A Melting of a Heart Chapter 22


By Key Mima

Magus had been let into the hut only after Sunev had been stripped and cleaned up by a few women. When he entered, he saw that she had been placed on a soft bed, and had sheets pulled up to her shoulders.

Lucca and Marle, who had brought her here and helped her into bed, looked up with worried expressions when he came inside. Marle, especially, looked terrible.

When no one spoke, she finally told them her fears. "Do you.. Do you think she meant what she said.. back there?" she asked in a small, subdued voice.

"I am sure she had no idea what she was saying, Marle," Lucca told her, putting a hand on her shoulder.

"But if she had no idea what she was saying, how could she.. have known.." Marle looked up as Crono and Glenn entered the hut. She placed her arms around Crono's waist and placed her forehead on his chest. His arms encircled her protectively.

"I'm sure," Magus said, against his better judgement, "that she took memories from before, but recalled them with the mind of the... thing Dalton had made of her." What was he doing, trying to make her feel better?

Marle was silent and solemn, but nodded her head.

"So, she's going to be okay?" Crono asked. He looked down at Sunev gravely.

"All we need to do is wait for her to wake up," Lucca replied, fingering her tonic bottle nervously.

"Come get us when she wakes up," Crono said earnestly, and he and Marle bowed out of the hut, whispering softly.

Glenn hovered at the door, looking uncomfortably at the ground. He looked up at Magus and nodded.

"You fought well today," he acknowledged grudgingly.

"You as well, Glenn. I was glad for your help," Magus answered through a clenched jaw. The sentiments were real, but it was almost painful to say them.

Glenn nodded silently, told Lucca he was glad she had been all right, and told them to call for him when Sunev awoke. He bowed to them before he left the hut.

With everyone gone, Magus dropped into a chair and put his head in his hands. Lucca sat down next to him and looked at him, concerned.

"You okay?" she asked, patting his back.

"Yeah," he answered, nodding. "I just.. don't know what to do with myself now that she's back. It's almost like I've never been with her, even though we'd become so close."

Lucca smiled sadly. "Now's your chance to make up all that time. I wish you all the luck in the world, Magus."

He turned to the side, looking at her.

"I had no idea what an angel you were, Lucca. Without your brains, without your resilience, we couldn't have accomplished any of this. Sunev would be left to live out the rest of her existence under Dalton's control.. or die." He looked down at her white hair.

"Oh, Magus.." Lucca stood up and crouched in front of him before she came up to hug him. He found himself smiling as he gave her a short hug back.

"I know that was hard to say, so I'm not gonna make you say it again or anything, don't worry," she assured him, and chuckled to herself. "I'm going to leave you alone with her, okay?" Her eyes glittered, and he knew that they had created a kinship now that nothing could destroy. "I'm going to go take care of Robo. Let me know when she wakes up." She turned toward the door, but looked back. "And by the way, you're not a bad kisser." They grinned at one another.

He watched her leave the hut, and heard her call out to someone, her voice fading as she walked away.

He pulled his chair closer to Sunev's side, and looked down pensively at her. Her face was peaceful, if not somewhat bruised. Her hair was longer than it had been before - to her shoulders - and its whiteness still startled him every time he looked at it.

Dalton's spell had also apparently affected her powers. She had been physically extremely strong, but she had never used her mental powers on anyone. As he thought about the forest back in Zeal that she had pulled out of the ground, he realized that it was probably better that she hadn't.

But, as always, his thoughts returned to Dalton, and his experiments on her. He painfully remembered his dreams, her crying.. Was it true? Had it been real? He wondered if she really did return to herself at night. But he didn't feel it was very appropriate to bring it up when she regained her consciousness.

"What did he do to you?" he whispered softly, brushing the hair from her eyes.

A blast of white light, bright and painful. A sudden realization of an aching, all over her body. Sunev cringed and moaned, opening her eyes. The light hurt, and her body hurt, and her mind.. hurt. Beside her was a mid-tonic that she took the liberty of drinking. She was sure no one would mind.

As a sweet, numbing feeling overcame her as the tonic worked its magic, Sunev propped herself up on her arms and looked around. She had been in this hut before. It was right outside of the commons.

And it occurred to her - she was saved.

Her memories were so muddled that it was hard to understand what was true and what was false. But every memory of the time she spent with Dalton was.. indescribably awful. If only she could have broken the spell that had kept her with him by herself. She remembered her sleepless nights, when she regained a sense of herself, and was able to think over the horrible things that had been done so mercilessly to her. If only she could have gotten away herself. She thought bitterly of her inability to control her actions while she was with Dalton. Now she didn't know where the others were, whether they were all right. What had she done to them while she was under his spell? She lay down on her side, gasped for breath, and let out a sob.

