To Stand Alone

By Athana Soulfire

Notes: Okay... I wrote this Fanfiction because I felt, for some odd reason, I needed to explore Rose's character. Let's face it- she kicks serious ass... but I know that to lead a life such as she has- your going to have some issues. I dunno what this fic should be.. a power for living kind of thing? A realize your not alone kind of thing? Either away- I think the theme should be clear by the end- and even then if you end up confused; that's okay. In an odd way, it works with the story.

Let me also say, that of all my fanfictions, I would really appreciate feedback for this one. It was, as odd as this may seem, incredibly hard to write. I'm dealing with Rose- a strong, able, but harsh woman... and Albert- who is far kinder and more understanding. Making their personalities conflict in a way that is both believable and not entirely out of bounds was a hell of a thing to try... and let me comment further in this area...

Rose is whom the fic centers around. Albert- is my medium. The one who carries the plot. Why him? Why not any of the others? It was, seriously, a process of elimination. My first choice was Dart- but I didn't want the *Zeig Factor* a part of this fic. My second thought was Haschel... but then- I'm not going for that *elder to elder* type of thing either. I considered Meru as well... but then your talking about a HUGE personality crunch.. And it were just to hard. Shana I simply did not want to do. And.. Really now... Kongol? Miranda? hell no. Albert's personality conflicts with Rose's own in *just* the right fashion. Still, even with the chars picked, I know I have to make Rose seem a little vulnerable. Hell- both of them have to seem that way... AHAHHHHHHH!!!!! gawd.. It's crazy!!!

oh yeah- Marius is of my creation! He's not in the game or anything!

Lastly, and I mention this due to a previous comment a friend made (She picked it up right in the middle of the story...) DO NOT THINK I am AT ALL trying to pair these two up, okay? Yes everyone- a male CAN express concern for a female without it leading to romantic involvement- and vise versa. Albert and Rose would be like.. I dunno- Kongol and Shana!? So please drain yourselves of that notion or I will be forced to hit you with a pool floaty! Besides- everyone knows that Rose and Lloyd are the perfect couple- and Albert belongs to me. *Cough* or.. er... Emily.

*coughs* Now, seeing as how I have just revised this story (it had some MAJOR mistakes...) I gotta comment on the above a moment. Eh heh. Most people here in the LOD community now know that Rose and Albert have become my favorite couple after Rose/Lloyd. It honestly happened... sometime after writing this fic. *_* So kick me if you'd like... but I can't help it. I only mention this because, as many people now DO know I support those too- I still DONT want you to view this story as any sort of romance. That is NOT what it is meant to be, okay? Friendship people. FRIENDSHIP!!!!! Due to more then a few wondering emails, I decided to try and clarify the nature of Rose and Albert's relationship in this fic right here. Kay? Kay!



And I don't want the world to see me.
Cause' I don't think that they'll understand...
When everything's made to be broken;
I just want you to know who I am.
Goo Goo dolls


Dedicated to Rose- because she's a kick ass character that has only one weakness- herself.

And also dedicated in part to Aria- because like it or not girl- I'm always gonna' be there for you.


Wearily, her eyes followed the steady dribble of crimson that crept slowly across her pale- moon touched flesh. Like wax, the blood flowed downwards. Gravity lulled it further, and then a smooth droplet that had begun to build spilt quietly over her palm and fell silent to the floor. Rose wondered, briefly, if this could be considered morbid. To watch one's own blood fall carelessly over the deck below her feet like red petal tears.

Then again, she wouldn't have cared much anyway.

Being towards midnight, all was quiet save for the hammering steel pistons that echoed from the bowels of the Queen Fury. Beneath her feet- planted firmly into the oak and steel of the crows nest- she could feel it's power driving the ship onwards. Steering it easily through the pitch black waters that surrounded her. The night was an even darker thing. Looming, ominous, and unexplored. Only the floodlights on deck would dare to cut through it's cold veil.

Even then, the glow was minimal, faint, and sickly.

Rose turned her hand over once or twice, ignoring the wind that lifted and danced with a length of raven colored hair. The slight scratch that had entranced her before continued to let blood seep into the left cuff of her attire, but now she paid it no mind. Nights like these, high above the sleeping populants of a ship destined to an unknown future... it was easy for one such as she to let even the most bold of thoughts slip away. The cold night air blew harshly against her face, but it was a welcome difference from the sweltering heat of battle that was her life and quest. Rose could even learn to need it; This formidable solitude. Away from the dragoons, her past, and the imminent future.


And The word was such a stupid thing. Said so easily despite all it could mean and hold. As if to whisper "War." When with war you must then add death, hate, violence, pain, sadness and destruction... Could it even end, really? When each word further then told a story of it's own? And with each story lay another jumble of thoughts and feelings that had, at one point, been existence?

Rose closed her eyes and leaned quietly against the hard metal framework of the railing that surrounded her perch. What might it be like? To be free of her own mind? The vile thing was overflowing with memories of here, then, and now. If only once there could be nothing, and no one.

Not even her last image of Zeig, straining to let his voice gather and scream her away. Telling her to run. To fly. To forget and to escape.

~I'm sorry...~

Instantly crushing those thoughts, she opened her eyes then, and breathed deeply the scent of sea and air. Soon- and they would arrive. Soon- and the battles would begin again. The last time, was this? The last stand? Fate indeed. How exactly had that old saying gone... We are free to sever the chains of fate that bind us?

"But at what cost, Soa... at what price may we finally escape you?"

Rose hadn't even realized she'd spoken aloud until the echo of her words lay consumed within the darkness. Silence once again reined over both ship and the vast black ocean. A thick silence- until one single voice stole into it's fabric.

"You ask a question man is not at liberty to answer, Rose..."

Startled- was she? Rose felt her figure tense at the sound, and with a small tilt of her head she regarded the tones behind her. Male- for one. Her mind skimmed names and images furiously. Placement to placement, she instantly recalled the bearer of whose voice was heard and relaxed.

"Albert..." A pause. "Interesting. I thought you'd be asleep." The tilt of her head became a swivel, and two cold eyes lay somewhat wary over the figure which stood behind her. "Something you needed?"

The king of Serdio stood silently away from her, at the other side of the crow's nest. Two long arms were draped over one another against the cold; leaning over the railing much as she was now. He didn't turn to look at her. Only lowered his head from it's gaze amongst the black above before slightly moving it to regard her.

"No. But thank you... I'm sorry if I startled-"

Rose cut him off, frank and somber in tone. "You didn't." She turned back around- eyes again drifting to the void beyond her vision. "Do you make a habit of so quietly coming upon others?"

