This was actually something I wrote for a school contest, and I decided to post it here to see how others would like it. The teachers liked it well enough, it got First(shameless promotion ^-^ sry), but they're still adults. I hope you will find this interesting.

Enough with the ramblings. Enjoy!

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Beautiful World

Rating: PG-13 for death

Format: One-shot, short story

Genre: Angst/romance

Warning: Death, slight violence at the beginning, but non-graphic. It was a school-contest fic  *grin*

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Dusk blurred everything into vague shapes of gray in the twilight, obscured and hazy. The last few pale tendrils of light laid its long fingers across the velvet sky. Tremors of explosions shook the ground as the sound of quick objects slicing through the air revealed a heated battle within the Engroien Valley.

Within the jumbled mass of ambiguous activities, mortals—mages—can be spotted upon the ground, some cloaked in robes of the dark of the night, while others were shrouded in a brilliant white or, in some cases, a pale yellow. But the height of the battle was, truly, at the height of the sky. Fierce, golden creatures soared overhead as they combated and battled in midair, Griffins, snarling and twisting in the air to dodge attacks and to protect their Binding Partners upon the ground. A giant eruption rocked the earth as a Griffin slammed into a hard rock surface, her wings entangled with her claws, intelligent silver eyes clouded and dimmed with pain and confusion.

"Apria—!" A cry was wretched from deep inside of Avascaen as her Partner fell to the bottom of the abyss, landing with a sickening crunch of bones. Eyes wide with horror and disbelief, she ignored the faint, nagging, but sensible and worried voice at the dark regions of her mind that told her to beware of the battle raging around her, ignored the ripple of pain that sliced through her very bones, ignored everything around her, including the cries of "Be watchful!"s around her as she scampered desperately to reach Apria's side, her dark cloak flaring around her in gothic grace, revealing bloodied and soiled clothing underneath, the colors marking her one of the Ciardha, the 'darklins', as they were so called.

The battle was shifting to the favor of the Ciardha as their enemies fell one by one with screeching cries of aguish and hair-rising wails. The intruders were eventually forced out the threshold of the gorge, heavy stone doors grating shut behind them, finally closing with a great, echoing bang. For a minute or two, all was quiet save for the harsh breathing of the combatants, as they tried in vain to gather any semblance of energy, and the crisp clatter of rocks tumbling off the side of the crevice. A young man of seventeen approached Avascaen, and she looked up from where she was on the ground, next to her Binding Partner Apria, her eyes red-rimmed, raw pain reflecting from the green depth, beseeching.

"Alvaro…" The name was whispered and broken.

Apria's upper body was thrown into shadows in the twilight, however, at the existence of a great pool of crimson around her, it did not take a genius to figure out that she was, indeed, dead. The boy drew in a sharp intake of breath. Oh, no.

Everyone knew that physical bindings, such as matrimony and captivity, can be broken, but Elemental and Spiritual Bindings, like the ones between Griffin and mage, live off of one another. If one was to die, the other would be sapped steadily for their Life's strength by an endless void by the Bind, attempting to bring back the other, until they, too, would die. There is no repentance for life. This process can take up to three or four weeks.

            //Do we run away and leave it all

              Do we realize what we are fighting for

              It's times like this that we learn how to truly live once more.//

Wordlessly, he gathered her into his arms, words unspoken. They did not need to be.

-----

Clouds obscured the silver gibbous in the night sky, rolling masses of storm clouds, vicious and angry. The wounded were treated and were resting within the healing ward, the dead buried, but…what of the not-so-dead-but-will-be?

Avascaen tucked her head between her knees as she huddle at the foot of her bed, listening to the dull roar of the storm outside, body shuddering slightly, her hair falling into her eyes and casting her face in shadows. She mentally berated herself for the breakdown early that morning, in public, no less. What has come out of her mouth then was "I don't want to die…I-I'm sorry…but…I don't want to hang on like this…" A hiccup, "I don't want to .."

Or something like that. Something equally pathetic and embarrassing and generally hysterical. Then she just broke down to plain crying, which is probably worse.

It was all thanks to Alvaro that she was able to hide away from the prying eyes, from further sympathy and useless consolation. They had gotten together only a little over a month ago, though if you had suggested it either one of them the year before, they would had simultaneously told you to go get your head examined. Then glare on each other. They used to loathe each other.

            //I am a firefly, barely flickering

              Can you teach me how to fly

              Can't you see despite my indifference that I am afraid to die?//

However, she did not know how she could deal with the short, precious time that she has left. Her mentor has always told her a story that said, if a person goes to a hospital for a checkup, they might walk in with a bounce in their step. But once they have been told that they have some sort of fatal disease, they will barely be able to walk out of the hospital on their own two feet. It is simply a person's mental image of him or herself that counts, for there really was not any difference in the health of that particular person during that short amount of time. She had laughed back then, deeming it as 'ridiculous'.

What kind of person acts like that?

            //It is easy to lose and pretend

              An empty mask, steadily I make

              I am happy because I smile, but just how much can I fake?//

Perhaps she should just stop trying, stop living. Perhaps she should just let go.

-----

In the week that followed, Avascaen withdrew from those around her, remaining distant and taciturn. The energetic sparkle that once dominated her eyes disappeared, and she seldom responded when spoken to, only looked at them with an empty, hollow gaze. She also withdrew from her common activities; the mischievous pranks and late-night kitchen raids have all but disappeared.

