How do you resolve a conflicted heart? I wonder…
It had been two days since things were back to normal between Leon and Luna. It was evening and Leon was sitting on the bed with his legs outstretched and back leaning against the baseboard reading Weapons Monthly magazine.
Suddenly, someone started incessantly banging on his door. He rushed to the door, thinking it might be an emergency. He opened to door to see Luna standing there.
"Did you see outside?" she asked, wasting no time on pleasantries.
"No, what happened?"
She grabbed him by his hand and took him to the window. "Look!"
"Look at what?" he asked, not finding any visible threat.
"It's snowing!" she said with excitement of a child. "Come on, we need to go out."
"In the snow?" he asked.
"Yeah," she replied as if it was the most obvious thing to do. "Come on, put on some additional clothes so we can go already." She said, getting impatient.
"Alright, alright," he surrendered.
Luna came fully prepared wearing a pink winter beanie cap hat and a pink woolen scarf warped around her neck. She wore a brown sweater and a purple T-shirt underneath. Brown mittens covered her hands, brown pants, and matching winter boot. A black knee-length coat on top of it all completed her outfit.
Leon wore an additional jacket and a cap to his existing attire and was ready to go.
"Are you coming in this?" She asked with disbelief.
"Yes," he shrugged.
"You'll freeze to death or at least catch a cold," she spoke with concern.
"This is fine. I enjoy cold weather," he assured.
"You can enjoy cold weather in warm clothes," she blurted.
He just facepalmed at that comment.
"Okay, fine, let's go," she conceded, rolling her eyes.
"Where are we going?"
"Just follow me," she urged. He gestured towards the door for her to proceed.
Luna ran away with a huge smile on her face. She skipped every other step so she could go down faster. She opened the door to her garden and ran into the field with arms outstretched and screaming like a child. "Woohoo! I love snow!" she declared her love for his natural phenomena. She ran into the fresh snow, leaving behind a trail of her footprints.
Leon ambled behind her, wondering how such a mature girl could have such a childish side. It was commendable how well she hid her innocent childish side under the burden of maturity.
"Hey Leon, come here, quick," she called, waving at him.
He quickened his pace to catch up with her.
She just stood there with eyes closed, face towards the sky, as gentle snowflakes rushed to kiss her face. Her bangs from either side of her beanie hat cupped her face perfectly. The snowflakes lodge into the strands of her hair. Her arms were wide open as if embracing the sky itself. A gentle and peaceful smile played on her lips. If there was one word to describe this moment, it would be serene.
Leon looked around and the whole flower field was covered in a blanket of snow. However, he noticed something very peculiar. There was no visible snow on any sylleblossom flower itself. He eyed the plant next to him as a snowflake descended on its pestle. The weight of the snowflake was too much for the gentle pestle to bear. The pestle bent under the weight, and the snowflake slid to the ground. These flowers were so delicate that no amount of weight could stay on it.
'Sometimes ability to be flexible and bend according to the circumstances lets you survive even in dire circumstances,' he noted.
He plucked that sylleblossom to examine closely by rotating it around its stem. He accidentally plucked a pestle from the delicate flower. He held the pestle in the palm of his hand, and it was light as a feather. A gust of wind blew it away from his hand before he could reclaim it. Like a feather, it drifted in the wind with no will of its own.
As his eyes were fixated on the flying pestle, Luna turned around to see him standing there holding a sylleblossom flower in one hand. Before his mind could process anything, he instinctively raised his hand and gave the flower to Luna.
"For me?" she asked, a bit surprised at such gesture. He didn't respond, so she took it graciously, "Thank you, Leon."
She tucked it above her ear, fitting nicely under her hat. The radiant blue flower made her face adorn even more.
"Leon, can I tell you something?"
"Sure, what is it?"