Albert remained silent a moment. "I'm sorry for the intrusion, but I hadn't wanted to disturb you..."

Rose nodded her head once.

And so went a few minutes void of sound other then the slight wavering fabric of Albert's cape. Rose was slightly surprised she hadn't noticed the soft rustle of heavy cloth beforehand, but the night was windy and the steady beat of air drummed along her ears like a distant flute. Her chin tilted to it's song just as a previous sentence invaded her thoughts.

~You ask a question man is not at liberty to answer.~

Rose almost felt some insane need to chuckle. She had, hadn't she? Luckily for her, the deep tones of her voice were not accustomed to any form of laughter. She settled, then, for another notion that was perhaps just as ins ane as the first.

"Your right, you know..." Her voice began. Startling her nearly, as she was one who far preferred the company of silence over someone that might actually hear her. What was this? Her starting a potential conversation? Potential indeed... You couldn't get Albert to shut up if god forbid you were brave enough to speak to him in the first place. Her brow twitched, remembering he and that psychotic plant man back in Tiberoa... They really *had* spoken until morning, hadn't they?

Her surprise was mundane, but definitely present, when the figure behind her did not answer in any fashion. It was curiosity alone that drove her to look away from the sea; and she blinked in slight confusion- glaring back at him over one shoulder. Perhaps he hadn't heard?

Rose went back to her study of an indefinable horizon. It really shouldn't matter anyway, seeing as how she was not the figure of social interaction in the least. Somehow, a touch of irritation seeped into her mind. The dark dragoon found her brow beginning to furrow with one smooth thought.

~Marius. He reminds me of Marius...~

Rose jolted herself straight, mouth slightly agape at the name. Amazing what thoughts these past few days had brought. More then she might ever had grasped in all those long years of before. Marius- dear gods. She hadn't thought of him in over... well...

She couldn't even remember.

With an elegant toss of her black hair, Rose yet again found herself turning to face the figure behind her. Quietly done, as what would Albert think of her seeming to take an interest in anything? Especially that of another person. With a heavy mind her eyes took to working. To summon the memory, when these days it seemed she was only trying to forget.

He had his features... was that it? Slightly childlike? Or perhaps the frame? Eyes? Hair? Or then maybe it was these combined with the oddity. Silence.

Marius had been a quiet man.

And yet...


"Rose! damn you- Stop! LISTEN to me!"

Two heavy hands grasped her shoulders.
She fought- and he struck.
A searing pain.
Another hard shake.

"Goddamned BASTARD!" Rose managed to scream. Her body contorted in agony- tears streaming as she raced for the amber lit doors ahead.

He caught her.
Threw her backwards.
Her anger became pure fury.

"MARIUS! I will NOT leave him to die! Let me go! The curses upon you!"

Hate flared.
She Attacked.

"Rose, YOU will die! Is this what Zeig would have wanted? The madwoman he had loved, throwing her life away!??!!"

More tears.

"No! Damn the hells- he lives! I swear this, Marius! I SWEAR THIS!!!"

She collapsed near the door as they fought.
Dragons crying.

"Zeig is DEAD, child! May the goddess help him- but I will not see you in his grave by fault of mere stupidity!" And he held her tightly. Ignored the pain of her blows. Kept her within the temple as fire rained down...

The war was over.
It was done.
They had won.

Rose would have died, had she left.
Marius knew...


And then, she was alone.


Rose came back to herself, the fragments of long forgotten memories finally content to drip back into the solitude from whence they came. With their absence she was left shaken. Hating the feeling. Hating herself for allowing it.

Only memories. Only goddamned memories she wished she could destroy.

~Please... just leave me alone.~

And Rose felt herself, very suddenly, stumbling forwards as a wave of dizziness consumed her. A reeling of her mind... as if she had kept those thoughts- one of a plenty million- away for so long that they now threatened to tear her apart.

Just another of millions...

Absolute millions.

It was with an odd sort of panic then, caught between the crow's nest railing and the starless sky, that she felt a hand clamp over her shoulder. It pulled her back, steadied her until the swarming images passed. She might have been thankful for it... for the voice that urgently implored her...

"Rose- Rose, What's wrong!?"

Was that Albert?

It wouldn't have mattered, because she heard only the other sound. That which denied her a solemn wish. Denied her Zeig? Denied her fate? And she couldn't understand, at that moment, that her thoughts were tossed in pain. She only understood it's release, and a pure, violent anger.


And she growled the next sentence.

"Why couldn't you have just let me DIE!?!?"

Her fist coiled- struck. As if the sudden memory was present in this very existence. The anger that had fueled her then was gone quickly as it had come. The confusion remained. Rose turned sharply, not quite realizing she had been released- and then a flash of wind and sea water tore her eyes open to see the deck she was soon to meet. Her body pressed over the railing.

And the hand came back- strong as before- and snatched her away before a fall could be completed.

A silence.

Had she... nearly died?

Rose felt the twisting of her thoughts begin to subside as, in the moments after, shaking knees accepted a quick decent, and she lay hunched over the deck of steel and oak. She coughed- gathering herself into coherency.


The same voice from before, only slightly quieter and a bit pained.



"Albert..." She said, closing her eyes to reopen them a second later. The dark of her pupils contracted a moment, struck by the floodlights from far below. A silence, and she felt her vision adapt. Another and she could see easily the man before her, crouched carefully at her side. Rose recognized the light green and brown of his attire. The sage cape. She did not, however, remember a split bottom lip adorning his face beforehand.

The realization of what had occurred struck her instantly. She struggled to stand.

"My god- I..." Rose shook her head, cursing herself for the loss of control. The absurdity of it, and the crack in her expression of able stone. Through a veil of hoarse anger and a still clouded mind she echoed a quiet. "I'm sorry..."

Albert just shook his head. "No- it's fine. Here-" And he reached a hand down to her wrist, pulling Rose from the cold ground. "Are you alright? What happened? Rose- you almost fell!"

She briefly took note of the fall that had, moments before, nearly occurred. Rose blinked twice- running her eyes over the railing to the ship below. The cables, wires... an officer strolling underneath the lookout. Hells...

"I'm fine- it was nothing." She stood fully now, extracting her hand from his shoulder despite the need for balance that was, if anything, much less then imperfect. Rose felt her spine grow rigid as her body fought for it's lost defiance, but her feet grew more and more solid underneath her with each passing moment.

