AN: Whoo! It's finally here! This is the final and last instalment of this story. I hope you people enjoy this. If there's anything you still don't understand please tell me so I can write another epilogue! :D I hope this will explain everything. I would like to thank everyone who has reviewed either this story or my Maiden Dreams story. You'll all been a real inspiration to help me carry on (and finish this!). Thank you!
Epilogue: Childhood Dream
I opened my eye to the darkness dwelling in my room. I had been tossing and turning for the last three hours, trying ever so hard to fall asleep, yet the world of dreams that I was once so afraid of would not take me to its land of mystery.
I sighed loudly as I sat up in my bed, hot and sticky from the summer heat. Why was it that when I wanted to go to sleep I couldn't, and when I didn't want to fall asleep I did? I needed to escape the suffocating heat of my room, so I crept out into the cool living room, welcoming the slightly colder atmosphere with open arms and escaping the dark confining corners of my room.
Barefoot, I walked almost silently over to the sofa, a few floorboards whining as I stepped on their ancient wood. I flopped down on the soft material, wincing as the old springs squeaked in the stillness. I craned my head over to Seifer's door, hoping that I hadn't woken him, for I knew that the slightest noise could wake the light sleeper. After hearing nothing emerge from within his room, I rested my head back on the sofa and relaxed, closing my eye briefly in peace.
I hadn't felt this calm for a long time, in fact, I don't think I had ever felt this peaceful, as through out my life I was always running or hiding from something. I smiled as I sat alone, truly happy for the first time in years. I spread my arms over the back of the couch, and leaned right into the soft cotton, letting all my weight lie on the cushioned piece of furniture.
My hand strained for the TV remote as I leaned to the right and I flicked on the television quietly, and turned the volume as low as possible, the small green bars disappearing from the screen slowly. It always amazed me whether people actually watched this late at night, or rather this early in the morning…I could never imagine myself waiting this long to watch something…and yet here I was…
Suddenly I heard the click of a door and my heart sank in shame as the soft pad of footsteps approached from behind.
"Sorry." I said apologising.
"Don't worry. I wasn't asleep anyway." Seifer replied yawning. He came and sat down next to me, my hand finding his, me eye never leaving the flashing screen of pictures. "So, what are you doing up this late?" he said.
"Nothing really. I couldn't sleep." I said leaning my head back against the sofa again, enjoying the company I now had. I tore my gaze from the small black box and it settled on Seifer.
"It wasn't…" he began.
"No…I'm fine." I said as I squeezed his hand gently.
"Good." He said a little more relaxed. I shifted from where I was sitting, bringing my knees up to my chest and leant into him, the summer warmth intensifying as his body heat engulfed me. With my head resting on his shoulder, we watched the silent flickering images in front of us together in perfect company. But as our eyes grew lazy, the moving colours became a blur, and our eyes became dumb to their meaning.
"You haven't had any bad dreams lately have you?" Seifer said breaking the silence.
"No…I guess I haven't." I said.
"We never really found out why though, did we?"
"No," I said, but as I thought about it, I remembered Edea telling me something before I left Balamb Garden about Guardian Forces. She had always been a lovely woman. And she hadn't changed at all from when I had first met her in the orphanage.
"You know, Edea told me some things about GFs while I was still at Garden. And I think I understand now what happened."
"What did she say?" Seifer asked looking down at me.
The sun was shining in the infirmary through the two small windows at either end of the bedposts. The light warmed my legs that lay under the thin blanket while I propped myself up against three white pillows as I basked in the peace and quiet of the Garden. I had been falling in and out of sleep the previous night, and now as I slept on into the late morning, my periods of consciousness were beginning to shorten.
Some time during the afternoon I had closed my eye for a few seconds when the doors slid open. I thought it was Dr. Kadowaki again, as she usually came to check up on me every hour or so while she went about her business in the Garden.
"Hello Fujin dear," a sweet, much more feminine voice entered my ears, and I cracked open my eye. Before me stood Edea dressed in a solemn black dress that matched her dark raven hair. She had been smiling, like the way I remember so long ago. "How are you?" she asked.
"I'm fine." I said.
