Chapter 26

Celes smiled. “It has been so good to see you again, Grandfather,” she said. “I trust my office is comfortable enough?”

With a polite nod, Cid seated himself in the chair across from her and chuckled. “Sometimes I wonder if you haven’t forgotten all about me, Celes. You never write, certainly-” His congenial tirade ended with a series of loud coughs.

Celes winced at the sound. Congenial or no, Cid had a point, and it was a point made better by his coughing than his words. The latter had been spoken in jest. There was nothing funny about the former.

One more thing to be sorry for, then.

Cid was a mundane - a human with no magical ability. His powers of the mind were of an altogether different sort. He’d been exposed to a terrible amount of magical energy after Kefka’s near-destruction of the world, and the result was a magical poisoning that had nearly killed him.

No. It was simply taking a long time to kill him.

“Good to see you, yes, but I wish it were under better terms,” Cid said when he got his voice back. “This is a very bad situation.”

“I cannot argue with you.” No lie there, certainly. Of course, to Celes mind, it was a bad situation in more ways than the simple, destructive one which Cid was reffering to.

It was made all the worse because of-

“... any way to do it?” Cid asked.

Celes blinked. Now was not the time to consider her own problems. “I’m sorry, Grandfather, I didn’t hear what you asked.”

He gave her a curious look, but repeated, “If we could just transfer your Runic power, I feel certain that it would act upon the rift as a seal. You can’t think of any way to do it?”

“Grandfather,” Celes said, “if you cannot, I have no doubt that I cannot.”

Cid shook his head. “You give me too much credit - and yourself not enough. I may have a better grasp of the theory, but you’ve actually used the thing.” He pointed to the Runic Blade hanging on the wall of her office.

“Never like this.”

He nodded, slowly. Sadly.

The unfamiliar had once delighted him, Celes knew. Once, it had even delighted her.

But Kefka had shown both of them just how unpleasant the unfamiliar could be. Unpleasant, or worse.

Of course, Ghaleon, too, had taught Celes about the unfamiliar.

What had he taught her of it? That it was unpleasant? No, certainly not that. There was nothing unpleasant about the unfamiliar things Ghaleon knew, things he was always eager to share with her.

Not unpleasant.

But certainly worse.

She shuddered at the thought of Ghaleon’s hands on her. But she wouldn’t shudder when she was with him. No, then she would want nothing more than that feeling which so revolted her when she had even a few moments apart from him.

Why?

And what to do about it. She had to do something, that was not in doubt. She hated Ghaleon now, where once she had simply been fascinated.

But for all her hatred of him, she hated herself more. Because as soon as she saw him, was with him for a few moments, she would want him more than she hated him.

And what would she say to Locke? He’d been suspicious for so long - rightly suspicious, as it turned out. Now he was off, where she didn’t know. He hadn’t told her.

But he would be back soon. And when he came back, what to say to him? What could she say to the man she had betrayed?

Nothing.

“Is something the matter, Celes?” Cid asked. “You seem distracted.”

She looked up from her thoughts, to Cid’s kind, plump face. He was looking across the desk at her, his red-rimmed eyes filled with concern.

If she could just tell him what had happened, surely he would know what to do. How to make right what she had made wrong. It would be so easy to do so.

So easy.

“I’m sorry, Grandfather,” Celes said. “I’m just worried about the rift, that’s all.”

“Of course.” Cid nodded, but his eyes said something different. Rightly, he did not believe her. She had made it so that even he could not trust her word.

One more thing to be sorry for, Celes thought.