now devoid of shine and piled limply in a messy bun. Her face was shadowed, despite the fact that the bed curtains were pulled back, so she couldn't quite make out her expression.

"Don't worry dears. Mother is just fine ... Eles, Celes, that's right, children … Come here, darlings."

She thought her mother's voice sounded different, that she was acting strangely, but she only attributed it to her mother's recent attack by a guignol and the medicine the doctor must have given her. She knew that nothing would happen to her mother, that she would be just fine, so she didn't worry about it any more than that. Most people were praying that Lord Heliodor's wife would not be infected and become a doll, but she didn't need to. Somehow, she just knew. Hand in hand, the siblings walked up to the bed.

"Do you need anything? Maybe a glass of water?" her brother asked, eager to help in any way he could.

"No, no," Celes heard her mother whisper. "Water is not enough..." Confused, she placed her hand on her mother's arm and asked what she meant.

"Mother's thirsty … for your blood!"

Shocked, she let out a gasp and jerked her hand away. Plastered on her mother's face was the horrifying grin of a guignol; cracks that were not visible just moments ago now marred her skin. Frozen in surprise and fear, her legs ignored her commands to move. Her mother lunged out an arm, reaching for her face, and she stumbled back, tripping over her own feet and accidentally pulling her brother down with her.

The siblings instinctively huddled closer to each other, looking up with anxiety in their eyes towards the mother they once knew as she lumbered off the bed to tower over their small, helpless bodies. She bent lower, mouth wide open and Celes shut her eyes. Her childish imagination dreamt up the worst possible ends while she lay on the floor for what seemed like hours. But only seconds later, she suddenly heard the bang of a gunshot and felt the warmth of freshly spilt blood splatter over her face.

When Celes summoned the courage to open her eyes, the scene in her mind shifted. Her screams and pleads, as well as her brother's, directed towards her father echoed in her head. The fire that burned her mother's corpse engulfed her vision and the scene transformed once more...

Laughter sounded and calm and happiness suddenly washed over her. "Play for us Celes, we want to hear you play! You will, won't you?"

"Alright, fine. But only because my dear brother already had the piano brought out." She giggled when Eles grinned sheepishly. "One piece, okay? I don't want mother or one of the servants to catch us out here."

She sat down on the bench, lightly gliding her fingers over the beautiful keys of her mother's prized white quartz piano. She smiled and thought for a moment before bursting into song. The pretty melody wafted through the air, satisfying and putting smiles on all the children's faces.

However, no one knew that what sounded like glorious music to their ears would wake the sleeping guignol virus. A sudden scream brought Celes, so engrossed in the music, out of her reverie.

The outcries of terrified, scrambling children filled the air. Her eyes flickered back and forth, taking in the scene before her. Guignols, more than she could count, were clambering through the surrounding low walls. They were coming from everywhere – the infected suddenly transformed, and the transformed were set into a rage from the music.

"Run!" she heard a boy shout.

But she couldn't leave without her brother. "Eles!" she exclaimed when she spotted him lying on the ground. She knelt down to him, extending a hand. Frantically, she said, "Eles, we have to go! We need to get away from here!"

"I can't! You know I can't run!"

"You have to try," she begged. "Look, I'll get your crutch, and when I get back, you have to promise you'll at least try, okay?"

"... Okay."

In all the confusion, her brother's crutch had been kicked and pushed around. It lay only twenty feet away. She would rush to it, rush back, and they would make their escape. And hopefully other children would too.

She made a dash for the crutch, bending down to retrieve it, and just narrowly avoiding a screeching guignol that aimed to grab her. She rose from her stooping position slowly, rooted in place as her mind finally registered what her eyes had been seeing all along. The number of guignols had multiplied; the children that had been attacked, and the adults that came to rescue, were transforming into angry, blood-thirsty dolls as well. And the blood. So much blood. Torn limbs and the scarlet liquid covered the ground. She felt a hand latch onto her and the crutch fell from her grip.

"Celes, forget about me! Run, while you can!"

Her wide eyes fell onto her brother, several guignols surrounding him now. A part of her was yelling at her to heed his words and save herself, but she still didn't want to abandon him. She started to carefully pick her way towards him.

"Promise me you'll do everything you can to live!"

"No, no! I won't!" she cried, tears streaming down her face. "Brother, I won't leave you!"

"Promise me!"

She let out a choked sob and the tears fell faster, falling off her chin and onto the ground. "I promise," she whispered. She turned, not daring to look back, and ran. She ran, and ran, dodging guignol after guignol. She fell, but picked herself up and continued running, the pained screams of her brother and rhythmic clacking of her childish heels on the stones echoing in her mind, pushing her on...

Celes jolted awake. Panting heavily, she rose from her bed to open the window. The cool air and cold tiles beneath her feet helped to calm her. She fetched herself a glass of water, swished it around, and returned to sit on her bed, head and heart heavy.

For most, it was dealing with daily life that was hard - dealing with ignorant peasants, the rude baker, or the cross old lady down the street. Waking up early for work every day, doing the stupid homework your governess assigned you - they were definitely downsides to living. Sleep was the time to rest and recover from the troubles and hardships you faced on a near-daily basis.

But Celes was finding that her nights were becoming worse. During the day, she faced many things, but she could deal with them. She could bear having a father she hated; she could bear the cold shoulders and looks filled with blame. She detested having to live a lie, but she could live with that too. The trials she faced kept her busy and occupied, leaving no room for the parts of her mind and soul she kept under lock and key to resurface.

It was the tormenting nightmares - made so much worse by the fact that they were real, that they were memories, agonizingly vivid memories - that was killing her inside. The wounds created from the feelings of guilt, despair, and loneliness were torn open again. The dreams left her in a ragged mess, waking her in the earliest hours of the day in cold sweat and evident distress.

Celes slumped back onto her pillow with a sigh. Yes, she realized. Living was only the easy part.

Eh, I guess I'm pretty satisfied with how this turned out. An easy write, considering the writer's block I've been having recently. If I could only pick myself up and work on a multi-chapter fic ._. Perhaps Godchild, now that I'm in a Kaori Yuki mood. Anywayy, if you read this, be a dear and leave a review? :3