"I had a dream last night. It was more like a nightmare. We made a promise to see shooting stars together. I got dressed up and put on some ring you gave me. But I couldn't remember where I was supposed to meet you. I started to panic. I really want to see you, Leon, but I didn't know where I was supposed to go. I start running through the mountains, the desert, the plains. Through Lestallum, Gralea, and Tenebrae. When I realize I couldn't run any longer I scream, 'Leon, where are you?' Then I woke up. I was crying. I'm sorry. You don't have to say anything. I just felt like I had to tell you."
"It was just a dream. It doesn't mean anything. Don't worry about it," he tried to downplay her fears.
"I-I guess you are right."
Realizing that his answer was neither consoling nor satisfying, he added, "How about this. I'll be here."
"Why?" she wondered.
"The reason why you couldn't find me was because we haven't promised yet."
"Promised?" she wasn't sure where this was going.
"I'll be waiting for you. If you come here, you'll find me. I promise."
"I'll be here, too. It's a promise!" she replied with a gentle smile. "Thanks, Leon! Next time, we'll meet for sure!"
That seemed to cheer her up.
Without any warning, she fell back on the soft snow, sending puffs of snow all around her. Her back was lying flat against the snow and her face facing the sky. She gestured Leon to do the same.
'I am going to regret this,' he thought, shaking his head.
He lay next to Luna as the coldness from snow surrounded him. Had he known that was the plan, he would have worn more layers of clothes like Luna.
"Too often we live our lives expecting miracles. But, ironically, we miss all the miracles that happen in our daily life," Luna narrated.
"What do you mean?" Leon asked.
She got up on elbows and looked at him. "Think about it. The clouds float through the sky without any support. Water and snow fall from the sky. The moon appears and disappears, waxes and wanes. The vast oceans remain constrained without any physical boundaries. Two tiny little cells amalgamate to develop a human possessing senses, consciousness, and intelligence. We are constantly surrounded by these countless wonders, yet we are too busy to enjoy it. I feel that in a quest to rationalize everything sometimes you lose the sense of wonder," she explained passionately.
"Yeah. I've never thought it about like that. I guess you are right," he admitted.
"I find joy even in the simplest things like that," she confessed.
'And I find joy in complaining about everything,' he thought dryly.
"But you know what I enjoy more?" she asked excitedly.
"I'll show you. Close your eyes."
"Just do it," she insisted.
He obliged by closing his eyes. He could sense she got up from her position. She scooped a handful of snow and dumped on Leon and ran away laughing.
"You little-" Leon got up and quickly and chased after her. He quickly stopped to scoop a handful of snow and made a snowball out of it. He flung it towards her and nailed her on the back.
"How dare you?" she threatened, narrowing her eyes. She retaliated with a snowball of her own. Leon dodged the first one, but she got him with the next one.
This is how their snowball fight started. For an outsider, it looked like two innocent kids playing in the snow. In this moment, there was no Oracle or her shield, it was just two innocent hearts enjoying the wonders of daily life.
After calling a truce to their snowball fight, they came back together. Both were covered in snow.
Luna took off her scarf and wiped Leon's face with it. She took the remaining dry part of her scarf to clean off all the snow from her face as well. They looked at each other and felt like the time itself had frozen.
"Oh my God! I forgot something very important."
"Selfie! We haven't taken a selfie in such a long time. We can't let this amazing moment pass. Give me your phone."
He gave her the phone, and they got closer to each other to take their ceremonial selfie. Not satisfied with the current selfie she complained, "Leon, can you smile properly please?"
She took another selfie, and this time the picture captured their smiles perfectly. There was snow sticking in their hair and on their clothes, and it was starting to feel cold.
The snowstorm had also picked up, so Leon suggested, "Should we go in before we get sick?"
"Yes, I am satisfied. We should go now," she agreed. "Thank you for spending this time with me. For years, I had to play alone in the snow, it was such a joy to have you with me today."
"After all this time do you still feel obligated to thank me?" he asked earnestly.
"It's not an obligation, but rather gratitude from my heart," she bowed her head slightly.
"In that case, you are welcome. Now let's go inside." He urged.
The temperature outside of the door and inside was starkly different. The warmth never felt so good before. They made their way to their respective rooms.
