Title: Timeless Flower

Genre: Friendship, Romance, Angst, and Hurt/Comfort

Full Summary: Back then, you were the only one who didn't look at me with biased eyes. You were so righteous, yet you defended me so. We became close friends. We promised to stay together. Though we had our differences, I thought I would have been satisfied as long as we remained together. But now…now, you clearly love another. I tried getting over you. After all, this was all one-sided. We were not meant to be. From the very beginning, an indescribable wall separated us—we were only friends, and that's all we'll ever be—but yet, for some reason, I…I couldn't stop loving you. Not even till the very end. She grows to fall more in love with him, but he grows to drift apart. As they grow up together, she is convinced that everything has turned one-sided...or has it?

A/N: This is a tale mainly centralizing about two childhood friends growing up together—loads of angst up ahead, yet there's also fluffy scenes shown here as well. There's bittersweetness too, but overall a very, very long one shot. (I apologize guys, but I really, really hope it'll be worth your time to read it. V-V)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it guys! ^^:

*Normal font is in third person point of view.

*Italics are in first person point of view, anonymous point of view, flashbacks, word emphasis, etc.

*Bold italics is the chronological time period it takes place in. (Any time gap without the bold italics means the time period has not significantly changed yet.)


Timeless Flower


At the age of six.

Emerald eyes clashed with cerulean ones.

"Carina, this is Siel. You two be friends now, alright?"

The little girl could only nod back. She bore into those beautiful striking blue eyes of his—he looked no more than 6, just like she was, and he had dark blue hair contrasting his azure eyes. The boy was pretty, but she tried not to take too much notice of it.

It'd make her too nervous, after all.

But funny enough, this minor issue did not appear to look one-sided for her. Maybe even more so, the boy's posture was seen just as stiff as hers. He's made eye contact with her once, but he immediately turned away from it while frowning inadvertently. That made the little girl ponder for a bit. Was this his first time seeing a girl or something…? She hoped she didn't look intimidating to him, at least.

Now after their two families left them alone to play together, the girl was the first to speak up.

"Hi! What's your name?" she spoke innocently.

Immediately, the boy's body went completely rigid afterwards. He was so full of starch that she oddly found her smile threatening to curve at the corners of her lips. T-This boy's so cute-! She knew it was rude, but she really didn't expect that. She tried hard not to giggle at him at this point.

The boy innocently blinked at her before he finally spoke back in a warily manner.

"…Siel. My—my name is Siel."

Unintentionally, her heart fluttered at the boy's wondrous voice. Although it was slightly stilted, she could not help noticing how lovely it sounded. It had a sense of potential and dignity, something a mere 6 year-old child rarely ever had yet.

"Oh." She added on rather dumbly. But noticing how idiotic she suddenly sounded, she immediately switched back to her cheery tone of voice afterwards. "Well, I'm Carina! I hope we get to know each other better from now on-!"

By now, she instinctively grabbed onto his hands. Startled on this sudden gesture made by her, the boy involuntarily flinched before his cheeks turned redder. Luckily, the girl was too dense to notice this, so he was never questioned about it then.

Just like him, the girl looked no more than six. She had chocolate brown hair cascading mid-way to her shoulders, and her big, ethereal emerald eyes were one of the most vivid things he'd ever seen in his life.

He had to admit that this girl was strange. After all, he was royalty—up until now, all the other kids and adults treated him with the utmost respect. Most of them gave a few words to him here and there, but they were always brief in general. He never really got enough out of socializing with others outside of his family, and he's rarely ever gotten any real opinions from any of the people he's spoken to before. All of them were opinions that he would expect, things that would either please him or his parents at most.

And this fact actually disgusted him a little. He was only 6 years old, yet people were already treating him with such unnerving formality for his age. He was still a child—do other people normally expect him to be fine with this? For him to be so naive as to not notice the distance or sketchiness that adults often play off at him? Despite being very young, Siel was a clever child. Even then, he doubted that most of the adults that talked to him was only doing it out of kindness. It was all for his parents. After all, the favor of him liking them would give them better access to his parents, he privately knew.

But he didn't like all the attention he frequently got. Not one bit.

Yet for some reason in this case, this girl in front of him didn't treat him that way. And it felt…pleasant. He didn't know why, but he wanted more people treating him like this.

He was not good at communicating with other noble children around his age, let alone one who was a girl. When he saw the girl's hands making contact with his, he immediately flustered. He had no idea why, but he was suddenly aware of the fact that their little tiny hands were now intertwined together. He couldn't remain calm for some reason at that point, so he attempted to pronounce her name as a minor distraction afterwards.

All the while, there was this weird feeling he got on his stomach.

"Carin…'a'?" He cringed at the last pronunciation. He was still a child, so he couldn't pronounce everything perfect yet. He hoped he didn't slip up that bad...

The girl took a moment to sink in what he said before she suddenly burst into a fit of laughter afterwards. His heart unintentionally fluttered at the sudden noise. She has a very pretty…laugh. And a smile. He immediately turned a tad bit redder at the last remark. Where were these strange observations coming from, anyway…?

"-Haha! Oh, that's okay-! Just call me Carin if you can't say my name, then!"

The boy blinked at her before nodding to say her name one more time. He was going to get it correct this time-!

"Car…rin. Carin."

Again, her heart fluttered. She didn't know why, but she liked him saying her name. It was just so...fuzzy and sweet.

Nobody ever called her that nickname. It was strange, having a boy say it to her. And yet…she still liked it. A lot. A dazzling smile then curved her lips at her new resolution.

"Heehee-! Well, it's nice meeting you Siel-! Let's be good friends alright-?"

For the first time that day, even if it was very subtle, the boy seemed to genuinely smile back at her.


Two years later.

"Oi…! Carin-!" She perked up at the familiar voice. Turning around, her smile immediately widened when she spotted the even more familiar person standing amongst the garden.

It had been two years since Siel and Carin had last encountered one another. They were the best of friends now, with them visiting and playing everyday. Although sometimes Siel wasn't always around to accompany her, Carin eagerly waited for the days she'll see him again.

It was their 2nd year together, which meant today was once again the very same day they first met one another. Although Siel wasn't aware of this, Carin secretly kept count on the following years they were together. After all, each day was like a blessing to her—she didn't remember what her life was like without him.

Instinctively, Carin ran towards him until she gave him a casual tackle hug to the floor. As usual, she was always merrily laughing in the process.

On the other hand, Siel managed to stiffen again. Even though they've been around each other for two years now, he never really got out of that 'touching' habit of his.

"-Haha! Took you long enough-! Did anything keep you on hold or something?"

