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She Understood

Pahrak Model ZX

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“There.  That’s Merlin’s house.”


Riku pointed just down the street to a plain-looking door, cut into the same grey and yellow stone as everything else in this part of the city.


Cocking her head, Kairi asked, “Are you sure?  How can you tell these places apart?”


As discreetly as possible, Riku checked the piece of paper in his hand.  “No, this is definitely it.  You, uh…might want to knock first, though…”


Kairi smirked.  “I see…”


“He’s right,” Mickey said, nodding.  “I was here not too long ago.  Merlin’s here, and I bet he’s already got everything set up for you.”  He paused to turn towards her.  “Kairi, you’ll be in good hands!  We’ve gotta get going, but if you need anything, Merlin or the Three Good Fairies can get you in touch with Master Yen Sid in a snap.  I hope your training goes swell!”


“Thanks, Your Majesty,” Kairi said.  She wasn’t entirely sure how to act, so she bowed a little just to be safe.  Facing Riku next, she said, “When you find Master Aqua, come let me know, alright?”


Riku nodded.  “We’ll be back before you know it.”


“Oh?  Sounds like I should hurry if I want to be an official Keyblade Wielder by then.”


“Heh.  I’m sure you’ll blast through the lessons in no time.  If anything, we should hurry so you don’t have enough time to get bored.”


Kairi giggled, but ended up casting a sideways glance at the house.  “Well, I doubt it’ll be boring…”


Riku frowned.  Before he could say anything, however, Mickey said, “Welp, we’re off!  Next stop, the Realm of Darkness!”


“Huh?  Oh, right.”  Riku gave Kairi one last look.  She smiled, so he turned and headed back the way they had come with Mickey.


Once they were gone, Kairi’s smile faded in an instant.  She looked over her shoulder at the door, shuffled towards the edge of the street, and then came to a stop.  Her gaze slowly drifted upward.


It had been a very long time since she’d been here in Radiant Garden—not since she’d been cast into the sea between worlds as a child.  She didn’t count the time Maleficent had used her and the other Princesses to open the Final Keyhole, since the world was very different then and she hadn’t even been in her own body for the majority of it.  Her memories of the place had grown quite hazy after so long.  Even just being here, though, she felt a certain sense of nostalgia not unlike when she had been able to return to Destiny Islands after its destruction.  Just like that time, it had an oddly bitter taste to it.


Kairi shook her head and leaned back against the closest building.  So much had happened over the last two or three years, and it wasn’t over yet.  She was eager to start training so that she could help put a swift end to all this chaos…but, at the same time, she was very hesitant.


She trusted Riku, of course.  If he said Lea could be trusted, then there wasn’t really any reason to worry, she told herself.  Still, she might’ve listened to herself a bit better if he or Sora were there with her.


But it was alright.  She understood.  Riku had to find Master Aqua in the Realm of Darkness, and she certainly didn’t want to delay that.  After hearing the lost Master described, Kairi had remembered meeting someone similar a long time ago—here in Radiant Garden, actually—so she wanted to meet her again to be sure.  And Sora…well, she hadn’t even gotten to see him when she went to Yen Sid’s tower, but she was sure he was doing something important.


Kairi sighed.  She had really wanted to see Sora, especially after hearing what had happened to him during the exam.  If he needed someone to talk to about the trouble he’d gotten into, she wanted to be there for him.  If only he hadn’t had to take that dangerous exam…


But no, it was fine.  She understood.  Sora and Riku had to take the exam to be ready for what came next, to rescue those who were lost and to fight Xehanort again if need be.  And Riku had been there, plus all his other friends, to bring him home.  Well…all of his friends except for her, of course.  She had been waiting back on the Islands.


Kairi slowly slid down until she was sitting on the pavement.  It had been such a shock to her, hearing that so much had happened in the time they’d been gone; if only she’d been there with them, or at least with the King and Donald and Goofy, so that she could have stayed informed.  If only she had been close enough to know what was going on.  She wished she could have been included in the ordeal somehow.


But, really, she understood.  It was dangerous, and Sora and Riku needed to know she was safe.  She still couldn’t even summon her Keyblade on her own—not that she hadn’t tried again and again, but as she was now she knew she wouldn’t have been able to take care of herself, much less be of any use to them.  The only thing she could do was give them the peace of mind of knowing that she was waiting back at Destiny Islands.


She shrank inward.  “Every day”, she remembered saying.  Every day, she and Sora and Riku would be together, just like they had always used to be, before everything had become so complicated.  But they had barely been home when news of some new adventure arrived, and they both ran off without her.  And they were still running, stopping only to drop on her the immense expectations of quickly learning how to wield the Keyblade in order to save the entire Realm of Light, when until now they’d done everything possible to keep her away from any sort of fight.


