My Friend, the Pope (in-training)
by Lucathia
Grisia wasn’t chosen as the Sun Knight. This is the legend of the strongest Pope in all history. AU.

Part 1: Roland

I first met him at the selection for the next Sun Knight. In the beginning, I did not pay him any more attention than I paid the other candidates. We all wanted to become the Sun Knight. That was all I knew about him and the others. However, as both of us were orphans and largely avoided by the other candidates, we soon drifted together. He wasn’t someone I normally would have been interested in, but his persistence made it so that I had to acknowledge his presence.

That, and he needed my help.

You would think that his blond hair and blue eyes would be cause for admiration, but it wasn’t so among the Sun Knight candidates. Few of the candidates possessed the features of the Sun Knight of legends — the closest was sandy blond hair and another possessed dark blue eyes, never the right combination — yet there he was, the spitting image of the dazzling, legendary Sun Knight. All he had to do was smile to complete the picture.

His appearance alone had garnered the attention of all of the candidates. They watched him, hawk-like, waiting to see if he would live up to his appearance, or if he would fail. It was not admiration they regarded him with, but rather jealousy and bitterness over his natural advantage against the rest of us.

I noticed none of this. So focused was I on the various tests administered during the selection that I didn’t notice until things came to a head, forcing me to see.

Five against one.

Never would I turn my back on such a situation, but neither had I ever considered that there would be bullies among us. I immediately jumped in front of him, blocking his bruised body from the other boys. Fury overcame me, and I swore that none of the boys before me would become the next Sun Knight. I managed to take them on and ward them off, but I would soon realize that they weren’t going to give up so easily. I hadn’t managed to solve a single thing and had only managed to paint the target darker.

When I turned to help him up, reaching out a hand, I saw that his wounds were more severe than I had thought, but he still tried to smile at me, wincing the moment he attempted to do so. His hands gripped mine tightly. I pulled him up, adamant about taking him to see the clerics, but he tugged me back.

I turned.

He introduced himself as Grisia. I told him my name, Roland.

Then, I watched, mesmerized, as he touched his fingers to his face, fingertips glowing, injuries disappearing. Dropping his hands, he looked up at me, bruises completely gone, and smiled widely, dazzlingly, without wincing at all.

That was the day we became friends even though I hadn’t known that was what we were until much later. Grisia had to spell it out for me, as he often had to do with such matters. When he did, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling and wondering if my smile was anything like the dazzling one he had shown me.

I doubted it.

At the dinner table that first night, Grisia brought his plate over to mine and sat down without asking, as if it were the most natural thing in the world for us to hang out together. That was exactly what we did from then onward. Grisia would always come to find me even though I was sure that I wasn’t a very interesting person at all.

Grisia was not at all like anyone else I had ever known before. He was both brave and cowardly at the same time, a walking contradiction. He could stand up for me against the toughest of our rivals, never once considering abandoning me, yet he would flee in the face of a small dog, afraid of getting bitten. He would jump into a fight without a second thought if he saw someone in need, yet he was adamant about not fighting fights that he couldn’t win, his actions and his words not matching up.

Was he brave, or was he cowardly? I couldn’t figure it out.

What I did understand was that despite that we both wished to become the Sun Knight, we were as different as different could be. He was lively whereas I was not. He could smile and make it feel like the sun had managed to break through the clouds whereas I could not. He could worm into people’s hearts whereas I had little idea about where to start.

He was every bit what a Sun Knight should be, but at the same time, he was not. Yet another contradiction. It was true that his smile was brilliant, but he would never be a very good holy knight ability-wise. Try as he might, he could not wield a sword nor ride a horse. This failure of his caused many a snicker among the candidates, all certain that there was very little chance that Grisia would ever be chosen as a holy knight, let alone the next Sun Knight.

I did not despair nor did I rejoice. I only felt saddened that we might not be able to stay together. I had to admit that we were meant to walk down different paths in our lives, but I also wanted to believe that our lives, although different, would still be intertwined, like threads of cloth woven together.

That was what made me open my mouth to tell Grisia my hopes for the future. I wished so hard for it to become true, for I did not want to part from my very first friend.

“Grisia, if you aren’t chosen as the Sun Knight, then being a cleric wouldn’t be too bad either! Then you’d be able to help heal my injuries in the future.”

I spoke from the heart. I would never forget his smile and the ease at which he had healed his injuries. It was something I could not even hope to copy. It was a gift, a priceless talent, and it would be a pity not to use it.

My wish came true, even beyond my wildest hopes.

On the day that I was chosen as the next Sun Knight, Grisia was chosen as the next Pope, leaving the current Sun Knight grumbling about losing his back-up Sun Knight candidate.

Grisia and I were both shocked he had even been considered.

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