Chapter 21

The next day...

Kain was regretting his actions toward Edge and toward Rydia. He felt ashamed; not bothering to stop watching the stone floor. Walking on the battlements of Baron Castle, Kain stared at the stonework floor, not bothering to look up.

Why did he let his pride take him? Why did he not think of Rydia's feelings? He had already made that mistake and it cost him Rosa's full affections. Would Edge then claim Rydia because of Kain's misconduct?

He stopped over the south gate and sighed. I am a fool, a shame to the dragoons, a shame to knights everywhere. I doubt Rydia will forgive me, he thought.

"Are you finally coming to apologize?" an angry female voice said next to him.

Kain looked up; Rydia was leaning against the battlements, glaring at him. He hadn't noticed her, nor had intended to meet her here. Yet, I suppose now is the best time of any.

Rydia's face was like stone, and she had her arms folded. Still angry...

"Rydia... I..."

"Actually, I'm not sure I want to hear it," she said harshly. "You made this mistake with Rosa once before! Wouldn't you have learned from that incident?" She bit her lip and looked away from him, staring at the courtyard.

"I know," Kain said, feeling like she had shoved a dagger into his heart. But, his old self—filled with his pride—wanted to fight back.

Let those feelings go, Kain! He licked his lips. "I don't know if you can forgive me for what I've done, but I apologize for my foolish actions."

Silence; silence for several painful moments. She didn't even look at him.

"Do you know," she said softly. "How much it hurts a woman to see her two lovers physically fighting over her?" She looked at him again, still glaring. "You should."

"Wait, lover?" Kain asked, blinking.

"I'm being a bit generous," Rydia said.

Kain swallowed, and felt wounded.

"Rosa, it's been weeks now... won't you forgive me?"

"Kain... I would have, had you came and apologized. But now, no... maybe in a few days, but I don't want to be with you anymore."

"I... I see."

"No, you don't! You fought Cecil nearly to the death over me! You broke my heart, Kain. As did Cecil, but he has at least asked me for forgiveness! He had the courage to do so. Leave me, please..."

Kain couldn't help but allow his eyes to grow wet. A few days later, she had forgiven him, but his mistake had cost him her love for him.

He looked at Rydia. "You're right, I should know. Yet, I will admit that I cannot fully understand your feelings. I am not a woman, and I never have to experience such horrible things. Yet... I want to understand," he added.

"You want to?" Rydia asked. Her face was still stony, save her curious brow. "That would be hard for a man to understand. The pain, the sorrow. I cried all day yesterday because of what you and Edge did!"

Another dagger stabbed him in the heart. "You cried... for the entire day? I... I never knew. I am so deeply sorry for causing you such pain, Rydia. I truly am. What can I do to make up for the pain I caused you?"

"The pain you and Edge caused me, you mean?" Rydia said. She looked back at the courtyard, her face softening ever so slightly. She shook her head. "Nothing. There's nothing you can do, but wait."

Chains of guilt wrapped around his heart. "Truly?" he asked.

"Yes, especially after what Rosa told me yesterday," she said, her voice stung. "About how far you fell away from her."

Kain opened his mouth to speak, but he could not say a word. She was right in every way, he had broken Rosa's heart and now he had shattered Rydia's. There's no hope for me, is there?

"I still cannot believe you started a fight over me," Rydia continued. "You and Edge..."

"You're right," Kain said to her. Rydia blinked in surprise at him. "You are right, Rydia. Edge and I should not have fought over you. ... we both made a promise not to do it again for your sake."

"Really?" Rydia said, her voice was soft. "You made up rather quickly," she noted.

"We did," he said, nodding. "... Rydia..."

"Kain, I'm going to be blunt." Her lip was trembling despite her stony face, and her eyes shed tears of sorrow that pierced Kain's heart further. "You failed Rosa, and now I'm wondering if you see me as 'woman number two.' I think you do."

"No! No!" Kain exclaimed. He felt desperate. "I wouldn't do that to you!"

"I'm sorry, Kain, but I don't believe you," Rydia said. She turned away from, wiping her eyes and ran away.

Kain's heart broke. I... will never... I... He cursed himself, turned away and walked slowly down the battlements.


Rydia had left the battlements and gone into Rosa's gardens. Watching the dragoons and the sun knights train just reminded her of the terrible scene she had seen yesterday.

She kept wondering if she had been too generous with Kain. After all, he had experienced this before with Rosa, why would he do it again? Did he really love her? No. She was just a secondary.

Rydia's heart still felt punctured by their arrogance. Had they really have an idea of how much watching them punch and kick each other in a brutal fashion wounded her? The pain was beyond the wounds that they had given each other.

Then she saw a puff of smoke in front of her. "Hey, Rydia..."

Rydia scowled. "I guess it's your turn?" she said to Edge standing before her.

