Chapter 00: First Sight

It was a morning like any other in the town where this story starts, with people bustling in and out of shops, arms laden with groceries and merchandise. Fresh fruit and bread and meats lined the cobbled streets, the vendors called out to the passing people, attempting to entice them with their wares.

"I hate early mornings," a boy grumbled, arms occupied with a basket of vegetables, already filled to the rim.

Next to him walked a shorter young boy, hands in his pockets and a grin on his face. His eyes, a gray tone line silver, glimmered with amusement as he looked at his friend.

"It's not that bad," he responded with a shrug. "You just hate getting up so early."

The other huffed in annoyance.

"That's not it, I just don't like dealing with the vendors," he admitted. "Lousy bunch of thieves, the lot of them," he shot a dirty look towards the closest one as he spoke.

Beside him, his friend laughed.

"Then why do you keep offering to come? You know your mother actually likes to do the shopping, so you aren't doing her any favors."

The other boy just shrugged.

"Who knows, maybe I'm just a considerate son who doesn't want his lovely mother to strain herself carrying such heavy loads of food all the way back home," he said with a sigh, at the same time looking at a young girl passing by.

His friend laughed again at seeing this.

"And it has nothing to do with your wandering eye?" he asked slyly.

The other shrugged nonchalantly.

"What can I say? I am a man, after all."

And his friend snorted, but said nothing.

"And what about you?" the taller boy said with a mischievous look in his gray eyes. "Have anyone that's caught your eye?"

"Not really, no," the other answered easily. "But then I've never put much thought into it."

"Right, I forgot, you don't believe in love," his friend said with a shake of his head.

"That's not it, I just haven't found anyone that interests me," said his friend. "And you really shouldn't be the one to talk about love when you profess your feelings for a different girl every week," he ended, dryly.

"I just have so much love to give," responded the other, stopping at a stall selling bread.

"Good morning, Evan, Nathan," the older woman at the stall greeted with a kind smile on her weathered face.

"Good morning, madam," Evan responded in his most charming tone, smile bright on his face.

Nathan tried not to laugh as he gave his own greeting.

"What would you like today?" the woman asked, and Nathan remembered her name was Ida, and she was one of the nicer merchants around.

It was probably why Evan was so nice to the woman. It was true, after all, that he hated vendors with a passion. With Ida, however, he was as charming as a kitten, in a sickening sort of way that made Nathan ignore him. He tuned out the sounds of his friend chatting amiably with the older lady and turned instead to look about the marketplace.

While still plenty crowded, there were less people than earlier, probably because it was already late in the morning. Most of the women were already heading home to prepare the day's meal, but the vendors wouldn't leave. It was a large town, after all, and the people would return later in the day. It was the same every day, and Nathan was used to it by now, used to his routine.

He'd wake up, head out to meet Evan near the main road leading to the marketplace and spend some time with his friend. Then he'd go help his uncle work in his shop until it was closing time. The routine never changed, except when there was some big event, like a festival, and that never lasted. Still, it was a nice life, he thought. It was peaceful and he lived well enough, even if it was a bit dull at times, and sometimes, he was glad for his routine. Glad to always know what the day had in store for him.

That morning, however, there was something different. At first, Nathan didn't notice anything, still looking down the road at the stalls and wondering if maybe he should get some fruit for his uncle. It would be a nice gesture, he thought. Then, he heard the muttering and saw a couple of ladies looking down the other end of the road, whispering amongst themselves. Curiously, Nathan turned to look that way, and felt his breath catch and his eyes widen.

Walking up the road was a small group of people, two of them members of the Royal Guard, judging by the clothes they wore. The scarlet sash draped around their waist and the golden clasp on it were common amongst their members, same as the dark uniform of fine cloth and the swords they carried. It was uncommon enough to see members of the Royal Guard in the town, even with them being close to the larger town housing their king and his castle, but Nathan wasn't terribly worried about that. Nathan was focused on the third member of the group.

There was a girl with the soldiers, young, maybe a few years younger than him, but she was unlike any other girl he had ever seen. Her dress was made of satin and lace and other fabrics equally as luxurious, all in different tones of blue that made her cerulean eyes shine prettily. The gentle morning breeze swept through her dark hair, long and shiny and she smiled up at one of the soldiers, the one with the dark hair like her own, and her whole face lit up after he spoke, her pale cheeks taking on a rosy hue.

