somariel: Clef from Magic Knight Rayearth (Clef)
Title: Troubled Times
Rating: T/PG-13
Fandom: Magic Knight Rayearth
Characters: Clef, Lantis, Zagato, Emeraude
Warnings: Contains MAJOR spoilers for the ending of Magic Knight Rayearth 1.
Summary: For the entire time that he had been aware of Emeraude and Zagato's secret, Clef had been seeking a way to change things. When it became too late, all he could feel was grief.
Notes: Set in the manga universe.

A/N:Many thanks to FFN's Antoinette Veronica for beta'ing this for me.
All recognizable dialogue and thoughts are taken from Tokyopop's 10th anniversary edition of Magic Knight Rayearth. Alternative wordings are taken from the resources on the Magic Knight Rayearth fansite Definitely Not Tokyo.

I will repeat, this story contains MAJOR spoilers for the ending of Magic Knight Rayearth 1.

A month or so short of a year after I had realized that Emeraude and Zagato were in love with each other and several months after I thought that Lantis had realized it as well, I took a chance and tried to talk to him about it.

The crater the last spell from his training session had left in the ground was still smoking when I said, “You have gotten stronger once again, Lantis. You have enough magical power to become an Iru and enough swordsmanship to become a Daru. You are the one and only Kairu in Cephiro.”

I knew that Zagato had been calling him that for a while, but this was the first time that I truly felt he had earned the title. “Your older brother, Zagato, is the Soru who helps with the prayers of Princess Emeraude,” I continued, deciding to approach the subject laterally. “And you, the younger brother, are the Captain of the Guard that protects the princess.”

I smiled brightly at him. “I look forward to seeing which of you will surpass me first.” I knew that statement would bring a refutation that I could use as lead-in to the subject of Emeraude and Zagato’s love for each other.

“Guru Clef,” Lantis said, “you are the one who taught us our magic, both myself and my brother. And you are the supreme Iru in Cephiro. We will never be able to even match you.”

I shook my head in reply. He had provided me with a perfect opening to bring up the topic obliquely. “Cephiro is a world of will,” I said. “The strength of the heart determines the outcome of everything…whether it be the effectiveness of a spell, its success or failure, or even the future. Those who have a wish are strong…like Zagato is now.”

“Guru…” Lantis said. “Do you know about Zagato and Princess Emeraude?”

That sounded like he knew about their love, but I wasn’t completely certain that was what he meant and I didn’t want to say anything outright until I was. Ideally, he would mention it directly. I decided to say more on the subject obliquely in hopes of prompting him to do so.

“Look!” I said, thrusting my staff out to point at the world below the cliff we were standing on. “This is a beautiful world. There are no natural disasters and the people live here peacefully. What creates Cephiro and preserves its peace is the heart of one girl. But…” I could feel my expression turning sad as I continued. “Who can protect that girl’s happiness?”

“Guru Clef…” Lantis murmured. He sound troubled, but that still wasn’t enough for me to speak of Emeraude and Zagato’s love clearly.

“You and Zagato have been wonderful students,” I said. “I am fond of you. And I have watched over our Pillar, Princess Emeraude, ever since she was born.” Her parents had been minor functionaries in the court of Pillar Altea, so she had been born in the Pillar’s castle. She was one of those rare people who had showed signs of being a strong mage at birth and I had been giving her age-appropriate lessons in magic from the time she could walk.

“I do not want to see any of you cry,” I said, turning to look at Lantis fully. “I want all of you to be happy. But happiness differs for everyone. Even if the wish that the princess has sealed within her heart were to be fulfilled, she…” I had to pause for a moment as I thought of what would happen if that came true. “She would not be able to forget that others would suffer because of it. There are people who can’t be happy even if their wishes come true. Lantis… Is this world truly beautiful?”

Lantis didn’t reply and I wasn’t sure how to make it any more clear that I knew of Emeraude and Zagato’s love, so I let the subject drop.

:-:-:-:-:


About a month and a half later, Zagato reported some disturbing news to me and Emeraude. At the end of his daily report on the concerns of the Cephiran people, he said, “Lantis… He’s disappeared.”

Both Emeraude and I gasped in surprise.

“Why?” Emeraude asked.

