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[FFIV] 'Book of Days' (Rydia)
Life - Bolsheviks
cephiedvariable wrote in ff_exchange
Title: Book of Days
For: buu_chan_27
Medium: Fiction
Request: Rydia
Fandom(s): Final Fantasy IV
Characters/Pairings: Rydia, Cecil, Edge, Kain (implicated Rydia->Cecil, Edge/Rydia)
Rating/Warnings: PG for, uh, dying? And kissing.
Word Count: 2038
Feedback: Sure- I'm an attention whore. ♥
Spoilers: For pretty much the entire game, but mostly in the way you'd have to know what happened.

Wow! Sorry this is so almost-late! I hope this is something like what you were looking for- it's been a while since I've played FFIV and so, so much characterization is up to interpertation that I felt a little lost writing this at times (in between mid-terms and everything!), but I'm... fairly satisfied with the end result. I suppose. Well- if you're satisfied, I guess I'm satisfied and lets leave it at that.

Since it's a gift fic, you get a shiny, customized layout for it (see bottom) with background music and everything. ♥

Cephied Variable

Book of Days
Cephied Variable

Rydia grew up among the animals and the trees. She was born at an awkward junction in the history of her village, one that left her in the odd position of being isolated by age. She hadn't been old enough to set her mind on marriage and homesteads like the other girls, but she was too old to bury her face in her mother's chest when the wind howled too wild. She wasn't concerned with games and pretend like the other children, either- Rydia had always been aware of her heritage. She wanted to touch history with her own hands; she wanted something real and tangible.

Rydia wanted to walk among the Spirits.

"We might have to leave." her grandfather whispers tersely and Rydia knows that she's not supposed to hear this. Her bare feet are silent on the warm, wooden floor and her father's cloak is a comforting weight on her shoulders. She peers through the weather-worn gap between door and wall and can see the candle-light catching all the worry lines on her grand-papa's face. It's a quiet night and Rydia can't imagine there being any danger in the entire world.

"Father, you worry too much. No matter what they say, the Kingdom needs us. Our village has always played a necessary role in mediating the country's relationship with the spirit realm." she lowers her voice, "The King isn't stupid enough to upset such a delicate balance." mother doesn't sound completely convinced.

There is no hope in grandfather's eyes. He runs a hand through his long, braided his hair and kneads his fingers nervously in his beard, "The forest has been too quiet."

Mother stands gracefully, and rounds the table to hug her father's shoulders, "The spirits will protect us always, Father. You must sleep."

* * *

Rydia watches her mother summon the Mist Dragon with wide eyes sparkling. Her mother is a swirling, flashing focus-point of light and life. The very secret songs of nature and the planet hum through her veins and just the thought of it makes Rydia tingly all over. Her mother in this moment is everything she's ever dreamed of and wanted to be.

Three days later her mother is dead at her feet. All around her the village is a flurry of fear and preparation, but she's blind to anything but the sight of her mother's lifeless eyes. Her grandfather tries to pull her inside but she can't hear him- there's an inferno inside her head so intense she hardly notices the village burning to the ground around her. She doesn't look up or let go of her mother's hand until she hears voices.

"It's a girl- I think she's still alive-"

'Men,' logic tells her, 'Soldiers' but there is something more instinctual at work as she stands shakily, raising her hands above her. The men's masks make dark shadows against the morning sunlight- they're like monsters, reaching out to her with clawed hands and wide, gaping mouths hungry for her soul. It's not that her mother is dead; Rydia understands death- all Summoners are taught to accept it from birth. No, these men destroyed her mother's strength and left her to die without dignity. She's like someone stuck a sword in a tree-trunk and never pulled it loose. Unnatural.

Rydia is consumed with fear and rage so she does the only thing she knows to do: She spreads her arms and cries out. She calls to the spirits and the spirits-

- answer.

Time passes differently in the spirit world. Rydia can feel her body growing around her but cannot feel herself growing into it. It's all night and stars and fireflies in the land of the Summoners and she never misses the sun, not even once.

She feels small when she stands next to Leviathan, but he speaks to her without conceit although she is an unknowing human-child and he is a God, he is the ocean, he has always existed.

"Some people are start and end points in history," he explains carefully while Rydia nestles into his soft scales, "Nothing is inevitable, but some events must run their full course."

"Then I'm an endpoint?" Rydia asks sleepily, letting her eyes drift shut, lulled by the steady sound of Leviathan's heart-beat, "The last of the summoners?"

Leviathan chortles and it sounds like a mountain moving beneath her, "No, my child. You are a beginning. All of you are." he doesn't specify, but she knows who he's talking about: Cecil, Kain and Rosa. She's met them already and knows that she will meet them again.

She falls asleep and wakes up a few months older.

Cecil always looks a little broken. He always did- even the first time she saw him: a dark beast on the horizon, fire and brimstone illuminating him like a beacon, like everything from her most primal nightmares. He is perhaps the saddest person Rydia has ever met in her life, which might be the reason she's never had it in her heart to blame him for what happened. Even in her darkest and most desperate moments, not even her dreams can cast Cecil as the villain.

"I made you an orphan," he says quietly the first night she sees him again. This is exactly the thing she was always afraid he'd say.

Rydia isn't certain she's quite grown enough to say the right thing to him now, but she tries out some delicate words anyways. "But then you saved my life." she refutes. He doesn't look any happier. His shoulders tense a little and he looks away.

So Rydia tries again. Diplomatically (maybe girlishly) she puts her hands on his shoulders and says: "Anyone can destroy, but it takes a very strong person to rebuild. And you, Cecil, you rebuilt what you destroyed, which makes you the strongest kind of person there is." There is a moment that he doesn't move and she keeps her hands steady on his shoulders, mapping the lines in his face. She already knows every shade of sadness, she's looking for something different.