She walked by with the other two, walking not three feet away from Nathan, talking about the merchants and the stalls and all the others things she saw with such excitement that Nathan thought he must have been missing something all this time, in regards to his surroundings. The girl didn't even look his way, but he hadn't expected her to, obviously, she was of a different class, and somehow, that bothered the boy.

"Are you alright?"

With a jolt, he realized he had been staring after the girl the whole time Evan had been calling him. Nathan turned to his friend, who wore a curious expression on his face.

"Wha-, uh, yeah, I'm fine, just," and he honestly didn't know how to finish that sentence.

Evan, however, had no problem with that.

"Entranced by the lovely young lady that just walked by without even looking your way?" he said with a raised brow and an amused tone.

"N-no!" and he could feel his face heating up.

It was strange, he had never been one to blush, but then, he had never seen a girl so pretty before. Evan only laughed at him and pushed him along down the road.

"I can't believe this, you finally find a girl worthy of your attentions and you don't even have a chance of talking to her."

And if it wasn't so true, Nathan might have been offended. As it was, it was painfully true.

"Who was she, anyway?" he muttered, more to himself than to his friend.

"You don't know?" the other said, incredulous.

"If I knew would I ask?"

"Point taken," Evan shrugged. "She's the daughter of a noble, from what I understand. That soldier with the dark hair was her brother, Edan Dacre, he's one of the more famous members of the Royal Guard since he's so skilled. They say he'll be commanding his own men soon enough even though he's so young and only just graduated from the Academy two years ago. Anyway, I don't know much about the sister. Doesn't get out much, I hear, but then she's the youngest and an only daughter."

"I see," Nathan said, still going over the information.

The good part was that the soldier was only her brother, the bad news was that she was nobility, and there was no chance of Nathan ever being closer than he had been that morning.

"Really," Evan said with a laugh. "You sure have fine taste, to fall for a nobleman's daughter."

And Nathan had to agree, he was an idiot.

That became clear enough not a day later when he was back in the marketplace, picking up ingredients for the day's meal for his aunt. He had pushed away the thoughts of the nobleman's daughter he had seen the previous day, telling himself he didn't even know her name. For all he knew she just looked nice. Who knew what she was really like, and Nathan had heard enough about the nobles to know just how obnoxious they could be.

He made his purchase at the last stall he had to visit and prepared to head back home when he saw a familiar face in the crowd. Between the shifting bodies of the people walking by he saw the girl from yesterday, just as pretty and well dressed, but with a distressed look upon her face. She was looking around, standing by a shop, clearly trying to stay out of the way of the people surrounding her. And then Nathan noticed the absence of the two men from the previous day, and he wondered why she was on her own.

After a moment of hesitation, he approached her, careful to make himself look as friendly as possible. She looked up as he neared the place where she stood, and he was able to clearly look at her now. It was only when he was too close to turn back that Nathan realized just how nervous he was, but he pushed past any doubts. Besides, he'd get to talk to the girl, and then he could rub it in Evan's face since his so-called friend didn't believe in him in the least.

"Excuse me, my lady, but is something wrong?" and yeah, he wasn't used to being so polite, but that was probably because he didn't get to talk to anyone from the higher class very often(or at all).

He was happy to note that the girl looked a bit relieved and offered a small smile.

"Ah, well, yes actually," she said, and she looked honestly abashed. "I was with my brother and his company but got separated in the crowd."

And that explained why she was all alone. Nathan nodded and looked around, trying to catch a glimpse of the two soldiers from before, but he couldn't find them.

"Did you lose them in this same spot?" he asked again, his voice kind.

She shook her head.

"I was further down the road, but I thought I saw them come this way and now I can't seem to find them."

Nathan frowned slightly and thought about what to do. He didn't want to move the girl from that spot, in case her brother showed up. Of course, there was the chance that the older man would be searching the last place where he saw his sister.

"Was it long ago that you lost sight of them?" he asked her.

"No, not very long at all," she answered, and she looked very worried now, he could see.

Nathan couldn't help but feel sorry for the girl, who was younger than him and so scared of being lost. He dug around in the satchel he used to carry his purchases and took out an apple, large and shiny, and offered it to the girl.

"Here, my lady, why don't you eat this while I help you search for your brother? Do not worry, I promise we will find them soon."

She took the fruit offered to her in soft, pale hands and smiled, a bit more widely this time.

