A Secret Journey (Rikku's Story)

BY : tuatha
Category: Final Fantasy X > General
Dragon prints: 1082
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy X, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

A Secret Journey (Rikku's Story)

Part Five

The Inn was right beside the lake and we decided to rest there for a few
days. When we arrived we learned that the Guado were sending a party back
along the lake path to escort Yuna to the temple, so we waited there for
their arrival. It wasnít that Seymour knew Yuna had changed her mind, he had
just operated on the assumption that she would say yes all along. It was
emotional blackmail, daring her to say no, and although none of us liked it,
it was impossible to argue with Yuna about it. She was stubborn and had made
up her mind, and that was the end of the discussion.

I avoided the others as much as I could, especially Auron. I could tell he
knew, but I avoided giving him an opportunity to question me about it. His
gaze bored a hole in me whenever I looked up. Although I didn't want to talk
to him, I found myself checking where he was and what he was doing, and each
time I looked at him he was either looking at me already, or his gaze would
seem to find my own within moments. Each time I would look away
uncomfortably, but couldn't stop myself from repeating the pattern.

I wanted to get some advice, since I was getting an uncomfortable suspicion
about my own feelings, but there was no one I could talk to. With what was
happening to Yuna and Tidus I didn't want to ask her or Lulu.

In the end though Lulu provided the opportunity without knowing. I thought
Tidus was on the edge, but he acted calmly enough the next morning, walking
with Yuna along the lake. Lulu was watching them unashamedly, and I stepped
out to join her.

She sighed, her breath a cloud of icicles in the chilly air. "No matter what
happens, they believe in each other. It gives them something to hold on to."

"I always thought love was supposed to make people happy."

"It hurts when you lose the person you love. But when that person loves you
back, the feeling is beyond compare." Although she was speaking from
experience she was controlled and sensible, her feelings weren't in control
and I admired her restraint.

"But how do you know? I mean, if what you feel is really love?"

She studied me thoughtfully, but my question sounded casual, and she either
didn't notice or didn't comment on my suddenly burning curiousity to know
all about love. "You need to examine your heart. Let it speak to you."

Her advice wasn't really helpful. I'd been doing that myself for days
without result. I couldn't believe that I felt this way about Sir Auron, the
same way Tidus felt for Yuna, or Lulu had felt for Chappu. All my heart kept
telling me was that I wanted to know what was in his heart for me. Good or
bad I wanted to know how he felt.

Later that afternoon Auron was sitting alone by the bar. Tidus, Wakka and
Kimahri were playing ball out on the lake, and Yuna and Lulu were resting in
their room. I hesitated for a moment but realised it was now or never. When
I sat next to him I tried to act casual.
"How is the ale here?"

I could see he was surprised by my overture even though he tried to hide it.
"It's alright." the manager was somewhere out the back, so he pushed his mug
towards me. "Try it for yourself." I took a sip, the drink was pungent and
bitter, and left a smooth aftertaste of ruhao and paan-nuud. Although I
didn't like beer it was a good brew, and it was possible to become
accustomed to its depth and richness after awhile.

"mmm, it's nice." I pushed his cup back toward him. The manager came back
bustling into the room and I smiled at whi while I dug in my pockets for a
few gil. "Can we have two more, please?"

He busied himself pouring fresh mugs and brought them over to us. After I
paid the man Auron glanced sideways at me. He picked up his drink and
toasted me. "To Life and Health."

The usual toast was 'To Life, Health and Love.' His omission troubled me,
coming on the heels of my own revelations. I said it back anyway. "meva,
raymdr, muja"

"I thought you hated me."

I shook my head. "I don't want to...I just don't understand. All of us are
trying to find happiness. Other people's happiness is all Yuna thinks about.
But you don't care about that at all, not even for yourself."

"Happiness isn't important. It's fleeting. What matters is what keeps us
going in its absence." I puzzled over his words. Was it hope? Hope kept the
summoners on their pilgrimages even when destruction was the only certain
outcome, a false hope. Was it love? Tidus wanted to believe that love and
hope were enough to overcome all the obstacles in their path, blinding
himself to reality. And then I thought I understood.

