Even Now...

By Tenshi no Ai

I don't own the characters within, but I do own a copy of the game! That's good enough for me...

It is quiet as we slowly float over the forest that borders the Frontier.

Even Kyle and Jessica, who are very vocal with their thoughts, are quietly staring out of one of the windows that Myght had so thoughtfully put in the balloon. I look over at the two. They're standing next to each other, their arms almost touching, their faces holding twin expressions of determination and courage. Because it is rare to see the two of them next to each other and not bickering, I keep my gaze on them for a while. They don't notice. Slowly, almost hesitantly, Kyle stretches one thick, sinewy arm from its bent position at his hip and wraps it around Jessica's petite waist. Without a noticeable change in expression, she leans against his muscle-bound body.

I look away, to the window in front of me. I don't want to intrude on their time together.

Nothing to see but endless green treetops. Turning away from my window, I notice Alex at the window next to mine. He looks so natural in his Dragonmaster armor, like a hero ready to rescue his true love from any evil that should dare touch her...

A sigh escapes my lips. That's exactly who he is.

On his face, there is determination, but there is also sadness within his olive green eyes. Nall, sitting on Alex's shoulder, must've also noticed this because he suddenly starts nuzzling Alex's head with his own. Alex grins and reaches with one gloved hand to pat Nall affectionally. I smile and look back at my own window.

My own window, with no one else to share it.

To my right are Jessica and Kyle, the latter holding onto the former like they've never had an argument before. I think that they're really meant for each other, and although their calm moments are few and far between, they still make a wonderful couple.

To my left are Alex and Nall, best friends from birth as I understand it. Alex is normally very quiet, and Nall has a comment for nearly everything, but they make wonderful friends to each other and to me. Although Luna isn't here, Alex at least has one of his best friends beside him.

And I...well...until now, there was someone with me.

Until now...Nash...


Before everything happened, Nash had always been around me. It was rare indeed when I could turn around and not see his uniquely styled hair. I've always appreciated his company, especially since he was the only person that really seemed to like me for me. Sometimes, though, he would act nervously around me, and if I stood too close to him, he would become extremely unsettled. Until recently, though, I didn't understand why he would act in such ways and I worried that it was because he wasn¹t truly comfortable with being around me, like all the other students of the Magic Guild.

But yesterday...I understood.

Yesterday, as we were about to board the airship, he became almost hysterical. He screamed that we were underestimating Ghaleon, that we were all just going to get ourselves killed.

He yelled that he would never have me die in such a way.

A blinding streak of lightning fell from the sky, instantly blowing up the balloon's engine.

Then he admitted that, ever since the beginning, he had been reporting to Ghaleon all of our moves. As Alex, as all of us, traveled to the dragon shrines, Ghaleon knew.

Nash said he did this in order to protect me.

He was trying to protect me.

At that moment, I relived the five years of friendship between Nash and I. Of his nervousness when I suggested that we study together, of his stuttering when my arm brushed against his. Of how he would always follow me around until it became second nature to hear his voice at any given moment.

Of this, of that, of so many hints that I never picked up on.

And still, despite my inability to notice his feelings, he...he still liked...maybe even loved me.

I never realized.

I close my eyes as tears begin unwillingly springing up in my eyes again. If Jessica or Kyle were to notice, they'd talk again of torturing Nash for hurting me.

But it's their words of anger, of hate towards Nash that hurts me more.

I really hate it when they say such cruel things about him. Wasn't he their companion, their friend? Why have they closed up their hearts so quickly because of one mistake?

Maybe, if I had noticed sooner, I could have shown him that our greatest strength is our friendship, and that with it we can overpower Ghaleon. Even though he is the Magic Emperor, we can still beat him and save Lunar.

Maybe, if I had noticed sooner, I could have shown him that I liked him too.

Even now, I still like him.

Even now...

I can't help myself. These tears...they won't stop falling...

"Mia?" Alex's voice is low, strained with concern. "Is something wrong?"

Quickly I wipe my eyes with my hands. "I'm sorry, Alex, I was just thinking and suddenly...please don't be concerned about me, you already have so much more to think about..." I try to smile reassuringly at him and somewhat succeed at it.

"Mia, don't worry," Nall perks up, "when we find Nash, Alex will teach him not to betray a nice, pretty girl like you ever again!"

I close my eyes. I had forgotten that Nall too now disliked Nash. Only Alex had not said anything yet about causing Nash bodily harm, but then again Alex wasn't as hotheaded as the others.

"Nall..." Alex says quietly, and the little creature meekly hunches over on his shoulder. Then he looks over at me and smiles, making me feel almost comforted. "Mia, we'll find Nash soon enough. Maybe then he'll realize that what he's done is wrong..."

"Thank you, Alex." I can't help but to smile gratefully. Although Alex had been affected just like the rest of us, he still was willing to listen before passing off final judgment. He nods, then turns back to his own window. I do the same, and the sudden change in environment startles me. "What a horrid place! No trees, no grass, no...life."

"This is the Frontier...untouched by the hand of the Goddess," Jessica somberly states. I look over at her and notice that Kyle has now removed his arm from around Jessica's waist. That sweet moment is now just a memory.

So many good moments are now just distant memories.

"So where's the Vile Tribe? Where's the Magic Emperor? The sooner we can wipe them out, the sooner we can leave this nasty place," Kyle confidently grins, his hands propped up at his hips and his chest puffed outward. I had seen roosters in Burg with that exact stance, and the comparison causes a little giggle to escape my lips.

Kyle and Jessica stare quizzically at me, but I just smile widely. "Yes, let's go in there and stop Ghaleon from harming our friends and family. Let's go in there together and save Lunar!"

At this, everyone cheers, and I hear Nall behind me say, "Yeah, Alex, let's go and rescue Luna! Then afterwards we can head down to Lann and have their tasty fish for a celebration meal!" The comment makes all of us break down in laughter.

Nash...look what you're missing here. We¹re all bonded by our laughter, our friendship. You would have to admit that it's our greatest strength. Do you really think that the Vile Tribe, that Ghaleon can break this?

You made a mistake in believing otherwise, but I know that you¹ll see the error of your ways. You'll understand this, I know. You made a mistake, but we all will forgive you.

I already forgive you.

Even now, with the pain of your betrayal so fresh in my mind, I still forgive you. You did what you did to help us. Even if what you did was wrong, you still did it out of the kindness of your heart.

I just hope you realize that we need you, and you need us. We can all stop Ghaleon together!

I hope you realize that I need you.

Even now...especially now...

"Wh...what's that?" Nall's voice cuts into my thoughts. We all run to the window in the front of the balloon, sticking our heads out of it in order to get a better view of what is ahead of us. I can feel my eyes widen at the sight, and my throat constrict slightly from the shock. But my thoughts still linger on hope, and another emotion that I didn't realize until now.

I need you, Nash.



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