They spent a good amount of time walking through the crowd and back the way the young girl had traveled, asking shop keepers if they had seen the two men. Nathan let out a small sigh as he walked away from another stall, running a hand through his short dark hair and, yet again empty handed. He was about to propose that they go back to where he had found her when the girl's face lit up as she looked ahead.

"Brother!" she called, and took off in a hurry towards the dark haired man Nathan had seen her with before.

At the sound of her voice, the young man turned and there was a relieved look on his face as he moved to meet his sibling. He wrapped his arms around her and spoke hurriedly, looking over the girl closely as if to ascertain that she was unharmed. And then, the girl turned and looked at Nathan, saying something that the boy couldn't hear thanks to the sounds of the crowd. He wouldn't have to wait long to find out, however, as the man was making his way back, with his sister leaning against his side, an arm wrapped protectively around her shoulders.

"Thank you," he said as soon as he stopped in front of the younger boy. "I'm very grateful to you for taking care of my sister."

And Nathan really didn't know what to say to that because he hadn't really done it just out of the kindness of his heart, but more because the girl was so pretty. Not that he would tell that to her brother. Especially not when said brother was a prominent member of the Royal Guard. No, Nathan would keep that bit of information for himself.

"It was nothing," he said instead. "I just couldn't bring myself to leave things as they were."

And he really couldn't even though he was late and his aunt would complain when he got home.

"I'm still grateful to you," the man said, and he pulled out some coins from his money pouch. "Here, take this at the very least, for your troubles."

And three big gold coins were dropped onto his hand. Nathan stared at them for a moment, wondering if that'd be enough to keep his aunt from saying anything about how late he was. He decided she'd probably bake his favorite bread just for that. When he looked back up, the two nobles were walking away, and Nathan felt strangely displeased at that. It was understandable then, that he was happy to see them stop and exchange a few words before the girl walked back towards him, with a smile and cheeks that were slightly reddened.

"Thank you for your help," she said, hardly able to look up at him.

Nathan could only blink in response, and before he could say anything, she had turned and headed back to her brother, who was waiting for her only a short distance away. The man nodded one last time at Nathan and then was swallowed by the crowd along with his sister.

And Nathan promptly hurried home, where he was received by his aunt who had, as he had expected, been a bit exasperated at his lateness(though he knew she was just worried). He still gave her the coins though, she deserved them for everything she did for him, and she was so pleased that he was glad to have earned them.

It wasn't much later that he met Evan as he passed by his house. He told him about the morning's events and delighted in reminding him how he hadn't though he'd ever even be able to talk to the girl. Of course, Evan had a reply ready for him.

"And did you, by any chance, get her name? Or were you too busy being a perfect gentleman?" Evan asked innocently enough.

And Nathan realized that he had in fact, failed to get her name. Evan needed only one look at his friend's face to know this, and promptly broke out in a fit of laughter.

Evan was right, Nathan thought with a groan, he was a fool.

Oh my God, I am absolutely insane. I realize this now as I start yet another story, while I have finished none of my other works. But again, I ask you to please not burn me at the stake, because it's not my fault. I just feel compelled to write things.

About the story, it's in a weird sort of alternate universe reminiscent of medieval times, though not the same, because this is a manga type fantasy story and I can do these sort of nonsensical things(which makes manga and fantasy my favorite genres). It's a romance, and it'll feel like two stories in one, but it's really one story, and there's no way for me to tell you what this is about without spoiling it, so you'll have to just read along, yes? Okay. Moving right along!

I actually have this story sort of planned out(much like my others, not completely done). I have an outline extending to about one third through the second part, so I know where this is going and I have it all mapped out, I have a few other chapters written still in the process of being edited, and I have the ending all in my head(and I should put it in writing before I forget). So yes, I've planned things a bit more this time.

Anyways, to all my lovely readers(the ones reading other stories of mine) I'm sorry for starting another story when I started at least two others this year, but I had to write this. I will be continuing with the other stories though, in fact, I'm working on multiple chapters right now and should have MoR done sometime this week, or maybe early next week. After that the plan is to work on CB, then Detention, then SSM, and between those, update the others, mainly Prodigal. So don't panic, it'll take time, but I'll get to it!

So, pardon the obscenely long AN, and I hope you've enjoyed this chapter. Please review if you get the chance because, if reviews were money, I'd be broke(unless we're speaking of Detention). Thank you for reading!