Secret of the Tenei Star Chapter 13
Cleo looked upon Gremio with sympathy. . .a new sense of respect.
"So that's why you were always so overprotective of the Young Master," she murmured. "I never knew, Gremio. I just can't begin to-"
"Yes." He lowered his head once more. "I care for him as if he were my own. I'd lost my chance with my child when Emily died, but soon afterward believed that. . .that maybe I did have another chance, another purpose, another reason as to why I was here."
"Now I understand why you were protective even after we all joined the Liberation Army. You had sworn your life to guard him no matter what, to keep him away from all the evils in the world. . .even though at times it seemed impossible." Cleo's melancholy expression suddenly turned into a smile that was shining with admiration. "But. . .you accomplished everything you wanted for him. From the time he was that rambunctious little kid. . .to the time he became the leader of the Liberation Army. You've helped so much when it came to Young Master.
"And now he's grown up," Gremio added with a hint of contentment. "I'm so proud of him. And I know Master Teo is too."
Cleo nodded at him. "I still can't get over what happened with Emily, though. . ." Her voice trembled. "I knew that something had been going on when it came to Aaron, but I didn't realize it had been that bad."
Gremio's eyes clouded. "Yeah."
"And it isn't as if this is new to me," she went on. "I've known a couple of Emilys before, but their situations weren't as extreme." She shook her head in disbelief. "Poor Emily."
"Strange as it sounds, I still miss her," Gremio told his friend. "She was the love of my life, and the reason I became a better person."
"Yes, she is," Cleo agreed. "I'd felt awful for a while after she had gone. . .wishing I had been nicer to her. . .but I realize now, that I couldn't have prevented what happened. Going off with Aaron was her decision, and hers alone. There's nothing any one of us could have done. And there's nothing you could have done either, Gremio."
"I know," Gremio responded. "And I now know. . .I couldn't have prevented what went on in the alley. There's no way I could have known Aaron and his friends would come after us. There's no way I could've saved Emily, considering I couldn't break free from being held up against the wall, being stabbed over and over like that. . ." He stopped to touch the scar again.
"Whatever happened to Aaron and his. . .eccentric pals anyway?" Cleo wanted to know, tilting her head in curiosity.
"You mean you don't know?" Gremio asked, then saw her shaking her head. "Oh. Well, during the War of Succession, the Imperials ran low on soldiers, and at one point, were forced to recruit criminals. They didn't really mention it to the rest of the people, but Master Teo told me that Aaron and his friends all died as a result of injuries received in the war. Looks as though he was bound to die sooner or later. . .so I guess I wasted my time in trying to avenge Emily." He then let out a sigh. "You know, there are times I still imagine her coming back to me, alive and well. . .I miss her a lot."
"But Gremio," Cleo interrupted, "Given everything that's happened. . .I think it's finally time you let go."
Gremio stared at Cleo for a moment. . .before nodding. "Yeah, you're right. I think it's about time I did that."
A chill settled over the two friends as they ventured outside of the walls of Gregminster. Cleo shivered as she and Gremio headed toward the back edge of the city. However, the frigid weather didn't seem to bother Gremio, who was carrying a small assembly of flowers.
"Strange how they decided to build the graveyard outside the city," Cleo commented, "as if they somehow knew Gregminster would be ruined at one point or another."
"Yes, it is," Gremio agreed. "At times I was grateful they had made that decision."
"Well, here we are," Cleo announced as they came upon the rows of graves. The cemetery had been created a short distance from the city's back wall.
They continued walking, scanning the names of the tombstones before seeing-
"Oh," Gremio whispered. "Here it is, Cleo." He stopped, then knelt down to set the flowers in front of the marker. Remaining there for a moment, he placed a hand on the headstone.
"I'm. . .here again, Emily," he started, his voice unsteady. "Y-you know I never was good at greetings, or, uh, words, heh." He let out a nervous chuckle. "But I'm here tonight. . .to put my past where it. . .um, belongs." He exhaled tensely. "You were always special to me, Emily, and. . .and I loved you with all of my heart. You taught me so much in life, even though. . .not all of it was, uh, good. I just. . .I just want to say, that I've come to say good-bye. . ." It was here he trailed off, the stillness settling about him for a moment.
Cleo gently put a hand on his shoulder.
"No, I can't," Gremio declared. "I won't say good-bye."
Cleo was stunned. "Gremio. . .?"
Suddenly, he began to beam. "I'll say good night, but never good-bye. I'll put you behind in my past, but I won't ever forget you. For if I forget you, I can never truly move on. My life. . .my life is here now, so I must live it, but you will always hold a special place in my heart. I live on, and will make certain your memory always will. . .for the hope that we will see each other again in time." With that, he slowly rose to his feet, his face lowered. "But until then, I will say good night. Farewell. . .for now."
Cleo smirked at Gremio, happy that her friend had chosen to move on at last. "I'm proud of you, Gremio," she told him, her voice barely audible.
Gremio nodded in response, then exhaled once more. "Fare you well, my kind, gentle angel," he whispered as he lifted his head, gazing longingly into the starry night. It was truly over, and time for letting go. Gremio smiled once more as he said good night to Emily, the one person who had given him so much, taught him true love, and overall had made him a better person.
"Rest in peace, my love."
Thanks to WP and Black for giving me constant feedback about the story while it progressed, and thanks especially for killing some anxiety where certain story twists were concerned. And thanks to DK and DragonSeeds for their honest opinions on the fanfic from the beginning (you know, before it turned sour. . .hehehe j/k).
If anyone has any questions, comments, or needs some things cleared up (I know a few things need clarifying, so an explanations section is pending), don't hesitate to e-mail me (that goes for a certain reviewer who shall remain nameless O_o).
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