The Orphan Chapter 9
By Kate Lorraine
Ellone stood quietly at the huge oval window of Laguna's office, which overlooked the massive city of Esthar. She adjusted the green shroud over her shoulders as she waited for news, happy news, sad news, anything but this constant frustration of the lack of it. For almost a decade she had done her best to watch over him, the little boy she had abandoned when he needed her the most. She had taken his family, his future and his humanity. The blame was all hers. For every insult, every fight, every wound, it was her fault, for taking seventeen years ago what fate had decreed to be his.
"There is nothing I can do right now, Ellone," Laguna whispered to her as he gently placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Uncle Laguna." Ellone said quietly as she turned her eyes towards him. He had come in so quietly that she had not noticed.
"I know you are worried about him, child. But there is no need to worry. That boy can take care of himself better than anyone I've ever seen. He'll be alright in the end, I promise."
Ellone forced a smile. The memory of Squall begging her to bring Rinoa back from the past was all too vivid in her mind. Squall needed help just like everyone else, if not more so. She hated Laguna's indifference towards his son. She did not understand how he could be so calm in a situation in which Squall's life might come to an end at any moment. Yet, that was hypocritical. Squall was a SeeD. His life was always on the brink of death. She knew that better than anyone, having watched his progress in garden for most of her life. That morning when he had had his face split in two by his training mate, had been agonizing for her. Once more, she could not save him. What would Raine have thought had she seen that fight? Ellone did not want to think about that.
"Yeah," she replied to Laguna, "I'm not worried. I just wish he would let us help him. He'll be alright, I know. He didn't survive Ultimecia and the Lunar Cry just to perish now in some silly squabble between Garden and Galbadia." Ellone patted Laguna's hand. "I'll be fine, just let me be for a little while."
Laguna nodded and smiled at her. "Don't worry." He reminded her once more before he stepped out of the room.
Ellone sighed as she leaned against the pale blue frame of the window, watching the people mill about on the transparent highway below.
In the back of her mind she drifted back to the that day on the beached of Winhill where she had met him for a short talk after Ultimecia's end. Perhaps he was always cold to the other but to her he was less so. The sky was perfectly clear and the wind blew softly, running its fingers through the wild grass that grew on the Winhill buffs. The water was as blue as it had been seventeen years ago when she and Raine had gone during the summer to collect seashells. Those times that will never come again. But if she laid down on her back and pretended really hard, she could imagine herself back there living simply, back before things got so complicated.
"You came, I didn't think you would," she had exclaimed in surprise when he showed up on the beach, wearing his matador outfit, or as she liked to call it.
"I'll always have time for you, sis, Ellone." He had replied quietly.
Just the sight of him filled her with nostalgia. He had grown up beside her, despite the fact that she could not grow up beside him. It filled her heart with sorrow to see him, sorrow and joy. She had walked over to him and placed her hands on his arms, pulling him gently by his wrists towards her.
"You've grown so much, Squall." She had said with joy as she looked up at his indifferent face. "How did you grow up so well? With integrity, pride, and courage. I just wish I could have been there for you, through it all. Quistis took care of you didn't she? And now so will Rinoa. I just wish I didn't have to leave you to the mercy of strangers."
"No, don't talk about it like that Ellone. Like I'm some wide eyed orphan. I'm not. I always had you, even when you left your memory led me through day by day."
. "Is Rinoa feeling well?" She had asked.
He nodded indifferently. "We are fine."
"You don't look fine, Squall. You look troubled. Is there anything you would like to tell me?"
He sighed "I'm fine Ellone, don't pester me."
She watched him stare into the distance as though he was waiting for an answer to appear on the horizon.
"Talk to me Squall, the way we used to talk when we were little. Remember that? How we sat by the crumbling pillars in our secret place and spoke about all the little things that mattered so much to children. Let's talk that way, or at least pretend to. I know that you can't forgive me for leaving, any more than Laguna, but humor me for a little while please?"
He shook his head absently. "I forgive you Ellone. I never held it against you that you left. But I haven't talk to anyone, really talked, in such a long time that I think I forgot how." He folded his arms over his chest and walked along the beach, kicking a few shells out of the way.
"It's Rinoa," he said, after a few moments. "I don't love her Ellone."
"What? No you can't mean that Squall. You risked your life for her. How could you say such a thing?" Ellone had asked in absolute shook.
He frowned, his thin eyebrows drawing together in a look of frustration.
"I can't explain it. I just don't know. Ellone, they, Quistis, Irvine, Selphie, Zell, pulled me into it. They practically gave me the wedding ring to place on her finger. I don't know why I'm doing this. Is it for myself or for them? That day on the Lunar Pod, I felt like I had to get her because it was my responsibility, the burden that Zone and Caraway had placed upon me. Sometimes when I'm with her I feel less alone but other times I feel like I'm wearing a mask. I need to find my own reasons for loving her. If I don't then I have no right to lead her on believing, wasting her affection."
Ellone shook her head. "You think too much Squall, did anyone ever tell you that? You analyze too much."
That made him frown. "Rinoa told me that. I guess it must be true then."
" Look over there Squall, see that little town Winhill? That's our home. Whenever I needed to figure out a problem I always came back here. My memories of Winhill gave me the strength I needed to hold on. This is your home as well Squall. Your roots as well as mine. Generations are like flowers Squall, one withers while the other blooms. The ones that have passed will watch over you. Raine does, I know."
Squall nodded thoughtfully.
"I felt her presence before, when I came to visit. I helped one of the villagers get back his broken vase. It was a hell of a waste of time though."
Ellone smiled fondly. She felt the wind gently stroking her cheek like some gentle lover. The fur on Squall's shoulders stirred as he shifted his position. He was watching her now. His lovely eyes on her.
"Raine told me that my parents watched over me after they died. One guardian angel on each of my shoulders, she told me. Although I loved Raine and Laguna I never forgot my real parents and I know that they still sit on my shoulders protecting me from harm. But now and then I wish I had more than just their protection. I wish I had something to remember them by, some advice or some momento. You are lucky Squall, you still have your father. He can give you all that. Don't pass on this opportunity Squall, no matter how wrong he was in his actions."
"I'll do that, in due time. It's taking me long enough to figure out my emotions for Rinoa. How can I start on how I feel about Laguna?"
"Squall, Squall, let the past go. Remember what I said to you in the Lunar Pod about letting it go?"
"Yes, but it's hard, Ellone, so hard."
Ellone knew now what a hypocrite she had been, telling him to let the past be when no one was so preoccupied with the past as herself. The ghosts of the past haunted her from day to day. Even if he could escape the past she couldn't. She could never forget how she abandoned him. The orphan boy standing in the rain pledging his promise to her. A promise she had no right to force him to make. In the end her power allowed her to relive the past but not change it. She would be forced to watch the same unmerciful turn of events again and again, whether it be through her power or through her guilty memory.
"Please be alright, Squall." She whispered, watching her breath fog up the glass in front of her. Don't make me relive another mistake for all time.
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