By Scarlet Fever
Seifer sighed deeply, resting his chin on his fists, which were resting on the hard mattress of the Garden infirmary. After Zell had woken from death, he'd passed out. Squall had helped Seifer carry the small blonde to the Garden.
Now, Seifer was alone, sitting next to Zell's bed, waiting for his lover to wake up. There was almost painful relief washing over Seifer's body, but he was also worried, and plagued with a million questions. Who was she? What was that blue flame? What was the strange wind in the forest, and why did Seifer still feel it coursing through his body? It was like Seifer had been electrocuted. It was sort of similar to the feeling he got from casting GFs, or high end magic spells, but on a much larger scale.
"Xerampelinae..." Seifer whispered, running his fingertips over the delicate flesh of Zell's inner wrist. What was Xerampelinae? Who was Xerampelinae? Everything seemed so confusing to Seifer right now. Things seemed to be falling apart around him, but not in the same way it had when Ultimecia had been controlling him. He didn't feel as helpless as he did then, but all the complacent monotony of every day life was unravelling. Squall and Rinoa were history, the super couple who were meant to be forever.
Seifer knew the ups and downs of being in a relationship with Rinoa Heartilly, so he wasn't terribly surprised that Squall terminated the relationship. Rinoa was still a child in very many ways, and maybe this was the thing that would make her grow up. Seifer also empathized with Squall. He knew that his former rival would shed no tears over the end of his courtship. Just as Seifer himself had shed no tears.
The scarred blonde also wondered about the strange feeling that had coursed through his body while he cried into Zell's golden hair. The wind, the fire that gave off no heat, why Squall had snatched his hand away from Seifer's shoulder. It didn't seem to make sense....
He was snapped out of his thoughts by the soft, yet firm sound of his name from an all too familiar voice. "Edea..." He mused, not looking up from Zell's slightly wan face.
"Is Zell going to be okay?" She asked, sitting on the opposite side of the bed. She touched the tattooed cheek with spidery fingers.
"Yeah, I think so. He's got a slight concussion. He should have broken some ribs and stuff, but...."
"His body is intact," Edea finished.
Seifer looked up into her gold eyes. "Yes." He narrowed his skied eyes. "But, you knew that, didn't you?"
Edea remained silent for a few moments, her darkly painted mouth pursed. "Yes," she finally answered. "I felt it."
"Felt what?" Seifer sat up, careful not to raise his voice, for he didn't want to disturb Zell. "What did you feel, Matron?"
She sighed sadly, but a smile played on her lips. "It's nice to hear you call me Matron again, Seifer."
He gave her the same sad, small smile. They'd both been prisoners to Ultimecia. Sometimes, Seifer would forget that. He would get angry at Edea for letting his torture happen, but she was going through that exact same torture. "What did you feel, Matron?"
Seifer blinked a few times, speechless.
"I felt sorcery in the forest. Centered around you."
Seifer's mouth went dry with shock. "Centered.... Around... me?!"
Edea nodded sadly. "What exactly happened in the woods, Seifer?"
He paused, trying to collect his thoughts. "Zell and I went for a walk, and Squall came later... We were talking, and a T-Rexaur approached us. It slammed into Zell...." Seifer sadly looked at his sleeping lover. "It kept hitting him, and hitting him... Squall and I both knew we were unarmed, and couldn't do anything....." Seifer sighed angrily. "I should have been able to protect him! What good am I if I can't protect the only meaningful thing in my life?!" He asked, more to himself than to Edea.
"It was your anger that triggered it." She sighed. "Have you ever felt any sort of psychic energy in your body before?"
Seifer paused, cocking his head. "No."
Edea nodded, her long raven hair shimmering with her movements. "Your powers have probably been in dormancy. There are male Sorcerers in the world, but it's rare. Hyne's gift is usually only passed to females...."
"Well, if it's so rare, how come you seem to think I have Sorcerer powers in me?"
"Most children of magic take some of it... You could have also picked it up from Ultimecia."
"Children of magic....?" Seifer asked, confused. His eyes suddenly widened. "Then.. Zell coming back to life....?"
"Couldn't it have been someone else?" Seifer asked, a confused note in his voice. His lips parted. "I felt a presence in the banquet hall...." His eyes cast downward. It was that familiar feeling from his dreams. It had been the first time he'd felt it outside of a sleep induced fantasy. "Lillith..." He whispered.
Edea totally froze. "What?!"
Seifer didn't really catch the slight change in the inflection of Edea's voice. He looked down at Zell, squeezing the sleeping man's hand. "I've been having these dreams.. They started when I was under Ultimecia's control.... On the Lunatic Pandora. In them, I'm always a small child... Maybe three years old..." He stopped, collecting his thoughts. He was so lost in his mind that he didn't notice Edea's fist curling and unfurling in her lap, like a nervous cat.
