Melior looked through the glass at the various rings set into velvet displayed in rows. This was the best jeweler in Trasland, and the rings varied from simple bands of gold or silver to ugly, heavy things incrusted in rubies or diamonds all around. His mother had sent him to buy a gold ring with sapphires and rubies, and Melior looked for something that would please her. The jeweler was all over him, anxious to please.

Melior sighed disgustedly at the man's antics, and looked out of the store. The cobblestone streets were empty at this time of day.

What am I doing out so early? Hardly home, and I get sent out on errands already.

Suddenly, Melior saw a shape in a white cloak run across the square and into an alleyway.

That cloak...

Melior ran out of the shop, leaving a very confused jeweler, and dashed into the alleyway. The white cloak was halfway through the street. Melior dashed to it.

"Eyle!"

The white cloak turned sharply. A young woman stood fiercely with a dagger in her hand, ready to confront the person that had called her name. Upon seeing Melior, her eyes widened.

"Melior? No! I thought you were gone! You can't be here!" Eyle hastily turned and started running out of the alleyway, but Melior cought her on the shoulder, on which was embroidered a small rose.

"I came back."

"Melior, we can't start this again," she said without turning towards him. He tried to spin her around, but she resisted.

"Why not?"

"We just can't!"

"Eyle, I love you," he said, kissing the back of her head.

"I know."

"Don't you love me anymore?"

Eyle turned around. She was crying, her pale cheeks wet with tears. Melior moved to kiss her sheeck, but she pused him away.

"I'm getting married," she said slowly.

"Do you love him?" he said softly.

"I don't even know who he is!" Eyle sobbed, breaking down, burying her head in Melior's blue coat. "My father just came to me, one day, and said, 'You're getting married in a month'. He said it was for my own good. For tradition. How can this be so?"

Melior patted her shoulder, fingering the rose embroidery.

"I can stop it."

"How?"

"Somehow, I will."

"You can't! And even if you could, you shouldn't. Everyone would think me a whore or something," said Eyle crying even harder into his coat.

Melior looked at the embroidery under his fingers. It was silk thread, pale pink. The cloak also was silk, as well as Eyle's white dress.

" 'Blind Marriage,' " murmured Melior.

"What did you say?" mumbled Eyle into his coat.

" 'Blind Marriage.' It's a tradition among the nobles of Trasland. The parents of the bride and the groom arrange the marriage, but don't tell their children who they will marry. As far as I know, only Trasland nobles do this."

Eyle stared at him, horrified.

"No! I just wanted– I didn't mean to–"

"You're a noble?" wispered Melior.

Eyle looked at him in the eyes.

"Yes, I am. And there's nothing you can do about it, or my marriage. Now, if you'll let me go, I have to prepare for my wedding," she said calmly as she turned down the alleyway."

"No– If you're a noble, then I can do something! I can marry you."

Eyle gasped and turned to look at him.

"The son of the Archduke of Leopold is someone anyone would marry if they could. Any noble would be honored to marry me," explained Melior. "I can convince your parents to let me marry you instead of whoever esle you were promised to."

Eyle stared at him for a while, then shook her head.

"Melior, this isn't one of those stories in which the hero can get whatever he wants. The world will not stop for a loving couple. Forget me, Melior. This isn't a fairytale," said Eyle sadly. She turned swiftly and glided out of the alley, leaving behind the love of her life.