Hope in Love Chapter 13
Music of the Night
By Sorceress Fantasia
"Where are we headed for?" Lucretsia asked. This girl wasnt all that trustworthy. God knows where she was leading them. And although asking may not get you the truth, it would at least let you have an idea where you were going, even if it may be a lie.
"Nabula. The nearest town." Solo answered without hesitation as she walked on. "Also a place you have to go through to be able to get to the palace." For most part of the journey, she had kept silent, talking only when asked. The others were having conversations between themselves, and most revolved around the sphinx.
"God thinks that we have a shortage of #$%*& walking mysteries. First off, there was Spiky, then Red, then Vince, and now we have her!" Cid muttered.
Just like Cid, many of them felt a sense of foreboding about the eccentric young woman. As much as they couldnt, they wished they didnt need to be around her. However, Yuffie felt otherwise.
This woman was, well, interesting to say the least. First off was her incredible powers. Yuffie had always been a great fan of strong opponents. And Solo was evoking the exact same feelings Cloud had given her when they first met. Strong, powerful, someone who could kick your ass really hard and youll most probably be sore for months. Then, there was the aura that surrounded her. Sad and depressing, as though she was shouldering tons of burden alone. And it was more than just that. She also had a graceful aura about her Yuffie could smell a mile off. She wasnt your average keeper like the others back at Zeal. They seemed to be afraid of Solo, if she didnt know better. Silently, Yuffie made a mental note to befriend Solo.
With that thought in mind, Yuffie frolics over to Solos side and tries to start a conversation. "So, how long have you been at Zeal?"
Solo threw her a side-glance, her face impassive. After a while, she finally spoke. "Seven years."
"Oh I see." Yuffie replied as a gesture of politeness. She was debating of what to ask next when it struck her. "So you arent born there? I mean, born to be the keeper?"
"So, where did you come from?"
"You dont have to know." Solos soft, icy reply stung Yuffies skin. Although it wasnt really obvious, Yuffie thought she saw Solos face pale a little. She sensed an underlying note to her statement. It was the same when Cloud had asked her where she came from. Yuffie had given the exact same reply, not only because she didnt want him to know, but also she *couldnt* let him know. For if she did, her scheme to steal the materias would have failed. Shes hiding a lot from us. Yuffie mused. What could be under her cool exterior?
Not born as a keeper? Grim could smell a rat. Walking (or rather sitting on Clouds shoulder) just behind the duo had let him hear the whole conversation. Although it was short, but it was longer than any other conversations Grim had ever listened (SF: You mean eavesdrop). Eloquent cryptic answers that held so many hidden meanings. A feeling so profound that Grim could feel it in his veins. Solo was definitely more than meets the eye. And he would have to find out.
One things for sure. Solo wasnt just an ordinary keeper. Grim recalled his fathers words. Ever since the existence of Zeal, the keepers were always carefully hand-chosen by the royalties themselves. Babies with extraordinary powers were identified, then taken away to be trained. During the training, their magical abilities would be fully developed and brainwashed with certain rules and regulations that they had to abide for the rest of their lives protecting the holy shrine. So why has she been at Zeal for only seven years?
The kingdom was short of talented babies, so they went onto the streets and drafted new recruits for the job. They saw Solo, thought she was powerful, then proceeded to drag her to become a keeper. Maybe they wanted her to use her beauty to lure people away. Grim mind came up with several answers, all idiotic and impossible.
No, shed probably draw people there instead. Grim snapped.
Maybe shes only seven? Kids nowadays gets really mature and many look a lot older than they actually are. His mind provided him with another stupid answer.
If shes seven, Ill chop off my head and use it as a football. Grim replied, this time exasperated. Father said that when you hear voices from your mind, youre going bonkers. And when you actually answer them, you are moonstruck. He sighed. I really have to get away from Solo. Shes doing strange things to my psyche.
After a few hours worth of journey, they found themselves in the cool comfort of a little hut. The sun had set, and the place was pitch-black, save for the wooden hut they had found, with much help from Solo.
She had led them there, and told them it was too late to continue with their trek to Nabula, then proceeded to leave them alone whist she went missing into the night. While the surroundings were rather quiet, except for the mating calls of what they assumed to be crickets, the hut itself was bustling with activities, like some fish market.
"Ya sure that woman can be trusted? Shes so damn spooky!" Barret spoke aloud to no one in particular. He needed some answers, and it didnt matter who would provide them.
"Are you trying to tell me youre frightened?" Reno gloated. He was taken by Solos looks, and felt that no woman of such beauty would mean any harm. In fact, he felt that she would lead them to what they need. So when Barret had suspected Solo, he saw the need to retort, and the man was giving him the opportunity to. However, deep in his heart, he felt like a sad, pitiful, love-sick puppy who was begging for love. (SF: Some people just dont know whats infatuation.)
Barrets face was as red as a beetroot, even though his skin had already hid a lot of the embarrassment. He chided, "Who says so, you sad, pitiful, love-sick puppy!"
Reno rolled his eyes and threw up his hands. So much for keeping his thoughts to himself. He was about to snap back when Tifa hissed, "Stop this charade! You two are acting like some immature juvenile delinquents."
