A week had passed since the incident at the Opera House, and Locke found himself back in Mobliz with Terra and the Orphans. It was supposed to be a festive occasion in the small orphan colony that day. It was Minas seventh birthday and everybody in the village was celebrating. All except Mina, that is. She was nowhere to be found in the village. Noticing this, Terra had Locke, Duane, and Katarin go out and search for her while she stayed behind and watched over the children. The party was beginning with out the birthday girl, and that should never happen.
Locke had not been able to go about as he normally would during that time. He tried to pass the time and forget about Celes by playing with the children, spending time with them, telling them stories, and even volunteering to be on night duty. However, Celes said the words that no man ever wants to hear from the one he loves. He felt wounded and vulnerable. He had lost his confidence in himself again. He failed not only himself but Celes as well. As he walked slowly through the surrounding forests of Mobliz, he recalled the day of the accident with Rachel and how he could do nothing but kick himself, taking all the blame for what happened. It almost made him want to break down in tears, knowing that he had allowed himself to take a stupid risk and lose the person that he held most dear. Not only did he destroy any chance he ever had of being with Celes, he ruined their friendship as well. He was at fault for what happened, and as a result, he lost her forever.
He told Terra everything that had happened on that day. Needless to say, Setzer didnt need the same luxury. She gave Locke as much pity as she could, but she couldnt help but say that she told him so. Locke tried too hard to be a hero to Celes instead of just letting it happen. He over thought and over analyzed everything and it cost him the girl of his dreams. Whether he liked it or not, Terra was right from the start. Locke tried to be something that he was not and paid the consequences for it.
He was about fifteen minutes away from the village when he happened to hear a faint whimpering sound. He followed the sound to a small opening in the trees surrounded by rocks. There, he found Mina sobbing with her face in her hands. Locke immediately went over to comfort her and take her back to the village.
Mina, what are you doing here? Everyones worried sick about you! said Locke. Mina looked up at Locke, her face covered in tears. He went over beside her and took a knee. He had to try to cheer her up somehow. It wasnt right for a little girl to cry on her birthday. Whats wrong with you? Why are you out here in the middle of the forest?
Oh, Uncle Locke, she sobbed. I know today is my birthday. She stopped crying, but started sniffling in between some of her words. But I Im not happy. Locke put his hand on her shoulder. He felt bad for her. He should have been the one crying in the middle of the woods, not her. After all, she didnt just lose the girl of her dreams to her own stupidity.
Come on, Mina. How can you not be happy? All your friends are back in the village and theyre waiting for you. Mama, Duane, and Katarin are there too. Theyre all waiting to celebrate with you. The little girl sniffled again. Her crying, for the time being, had stopped.
I know theyre all there, she whimpered, and I know that they all love me very much. Its just that my real Mama and Papa arent there. Locke realized what was going on. Mina missed her parents. They had died along with the other adults over a year ago when Kefka leveled the town. She was only five at the time, a very tender age to witness ones own parents die right in front of you. She continued. That light took them. It took everyone elses mamas and papas too. My birthdays were always special. I didnt have any brothers or sisters and Mama and Papa always told me that I was a gift from the heavens. And now, theyre not here. She grabbed ahold of Lockes jacket and started to cry into it. Locke responded by hugging her gently. Why wasnt anyone there to stop the light? asked the little girl as she continued to cry. Locke sighed. He didnt know what he could do to cheer her up except to continue talking. He let go of Mina and sat her down on a nearby stone. Unknown to them both, a nearby figure stood and listened in the shadows.
Dry your tears, Mina. Im going to tell you a story. Mina wiped her eyes with the sleeve of the shirt she was wearing as Locke began to speak. The man who used the light on your village was named Kefka. He was a very evil man. He used the light on the entire world that day, so a lot of other children lost their mamas and papas too, not just you and your friends. Mina looked up at Locke with her large, sad eyes. Remember the day that some of your Mamas friends came to the village and she went with them? Well, their names were Celes, Sabin, Edgar, and Setzer. Theyre my friends too. After a while, they found me too and we all went to fight Kefka.
