The figure shivered, pulling his collared hood closer to his
neck, trying to keep the cold from his body. It didn't work.
But then, he hardly expected it to. It was far too late for
such a weak gesture; the cold and damp had already soaked through
to his very core. His clothes were more like armor, soaked with
snow melted by his own body heat and frozen solid by the wintry
assault. You would have to be mad to travel in this weather.
Yet here he was, struggling through snow a foot deep, shielding
his eyes from the rising wind. He thought he had started off
almost a day ago from Algetty, but in this weather, he had a
hard time telling where he was, never mind the time. Time was
never something that really bothered him, anyway.
Until now, that is. Time was at the very center of his problems.
Their problems, rather. Besides, he doubted he would sleep even
if he did stop at an inn. He hadn't slept well in almost a month.
And so the figure struggled through a higher snow bank, and
up a hill, still fighting against the wind. He was pretty sure
he was nearing the end; if he remembered correctly, the Truce
shouldn't be more than another 5 minutes. On a normal day, that
is. He paused at the crest and shook his hands idly, trying
to get some warmth into them. He could see the lights of the
town through the swirling, gray snow, and a sense of unease
fell over him. To be honest, he felt more scared and unsure
now than he did when before Lavos, hands outstretched and ready
to take what came.
At least with that, he knew what would happen. He knew what
was going on, and was in control of what he was doing. He would
die, or he would live. Either way, he was doing it for her.
He started down the hill and towards the lights.
When he returned, he knew... they both knew what it meant.
Or at least, they thought they knew what it meant. He had been
ecstatic when they finally got the chance to talk it over, away
from prying eyes, joking inventors and gloomy warlocks.
He remembered clearly the warmth of the hearth and the rain
pounding on the sills as they sat in front of the fire. He remembered
how nervous he was before he asked, how uneasy and unsure he
felt. His heart was pounding in his chest in a way he hadn't
felt since his first meeting with Magus.
And he remembered the answer to his question, and how happy
he was when she had smiled back at him.
He smiled to himself, the memory warming him ever so slightly
as he pushed on through the snow. The lights became clearer
now, more definite. He was almost home. He knew no one would
be there. He had left with hardly a moment's notice back before
Thanksgiving. That was when he found out.
It was supposed to have been the day they asked for permission
to announce the engagement, which required the consent of her
father. He could hardly believe what was happening as walked
through the outer gate, the guards saluting him. He was no longer
nervous; not in the least. Her father had become much more accepting
of him since their first meeting; he hardly could have risen
to the rank he had without his assistance.
So it came as a complete surprise when she rushed out to him,
tears streaming quietly down her face and onto the plush red
carpet. There was no noise, no sobbing, just silent tears. And
he just held her, quietly, comfortingly, not knowing what was
wrong and panicking inside. But he couldn't bring himself to
leave her. Finding out would have to wait.
He was glad he had held her; it was the last time he would
be able to. She wasn't to marry him, not then or ever. For the
good of the Kingdom, (he was beginning to hate that phrase)
she was to marry a nobleman from Barton. So he had left, hoping
that a post in Algetty might avert his mind. He couldn't bear
the thought of being invited to the wedding.
His tears mixed with slush and trickled down his face before
freezing solid. He trudged onward through the snowfall, forcing
a path down the ice-covered streets of Truce. All around him,
windows were lit up, radiating warmth and comfort, something
he was sure he would never feel again. White and Silver streamers,
the symbol of an Imperial marriage, flipped wildly in the winds,
back and forth, as if struggling to break free from the poles
to which they were bound. The wedding had been yesterday. December
He lowered his head and struggled forward. He rounded the bend
and continued past the frozen fountain, and headed for his own
house. He sighed as he stood at the door, knowing no one would
be there. His mother had gone to Lucca's to spend the holiday,
but he didn't feel like going. And his fiancée...
"Well," he thought, "I guess I never had one."
He fumbled with the key through his heavy gloves. A second
later, the door was open, but the key was still facing the wrong
She stood there, face red from crying, clothes unkempt and
hair too heavy and stiff to move in the cold wind. But she was
smiling. Smiling as she led him dumbstruck inside, smiling as
she sat him down in front of the hearth, smiling as she helped
him out of the heat of his gear and into the warmth of the fire.
Only then did he find his voice.
"Marle? What... what are you doing..."
She shook her head. "I'm doing what's right, Crono. I... I
couldn't do that, just because of what my father wanted. I couldn't
do that, not when I care about you, love you. I won't do it.
I didn't go through with it... I renounced my claim and left...
but I... I... oh Crono...," she sniffled, and hugged him.
Again he held her as she cried, but this time, there was no
feeling of panic or dread, no fear or desperation or urgency.
Just the slow, reassuring warmth of the fire. He smiled.
Well, my original plan was to go a bit farther on with the
story, but it seems to end well right there. But, in the tradition
of Chrono Trigger, we have a multiple ending.
By the time he woke up, the fire had burned to embers, but
he wasn't cold. He gently lifted Marle off him, and set her
back down on the sofa, careful not to wake her. He walked over
and knocked the grill to one side before reaching his hands
into the glowing remains of the fire and taking a ring from
the ashes where he had tossed it before leaving. He replaced
the grill and moved over to her.
He placed the band in her open palm, and closed her fingers
over the warm metal. He smiled again at the sleeping figure.
"Merry Christmas, Marle. Thank you."
Crono closed his eyes, and leant against her. In a few minutes,
he was again fast asleep.
Well, as Christmas comes, I realize I have never tried my hand
at a story that was pure romance. I realize now that there was
a good reason for it - mainly, I can't write romance. Oh well...
you only improve if you work at it. Thanks to all you brave
souls that read this far, and may you have a Merry Christmas!