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if only you were still here

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If only I could've died in her place.

Her face looks peaceful, just like it had yesterday and all the days before. And just like the previous days, her eyes are closed. That isn't going to change, either, Nasch reminds himself. Merag is never going to wake up again.

He remembers it like it was yesterday, when in fact one year has passed since Merag has spoken her last word.

Encased in ice as she is, her body will never move again, and Nasch will keep mourning her death for as long as she remains in that state. That means, until he dies.

Why did I let her become a summoner?

Summoners are the ones who undertake a dangerous pilgrimage to the temples located all over in Spira, a pilgrimage that always ends in the summoner's death, all for the sake of defeating Sin, the gruesome monster that has been haunting their world for centuries. All so Sin would return a few years later and the process would repeat.

Nasch couldn't care less what happens to the world, if only Merag was still alive. He wants to curse Yevon, wants to curse that religion for being Merag's reason to become a summoner, but Nasch knows - he knows that it's all his fault for not being strong enough.

He is - was - her guardian, his job was to protect her until the end of her pilgrimage, but Merag has died protecting him instead of it being the other way around.

I should have become a summoner in her stead.

Nasch hates himself for not having insisted more. He should've known this would happen.

On their pilgrimage, summoners pray in the temples to receive aeons - powerful beasts that can assist them in battle - and ultimately, at their destination, in the ruins of Zanarkand, they receive the Final Aeon.

Summoning the Final Aeon kills the summoner. Of course, Nasch tried to stop Merag, but it's not like she's ever listened to her brother.

And here Nasch is, filled with regret.

If Merag had died with her wish fulfilled, this would be okay. At least it would've been a happy death. But it isn't.

There are many summoners that die after receiving their first aeon, due to being too weak to fight the fiends on the way to the next temple, or because they don't have that much experience yet.

Merag died because she protected her brother from an ice spell, cast by a fiend.

I shouldn't be alive.

He's been living in the Macalania temple ever since Merag died, but he isn't the most faithful person, and so people shun him. They shun him for being faithless, for not having protected his summoner, for being a failure. Even now, he's getting weird looks when he looks at his deceased sister, her body trapped in the walls of the frozen lake that the temple is located on.

He doesn't let anyone take Merag from there. He's scared he will forget her face, but he doesn't want to admit it, so he tells everyone that he's worried that the frozen river wall might become unstable if they forcefully remove a part of it to get Merag out of there. No further casualties, he says. They know he's lying, and he knows it as well, but it's all he can do right now.

What Nasch fears the most is going to the Farplane.

A wondrous place where people can meet those who have died, that's what people describe it as. But Nasch knows the truth. He's half a Guado, a race known to guard the Farplane. As one of them, he knows it all too well - the dead people see in the Farplane are illusions, made from the memories of the visitors.

Nasch does not want illusions. He does not want his memory of Merag's smile to fool him into thinking that he's allowed to be happy.

I'm not worth it, he reminds himself every day.

The only reassuring thing is that Merag's soul rests in peace, for Nasch himself performed the ritual to make sure it would happen.

That ritual, the sending, was usually a summoner's job, but Nasch went against Yevon's religious teachings, all so he himself could make sure his sister's soul won't have to stay in this world, unable to leave because he grieves too much over her.

At least in death, he does not want to bother her.

Nasch will never go to the Farplane. He doesn't need to go there to know Merag's soul isn't trapped in the realm of the living. No matter how much he wants to see her smile. No matter how much he wants to find peace.

He doesn't want to fool himself.

He sighs and looks at Merag again. Her expression never changes, and he wonders how she can be so peaceful, even in death.

Nasch will never forget her last words.

'I wanted to spend more time with you.'

As he thinks of that again, he buries his face in his hands so no one can see the tears that well up in his eyes.

"Me, too..."