Then what happened? asked Mina. Locke then stood up as he reenacted the journey.
As we climbed Kefkas tower, we knew that we were getting closer and closer to defeating him. We felt that he had to be defeated if the world was going to return to normal. We couldnt allow him to hurt any more innocent people. He then pulled out the Atma Weapon. You see this little knob? Well, it transforms into a powerful sword when I need it to. Mina looked at the Atma Weapon in awe as Locke continued. I used this sword to deal Kefka his final blow. I made sure that he paid the price for ruining all those lives in our world.
You killed the bad man? asked Mina. Was he scary?
He was so scary that me and my friends wanted to run away and hide. But we didnt. We fought him and we won.
So thats the story of the bad man who killed my Mama and Papa?
Yes it is. Your Uncle Locke was the one who did it too. With that, Mina ran up and hugged Locke. She was crying again, but this time, she wept tears of joy.
Oh, thank you, Uncle Locke! she cried. Ive always wanted to know what happened to that bad man! Mama just told us that we didnt have to fear anything anymore. I always asked her what really happened to him, but she wouldnt tell me. Locke could feel the joy emanating from Minas body. It did her little heart good to know the truth behind her parents. Locke felt good as well, all of a sudden, for doing this. He could feel his heroic spirit slowly returning, but it would not help a whole lot. He had merely cheered up a crying little girl, not saved the world or gotten forgiveness from Celes. He let go of Mina and she did the same. He continued.
But, Mina, youre not the only one whos lost people that youve loved.
You lost someone too?
Yes, two actually. Locke looked up at the sky, as if he was trying to evoke Rachels spirit. One died. And the other, well, shell just never talk to me again.
Whys that? asked Mina. Is she a mean person?
No, shes not mean at all. I I just did something stupid. Locke sighed. He couldnt believe that he was about to open up to a seven year-old girl. He had started, though, and there was no going back. You see, Mina, I was in love with her. Shes the most beautiful, talented, intelligent, and forgiving woman Ive ever known. Her name is Celes and shes an opera singer. She spent some time with me and your Mama when we were fighting Kefka. Your Mama also told me that Celes was in love with me, but I was still too preoccupied with something else to realize it. He was, of course, referring to Rachel and how he clung on to his last hope that he would be able to revive her and be with her again. I needed someone to help me forget about my past and decided that she would be the best suited for it. She did exactly that herself, you see. She forgot her past and is continuing on with her life. I though that if she still loved me that shed help me do the same. I needed her help and I screwed myself up.
But you were in love with her, added Mina. Whys she mad at you? Locke was taken by the girls inquisitiveness. She acted much older than her age.
Because I tried to be something that I wasnt. You see, Mina, I like to think of myself as a hero to a lot of people. She was one of them. I saved her once and I guess I took it too far. I was wrong to do so, and now, Im suffering for it. He sighed and looked down at the floor, he had just come to realize his greatest fear about Celes. I I failed her. He clenched his fists together and tried to squeeze a tear out of his eye. Mina gave him another hug. It took Locke by surprise.
Uncle Locke, you can be my hero too, she said reassuringly. Locke smiled. It was a nice gesture on her part, but it still wouldnt help his recovery process. He knew that one and only one thing could do that. Just then, the shadowy figure emerged from behind a large rock. Mina saw it and screamed. Locke whipped around to see what had caused this ear-shattering cry. He almost went into shock when he saw who it was.
Ce Celes he muttered in utter disbelief. Mina looked out from behind Locke and saw the girl that Locke had just described to her. She looked kind and gentle. She was dressed in a green shirt with long leather pants that clung tightly to her legs. She was also wearing a white cape and had long blonde hair. Locke was still stunned. Many conflicting thoughts rushed into his head. Why was she here? How long was she standing there? Had she forgiven him?
Hello, Locke, she said. She then looked down at Mina and saw that the little girl seemed frightened by her. Hi, there, she said. Whats your name?
M Mina, replied the small girl. She looked up at Locke and asked, Uncle Locke, whos this lady?
Mina, this is Celes, responded Locke. Mina looked at Celes with disdain.