When she finally released him from her death grip, the boy slowly stood up and rolled her eyes at her. However, she did catch the amused look in his aquamarine eyes.

"Same old. I've been taking a lot more home-schooling lessons now." He then paused, almost as if posing an afterthought before speaking again. "I'm sorry I didn't come here sooner."

Carin brightly smiled back in response. It can't be helped, having tutoring classes and all. Sure, she and Siel came from highly well known aristocrat families, but Siel came from the absolute ruler bloodline, so that told a lot more than it brought.

Of course, she too had professional home-schooling courses to take, but she always managed to finish them on time. Siel on the other hand, probably had a tenfold more classes to take... He was the heir of a very important family, after all.

But this fact never really bothered her, for some reason. It didn't seem to affect their relationship, so she didn't try to see the real importance to it yet.

"Haha, that's alright-! You're just slow on studying, that's all." She playfully stuck her tongue out at him before smiling again. "By the way! Guess what today is?"

The boy showed an elfin smile towards her. Ever since he's been hanging out with Carin more often, he's been smiling a lot more. And that told something, coming from the usual stern boy.

"How could I forget? It's the day we first met, of course." Usually, he'd pretend he didn't remember it like the previous years, but for some reason today he especially felt like announcing it this time.

The reaction Carin gave out was priceless. She looked dumbfounded in her own adorable way, and that made Siel know that his self-proclamation was worth it.

"W-What? You knew? But you never notice this time of year-"

"-Who said I didn't?" By now, Carin instinctively pouted at him. This was no fun, if he already knew what was to be announced this time. What a party pooper-!

"Aww, you're no fun-! And I was going to surprise you about that too!"

Siel casually shrugged back playfully while sticking out a tongue of his own afterwards.

That soon made both laugh jovially in response.

After several hours of playing and talking together, they finally decided to rest amongst the meadows once again. They were looking at the early spring clouds now, pointing and using their imaginations to shape things about. They didn't stop smiling and laughing throughout the whole time they were teasing the other about pointless things, and now their innocent eyes were all solely focused on the clouds.

"Hey, do you see that? That looks like a horse with wings-!"

"A horse with wings…?"

"Yes-! It's over there! Do you see it?"

"No, but I see a familiar lousy girl sitting next to me."

"Hey-!"

She then lightly punched him in the arm, and more laughter ensued shortly.

The laughter was cut short however when Siel's mellow voice sounded once again.

"Say…Carin."

At her name mentioned, she then perkily looked up to him in curiosity. For some reason, he looked awfully…pink, now? Then again, Siel was always nervous around girls, so it should be normal seeing him like that. Yet…why was she nervous?

"Hm? What is it?" Carin sweetly asked, if not eagerly. Now, this only made Siel even more nervous at the pit of his stomach.

For a while, Siel had noticed something about them. He rarely ever hung around kids of his age, and even more so when it came to girls. But, lately…he really enjoyed Carin's presence, and he always felt especially comfortable around her. She was the first to ever make him feel this particular way. This feeling of wanting to stay together, this friendly atmosphere he wants to keep of them… Even now, he still didn't know what this feeling was, but he really felt like he should initiate something about it...

...Although he still didn't know what to say, exactly.

So, he just spluttered the first thing that came to his mind then.

"I…Let's—let's stay friends forever-!"

A blink. Pause.

...Was that really it?

Siel somehow felt his cheeks redden at this. He soon found himself crept in by an uncomfortable nerve-wrecking silence afterwards, but before he ridiculed himself even further, Carin's giggles now resounded into his ears.

Unbidden, he flinched at her sudden reaction.

"Pfft-! Is that it? Of course I'll stay by your side! Haha, that's what made you nervous? Oh, that's so funny-!" As if she couldn't stop giggling, she looked back to him with a lucid gleam to her eyes. "Siel, I'll even promise we'll be friends for life if we have to-!"

She then flashed back a reassuring smile towards him before sticking out her pinkie to prove her point. The azure-eyed boy merely blinked, becoming slightly puzzled before something clicked and he finally noticed what her actions meant afterwards.

Siel soon followed suit by interlocking their pinkies briefly together. After a few seconds, the two soon chanted along the same childish pact together.

"-O-r e-l-s-e, you'll swallow a thousand needles-!"

When their chant was done, they fell back to their comfortable laughter once again, lying amongst the grass all the while.

He had to admit that this girl's laughter was contagious. I hope she continues laughing and smiling like that. It's really…pretty, just like always. But now, he tried hard to ignore the butterflies swarming around his stomach. Recently, he noticed that he's had that strange feeling occurring more frequently.

"So…I guess this really means we'll be staying friends forever?"

Carin didn't even need a moment of hesitation to respond back to him.

"I've always kept my promises, haven't I?"

In years to come, neither realized what promising to each other really meant, then.


At the age of ten.

Suddenly, a drastic downfall happened on Carin's tenth birthday.

Ignoring the minor consequences that might befall him, Siel immediately went to Carin's estate manor the moment he heard the news about it.

Nothing else was in his mind at that point. His lessons can wait. His studies can wait. He just had to go see Carin…!

Clenching his teeth while hastily walking through numerous hallways and about, he pushed through the one door to Carin's room the moment it was finally within his reach.

He didn't like the gut feeling he was getting. The manor's too quiet…

But the girl in front of him was way more of importance right now.

His eyes widened. Carin was now curled up in a ball, her body tremulously shaking. Her face was covered amongst her knees, but if you paid attention close enough, you'd also hear her quiet sniffles in the process.

"We just heard reports not too long ago that Carin's parents had past away."

For some reason, his heart wrenched at the sight. He was not at all used to having these experiences with Carin before. She was always so joyous, so buoyant all the time…yet right now, she just looked so vulnerable. He really wanted nothing more other than to comfort her at that point.

…But he didn't know how.

So he just stood there, until Carin gradually noticed his presence when she decided to look up. He unintentionally flinched at her tear-stained face—after all, he had never seen Carin like that before.

"S-Siel…?" though he slightly winced at how her voice kept cracking, he also noticed the slightly surprised look in her eyes.

He however was in no mood to answer back to her in a friendly manner. In all honesty, he didn't know how to react—he was afraid that one wrong move might end up crushing his friend apart, as if him remaining standing there with his bangs shadowing his facial features was still better than attempting to approach her. He was also angry with himself; frustrated that he didn't know what to do in a kind of situation like this…

Yet luckily for him, Carin knew him well enough to know that his unmoving state was a sign that he wasn't able to respond back to her properly. She then continued rambling on regardless while attempting to restrain her tears from falling anymore—she knew her best friend must've been nonplussed at her current state. She was currently crying and turning into a mess, it was only natural that he didn't know how to react at the moment.

