A/N: I would like to start off this oneshot with a warning: I suck at writing dark fics. This was quite troublesome to write and at times I found it painstaking to even think of what I was trying to produce.
A few things about this fic which you should take note of:
- The title is an obscured reference to C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I find that Final Fantasy VIII shares similar elements to that story, the Lion being Squall, the Witch mainly referring to Ultimecia and the Wardrobe being well... Ellone. However, I think you'd all burst out laughing if I included Ellone as the wardrobe (Jebus Creiss being the first to snigger at such a thing, but forgive those who give a helping hand) so I decided instead of a person I would use some kind of catalyst. That however brings me to my next point.
- Though I should have used a Time Compression catalyst (Ellone) since that would follow along with the realm theme, I found using Garden to be the more appropriate seeing as it is the training ground and more familiar to the readers.
- Exclusion of Ellone in this fic was done solely as I felt there no reason to mention her and...
- ...bare in mind that there would be certain gaps in Cid's knowledge. I am led to believe Edea withheld aspects of the Garden plan and therefore his doubts and thoughts in this fic are a foundation of his uncertainty and fear.
- There is no dialogue to indicate the noise Edea is making, use your minds as that will provide to be more effective.
Enjoy the fic and if you have any qualms about how it was executed don't hesitate to review. Constructive criticism is appreciated. Flames? Contact Jebus Creiss.
Disclaimer: I DO NOT own Final Fantasy VIII, if I did I wouldn't be spending my time writing fanfiction, I'd be producing a remake for the PS3. I DO NOT own C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, if I did, then I'd be rich, I'd buy SquareEnix and demand them to make a PS3 version of Final Fantasy VIII.
~:~ The Lion, the Sorceress and the Garden ~:~
It was the children's favourite book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The children loved reading about witches. Who wouldn't in a world filled with Sorceresses and magic; it was all the children ever spoke of, role-played, and aspired to. But it wasn't the Witch that they liked, it was the Lion. The Lion was the hero; the brave valiant rescuer, the saviour to the poor orphaned children who fell under the Sorceress's - no, sorry - the Witch's wrath.
Cid remembered Edea cradling the book on many stormy nights, the children pleading, some even jumping up and down in sheer excitement and anticipation, for her to read the book. He remembered watching them all huddled near her feet, their trance-like gaze fixated as she rocked in her chair, the hardback book placed between her hands as she smiled and began reading.
He would stand there at the threshold of the door, leaning on his shoulder as he sipped his tea and watched in admiration. They were their children now. They took them in, gave them a home, clean clothes, food to eat and unconditional love. He would remain there smiling, and continue watching as she got into character; a husky low growl for the Lion, high-pitched childish squeals for the children, mimicking the ones sitting just below her and a weird, yet uncannily silky voice for the Witch. Edea suited that voice the most; she pulled it off so naturally.
The children would stare at her, captivated by the story, entranced by the narration and aspiring to be like the Lion. The all wanted to be the Lion. They all wanted to be brave. They all wanted to be the one who would slay the Witch. Cid nodded to himself; the children loved this book. It was their destiny after all.
He remembered how pertinent, appropriate and damned good this book was. Just the right method of indoctrination for these children. Their children. They were their children now.
The book was still at the Orphanage even though all the children had left. Garden was built and he had sent them off. Sent them off to be Lions. Sent them off to kill the Witch - no, sorry - the Sorceress. His little SeeDlings would ripen, though they would never become flowers, no. Flowers were pretty little embodiments of peace, love, tranquillity, serenity, and all the other endless traits of beauty. These little SeeDs planted in his Garden would become like the Lion; they would be fierce, they would be strong, they would be ardent and most importantly, they would be predators.
Maybe Edea would like him reading this book to her how she had read it to the children at night. She had enjoyed reading it to them nearly as much as they'd enjoyed listening; perhaps hearing it like they had would summon memories of happier times. And perhaps hearing it like they had would remind her that the story's lesson did not just apply to the children.
He picked up the book and made his way over to the small pathway just before their bedroom. There he dawdled before slowly turning the doorknob and pushing the door ajar. Immediately his vision was blurred by the orange glow penetrating from the oil lantern sitting on the nightstand. He blinked briefly as the flickering light reflected across his spectacles before he walked into the dimly lit room. The greyish curtains were drawn back allowing the night air to steal into the room, tickling the ends of the curtains in a swaying motion. The fey night sky beyond was dotted with grey cumulus clouds, white-studded stars scattered through the gaps of its black canvas. Yet the moon was standing full and concrete overhead, dazzling its pallid radiance across the withered brown grass below.
Cid scanned the room, his eyes alighting on their old worn-out furniture; the cheap timber wooden wardrobe, the mismatched white-and-pink chest of drawers complete with missing knobs; the thin wooden bed frame, scratched varnish and abused rocky legs.