"I don't believe a word of that..." Albert continued, smearing a bit of blood back onto his sleeve and then wincing in discomfort. He backed up slightly to the mast; looking down the ladder and it's lead onto the bridge. Afterwards, he then turned towards Rose and reached out one gloved hand.

"You should go to the Infirmary."

Rose might have growled. She looked at him, to the ladder, and then again at his concerned hazel eyes.

"I have no need of medical assistance."

"Rose-" Albert began.

"You know, frankly, this isn't any of your business in the first place. Back off."

The words were so blunt, and so hostile, Rose found herself shocked as they spat from her mouth. She didn't... mean it that way. She didn't even know she'd thought it until the sentence echoed past her lips. That anger again, had it come from within? God- why all of a sudden? What was wrong with her?

Albert, in anycase, didn't move away or drop the subject as she might have expected. He was surprised, yes- but Rose found herself much of the same when he narrowed his eyes in an uncharacteristic gesture of irritation, laced with something she couldn't quite understand.

"And *frankly* considering that you shouted a name out of the clear blue, and stumbled nearly to your death after punching me, I believe you should reconsider."

Rose glared at him long and hard... probably more out of confusion then real annoyance. She and Albert were not two who socialized often- if at all. She spoke to him when needed, and if needed. In fact, what she knew of his majesty was based strictly from observation... He was lighthearted, kind to a fault. Not exactly the warrior, but capable nevertheless. Odd to see this flickering impression of anger over one that seemed immune to such emotion other then the occasional glimpses of sadness or melancholy.

"Only a handful of the crewmen are awake at this hour..." Albert said, folding his arms with the classic grace of habit. His eyes had lightened, although still Rose could identify that oddity- the misplaced undertone she had never see before.

"If you go now, no one will know. But your bleeding-" Albert gingerly motioned to her arm, watching as Rose looked to a fresh wound in mild shock. "It should be stopped, or your going to have a mess of concerned dragoons mumbling over your appearance tomorrow. I know you wouldn't want that. A fuss, I mean. Over you."

Rose shot a glance at him before once more looking over her torn limb. Apparently, in her stumble at the railing, one of the security hooks had taken a liking to the soft give of her left arm and it's cloth. The flesh was split, although not deeply, and would need some sort of attention. Funny... she hadn't even felt the pain.


"I suppose you should accompany me, then." Rose began, watching him carefully. Albert had the grace to look confused a moment before she gestured to her mouth, and then smiled almost wryly as he mimicked her with a start of realization.

"Oh..." he brought his hand away, still laced with the blood she had drawn. "That."

"Yes. That." Rose flipped a stream of hair along one shoulder and then directed her attention to the ladder- quickly beginning a decent to the decks below.

Albert watched after her a moment, and then followed.


The infirmary was a ludicrous little room- far past the bridge, aft quarter halls and a few floors down from there. God forbid the ship ever saw some sort of catastrophe... where would all the injured be placed? And how would they even find the damned thing, buried away under decks of iron and winding passageways?

In anycase, Rose was thankful for Albert's presence. It really wasn't surprising that he knew exactly where to go and how to go about getting there. (He and captain Puler had gone over the ships blueprints earlier that day.) Past the aft bulkhead, the stewards room... that annoying little chamber in which the cook would scurry to and fro... They walked silently and quickly down the narrow halls.

Well, at the least her company wasn't stupid. He'd been smart enough to keep his mouth shut for the most part. Occasional exceptions being a "left" or "right" As they navigated the dim ship. Rose was nearly feeling a hint of rare claustrophobia... but perhaps it was really just her damaged arm, which was gathering the nerve to begin a steady, painful throb.

"Here." Albert said- an odd sound over the drumming machinery that echoed just below. Rose jerked her head to the right where he then gestured and found herself glaring at a dull blue door. On and off blinked an irritating white light; caged behind wire just above the worn frame. Below was a tiny stenciled band of red lettering that read INFIRMARY as if the stupid thing wasn't hard enough to find in the first place.

She gave a rough snort, and pushed into the doorway; hinges rattling in her wake. Albert just blinked, ducked a stray metal pipe, and entered after her.

Thank god... no doctor. Rose greatly disliked doctors. All that met her vision was a row of stark medical beds and a similar row of cabinets mounted over the wall ahead of them. A few trays... a few oddball utensils. One giant microscope that seemed entirely out of place. And then there was two conjoined sinks- white like the room and the beds and the walls. The damned place looked so cold...

A sharp click brought her observations to an end. Rose turned stiffly, watching in a detached manner as Albert opened one of the cabinets and studied it's contents for a moment. A second later- and he nodded his head in some form of approval before removing a small wrap bandage and bottle of antiseptic. These- he handed to her.

Bah- what Rose wouldn't give for just a damned potion. Shana and Meru held on to the most of their supplies... and she wasn't about to subject herself to their attentions. Unfortunately, Albert wasn't one to carry healing items either.

"You may need another type of cloth for the wound. So it won't stick, I mean. There are two others that-" And Albert raised a brow as she cut him off with a hiss and took the items.

"I've only been handling myself for eleven thousand years or so. Believe me- I know what I do and don't need."

Albert breathed a sigh and watched as Rose took to the other side of the room; seating herself upon one of the medical tables and then quickly going about her injury. She opened the bottle of antiseptic, plastered her wound in it's liquid with no more then the slightest wince, and after removing a bit of her sleeve- split the gash with her fingers to study the rip.

"Aren't there scissors in that damned drawer?"

Albert looked. Nodded.

"Toss them over here."

Rose couldn't help her exasperation as he handed them to her -handle first- with an almost parental frown.

"Your pathetic."

"I'm careful."


Albert wandered back to the open drawer, extracting then a small cotton before returning to where Rose now grimaced freely. The Dark Dragoon was cutting away a small piece of jagged flesh that hung limply against her arm. He stilled, brows furrowing. Rose shot her eyes in his direction.

"Don't tell me I'm upsetting your stomach..." and she cut away the skin completely.

Albert shook his head. "Only my mind, perhaps. You go about this in to familiar a manner..." And he sat down across from her, applying a small amount of antiseptic to the cotton, and then pressing it against the slight swell over his mouth.

Rose blinked. "After a while, you get used to such irritations..." Her right hand reached for the bandage, which she began to unwind quickly from the neatly packaged roll. "Your going to need ice on-"

"I may not have your eleven thousand years worth of experience-" Albert interrupted, a hint of amusement flickering over his features. "But I do know how to tend a split lip."

It was her turn to sigh. Rose jerked the bandage tight over her arm and glared at him with forced hostility. "Don't get smart with me..."