She understood.


And she was so, so tired of just being understanding all the time.


Kairi just wanted to be with her best friends again.  Ever since the destruction of the Islands, she’d been almost constantly alone, sometimes at home, and sometimes as someone else’s prisoner.  Sora and Riku would come to her rescue when she was in danger, but once that was over, they were off again, saving someone else, fighting someone new, and apparently not willing to consider letting her go with them.  No matter how much she understood their reasons, it still hurt being abandoned over and over.  And she couldn’t help but think that neither of them had a clue she felt that way.  That only made the pain worse.


She had hoped that things could be different now.  She was going to learn to use her Keyblade, finally learn to do what they did and fight alongside them, so that they would be together no matter what happened.  But just like that, they were off again.  It was almost like they suddenly remembered her because it was convenient.  She hated to think that way, but that didn’t make the feeling stop.


And now, here she was, unceremoniously dumped into the custody of four people she’d never met before along with someone who had kidnapped her not too long ago, knowing that if she didn’t close the ever-widening gap between where she was and where Sora and Riku were (and fast), it could mean the doom of millions of innocent people.


She didn’t know how to even begin approaching that.


It was overwhelming.  The pressure, the loneliness…but despite it all, this was her chance.  Her only chance.  If she could succeed here, then she could be with her friends again.  They wouldn’t have any reason to leave her behind, and even if they tried to, there wouldn’t be anything they could do to stop her from going with them.  But, if she failed…


Kairi shook her head.  No.  If this is my only chance, then I definitely won’t waste it.  I’ll master the Keyblade, and I’ll help beat Xehanort, and then I won’t let those two out of my sight ever again.


She took a deep breath.


Just a little longer, and I won’t have to be alone ever again.


She got to her feet and walked over to Merlin’s door.  After hesitating one last time, she knocked, and a few seconds later a bearded man in gray-blue robes answered.


“Uh, yes?  Can I help you?”


“H-Hello,” Kairi greeted.  “I was looking for Merlin?  Master Yen Sid sent me to—“


“Ah, yes of course!” the man interrupted.  “You must be Kairi!  Come in, my dear, come in—we’d best get started right away.”


He went back inside, leaving the door open.  Kairi tentatively stepped in after him.  She tried to look around, but walls of books blocked her view; the old man (presumably Merlin) was halfway around the corner of one such barrier, talking excitedly to someone.  When he came back around, three women floated out behind him, coming to a stop just in front of Kairi.


“So this is her!” said the one in red.  “Oh, aren’t you just adorable?”


“Your timing is perfect!” said one in green.  “We couldn’t decide, so we wanted to—“


“Now, now,” interrupted the woman in blue.  “First things first, we should introduce ourselves.”


“Oh, yes, you’re absolutely right,” agreed the one in red.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Kairi!  The three of us are here to help Merlin train you.  My name is Flora.”


“I’m Fauna,” said the woman in green.


“And I’m Merryweather,” said the one wearing blue.


Kairi looked from one to the other, hoping she could keep their names straight.  “Oh.  It’s nice to meet you too!  I’m really grateful that you’re all helping me like this.”


“No thanks necessary, child,” Merlin said.  “Now, if you’ll just—“


“Before we get started, though,” Fauna said, stepping forward.  “We’ve been working on some new clothes for you.  Since your friends all have garments imbued with our magic, it only seemed right to make some for you as well.”


“But, we’ve hit a bit of a snag,” Merryweather said.  “You see, we couldn’t agree on a good color.  Personally, I think you’d look lovely in blue.”


Fauna huffed.  “She’s look much more darling in green!”


“It’s always like this,” Flora sighed.  “So, we wanted to ask you, Kairi.  What color would you like us to make your new clothing?”


“You’re asking me…?” Kairi muttered.


She glanced over the three fairies and Merlin as they attentively awaited her answer.


Kairi smiled.  “Well, lately I have been thinking of buying something in red.”


Flora grinned triumphantly, while the other two fairies exchanged a glance.


“Well, if that’s what you want, that’s what we’ll do,” Fauna said.


Merryweather leaned forward and said, “But if you ever change your mind, just let me know, and I can change it to blue in an instant.”


“Alright, ladies, you heard her,” Flora said.  “Come on now!”


Kairi watched the three of them move a half-step away and ready their wands, while Merlin mumbled to himself as he flipped through a book.  While she still didn’t really know anything about these people, she could feel that her nervousness was already starting to ebb away.  For the first time, she thought she might actually enjoy her time here.


“Are you ready, dear?” Flora asked.


Grinning, Kairi nodded.  “Yeah.  I’m ready!”

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