"That's good," she said, looking briefly out of the window, staring at some distracting amusement outside. This had been the first time she had visited me and up until now I had been scared of being in her presence again. The cold, cruel attitude of the sorceress that had possessed her had frightened me, and struck a violent chord within my being making me consciously afraid of her. But there was something in her smile that made all my built up feelings of hatred melt away…Her smile was not that of the abusing sorceress but of the loving Matron.
She turned to look at me again. "Fujin, I want to apologise for the disgusting way I've treated you over the years. You must know that I'm terribly sorry." She said taking my hand in hers, as she at looked me straight in the eye.
"It's…ok," but she still held my hand, looking at me with her wide, dark and scrutinising eyes. "Really, its fine…" I said. There were still some things that I hadn't forgiven the sorceress for yet, but I knew that she, Matron, really truly sorry. She retreated, placing her hands back in her lap. Her head was cast down for a moment, her long hair falling in front of her face.
"Fujin…do you know what GFs are?" she asked abruptly, bringing her head back up, suddenly seeming very distant. But before I could continue she carried on. "Guardian Forces, or GFs, are spirits of this world we may call upon to aid us in times of difficulty. During that time we grow and learn together as one being, living in harmony with the spirits of this world.
"But not all spirits live in this equilibrium of peace and good will. Just as people are different with their own personality and appearance, so are GFs unique with their own talents and attributes. Usually by our presence alone the spirits are kept in check as we have the power to control them. Yet like humans again, some choose to break the rules and grow in power and commit terrible tyranny in this world. . Your mother was one of those spirits. Do you understand?"
I nodded, spellbound by her odd words of wisdom. This wasn't the same woman who had just apologised to me, but nonetheless I think I was finally realising why all this had been happening to me.
"For every Guardian Force, there is a human who has died. Those chosen have the power, and are willing to become spirits that are neither alive nor dead; simply guardians who watch over the human race, never resting from the pleas of our people. And so these spirits become what we call Guardian Forces. Their thoughts, wishes and desires then shape their spiritual appearance.
"But what we see is not their actual form. Being imperfect, tainted by sin, our minds conjure an image that we can understand. If we were free of sin and pure we would be able to see them as they truly are. But they are still spirits. They have no body.
"We have what they envy – a body; a sense of security and entirety that they don't have. That is why they reside inside us. We give them that sense of protection and invulnerability that they lost when they died. Being neither alive nor dead, perhaps we give them that comfort of being alive and living, that perhaps reminds them of their former selves."
"Why are you telling me this?" I was beginning to not understand what she was saying. I couldn't comprehend what the purpose of telling me all this. I was starting to understand a little, but she had completely lost me now.
"Listen Fujin dear," she said softly. "It's very important you understand what I'm about to tell you," she paused, taking my hand in both of hers once again. "I think that maybe your mother was reminded of herself when she looked at you."
I was shocked to see that least. I stared at her, blinking several times before the information finally settled in my brain.
"I reminded her of herself?" I said dumbfounded.
"Yes, that is what I believe. Perhaps she sees the lone, unwanted figure of herself in you, and is insecure with the fact that you have now learnt to face your fears and grow up with the people around you.
"Maybe the way you were treated as a child was exactly the same as you was treated. I think she wanted people to suffer the way she did while she was growing up, and unfortunately you were the victim of her wrath. When she saw you grow up happily, I think she was reminded of the happiness that she never got to experience as a child and therefore wanted to make you feel the way she did because of the losses she experienced at a young age. Looking at you caused her to remember the horrible childhood that she went through. You were that living memory of her childhood. You were here childhood dream.
"Because you were growing into all the things she couldn't have possibly been, she loathed you, and treated you the way she did. And when she died, those feelings of hatred and insecurity caused her to evolve into a spirit, or a GF."
I was slowly beginning to understand…
"Now Fujin, listen carefully," she said looking at me very seriously. "Guardian Forces are not of this world. Summoned from the high clouds of heaven, to the fiery pits of hell, our GFs are nothing more than spirits. But as spirits from each afterlife, their powers are far beyond human understanding. Some may, perhaps have a gift to distort dreams in their favour, or maybe, damage their victim's body at a time of weakness, namely while you are asleep and vulnerable to the world.