"Wouldn't dream of it..."

Rose studied him a moment, watching the sage cape flutter as Albert rose and once again paced across the room. He placed the antiseptic and what was left of the wrap back into the drawer, closed it, and then moved slightly to the left where another cabinet was mounted over the wall. Click and snap- he'd found an ice pack easily enough.

Brief silence.

"You know..." And Rose was surprised to find herself speaking. "We're going to need a explanation of some sort."

Albert turned- raised a brow. What was with him and that habit?

"Your mouth." She gestured to her own. "I can hide my arm easily enough- but what about that lip? I get the distinct feeling your not about to go telling the rest of our company you were decked by a bout of insanity on my part..."

Albert just nodded. "True... I suppose I could have simply fell, right? And god knows how easy it is to just stroll into one of the pipes on these lower decks..." He turned his attention to the single microscope present; absently toying with it's components in a sudden run of curiosity. "I think I'm clumsy enough to go and do something of that sort, don't you?"

Rose grinned, and then instantly wiped the expression from her face. "For once, we agree. And here I was hoping your terribly irritating persona had been floored by one of the stewards..."

Albert twitched his mouth and glared at her with a smile. "To unbelievable... unless it's custom to *floor* royalty this part of Endiness."

Again, she felt that uncharacteristic urge pull at the corners of her mouth. Goddamnit- the fool was getting the best of her, was he? Rose supposed it wasn't such a horror, really... but it felt abnormal. To laugh and smile.

"You should probably get some sleep." Rose heard herself say. "We'll be arriving tomorrow afternoon." And she pushed herself from the medical bed, shaking her arm once to renew the circulation within.

"I suppose telling you the same would be futile, yes?"


Albert nodded once, expectantly, and then his brows narrowed to the thin line of worry she had seen before. To see it genuine, and on a person of all living creatures, was perhaps odd as the silence beforehand that had first started her mind to memory.

"Then you'll be returning to the crow's nest." He said. Similar to the nod- there was expectancy again in his tone.

"You don't know that." Rose turned slightly.

"But you will."

Black raven hair fell into her vision, forcing Rose to blink away it's fine strands like murky streams of water. Her head tilted thoughtfully, as if it was a statement that demanded a sharp retort or angry sentence.

"Wasn't it that sort of concern that got you decked in the first place?

"It wouldn't matter either way, Rose. I'm your friend."

Her look then, turning sharply in his direction, was answered with a calm addition to the previous sentence. Albert crossed his arms, leaning back just slightly.

"-Whether you like it or not."

It was with the oddest of feelings to discover herself watching him then; hand poised at the door and injured arm limp. Albert too regarded her with that exact measure of confusion and inquiry she felt in her own gaze. Like a practice- or effort. Or... or something so foreign it seemed native.

~Don't act like I could ever learn...~

To love, to know, to trust...
To find the strength to believe in a friend.
To forget.
To live.


Ever again...

~because I let no one understand me.~

Albert looked to her as if he had heard every single word.

Rose felt somehow uneasy. As if wasn't that she hadn't understood what he's said, it was that she found herself wanting to accept it. Swinging back around, Rose struggled with two concepts then. The first- to open the door and leave.


Or stay and try to make him believe she didn't care that he had somehow scathed a very solid stone. As if despite all she considered false- his voice didn't ring of it. Sincerity? And just what was it he had said that were so sincere? What was it, about him, that truly had revived her memories of the long dead Marius? Why him? Why then?

~God no- don't think of that again...~

Why should it have even mattered?

And then, very suddenly, she felt an anger rise within her chest. As if the absurdity of the entire night would cause her to do something just as utterly vain. Perhaps even understandable- for a person who now found herself searching for some form of answer.

"Why were you there?!" Rose nearly shouted- and her voice lowered instantly as if cut over a sharp wire. "Above, over the crows nest!?"

The question took him completely off guard, and Albert winced, thrown back by her supreme glare as if it was a type of accusation. Rose felt herself thankful to push him away... to keep him from...

~From what? Keep him from what? Keep any of them from... what!?~

Albert didn't answer, only looked away... and then asked her a question of his own that was blunt- but not hostile. His gaze was almost... sad. A toss of light brown fell over his left eye.

"Who is Marius?"

~No... don't you dare...~ She jumped the question and flung it aside in a near panic.

"Answer me first." Rose demanded. The ludicrous part of this entire scenario was that she had no reason to question his presence in the first place. He was not an enemy. He was not there to harm her or any of the others. And yet here she stood, fists clenched and jaw firm, as if that very question could somehow solve her own suffering.

~I don't suffer. I survive.~
But then why am I lying?

Albert just glared at her. "Why!? How does it pertain to anything that-" Rose cut him off, throwing her good arm in the air violently.

"Albert- just ANSWER me!!"

It came back to his face. What she had seen before; the undertone of *something* that she couldn't identify or understand. This time, she was the one that winced in surprise as he stalked forwards in exasperation. Whatever mutual pleasant air had surrounded them before was most definitely now gone.

Not as if she had ever been one to back off. Albert wasn't the one making her uncomfortable now. She could control this.

Her gaze lifted to his height. "Why can't you just say it?!"

The Serdian let an almost cruel smile adorn his face. "Why can't you? it's the same, isn't it?! For both of us!? All the goddamned stupid things your never supposed to give in to... those that manage to haunt whatever perfect part of life you think you've finally worked out!? Why can't *YOU* say it, Rose!? What can't you tell Dart, Haschel or Shana- ANY of us!?"

She stood, shocked.

"Why-" And he broke off, stepping away in a sort of frustration. "Why should it even matter...?"

Her words...

And somehow- that was it. Rose could not understand what she had seen in him before- because it was a reflection. Her own goddamned reflection.

He helped me.
Because it was necessary-
and I hate him.
Because I can see.
It is what I don't want to know.
Because I can overcome it.
And still...

It was pain.

It was Marius who had once told her they were so different, they were alike. She remembered it now; like a broken piece of glass.

With a deep breath, Rose felt her old self trying to defy the realization. She gripped her strong facade and glared it into the man across from her for whom she refused to recognize the same.

"I don't... know what your saying!" And her voice was strong, rough and angry. Like it was supposed to be. How she had always known it. "You actually have the *nerve* to think I-" But Albert swung back around to interrupt her.

"Just stop it." And he looked at her in part disbelief, and part sorrow. "And I'm not speaking of Marius, long dead as my ancestor is now. I'm speaking about you. What you try to hide. If you never let anyone within, Rose..." He closed his eyes and let that last bit of tension slip away. "It's going to kill you, just like it nearly did me.