Youre mean! You hurt Uncle Lockes feelings! she stated. Celes took a step back, surprised by what she just heard.
Mina! Thats enough! said Locke. That wasnt very nice. I think you should apologize.
No, Locke. Its all right. I deserved it, said Celes. She then sat down on her legs and spoke to Mina. Mina, your Uncle Locke and I need to talk about something. Do you mind giving us a few minutes? Mina resisted and curled her lip up at Celes. Locke looked down at the girl.
You do as she says, Mina. Go head back to the village. Well be along soon. Mina let go of Locke again.
OK, she said, but hurry up or youll miss my party. She then scampered off in the direction of Mobliz, Locke and Celes watching her go. Suddenly, Celes turned back to Locke.
Locke, I came here today to hear your side of the story. Renier told me what you both did backstage, but his ego was obviously in the way, Celes explained as she crossed her arms. I want you to tell me what happened between you and Renier.
Celes, how did you know Id be here?
I got ahold of Setzer and he told me where you were. Now, start talking. Locke couldnt believe that Celes was actually here with him in the woods. This was his one and only chance to either attain her forgiveness and continue to charade his love for her or fully reveal everything to her. He wanted to tread lightly, but felt that he also had to take advantage of Renier not being there. Here was the chance he wanted a week ago, but he was too nervous to go through with it. Maybe if he asked another question, hed be able to formulate Celess current mood towards him.
What about the show?
Stop stalling, Locke. Locke was caught once again. He needed to start talking about that night at the Opera House and he needed to do it now.
First, let me say this Celes, said Locke. Celes stood there, her impatience with him growing by the minute. I think that youre one of the most wonderfully amazing women whom Ive ever had the pleasure of knowing. Weve been through a lot together in the past year, and Id like to think that the bond we share is unbreakable. You have to at least give me that, Celes. She did not look impressed. Locke trembled as he continued. Celes, what happened between myself and Renier was entirely my fault. I should never have done something that entirely stupid. He looked down at the ground, believing that he did not deserve to even look at Celes after what he did. I wanted to be the first person to greet you offstage after the opera ended. But, I couldnt wait that long. You were doing just such a wonderful job up there that I couldnt wait for the end of the show. I had to see you at the intermission. You looked so beautiful Unknown to Locke, Celess hand went up to her mouth as she gasped in disbelief as soon as Locke admitted this to her. So, I snuck backstage and ran into Renier. We had a few words and he ended up saying something he shouldnt have said. So, I ended up doing something I shouldnt have done. He sighed. Hes right about me, you know. Im nothing but a brutish little worm. Whod have thought that Id lose you as a result. I didnt want that to happen. Celes walked over to him and touched his right forearm. Locke slowly raised his head and their eyes met.
Locke, is there something else you want to tell me?
Celes, I need you. I need you in more ways than one. You were there with me when I last left Rachels house right? You knew that I was determined to get over her and continue on with my life. You used to have feelings for me, but I was still too obsessed with being Rachels hero that I was too blind to realize it. I need you to help me forget her, just like you forgot about being an imperial general. You moved on, and I need to do the same. Celes released her grip on Lockes arm. She turned her back to him and walked away a bit. She brought her hands up underneath her chin. Locke felt alarmed. Did he say something to offend her? Celes, whats wrong?
Locke, thats not entirely true, she admitted. You see, I tried to do the same as you, forget everything. I thought that if I became an opera star that I would. On top of that, I felt that it would also help if I got involved with Renier. She turned around again, Locke never taking his eyes off her. I wanted to forget everything. But I couldnt. There was still something that I held on to.
Just like me.
Yes, exactly like you. Here was his chance. Locke had an open opportunity to finally reveal everything to Celes. His suffering ended now. He went over to Celes, placing his hand on her shoulder. Celes looked up into his eyes.