Reno bit back his remark that threatened to stumble out of his lips forcefully. He wasnt going to tarnish the good (SF: Good? Youve just got to be kidding.) reputation of the Turks. Barret did an action that faintly resembled a pout and leaned back against the wall.
"To be honest, I feel what Barret had said to be rather worth thinking about. Can we really trust her?" Red pointed out.
Barrets brightened considerably as a wide, jaw-splitting grin plastered itself on his face. Reno, on the other hand, pouted and his eyebrows were knitted.
"Sure, why not?" Yuffie chirped.
This time, Barret was the one pouting and eyebrows knitted, while Reno had a wide, jaw-splitting grin plastered on his face. Way to go, young lady! He silently cheered. Reno made a mental note to thank the girl later.
As though to answer the bewildered looks on everyones face (except Reno), she added, "Sure she may be cold, a little oblivious to human emotions, not the best of conversationalists, eccentric, bossy " her voice trailed off. Come to think of it, just what *did* she see in Solo? She shook her head. Shed figure that out later. Now, the thing was to let the others believe in Solo.
Reno felt a heavy punch right smack in his mind. Yeah, bravo Yuffie. Bravo If this was what the young ninjas idea of convincing, Reno could see the headlines. Man gets conned, Woman gets conned, Old man gets conned, Old lady gets conned in todays, tomorrows, the day afters and forevers morning papers, afternoon papers and night papers. Just what the heck was she thinking?! Scratch that mental note.
"But shes so powerful! I bet she could fry a dozen enemies at one go!" She added jovially. Then she shuddered, "Or all of us "
Oh, that mental note was *so* far away.
At this point, Cid spoke up. "We aint got no choice but to trust her."
"Cid speaks my mind." Vincent says softly.
"Mine too." Lucretsia added.
"And mine." Rude supported them.
"I dont intend on going against the tide." Elena said casually.
"I feel that we can trust her. I just feel it." Cloud states.
Tifa nodded and she expressed her opinion, not that she would want to disagree with Cloud. "Hai."
"If thats what all of ya think, fine. But Im an individual, I dont follow the crowd." Barret grumbled. "I aint gonna trust her for a sec. Shes such a sphinx!"
"Good. I enjoy being one."
"Right! Huh?" Barret turned behind slowly, dreading to find the voices owner. Damn, it was Solo.
She walked across the room. To Barret, each step was an echo against eternity. (SF: Ok, Im exaggerating.) Finally, she came face to face with him. Usually, Barret had nothing to fear in situations like such. But this girl calmness and peculiar answer made him felt otherwise. Her eyes were deep, and it was as though everything could be clearly reflected in those azure orbs. Her starry eyes narrowed into a piercing gaze. It was amazing that his head didnt explode under the weight of her intense stare. Barret found himself involuntarily taking one step back from those diamond-hard eyes.
Solo was the one to break the deafening silence. "It is up to you to believe me or to suspect me. I couldnt care less." With that, she brushed passed him, and slipped into the darkness again.
Tifa opened the wooden gate that led out into the huts side. The gate creaked in protest. Carefully, she shut it behind her. She looked around for a moment, then let her ears lead her to the source of the melodious music. The music had been going on for at least a few hours, and although it was deep into the night, it acted as a lullaby rather than waking up anyone.
However, that was not the case for Tifa. It failed to lure her to sleep, instead, it caused her to feel aroused. And this was the reason she had decided to take a short stroll and to look for the source of the music. Even though it was keeping her up, Tifa felt no anger in that. Somehow, she loved it and each note left her craving for more.
She wandered around for a while, each step leading her closer to the source. Finally, she found where the smoothing music was coming from. Tifa lifted her head to see Solo, sitting casually on a thin branch of a tree, and leaning against the trunk. Music continued to flow out of her flute. The music was sad, and it was like someone spilling her woes, crying as though no one was looking.
"Its a beautiful night, isnt it?" Tifa asked, knowing very well that Solo had long acknowledged her presence.
"Aa." Solo tore her lips away from her flute and looked up. As she looked at the moon, her eyes seemed to glimmer and the brightness of the night was reflected in her clear blue eyes.
The two young ladies enjoyed the silence that reigned, both absorbed in their own thoughts. In the distance, they both felt the soft caress of the breeze. Solo tilted her head back, and let the cooling wind blow her blonde tresses up.
"Look at the moon. Does it remind you of anything?" She asked quietly.
Tifa nodded. She couldnt agree more. The moon does jog up a lot of her childhood memories. She remembered. Nibelheim might not have been the best location to look at the beautiful silver sphere, but there were some occasions where it was truly gorgeous. Especially that night. The night after Cloud left for Midgar.
The terrestrial globe was extremely attractive that night. But Tifa was in no mood to truly appreciate its beauty. To her, the moon was crying, crying for the loss of a boy that might never come back. Its brightness spread far and wide, Tifa felt it calling for her to go out, to Midgar, to look for the boy with the spiky blonde hair and expressive liquid blue eyes.