But as she tried to explain herself, her attempts came to no avail—she was too distressed, too confused herself to lighten up anything about the situation.

"I…I-I messed up…it's m-my fault that my parents…" More tears wildly bubbled up her eyes. "M-My parents-!" at that point, she couldn't talk about it anymore. By now, her tears were falling uncontrollably at the mentioning of her parents. They're gone. All gone. I won't be able to see them again... She wanted nothing more than for everything to simply rewind back in time, before this all happened, when she still had her pair of familiar companions beside her, before she knew what death really meant—

"Shh,"

Her eyes suddenly widened.

All of a sudden, she was taken aback when warm arms that did not belong to her own had abruptly wrapped around her. Immediately looking up, she was speechless to find familiar navy blue hair now resting upon her right shoulder.

Her best friend was gently hugging her.

Realizing this and being dumbfounded by his sudden act of gesture on her, she heard her best friend finally speaking in what was probably his most voice tender voice possible to her.

"I…know. I know. It's okay; it's not your fault. It's okay to let everything out…shh, it's alright…" even though his rare voice was clearly soothing and empathetic now, it somehow only made Carin increase the urge to cry even more at that point. Her chest felt tight, and she felt her tears streaming down her cheeks uncontrollably again.

So mustering the last bit of energy of reluctance to do so, she unabashedly bawled on him after that. Now freely letting her tears fall while holding onto her best friend tightly, she didn't care about anything else in the world other than the one comfort she was receiving at that point.

And there, in the midst of Siel's warm embrace, she heard the faintest trace of his most wonderful words said to her then.

"No matter what, I'll always be there."


The same year Carin's parents had died was the same year her genuine laughter and smiles faded away. Slowly day after day, she became more and more less vibrant. Siel couldn't always visit her all the time now with his study sessions getting more difficult, and when her best friend wasn't around, things were harder to maintain than ever.

"She was the main cause of it. You're the one who killed them-!"

She really didn't mean to. Everything happened so fast; even she could barely recall why it occurred.

On her tenth birthday, she and her parents had went to a nearby town to go sightseeing together. Because sightseeing around town was a rare thing for her, Carin was extremely excited about it at the time. But unfortunately while they went looking around, Carin had wandered elsewhere and had gotten lost.

When Carin had gotten lost, some nearby commoners had realized that she was a noble by the attire of her clothes. She was part of the wealthy families, but she was still only a mere child. And she was alone without adult supervision.

In those kinds of circumstances, strangers inevitably lured Carin in. When her parents had finally found her, there had been a bloody accident that occurred between them. There was a scuffle, a punch here and there, and then finally the dagger. Everything went downhill from that.

She alone had managed to survive the terrifying incident, but her parents had died trying to protect her.

And then the incredible guilt came back.

Not only did she have to face her parents getting killed right before her eyes, but also she was the cause of it. She knew everything deep down had all been her fault. If she hadn't carelessly roamed around the town and got lost that day, things would have turned out differently…

Just then, the watery substance rimmed at her emerald eyes for the umpteenth time again. She silently whimpered to herself.

"Mother…Father…I-I didn't want this to happen…Pl-Please, come back," she whispered out, choking down more sobs as she continued. "Please…I'll…I-I'll be a good girl again, I'll do anything, just please-!...p-please come back..." she pitifully cried out, although she full well knew only the quiet corridor would listen to her.

Of course in the end, she only had herself to blame, and every single realization hit her hard like there was no tomorrow.

It was there she finally realized that at her youthful age of ten, her blissful family childhood life had ended.


Several months later.

Every time Siel visited Carin's manor now, there were always servants gossiping about her.

"What is the son of an aristocrat ruler doing here…?"

"Pssh! He's friends with her, that's why-!"

"-The daughter of 'omen'? But what business does his family have with her…?"

After he finally strolled passed numerous servants here and there, Siel gritted his teeth in response.

Ever since Carin's parents passed away, it was decided that one of Carin's parents trusted relatives would be obliged to take care of her until her coming of age. Although this was a carefully made decision, there were also some setbacks to it. See, her relatives weren't really the best type of guardians to look after her, as they always let the maids tend to her needs and they only visit her once a month. Because of that, the manor is usually quiet, and now that there wasn't much social order around the manor, the servants frequently gossiped now and then.

Only, the gossips they often talked about were indirectly slanders about his best friend half the time.

And that only infuriated him all the more.

Even when he was still a mere infant, Siel was raised to be righteous. Even now at the youthful age of eleven, he was keenly practical given that he also had the sovereign bloodline running in his veins. He did not like people who backstabbed him, or people who literally treated him like absolute royalty. But one thing he absolutely hated the most, was when people picked on her of all people.

He swore if he ever owned this manor one day, he ought to fire all of those so-called-servants… Though he tried tolerating them for Carin's sake, he was really at his wits end here.

But the worst part was, the servants weren't the only ones slandering about her. Royalty of his own kind were also indirectly belittling upon her as well.

"Listen, Siel…your friend isn't in the best condition right now. She just faced some severe crisis that might really hurt her nobility status...if people were to see you around with her, they might slander not only her, but you as well. For our family's sake, I advise you not to visit her so often."

Even if his mind told him he should listen to his parents, he honestly might've cared less about what his parents told him weeks ago in comparison to his best friend's well being. Heck, he didn't even care even if he was slandered—let them. He can deal with those consequences later. He was still going to visit her no less—after all, he made an internal promise he had to keep.

No matter what, I'll always be there.

Heading towards the familiar garden they used to play in, Siel soon found Carin crouching down the pond staring at something. At her presence, only then did his shoulders relaxed slightly.

Honestly, his best friend didn't deserve any of this, and he's innerly frustrated that he can't do anything about her situation. Not only was she on the verge of losing her high social standing, but also people were still casting aspersions about her due to her involvement with the town incident. Did they understand how she felt? How she was recovering from it? It's been almost one year already…couldn't they just keep quiet already?

Apparently not.

When Carin finally noticed that Siel had been alongside her, she timidly feigned a smile towards him. Siel tried hard not to cringe at this abrupt change in response.

After her parent's passed away, Siel could tell that Carin had been trying really hard to hide her insecurities. She still smiled often, but now they didn't look half as genuinely as they used to be. Even her laughter became subtle now. He knew she didn't want him to worry about her…but quite frankly, her good-hearted intentions were backfiring at him.

He was more concerned about her than ever before now.

But for her sake, he pretended not to notice anything. It would only make her even more self-conscious than she already had been. Instead, he softened a bit and gave out a warm smile towards her, as if nothing out of the ordinary happened.