Rose felt herself slipping as he continued.

"And frankly- I don't care how long you've lived or what you know. It will always be the same. End the same." Albert brushed his hair back and lowered his eyes. "I was above tonight because I needed to be alone. At the very least I knew you needed the same thing... so in some way it would be alright."

The dark dragoon stared at him, at a loss for completely... Everything. This stupid, incompetent, ignorant king had... and she took her thoughts back, because they did not apply. All Albert had done was understand.

But then how...

Could it hurt this much?


Rose cried out. Her sword swung.

A sound- like flesh.

"Marius!" And she cried out his name as if to destroy him with it.
He did not fight back.
A cry.

His... son?

"If this is what shall calm your spirit Rose, then take my life. If this is what you believe, then slay me."

And he had spoken so calmly as her sword lifted
And he did not close his eyes
And the three kingdoms of Endiness would never be told.

Kneeling in blood.
Her voice- lost in sobs.

It had been she.

Rose had slain one of her greatest companions.
Had killed the first blood of Serdio.

And he hadn't made a sound...


Very, very slowly, the faintest traces of light began to drift into the room. From the blackness that her eyes struggled to dispel, the world opened upon four white walls that gradually became more and more bright. Focused upon vision that swayed briefly amongst the thoughts of a still distant mind- Rose heard the voice of one spring loud in confusion.

~Where... am I?~

And it was then, perhaps, that the raven haired dragoon finally realized she was laying down; carefully strewn over one of the firm white medical tables. Her eyes blinked, remembering the Infirmary. And where vision served as a sort of placement for her thoughts- a disoriented mind took root of the situation and first alerted Rose to a prominent throb that beat throughout her head. Had she fallen?

At the moment, she wouldn't favor that idea. Despite the overwhelming urge to sleep, her shoulders attempted to lift- to sit upright and access this new discomfort. The numb muscles of her arms obliged, if however slowly, and helped to further the motion. Test the awkward pain.

hooo... bad idea.

Body falling limp as if struck, Rose abandoned the notion entirely as her fists clenched in frustration. The beat throughout her skull was looking to be quite the annoyance... With a sigh she let her mind wander- carefully stepping through what could be remembered in an attempt for explanation. The crows nest... that was a point that jumped immediately to mind. But then how...?

She stilled, and turned her head to find Albert sitting nearby with a sudden and fierce start of realization.

Her body shot upright...

And Rose literally moaned aloud.

Sinking back down onto the hard table, she let both hands fly to her temples in a futile attempt to coax away the pain. Albert just blinked. After a brief moment, he folded an open book in his lap and returned it to a nearby shelf; standing to begin across the cold floor.

"Good thing your awake... Any longer and I would have called for a doctor."

Rose grit her teeth. "No damned doctors!"

"I know. That's why I hadn't gone to fetch one as of yet."

He walked to her side, gently taking the left of her head and rolling it to the right as if to inspect an injury. To tired to bat him away, Rose just managed a gruff; "What happened?" and then closed her eyes against the throb that raced along the back of her skull.

"You fell; and have quite the nasty bump to show for it too." He pressed along the base of her neck. "Does this hurt?"

Rose growled.

"I suppose so...." And Albert released her, one thin gloved hand moving to a pouch at his waist. A moment later, and he came up with a small blue vile. "Here- Drink this down. I found a merchant up and wandering the decks about half an hour ago..."

Rose took the small container, this time far more careful in propping herself upright then before. Her hands traced the small, clear glass, and she blinked a moment as if in confusion.

"A... healing potion..." Her eyes narrowed. "How long was I out?"

Albert leaned back on his heals, brushing a strand of hair from his eyes. "J ust over two hours, now..."

Her mind whirled. "Two hours..." And Rose drank the bluish water, mouth twitching as the ice of it's liquid rolled down her throat. The taste wasn't at all pleasant- but then how could one expect a compound such as this, laced with the touches of white magic, to be delectable? In anycase, almost instantly she began to feel the throb within her head slowly leak away. A cold, numbing sensation took root over her injured arm.

Rose lowered her head, sat upright, and stared somewhat absently as threads of white healing began to stitch away her wound. In and out- around... through her skin without the slightest sound or feel; pulling the flesh together and closing the wound.

"It's fascinating in it's own way... isn't it?" and Albert retreated to the table beside her, seating himself as Rose watched the delicate twine.

She tilted her head, glancing at him. "hmmm..." And her head shook once. "It is. I suppose you don't really notice while in battle." She allowed herself to remove the bloodstained gauze- now finding no more then a thin line of red in the place of an open wound. This too- was rapidly fading.

Albert nodded softly. "No.. one wouldn't, would they? I'm afraid it scared the proverbial *hell* out of me the first time I required one. But then again, I was only 6 or so..."

Rose let the traces of an evil smirk adorn her face. "Or just a wuss..."

He smiled with a *hmph*

Rose was more then glad that the air of hostility between them had passed. Misplaced as it might have been- unsure as she'd felt before... her mind was very aware that another episode of similar substance wouldn't do her well. Not at all. With a slight, almost nonexistent sigh, She sat back against her arms- quiet. Albert leaned against the wall from his seat on the medical table; both wrists settled upon one knee that he'd drawn up towards his chest while the other stay on the floor below.

~He was right. You know he was right...~

Rose closed her eyes, and not for the first time that night- wished she could forget.

Wished she was not such a fool for believing that was possible.

From wherever the courage came to speak again, and of the subject that had landed her once near death and twice injured, it was not from a well that ran full. Perhaps tears wished to fill it, or perhaps the guilt that consumed her would do the same.

But it was there, startling her mind, and calling forth a realization that came as both violent and sudden.

~I have a chance. Here- with him. I have a chance to say that I'm sorry. What happened before I had fallen unconscious was no dream nor absent moment. I remember.~

And it was absurd, perhaps futile, possibly vain- but she could not escape the voice that quivered and bid her words to life.

"I want...." And she paused- questions slashing at the fabric of her mind. She wanted peace. She wanted hell. She wanted happiness. She had wanted to die. She had wished Marius safe. Rose watched helplessly as Albert regarded her with all the calm, serene practice that was his nature. His eyes, always holding that weary edge of sadness, closed and looked away.

~I want....~



"It's alright. You know I'll listen."

