Ch 5, part 7
"Dark Skies over Palamecia" – a Final Fantasy II retelling
Disclaimer: Square Enix owns Final Fantasy II and all FFII characters featured within. Original characters and interpretations are owned by the co-writers of this fan fiction. There is no profit being made from this story.
Even though Cantirena knew that lovemaking session was a dream, and even though she was certain it was never going to come true, she still felt awkward being around Minwu. She didn't want to look at him or those deep dark brown eyes of his, she didn't want him to touch her with that darkened skin, and she certainly didn't want to hear his beautiful Mysidian accent speaking to her at any distance other than a mile away. That wasn't likely to happen, as she was very much still in trouble for all the showing off she'd done in the day before. Cantirena was sitting in the center of the tent, now that everything had been rolled up and put away for traveling once again. Minwu was determined to get a lesson in before they left again, as it would be very hard to do anything like this while walking all day.
"Recite the first rule for magic etiquette," Minwu said as Cantirena was sitting in the center of the tent.
"A mage must always know her surroundings before casting any type of spell," Cantirena said, flicking the bangs out of her hair. She had this look on her face like she was both bored as hell, and she wanted to be somewhere, with almost anyone else right that very moment.
"Your mind is not focused on the lesson," Minwu said.
How well you know me, she thought, looking away from him.
"I know it happens to be one you've all ready covered before, but I believe it requires a good review every now and then," Minwu said as he held a book in his hands. He sat right in front of her. That book held almost every one of her lessons in it, as well as pages sticking out that Minwu had written himself and shoved inside for his own personal reference. "Cantirena? Cantirena…?"
Keep calling my name… I'm not going to answer right now, she thought, putting her head down. So go about what it takes to get ready to go.
"We are not leaving until this is covered," Minwu said more sternly. "You can hate me all you like for it. I want to make sure you remember the very basics of being my student before we take even one step closer to Mysidia."
She looked up at him. All she could think of was her dream. This scared her quite a bit. Cantirena had always seen Minwu as something of her hero. She loved him dearly because he had always treated her like a normal girl: someone that actually treated her like a normal person, and not some social outcast. Her sister got along well with the townspeople when they were kids. Clarisse was kind-hearted and gentle, always there to talk to anyone who might have needed it. She was helpful and wanted to be helpful. Cantirena was awkward and had a hard time talking to anybody. Until she was rescued by Minwu during that day of the fire, she was alone at the town's school during the day.
"I'm sorry, Lord Minwu," she said carefully. She didn't want to lose herself or get emotional or anything like that. "I'm just very, very distracted and it's hard to concentrate." Cantirena took a very deep breath, and let it out slowly. "It's hard to sort out."
"It must be something very important to put you in a state of mind like this," Minwu said, reaching over to her. He took her hands into his once he put the big book down and set it on the floor. "You've been acting oddly since you woke up. You had a dream, didn't you?"
"About something forbidden?"
She nodded again.
"That would do it," Minwu said. "Come now. Talk to me. I'm sure you will not feel so put off if you let it out of your system. I'm sure you have that look on your face because you suspect I will judge you for what's on your mind."
"This… this I'm sure you'll be upset at me for," Cantirena murmured.
"I will not. It was just a dream, yes? No matter what happens in your dreams, it was not real."
"But…" she frowned. "It felt real. So real. And I feel terrible because I would love for it to happen again. Repeatedly. Forever."
"You wish you could keep having the same dream repeatedly?" Minwu asked. "Oh. Are you telling me that you've had dreams about pleasures of the flesh?"
She nodded, but then looked away. "But that's not all."
"No… I… I dreamt it was with you," Cantirena replied, feeling even worse having said it. He said it was supposed to make her feel better, and here she felt like the worst person in the world having told him that. "So… you can punish me if you want, I understand…"
"First off, I am not going to punish you," Minwu said. "This is a natural part of growing up, especially for girls your age. I am quite sure that your other sisters have had experiences very similar to this by now. If I'm not mistaken, Clarisse has had a few fantasies about Firion."
"But… he's our brother…"
"Correction, you were raised in the same house, but you are not related," Minwu explained. "In the same way, it's normal for girls to have these kinds of experiences as their bodies are preparing for making children. I remember hearing the maids whispering about having to help Princess Hilda change one morning because of a similar issue." Then he gripped her hands tighter. "But for you to dream about me? That is…"
"You can disown me now," she said sadly.
"No, no, no," Minwu said. "I will never disown you over something like this. How could I disown you for something that is completely out of your control? It probably means that you trust me more than anyone else in your life, and that if you had to satisfy these urges your body is putting you through, you'd want me to help with that." He took a deep breath. "But this is rather confusing for you on more levels than one, considering your feelings for the Prince of Palamecia, I'd imagine."