"Hey." He stretched out a hand towards her before he playfully motioned his head towards the doorway. "Let's do something together."

He could see Carin's smile broadening up before she eagerly nodded her head at him. Now that's the smile I know. Instinctively, she then clamped her hand with his.

Throughout the hours of playing and hanging out together, they never once mentioned about the town incident after that. Siel was glad for it, too.

—This however changed the moment aristocrats around town started gossiping about her.

While they were roaming around town, there were a few obnoxious aristocrats who tauntingly whispered amongst themselves as the two whizzed by.

"—What's this? The young lad whose crowned to be the future heir is hanging with a fallen noble? Oh, my bad, she's been mistaken as a disgrace instead." Another anonymous aristocrat sneered at the remark. "What a shame to both of their families. I presume they did not raise their children very well."

Though as sensible as he usually was, Siel had wanted to strangle something hearing the lot afterwards. He admitted that he might be rather hotheaded for a child at the moment, but he didn't care if he was still a naïve child or if he was acting impulsive at that point - unmistakably, he was boiling with indignation for his best friend after that.

But just as quick, he soon glanced to see how this would affect Carin. Carin's head was now slightly damped downwards, as if in shame or in the break of tears. Something snapped inside him, because although there was still a faint smile on her face, Siel unconsciously felt his hand being squeezed a bit tighter than before.

One look at that face, and he knew how much those words had affected her.

And that was finally his last straw – oh now, he wasn't planning on doing nothing this time.

Even if the world thinks other wise, I'll always stick by your side. If no one else will trust you, then I will be your ear. If no one else will hear you, then I will be your voice.

But more than anything, I'll always believe you. When you need it most, I'll always stand up for you if that is what it takes to make you smile again.

While Carin was still trying to restrain herself from crying again, she was clearly taken aback when suddenly; Siel came to a halt in front of the aristocrats.

Although Carin gave him a beckoning look to continue walking regardless, her eyes widened when she realized Siel was slightly shaking and his facial features were now shadowed by his bangs. She then immediately recognized that familiar gesture.

He wasn't shaking because he was cold, scared, or even crying.

He was shaking because he was on breaking verge to snap at someone.

"Take that back." He dryly stated out while staying as calm as possible.

Taken aback by this, the aristocrats had stopped walking temporarily to face him.

"Take what?" one of them asked, if not curiously. Carin suddenly had a sinking feeling that she didn't like where this was going.

And just then, Siel's full out anger clearly seeped clearly after that—to everyone's surprise, his everyday composure was finally letting loose into something much more openly resentful at that point.

"-Take that back! You don't know anything about her. How can you freely slander her when it wasn't entirely her fault? Did you even know the whole situation? Were you even there to see it? I think not." Carin could only stare back at this person who was her best friend. She almost didn't recognize this new side of him—when did Siel's eyes ever looked so…piercing? When were his cool blue eyes ever this blazing like it was, now?

She dared not to question about it.

"As fellow aristocrats yourselves, you should be ashamed and fully know whom you're offending right now. My family can always execute you. I may only be a petty mere child at the moment, but if you don't want your positions or your little heads chopped off, I suggest you to keep you and your pretty mouth shut after this."

Everyone was silent then. They were all too awestruck by how strong his voice held, how boldly regal and venomously unwavering it resounded. His voice was so full of authority; with so much self-dignity into it…Carin was sure no ordinarily eleven-year old would be able to pull that off without an incredible sense of will power signified in them. His normally cool eyes were clearly penetrating—so vehement, that even she thought he looked mighty intimidating for a mere eleven-year old. She could swear that somewhere along the line, she even heard the pinging sound of the guillotine sounding off...or it was just the atmosphere that it somehow set itself like that.

Either way, Carin was gawking too much to even realize how the aristocrats took this. Was he trying to stand up for me? Even when he really didn't have to…? At that moment, she unconsciously felt a patch of water rimming at the corner of her eyes.

She didn't really take notice what happened after that, but after awhile for one reason or the other she did see the aristocrats reluctantly leaving shortly afterwards.

When Siel gradually turned back to face her again, she faintly wondered why he was suddenly panicking until the slightest hint of liquid ran down her cheeks.

"C-Carin…?"

Only by then she suddenly realized she had started crying again.

Instinctively, she ran to hold onto him before burying her face into his shoulder. She didn't know why she did that, but she suddenly sought comfort she wasn't aware that she wanted until now. Although Carin first felt Siel's shoulders flinch in the process, she later gradually felt his warm arms encasing her afterwards, questioning a few soft words to her as if asking her why she was now crying about all of sudden.

Unexpectedly, she silently wailed while whispering a small audible 'thank you' to him in return—in her heart, this unknown revelation was all a special reason for her. It was one that she happened to questioned about several years ago…

"Mother, how do you know when you love someone?"

8-year old Carin wondrously stared back at her beautiful mother. She was always curious about how her mother and father interacted at times.

Her mother endearingly smiled at this.

"There are many forms of love, dear. Which one are you referring to?"

"The one in storybooks-! Like how you knew you loved daddy! Is it the same with how you love me?"

For a quick moment, her mother looked slightly taken aback by this before she pleasantly chuckled afterwards.

"Carina dear, my love for your father is a bit different from the way I love you. But yes, as your mother, my love for you is just as much as your father's."

"How?" by now, Carin was genuinely confused. What could possibly be different…?

Her mother now held a compassionate look on her face. "When you love someone that way, it means you want to spend your whole life with them."

"Oh! Like how Siel and I promised to stay together forever?"

Her amused mother shook her head at this. If she didn't know any better, she would have thought her daughter proposed that they were going to get engaged just now…but, of course that wasn't the case. She knew her daughter was still too young to be informed about this kind of thing, after all. "No, not like that. When you love someone, the relationship you have with them is more than just friends. You can't stop thinking about them, and you want to see them smile all the time. It's…special."

"Special?"

Her mother looked thoughtful about this. "Everyone finds out differently. For example, you have no problem kissing me and your father on the cheek right?" Carin briefly nodded her head at this. "How about on the lips then? Can you easily do the same for the boys around your age?"

At the sudden remark, Carin immediately blushed at this. She couldn't possibly imagine doing that to Siel…l-lips? T-That's way too weird-!

Her mother chuckled even more at this. She was expecting a more repugnant reaction, but maybe her little daughter really had fallen for someone already… "Don't worry about it, dear. You'll find out who your significant other is later in due time…"

She never knew what her mother's words truly meant back then. But now after this experience with her best friend, her mother's message finally became clear to her.

No one else had ever defended her like that before. And for the record, she knew that no one else could be as valiant as her best friend at that point. What did Siel mean to me...?

