AUTHOR’S NOTE: Hello! This is my first attempt at any sort of fan fiction. I actually based this story off a dream I had last night, so that explains the strange location where the story takes place and Zidane’s altered clothing. My dreams usually don’t make a whole lot of sense, but I managed to make a reasonable story out of this one. It takes place several days after Queen Brahne’s death, after the scene where Dagger appears to her friends in royal attire, and before Zidane leaves for Treno. I tried to make this story plausible, but it may be slightly inconsistent with the main FFIX story. OK, enough babble...enjoy!


Goodbye, My Canary

In the stillness that accompanies the deepest hours of the night, a solitary figure made his way down the hall of Alexandria castle, treading softly so that he would not disturb anyone from their slumber. Blending easily with the shadows, he moved swiftly and silently, almost ghost-like. But the interrupted moonlight streaming through the tall windows as he passed revealed that he was indeed more substantial than mere fog or vapor. He finally stopped in front of a plain wooden door and a sliver of moonlight caught his shaggy blond locks and boyish face in a dim white glow. His expression was unusually serious, made even more so by the shadows that partially obscured his face, a face that was more used to laughter and cheer. He was relieved when he saw that the Knight of Pluto guarding the door was sound asleep. After a few moments, he let out a long breath and raised his hand to knock.

On the other side of the door, a girl with long, black hair that was gathered near her waist with a green ribbon was seated on a narrow bed, gazing at the glowing embers in the fireplace on the opposite wall. Normally used by weary travelers, the room was far from ornate: its stone walls were bare and the small table and chair next to the bed were the only other furniture in the room. It was hardly fitting for a princess, but that was the least of Princess Garnet’s concerns at the moment. It was a temporary arrangement, in any case; her mother had passed away several days ago and she found sleeping in her own room unbearable because because it was filled with so many memories of her mother. The wound was too fresh and she just needed to be away from everything in order to mourn and to think. Steiner, of course, and Beatrix had protested, but she was firm in her decision and they had no choice but to accede to her wishes.

A soft knock at the door interrupted her reflections. “Who is it?” she asked tiredly. It was probably another servant sent by Steiner or Beatrix to “see if Her Highness needed anything.” She appreciated their concern, but their constant monitoring began to get irritating after a while. After all she had been through, one would think that she'd be able to take care of herself. In their eyes, however, she was still just a child and no amount of battlefield experience would change their opinion. But as much as she tried to assert that she was grown-up and mature, she had to agree with them on a deeper level.

“Dagger, it’s me,” answered a familiar voice. “Zidane.”

Dagger felt a thrill of surprise and joy in her chest. “All right, come in.”

The door creaked open and she couldn’t help staring at Zidane with surprise. His hair was no longer tied back like it usually was and he was dressed in a white, long-sleeved silk shirt with ruffled cuffs underneath an embroidered light gray vest, dark green pants, and chestnut-brown boots of the finest leather. He looked very different from the rugged thief that she had known for the past few months.

“Why are you dressed like that, Zidane? If I didn’t know any better, you could pass for a nobleman.”

“Hey! What’s that supposed to mean?” Grinning, he looked more like his old self. “You don’t think nobility suits me?”

Leaning against the wall, he struck a pose and winked at her. “I had enough trouble getting into the castle during the day, with Steiner ranting and raving about having thieves and scoundrels running loose. So I sneaked in at night and had to disguise myself in case anyone saw me and asked questions. If anyone did see me, I was just a nobleman with a bad case of insomnia.”

“Where did you get that clothing? Never mind, I don’t really want to know.”

“Hey, that hurts! Just because I’m a thief by reputation doesn’t mean I steal EVERYTHING.” In fact, he had bought these clothes with what money he had left, hoping to impress her. But what was the point of trying to impress a princess when she already knew that he was just a common thief? A pathetic thief at that, kicked out by his own band because he failed to capture his canary. What was the use?

“Sorry,” Dagger said, but couldn't help smiling. Their old habit of bantering cheered her up and for some reason, Zidane never failed to make her smile, no matter how badly she felt. She wondered why that was, but did not really care because he was here. “Have a seat, Zidane. No need for you to keep standing there.”

“As my Princess commands,” he said, bowing, and pulled out the chair so that he was seated across from Dagger.

“Always teasing me,” she said, smiling at him. However, he did not smile back. She looked more closely and saw that his face was drawn and he had dark circles under his eyes. His suddenly gloomy expression made her feel as if she were looking at an imposter wearing her dearest friend’s face. “Zidane, this isn’t like you. What’s wrong?”

