It was selfish. All of it, from the start, and not in the way anyone thought.
Emeraude's one final selfish wish might have been to die so she could think only of Zagato, but before that - the years, the months, before that - were filled with one selfish wish after another. 'I want him to see me, not the Pillar.' 'I want him to love me.' 'I wish he loved me beyond reckoning, so much he wouldn't care if the world fell apart around us.'
She was the Pillar; her prayers became reality; she built Zagato's existence with her will, right along with the rest of Cephiro. Their lives fell into her hands the moment that power blazed into her heart; even her parents, her brother, her teacher. All of them fluttered in her chest, tiny moths trying to find a light, minuscule pinpricks in her soul. She could hold them in the palm of her hand, the heat of those lives - of their connections to her. She could see their dreams, their fears.
Some of them stung to look at, a bite like the touch of ice on bare skin. Others drew her in with their brightness, their determination. It was so hard, seeing them like that, to remember they were people, and she shouldn't just - rearrange them to make sense to her. Slap away the ones whose anger and pain hurt.
Zagato stood out long before she met him, a mesmerising spark as he prayed hard enough his voice was lifted from the cacophony and reached her clearly. When he looked at her for the first time, she knew her wish in that moment, and his light within her heart began to pulse in a different rhythm, to match her own.
He loved her. Of course he did. What chance did he have for anything else, when that was her wish? He might have loved her anyway; that thought was a constant taunt. She would never know if it could have been true.
But worse - because Zagato was a good man, and dutiful - when everything began to slide apart into chaos and the monsters came creeping in, she thought of the Magic Knights. She didn't summon them to save Cephiro. No, in the heart of that spell lay a far more selfish truth - she thought of hiding herself away, then summoning them, and then Zagato would stay by her side, and devote himself to her. Would protect her, and her alone. She wanted that single-minded devotion with a fierceness that burned in her lungs and her throat, made her stomach turn.
It was true that she wanted to see Cephiro safe and out of her hands, because she knew she was holding onto it for the wrong reasons. Her original wish, the one which had thrown her from a normal girl with magic in her heart to one with a world attached to her soul like a terrible parasite, the strings in her hands like a puppet master ready to put on a show - that wish was 'I want to love them all'.
But the flip-side, the secret bones of it, was 'I want them all to love me'.
Now she looked at the man she would never trust loved her for any reason but her own doing, and her heart rang with 'especially this one' even as the other lights in her chest started to go out.
Emeraude summoned the Knights, and used the threat of them to keep Zagato close for as long as she could, and the selfishness of it all ached in her chest. But she wouldn't stop, not until she'd seen it through to the bitter end, and he and Cephiro both were ripped from her clutching grasp.