A momentary brightness in the room was the only thing that had alerted her to someone's entrance. When she looked up, she saw..


He held a pitcher of water, rooted at that spot, looking at her. The pain that pervaded him was almost as strong as hers.

He slowly placed the pitcher on a table, then moved forward to crouch beside her.

They looked at one another for a long while without saying anything, and he wiped the tears on her cheek.

He looked away, seemingly gathering courage for what he was about to say. He had a question for her, that had been burning in his mind. She suspected it was about Dalton. But his words died in his throat, and he looked back at her, his face solemn.

"Are you okay?"

Sunev looked back at him and smiled a tiny smile.

"I helped myself to the tonic by the bed. Hope you don't mind."

"Never." He looked at her, eyes bright.

"Is everyone else okay? I didn't.. hurt anyone, did I?"

She could see Magus was debating whether or not he should tell her that she gave everyone a good beating.

"Everyone's fine. Lucca's fixing Robo's eye back on right now."

Sunev's face suddenly turned ashen, and Magus grinned at her. "We know it was just the spell. No one will hold you accountable for anything you did." Suddenly, his eyes became distant, as if he had just remembered something. "No, no one will blame you for anything you did."

Sunev laid back on the pillow, defeated. She must have done awful things. She knew she wouldn't be able to handle hearing them for a while, but she trusted Magus wouldn't pain her with that. Just like she wouldn't pain him with recollections of her month with Dalton - besides, she didn't know what was real or unreal concerning that, anyway.

"Oh, here," Magus said suddenly, as though he had just remembered something. He handed her an elixir, and she drank it in one gulp, instantly feeling better. She sat up to face him.

"Wait, speaking.. speaking of Lucca." His eyes met hers quickly, and he moved onto a chair beside the bed. "I remember you.. kissing her?"

"That was the way to break the spell," he said, taking her hand. "You would only return to normal if you thought we were in love. Lucca figured it out."

Sunev nodded, but deep down, she knew that they had never shared a kiss like that. She knew she probably owed Lucca her life, but jealousy bit at the back of her mind.

"It was nothing, Sunev," he whispered, seeing her momentarily hazy eyes. "Oh, Sunev.." Magus climbed onto the bed with her and pulled her into his arms, burying his face in her hair. She felt safe in his arms, safe with him. She laced her arms around his waist and smiled up at him.

"I know." She hesitated slightly before she touched her lips to his, but pulled away from him before he could respond. She giggled softly, and laid her head on his chest again.

She couldn't bring herself to do anything but melt into the warmth of his body, and knew he felt the same way. He ran his fingers up her neck and into her hair, and they sat together, entwined, nearly motionless, until a knock on the doorframe brought them back to the real world.

Magus ran his hand down her spine as he pulled away and returned to the chair by the bed. She adjusted herself beneath the covers again, and let Magus answer.

"Come in," he called. His voice was hoarse and broke halfway through, and he coughed into his hand, his eyes open wide as he flashed Sunev an embarrassed smile. She chuckled, and felt a warmth pervade her body. Thank god I'm back. They were the words that beat like a pulse in her mind.

It was Marle who came in, looking smaller and more meek than ever before. She was like a puppy that had been scolded, and she stood close by the door as if she feared she would have to run and escape.

"Sorry to bother you, I just--"

"Get over here and give me a hug," Sunev interrupted, opening her arms wide and grinning.

"Oh, thank you!" Marle choked as she rushed forward, clasping Sunev around the neck.

"You're welcome?" Sunev answered, puzzled, as Marle pulled away and seated herself on the edge of her bed.

Magus coughed and shot her a sideways glance. "You said some... not nice things when we were battling," he informed her, looking down at his gloves as he adjusted them.

"...oh." Sunev looked at Marle, whose face was ashen. "Look, I didn't mean any of the bullshit I'm sure I said when I was under Dalton's control. I don't even know.. anything.. that I did." This in itself was disturbing, and the room quieted.

"I was hoping you didn't know what you were saying. Either way, I'm glad," Marle said finally. She smiled up at Sunev. Sunev smiled back at her, for once not in the least bit annoyed by her.

"Dalton... What happened... to him? Have you got him here?" Sunev finally asked. She was surprised that wasn't the first question out of her mouth when she woke up. If they had him locked up here, she didn't think she could stand to be on the same island with him.