His eyes fell on Edea; lying flat on her back, her eyes closed and her mouth trembling involuntarily. She wasn't asleep. But she wasn't awake. She wasn't conscious. But she also wasn't unconscious. She wasn't Edea. But she was. Those were the pensive doubts of distinction that lurked his mind. Everything was questionable, nothing was ever certain.
"Edea." Saying her name out loud made it feel as if she was conscious. It made him feel as if she was awake. It made him feel as if she were still his wife. But the truth was, he wasn't so sure.
"Nhmm." That wasn't a reply, nor was it directed at him. It was but the latest of her moans, her groans and her screams that she had spent the past week emitting.
He watched, hovered over their bed as she writhed and kicked about frantically. Her head whipped from side to side as if trying to fend away the intruder that was demanding access. Her black nightdress had hiked up to her thighs exposing her slender pale white legs and the increasingly apparent blue and red veins that ran along them. He shuddered at the sight; a few days ago they were faint, now they were heavily imprinted onto her skin. A few days ago she was conscious, now she wasn't even aware that he was in the room.
He sat down on the stool next to her bed, his face a mixture of horror and confusion, as his chest continued to fill with despair and distress. He couldn't help her, he couldn't do anything to make her better or prevent anything worse taking place. He knew her situation, what she was and would possibly become even before he married her. It was he who agreed to her idea, who believed her story… the one of the Lion.
No, he wasn't like the children. He didn't believe in fantasies, he didn't believe in Witches and supernatural realms found behind wardrobes. But he believed her when she told him about the Lion - no, sorry - the brave young man, one of their children who would become as fierce as the Lion, as strong as the Lion, the one who had defeated the real Sorceress.
The story seemed plausible, it had to be after what she did. He was so damn mad at her when she told him. To think she would be that stupid to accept such powers, powers that they had taught the children were evil unwanted torture. Why didn't she just let the Witch die in misery, not that she would die.
But there was no use in pondering over what had happened years ago. She had made the plans, born of a seed that was half hers, half the Lion's. He had helped her build her Garden, he had helped her plant their SeeDs and now he was helping her destroy the Sorceress. But in reality, he was helping her destroy herself.
No, he was helping her murder herself. Just as one of their children would grow up to be the brave Lion, that Sorceress would also one day return, in a new body, in a new time and right now, she was trying to reside in Edea's body.
Had he known that future's path would take such a turn in his life, he wouldn't have agreed to her plans. He wouldn't have sought financial help, built a Garden for a future Lion, only for his wife to be slain.
Could it be? Was their young Squall to turn into a Lion and slay his possessed wife? Could she have been wrong? She had said the Sorceress from the future was the one to be slain. So what was happening to his wife?
Cid watched Edea intently, skimming over her pale white, ice cold body with terror and revulsion. She hadn't changed drastically; her hair was still jet black, her skin had become only one shade lighter and her sleek slender figure remained the same. But on closer inspection it was a stark contrast. Her legs that he kept hidden were painted with blue and red streak-like veins, her eyes that were once ebony black in colour had transformed into light brown pools. But the most shocking were her fingers.
He choked back bile just looking at them. He was ashamed of the nauseating feeling in his gut, this was his wife after all. Nevertheless, he just couldn't look at her fingers, the images of how they morphed still scarred his memory.
It started while he was trimming her fingernails when the nail cutter pulled the entire digit right out. He panicked, jumping up off the wooden chair in a frenzy and grabbing a wad of tissue to soak up any blood. But there was none. In fact, Edea remained lifeless, not even flinching. He had refrained from touching her that evening in case of hurting her further, yet overnight her fingers had literally shed. Each finger and thumb were left nail-less, the skin taut, and speared out to double their natural length. The roundness of the fingertips was gone, replaced with deadly carving points. They weren't fingers anymore, they were gross. They were revolting. They were grotesque.
It disgusted him so much he covered them with her bed sheet to blind his view. That caused her to stir more, her writhing and kicking reoccurring as she howled in rage. Her chest heaved and arched out as her high-pitched shrieks rang loud in his ears. Her shrilling groans rested heavily in his chest, almost suffocating him into a panic. Her stressed whimpers pricked at his heart and her incomprehensible whispers only tortured his mind.
Her breathing became short, throaty rasps, the sound carrying a voice that resembled possessed chants. Her eyes shot open as she continued to whisper under her breath, before the hoarse shrill of her breathing took over and her movements descended into a spastic staccato of quivers.
Cid watched in horrid fascination, tormented and distraught at the sight, hating himself for having a part in such a lewd evil fantasy. They had raised a Lion, he had just helped build a Garden whose sole purpose was to slay the evil Sorceress and unfortunately, that Sorceress was none other than his wife.
