POV Auron. On Braska, and choices, and letting go.
Time does not mean much to the dead anyway.
Your daughter is standing there, contemplating the empty city, hands trembling but eyes resolute. Jecht's fair-haired boy---the physical resemblance he does not share with his father is always what startles me most---is staring at the ruins in wonder. What he once knew as his home has been lost for more than one thousand years, forsaken by the living and haunted by the dead of long past. The young rascal manages to hold up admirably, and if I had told him that he is more like his father than he thinks, he probably would not believe me. Not yet, at least. Like me, he still needs to learn to say goodbye.
My current companions are finally looking upon this city that they've heard only in stories---the holy city that marks the end of a summoner's pilgrimage; the city at the edge of the world. The ancient city of Zanarkand: wilful, sprawling, seemingly infinite. In a different reality, it is teeming with life and incandescence at every hour of every day; dreams woven by fayths long forgotten, trying to save a memory. Now it is dark, only to be alighted by the souls of the dead.
It's only fitting that the end of our journey began here.
The silence here is almost absolute, since no one dares to intrude upon the weight of Yuna's reflections. Some of them are waiting in bated breath, I know, hoping that she will change her mind at the very last minute and decide she doesn't really want to do this, even after the trials she has gone through. I had caught her watching the sphere of you that she had found on the snow-covered slopes of Mount Gagazet more than once, thinking, perhaps, about her future that is supposedly hers to make. She does not want to disappoint you, after all.
She turns around to face her guardians and bows deeply, her hair hiding her expression. She remains motionless for a few long seconds, and when she straightens up she pushes away the stray strands from her face and she smiles---the same gentle smile of your lady wife---and moves forward without a word. Tidus starts to reach out for her but lets his hand fall before he can touch her, and he looks away with his fists clenched hard enough to hurt. The despair in Tidus's eyes reminds me not of Jecht but myself, in the way he is grappling to accept this reality that is pulling him under with an unexpected alacrity. He will do anything in his power to stop her from sacrificing herself to a fate he considers pointless, and perhaps, that will be enough.
Yuna senses this, and her steps falter.
I know what stands before us next. I know what the Lady Yunalesca will offer, and what she will ask for in return. The irony of your daughter being her namesake does not escape me, not when I associate Yuna with light and hope and Yunalesca with nothing but duplicity. Will Yuna comply to her wishes? I honestly do not know. She has lost her faith in Yevon, and she no longer clings to tradition. But she is fierce in her determination to bring peace to Spira, and that is what Yunalesca will tempt her with, even if it is only for a short span of a decade or less.
Who will she choose to be her fayth for the Final Summoning, I wonder?
You didn't have to choose who you wanted to be your fayth, because Jecht had volunteered.
You had dreamt of vanquishing sorrow, I remember you saying that. That was why you allowed yourself to use Jecht as the fayth to summon the Final Aeon; that, and the tantalizing possibility that Spira would finally be free of Sin.
Besides, the call of your lady from the Farplane was louder than any words of dissent that I could have voiced, and I think Jecht realised that far better than I ever did.
Those last words come far too close to resentment than what I would have wished them to be. But it is hard not to be bitter in a world where your companions are slain because of the steadfastness of their beliefs and their desire to change the world for the better. Bitterness is a sentiment that I am too familiar with, for it is all that I felt at your last decisions, and all that I tasted as I had confronted Yunalesca that one last time. It left a hollow tang to the memories I had, and it made any willingness to forgive to diminish so rapidly that it almost was never there at all. Bitterness is what you fight against when you realise that you are the one left behind, forced to latch upon this mockery of life day after day, hanging on to this pretence by sheer force of will.
The guilt that comes after that is almost an afterthought, a fleeting reminder of duty and honour.
In a way, I envy you, since you had the choice of death and I did not, and you have found peace and I am consigned to tread my way through these same paths again while listening to whispers of voices long gone.
You wanted to kill grief itself, you had told us.
You had wanted a Spira where Yuna could grow up never having to have to go through the grief that you did---losing someone so dear to your heart that nothing else mattered anymore. I didn't understand that kind of sadness then, but now . . . now I think I do. But Yuna grieved, Yuna grieved anyway, because even when everyone was celebrating, she was weeping for you. She has been denied your endless patience and your gentle humour, all because of this cycle of death, spiralling indefinitely. In the end, everything dies, and all that is eternal is Sin and the call of the waves.
Jecht had wanted to break the cycle. He would find a way, he had said.
His son is saying the same thing, his voice unknowingly echoing his father's. And for reasons I cannot fathom, I believe him.
I am still here on this plane of existence, staring again at these desolate ruins. I think I am here out of sense of duty and obligation alone, perhaps . . . though duty is nothing more but another form of love. Or I could be here simply out of guilt, which constantly hounds me, nipping at my heels no matter on which side of the sea I stand upon. There are memories etched wherever I go, and there are shadows of both of you on every shore and they are as about as easy to dismiss as the pull of the waves on the sand.
But I am not here to raise the dead, nor am I here to seek forgiveness.
I am here for the want of guidance and your wisdom, a way to steer my charges through this winding maze Yevon has built. I am trying to help them dismantle the lies that Yevon has erected around us for a thousand years and more. I am here to help a boy find his father, and a girl to realise that destiny doesn't always set a straight path for one to follow.
There is no way that I could ever forget you, and my reverence for you will never fade, but my feelings have grown more distant---the way the pyreflies grow faint against the evening light as they ascend to the heavens, yet the light is there, always there---but perhaps I have slowly learnt to forgive.
And maybe it is too late, since this act is nearing its close, and both you and Jecht will be waiting there in the end. . . .
I have finally came here to say goodbye.