The Umbrella

by Suzume ^-^ (September 4, 2002)

They call it the City of Eternal Rain...sounds awfully depressing to me. I could tell I was approaching Burmecia by the dark clouds that hungs above it in the sky. It had been an annoyingly long walk. I think all the free rides on the Invincible were making me go soft. The exercise would do me good Lani told me. And not a scenic trip either. Ugly country out here. Not much to see, just monsters. The monsters aren't even strong enough to provide a real threat. They're the one hit KO kind. What I'd give to go fight with my pals again...ah great. I'm not only going off topic I'm getting all sappy and sentimental, this is not like me. ...It's disgusting... Upon arriving in Burmecia I almost immediately ran into Sir Fratley, actually that scrawny little man ran smack into me. He apologized quite sincerely, but it didn't really matter to me. I mean, he fell down after he hit me, I didn't budge an inch. Freya really has some work ahead of her to take care of that puny guy. No wonder he lost his memory somewhere while he was traveling, he probably fell and hit his head.

"Sir Amarant, it's been a quite a while since last I saw you. Was it in Lindblum?"

I tried not to smile, quaint little man, he called me "Sir Amarant," now that was new.

"Yeah, I think so. How've you been? How's your memory?"

I was also trying to be as polite as possible. Although I couldn't let on that I liked him I knew it was not a wise idea upset the Burmecian warrior.

"I've been quite well, thank you, as has Freya. My memory is still a mystery to me, but for her sake I try."

"Where is Freya? I came here to visit her."

"Out by the castle supervising some work on the roof. She'll be most pleased to see you. She talks about you more than you would expect Sir Amarant. Now I must take my leave, I have work to attend to." He bowed slightly and scurried away.

I felt my nose twitch, it was raining of course. I'll never understand how those rats can enjoy the constant rain. I think if I were to stay there for longer than a week I'd catch pneumonia. I always forgot to bring an umbrella everytime I went. I never get sick, not unless I go to Burmecia. I walked along the stone path, the last time I had trod this trail it had been rubble covered and I'd had to gingerly pick my way along, now I could walk quickly without having to watch my feet. The improvements since my last visit were incredible. It actually looked like people were living here again. Of course I had nothing to base my observations on, I had never been to Burmecia before its destruction and therefore had no idea what the city looked like during its brightest days, no, that's not quite the term for speaking about this city is it...

"Amarant!"

I was startled by the sudden cry. I looked around trying to find Freya, no one else here would call to me like that. I could not see her anywhere, but when I turned back around she was standing directly in front of me.

"F-freya!" I stuttered.

"Amarant you moron, where've you been? I haven't seen you in ages!"

I blinked after "you moron" I thought she was going to hit me. Has she gotten gentler or do I not remember her right?

"Just around, you know. I came to check up on my favorite rat chick."

She lifted her nose in disgust, "So that's all I am; your favorite 'rat chick.'"

"F-freya, it's not like that...we're pals!"

After that I sneezed loudly right in her face. Freya raised her eyebrows slightly, and watched me shiver for a moment before she said, "Do you want to come inside? I don't think the weather agrees with you."

I let my pride take a fall momentarily and nodded. Freya took my hand and led me to a small, cozy-looking house. Although I had never been there before I soon would come to know and love the place.

"Welcome to my home, make yourself comfortable," Freya murmured, blushing pomegranate red. I strode inside, making sure to take off my muddy boots and leave them in the doorway. Freya opened a cupboard and tossed me a thick green blanket, "I can't let you catch cold on me while you're my guest Amarant." I shrugged, catching cold might not be so bad if she would take care of me and not send me back to recover with Lani.

The tall woman scuttled around the house anxiously, possibly trying to make the place look neat. I wondered if Fratley lived here with her, on my next visit I discovered that that was true. I find Sir Fratley to be a chivalrous man who makes good company, but I will never think he is good enough for Freya. Perhaps I'm a bit jealous. I wouldn't know...I've never been very in touch with my feelings.

"Amarant, would you like a cup of tea?"

I'm not quite the type to drink tea. It seems somewhat...shall we say, "un-manly?" However, when I'm with Freya I do strange things so I answered, "Yes please, that sounds good." Sometimes I wonder what's wrong with me...

I watched her in the kitchen. She couldn't find the tea kettle at first, but it turned out Fratley just hadn't put it back in the right spot. The tea was better than I had expected it would be. I sipped it quietly while she told me about how the reconstruction effort was coming along. Despite myself I found that I was rather impressed with what they had done in a few months of hard work. It had taken both Lindblum and Alexandria much longer to come this far in their rebuilding processes. As she finished speaking she began to stare softly at my face. It made me feel anxious. I hoped I wasn't blushing.

"Um, Freya, remember that time in the Fire Shrine?"

She blinked, bringing her mind out of whatever daydream my face had inspired, "What about it?"

"Do you know why I looked out for you there?" She wrinkled her nose thoughtfully, "I don't want to give an incorrect answer Amarant. Why don't you tell me." Freya has always been too good at that. She squeezes out of awkward situations without a scratch leaving you in between the rocks and the tiger of your own creation.

"Because I care about you Freya."

She smiled and laughed, "Thanks for your concern, o flaming one. ...it seems like a such a long time ago that we did all that. I was always so worried over what would happen to the world. I wish I could have been more like Quina and enjoyed myself more for being with you all was most likely the best thing that ever happened to me."

"If I had to do it all over again I would start by being friendlier."

"You? Friendly? Amarant, is that true?" Her eyes sparkled. I couldn't tell what made them do that though.

"Only a little friendly," I replied gruffly. She burst out laughing and trying to control herself put her head down on the table, "That is very you, Amarant." I felt myself sweating a bit. This was not supposed to make me feel like this!

"Well, I can't stay any longer... Got to get back to warmer climes, my rat chick." I folded the blanket over the back of my chair, stood up, and began to pull on my boots. Freya watched silently as I did so. I opened the door and stepped out into the rain closing it behind me. I promptly sneezed loudly. Not only was the rain making me ill, it was making my hair look ridiculous. I began to walk towards the city gate on my way back to Lindblum, but was stopped by Freya who had come running after me. She was holding a viridian umbrella.

"Take this," she said and held the umbrella out to me.

I looked at her curiously, "Why does a Burmecian have an umbrella?"

She beamed gently, "I was saving it for you...because I know you hate getting your hair wet."

"I'll be back Freya."

"Of course you will."

~owari~