~To hear me.~

And he said he would listen. And he had said many, many things of the *before*. That of which Marius might have spoken in terms of the future. If she should have only heard him then. If he had only fought back. Killed her. Not gazed upon her dancing sword as a token of his fate. Not Marius- savior and friend and companion. Father in his own respect. When he had looked to her... watched the insanity of her eyes...

"...Why?" A weak question without substance crawled from her throat. "Why must you resemble him so?"

~You- young king of whom I hardly know- hardly care? Why you? Why would you hear me?~

"You speak of Marius." A statement. "And I have no answer."

"And you knew who I meant. Even when you asked me who Marius was- you knew."

~You understood me when I did not understand myself. You forced my eyes open to something I hate. To something you have shared.~

Albert was gazing distantly into the room, arms folded across his chest now- legs still planted firmly; one on the floor and one on the table. He blinked, tilted his head. "I assumed, Rose, but that was all. Marius is a name of my heritage. Ungranted to none other then he, or so the books have read." He sighed. Let his head rest against the wall. "And that is my knowledge of the 1st of my ancestry. Information so long buried is a thing not even my studies can grasp."

Rose felt her voice again. Such a slight thing.

"I knew him, Albert. A good friend."

The ash-blonde slightly turned his head to regard her, almost as if sensing the hesitation that suddenly clouded further words. The Dark Dragoon met his gaze, felt the truth.

"And I killed him."

~Oh- god....~

"And I'm sorry!"


"But I hadn't ever- EVER wanted this! I hadn't ever wished it! I hadn't... I didn't-!!!"

Now- she couldn't stop the words. Apology, explanation, and guilt pouring from her lips like shattered ice. Her shoulders trembled as if sobbing, although no tears fell, and she didn't even care that to Albert- how could this matter? How could this apology fix her sin? How could telling he, who was only a descendant of a man that he should never know, make any difference!?

And Albert did what no other had. Simply listened. No judgment or anger or hate evident across the features that so strongly resembled the slain. No difference in the expression he held now- and that which Marius had died wearing.

"I was a fool-" her voice continued- urgent and pained. "He had only wanted to help me! I- I hadn't thought... I'd wanted revenge. Marius had kept me from reaching Zeig. He- who was already dead! Should I have run to that place, the destruction would have rained upon me. Everything was dying. As the bodies fell- and as the sky became littered with ruin- There was a temple for the injured. Marius held and fought my rage. I.. I had blamed him for Zeigs death... I'd wanted to kill him. To justify it all! Just- just to... just to know I had fought to save the life of my beloved! And all because Marius would not let me commit an act of pure, disillusioned suicide!"

Her voice sounded so garbled. The words were memories- and the memories were coming to fast. Her body quivered.

"Years later- I would act upon my hate. My insanity was his death. His fate, because of ME! Because *I* was selfish and enraged! Roland- his son... I can still remember his son!!!"

Tears would threaten- if she could cry.



She looked upwards- Frame in trembles.
Her hands desperately moved to find a pulse.

~What have I done?~ and despair consumed her, slender hands still searching, slipping in the crimson that pooled aside her body and under the murdered king.


his small child- crying. Her sword dropped to the floor.
Hatred in such young eyes.

Gods forgive me! Soa- please!


His eyes lay open. Dead. Roland was quiet in the grasp of mourning.

She was broken in the light of misery.


Rose had to fight in keeping herself steady. Determined, this time, to let the horrible memory slip past her conscious without incident. As it weas, her mind felt to be reeling. A sensation very similar to that which had nearly landed her body a five floor fall over the hard deck above. Her hands bit at the table ledge- head shaking. At another time she might have both cursed and condemned herself for this.... vulnerability.

She hated the word.

As Rose turned her head upwards slightly, she realized how very alert Albert had become. He was studying her carefully- concerned- with a hand slightly reached to steady her if need be. A brief flicker of confusion ran upon her features.

"Are you alright? Rose?"

She blinked. Shuddered.

"How... do you know?"

He settled back, seeing that Rose had begun to regain herself. "You completely drained of color. The same occurred before you passed out- and also at the railing." He shook his head. "What is this? What could cause that sort of... of reaction?"

She looked at him- and found immense irony in such a slight sentence.

"Memories..." Came her simple answer- having come easily. For once. "Albert- you look so much like him. Everything. From your personality- your appearance." A near panic-stricken chuckle took the place of what tears asked to fall. "Even your goddamned voice. At the crows nest... I remembered. Seeing you then brought Marius back to me."

Albert lowered his eyes. "I... If I was the cause of all this- I'm sorry."

"No-!" And Rose felt herself tense. "God- no! You don't have one damned reason to say that to me, Albert. None. If this hadn't happened... If I didn't..."

~Didn't what?~

With a murmur composed of horror and pain, she grasped her head and knelt forwards- drawing a breath of air to her lungs and then releasing it as a shudder into the room. Rose was tired of questioning herself. Growing to hate that voice, from wherever it came.

"I didn't... hells..." She snarled the word; shooting her gaze to meet his. "I found myself wanting to tell you. As childish as it seems. As utterly STUPID-" And her eyes squeezed shut. "-as this all is! I wanted his forgiveness, Albert. And I know I'm far to late. And I know I have NO right to ask for such a thing.. But somehow.. I... in you-"

~In WHO!? Who is he, Rose? He is NOT Marius! You expect Albert to grant a thing impossible!?~

In a violent swing of her arms she was standing- stalking across the room in the grip of despair.

~Where is your strength!? Where are your illusions, Rose!?~

What was she thinking?! What was she trying to reach!?!?

In a way, she thought herself at the railing again. Close to a fall- but not yet dead. Confused- still able to register the wind and sea water that tore her eyes open. She was going to fall, and she was going to die. She was finally going to die, and by fault of her own mind.

Albert grasped her arm.

"Listen to me." He spoke as Rose stumbled back around. She felt so very misplaced; as if one wrong step would send her to the floor and into unconsciousness yet again.

~Rose! damn you- Stop! LISTEN to me!~

Her eyes closed. "Marius..."

"No." And Albert shook his head, angled his neck so that they were at eye level. Both thin hands moved to take her shoulders. "I'm not Marius, Rose. But whomever he was, and wherever he may be now- I know you have his forgiveness."

Rose stood quietly, shivering. The ever present confusion of her mind stayed as it was. Simple- but so complex. Not wishing to hear or understand him as Albert gently released her. In a state that was somewhat like mourning, or perhaps just distant remembrance, she lifted her gaze to the king before her.

"How could you ever know?"

"Because you yourself had said I resembled him greatly- and not only in a physical sense. If this man had any of my understanding, it is true."

