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Final Fantasy VI

Terra
By Mintbaby [ 02-02-00 ]


Author’s Note: Terra Branford is one of my favorite characters in Final Fantasy III/VI, but what do you expect? She is the main character, after all. If the others hadn’t met her, how would they have gotten into so much danger and adventure? Anyway, I was really looking forward to a developing relationship between her and one of the characters. (Call me a romantic) When Locke came on the scene I thought, ‘Hey, this looks promising,’ and then I was let down in a big way when Celes caught his eye and his heart.

Don’t get me wrong! I’m happy for both of them because they deserve each other, but what about Terra? What about this sweet, shy young woman who helped these people out of dangerous situations at the risk of her own life? Goodness! She even sacrificed who she was (an Esper creature and thereby a ‘magic’ creature) by helping them destroy ‘magic’. I’d say she deserves something more than what she was given. True, the love of children is a blessing because I have had many an experience with it myself, but come on! Why can’t she have a ‘someone special’ to let her know that just because she’s lost a major part of herself, doesn’t mean she’s less of a woman or friend.

So here it is. It’s my first fanfic, and I hope it isn’t my last. I’ve had fun writing it and learned a lot about what my perceptions of each character actually were. If you have any comments or irritations, don’t hesitate to let me know what they are. After all, criticism strengthens character.

Terra Branford stared out at the fading sun with an unseeing gaze before she closed her eyes, the breeze ruffling the light green waves of her hair. Deep down, where she seldom let her mind travel, she could still feel the thrill of freedom as she let her memories drift to the days when she had been free to soar. The days before the end of magic. The days before who she was had been redefined in a mere moment. A tear slid down her pale cheek and she lowered her head.

“Mamma!” A young girl screamed as she ran into the room, her blonde ponytails sopping wet. “Mamma, Robby dumped his water on me,” she sobbed.

Terra managed a small smile as she turned to scoop the weeping six-year-old into her arms. The little girl snuggled into them and cried into her shoulder, haltingly weaving a more detailed and exaggerated story relating the horrible action of her ‘brother’.

“It’s all right,” Terra said in a soft voice. “It’s only water. You’ll be fine in a moment.”

The quiet, soothing tone that represented Terra’s inner uncertainty quieted the girl until she was merely sniffling as she clung to Terra’s neck. It seemed only yesterday that Terra had looked at the small group of children in fear and doubt, not truly knowing how to care for herself let alone so many young children. Saving the world from Kefka’s insanity had seemed so much easier on that day. Little had she known that a type of instinct would have helped her. An instinct that she hoped she had received from her mother.

Terra pushed the thoughts away and turned from the window. “Come on, Cera. Let’s get you dried off and go find Robby.”

Cera sniffed a few more times and looked at Terra with a puzzled gaze. “Why?”

“Little boys love picking on little girls until they see that those same little girls can take care of themselves. Then... Then, well...” Terra hesitated and she touched Cera on the nose with a slender finger. “I’ll tell you when you’re older. Right now, let’s go dump water on him and see how he likes it.”

“Oh goody!” Cera was still confused, but the prospect of giving Robby the same treatment made her eyes twinkle with delight.

The little girl wriggled down from Terra’s grasp and squealed with glee before streaking from the room to leave a trail of water drips along the way. Terra shook her head before she sent another longing glance over her shoulder at the pink and lavender sky. With a sigh, Terra turned and followed the trail. It had been months since the long series of battles at the Tower of Kefka where her friends had defeated the tormented soul of its namesake. Those months since magic had ceased to exist had left her feeling strangely hollow with only the love of ‘her’ children keeping the emptiness at bay.

The visits of some of her friends had helped.

Locke and Celes came to visit whenever their busy schedule permitted, but they were so involved with each other that being in the same room with them often made Terra depressed and withdrawn. Terra knew that Locke suspected something was wrong, but how could she say that seeing the two of them so happy made her miserable? How could she tell him that their happiness made her wonder if that type of love would ever find her? Locke would have felt guilty and then taken it upon himself to try and help her, although she knew that he wouldn’t have had any idea how, and then Celes would have misunderstood and called off the entire wedding. More than likely, anyway.