He hadn't wished this. He hadn't expected such a turn of fate when he fell in love with Edea nearly ten years ago. Yes, he had known she was a Sorceress, but she was kind, loving and gentle. He didn't think she was capable of the things Adel had done during her rule.
The horrific sight in front of him brought his mind back to their great plan. He closed his eyes painfully, thinking of the sheer morbid brutality of fate. Their children, their SeeDlings were being trained to kill her. Their Squall, poor orphaned Squall was to be the Lion whose sword would pierce her heart.
He couldn't let that happen. She was his wife. Squall was their child. He couldn't let this happen. He had to find some way to stop it. But how? There was no turning back time, there was no way he could prevent this from happening. Edea had changed, her body had mutated, her soft smooth voice had become silky rasps that muttered beneath her breath.
What if she was wrong? What if by accepting the Sorceress's powers she had unknowingly discoursed the future? What if Squall wasn't successful? Maybe in reality there was no Lion.
Her body had stopped moving as she lay stiff in the bed, her screams and short breathing couldn't be heard. Cid moved closer towards her, fearful that she had stopped breathing. It was only when he hovered over her body, his mouth parting to call out to her that her eyes shot open.
Startled, he moved away from the vicious amber-coloured eyes that bore into him. She turned her head to stare at him in the dim light, the corners of her mouth turning upwards into an unnerving smile. Her face hadn't changed; she still looked like Edea. However, a sudden air in her behaviour, the way her smirk settled on her smooth pallid face confirmed that is was someone other looking up at him.
Her velvety voice misled him to believe she was but breathing; it was only when he gave full attention to the sound that was increasing that he could hear her laugh. It was nothing like Edea's innocent giggles. No, these were shrill cackles, menacingly taunting the world for her arrival.
Cid gripped the book tighter, his knuckles turning white from the strain. He moved towards the open window in fear as she rose off the bed, revealing her slender legs which he noticed had returned to their normal colour, the blue and red lines completely disappeared. Her fingers remained the same, the pointed cursed digits raised to his eye level as the smirk never let Edea's face.
She raised her hand upwards and he could feel the gravity below his own feet vanish. His throat tightened, his breath restrained, he could almost feel her slender fingers wrap around his jugular. His arms clutched at his throat, book dropping to the floor, as all the air in his body was locked inside, his lungs crying out for release as she somehow held him up to the ceiling.
There was nothing between them, no strings, no objects, just her powers pinning him up with no physical effort. She smiled evilly at him, her eyes wide and gleaming with malicious amusement at the scene she had wrought. At the insignificant vermin trapped and ripe for the squashing, without her even touching him.
Cid tried in vain to gasp for air, though it came to nought at his eyes fluttered and his chest ached; he almost went into unconsciousness before he felt his body hit the wall beside him, knocking down portraits in the process.
His lungs opened up, sucking in fresh cold air hungrily all the while choking from the temporary tightness his throat had endured.
He unbelievingly looked up at her as her slender figure twisted away from him, stalking towards the door effortlessly, her nightgown leaving a trail of darkness behind her as she left the man she'd deemed too beneath her notice to even bother crushing to gape at her wake.
His sight was only on her for a few more moments before she descended down the stairs and disappeared from view.
Placing his sweaty palms on the floor, he lifted himself up, his knees wanting to give way under his feet the minute he rose. He grabbed onto the wall beside him and clambered up to the open window. From there he watched the Sorceress leave the orphanage through spectacle lenses knocked askew, her shadowy figure prowling through the flower fields cackling loudly at her achievement. She didn't turn back, didn't change the course of her direction, but kept on walking into the distance until she was but a dot on the horizon to him.
He tried to breathe evenly, though the rapid beating at his chest was making it hard. His sweat glands were working overtime as his forehead was drenched in a cold sweat. His mouth had gone dry and his arms were covered in goose pimples. He wasn't aware of the state of his body was in, he didn't care what was happening to him. His wife was gone: her mind and body replaced with an evil, possessed by a malevolent spirit intent on ruining their world.
She wasn't his Edea anymore.
As he watched her presence completely disappear he couldn't help but mutter under his breath.
His foot touched something hard on the floor; looking down, he noticed the book he had held was lying face down. He picked it up and looked at the cover, running his stubby digits across the illustration of the Lion, then over to the Witch and finally holding it against his chest.
Only time would tell what would happen. But he had done his part. He had made his Garden. He had planted his SeeDs. His Lion would grow… and slay his Sorceress.
It wasn't until some time later, in fact a great many years later, that the most painful question arose within his mind, lashing him anew with the most vicious doubt of distinction yet:
"Why did she let me live?"
He could come up with a world of answers, theories of her testing her powers, her ignorance of his role in her future downfall. But in a morbid sense of romance, he liked to believe that his Edea was somewhere inside her, and she allowed him to live.