Leon entered and turned on the lights and was surprised to see a visitor he had not seen in a while. "Pryna? What are you doing here girl?" he wondered while approaching Pryna who was sitting on his bed.
He kneeled, so he was on the eye level with the canine and petted her. Pryna's eyes suddenly started glowing red. He felt a strange compulsion to look into Pryna's eyes, and suddenly everything became a blur.
The next thing he saw a vision of him lying on the ground in a puddle of his own blood. On his left, he saw Luna lying unconscious next to him. On further examining her, he noticed that she was profusely bleeding from her stomach. Next to her lay some unknown person clad in all black.
He looked around to see where they were, and it was a location he did not recognize. There was water all around him and he was on some sort of an altar build on it. He felt as if he was losing his strength to remain awake as his body felt numb. He felt as if he was about to die.
The vision ended, and he stumbled back on the ground. His head was throbbing, and his heartbeat was through the roof. "What was that?" he asked, clutching his head.
Pryna jumped from the bed and snuggled close to him as if comforting him.
He recalled hearing from Luna that Umbra's power can show people things about their past, while Pryna's power showed people a vision of the future.
"Was that a vision of the future?" he wondered aloud, as realization dawn on him.
"A-Am I going to die?" The words dried in his mouth.
Luna had stepped out of the shower with her towel still wrapped around her head. She was surprised to see a visitor, she had not seen in a while. "Gentiana?"
"Luna, we need to talk," Gentiana spoke with urgency.
Gentiana rarely addresses her as Luna. She figured it must be something urgent. "What is it?"
"It's about Squall. He is going to die," Gentiana stated with any fluctuation in her tone.
"What!" the news hit her like a brick. She was completely shell-shocked.
"Yes. Pryna showed him a vision of the future. He is destined to die at the Altar of the Tidemother," she stated.
"Yes, the very location where the covenant is to be forged with Leviathan," she affirmed.
"Oh my God! How? He is supposed to go back to his world after that trial. He can't die there otherwise all this was for nothing."
"I am afraid that is the current course of his fate," she surmised grimly.
"No, I won't accept it. The future hasn't happened yet, we can change it," she replied defiantly.
"I don't know. But we have to figure something out. We can't just sit here ideally and let it happen."
"What do you suggest?" Gentiana asked.
After a lengthy silence, Luna finally spoke, "How about we don't take him to the Altar of the Tidemother at all?"
"That is an interesting proposition."
"If he is physically not there, then he can't die, right?" Luna wondered aloud.
"Do you think he will leave on your own against Leviathan? Nothing will stop him from being by your side, especially now that he has seen your fate as well."
All the colors from Luna's face drained. "He saw my fate too?"
"Yes. Knowing him, he would do anything to save you," Gentiana stated.
"B-But I-I -" she was at a loss of words. It was as if her brain had gone suddenly silent.
After some contemplation, Luna spoke again, "We must stop him from going to Altissia. I see no other way."
'I don't know what Bahamut has planned for him. My mission is to kill him. Not taking him to Altissia would be an act of defiance against him,' Gentiana thought.
"His mission is to take you to Altissia. Only there he can return to his world," Gentiana construed.
"Then how do we protect him once we get there?" Luna inquired.
"I do not know that, yet," Gentiana confessed.
The silence befalls the room as both searched for a solution to their predicament.
"There is only one person who can save Squall now," Gentiana broke the uncomfortable silence after a few minutes.
"Who?" Luna asked with renewed hope.
Just when you think Leon and Luna can finally have some peace this vision happens... lol Before torturing them any further, I felt they deserve one last moment of serenity in snow. Things take a drastic turn from next chapter onward.
So, what do you think about this chapter? Let me know in your comments below. If you don't have much to say then at least say 'Hi' so I know someone is reading this. It would really brighten my day. Thanks :)
Stay healthy and stay safe.
PS: *wishfully thinking* I would love to see an image of Squall and Luna covered in snow per description above.