"So, Kain already apologized?" Edge asked. "Good for him," he added—Rydia was surprised that there was no hatred or sarcasm in his voice. "Well, yes, you could say 'it's my turn' to apologize. I really shouldn't let my jealousy and anger get a hold of me, Rydia."

Rydia looked away, still feeling angry. "Yes, you shouldn't have. I cried all day yesterday because of what you and Kain had done to each other," she said, looking back at him with a quivering lip of rage. "I feel like slapping you, you know!" she added. "You should know better, Edge. You have a two year relationship with me. Kain has... what... at most a few weeks? And I doubt I'll love him."

Edge blinked in surprise, but didn't respond to that. Instead, he agreed with her. "Yes, I know I should have done better than that. I may easily get jealous, but... well... I wish I hadn't made you cry like that. Give me another chance; I promise I won't beat up Kain. Though," he added with a slight chuckle. "He really knows how to put up a fight. Err... that's not important, though."

"No, it isn't," Rydia said with venom in her voice. She flung a flat stare at him.

"Please, forgive me. I do love you," Edge said. He walked up to her, and she knew he was risking being struck. "And I guess that's why I fought over you, but regardless, that doesn't make it right." He knelt down. "Forgive me... I know you can forgive me."

Rydia felt her anger abate slightly. "You don't need to bow to me like I'm a queen, Edge. On your feet," she ordered, ironically feeling like royalty. "Very well, I'll... forgive you. But you must give me..."

"Some time?" Edge finished for her. "I know, I will. Cecil's going to chew me out for hurting his little sister."

Rydia smirked. "Yes, that is your reward," she said, looking at him. "I'm going to go now, Edge. I... want to talk to Rosa again."

"Understandable," he said. "See you later, Rydia." He vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving her behind.

She sighed, folding her arms;. images of Kain and Edge appeared in her head. Rydia's anger and yet sorrow rose at the sight of Kain. No more, she thought as she left the courtyard.


"So, how did it go?" Cecil asked, patting Kain on the shoulder in Cecil's throne room. "I saw Rydia and you on the battlements, talking. Did she forgive you?"

Kain shook his head slowly. "I've shamed the dragoons by harming her. Just like when I broke Rosa's heart." The dragoon sighed, removing his helmet. "Demote me, Cecil. It's only for the best."

He's being a fool... Cecil thought, rolling his eyes. "Kain, no. I will not demote you over a personal breakdown. Try to relax. I know I was angry at you before, but... I'm surprised Rydia didn't forgive you."

"It's because she thinks I see her as a second chance... next to Rosa," Kain said. "As if... as if... I didn't truly care for her." Cecil saw Kain wipe his own eyes.

"I see," Cecil said with a frown. "Do you feel that way about her?"

"No," Kain responded shaking his head. He walked over to a pillar and slammed his fist into it. "No... I do not. But what chance do I have?"

"I think you still have one, my friend," Cecil said, walking over to Kain, feeling sympathy for him. "Just work a little at a time to regain her attention and perhaps, she'll soften toward you."

"While all the while Edge would be getting an advantage over me." Kain said with a sigh. "I suppose he really is the only one for her."

"Kain... you're making me dizzy."

"Eh?" He looked up at Cecil.

"You're not the Kain I know," Cecil said to him, folding his arms. "The Kain I know wouldn't give up, not cry over himself. The Kain I know would have confidence that he could win the heart back of the woman he loved. You still tried when Rosa was in love with me, remember? You never gave up, and it didn't bother her one bit."

Kain stared at Cecil, his expression thoughtful. "You're... right. I'm being weak, even though I am not." He smiled at his friend. "Thank you, Cecil. I will try again."


Rydia had retired to her room; still feeling depressed about the entire situation. She hadn't seen Rosa yet because she was pondering what happened. Why...? She knew why Kain and Edge fought each other; they both wanted her. Thank goodness they didn't use their weapons... if they had... She shuddered, not wanting to even think about it.

There was a knock on the door. Rydia paused, and frowned. If it's one of them, she thought with a sour frown. There was another knock, and she sighed, and called, "who is it?"

"It's yer uncle Cid!" a gruff voice said from behind the door. "Don't tell me yer angry at me, too, Rydia!" She heard a chuckle, which caused her to smile.

Rydia stood up, walked up to the door and opened it. She smiled meekly at the fleetmaster. "Hello, I thought you were Edge or Kain, sorry," she said.

"Eh, it's okay," Cid said, grinning. "I thought I'd help you out."

"Thank you," Rydia said, nodding. "I'll come outside with you."

"Sure thing," Cid said.

"One second," she said. She went back into her room, and grabbed her lesson plans. Ironically—or perhaps not ironic at all—she hadn't touched them all day. "All right, I'm ready. What did you want to talk about?" she asked, closing the door behind her and entering the corridor.

"Jus' wanted to cheer ya up," he said. He patted Rydia's back. "Everyone's concerned about ya, Rydia. It ain't jus' Edge and Kain. Cecil, Rosa, even some of the soldiers are bothered."