It was at that very same moment did realization struck her.

She realized then that all this time, the significant other whom she had tried to find as a child was him.

It was wonder how she never noticed up until now.

When Carin almost reached eleven, she finally realized then that she was already deeply in love with her best friend.


At the age of twelve.

Another year had passed since her realization occurred. Thankfully, the rumors about her family incident had died down. At this point, Carin finally turned twelve, the starting year of adolescence, so to speak.

And she was determined to finally confess to Siel after all these years of not knowing her true feelings—in fact; she was quite surprised that she never realized this until last year.

She loved and cared about Siel more than a friend ever could.

At this, her cheeks reddened. Lately, Carin had noticed a lot of things about her best friend—his mellow voice, the way he turns stiff every time she hugs him, and the endearing ways he attempts on protecting her. She realized everything about him was a wonderful—from his cerulean eyes, his navy blue hair, to everything down to his straightforward personality. Her heart pounded in her chest every time he reservedly smiled at her, and the way that he was always there for her always made her feel incredibly safe and secure.

To put it short, he was very precious to her, but it was in an indescribable way she couldn't quite nail out yet. She didn't know when exactly she might have fallen for him…she did know however, that it must have been for a very long time. They knew each other for half as long, after all.

Back to reality, she was now anxiously waiting for him by the usual meadows they played in. Of course, she specifically called him out for a special reason today. Coincidently, their friendship anniversary was 6-years old now, and she intended on keeping count of it. It was the perfect day to celebrate, and to finally confess her hidden feelings for him after all this time…

However, she was getting awfully nervous now—after all, wouldn't confessing mean that she would break their long-term promise they made several years ago? "I promise you that we'll stay friends forever-!" She didn't realize then that what she had really meant was she wanted to stay with him forever. As in, spending their lives together for eternity at that.

She blushed even more at this. What if Siel doesn't feel the same way for her…? If that happens, she would be risking their long-term friendship being torn apart.

At that sudden horrid implication, she immediately shook her head. No, this isn't the time for negative thoughts right now. Come on Carin, think positively-!

Her own courageous thoughts were instantly washed away however when she happen to hear someone heavily panting behind her afterwards.

"I…made…it-!"

Turning around at the extremely familiar voice, her eyes widened to find familiar azure eyes meeting back at her.

Siel.

At the instant realization, her heart started pounding a thousand miles per hour. H-He's here! And I'm already getting so nervous now, of all times-!

"S-Siel?" was all she could barely utter out in response. She hoped her cheeks burning up weren't as visible as how they were feeling right now…

Luckily for her however, he seemed too out of breath to notice her slip up at the time.

"Sorry…about that…I had some sudden affairs to attend to, and I was afraid I wouldn't make it here on time…"

Carin held back a small smile at this. She noticed that as Siel got older, he always got busier now. And yet, for some reason, there were still some things that never changed—they were still great friends for example, and to top it off, he always still managed squeezing in some extra time visiting her regardless.

In all honesty, she was especially grateful and moved by this.

Finally dropping out of her reverie, Carin could see that her best friend was regaining back some composure now. Awkwardly, he soon coughed into his hand after their eyes briefly met. It's been awhile since they last saw each other, so the atmosphere was a bit tense for the both of them. While Carin didn't know what else to say, he on the other hand looked just as nervous.

It was then an uncomfortable silence crept in between them.

Determined on breaking away the silence however, the two were both surprised when the other immediately spoke out the same exact thing simultaneously.

"T-There's something I need to tell you-!"

They both paused midway in their sentence before realizing the other had shared the same exact thoughts afterwards. Bulging their eyes briefly at this, they soon spontaneously laughed off the awkward tension together.

But as for Carin, at the back of her mind she was still unexpectedly taken a little aback by his sudden proclamation just now. Siel also had something to tell her as well…? She then tried hard pushing down the unusual movement of her heart moving aflutter at the sudden thought. At least the space between them was casual and comfortable, now.

"You first." Feeling generous today, she then decided to have her confession wait a little longer. After all, this couldn't possibly hurt right? She cheerily beckoned him, grinning all the while.

But oh, how wrong she was to have ever thought of this.

Siel reacted very strangely afterwards. His shoulders greatly stiffened while his eyes averted to anything but her in response. Although these tendencies were usually normal for him, what made Carin absolutely taken aback was the fact that his cheeks had suddenly gotten rosier and that he was fidgeting—in a manly way, of course, but it was still odd to see Siel of all people doing this. And he was also…blushing?

She couldn't believe what she was seeing right then and there.

As for Siel on the other hand, he was by far way too nervous beyond relief. In a force of habit to cover his embarrassing emotions however, he then had his hand covering his mouth spontaneously. In truth, he was still debating whether or not to tell this particular news to Carin…would she laugh at him? Oh for crying out loud, she's your best friend! If you can't tell this to her, who else can you tell this to?

"You…you promise not to laugh?" he asked tentatively while eyeing back towards her. The girl who was utterly dumbfounded could only nod back in response.

With this last decision engraved in his mind, he finally spoke out.

"I…well recently, my parents have been arranging to get me a fiancée."

At this sudden unexpected turn of events, Carin instantly froze.

She never once considered the possibility of Siel's family arranging him a fiancée before—it was because of this very reason that was she too shocked for words to respond back to him at the time.

But rather than interrupting him, she let him continue on.

"—Though at first, I refused multiple times for this sudden arrangement on my family's part. I didn't like how they were doing this before my official coming of age came, but then…" she then horridly noticed his cheeks flushing even more to what he was about to lead on. Oh no… At that very same moment, Carin felt herself wretched in opposing anticipation. She didn't like where this was leading at all, but she wanted to know… "…But then, I met her."

Just like that, her heart immediately sank to the floor. After reading his expression carefully, she knew where his implications were going. Some urgent part of her informed that she shouldn't go any further into this. If she wanted to, she could have even changed the subject and pretended like nothing ever happened after that…

Yet, even the slightest hint of curiosity can kill like sweetening poison. And right now, her curiosity was overtaking her at that point.

Reluctantly, she finally found back her voice after a few seconds of silence. Taking one last deep breath and mustering all her strength to do so in the process, she finally asked the one dreaded question her whole being depended on. If he doesn't like her that way, I still have a chance. This will decide whether I'll still confess to him or not...

"Is she…is she now your fiancée?" she frantically hoped it wasn't.

But much to her falling dismay, he meekly gave out a slight nod afterwards. Carin instantly regretted ever asking that question, but continued plundering on regardless. Although her curiosity didn't stop there, she could feel her lip quivering and the foreign pang surging into her chest now.