"meva, raymdr yht muja." It was our desire for all these things that kept us
going. We all wanted a better world, free of the fear of Sin, able to live
our lives with some measure of happiness and certainty.

"But why not love?" I asked him. "Muja? Why is that the one thing you won't
fight for?"

He shrugged, pretending to uto understand me, but I didn't leave it at that.
"Muja rindc."

He gave me a sharp glance, so I shrugged elaborately in response. "I know,
it's the pits."

He laughed then, and it was probably a shallow echo of the laughter Yuna had
reminisced about, but it pleased me nonetheless. "It's like someone twisting
your insides around on a stick slowly, then letting go, so everything spins
like crazy."

My analogy sounded absurd, but it fit the feelings I was experiencing
exactly. It also amused Auron, and if I could make him laugh, make him feel
happy it was worth it. I began to understand Yuna, why it mattered so much
to her. To give happiness, a smile in times of trouble was a gift beyond
compare, and one the giver would continue to cherish long after it was
forgotten by the reciever.

"What do you know of love, Rikku? You're too young."

"I'm not so young. And anyway, how could I describe something I don't know?"

He shrugged again and drained his mug. "I need to get some exercise instead
of sitting around here. Would you like to come for a walk?"

I nodded assent, but left my own drink unfinished. I felt giddy already, and
was afraid if I drank much more a gentle breeze might carry me away.

When we left the inn the others were nowhere to be seen, except for Kimahri,
who stood like a silent sentinel on the slope above. I guessed he was
watching for the Guado party, but he made no sign, simply watching as we
wandered down the slope towards the southern end of the lake.

I could smell the snow, a light frost that tickled my nostrils and I
remembered my dream and shivered. Auron looked toward me. "Are you cold?"

I shook my head. "No, just thinking. What it would be like to be lost out
here." There was a cool softness in the air, and a blanket of white cloud
above that seemed to drift just above our heads as though it would soon
settle around us and envelop us in its downy embrace. I wondered if that
meant it would snow again soon.

We continued on for a while, Auron setting a steady pace while I followed in
his wake, using his tracks to ease my passage through the drifts that
reached nearly to mid-thigh in places. The forest settled into stillness,
the snow muffling sound other than the steady swish of Auron's strides
through the snow and the sweep of branches as we brushed past the trees. It
made me feel like we were wandering into a fairytale, a story in a book
where something magical would soon happen.

Then a solitary white flake twinkled as it slowly drifted down from the sky
above. I put my hand out to catch it, marvelling at its tiny crystalline
perfection. Then another fell, and another, until we were surrounded by a
falling backdrop of white. Auron turned towards me as we paused for a moment
without words. His red coat gleamed against the whiteness, fat white es
es
collecting on his shoulders, sticking to his hair and brows. I lifted my
face to feel tiny drops like kisses land on my cheeks and lashes, tickling
as they melted away, filled with happiness and pleasure from the sensation.
I spun slowly in a circle with my arms raised in the falling snow. Then I
realised something strange and troubling.

"Auron, look." I pointed back where we had come. The snow was settling over
our path and obscuring our trail. "If the snow keeps falling it will erase
our tracks altogether."

"It doesn't matter." he reassured me. "The lake is ahead, and I was planning
on following the shoreline back anyway. It won't be too much further."

I still felt a vague unease, but trusted Auron's judgement. His confidence
overcame my concern and we continued on our way. Until he hesitated, pausing
to look around before moving on with less certainty in his steps than
before.

I moved closer to him, leaning around to try to see around him, almost
touching his broad back. "Auron?..." My voice came out in a tiny whisper.
When he turned he almost knocked me backwards into the snow, but his hand
shot out and caught me before I fell.

"What? What is it?"

"yna fa mucd? Are we? Tell me we're not," I grabbed the front of his coat
and shook it, demanding an answer "...please."

End of Part Five

Al Bhed primer and translations:

ruhao, paan-nuud = honey, beer-root
muja = love
meva, raymdr, yht muja = life, health, and love
muja rindc = love hurts
are we lost = yna fa mucd


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