"We're running, and there's fire everywhere. It stinks. Burning buildings, burning flesh. She's holding my hand. She's about five years older than me... Maybe... and she's dragging me, and I'm tired, and scared. I wonder where my parents are, and when I mention my mother, the girl gets almost angry." Seifer sighed. "She looks like me and her name is Lillith."
Edea bit down on her lips, almost terrified as Seifer continued to speak in low tones.
"We run into a house, and she hides me in the floorboards. When I'm hiding, I hear people move above me. I can hear voices. Ultimecia's voice...." He trailed off. "That's when I always wake up."
Edea didn't say anything. Her lungs felt empty, and her chest was burning.
"And..." Seifer whispered. "I felt that same sort of presence tonight. The same hand that led me through the fire...."
Edea opened her mouth, her voice finally finding itself again. "Seifer...I..."
She was halted by the sound of soft murmuring. They both looked to the bed, watching as Zell slowly roused from his hazy unconsciousness.
Seifer's heart happily leapt into his throat. "Zell?!"
Zell moaned in discomfort. "My head hurts..."
Edea rose quickly. "I'll go get the doctor." She bustled out of the room, partly to help Zell, but also to get away from the ugly realization that Seifer was starting to remember things that should have been buried forever.
"Seifer..." Zell whispered, his voice sounding small and cracked. He reached his hand out for his lover's, smiling as their fingers tightly intertwined. "Where am I?" He tried to move his head to look around the room, but a sharp pain prevented it.
"Shhh, baby, don't move. You have a concussion. Matron went to get Dr. Kadawaki."
Zell sighed deeply, slowly blinking his icy eyes, which were sore. "I died...."
Seifer bit his lip. "Yeah, you did...."
Zell's eyes cast over to Seifer. "I saw her."
"Who?" Seifer asked. He was so curious. Who was this "she" that Zell'd mentioned?
"Death. I saw her." He squeezed Seifer's hand. "The same Death you described to me."
Seifer cocked his head. He'd figured that the woman he'd seen when he was on the verge of death on Lunatic Pandora was just a figment of his own imagination, but if Zell had seen her, too. "Zell, maybe you just saw a manifestation of my descriptions..."
"No..." Zell cried, but it came out as a hacking cough. "No," he repeated more gently. "She was real. She said that 'he' got here first...." Zell squeezed Seifer's hand as tightly as he could, which wasn't very tightly considering he was weak and disoriented. "You got there first, Seifer..." He sighed deeply, his head and chest hurting.
"What are you saying?" Seifer whispered, pressing his forehead to Zell's. The smaller blonde was sweating.
Zell smiled, nuzzling his face to Seifer's. "You saved my life, Seifer..." he whispered, his voice barely audible. As he held his lover's hand, he felt the same tingling he'd felt in his body when he'd awaken from his deathly sleep.
"I don't understand..." Seifer whispered.
They both looked up as the doors slid open. The bustling Dr. Kadawaki strode in. "Ah, awake I see. How are you, Zell?"
"Fine considering I got smashed by a T-Rexaur." He tried to sit up, but groaned at the pain shooting through his head.
"Don't try to sit up!" The Doctor scolded. She looked at Seifer. "Out. I need to examine him."
Seifer gave a look to Zell, and quickly left on silent feet.
Squall sighed deeply, both in anger and worry. He was pacing around the halls of Garden, just walking aimlessly. He'd changed out of his velvet coat, and was just wearing a tank top and baggy cords. His boots clunked noisily along the silent halls. Since he was SeeD, he didn't have to worry as much about curfew, and wouldn't have listened. Zell was like his brother. Squall also had a lot on his mind. He was thinking about his failed relationship with Rinoa. He was sure that the girl would be packing her stuff up already. What did she have here now that she wasn't with Squall? She had never fit into this environment. Not even when they'd first met. That should have been a sign to Squall. He should have paid attention to the many signs that Rinoa or he had given. There were so many pointers to this relationship ending in total disaster. But, it was ended, and it was liberating.
Squall wasn't really angry about her kissing Seifer anymore. What, could he have been jealous? Of what? Seifer was gay, and Rinoa would have kissed anyone. She had wanted out just as much as Squall had.
He stopped his pacing when he heard her voice behind him. "Well, speak of the devil, and she will come," Squall muttered, turning around. He pasted a smile on his face. "Hello, Rinoa."
She held her hands in front of her stomach. "Squall.... I think we should talk... Do you want to go somewhere more private?"
"No, I don't want to go somewhere more private..." Squall muttered, raising the pitch of his voice to mimic her. "Zell almost died.. He did die... I'm not leaving."
"But, don't you think this is important?" Rinoa snapped, approaching him. "I'm your fucking girlfriend, Squall!! Zell has Seifer to worry about him. Why can't you worry about me?!"