"This girl…do you…possibly…love her?" At that point, Carin desperately tried hard to keep herself together. Please…please show anything that doesn't indicate it.

But Siel immediately shattered all her hopes away the moment he turned a darker shade of red towards her.

"W-Wha-! …W-Well I guess you could call it a crush…?" he lamely spluttered out, now eyeing back towards his best friend in an embarrassing manner than ever before.

She mentally felt her heart splitting into two.

And at the outcome of all this, a new realization finally dawned into her.

He…wasn't in love with her, after all. He was in love with someone else. From the very beginning, all they had ever been was just friends—nothing more, nothing less in the slightest to him.

It had all been a wishing thinking on her part.

By now, all her plans of confessing were diminished. She felt so crushed that she lost all motivation to him by now—who wouldn't in her circumstances? There was nothing she could do other than basically crying her heart out right then and there. She was heartbroken because all of sudden, she didn't know why she suddenly felt so far away from him.

She felt incredibly lost. She could see nothing. She felt empty, as if something was eating away inside of her, but she didn't know what or why exactly. It was as if an invisible wall was created between her and Siel now.

But as much as her heart was slowly deteriorating, she knew she absolutely could not show Siel any signs of it. She knew she couldn't be that selfish—even if Siel wasn't ever going to love her that way, the least she could do was…cheer him on, and support him like how a best friend properly should do right now. Now more than anything, she was going to retain their friendship if she couldn't have his love in return.

…And yet, something in her heart told her that she couldn't. She couldn't accept it. But it doesn't matter how much I love him. Because in the end, he won't love me that way. And as much I want him to, I can't be that selfish. For his happiness and for my sake…

—I'll learn to move on and give up my feelings on him.

And so, that's what she came to the conclusion of that day. She bitterly smiled to the final decision she's chosen to take. It's a pity that I couldn't voice out my feelings after all...

Thankfully, Carin became good actress at hiding her feelings from others. She was now a lot better at deceiving her emotions, especially in times of distress. It's one of the few things she's learned after experiencing such events from the town incident several years ago.

Disguising a smile onto her face, she then tried speaking back in her most possible joyous manner she could assemble back at her best friend.

"—Wow, serious? That's great! You definitely need to tell me more about her!"

Blinking in confusion, Siel finally snapped out of his reverie after hearing her response afterwards. For some reason, he oddly found himself staring at his best friend momentarily. He was a bit bewildered at her casual behavior in these circumstances.

For a split second, he thought he saw…Carin's expression become unreadable at one point? Although, he couldn't really tell since he was so flustered about his own affairs at first. But then again, almost just as quick, her face became the biggest smile on earth, so…

—Perhaps it was just his imagination?

After all, Carin still seemed so cheery about the news. To be honest, he was expecting a more surprised reaction coming from her, but well…what can he say? At least she wasn't laughing or teasing him about his telltale secret. He then coughed before regaining back his voice once again.

"N-Never mind that-! More importantly…" if he could blush any redder, he may have done so by now. "…I…don't know if she feels the same way about me. I'm…nervous. What if she finds me…intimidating? Or boring, even…?"

Siel didn't realize that every moment they were talking about this, Carin's heart was breaking more and more by the minute. Now when he wasn't looking towards her direction anymore, Carin finally loosened up her smile just a bit—it was a much more melancholic one now, compared to the last one she feigned out. She was glad he at least didn't seem to notice anything off about her yet. Don't let your mask fall off. If you let your personal emotions get in the way, he'll eventually notice...

Luckily, she didn't need a second to respond back to him on particular this question. Hesitatingly, she instinctively placed a hand to his shoulder while painfully ignoring his minor flinch along the way. Now, she minded that flinch a lot more than she ever thought she would.

It was as if the barrier between her and her best friend was growing wider.

"With my many years of hanging out with you, one thing's for certain is that you're never boring. And, if I dare say that she may be one of the type of girls who I think you'll fall for, then its most likely that she won't find you intimidating either. Don't worry about it-! If you ever need a push or any help, I'll be there to give it to you. As your best friend, you have my utmost support here-!"

Carin couldn't believe what she was saying right then and there. Sure, she was basically telling the truth for the most part, but the last part was an absolute lie.

Never in her life did she feel so disgusted with herself. What on earth am I saying…? She was basically cheering on for her rival at this point-!

But the look that Siel had given back to her instantly made her waver at that point. It was a look of genuine contentment, which was rare coming from her best friend. I'm...

"…Thanks, Carin. That means a lot to me…" he contently closed his eyes in the process. "You know, I think that's what I needed to hear this whole time. You're such a great friend. I'm really grateful I told you about this now..."

Friend. Those words made her heart twinge. On the outside she was still smiling, but on the inside, her emotions had flown into a turmoil of despair. She tried so hard not to let her stinging tears flow out at that point. The conflicting emotions she was currently facing were all far too overwhelming for her now—every word he uttered out was painful to hear. It indirectly stabbed her to a deep extent, and she was just too tired and confused to unravel all her antagonizing feelings any longer. She already knew she was about to cry, but she continued shadowing her face regardless, relieved that she was left unnoticed to the other throughout their whole conversation together.

He had no idea how much he was hurting me.

"No problem. After all, this is what friends are meant for, right?"

But for some reason, the last comment coming from her sounded lifeless at the last fleeting moment.

At the age of twelve, Carin had vowed to lock away her feelings from everyone. Including from herself—it was going to an unbreakable lock that was meant to be buried away forever.


Two years later.

"Carina, have you've ever been in love with someone before?"

Carin was taken aback by this sudden question.

She was currently in the manor household of Siel's fiancée now. Although she had once thought that she would never ever come to see this place, maturity gradually made her soften her boundaries of jealousy in due time. Two years had already passed—she was now fourteen, and her coming of age was gradually starting to bloom on her.

But of course, this obviously didn't apply for Siel in terms of coming of age. It was only her since she hadn't selected any suitors yet during this time…

What's even worse was that she somehow ended up befriending Siel's fiancée recently. It was literally the least expected thing coming from someone who was supposed to be her rival or enemy, and yet, fate had its other quirks in mind for her.

Remarkably, his fiancée was on a whole new level of perfection—she was kind, gentle, humble, and extremely pure. She was the defining form of a sweetening cherry blossom, but not only that, she was also astonishingly beautiful as well. She was practically the ideal lady anyone would have wanted to become by now.

So of course, even if Carin had wanted to hate her, it was practically impossible in those circumstances. She was way too selfless and innocent to be hated, and Carin was way too easily moved by her genuine kindness every time to even dislike her in the first place.