Terra sighed. Even Shadow occasionally materialized in his ever-mysterious ninja fashion. She had no idea what to say to him when he did, but he always appeared content in his silence as he watched her and the children. Even Interceptor seemed to amuse him as the massive black and brown beast played and roughhoused with the kids. Then Shadow would stay for dinner, tell the children a brief story before bed - Terra never knew whether the stories were imagined or painfully real - and then he would disappear into the night without another word. Thank-you or otherwise. She tried so hard to understand him, but it grew harder with each visit. Especially when Terra realized that she must have appeared to be as much a recluse and loner as Shadow.

With a shake of her head, Terra took hold of some thick towels she had made herself and proceeded to help Cera dry herself off and change into dry clothes. Doing so made her think of Gau. ‘Such a sweet boy. Strong and resourceful, yet helpless and in need of attention just like Cera. If only we could have persuaded his father to accept him.’ It had been an impossible dream. The old man’s mind had completely rotted away due to the loss of both his wife and newborn son. His wife to childbirth and his son to that dangerous stretch of barren wilderness called The Veldt.

Surprisingly, when Gau had been rejected yet a second time, he had forgiven his father in his own unique way and continued to love a man who didn’t want him. Gau was proof that inner beauty often came in strange and irritating packages, and that a person’s heart was often larger than they were. Terra shook her head with a sigh and again focused on Cera.

Cera was dried and dressed, Robby was tracked down and drenched, and the duo left Terra on the back porch of the house with a greater respect for the other. Terra watched them leave arm in arm and then turned to sit on a grassy patch of ground. She lay on her stomach and picked a strange white flower, staring down at it as the wind whistled in her ears and through her hair. The world was slowly recovering from Kefka’s evil influence, but she knew it would take time before it was the same grassy paradise that she had come to know and love in the presence of her friends. It would take time and patience.

‘Time,’ she sighed. ‘That’s what everything needs, I guess.’ Someone had once told her that she should give herself time to love. True, they had been right, but the deep and self-sacrificing love she felt for the children hadn’t been what she’d been expecting. She had wanted to love like Locke and Celes loved each other. Or like Cyan had loved his wife Elayne. Or even how Setzer had loved both Darryl and Maria.

‘But when? And how? I’m always here with the children, so how will I meet a man? This place has been deserted for so long that I don’t think anyone but my friends realize it’s even still here.’ Nobody ever really came to visit her other than a couple of her friends, but they never thought to bring anyone new and never asked her if she ever wanted to visit them. Although, Edgar had occasionally sent her a flower along with an invitation to a ball or some other type of party. She never went because she couldn’t leave the kids, but it had always brought a smile to her face to know that he still thought of her.

Still, she wished he would visit as Sabin did. After all, Sabin had to travel almost as far as his brother and yet he managed to stop by her house more than once a month. When he did appear, he played games with the young kids, taught the older ones some of his easier Blitz moves, and impressed Terra with his compassion and understanding when talking to her about life in general.

It made her miss Edgar even more.

Terra understood that his kingdom of Figaro couldn’t take care of itself, but almost everyone else had found the time to stop and visit with her. Even Setzer, the original irresponsible rogue, would drop in and offer to take her and the kids for a ride in his newly remodeled airship. Edgar was the only one who had never visited and it sometimes hurt her feelings. After all, he had been the one to help her in so many ways when she had first escaped from a life controlled by Kefka and his Slave Crown. Terra knew that Locke had saved her life as well, but Edgar had risked his kingdom when he’d refused to surrender her to the Empire. In a way, he had risked his life to help Locke get her to the hideout of the Returners. What was so difficult in visiting her now? She understood that Figaro Castle was a long journey, but he was king! Couldn’t he have found a way?

Terra tossed the flower aside with a breath and rolled over onto her back to gaze up into a handsome face with a full smile and twinkling blue eyes. She sat up. “Edgar!”

He bowed deep, his typical lopsided grin heightening his blonde good looks as he made a flourish with his ever-present cape. “At your service, my lady,” he said with laughter in his voice. “Your wish is my command.”