Zidane leaned forward, elbows propped on his knees and stared at his boots. He let out a sigh and stuttered, “I came to see you tonight because—well, I just wanted to—that is, I—” Why was it so hard to get the words out?

“What?” said Dagger, thoroughly confused by his behavior, appearance, and now this.

He sat up, looked into her face and gathered his wits about him. “What I mean to say is that we probably won’t be seeing much of each other after you become Queen. You’ll be busy running the kingdom and won’t have much time to see people like me. And now that our journey is over, I’m going to rejoin Tantalus and continue searching for treasure all over the world. So I guess...this is goodbye,” he said, and spread out his hands in a helpless gesture. That was actually not what he had meant to say, but the words seemed to come out of his mouth of their own will. It was worse than yesterday, when he saw her emerge from the royal chambers dressed in her gown. He was so floored by her beauty then that his feelings for her welled up inside and prevented him from giving his contrived speech. And now he had just lied to her, which was worse than not saying anything at all. Rejoining Tantalus was not an option because Baku refused take him back. He had no idea what he was going to do. Probably take a vacation somewhere far away, away from Alexandria. Oh, why couldn’t he tell Dagger how he truly felt about her? Curse his pride!

Dagger stared at him, stunned. She could not believe her ears. She had been so preoccupied with her mother’s death and her imminent responsibilities as Queen that it never occurred to her that she might not see Zidane again. Eyes burning with unshed tears, she vigorously shook her head in disbelief and denial.

“Don’t worry, I’ll write,” he said lamely. He attempted a smile but it never reached his eyes, which were as sad as before.

Suddenly Dagger grabbed Zidane’s outstretched hands, pitched forward and began crying on his shoulder. She buried her face into his neck; she felt the warmth of his skin through the collar and smelled the scent that was uniquely him mixed with the scent of new fabric. She would never see him again... And even if she did, it wouldn’t be the same. It would be as a queen and her liege, and never simply as friends. Her numbed mind refused to accept it. How could he leave her? Why did Zidane have to be taken from her as well? Hadn’t she suffered enough loss? But as she was destined to rule over Alexandria, this outcome was unavoidable. She was angry at her fate, sorrowful at losing her friend and confused at the whirlwind her life had become. But she had to be strong, like her mother and her predecessors. What would her mother say if she saw her daughter, queen-to-be, broken down like this?

At the thought of her mother, Dagger started sobbing anew, feeling her loss acutely. Her sorrows, combined with the weight of her future responsibilities, threatened to crush her spirit. Through her muddled thoughts and emotions, Dagger noticed that Zidane was sitting next to her on the bed with his arms around her, and that she was clinging to him tightly. She vaguely worried that this might be highly inappropriate, but paid no attention to the thought. The only thing she cared about was that Zidane was with her in her time of need. Exhausted, comforted by his presence and embrace, she drifted off into sleep.

For what felt like hours, Zidane continued to hold Dagger without moving so that he wouldn't wake her up. Finally beginning to feel sleepy himself, he gently laid her down on the bed and pulled the blanket over her. He knelt beside her to gaze at her face, which in repose was peaceful at last. Being this close, he could smell the flowery scent of perfume in her hair and he inhaled it deeply. Leaning forward, he tenderly brushed a strand of hair from her face and softly kissed her cheek. As he turned to leave, he paused to take something out from under his vest and put it on the table. He snuffed out the lamp, opened the door quietly, and stole away into the night.

Blinking, Dagger rubbed her eyes and saw mid-morning light shining through the window over the table. She threw off the blanket to get up, and wondered how she ended up going to bed last night. The last thing she remembered was crying in Zidane’s arms. But it must have been a dream, because what were the chances that he actually showed up when she needed him most? That sort of thing only happened in the stories she had heard from Doctor Tot as a child, the hero rescuing the heroine in distress, though her distress was of a different sort. She must have eventually gotten tired last night and crawled into bed. It was a nice dream, in a way, but she should not dwell on dreams any more than she should on the events of the past. Today marked a new beginning. She would move back to her room tonight. Soon she would no longer be Garnet the Princess but Garnet the Queen, and she would be a queen to make her mother proud.

As she rose from the bed, something on the table caught her eye. Lying there was a sheathed dagger that Zidane had used early on in their travels, the one that inspired her to choose the alias of Dagger. She picked it up with both hands and held it close. “Zidane,” she whispered. “You really were here.” Even if she did not see him again, she would have something to remember him by. And even though she could no longer be his Dagger, the dagger that he left for her captured the essence of who she was in their time together and how knowing him had changed her. No matter what she did or where she went, she would carry his dagger with her. Zidane might no longer be in her life, but she would always have a part of him by her side.

The End
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