"It was wrong..." she began, suddenly wanting the hate of contempt to flair within Albert's voice.

"It will always be wrong." Calm, smooth tones. "But it is just as wrong to carry this upon yourself like a chain of the past. Another that you, of all people, don't need.

~I am the Black Monster, Albert. Could you justify this?~

"Your no monster."

Startled, Rose jerked away from him in surprise. Had he said that?! had he heard her!? Gods but it seemed he had. Many times, now... She almost feared to think- as if those hazel eyes might draw further from her memory.

"Aren't I?" She managed through a strained voice, loosing it's last threads of control.

~After all you have seen and known- after the revelations brought to my past in just these recent days... you could actually say such a thing!?~

Albert quietly regarded her and did not answer. Instead, right hand brushing at a fall of loose hair, the eyes that could unnerve her so easily moved away and towards the door. They closed a moment- then reopened. When he turned back to her, Rose simply bowed her head and shook it. At a loss for words- and perhaps of mind, she wished she could not care anymore.

"Come with me." Albert said gently, and reached a hand towards the raven haired dragoon much as he had far earlier. "Please. I want to show you something."

Rose hadn't even realized she'd taken it as they walked from the chilly medical room.


Wind. It was still as active as before- tousling her hair as if each was a piece of the night that reigned above. It burnt her face slightly; running over skin that was, despite all her years, vulnerable to the elements. What was she doing here; hands unconsciously finding each rung and pulling upwards? Why was she returning to the crows nest; following Albert with a steady, silent gait?

Rose didn't dwell over the trivial motivations that summoned each hand to grasp yet another icy handhold. All she knew was that she was doing so- ignoring the cold air and it's brewing weather. Following the passage of time for no other reason then to escape the present- afraid of what it might bring.

~Am I so immune? All of what has happened tonight should seem ludicrous if so. Minor- and irrelevant. What damned fates chose that I should find Marius again? Locked within the threads of my mind? What stupid game am I now playing with myself- or that it should seem Albert is playing with me? Why can't all this be clear? Precise?~

Her hands hit the flatboards above, and with the slightest breath she hoisted herself fully into the lookout. The smooth, metallic sound of her armor in motion was a reassuring one; a proud echo that could make her feel easily at home. It was with brief, absent wonder that she found no such stability now. If anything, Rose almost wished to slink away from it. Hide from herself.

Albert, ahead of her, seemed oblivious to these silent torments. Standing where Rose had been perched some time ago- he grasped the railing and tilted his head into the night. She would only look on a moment or so until he finally turned back around; kind face both patient and set.

"Tell me what you see." He asked, an arm raising gently to the sky.

Thank the gods. Bless them- but her face managed an incredulous look. Finally her person was solid again. Able and ready. Even with her mind a numb, broken creature- her facade once again stood true. Had it needed only that brief walk from the infirmary to set once more? Had it needed only to keep away from his knowing gaze?

It didn't matter, she supposed. But Rose felt she could cry with joy when, in speaking, her voice did not tremble as it had before.

"What sort of question is this?" And now that she could speak- the misplaced triumph brought a tone of arrogance to her words. "We stare at blackness. At the night."

He only shook his head. Quiet- collected.

"Rose- look."

She wrung her defiance for all it was worth, clinging to it nearly in having found the ability once again. Her chin lifted- dark gaze scanning the darker horizon. When her face returned to him, confused, Rose narrowed her eyes in questioning.

"What are you asking me to acknowledge, Albert? What did you bring me here for?"

His smile was so very unexpected, Rose almost found herself taken aback.

"I wanted you to see the stars." He replied smoothly, watching without reaction as Rose drew herself up and straightened her shoulders. The Dark Dragoon quietly splayed both arms and looked upwards. Her mannerism spoke for her, control now regained.

"Stars..." And she shook her head, eyed him almost warily. " What *stars*? It's black as death this night."

Gingerly, he leaned back against the railing- gaze distant, calm, and ever patient. "But they are still above, aren't they? Even when you cannot see them?

She was still, watching him with a blunt, but present edge of fascination. It was somewhat unnerving, as it had been in previous hours, to find herself regarding Albert as nearly mysterious. A twenty six year old *child* in comparison to herself- who had yet gone and seemed the driving influence behind this encounter. What was he to her? How could he just....

Rose forced her thoughts of Marius astray, horrified in understanding that with him came the severe levels of emotion and pain she had experienced in the infirmary.

~And dealt by the man that stands before you. What irony is this?~

"Do you remember what I had told you? Before you spoke to me of Marius?" Albert watched her back- having turned to him in previous minutes. Rose had drawn both arms to her chest, crossing them as she gazed out over the sea.

"Yes." Was her faint reply.

~I'm speaking about you. What you try to hide. If you never let anyone within, Rose... It's going to kill you, just like it nearly did me.~

Amazing she could recall his words with such clarity. Odd further that she somehow knew exactly to what he referred.

"And you understood."

She blinked, slowly. "What I *don't* understand why this is relevant now."

"Why shouldn't it be? Marius is a product of that refusal."

An overwhelming need to shout at him was violently tossed aside, and replaced with the acceptance of a truth she didn't want to face. Still- eyes fluttered away and disregarded the words. As if trying to make him think she didn't believe in what he'd said.

"Your a fool."

"Am I, then? A fool for denying the truth- or letting you take liberty with such a burden?"

~God DAMN you..!~

Rose tossed an angry glare in his direction, letting it's hostility seep away over the next few moments. Hair wavering in the brewing air, her brows raised and arms crossed.

"I have been dealing with this life to the point where time seems a foreign creature. Are you here to tell me what Dart had so bluntly put? A ludicrous but heartfelt- *your not alone* as if those three words somehow made all my hurt and hates go away?

The tone of her voice was nearly bitter.

Albert shook his head. "I did not bring you here to retell and old verse."

"Then what? Gaze at the void that surrounds us!? To say *Never let anyone within* is to say, with equal resolve, *Never be hurt again.* Nothing you can ever tell me will make any of this different. It's the only way I know. It's the only way I survive."

In an abrupt toss of his shoulders and a wild billowing of the ashen blonde hair that adorned him; Albert faced her as Marius had done only a thousand times before. His eyes were not angry- nor mouth set in a scathing frown. It was simply a pose of ability, ready to subject itself to her stubborn nature without the slightest glance back.

"There is a difference between knowing and understanding, Rose. As thin a line as it might be- it is both present and drawn. You know your not alone. You simply don't understand it. I see this in every sword movement, every gesture, and every flicker of interest you have demonstrated in myself and the other dragoons."

