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Burning Bright

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When Soul wakes up, he’s lying somewhere much softer than the ground and his first thought is that something bad happened. Then he hears a voice, recognizes it as hers and tries to sit up, only to be held down by a pair of strong hands. A familiar face looks down at him and he almost chokes.

“Kid?” He asks, incredulous. “I thought you were dead.” Soul says, and his voice cracks at the end of the sentence. He had mourned him.

The boy looks ashamed. “I am so sorry for not trying to find you. I needed everyone to think I was dead. I didn’t think it would hurt you so much.” Kid says, and searches for Soul’s hand, holding it between his. “Will you forgive me, Soul?”

Soul laugh, not with mirth but because he can’t believe his friend is sitting right there. “Of course I forgive you!” He all but screams, throwing his arms around his friend. “Next time make sure you warn me, though. Mourning you once was hard, and I only want to do it again, if you really have passed on.” He laughs, but he doesn’t think it’s funny, he’s just trying to cover up the way he feels.

Kid nods, promises he will not do the same again, and then gestures to woman with a patched up eye, so she takes a step forward, nearing the mat Soul is sitting on. “Hello, Soul.” She says, her voice kind, her eyes sorry. “I’m Marie, and I would like it very much if you accepted our apology for what we did to you.” She says, and Soul raises an eyebrow at her, so she elaborates. “Stein said you were tainted, so we didn’t take the risk and paralyzed you.”

Soul is more confused than before. “Tainted?”
“With madness.” She explains. “We say that those who have been touched by madness are tainted,” She continues, and looks at him with something very similar to pity in his eyes, so he looks away.

“It’s okay, anyone would have done the same.” He shrugs, believing, without a doubt, that some elves living outside the cities, like they seemed to, would have killed him, without a second thought, believing him to be one of Medusa’s pawn.

“But then Maka told us how you’ve helped her and protected her.” Kid says, smiling at Soul. “I’m glad we found you, Soul. We can try and help you now.”
Soul nods, not really believing that they can help him, but then something makes him curious. “Who’s Maka?” Marie and Kid exchange a look and Soul wonders if he shouldn’t have said it, the girl vouched for him, after all, and then he understands. “Is she the girl I was travelling with? She remembers?”

He’s ecstatic with the news, but Kid’s face makes his hope drop a little. Marie intervenes.
“She remembers some of it.” She supplies, not meeting his eye. “I’ll go call her, so you can talk.”

Marie leaves, and when she appears again, she’s accompanied by her, and a red haired man, that looks very unamused. Maka nearly runs to him, smile wide and tells him the good news. “I know who I am, Soul! I remembered.”

He’s going to answer when the man pushes her aside and points a threatening finger at his face. “If you hurt my baby girl, I’ll make you wish you were never born.” The man says, without backing away, and Soul almost laughs with the irony because he’d wished for something similar many times.

Soul forgets everything about how gloomy Marie and Kid had looked when talking about Maka, and his voice is deliberatly mocking when he speaks. “I pass out for an hour and you find yourself a psycothic guardian. Way to go! Also, I heard your name is apparently Maka?”

She pushes the man away and sighs. “Behave Papa, he’s not going to hurt me.”

Soul raises an eyebrow. “Even worse, you found your psycothic dad.” He says, surprised that they’d run into the man, by chance. He also notices that the man is practicaly foaming at the mouth, looking at him like he’s ready to kill him, before Maka asks for some time alone.

Marie and Kid leave, dragging Maka’s dad, who is not so willingly to go, and they’re left alone in the small room.

There’s silence for some time, until Maka decides to break the silence, voice quiet. “They told me, about all that’s happened. How the world got the way it is now.”

“Maka, I’m sor-”

She cuts him off, holding a finger to his lips because she knows that works, that it shuts him up. “I know. It was better this way.” She sighs, sitting on the ground next to him. “Had you told me and I would have tried to run away, like I did. You were trying to protect me.”

He nods, speechless because he’s still drowsy, and she’s said it all, and she takes it as a sign for her to continue.

“I’m not alone, Soul.” She says, and a tear starts forming in her eye, threatening to fall, but she wipes it before it can. “There are more light elves. They’re hidden. Marie is one, and there are more, so I’m not alone.” She tells him, and he smiles at her, searches for her hand and squeezes it. She nods, thankful.