Marle and Magus exchanged a dark look. She nodded to the magician, and he leaned forward.

"When Lucca and I broke the spell, he couldn't deal with it. I got him in the side with a dagger, but he was bent on taking you down with him. He was going to kill you. Lucca shot him. He's dead, Sunev. You never have to worry about him again." His eyes softened as he studied her expression.

She was relieved. She was sickened. She wanted to cry. She wanted to jump for joy. It really was all over, then. Was this the last of the troubles that would assail her?

It was then, as if a vapor from a stick of incense, that the memory of the real world -- Earth -- drifted into her mind. The anxiousness about troubles to come showed how used she was to this world. Would she ever even return to Earth? She didn't know how she could, and truthfully, she wasn't sure if she wanted to. Despite all the pain she had faced here, it was as if this was her home. She had missed her mother while she had her bouts of consciousness in the past months, but her mother and her family and her world were more like abstract ideas now instead of reality. Here was reality. Here was life.

She turned to meet Magus's gaze. He averted his eyes, uncomfortable at being caught watching her so intensely, but she kept her eyes on him. This was what had become real to her. She thought of this man, once a drawing in a character booklet. She smiled to herself. It was too surreal.

Then she shook her head to bring herself back to the present moment. Dalton was dead. She was safe -- for now.

"I.. I'm glad," she said, after a pause that to the others must have seemed like a long time.

"He won't be bothering you anymore," Marle said, placing a hand on Sunev's knee. "Let me go get you some food, and tell the others that you're awake. They're all dying to -- they can't wait to see you," she finished lamely, and left with a small smile.

Magus watched Marle leave, and his eyes remained on the door even after she had gone.

"What were you thinking of just now?" he asked, rising from the chair to pour her a glass of water from the pitcher he had brought into the hut. "Your eyes misted over. Something's troubling you?"

She fiddled with the seam of her blanket, watching his hands on the pitcher.

"You know I'm not from this world," she stated, accepting the cup from him. His eyebrows rose as if he too had forgotten about her mysterious origins.

"Now that you mention it.." he murmured. He watched her drink deeply then take a deep breath. He didn't seem to notice, but he was still holding the pitcher.

"I don't know if I'll ever get back. It's a weird feeling, Magus." She paused here as her heart skipped a beat at his name spilling from her lips. She took another sip to quell her troubled heart. "I think I'll end up staying in this world for the rest of my life, but I can't picture what that life will be like. In my world, I had a plan. I would graduate from school and head on to another school. I would get some sort of a job after that. I would get married, and live out my life like every other person in my world. But here, I don't have a plan. I don't know where to go from here, for the rest of my life. It's just.. scary."

Magus was silent for a long time. He readjusted his grip on the pitcher he didn't realize he was still holding, and rose to his feet to go into the far corner of the room to look out a window-flap, leaving the pitcher on a rough wooden table. He didn't seem to know how to say the words forming in his mind. She stared at the sun highlighting his pale hair.

"Stay with me."

She blinked and crossed her arms across her chest, reaching a hand up to rub her neck.

He turned from the window to look at her, his eyes showing confusion with himself, at what he was saying, but seriousness, determination.

"You can always just be with me."

Her hand traveled from her neck to her mouth, and she raised her knees to set her head on them. She couldn't stay the tears that welled up in her eyes, and she softly cried.

"I didn't mean to upset you. It's just an offer, you're not obligated to do anything you don't want to do. I'm not trying to hurt you." Magus was at her side in a second, his face close to her hidden one.

She chuckled through her tears. "You stupid. I'm happy."

She raised her head, wiping her tear-streaked face and smiling at him.

"I don't think I could leave you, anyway," she admitted, letting out another broken chuckle. She laughed with relief, and he smiled, looking away and rising to his feet.

After a pause, he nodded, as if saying yes to a question posed to him by his mind. He turned to look at her.

"Forget this cheese," he stated, his lip curling. His eyes were bright.

Sunev broke into real laughter and fell back onto her pillow, looking up at the ceiling.

"Yeah, what the hell are we talking about? Go get me some food, you dork!"

"Yes, ma'am." He took a last long look at her and bowed out of the doorway, a grin on his face.

Sunev continued to laugh to herself until Marle returned, leading Crono and Glenn. They all looked quite startled by her present state.

Let them wonder, she thought to herself, as she grabbed up her blanket and gasped for breath, the laughter and relief flooding out of her like a waterfall.

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