Finally, he looks at her and doesn't quite smile, but it's as close as he's come to it since Rosa was taken. Rydia feels a little something turn inside out just below her chest, but she quashes it quickly and quietly, before Cecil can notice the faint blush she feels rising in her cheeks.

Cecil will never think of her as anything but a little girl.


She goes to visit Edge frequently after it's over because he might just need her a little bit. It's embarrassing, but being needed makes Rydia feel grown-up; it makes her feel like a woman.

She calls Titan to help mend the land, Leviathan makes the water sweet even after the bitter war. Rydia dances at the festivals, always laughing but carefully distant. Edge gets this look in his eyes sometimes that she can never really read right, as coyly as she taunts him about it. His Advisor forbids him frivolous flirtation, but the more she visits, the less frivolous he seems.

It's a year of this before Edge grabs her wrists and pulls her close when she goes to leave. He kisses her slow and sweet under the candles, under the moonlight. It's all very romantic because Edge is perhaps a little practiced at these things. When they part, he takes her hands in his and says: "You should marry me." just like that.

She quirks an eyebrow and turns the edge of her lip up in a tiny, sardonic smile. "And why should I do that?"

His face falls, but he tries to hide it by smiling back. His grip on her hands tightens like he's afraid she'll slip through them, "I love you," he says smoothly, "I need you. T-the people love you, Rydia. There isn't anyone else who could do it!" he pulls her a little closer and nests his chin on her shoulder- right in the groove where her neck curves- and breathes: "I want you to be my Queen."

She stops breathing, suddenly aware of all the implications in his offer and a little embarrassed it had to be pointed out to her. She makes a weak noise in the back of her throat that sounds more like a gasp than a gentle clearing of her throat and disentangles herself from Edge, trying her best to hide how startled she is.

Rydia's not positive that she couldn't love Edge like that, but she's positive she can't live in a castle for the rest of her life. She's positive that she's not fit to be any kind of ruler; no doubt Edge would grant her whatever freedom she desired, however responsibility would pay her no such courtesy. She feels abruptly panicked, caged. She isn't ready to be anyone's proverbial songbird, no matter how wide Edge leaves the cage open.

"I'm sorry, Edge." she whispers, surprised at how unaffected she could sound, "But that's not who I am."

She is freedom. She is nature. She is fire-elemental like Lord Leviathan always told her: wild and passionate and unpredictable, "I couldn't do that to you," she adds gently, "I wouldn't make any kind of wife. At least not right now. Maybe-"

She doesn't finish because he kisses her again. It's different this time: Rydia's sure he's trying to say goodbye, but there's too much pleading in the way his fingers curl around her wrists. He's still asking her to stay. He puts his hands on her shoulders and pulls away, smiling. It's a reflection, Rydia thinks fleetingly, of her and Cecil. He's years older than her, but Rydia will always think of Edge as a boy.

She leaves the next morning.

It's chance that she finds Kain again and irony that she finds him in Kaipo. She's on her way home (or what used to be home) and she knows he's running in the opposite direction. She sneaks up on him at the river. He's sitting on the bank and staring into the water, no doubt- Rydia thinks somewhat derisively- lost in soulful contemplation. She sits beside him without saying a word.

"They didn't send you to bring me home, did they?" he asks finally. Rydia laughs and shakes her head.

"You know Cecil would have come himself." which is a truth Kain already knows, but Rydia thinks he should hear anyways.

"We're close to Mist Village," he begins again, "You want to visit your mother?"

This is how Kain is- no apologies, no sensitivity. Rydia knows he doesn't mean anything by it: that's just how he's always been. There's a deep well of guilt threatening to drown him from the inside-out; he and Cecil were never so different. Rydia takes a deep breath and swings her legs out in front of her.

"I never got much of a chance to be a child, you know?" Kain looks at her sideways, eyes narrowing just enough that she can see regret, "I don't blame anyone. Lord Leviathan once told me that all of this was fate. Like the turn of the seasons. I think... in the end we all gained more than we lost."

Kain snorts and looks away, but he's still listening, "I've always wanted to walk among the spirits, but that isn't my home. Unfortunately, I've forgotten what 'home' is. I have no idea how to be human in this human world." she stops and pulls a length of verdant hair over her shoulder, brushing the knots out with her fingers. "You're the same way, aren't you?" she asks Kain. His eyebrows raise and he turns to her again, slowly this time, "You can't really make sense of this peaceful world. Or what it feels like to have inner peace?" she chuckles softly and meets his tentative gaze, "Mist Village is the last place I felt like I was part of this world. I'm not certain what you're searching for, Mr. Highwind, but I was thinking that it's probably best to start a journey at the beginning. Like a story."

Kain doesn't say anything about that, but he does stand- hoisting his spear and traveling bag over his shoulder- and offer her his hand, "Come on- I'll walk you there. The desert is still dangerous."

Rydia knows that she's lived her life in leaps and bounds, but she thinks that perhaps now is a good time to slow down.

This would be a journey taken one step at a time.



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Hello! We need you to post your story directly to the community as per our posting instructions. Thank you!

(Personal note from one of the mods)

Although I have to say, that is a lovely site and a, er, beautifully wrapped gift. I'm sorry we can't provide as lovely a home for it here, even if we need permanent copies of everything to be posted here. It's so very pretty.

I flail at you in a way that is full of squee. Awesome.

I just wanted to tell you as I go through my re-readings of the ff_exchange stuff, that I loved this a lot, and I think you captured Rydia and Kain and everyone just wonderfully in this. xD Much love!

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