Before he knew what he was doing, Squall's hand arced in the air, and came into contact with Rinoa's cheek and nose. He'd slapped her. No, he'd backhanded her. There was blood trickling from her nose and mouth. Squall just blinked, still not really aware of what he'd done. He'd just hit his girlfriend. No, his ex-girlfriend.
Rinoa looked up at him, total shock written all over her face, her lips parted in surprise. The blood from her nose pooled into her mouth, making her teeth red as they bared into a sneer.
"Well..." Rinoa muttered. "I guess I finally see what you are, Squall Leonhart..."
"Rinoa..." He muttered. "I apologize... But, I'm not going to leave Zell at a time like this. He's my fucking friend, Rinoa. I thought he was your friend, too. But, I guess he really isn't if you try to land his lover..."
Rinoa flinched, his words another slap in the face. She stared at him, surprisingly calm. "I'm leaving Garden tomorrow morning, Squall. I was hoping that you would ask me to stay, but I know that's not going to happen..." She turned on her heel, heading for the dorms. "I'll probably never see you again, and that's fine with me." She strode in the opposite direction, her hand to her bloodied nose and mouth.
"Fuck..." Squall muttered, placing his fingertips to his forehead. He buried a frustrated moan in his palms.
The SeeD raised his head, a snarl on his face, but it disappeared when he realized it wasn't Rinoa. He saw Seifer slowly walking over to him.
"Oh... Seifer... Hi..."
"What's going on?" The blonde asked, noticing the expression on Squall's face.
"Oh, nothing... I hit Rinoa, she's leaving Garden. Par for the course, I'd say."
"You hit Rinoa?" Seifer asked, leaning against the railing that went along the halls of the school.
"Yeah.... And, you know what? I'm actually kind of glad I did," Squall muttered, leaning against the same railing. "Is that terrible?"
Seifer shrugged. "There was more that one occasion where I wanted to smash her. But, never really got around to it..." He sighed.
"Is Zell okay?" Squall asked, suddenly realizing what was going on around him. His slight smugness at hitting Rinoa faded instantly.
"Yeah...." Seifer furrowed his brow. "He's just got a concussion. Kadawaki's with him right now..."
"But....' Squall input, seeing and hearing the reservation in Seifer's voice.
"But... Squall...." Seifer turned to his friend. "Don't you think that he should have been, I don't know... More injured? A two tonne animal ploughed right into him."
Squall sighed. "Maybe he was just lucky..." He noticed the confusion in Seifer's sky blue eyes. "What are you thinking?"
"Something that Matron said to me...."
"What did she say?" Squall asked lowly, not wanting to draw attention to such a personal conversation. He led Seifer towards an alcove. "Okay, nobody will hear us here... What did Edea say?"
"You saw the blue flame, right?"
"And, felt that wind?"
He nodded again.
"Edea said it was Sorcery related."
Squall's eyebrows shot up. "Sorcery related? You mean, a Sorceress saved us from that T-Rexaur?"
"Something like that..." Seifer muttered.
"What, was it Matron that saved Zell?" Squall's scarred brow furrowed further. "So, then the wind was Sorcery, too?" He pursed his lips. "What did the wind do?"
"It was a Life spell..." Seifer muttered. "Like Full-Life or Phoenix."
"You're shitting me!" Squall exclaimed, his voice a hissed whisper.
"No, I'm not 'shitting' you," Seifer muttered, crossing his arms over his broad chest. "And, Matron also said something else interesting."
"That she could feel the Sorcery from the Garden..."
"She didn't do it?" Squall asked, utterly confused. "But, then, who? Rinoa lost her Sorceress powers..."
"It was me."
Squall's face was totally still, totally devoid of emotions. He remained this way, totally lost, totally blank, for a long period of time. One by one, Seifer's three uttered words hit him, waves of recognition to the words.
"Squall?" Seifer asked, when a full five minutes passed.
"Can you please repeat that?"
"Squall?" Seifer repeated.
"No, not that!" He snapped, rolling his eyes. "What do you mean, it was you. You're not a Sorceress..."
"I didn't think so, either. Matron said that Sorcery is passed through families. And, that male Sorceresses..."
"Sorcerers," Squall muttered.
"Shut up," Seifer spat. "Anyway, Sorcerers are rare. Maybe I picked it up from Ultimecia, and the power has just been in dormancy, only released because of high emotions."
"Where is Matron now?" Squall asked, already walking down the hall.
"I don't know..." Seifer muttered distantly. "When Zell woke up, she went to get the doctor..."
"Well, I think it's a good idea that we find her..." Squall muttered, waiting for Seifer to join him. "I think she knows some things that she's not divulging..."
