Dark Skies over Palamecia

Ch 12, part 11

"Dark Skies over Palamecia" – a Final Fantasy II retelling

Disclaimer: Square Enix owns all Final Fantasy II characters, places, and references found within. Original characters and interpretations belong to the co-authors of this fan fiction. There is no profit being made from this story.

Part 11

Minwu didn't want to put his paperwork down, but everyone in the throne room agreed with Clarisse on his next course of action. Even King Gordon insisted that Minwu at least try to comfort his student before her emotions became something she couldn't handle. Thus, he left his work and started going down the hall that led to the room he had been sharing with her since they returned from their long, whirlwind adventure.

He came up to the door, but as he put his hand onto the doorknob, he could hear her voice.

"I honestly don't think anyone believed me about what I said." Cantirena's voice was muffled through the door, but Minwu would still understand perfectly. A few moments passed. Finally when he started to go in again, she had something else to say. "I don't care… I don't want to help you come back from the dead, and I certainly don't want to die to be with you. Loving you was a bad idea in the first place, Mateus. It… led me to do things I can never make up for. If I was just honest about my feelings growing up, it wouldn't have had to be this way." Minwu stood there, waiting for her to say something again. She was having a conversation, for sure, even though he couldn't hear the other side of it. "Of course! I love Minwu more than I ever loved anyone else. I certainly intend to be his bride, when he's ready to make that move. Mateus… you were alive. You had your chance. I hate to tell you that the Demon King got between us, but what else can I tell you? You were a perfect prince when I first met you. The reason why I got the idea to long for you, to work for you, was because it was considered taboo for me to crush on my teacher. Now that it's out in the open that Minwu and I are together, there's no reason to…" She sniffled a few times. "Leave me be, phantom voice. Torture me no longer."

Minwu took his hand off the doorknob completely, moving away from the door. He leaned against the wall next to it, trying to process everything he heard. It was the first time he'd heard such a confession, whether it was directed at a ghost or just the whispers of the past she had echoing in her mind.

"Well…" Candice said from down the hall. "…are you just going to stand there?" she asked. "You looked like you were going to go in a few minutes ago. What stopped you?"

"…Candice, I thought you were busy."

"Yes, and I thought you were, too. Come to find out that we both couldn't let this go, could we?" Candice asked. "Go in there. For fuck's sake, she needs you to be there for her because, from what Clarisse told me earlier, she never trusted anyone else. Can you say you honestly expected her to be any other way after knowing her for as long as you have? Get the hell in there before I toss you in myself."

Minwu shook his head. "You are right," he said. "Do me one favor, Candice."

"…what would that be?"

"Don't ever change." Minwu turned toward the door and turned the handle, walking in, and closing the door behind him.

Candice shrugged. "I don't ever plan to," she said, turning to look behind her. "He went in. We're all in the clear, Claire. Have Firion and Ricard get everything ready."

"I'm on it!" Clarisse's voice said from the shadows.

Candice crossed her arms, feeling triumphant. "You two are going to be in for one hell of a surprise," she said, laughing.

Inside their room, Cantirena sat on the bed, hunched over a pillow. She'd been crying quietly for just that short amount of time from what Minwu could tell. She didn't notice when he came in, or when he sat down next to her. He put his hands on her back, and she didn't react to him touching her. It was as if she was ignoring everything around her completely.

"Cantirena," Minwu said gently. "May I ask you something?"

She turned a little, even though she was gripping the pillow as tightly as she could. "…did you want to review for a test tomorrow?" she asked.

"No, no," he said. "I need to talk to you about… the voice you've been hearing since you tried to play the harp. I believe it's serious regardless of whether a ghost is following you or if you're hearing voices within your mind. Until I know why or what the voice is talking about, then I can't help you recover from whatever it is that has brought you to this point." Minwu put his arm around her shoulder. "I may have sounded cold to you earlier. I didn't mean to. After being away from royal work for so long, it… it really came as a larger workload than I was expecting… I love you."

"I love you, too," Cantirena replied, "Which is why this voice scares me."

"What do you mean?"

"…it's the Emperor's voice. He still wants me to be with him, whether I die and go to the afterlife, or he comes back here. I know he's not driven by love. I learned that the hard way. He just wants the magic potential I have… or he wouldn't have put the Stone of Iluia in my body," Cantirena explained coldly.

"He… did what?!"

"I remember it. I thought I was with you, but turned out… he was disguised as you from head to toe. Even the same voice. I told him everything I felt because I thought he was you. He led me directly to where the stone was being kept, stole the pendant you gave me when I became your student, and put the stone on top of my heart. I… I could feel it seeping into me. It made its way into my body, like a prickling, needle kind of sensation, and… The Demon King possessed me very easily and there was nothing I could do about it."

"…Cantirena…"

"I want to be your bride, Minwu. I may not be ready yet, but-"

"No, no, no," Minwu said, pulling her face closer to his. "You are more than ready. I'm sorry I… I misunderstood everything." With that, they kissed. It lasted a while, until Cantirena pulled away from him only to reposition herself to be closer.

"I can't let the past torture me anymore," she whispered between kisses. "I need to move forward. Help me."

"I will do all in my power," Minwu quietly replied. "To keep you safe."

END CHAPTER TWELVE

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