He again beseeched the sky with gaze alone- leaving Rose to take a step back.

"Like the stars- we are present. Night or day- just as they burn, we stand beside your actions and judgments. Whether or not you chose to acknowledge either us or the heavens above, it will always be the same. Seeing- is a choice all your own..." And he sighed heavily, accepting a sudden weariness without struggle. "... Just as your survival can lead only to damnation if this should be the road you forever walk."

Rose felt her body grow ridged and an arm swipe the air violently as the words struck her mind. "This road!? A path you dare to judge!?"

"A path I dare to question."

"Shut UP!" Rose growled, face twisting in a fury that had risen with such force- it consumed her. "I have been alive- have seen more- have heard more then you could ever know in your entire life! Who are you to tell me any of this!?"

"No one, really." Albert replied. A calm overture to her anger. "An irrelevant in your life, whom has found hurt in the eyes eyes of someone who refuses the help of others. Who refuses her pain and anguish- and who refuses to ever speak of them."

"It is futile to do so!!!!"

"it is HUMAN to do so!" the king spread his arms, as if to unveil something to which she was blind. "Human- The part of you that I almost think you fear. Something you were forced to crush in becoming the black monster, that has hidden away Marius, and Zeig, and god knows how many other torments that lay dormant in hopes of simply being able to carry on. I should never know of these, Rose. None of us ever will until the day that each reaches a peak of guilt or fury- and then breaks to leave you wounded all over again. It is not WRONG to seek the help of others- just as it is not wrong to speak with them! To reach and- just once- find comfort in the arms of another!!"

The dark Dragoon had stalked away from him, hands tightly crossed about her chest. Eyes closed sharply, she refused to look at him. Refused to hear further.

"...Your wrong, Albert!"

Albert tossed his head. "If I am so wrong- then Marius should not even have existed! You have kept he, just like so many others, entangled within your memories to the very verge of insanity. SPEAK, Rose! Simply tell of them! I swear that such pains CAN slowly heal!"

"They..." And she shuddered.

"They can. They did at what seems an eternity ago- when I was still a child left alone in a brutal war."

The deep violet of her armor shimmered softly as a floodlight from below chanced to flicker upon it. Rose stay silent, a constant but gentle shake of her head denying everything. Wanting to- if her mind could not... And When at last Rose found her legs in motion- they again shuffled wearily in place- and let her turn an open expression to the king of Serdio.

A slack gaze- somewhat hurt. Perhaps fearful. Albert regarded her with that same expression of simple kindness that he could ever hold so well..

~And this is what you should show me... The understanding you have that I try to deny.~

And... it truly was such a very thin line. Between knowing- and understanding in itself...

The threads of her own defeat.

In a few silent moments, Rose was startled to feel a tender hand at her face. As her gaze lifted to Albert's concerned but gentle features, only then could she place the heavy wetness at her eyes to the soft plead in his words.

"Please... don't cry."

It was shocking enough that Rose could even recall the feel of tears.

Was... she grateful for them?

~Yes. For everything.~



A crash. A muttered curse- and then a giddy spurt of laughter.

"Rose- Come on! We're almost at Rouge!"

With a quiet grumble, Rose felt her head shift slightly from side to side, taking in the concept of wakefulness. Normally she was the earliest of all to rise, but at the moment not even Meru's cheerful voice could quite shake her.

"Rose! Rose Rose ROSE!!!"

The raven haired Dragoon heard a scurry of sandals nearby- and could almost imagine that insane bowtie flying behind Meru's petite frame. With something like a stifled yawn, she gave a jerk of one shoulder and opened her eyes the next instant. Two huge, ruby red pupils met her own.

"Tch! ABOUT TIME!" The Wingly grumbled with a smile.

Rose blinked. Scowled.

"Awwwwww, don't be a meany! Not a morning person huh!? The heck did you sleep out here for ANYWAYS?"

"... What?"

To answer her, she then became aware of both the hard steel railing against her back and the just as harsh flatboards of the lookout below. With a start, Rose felt her body jerk upright. Meru stumbled away from her sudden action- but grinned all the same.

"The... crows nest..." She echoed, blinking.

"Well duh. Now come down the ladder! Darts awake an' so are all the others. Although Albert was a pain..." Meru laughed- her silver and blue hair giving a bounce. "You know I had to literally jump on him ta' wake the guy up!? Do all kings sleep that late or something!?

Quietly displacing a vagrant string of black from one eye, Rose stilled in remembrance.


"Uh huh." And Meru tilted her head curiously, watching as Rose slowly stood from the cold ground below. Her arms coiled and then relaxed as she flexed both in turn- Black hair tossed gently in the breeze that toyed with the light strands. "Now are you coming or what!?"

Rose distantly regarded her with a thin grimace. "Yes. In a few moments..." And with that Meru shrugged- beginning an energetic hop to the ladder near them and jumping on without a seconds hesitation. She dangled a foot in the air; tilting backwards to glance at Rose upside down. Her hair flew in ribbons as a quick wind took giddy control of her odd position.



"Is Albert below? At the moment, I mean?"

The Wingly gave a semi-shrug, and nodded her head under the bright morning sun. "Yeah! He's talkin' with Dart-boy!" And then, after a curious shake of her head and an upright position was restored- Meru let her full lips purse a moment in question.

"... Why? I can bring him up here, if ya want...."

Rose only shook her head- briefly recalling the events of last night with such an odd mix of emotions they should be impossible to sort through just now. She remembered herself at the railing again. She remembered his nod, and then decent to the decks below. It had been a mere moment after his departure that she quietly sank to the floor... and then this. Awaking here as well.

"Ey... Rose?"

"No... it's not necessary." And she gave the girl a soft smile- to which Meru looked on in absolute astonishment. "But would you tell him something for me?"

A nod. "Sure!"

With a soft, but unhindered sigh, Rose quietly turned towards the sea and dangled her arms over the railing- leaning into it's firm structure as her head tilted to the breeze. Off in the distance was Rouge- bathed in a splash of color and sunlight that struck her eyes as beautiful. Peaceful. A lull before the storm yet to come, but a lull nevertheless.

"Thank you."


"Please... tell him that."

And despite Meru's obvious look of confusion, the girl shrugged once and haphazardly began down the ladder- a soft but jittery tune beginning over her lips.

Rose moved her gaze up into the wistful blue sky, and watched the stars.


Athana Soulfire's Fanfiction