Edea sighed, sitting in the lounging area in the cafeteria, a steaming cup of tea in front of her. After getting the Doctor, she didn't want to go back and face Seifer, because she knew he would ask her questions that she wasn't really prepared to answer, and questions she wasn't sure he was ready to hear the answers to.
She nursed the strawberry tea, wondering if what she'd seen in the banquet hall was fact. Did she actually see Lillith? Could it have been possible.
It's possible, Edea....
She whipped her head around, feeling the telepathic voice in her mind.
Don't fret. I'm not here to cause injury. Just sating my own curiosity.
"Lillith..." Edea whispered. She looked into the shadowed tables behind her. A cloaked figure was sitting at one of them.
"Hello... Matron...." She drawled out the last word, and it came out as a hiss that crept all over Edea's pale flesh, and sounded eerily like Ultimecia.
"I see you still have some of your former Mistress's traits, Lillith."
If that remark stung, Lillith's countenance gave no evidence of that. "As do you, I imagine..." One pale hand motioned Edea over. "I do not intend to bite you, Edea."
Edea got up and moved slowly to the table. She wasn't really afraid of Lillith hurting her, for Edea herself was a strong Sorceress. "I know you are weak because you are out of your arena."
"I'm not here to be strong." She cocked her head. She wasn't wearing the hood of her Reaper's cloak, so her face was visible. A face that resembled Seifer, resembled Xerampelinae. "I was here to witness my own premonitions with my own eyes."
"And, are these premonitions fact now?"
"I think you know as well as I do that they are, my dear." Lillith paused. "You still haven't told them, have you?"
"I cannot," Edea whispered, her pale brow furrowing slightly. "I think it's better if they don't know."
"I think Seifer is beginning to figure it out. After that, it is only a matter of time before Zell knows his truths as well." She narrowed her gold eye. The gold eye of Ultimecia. The other eye was vacant white, milked over. "Seifer is coming to ask you about the release of his powers. It actually feels liberating that my other side is emerging."
"You will not face him," Edea stated. It wasn't meant to be a question.
"They will seek me out, and I will see them on my terms, in my arena."
Edea smirked. "You mean in the arena that your mother and Ultimecia left for you."
"Call it what you will, Matron. But, it's mine, despite where it was passed from. I'm the only one who can control it. Duty is duty..." She muttered wryly. "And, I think it best that I take my leave of you, Edea."
Edea blinked. The seeming flesh and bone form of Lillith vanished into an apparition, vanishing to the plane of her existence. Vanishing into Death. The Sorceress covered her face with her hands, sighing into her splayed fingers. She knew she would have to tell Seifer and Zell what she knew. She'd only hoped that they wouldn't remember such things. They were so happy as they were now. It didn't seem right to stir the stew, so to speak.
"Matron!" Squall cried. "Here you are. We've been looking everywhere!'
"Oh, I'm sorry..." Edea stood, holding her tea gingerly in her hands. "Is Zell okay?"
"He should be," Seifer answered quietly, his hands folded in front of his rigid stomach. "I want you to continue telling me what you were going to tell me before Zell woke up..." Seifer trailed off, looking around the room slowly. "Is someone else here?"
Squall looked around, too, feeling a slight buzzing somewhere in his chest cavity. "Matron, who else is here?"
"Someone was here, but they're gone now..." She slumped at a table. Squall and Seifer sat across from her. "I'm glad Zell is okay.... It's because of you..."
"That's what Zell said," Seifer muttered. "How could I have saved his life? You mentioned that you felt Sorcery emanating from me..."
"I did..." Edea whispered, wrapping her shaking fingers around her tea. "The wind that you felt in the forest wasn't an environmental wind, but a psychic one. Sorcery. It came from you, because you are a Sorcerer, Seifer."
Both Seifer and Squall blinked, their eyes wide as they stared at Edea.
"What?" Seifer finally asked, his voice low and small. "Did I get it from Ultimecia?"
"No," Edea answered gravely. "It was passed down in your family.... I don't know everything about it, but I know that you received it from your mother. Your father showed concern for your safety when you were brought to me. Children of Sorcery are usually rejected and shunned for their abilities. Luckily, your powers were dormant..."
"Until today," Squall muttered. "Was it the emotions in Seifer at Zell's death that triggered it?"
Edea nodded. "You have Life giving abilities, Seifer. Healing magic, a white mage. But, you also have attacking, black magic. The blue, heatless flame is proof of that. That's pure Sorcerer's magic. There is no spell in existence used by soldiers that can match it. It's actually a dead giveaway of a Sorcerer or Sorceress from powerful blood."
"Powerful blood?" Seifer asked. His eyes suddenly narrowed. "Who was here?"
Edea remained silent, looking down at her hands.
"Matron..." His fingers curled over the edge of the table. "Who?"
Her golden Sorceress eyes lifted to Seifer's face. "Your sister, Lillith."
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