Edgar offered her his hand and she accepted it hesitantly. For some reason, she didn’t know whether to be annoyed that he had waited so long to visit, or happy that he had come at all. Terra finally let herself be happy. She had missed him.

“What are you doing here? And alone? Don’t you usually have a bodyguard with you,” she asked with a slight smile. Not that she really cared, or that it was even really needed. After all, he was one of the foremost minds when it came to mechanical battle weapons and could certainly hold his own against the most sinister foe. She had witnessed it many times herself and had counted it a blessing to have him fighting by her side.

“I have come to see you,” he said as he helped her to her feet. “I had no wish to view my entourage guard us guarding every word we say to one another.”

Terra could only focus on one phrase. “You came to see... me?”

He smiled and bowed again. “You, my lady, are the light of my heart. How could I stay away from that?”

Terra saw the unmistakable mischievous glint in his eyes and laughed, but an odd heaviness settling in her stomach made the laugh sound forced. “Edgar, you always were a tease, weren’t you,” she said as she released his hand.

He paused for a very long time, so long that Terra’s smile wavered.

Edgar finally smiled. “I’ve forgotten that you knew me when. I’m sorry, Terra. Running a kingdom smoothly depends on smooth talk and I am the king, after all.”

“In more ways than one,” Terra countered.

He bowed again. “Your servant.”

She passed by him and sat at the bench a few of the older boys had painstakingly built on the side of the house. She offered Edgar the space beside her. “Seriously, Edgar,” she told him. “What brings you here? I was just thinking about how you never visit.”

“Ah. Such must have been the reason for the scowl,” he observed.

He sat with a flourish of his deep purple cape and leaned back, his brilliant blue eyes focusing on the horizon. Edgar seemed to transform the dilapidated bench into a velvet lounge simply by his aura.

“I’m not angry, if that’s what you mean,” she assured him with a hint of a smile. “Do you know how impossible it is for me to get upset with you, Edgar? You’re the only one who gets me to laugh at myself.”

Edgar’s cheeks dimpled with his smile and he sent her a quick glance before refocusing his gaze on the horizon. “I have been a cad, though,” he admitted freely. “Sabin has made it the point of his existence to remind me of that fact each time he sees my smug face.”

“You don’t have a smug face,” she protested.

“This is what I have always thought.” And the smile in his voice was crystal clear. “However, Sabin is sure that I have done you a great wrong and I was determined to set it right.”

“How?”

Terra watched him with a smile as he lay out the reason for his visit and barely kept herself from shaking her head at him as her thoughts drifted. Edgar was the only person who could bring a smile to her face that was genuine and not forced. Whether it was his boyish charm or his innocent belief that he was a ‘ladies man’ she simply didn’t know. All she remembered were the many times together when he had found some way to make her laugh and forget the power that lay dormant beneath her shy surface. He had been the only one to ease her mind when it had strayed to the possibility of her life ceasing once magic was eradicated from the planet. Edgar had only needed to ‘ooze’ charm and witticisms and she had laughed despite herself.

Edgar had never let her stay miserable.

“...So, as you can see, I have a problem.”

Terra flushed. “I’m sorry. What can I do to help?”

Edgar looked over at her reddened cheeks and chuckled. “You weren’t paying attention, dear lady. Here I was lying my heart at your feet and you didn’t hear a word I said.” He shook his head and brought a hand up to cover his heart. “My heart is broken.”

She flushed even darker and stood from the bench to stare at the sunset. “I said I was sorry,” she told him in a frustrated voice. Terra didn’t remember feeling that before. “Besides, it’s me who should be saying that, Edgar. After all, I thought you were my friend and Shadow has come to visit me more than you have.”

Terra wrapped her arms around herself and chewed her lower lip to keep back the tears that burned at her eyes and tightened her throat. She never let her fears or tears show, especially not in front of her friends. She didn’t want to change how they thought of her. Strong to the last moment. Never quick to judge and always fair to everyone. ‘So, how fair am I being now?’