Celes, youd think that I was still holding on to Rachel. Well, heres the second reason why I need you. He took a deep breath. This was the greatest leap of faith that he had ever taken. Celes, I need you because Ive finally realized something. Im not holding on to Rachel. Im holding on to you. Locke spoke straight from his heart. Nothing but his deepest, purest feelings for Celes drove him to say what he was saying. Celes, Ive done nothing but think about you ever since we parted ways. Ive longed for the moment where I could finally hold you in my arms and call you my own. Ive had this void inside of me ever since Rachel died that needs to be filled. Im all alone in this world. All of my familys gone and I havent had the motivation to find any treasures since the day Rachel died. Rachel and her love kept me going; they kept me alive for the longest time. She was my lone reason for living. Whenever I left Kohlingen, I returned only because of her love. It was the greatest treasure that I could have ever found. Locke started to break down as he slowly lowered his head, as if he was ashamed of admitting these things to Celes. Now, I need to find an even greater treasure. Celes, I dont want you to be Rachel, I have no right to ask you to do that. He let out a heavy sigh and looked up. I guess thats why I held on to you, Celes. Youre you, and from now on, I want to live for you. Just like I lived for her. As Locke looked into Celess eyes, he could see the tears slowly forming. She was obviously deeply touched by his outpour. However, he still hadnt said those three magical words that would change their relationship forever. He hadnt said them in such a long time that he had almost forgotten the power they held within. He clasped Celess hands in his own and took another deep breath. Celes, I love you. As soon as he finished, a wind blew past the two of them. It pushed a small tear out of Celess eye.
Locke she said.
Yes, Celes? Lockes heart was racing. His moment of destiny had arrived. Here was the moment that would decide how he would live the rest of his life. Celes broke their clasp, reached down into a satchel that she was carrying, and pulled out a worn piece of blue cloth. It was not a very thick fabric and it looked like it had a pattern on it different shades of blue. It took Locke a while, but he eventually recognized it. It was his long lost headband! Celes had it this entire time.
I kept it to remember you, Locke. She then unfolded it completely, wrapped it around his head, and tied it in back. She then slid her hands down the sides of his head and around his shoulders, embracing him. Locke froze, his insides trembling out of anticipation. I love you too. With that, they brought their lips closer together and they shared their first kiss. On that day near the village of Mobliz, two rebirths took place. Locke Cole and Celes Chere had made the ultimate expression of love between two people. Instantly, any memory of their pasts disappeared from their beings. They had done it.
One Year Later
It was a merry day at Figaro Castle, the throne room decorated for a wedding fit for a king. A priest stood at the front of the throne room with Locke Cole and his best man, the gambler Setzer Gabbiani. Among those present in the congregation were Edgar Figaro, the King of Figaro, his brother Sabin, Cyan Garamonde, retainer to the Kingdom of Doma, a mysterious stranger named Clyde that Strago Magus and Relm Arrowny had brought along, a young child named Gau, a group of moogles lead by their king, Mog, the opera diva Maria, who had since married Setzer, and the Impresario, who was already crying his eyes out. A light air filled the room as the flower girl, a little orphan girl named Mina, lead the procession of bridesmaids down the long aisle. Terra Branford in a pink silk dress came next. As soon as that procession ended, the congregation rose in anticipation. Here comes the bride. Celes Chere, draped in a wedding gown of pure white, slowly lock stepped down the long aisle until she was finally aside her man. As the tradition at weddings is, Celes, wore something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. As her blue piece, she tied Lockes headband around her own head, truly signifying that the two lived for each other. A few moments later, the words were spoken and the deed was done.
Afterwards, the party adjourned to the main hall for the reception. There, the newlywed bride and groom shared their first dance. Locke had finally gotten his deepest, most sincere wish. He and Celes danced to her trademark piece, Aria de Mezzo Caraterre. As Locke looked up for a moment, he suddenly saw an apparition appear close to the ceiling. It looked amazingly like Rachel. The spirit looked like it was smiling and crying at the same time. Locke then heard a whisper in his ear.
Today, you are truly free He continued to look up at the specter as it slowly faded away. As their dance ended, Celes leaned close to Lockes ear and let out another whisper.
Thanks to the following:
SquareSoft, LTD, for making the greatest RPG ever made, Final Fantasy III
All those who may read this fanfic
Although you may not know it, that one special someone out there, for there truly is someone for every guy or girl with a dream in their heart