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Causality

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You can feel your arms again.

They’re still a little numb in places and you know your heart is probably still recovering too, but you’re no longer under total house arrest, and you’re free to roam around on your own again.

Your siblings still fret though, and even Cid checks in with you far more often than usual lately. You can’t say you blame them. You’d really done a number on yourself. But Aerith’s constant fussing, and even Yuffie and Squall mysteriously showing up at random times is starting to get a little grating. They don’t complain whenever you needed someone wrap your arms around when the storms roll in and your heart races, so you try not to complain about their worry in turn.

You trace the lightning branches winding around your skin idly.

You thought you’d had it, you’d been proven wrong. You wouldn’t survive being proven wrong a second time.

You needed to learn more.

There was a wizard in town. You’d met him before, when Cid had brought him in to check on you right after your… incident. But his stays in town were sporadic at best and it had been a while since you’d seen him. But if anyone would know, he would.

So you make your way to the third district.

The moving rocks nearly wobble you right into the lake at one point but you manage to retain your balance. The water looks murky and quite frankly you don’t want to know what might be living in there. You get up to the run down shack and knock hesitantly.

“Merlin? I’d like to ask a favour if that’s okay.”

He greets you and pulls you in with a familiarity that seems excessive to how well you actually know each other. He’s more than happy to teach you more about wild magic and how to manage it, provided you are dedicated to mastering it. You’re more than happy to learn.

He’s a scattered sort of person, Merlin. Some days are a frenzy of new information and forms to practice, and some days you spend just drinking tea and just listening to him chatter. You learn Merlin has an interesting relationship with time and causality. You don’t pretend to know how it works.

 

It is one such day when you visit him.

 

Merlin is in the back of the room, tracing shapes and whorls in the air as though directing an unseen orchestra. He barely acknowledges you at first, humming to himself.

“Hello, falling star!” He hums, looking both at and past you somehow. “Stars are wonderful things. Absolutely wonderful. They go well with the sun and moon, compliment each other nicely. Where is your sun and moon today?”

You can see why you would be the star. You have no idea what he means by the sun and moon though.

“They’re not with me right now.” You answer, knowing better than to challenge Merlin when he’s like this. You know that he speaks truth, even if you don’t know what that truth is yet. “Are you okay, Merlin?”

You have to ask, sometimes he forgets he still has to eat on these sorts of days.

“Absolutely wonderful, my dear. The many eyes and many mouths smile on me. Their musician plays an absolutely enchanting sitar, don’t you know? You should listen to him play some time.”

“I’ll be sure to remember.” You allow, setting your bag on the table. You don’t think you’ll be learning much magic today, but there are worse ways to spend your time than listening to an old man ramble.

“He is friends with thought and memory, protects the glass and delicate bubbles each. They are cherished, eventually.”

“Okay. Would you like some oolong tea? I found some while I was scavenging yesterday.”

“Tea! Yes tea, that would be lovely. The fire tempers the glass, not meant unkindly but hurts it all the same.”

“The fire?” You prompt. You know the answer will tell you exactly nothing, but it’s interesting to see the way his mind winds anyways. You pull out Merlin’s teapot and start setting up the stovetop.

“The sun! Your sun, child. The bubbles know the fire only acts in its nature.”

He’s talking about people, you gather. You try and think who in your life could be so bright as to be a sun, but nothing stands out so much.

“Cream or sugar?”

“Sugar dear. Nature is deceiving. Nature that says it is only one thing is lying or been lied to. But you would know that, wouldn’t you child?”

You’ve never thought about it. You lob sugar into the cup heavily, knowing he likes it sweet.

“Do I?”

“Of course! The shadow trusts you because of it. Where is your shadow?”

You set the cup on the table with deliberate care, trying not to react.

Is he still talking about people? You don’t know. The only darkness with you now is the one sitting in your heart, the one that makes you afraid and so very tired.

He continues on, oblivious to your silence.

“Darkness, darkness.. Always about the darkness, isn’t it? The eyes say the darkness has been warped by mortal hands and minds. But a tool is only in how you use it, eh?” He chuckles jovially, stirring his cup of mostly sugar.

“Thank you Merlin, but I think I have to go now.” You hate to cut it short, but you don’t want to think about the dark. You think about it enough wandering the streets of Traverse Town, always on guard for heartless.

“Take care, child. The keys will prevail, twisting to wrap around the light, defend it. All will be well.”

You don’t know what that means either.

But that part sounds good at least.