Edgar came to stand beside her and the breeze ruffled his cape so that it gently caressed her leg. Terra rubbed at her forehead and took in a deep breath as she sent him a sidelong glance. His face was unreadable as he stared out at the distant mountains and that made Terra’s stomach knot up. She had never seen him that way before. Aloof. Deep in thought somewhere inside where she would never reach. Where she didn’t know how to reach.

“Edgar.” She turned to face him. “Edgar, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get so angry. I guess it’s been a long day.”

“So it has.”

His voice sounded strange and Terra didn’t know what to say. “Um... Did you want to stay for dinner? I’m sure everyone---” When Edgar looked down at her, she broke off at the dark look in his eyes. She didn’t know what it was.

He smiled. “Unfortunately, I cannot stay. I promised the Chancellor that I would be back to our camp before the sun set and as you can see, I have passed my allotted curfew. Not only that, we’re leaving for Figaro Castle quite early in the morning and I should get some rest or I shall be an absolute bear.”

“Will you come by before you leave?” Terra knew that she asked the question almost too quickly, but she wanted to find any reason to have him stay. Any reason that would make him discuss the old times when all of them had been together battling a common enemy. To stay and make her laugh like she once had when they had all been together. “I-I’d love it if you would,” she added. Terra found herself hoping that fact would make him decide.

One side of his lips tilted in a smile and he bowed, tossing his cape over his shoulders with a flourish as he turned to leave. “Again, I do apologize, but I must away. Take care.”

Terra watched his tall frame as it disappeared around the house and then turned with a deep breath. At that particular moment, she wished with all her might that she could have morphed and flown off into the night, far away from all her problems.

King Edgar of Figaro clenched his hands behind his back as he stood on the top most battlement of Figaro castle. The slight breeze teased his tightly combed blonde hair. ‘I should have said good-bye,’ he told himself sternly. But knowing how she felt hurt at his infrequent visits had made him uncomfortable. He had already felt guilty because of a similar, slightly more heated discussion with Sabin. ‘Why don’t you ever visit her, brother?’ Sabin would hurl the question at him as if it were one of his infamous Blitz attacks and then expect an honest and just as rapid reply. How could Edgar admit to Sabin that the reason he had never visited Terra was because he hadn’t known how to talk to her? Sabin would have found it uproariously amusing and never let him forget it a day of his life.

He reputed to be the original ladies man.

Edgar turned from the tower wall and made his way downstairs, frowning at the less than picturesque way the two friends had parted. ‘I should have stayed for dinner. I should have invited her to the campsite. I should have... I should have what? Terra has been through so much in the time I have known her that I am understandably unsure how to talk with her.’ Edgar grimaced. ‘Because of the loss of her use of magic?’ Denying it wasn’t so easy. ‘How does one talk about something like that? Before, when she had seemed frightened of the future on our many adventures, I had deftly diverted her mind from it and caused her to laugh. Why am I unable to do so now?’

Of course, he had been arrogant and full of pride then. Sure of his own importance and blinded by his wealth, good looks, and natural charm. Terra’s innocent oblivion to all of these had reminded him of his own simplicity and the fact that he was, above all, a human being.

The Chancellor rushed up on Edgar waving contracts and building plans. Edgar brushed him aside and strode past to lock himself in his bedchamber. To blame the Chancellor for Terra and his strained parting the previous week would have been too convenient, especially when Edgar knew that he himself was to blame. So many times when Locke and Celes had come to visit him they had mentioned how Terra seemed more withdrawn. Even Setzer had commented on it. Instead of following his common sense and visiting her to offer his help, Edgar had pushed his concern aside with the easy excuse that he couldn’t leave his kingdom for such a long journey. Edgar had allowed his kingdom to come between a friend. He had never done that before, not even with Locke.

Again and again the others had voiced their concern for her and told him that she seemed to get worse with each of their visits instead of better. Each time he had assured them that she was simply longing for her lost powers. ‘Why did I not visit? Was I truly convinced that she would laugh in my face and scoff at my well intentioned concern? Did I believe she would despise me for not visiting her as I had once promised I would?’ Edgar shook his head and threw himself into a chair to prop his foot up on the table. Either way, Terra Branford had been anything but fine and it hadn’t been because of the loss of her powers.