“I don’t know,” Zagato said. “But it seems as though he has left Cephiro.”

I hadn’t thought Lantis would ever leave Cephiro. He had never shown the signs of the wanderlust and curiosity that had driven me to leave for a century or so in my youth. Was it possible that Zagato was mistaken?

“I can’t feel his presence anywhere,” Zagato finished.

That was a strong indication that Lantis really had left Cephiro. From the time they had both gained their magic, he and Zagato had been able to sense each other no matter where each of them was in Cephiro. The only other possibility I could think of was that Lantis was shielding his presence somehow, but I didn’t think he would have been able to manage that.

“Do you want me to find him?” Zagato asked.

“No,” Emeraude said. “Knowing Lantis…he probably has some reason behind it. We should leave him alone.”

A reason… I thought. Did he leave because he knew about Emeraude and Zagato’s love for each other? I was sure he could see where things were likely to end up just as well as I could. Should I have been more direct in letting him know that I was aware of it?

“As you wish,” Zagato said. He and Emeraude exchanged a longing look before he bowed his head. Then he got up and left the throne room. I followed him.

When we were out of earshot of the throne room, I said his name. He gasped and turned to look at me.

“Do you have anything you wish to report?” I asked. If I could get even one of them to admit their feelings to me, maybe we could think of something that could be done about it.

Zagato looked down for a moment, then looked back up and met my eyes with his own. “No,” he said. “I’ve nothing to report, Guru Clef.” He looked down again and closed his eyes. “Not a thing.”

:-:-:-:-:


Four years later, what I had feared since I first realized Emeraude and Zagato were in love with each other came to pass.

Early one morning, Emeraude requested my presence at the castle’s water mirror. When I arrived there, I found her seated in the center of the mirror.

“I will summon the Magic Knights,” she said after I stopped just outside the mirror’s frame.

“You mustn’t!” I cried. “If you summon the Magic Knights, you will…!” I couldn’t bring myself to say it, but if she summoned them, she would die!

Trembling all over, she clasped her hands in front of her. “It’s too late,” she said. “Zagato… I love him…”

I was glad that she had finally admitted it to me, but I dearly wished she had done so before things got to the point that she felt she had to summon the Magic Knights.

“I know that I will not…and cannot…be forgiven for this,” she said, “but I can’t do anything about it…even though it is my own heart.”

The water surrounding the walkway around the mirror surged up then and began wrapping around her.

“Princess!” I cried. “You are this world’s Pillar, but before that, you are human!

The water started moving faster and I began to move into it, trying to reach Emeraude. Holding up a hand to shield my face from the water, I cried, “Even if you wish for your own happiness alone, no one can blame you!” I certainly wouldn’t be able to, having spent a good part of the last five years trying to figure out how to let her have her own happiness.

“Even if everyone else forgives me, I cannot forgive myself,” she said. “I can’t truly enjoy my own happiness knowing that the people of this country will suffer.” I had known that to be true, but hearing her say it tore at my heart anyway.

She was completely enveloped by the water now and the water itself was starting to recede back into its channel. Clearly, whatever she was doing with the water was almost done. I wouldn’t have another chance to stop her. “Princess!” I cried, lunging onto the mirror. But I was too late. As I lunged forward, the water above the mirror dissipated, taking Emeraude with it.

I stumbled to the center of the mirror and dropped to my knees in despair. I had failed her. Then I heard her voice speak in my head. :Guru Clef…: she said. :Please guide the Magic Knights whom I will summon to this world. It will be a hard battle for them. Please help the Magic Knights who will become involved only because of my selfishness…:

Then a glow appeared in the air above me. It grew brighter until I had to shield my eyes. When it faded, there was a rabbit-like creature floating in the air where the glow had been. As the creature drifted down towards my outstretched arms, Emeraude said, :Please…provide the Magic Knights with Mokona. And… Please tell them, “I’m sorry.”:

Clutching Mokona to my chest, I cried, “Princess Emeraude!” Then I collapsed to floor in grief. Her words had sounded final enough that I knew she would not be dissuaded from summoning the Magic Knights. She would die and so would Zagato, since I knew that his love for Emeraude would drive him to do everything he could to stop the Magic Knights.
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