"Those feelings were confusing ever since I met him the first time," Cantirena said. "I wasn't sure what to feel, or how to feel, or how to talk about it, or if it was okay to talk about it…"
"But here you are, telling me that you had a dream about having sex with me," Minwu pulled her into a hug, only making her feel that much worse. "Thank you for being honest with me."
"Because… it lets me know that you trust me," Minwu said, gripping her tightly. "Now I completely understand why you didn't even want to look me in the eyes. Of course you were going to feel awkward, because our relationship is not like anything normal between a typical teacher and his typical student. I know you much better than a common schoolmaster knows any child in any given class. I know your moods and how frequent they can swing, I know your energies and how you use them to your advantage…" As he was talking, he rolled her over so she lay against him, nesting his chin on her shoulder. "And, now, I even know that you harbor secret fantasies about me." He laughed very softly about it. "Oh, Cantirena…"
Why are you holding me like this? She thought. You're only making it worse…
"Is something wrong?" Minwu asked.
"Don't be afraid of me. How many times have you sat on my lap throughout our time together? Especially when you were just a little one?" he said. "You know I love you."
"Yes, but… not in that way."
"Not in a sexual sense, you mean?"
"That's… that's exactly what I mean."
Minwu put his hand on her forehead, making her lean back completely against him. "You're very right. You are a bright young woman, Cantirena. You are my student, my one and only protégé… and giving you what you ask for would completely shatter every vow I've taken my entire life. I swore a vow when I took up the robes that I would never engage in pleasures of the flesh, as well as many other things. When I entered the court of Fynn, I swore a vow to the court, too. My services would be for the further building of the kingdom… and then, a few years later, you come along." He kissed her neck, and her eyes rolled back into her head. "You changed my life forever."
Oh for Cosmos' sake, Minwu… don't… don't do that…
"Oath breakers are considered the worst of criminals in Mysidia," Minwu said carefully. "Worse than rapists, murders, arsonists, and terrorists are oath breakers." He kissed her neck again, and she couldn't help moaning just a little bit. "I suppose if I wanted to live the kind of life where I could take a bride, I would have to dissociate myself from Mysidia all together. The problem is that we're going there right now to seek their aid."
"Do we really have to go back there?" Cantirena asked. "Can I not… just… have you?"
"But… what of your feelings for the Prince of your childhood, hmm? You said you wanted to set him free of the darkness that has a hold on him. You admitted to your sisters that you were in love with the Emperor."
"I… know he's possessed by the Demon King," she said. "I know he has been under that influence so long, there may not be a shred of his actual self inside anymore. Because I know…a little bit of how it works. First, it clouds your memories and makes remembering anything outside of what it wants you to remember hurt. It makes you want to forget all of the things that do not help furthering its cause. It tells you things in your mind, too. A separate voice from your own thoughts. I… started to hear it before you managed to break me free, but..." Cantirena felt his hands crawl across her belly, and his hands folded in a way that make his arms feel like a belt around her middle. It was comfortable. It felt right. She liked it, and put her own hands on top of his. "…there was a time where I wondered if the Emperor himself was just doing what the Demon King wanted all the time. That maybe the voice I'd grown to recognize as my master was that of the Demon King, and not of the handsome face. I'm scared of that. Lord Minwu, I'm frightened that… that… if I allow myself those feelings to come back, I'll turn against you."
"What makes you say that?"
"The Emperor made me swear a vow to him."
"He made me swear if I ever saw you again that I would kill you," she whispered. "I remember the hurt it caused me to even think of doing that. I begged him to spare your life. He told me that you had to die. You were an enemy of the crown and that you were going to try to convince me to betray him." Cantirena shook her head in disgust.
"So what does this mean? Come now, explain it to me so that I may understand," Minwu said. "Tell me what your heart feels. Where is your heart in all of this?"
"Lord Minwu, I… I would rather have my teacher as my life partner than potentially lose him forever to some romantic whim," she said, turning to look at him straight in her eyes. "What I had for the prince was an infatuation, and it lead me into some very bad places. I still want to save him, so that maybe, I can help save this world from being further thrown into war, but… I'd rather have someone that I know loves me for who I am, that someone who might be using me for whatever reason..." Cantirena loved how deep his eyes were. She could stare into them forever. They were always full of understanding and kindness, something she admired about Minwu ever since she met him the first time.
"My student has grown so much," Minwu whispered. "And she has come to understand the depths of love itself. I cannot begin to explain how proud of you I am, Cantirena. Infatuation is not love, and many do not learn this until it is too late."
"It's… probably too late for me."
