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by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Not mine.

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The Hall of Empty Melodies has two levels, and Sora never bothers to wonder why until the first monsoons hit the islands and the nights drag on lit by candles and the steady pounding of rain against the side of the house, the wind shrieking down the lanes and ripping the beaches and palm trees to shreds. Then, curled up and half-dreaming, he remembers the delicate fury of gloved hands racing down thrumming strings and how close to the sound of a heartbeat the crashing of waves on pale metal could be.

Did you...? he asks, and there's a crystal moment of quiet in his head.

Does it matter? Roxas murmurs, and Sora's immediate, incoherent response is wordless and indignant and full of the importance of remembering precious things, even if they weren't real things at all.

...it's because his memories were the clearest, Roxas admits after a long silence, that's probably why he could still play the way he did.

Did you all...? He's not sure how to phrase it, he's not sure if he's intruding, he's not sure if it's even an okay thing to ask about, but he's curious now, because he never bothered to wonder before, in the wildly tumbled dizziness of his desperate search and frantic clawing for survival.

Yes, he says shortly. All of us. And there's a memory there, half-hazy and blurred, perched on the balcony's edge and watching the tempest below, and Axel beside him, fingers tapping the rhythm while Larxene danced, all sharp edges and sizzling, flitting from one partner to the other, because in her old life she was a noble lady who'd killed the man she was forced to marry, and even though some of them didn't know the steps, it was something, it was anything, and even if Xigbar looked past the distance and polished his guns and Zexion could only be pried away from his books via more threatening weaponry, the Superior was unnaturally graceful, and Luxord was elegant and Lexaeus amazingly refined and Vexen more quiet and thoughtful than anything else, and Marluxia and Sax were too-still and gave him the creeps, but sometimes Xaldin would lean on the balcony and whip the waves into even more of a frenzy, and it was almost, almost like being alive.

He remembers dancing with Larxene, not because he'd wanted to but because she was there and he was there and it was something to do, and then there was Axel again, spinning him away from her and into his own arms, and he remembers remembering a flash of silver hair and sea-green eyes, and he'd held on so much more tightly than someone without a heart should have, because the silver blur in his memory had no face, but Axel was there and almost-alive and his favorite person-not-person in all the worlds of the universe.

He remembers the swell of the waves and music, softer now, smoother, and how much it felt like the memory of breathing, black cloth beneath his cheek and the scent of half-cooled ashes, and it was almost like being real, almost like feeling.

He remembers closing his eyes and just existing, no plots and no plans and no pining, the frantic desperation that beat in the hole in his chest soothed for once to a dull ache, to the solid physicality of the body-soul he was holding, almost real enough to pretend that he was only dreaming.

He remembers the sound of footsteps, slow and graceful, padding in time to the soft tinkling crash of the delicate waterfalls that followed him, the signal that the show was almost over and reality was about to slip in again, and whoever was the closest (Xigbar, this time, so quiet and calm, already unfolding from his perch) was the one who had the duty of catching him and hauling him back to his room when he finally collapsed, because Demyx always, always played for as long as was physically possible and then beyond, for reasons that none of them could even begin to understand.

He remembers how much the memory of hurt ached when the music stopped, how even Xemnas would linger to make sure that he'd survived, because memory was all that they were, and if they lost that...

Because they teetered on the edge of nothingness, they hated it with all the emotion they did not possess.

...I'm s-

Don't be sorry, Roxas snaps, too sharply, don't ever be sorry, any one of us would have stabbed each other in the back, even I would have if it suited my purposes.

Except Demyx, Sora points out softly, too softly, and... Axel was...

Whatever Roxas might reply is washed out by the roar of wind and rain, battering down the house again, like fury and hopelessness and a desperation that doesn't really exist, that never existed in the first place.

He was going to kill me, Sora thinks, it was self-defense, and he knows that these things are both true.

He still feels like he's broken something beautiful.

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