If her relatives were still alive, they would have worried and fussed, but they were all gone, dead, killed in a absurd campaign of "death to all creatures magical" brought upon by the village idiots all over the country-side fourteen years ago.

Finally, Alvaro had enough.

Avascaen was heading woodenly down to the dining room one evening when she was seized by the arm, spun around, and, gently but firmly, pressed against the wall. She stifled a scream, scrunching her eyes shut in a childish parody of self-defense.

A peek. "Alvaro?" He opened his mouth as if to say something, then, doubt seemed to appear in his eyes as if his courage had suddenly turned tail and fled away, as if he has lost the nerve to say what he was going to say(for the first time in his arrogant life, I might add). He peered into Avascaen's eyes with his chocolate-colored ones, now dark with worry.

"Why are you doing this?"

"Doing what?" Feigned innocence.

An exasperated sigh. "You know what I'm talking about. Withdrawing from everyone—" a wave of hand in midair, "—and, well, me," he finished, somewhat lamely.

A cocked eyebrow. "What's the point?"

"The point is—" a pause, "—no matter what, you can't go on like this. The truth is harsh, but I swear to you that if you would just let me, I would make these days the happiest in your life. As long as I can manage, I will do whatever it takes, for you." He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, suddenly seeming like a timid child, afraid that he might day something wrong. "Just…let me do something about it," then, hurriedly, "we could do whatever you want, go wherever you desire, have a chance to see the world."

Avascaen bit her bottom lip; her tongue darted out to moisten her desert-dry lips.

            //Running away, hold my hand

              Let's go to somewhere new

              Don't let go, don't forget, let's share this lonely view.//

She looked up slowly, "…I've always wanted to try a mud-bath…?"

-----

For the next fortnight, Alvaro kept true to his word and took Avascaen to an assortment of different places to explore, helping her take her mind out of the constantly hovering 'death' gutter. They went from domestic activities such as baking(which usually ended with them both having a flour-lettuce-tomato-fight) to climbing trees and lying in the mud. They learned to savor every moment they had with each other, loving the feel of each other's company, even if it was just in mere silence.

What used to be a teenage hormone-driven relationship now dug deeper, affecting them both in a way that they had to struggle to understand. However, neither tried to fight it, they let it, whatever it was, guide them through.

Despite their contentment with each other, they could both feel Death as it  approached, stealthily and steadily, the Grim Reaper after her prize. Activities became gradually less reckless and taxing, as Alvaro's concern for Avascaen grew increasingly intense. It was the afternoon when Avascaen nearly collapsed when they were playing a simple game of tag did the healers firmly ordered her to the infirmary. Reluctantly, she obeyed.

-----

On that moonlit night, Alvaro crept into the infirmary to visit Avascaen, distressed by the fact that the healers told him that she is not expected to live through the night. He refused at first when Avascaen pleaded him to take her outside on this last night, but then gave in. After all, who would want to be stuck inside a ward that smelled heavily of sedatives in their last moments?

Together, they stole out of the hospice to the fresh, crisp night air outside. Climbing a well-worn trail up the side of the ravine, they settled themselves between three large T-shaped boulders that stood upon the pinnacle of the precipice side, forming a crescent at the top, and Avascaen contented herself to settle in his embrace. Slowly, she began to drift off.

"Wake me when the sun rises…" she mumbled, before her breath evened out into the slow and short pace of sleep. Alvaro responded by tightening his grip around her.

-----

It was more than a dream; Avascaen knew it the moment it appeared. She was…nothing. As a weightless sphere of energy hovering in the air, she peered around her in morbid fascination.

Wait, did that mean she had eyes?

Something…someone, was calling to her, not a physical voice, or force, for that matter, but a spiritual tug at her navel, urging her forward. Then, she realize what was happening.

It was her Passing, the official crossing to the Other Realms, the realms of the deceased. Peering back, she thought she saw the muddled image of Alvaro, back at the valley, back with her in his arms, head on her shoulder as he slept.

There, that was someone she was going to miss dearly. But she sends her blessings out to him, wishing him the best, for an eternity.

She started forward.

-----

Dawn was spilling over the horizon, its fiery hues casting a glorious conflagration of orange, red and yellow. She whispered at the ears of the occupants of the stone crescents, warm fingers caressing their faces, a lingering touch in the morning chill.

The boy stirred, his eyebrows furrowing, eyes opening blearily. He paused, and froze at the feel of a rock wall behind his back and chilled skin against his own. The previous day's events slammed back into him with the force of a jackhammer, dizzying him with its intensity. He shifted, sitting up and tilting Avascaen's face toward his.

"Avascaen?" His voice trembled, becoming choked with tears as it lowered an octave, "Avascaen."

But Avascaen did not stir.

            //Dream 'cause it's bitter sweet

              Take a chance, give it a whirl

              Before we lose and we forget, realize it's…a beautiful world…//

FIN

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Done! I know that is a short story, but I hope you people liked it! I think that is probably the sappiest fic I probably ever wrote, but that's okay! ^-^

Well…yes…go ahead and push that little button that saids 'Go' after selecting 'Review'…cookies… *waves a bowl of chocolate chip cookies under your nose*

=^_^=

Thank you!

~Phalken