As the result, Carin gradually gave up hating her in the end...it was a pointless fight, anyway.

But then after she gave up, not long after that, both Carin and Siel's fiancée eventually became very good friends afterwards. She didn't know how exactly it happened, but Siel's fiancée was the very first female friend she had ever truly communicated with without being judged upon. Perhaps they just kind of clicked together that way because of this.

Now when Siel wasn't always available to visit her at times, she would usually pay visit to his fiancée's manor instead. Since she and Siel's fiancée were pretty good friends by now, so Carin tended to have lots of girl talks with her. They often got carried away with their little girl talks, each telling the other secrets about various things from time to time—it was pretty fun, so neither ever complained about opening up together that way.

However, what Carin didn't ever tell her was the fact that she still hadn't gotten over Siel yet—his fiancée was usually oblivious to most things, so it was pretty easy to evade the subject about them from time to time. She absolutely could not tell her that she still had feelings for him...

It would totally crush her. Carin knew she didn't have the evil to do that, even if his fiancée was the prime source of where all her troubles were coming from in the first place.

Plus now that she knew Siel's fiancée better, she couldn't really blame her best friend for falling for her either. After all, his fiancée was…flawless. She was everything vivid, and although she didn't like admitting it, Carin knew on the other hand that she was everything not in comparison. His fiancée was too far out of her league.

It greatly discouraged her, quite frankly. The fact his fiancée was just so…beautiful, inside and out. Her family status was clean, and everything about her was perfect. It greatly saddened her how she couldn't ever turn back to that state—she was once like that as well before the town incident occurred...

But for her, too many things unfortunate things happened among her past. She knew she had flaws now—and many of them weren't as pretty as she'd like them to be.

Carin soon found herself smiling a melancholic smile afterwards.

Of course…Siel deserves someone like her. She's so selfless—her heart is made of pure gold, and she's not greedy in the slightest. But I, on the other hand…

She shook her head at this. Oh, whom was she kidding? She was utterly no match for his fiancée. This whole thing was pointless…

She already faced the facts several years ago that she couldn't have Siel that way, but she even then she didn't realized just how hard exactly it was to let someone go like that. As her coming age of adolescence bloomed more and more, she found herself reluctantly falling more and more in love with him instead—her plan of moving on backfired, and this greatly left her in the state of anxiousness her at times.

Her relationship with Siel still hadn't changed much since back then. Yet, there was always this…aching feeling in her chest, now. This greedy feeling of wanting more, something more than what friends should normally have. It inwardly disgusted her why she would ever think like that—just when had she turned so self-centered...?

It scared her. Her innocence was slipping away, and she didn't like that at all. She started drifting away from Siel because of this—she realized that if she was going to keep up this act she placed on herself, she was going to need some time alone. For a period of time, she started a new tactic on avoiding him by visiting his fiancée instead. She hoped that by doing this; the antagonizing feelings she had would eventually leave her alone…

For a while, it worked.

But then, soon she found herself experiencing a new kind of emotion. Even though she was great friends with his fiancée and all, she still couldn't help feeling this…envy seeping within her. It was sickening, and she felt it surfacing every time she saw the couple together. Her heart would be contorted inside out, and her mind would be consumed away from all use of logic that was still left in her brain at that point. Her mind wanted to decide against it—this jealousy of hers was all too much to handle, after all, but her heart strongly told her otherwise. It was beyond her control, and she didn't like it one bit that she gets this bitter feeling when she sees the two together almost every time.

Though fortunately for her by now, she was finally completely prone at hiding her feelings away from her best friend. She knew how to act flawlessly cheerful without anyone noticing how truly upset she really was, and she could feign her support for him without tearing up anymore...

—But she didn't know whether this skill of hers was really helping or hurting her at times.

She also found herself acting more dead than alive now. No one really knew what she thought of anymore, and every passing day had become a never-ending tortuous nightmare for her. One of these days, he's going to marry her. And when that happens, he's not going to stay by my side anymore…

She tried not to think about it. But when she did, it always left her feeling extremely hollow inside.

But, I told myself numerous times that I was going to be fine with that…right?

After all, life goes on. I'll have to eventually part with him sooner or later.

"—Carina?"

And that's when she snapped back to reality. Carin finally spoke again after what felt like hours, when really it had only been mere minutes ticking by back at the manor household.

"I…have, once."

Carin couldn't believe she was actually deciding to tell his fiancée about this particular information to her, but not all of it will slip from her. She was still going to censor who she was referring to for Siel's fiancée's sake. But…I guess having a listening ear about it wouldn't hurt.

Or so she thought.

His fiancée then ushered her to tell more, and no longer did Carin comply afterwards.

"He…" is someone who silently yearn for. "-is someone who looks after me. Although he's always uptight about most things, he's very straightforward. He doesn't lie, and he speaks out only the truth no matter what the circumstances. He has a strong sense of justice—he's valiant even, and his clear conscience is admirably unwavering when it counts the most..." as her voice trailed off, Carin soon finds herself turning more pensive as her inner thoughts hurled on.

He's true to his word. His words and actions are touching. When you're by his side, you feel completely safe and secure around him because he'll always trust you. Just by being around him you would feel like the luckiest person in the world.

She instinctively fluttered her eyelids halfway.

But I also know that I'll never be able to achieve up to his level. His family name isn't tainted. We're too different from each other. I won't be able to reach him even if I've always wanted to…

—I'm too dishonest. I'm too stained by slanders. I'm too fake. How could I possibly ever match up to someone so true and righteous? How could he possibly ever choose me over his impeccable fiancée...?

Carin unintentionally gave out a shaky breath afterwards.

It's alright. I'll stop reaching. I've come to realize that he'll always be too far away from me anyway—I've long decided that I wouldn't pursue him anymore.

Her shoulders slightly shook now.

I won't break my promise, after all. And I won't leave behind any regrets…after all, my feelings are supposed to be locked away and meant to be buried away forever, right? This is all only temporarily, right?

So I will not interfere with his life any longer.

"…Carina?"

She didn't realize the moment she was caught off guard with her own monologue did she finally lose herself into crying again.

And then before she knew it, his fiancée had suddenly embraced her.

It had been three years since she last cried into someone else's arms. Although she did receive comfort from Siel's fiancée then, she still felt that empty void eating away inside of her. Somewhere along the line, her heart was still terribly missing something important regardless. She wanted to end this long-term heartache, but she didn't know how to anymore…

She will find a way, however. And she was determined to end it all by herself, regardless of any methods needed to make it necessary.

It's alright. Perhaps these feelings are only temporarily. Perhaps this is just an unrequited phase. Perhaps this constant twinge in my chest will eventually fade away. Perhaps all of these will gradually disappear in due time... But until then, please just have me bury away my feelings a little longer, ok?

