Bells for Her
(from Celes's perspective)
by melusine

Time grinds through this castle slowly, like the groaning gears of failing machinery. Slowly decomposing, the metal walls are grimy with rust; their scent too close to that of blood for my comfort. The halls echo with the memories of past atrocities; of Espers screaming their last as they were herded, dying, into stasis tubes. I try to stay out of that part of Father's. . .Cid's. . .lab, out of the reach of their pleading eyes and outstretched hands. I try to stay out of there, just as I try not to think that I carry their deaths in my veins. Icewater, is what the soldiers say I carry within me; icewater. . .I would bleed icewater, they tell me. I wish it was true: a frozen heart can't feel.

I remember the day that my childhood shattered around me, the glassy chunks of my ruined innocence leaving me cold and naked to the rotting world outside. Cid meant so well, he never wanted me to understand why Terra had to go away for so long; why she was tucked away into a dark room for months. He never wanted me to see what caused her disappearance. But I did. I remember seeing her glassy eyes showing neither disgust nor fractured passion -- only drugged, dulled acceptance. I remember seeing blood on Kefka's lips from the spines on the slave crown, running wine-dark and sluggish down his chin to drip against her cheek. I never told anyone about what I saw, slamming the door and running; not wanting to face anything anymore. I was only sixteen then, but I suddenly felt so much older.

I had run until I fell from exhaustion, hazy headed; laughing and crying in one shivering, convulsive movement. How could I have ever been so naive? How could I have never seen the signs before? She had tried to tell me once when we were little more than ten years old, her sweet young face lined with tears I couldn't understand. I had called her a liar, pushing all thoughts of her and the doll-sorcerer out of my head and pulling at her arms as I ran off. She had limped after me and cried out, faltering behind me into the ashes by the hearth. How could I have ever been so stupid? Terra should have told Cid; she should have never trusted me. . .Ashes, ashes. . .I'm falling down again.

Bells are tolling around me now, their rusty tongues moaning the hours with hoarse misery. They are deep bells. . .almost funerary. . .the witch king is taking his bride to bed, perhaps? Stop it. Stop it. I rest my hands against the filthy wall, my breaths coming out in gasps. Soldiers halt around me, little broken gears in a crazy machine. They think I have gone insane, watching me sob between my gasping breaths. Maybe I have. . .maybe we all have. They've swarmed about me now; a medic is stinging me with a tiny syringe. I can feel the sedative sluice through me, filling me with icewater; freezing my heart. I'll be okay, I tell them, my voice slurring with sleep. I'll be okay.

The End.