A Moment In Time
by: Sunita Srivastava
The lilting music flowed softly over the town. A small crowd had gathered in the square before the cathedral path to enjoy the soothing melody. The night had fallen swiftly and silently over Nisan. Everyone was concerned over the planned attack and the music helped to ease the fear.
The two musicians, an Aveh soldier and a Kislev refugee, unselfishly shared their flute-like instruments with the people of Nisan. The soldier would play the main tempo with his companion playing the accompaniment. Then they would switch roles, their notes flowing together, diverging, and then converging again, creating a seamless harmony.
Marguerite stood on the bridge overlooking the square. She smiled upon seeing the Yggdrasil crew enjoying the duet. Maison, Sigurd, even Fei and Citan were there. Margie noticed that even Fei seemed lost in the music, savoring this moment in time apart from the harsh reality.
Tomorrow, the coup against Shakhan was to be executed. Bart was leading the main force to Bledavik while Fei would create a skirmish along the northern border. Margie knew Fei didn't like his gear, that he feared it; this upcoming battle would be difficult for him and she was grateful that he had decided to help out Bart. For the time being, however, Weltall was the farthest thing from Fei's mind.
Marguerite was worried about the planned coup. If only I were stronger, she thought. I would not be such a burden to Bart and his friends.
Bart... Margie scanned the crowd, but could not find him.
"Looking for me?"
The voice behind Margie made her jump. She turned around to find Bart standing behind her, grinning devilishly.
"Bart," she chastised. "Don't scare me like that!"
Bart simply laughed. "Why aren't you down there?" he asked, gesturing at the crowd.
Margie turned her head towards the square and shrugged. "I just feel like being by myself right now, to reflect on what has happened... and what is going to happen. I can't put out of my mind the worries that I have right now and I don't want to dampen anybody else's spirit. They have so much to worry about, especially Fei. Let them have a while to forget about all this." She looked at Bart. "I could ask you the same question."
"Well," began Bart. "I was actually looking for you."
"For me? Why?"
Bart cleared his throat and lowered his head. "Well, you know those things I said earlier... you know, on the Yggdrasil after we left Bledavik. Well, I was kinda harsh and I wanted to say... that I'm... that I didn't mean them."
Margie smiled. "Is that an apology?"
Bart raised his head. "Yeah! That's it, an apology!"
Margie was silent for a while. The music still flowed, brightening the hearts of those who listened, except Margie. The music was not enough to dispel the feelings of dread and anxiety she felt in her heart. "Bart, do you know why I went to Bledavik by myself?"
"Yeah," said Bart. "You said Shakhan told you that your mother and grandmother were still alive."
Margie nodded. "That's part of the reason why." She fell silent. "You know, Bart, I often wish that I had strength like yours."
"Yes. I thought I could be strong and rescue my family, that's why I went alone to Shakhan. I wanted to prove to you and to everyone that I could be of help."
"Aww, Margie," said Bart. "You don't have to prove anything."
Margie shook her head. "I don't want to be a burden to you or this town. I thought I could save you some trouble, because I know you have your hands full. But in the end, I needed your help after all and I may have put you in a more dangerous situation than if I had just stayed out of it."
Bart was silent, not knowing what to say. He was never good with words, as his pseudo-apology demonstrated. Hesitantly, he put a comforting hand on his cousin's shoulder.
"I want to go with you tomorrow," announced Margie.
"What?!" exclaimed Bart. "You can't! It's much too dangerous."
"I know. I said I wanted to, I didn't say I would. It's just... I'm worried about tomorrow."
"We all are, Margie."
"No, I mean, I'm really worried. I can't shake this feeling that something awful is going to happen. Just once I wish I could protect you the way you protected me... Remember when Shakhan caught us? Well, ever since then, I've wanted to repay you for what you did."
"I used to pretend that you had been caught by Shakhan and I would come to rescue you. And when he would try to stop us, I would be the one to fight and defeat the soldiers." Margie closed her eyes. When she opened them, they were moist with tears, but she refused to cry.
"Bart," Margie whispered. "Hold me for a minute."
"Huh?" said Bart, staring blankly.
"We might not see each other for a while. I want a promise that you'll return safely."
"Sure, I promise."
Bart and Margie embraced each other under the light of the moon. The music sang to them of a happiness long forgotten. A moment in time, away from reality, to enjoy the fleeting calm with a tender embrace. But even music cannot stop the flow of time and the harmony eventually faded and with it the tranquility of the fairy-tale peace.
Bart let go of Margie. "It's late. We better get some sleep. Tomorrow's the big day."
"All right," Margie nodded. "Good-night, Bart." She walked away from the bridge to her house.
"Hey, Margie," Bart called after her. "Don't worry about tomorrow. Everything will be fine. I promise."
Margie smiled at him then continued along her way. The crowd was dispersing too, and Margie saw Fei, his melancholy expression returned, his moment also over.
A moment in time, to forget about war, to remember the important things in life, like music, friends and love. When will that moment last for eternity?