"But there are many mysteries about GFs that we can not yet fathom. What I've told you may not be true at all, but from what I can see it might be the only reasonable explanation.
"But I think that in her own way, your mother has taught you so much that you need to know in the world. Have you not learnt that there is some goodness in the world, and that you should embrace it? Have you not learnt to live and grow into a respectable person? Looking back, I think your mother really did love you Fujin. She was only unable to express herself in an appropriate manner."
And her words ended as suddenly as they had begun.
"If only her words were really true," I said sighing as I hugged Seifer's arm tightly. "I don't know what to think anymore…"
"You never know…They may well be true." He said reassuringly as he rubbed my right shoulder up and down with his strong hand.
"How could she love me if she did this?" I said trailing my fingers over my eye patch. I sighed again and buried my head into Seifer's shoulder, relishing his comforting warmth.
"It doesn't matter if she loved you or not Fuu…All that's in the past now. You've got to move on, otherwise you'll be sad all your life. And I don't like to see you being sad." He said. I looked up at him, gratitude washing over my face.
"Seifer…" I said quietly.
"Whether she loved you or not," he said, shifting so he faced me directly. "I love you." he whispered smiling as he pulled me close, his arms encircling me, resting on my hips.
He pulled me tighter and kissed the top of my head while his hands roamed my back and shoulders, leaving their trail of flaming, intoxicating touches where ever they grazed my thin pyjama shirt. I brought my head back and nuzzled his neck, placing small kisses on his smooth golden skin, bringing my arms up around his neck.
"Thank you." I whispered as I pulled away. He smiled, but I saw his mouth drop and his eyes widen slightly when I lifted my hands up to my eye patch.
I peeled back the black leather fabric and pulled the dark elastic band that had been surrounding my head off in one clean movement. I held my safeguard in my hands looking down at it remembering Edea who had given it to me and all the times it had sheltered me from the watching eyes of so many people, and how it had given me the confidence to start my life again.
I got up, and taking the elastic strap in my hands, I wrenched the eye patch from its black band before walking over to the other side of the room, tossing the broken eye patch into the trash.
I felt slightly self-conscious as I turned around and walked back to Seifer, casting my face downwards. But I knew that if I continued to wear that eye patch, I would be stuck in the past, being reminded perpetually about the hatred of my mother and weakness I have. By casting away the protection, I could move on into the future…
"Look up," Seifer said softly. I obeyed, showing my scarred and chewed up face to him, smiling slightly. He held out his hand and I took it as he stood up. His hand held the left side of my face and his thumb touched the jagged wounds of my mother's pinwheel. I shivered at the unfamiliar and sensitive caresses. "You're so beautiful." He said brushing a strand of silver hair out of my face.
"Flattery will get you no where." I said punching him lightly, but I felt my cheeks grow red all the same.
"Are you sure abut this?" he said, tracing the fainter scars on my left cheek.
"Yes. While I still have it, I'm trapped in the past. If I get rid of it, I can try to forget." I said clasping his hand in both of mine, holding it to my face.
Feeling the realms of sleep begin to settle in my mind I leaned into Seifer, supporting myself against his strong frame. I closed my eye, still holding down his hand on my cheek.
"I…love you." I said, trying to stifle a yawn, but failing miserably. I heard him laugh above my head. "What's…so funny?" I yawned again, feeling laughter rise in my veins. He didn't reply, but only ruffled my hair playfully, patting me on the back as he moved away to walk towards his room.
"Good night Fujin." He said.
"Night Seifer." I said smiling. He then turned to disappear into his room, but stopped. He watched me, catching my gaze, and I felt my heart quicken under his loving glare. "What?" I said confused feeling the heat rise to my cheeks.
"Nothing." He said quietly looking away. His eyes glanced back to me once more. "I love you." He said, before returning to his room, leaving me alone once again in the living room.
"Seifer," I called after him as I trotted over to his room, catching the wooden door before it closed.
"Ye -?" but I cut him off as I leaned up and sealed his lips with a soft kiss. My feet bouncing back to the ground I broke away, grinning at his shocked face.
"Good night." I smiled devilishly, suddenly feeling very immature and childish. Maybe because I was now free of my eye patch the lost memories and young experiences were flooding back to me.
Or maybe simply because I'd learned to live a little.