She raised a brow. "Really? Even the soldiers? Why would they care?"

"Well, it's Kain's men who are concerned," Cid corrected himself. "What's happened has dampened our dragoon's spirits. No, I'm not blamin' ya; they deserve what they got. I'm jus' letting you know yer not alone here."

Her eyes felt wet and she smiled at Cid. "Thank you," Rydia repeated. "You're a good man, Cid. Your wife was fortunate to have you."

"Aw, you're making me blush!" Cid teased. "Ya know how everyone says that anyone I meet becomes my friend? I think yer the same way, Rydia, though in a different way. That's what Kain and Edge see in ya."

"Though, I feel like Kain sees me as a 'second chance,' Rydia said, licking her lips. "He failed with Rosa, so he has to go with woman number two. And... that hurts."

"When did'ya think of that?" Cid asked.

"When he came to apologize to me. I knew he hadn't won Rosa's heart in the first place, but I didn't know—after what Rosa told me—how much he fell." Rydia sighed, taking in the fresh air; a different feeling from other castles. "He seems like he's looking for an easy way out."

"I don't believe it," Cid said. Rydia looked at him, curious. "Kain's always been sincere, even after his 'betrayals,' he was sincere in his promise to keep his mind, and even allowed Edge to kill him if he lost his mind again." He smiled at her. "A man like that is not fake. He's the real thing; give him another chance, Rydia."

Rydia felt stunned; she recalled the words on the Lunar Whale that Edge had said to Kain.

"And when he takes your mind again?"

"If that should happen, kill me without a second thought."

Kain... she thought. Rydia looked at the fleetmaster, still stunned. "You... really think so?"

"Of course! I've known Kain fer years!" Cid said. "I wouldn't lie to you about him."

She smiled at the fleetmaster. "You're right. I'll give Kain another chance," she said. Rydia recalled the time when Kain told her students about the fight with Zeromus. Telling the story in his own words had given the power to Milina to summon. He really deserves... a second chance.

"You look like ya feel better now, Rydia," Cid noted.

Rydia turned to him and embraced him. "Yes, I am. Thank you," she whispered before letting go of Cid.

"It's no problem, I'm always willing to help out my 'niece,'" he said with a broad smile.


Rosa hadn't expected Rydia to meet with her a second time. However, she seemed happier this visit, her face was beaming again as she talked to Rosa about what Cid had told her.

"I see, I see," Rosa said when Rydia finished. "You're going to give Kain another chance? Well, well, I didn't expect that after what I told you yesterday." Rosa smiled. "But I'm glad you are. Kain's a good man, he needs someone with him."

"Wait, Rosa!" Rydia said. "You're acting like I love him! I don't... I'm just giving him one last chance to see if he can capture my heart."

"I think your feelings for him are deeper than you think," Rosa said, smiling. "He helped you with your summoning class, right? One of your students summoned a chocobo because of him."

Rydia felt stunned again, just like when Cid was talking to her. That's right... Milina... would she had ever been able to summon without Kain's story? She bit her lip. "I... I need to go talk to Kain, Rosa."

"As you wish," she said. The white mage embraced Rydia, and said, "don't worry, dear. Everything will work out in the end. Your heart will heal."

Rydia nodded and then let go of her. She smiled and then ran off. I've got to find Kain.


Kain was overlooking the courtyard; it had been a few hours since he spoke to Cecil. His heart still depressed, yet determined. He would regain the confidence he had lost. But how? he wondered. I need to figure this out.


He spun around to see Rydia standing a few feet from him; her face was much softer than when he last saw her. Kain did his best to appear confident. "Rydia? What is it?" he asked.

"I finally found you," Rydia said, she smiled slightly. "Kain... I want to let you know that... I..." She blushed and approached him. "I forgive you, and I'm sorry for being so cruel." She embraced him tightly to his surprise. "I'm really sorry."

"You don't need to apologize," Kain started.

"Yes, I do!" Rydia protested. "I was cruel to you... when your heart was sincere. I forgive you for everything, just please don't do anything like that brawl again." She locked her eyes with his. "Promise me."

"I promise, and I... accept your apology," he said.

Kain realized how close he was to Rydia. His heart pounded quickly. Kiss her... a thought came into his mind. What? No! I should give her some time- Then the thought came again. Kiss her.

"Rydia... forgive me one last time," Kain said. He moved his lips close to hers and kissed softly. He felt a slight jump from the summoner, and she pulled away, blushing and smiling.

"Why did you kiss me, Kain?" she asked, blinking.

"I... felt like it was appropriate," he said to her. "Did you...?"

"No, it's all right," Rydia said, shaking her head, still blushing. "I forgive you, Kain. I have to go home to Mist tomorrow, so... I... umm... I hope you'll come and visit, all right?"

Kain nodded at her. "I will. I promise."