“And they know the witch who did the spell, the one that put me to sleep. She’s staying here and will get back in a few days.” She’s excited, he can tell, but dread settles on his body. “She can try and make me remember.”

“Maka, is it safe?” He asks, because he has a feeling that her memory loss was a side effect, not a desired outcome, and he’s scared that the witch doesn’t really know how to reverse the process.

“Probably.” She answers, sheepish, almost as if she’s scared of his reaction.

He’s fuming. He now understands why they weren’t exactly happy that she’d only gotten some of her memory back. She was going to put herself in danger! “Probably isn’t good enough!” Soul says, loud, louder than he intended and harsher. “I can’t lose you!”

They both seem to realize what he’s said at the same time, and although he blushes, he starts speaking before she can. “I was hopeless until I met you. Don’t you realize what you are? You’re a beacon of hope for all of us! You were saved for something better!”

“And I have to get my memories back so I can know what my mission is!” She says, forcefully, because she’s sure it’s there, somewhere in her mind, and she needs to know it.

“What if it isn’t there, Maka? What if something bad happens to you just so you can get your memories and your mission isn’t there? What then, Maka?”

“Stop saying my name!” She screams, startling even herself. Soul moves away from her, looking like a kicked puppy and she hurries to explain. “Each time you say my name there’s this lullaby, this rhyme in my brain.” She tells him and says quietly, “The fated words, oh hark! / When by the ravenous dark”

“Swallowed are the gentle beams of day.” He completes, and they both stare at each other, for a while.

“You’ve heard it?” She asks and he nods, looking away, eyes unfocused. They’re both left to think about it on their own, and when Maka stands up to leave, Soul doesn’t call for her.

They avoid each other. If asked about it, they’ll make excuses, like, “oh, Maka is too busy reconnecting with her past and I don’t want to bother her”, or “Soul is shy, he likes to keep to himself and he’s just found out his friend is alive so I won’t intrude”, but they both know that they just don’t want to be with each other.

Ever since they found out that they knew the same rhyme, both feeling that there was more to it because despite it being a common lullaby, Maka hears it when Soul says her name, and Soul hears it whispered by the demon, that they’ve avoided the other.

Soul thinks he knows what it means. He thinks that falling down the hole and finding her hadn’t been an accident. He doesn’t believe in fate but the prophecy is clear: he sees no other explanation for the fact that she hears it when he says her name. They’re fated together. He tries to ignore the fact that the rhyme is a bad omen for him, because nothing involving his madness, and the demon in his head, have ever been good for him. He tries to find Maka.

He asks around, getting sideway glances and unsatisfatory answers, but finds Kid, who smiles and tells him where to find her, a little detached from the usual comotion, and he finds her, talking to someone. He sees pink hair and immediately takes a defensive stance. Not here, not here, not here. He keeps getting closer, step after step, and relaxes when he sees someone else.

“Maka?” He calls, and her head whips around so fast that Soul isn’t sure if she’s startled or had been expecting him. She excuses herself and the girl she’d been talking to smirks, like she knows something they don’t, and waves her off, telling Maka to find her later.

When the blonde girl nears him, Soul can’t help his curiosity. “Who’s that?”

“Kim, the witch that put me to sleep.” She says, as assertive as she can. She doesn’t want to fight.

“So you’re doing it?” He asks, unable to hide the sadness in his voice.

She nods. “It’s the only way.”

“It’s not.” He tries, shaking his head, knowing she will not like his theory. She raises her eyebrows, and he elaborates. “I think I know what the rhyme means. I’m the darkness, the night. You’re the candle, the light.”

She stays quiet for a while, gaping like a fish,and he waits for her to react. She slaps him.

“If that’s your way of telling me you like me, then it wasn’t a very good one.” She huffs, mutters something under her breath and turns away. “Besides, just because a stupid rhyme is telling me we should be together, doesn’t mean I want to.” She leaves to find the witch.

Soul stays where he is. He had wanted to tell her that he didn’t want some stupid prophecy to tell him what he should do, he’d had enough of that at home. He’d wanted to tell her that he didn’t believe in fate and that if he liked her, it had nothing to do with what was written. Instead, he’d said nothing and watched her walk away, leaving him with something that feels very much like a broken heart.

So Maka gets back to Kim, they’re both planning the best way of getting her memories back, and Soul gets back to his room, alone, too caught up in his own emotions to realize that the demon in his head started whispering again.