Considering all the people I've killed in his name, it's most definitely too late for me to turn back completely…
"No," he said. "I love you, and if you wish to remain with me for the rest of your life, you are more than welcome to. I will never, ever push you away. The problem is-"
"Yes. I would have to cut off all ties with the Circle of Mages and Mysidian culture," he continued. "So… if I were to accept the idea of you being more than just my student, it would wait until after we've gone there to seek their aid. But that does not mean I cannot give you something."
Just don't… just don't kiss me again… I swear I'll turn you over and take you myself if you do.
"Cantirena," he said, "I want you to take this." Minwu pulled a ring off of his finger and picked up her hand. "This is my promise to you."
"I… I can't take your ring…"
"You can, and you will," Minwu said, slipping the ruby-studded ring onto her finger. "I know that it is customary to give a ring as a promise here just by observation of those who have been raised. Scott's dying wish was for Hilda to have his ring." He then put his hand on top of hers. "So I will have to borrow your custom. Wear it, Cantirena. I swear that when we are through in Mysidia, I will fulfill my promise to you."
Minwu… that… that was an indirect proposal! Minwu… you're going to marry me?!
"I suppose I will have to stop calling you my child, won't I?" he asked, gripping her tighter. "It's all right. You don't need such a title anymore. You're not a child. You can think and make your own decisions." Minwu felt wonderful about the whole thing. "But I want you to stick to your decisions, all right? If this is what you want, Cantirena, I would be more than happy to give it to you when the time is right. If it isn't, I want you to tell me that you're not serious about it. I will accept either answer."
"My lord Minwu," Cantirena answered, lifting her arm to place her hand on his cheek. "I can't imagine having any other. I'm happiest when I'm with you."
"I accept that," Minwu said, kissing her cheek, and then her lips very tenderly. "So dream of me all you like. One day, I will give you all of those dreams and more."
As they kept kissing back and forth, the flap to the tent came open and neither of them even noticed. Clarisse stood there, watching, almost confused by the display, until Candice came in and bumped into her from behind.
"Say, Minwu, we've packed up everything and-"
Clarisse slapped her hand over Candice's mouth. She wanted to see where this was going. When Candice noticed what was going on, she moved Clarisse's hand off of her face.
So this is what's been taking so long, Clarisse thought. Minwu must have taken Canti's feelings for our enemy very seriously. Perhaps he saw a need to intervene before more trouble came out of the relationship between Canti and… and the Emperor… It might make it easier for her to go along with defeating him this way.
"Lessons, huh? Is that what they call it now?" Candice asked, putting her hands on her hips. "Yeah, I totally see learning going on here."
"Shut up! Let them make out if they want," Clarisse grunted at Candice. "Besides… I'm sure Minwu knows techniques no one does, if you know what I'm sayin'."
Minwu looked up to see the other two sisters there. "Oh my…"
Cantirena wondered why the kissing stopped so suddenly, only to see her other sisters were standing there near the entrance of the tent. "You're not telling a soul about this," she said. "Not a single soul."
"If I go outside and scream at the top of my lungs that Cantirena and Minwu were making out on the floor of their tent, not a single soul would hear me except us," Candice said. "We're in the middle of the biggest marshland in the world, where nobody fucking lives." She shrugged. "But it is nice to see the littlest one come into her own and grow up, now isn't it?"
"Still," Minwu said very seriously. "If they find out about this in Mysidia before I cut my ties with the Circle of Mages… they will put me to death for being an oath breaker."
"Oath… breaker…? What? Why?" Cantirena asked worriedly. "You didn't even touch me."
"My precious student," Minwu said, kissing her cheek. "At this point, it doesn't even matter." He pointed at the ring. "Remember that marriage in the sense that it exists on the outside is forbidden in Mysidia. And because I gave you a promise ring, which just happens to be a Mysidian Ruby on top of everything else, that would put me with the oath breakers. So you absolutely cannot tell anyone else until we are safely done with Mysidia. Once we have returned to Fynn, my love, I will dedicate my life to you and only you."
"So, are we ready to get the hell out of this marsh, or what?" Candice asked. "The quicker we get to walkin', the quicker we'll get out of the mudpies."
"Once we hit the Winding Mountains, you'll wish you could just walk in the mudpies," Minwu said, finally getting up.
He helped Cantirena up, too, and they proceeded to start packing the rest of the supplies away so that they could get to leaving the area as quickly as possible.
Cantirena, my dear student… No matter what happens, I will keep my promise to you. If it wasn't for your dream, I fear I… would never have stopped to think of how much you mean to me. The Emperor of Palamecia will have to take you out of my cold, dead hands. I will not let him have you without a fight. You don't belong to him. You don't belong to me, either. You are a person, not a slave.