"The moon is so far, but yet so near. Two people on the two ends of the universe may be far apart, but the moon binds them together. After all, arent you looking at the same moon? And those stars so deep and mysterious." Solo spoke suddenly, bringing Tifa out of her trance.
"Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our loved ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy, even though they may be miles away." Tifa replied, as a smile appeared on her face.
"Right. Arent there moments in your life that you miss someone so much that you just want to pick them from your dreams and hug them for real?" Tifa asked. She hugged herself tightly to emphasize her point.
Silence filled the gap between them once more. Then Solo broke the uncomfortable silence. "I dont have any."
"Because nobody has ever loved me."
"Dont be silly, Solo. Of course someone loves you."
Solo shook her head. "No. No one loves me or like me. Not even my parents."
"Nonsense Solo. All parents love their children."
"Not mine." Solo spoke, voice soft. Her lips curled up in a bitter smile.
Tifa felt her heart wrench. Although Solo acted as though she didnt care, but Tifa could sense the sadness in her words. Or maybe Solo didnt even know she was experiencing pain! Even though Solo might have a lot of battle scars, but those would heal with time. But not this one. The scar on her heart would always be there. For the first time since they met, Tifa sympathized with Solo.
Tifa summoned up a forceful, but lovely smile. "The world is like a mirror. If you face it smiling, it smiles right back. So similarly, if you love the world, the world will love you in return!"
"What makes you think I hate the world?"
"I didnt say that. You did."
"Hn. So much for keeping my thoughts to myself." Solo chuckled.
Tifa frowned. "Solo, to love and be loved is the greatest happiness of existence. So please, dont lock up your heart. Youll miss out on a lot of things. Happiness lies for those who cry, those who hurt, those who have searched, and those who have tried, for only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives. The same goes for love."
Tifa turned away. "Love comes to those who still hope although they've been disappointed; to those who still believe although they've been betrayed; to those who still love although they've been hurt before."
Thats why I still hope. She added mentally.
She spun around to face her friend again. Solos blue irises were faraway, and filled with a bitterness that Tifa could clearly see.
Her eyes fell on the moon again. She spoke, as her lips curled up once more in a slight, but genuine smile. "I suppose so."
Tifa laughed. "Right!" Then she suddenly remembered something.
"Oh! I almost forgot." She grinned at Solo sheepishly.
"What is it?"
"I well, I just wanna apologise, for Barrets behavior just now." Solos eyes narrowed, and she cringed a little. She couldnt blame Barret for taking a step back; Solos stares were scary. She blurted, "He may be rough and rowdy, but hes a nice guy. Its just that he doesnt think before talking sometimes. Straightforward."
Solo shrugged. " Its alright. Im used to it." The last sentence came out barely a whisper.
"Huh? What did you say?"
"No-nothing! Im not that petty, you know." She replied with humour.
Tifa giggled. "I should have guessed."
Both of them giggled.
"Oh yea! What song was that? The one you played with your flute." Tifa inquired.
"Hmm? That? Its called Memories. I composed it myself."
"Oh, I see." Tifa answered thoughtfully. Then, another thought struck her. "Can you sing it?"
"Sing? I- I suppose so."
"Go on! Sing it! Please~! For me?" Tifa requested, and batted her puppy-like watery-eyes that few people can resist.
Solo sighed. "Alright. Ill sing it." Then she looked at Tifa, eyes shining with a hint of mischief. "But dont blame me if you catch a cold tonight!"
Tifa burst out laughing. "Ha! Deal!"
Then Solo began in a deep rich voice.
Memory, turn your face to the moonlight
Let your memory lead you
Open up, enter in
If you find there the meaning of what happiness is
Then a new life will begin
Memory, all alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
Burnt out ends of smoky days
The stale cold smell of morning
The street lamp dies, another night is over
Another day is dawning
Daylight, I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I mustn't give in
When the dawn comes tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will begin
Solos eyes were closed, and her voice was crisp and clear in the midnight air. She sang the song emotionally, sadly, wistfully. The music seemed to have a life of its own. Tifa could feel the sadness, the tears and the pain dripping onto her through Solos voice.
Sunlight, through the trees in
Like a flower as the dawn is breaking
The memory is fading
Touch me, it's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me you'll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has begun
Tifa clapped loudly as she cheered. "Hoo~woo! Its wonderful! I never expected you to sing so well!"
Solo shrugged. "Its just one of the few things I was trained to be good at."
"No! You heard me wrongly. I didnt say that. I said I was born with a flair for singing."
Tifa said nothing, but she fathomed that there were a lot of secrets her new friend would not tell. Yet. Maybe someday she would. Maybe someday.
Look, a new day has begun
Author's notes: Yeah! Another chapter done! Alright, back to business. The song that Solo sings here is the ever-famous 'Memories' of the musical 'Cats'. It does not belong to me. Noticed that this chapter focuses a lot on Solo? Well, this is just the prelude to her past. But from all the clues I've given, you should have guessed a little bit of the story here and there. Too bad. I wanted a surprise, looks like it's not gonna work, ne? By the way, I have decided that from this chapter on, I will be added some remarks here and there. Just for fun, you know. (SF: ~~~~) These type of brackets means that they're my remarks.
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