“Lost powers,” Edgar muttered. “She’s a woman and is in need of a man.”

He wanted to be the man she needed.

Edgar glowered at his finely crafted, leather boots and heard his brother’s voice ring through his memory yet again. ‘You’re crazy about her, brother. Why don’t you admit it to yourself? She doesn’t believe a single, smooth-talking phrase from your over-active mouth and you still call her friend. Normally, you’d have lost interest long ago, but you and I know there is something about her that you can’t forget. You respect her silent strength and determination so much that it’s obvious to ‘naive’ little Relm, so how can you think it’s nothing?’

The door opened and Edgar didn’t bother turning. “Locke, I wish you wouldn’t do such things.”

“If you don’t want me to pick them, don’t lock them. You know it presents a challenge that no treasure hunter can pass up."

“I needed some privacy. You have heard of that, I assume?”

“Of course, but now’s not the time for that.” Locke leaned against the table and crossed his arms as his steel-gray eyes pierced Edgar clean through. “So what happened?”

“What are you talking about,” he mumbled.

“I know that you went to visit Terra.” Locke sounded annoyed. “What happened? Is she coming to the pre-wedding party or not?”

“She is not.”

Locke pulled a dagger from somewhere on his person and ran his finger along the blade with a deep breath. “Edgar, what’s the matter with you? I thought you were a ‘smooth talker’?”

“I told you before that Terra doesn’t believe a word of it. She never did,” Edgar mumbled in his defense.

Locke smiled. “Hmm. She’s got more sense than I thought.” Edgar made a gruff sound and strode to the fireplace where he stared into the flames. Locke watched him a moment and then continued playing with the dagger. “What did you say that made her mad?”

“Never mind.”

“More of that ‘smooth talk’, I bet.”

“I said never mind.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll drop it.” Silence fell over the two men and Locke sheathed the dagger. “Did you come out and tell her why you wanted her to come? Or did you not even get to the point?” Edgar didn’t say a word. “I don’t get it,” Locke admitted finally. “You guys were as close as anything during that whole fiasco with Kefka. Why do you think I warned Terra about you before I went off to South Figaro that time? I was sure she would fall head over heels for your charm because she was so... inexperienced, I guess. I didn’t want the kid getting hurt.”

“Apparently, I hurt her without trying, Cole.” Edgar sent a glance over his shoulder. “Just drop it.”

“Well this is news.” Locke came to stand by Edgar and leaned against the mantle. “How do you figure that?”

“From Terra.”

Locke seemed surprised. “She told you that?”

“Not in so many words---”

“Excuse me, Your Highness,” the Chancellor interrupted outside the door. “There’s a young woman here to meet with you. She seems a trifle frantic.”

Locke and Edgar exchanged a glance and then he straightened with a deep breath. “Very well. I shall be there momentarily.” The Chancellor’s footsteps were heard leaving the area and Edgar turned. “Forget it, Locke. I appreciate what you are trying to do, but it would never work. Terra and I are from two different worlds. Literally. I was born to be a bachelor and she was born... Well, she was born Terra. Pair her with Setzer or Sabin. They seem taken with her.”

“Only you love her.”

Edgar clenched his jaw and straightened his royal cape. “Locke.”

“Okay. I’ll drop it, but only for a little while. Celes wants a double wedding and I’m determined to give her what she wants.”

“Fine, then marry Shadow off. He’s in need of a good woman to change his fashion taste.”

Locke chuckled and followed Edgar out of his bedchamber. “Yeah. Like I’d be able to even bribe someone to marry that walking freak show.”

“Stranger things have happened.”

“Then maybe you’ll marry Terra.”

Edgar sent Locke a dark look, but he ignored it as he stared down the hall with a smirk on his face. “Locke Cole,” Edgar growled, “you smug old scratch. You always believe you know everything.”

Locke chuckled. “Who says I don’t?”

“Celes,” Edgar snapped.

Locke threw back his head and laughed.

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