A white rose.
The first thing he saw as he came out of Time Compression and back into his own head. Back into his own dreams.
A white rose, with snowy pedals, and a lovely, subtle perfume. Long stemmed, elegantly suspended in the air, held up by invisible vines of wind that brushed past his senses like a caress of moth wings.
Knight. Protector of your Lady.
The sudden yearning in his chest took his breath away. He was unprepared for it. It had been a long time since he had felt anything as passionate as the wanting that now caught him unsuspecting.
He reached for the rose, but it seemed to hover just beyond his fingertips.
All around him there was a white silence. It was a place devoid of everything: life, death, all the things in between, and as he tried to take a step forward, tried to move, he found that he couldnt. Frozen, trapped in his own mind.
He knew this wasnt time compression. He didnt know why or how. There had been nothing to tell him that he had made it out of that hellish place, nothing except the feeling in his gut. But he knew.
Just like he knew that he had to have it.
Arms and legs straining, feet rooted to the ground, stretching, stretching, and the muscles in his back, in his arms, screamed their protest--
Silky white pedals brushed passed his fingertips teasingly, seductively, like a beautiful woman holding out on that one last piece of herself, and it would have made new fallen snow look tainted.
It was a direct contrast to himself. He was dirt, filth, a broken man with nothing to offer. He had nothing left but his pride. Come to think of it, that was all that he had had in the first place. That, and Balamb Garden. The place that he had once considered home. Now he doubted that same home would ever want to see his face again, much less welcome him back.
And whose fault was that?
No use feeling guilty.
He had told himself that so many times before.
Too bad it did shit for his conscience.
Memories; everything that he tried to force down into the dark, dank basement at the back of his mind, came rushing back to the man in a sullied gray trench coat with crosses emblazoned upon its sleeves.
Matron, her beautiful face wreathed in smiles as she accepted the drooping wildflowers the little blonde boy had picked for her...
He watched, unable to tear his eyes away, as the pedals of the rose lost its velvet shine, and the edges curled inward. Its purity marred as diseased, sickly veins of black crept, and twined, and choked, black blood beaded on prickly thorns.
Rinoa, and the familiar scent of her ebony hair as he breathed in her warmth...
The rose started bleeding.
Matron, her beautiful face wreathed in frowns as she watched him lose...to fucking Leonhart, no less.
It was dying, and there was nothing he could do to save it. Once again, he was powerless; once again, he had failed everyone: Rinoa, Balamb Garden, Matron, himself. Most importantly himself, he wouldve said, once upon a time.
Rinoa...the look on her face and the pleading in her voice as she asked, quietly, Havent you done enough damage, Seifer?
He had nearly sacrificed her to Adel. If it wasnt for Squall,
she would be worse than dead right now.
Her innocent, trusting voice echoed inside his aching head. Youll always take care of me, wont you Seifer?
It burst, like a balloon that had been filled with too much air. The rose burst.
He had comforted himself with the thought that the promise didnt count. He had been young and naive then, giving away his word of honor like he would give a few gil to the poor. He had wanted to please her, wouldve done anything to please her. It seemed like a special charm of Rinoas; the ability to wrap men around her little finger came as easily as breathing to her. And he had gone to her willingly. Never in a million years would he have thought to see himself a slave to anyone. He had cursed himself for being so weak, but damn her, he had enjoyed it while it lasted.
He could feel a warm wetness on his cheek. He raised his hand to touch it, and came away with blood and the scent of lilacs clinging to his hand.
Was it just the way she had made him feel? Like he was the chivalrous knight, with his own shining armor and loyal steed, always ready to ride to her rescue? It pissed him off to think that he had only gotten into a relationship with Rinoa to bolster his ego. Contrary to popular belief, Seifer Almasy didnt care to be thought of as shallow. Irritating, arrogant, and an asshole maybe, but he wasnt shallow.
It didnt matter anymore. Why waste time thinking about a foolish, clinging girl, and the foolish, meaningless puppy love that they had shared, when his mistress was in danger?
He had sworn he would protect Ultimecia, but how could he protect her when he was lost in his own mind?
When it had begun, when the magic in the Lunatic Pandora had built and built and built until it had reached its shattering crescendo, it had taken Squall and the rest of them to the future, and he had been left to wander around in some Hyneforsaken place (not that he believed in Hyne) for who knew how long. Now he was back in his own head, with no idea what the fuck was going on, and hell, he didnt even know how to wake up from his own fucking dreams so he could do something about this, anything-
If there was anything that he hated, it was feeling weak, helpless. Small.
He felt his ghostly connection with her awakening-the connection that was the lifeline between every knight and his lady. A note of surprise twisted in his mind, because she hadnt beckoned for so long, before the sudden stab of pain knocked into his gut, and he doubled over, clutching his stomach. The wave of agony receded slightly, barely enough time for a choked breath, before it came back, twice as strong.
Damnit. Only a dream!
There was no blood on his stomach, only the hideous burning that ripped into him, gnawing and shredding and hurting.
Hyne, it hurt. It hurt like nothing had ever hurt before, not when he had faced off with Squall all those different times, not when the he had both his arms fractured in a training accident with a T-rex, not even when he had taken bullets in his fucking kneecap from the cowboys gun.
He gritted his teeth, tried to force it down. He was no stranger to pain. The lessons learned from harsh training sessions with Hyperion only made it a little less durable, and he slowly straightened, trying to ignore the fire still constricting his sides. Taking short, sharp breaths (become one with the pain pain is not your enemy your enemy is the one causing pain), he tried to recover himself.
Still the red-hot needles jabbed and prodded unmercifully.
Matron? Is she all right?
He looked up, and she filled his vision, his mind.
(Edea Matron Ultimecia Adel Edea Matron)
The tight midnight dress clung lovingly, like a second skin, and she reached out delicately long hands
to cup his cheek, but her fingers tightened painfully; he felt the sharp sting, then warmth running down his face, and tasted a foreign saltiness on his lips. Burnished gold eyes held him spellbound
(frozen bird and the snake)
and the tattoos on the left side of her face writhed, serpent-like, as her soft violet lips curved upwards in a small, secret smile.
With her came the overwhelming stench of lilacs that made him want to heave.
And that was all that mattered to Seifer Almasy.
Danica Li's Fanfiction