Please don't break me anymore.


"I selected a suitor recentlyI have a fiancé now."

And it was true—a week later, she had finally come to the conclusion that if she was planning on letting him go, the first thing she should do was to arrange a suitor to court her. And she had chosen a good one actually—it turns out that the one she had chosen was coincidently his fiancée's twin brother after all.

But Siel didn't know what to think of it. He wasn't at all used to the idea of Carin being engaged to someone before. He didn't have it in him to casually say, "Oh, congratulations-! It's about time you have a man by your side now-!" No, he couldn't say that to her at all, for some reason.

Things got…awkward, between them. Although Carin still treated him the same way, it also didn't…feel like it. There were times when he couldn't tell what she thought of anymore, and at other times, she'd avoid him like the plague. This greatly confused him as the result. Weren't they friends? Why wasn't she…honest to him, then? What went wrong with their close bond they shared together?

Of course, Siel was oblivious to her situation. He didn't understand why she didn't look at him in the eye anymore, why she avoided any physical contact with him now, and why when they talked to each other; there was always this constant unease to it.

He didn't like it at all.

There were several times when he'd confront her about it. Even if they got a bit off with their usual friendship, Siel still wanted to fix it somehow. But just as quick, she'd immediately evade the subject, or say something awfully vague to him afterwards. It frustrated him that she wasn't frank about the things she told him anymore. They were always so…hesitant, so carefully stated out now. He couldn't even tell whether she was lying to him anymore.

And he didn't know how to amend this. Heck, he didn't even know what was the downright problem at that. It had been like this for two years now, for crying out loud, and he still hadn't figured it out yet.

And…he felt lonely when he wasn't able to talk to her so casually. It was like losing a close companion he always confided to—she was the only one who didn't treat him like royalty, who actually talked to him without any formalities involved. What could have possibly changed them…?

"…Oh. Who is it?" Was all he could reply back to her. Why was this so tense…? Even their normal conversations had gotten less explanatory over the years. It started to gradually unnerve him frankly, that they weren't so open anymore.

"It's your fiancée's twin brother. It's surprising, isn't it?"

Siel's eyes widened at this. Of course…I forgot my fiancée mentioned that she had a twin brother before. He also recalled that his fiancée's twin brother was also nearly coming of age, but what he didn't expect however was he'd end up as Carin's fiancé.

And if Siel remembered correctly, his fiancée's twin brother was quite the gentleman. He was handsome, courteous, humble, and always considerate of others…he was especially nicer to the ladies, too. Perhaps he would be a great match to Carin, after all…

But then, why do I feel so…bothered by this?

He shouldn't have. But ever since Carin started acting strangely around him, he started to worry about Carin's well being more and more. He felt that if there were ever times he couldn't be around her, she ought to have someone else accompanying her during his absence…

To which, she supposively did now if she had a fiancé, of course.

So he should have totally been fine with this then.

But yet…why didn't he…?

As confusing as his mind became hurdling with thoughts now, he decided against to mention any of this in the end.

"Ah…congratulations, then. I guess this means we both will have our own betroths before coming of age, now don't we?"

She nodded her head back with that smile in her face. The one filled with falsities in it.

Again, he resisted not to cringe and look away at her faux smile afterwards.

You don't show your genuine smile anymore.

He didn't understand why he missed the sight of her old smile so much.


At the age of fourteen.

Perhaps these feelings are only temporarily. Perhaps this is just an unrequited phase. Perhaps this constant twinge in my chest will eventually fade away. Perhaps all of these will gradually disappear in due time...

She was wrong.

Even while her current fiancé courted her, she didn't give up on him. She still couldn't forget about him.

And it greatly hurt and perplexed her so. Why did everything she saw reminded her of him? Why was it that every affectionate gesture and every smile coming from her fiancédid she end up seeing him instead?

Him, him, him. This was all too much. She felt so horrible and guilty now. Her fiancé was so gentle and considerate of her that she almost felt like she was taking advantage of him instead.

Carin didn't know what to do at this point. Should she call it off? After all, the courtship wasn't working for her, and now, she really felt sick about it. She tried loving him, but…it didn't work out. For some reason, she still couldn't stop thinking about Siel. Her eyes still sought for him. Her heart still yearned for him. It became too hard because her own guilt was winning over her instead. She knew she had to do something about it before their relationship went any further…it would only hurt my fiancé more if I continue on with this.

She could tell her fiancé truly did love her. He genuinely said so by always spouting sweet nothings to herhe expressed it in many ways, from sincere letters, roses, to fondling gestures. He was an excellent romantic, and she knew if only she hadn't already first loved another, she would have definitely fell head over heels for him by now.

But sadly in the end, her heart could not be swayed. This heart…her heart…was painfully unwavering to the point she wished she was actually fickle. Although her fiancé was very affectionate towards her, she didn't really…feel any of it. They all felt so artificial on her part.

Her heart wasn't in it, and when she realized this, she was even more disgusted with herself afterwards. She couldn't believe she would ever use someone else's heart like this. She felt so ashamed of herself at this point. Why had I become like this…?

She immediately came to the decision that she had to end this soon no matter what. After almost half a year of courtship with him, she finally managed confronting her fiancé about it.

Surprisingly, her fiancé seem unfazed by the whole news, however.

"…It's because you love someone else, isn't it?"

Carin's eyes immediately widened at this. How did he know…?

"How…how can you tell?"

Her fiancé gave out a sad smile to her in response.

"I always have. I thought I could have made you forget about him in the beginning…but, I guess I couldn't win over him in the end."

By now, her eyes were practically bulging out like never before. He even knew the person whom she loved this whole time…?

…This was very unexpected.

At this awkward realization, she instinctively coughed into her hand afterwards. At any rate, she mustn't get distracted. She had things to settle right now...

"I…well, first of all, I'm really sorry. I know this isn't really an excuse but…" she then paused for a moment, and finally whispered out, "…I just can't take advantage of you anymore. I've tried, but I'm...really sorry I can't return back your feelings." She then turned to smile back at him reassuringly. "These past months with you made me realize somethingyou deserve someone far more special than me. I'm sure that one day, you'll also find your true mate soon-"

Then suddenly, her fiancé had embraced her. With her eyes widened, it was her current fiancé who spoke to her at this point in response.

"…Look, I know what you want to say. I understand. But please, hear me out firstyou need to smile and laugh more, Carina. You tend to hide your emotions too much, so please take care of yourself more. Personally I don't like it, but I'm sure that special someone wants you to do that much as well… These past months with you still have been fun, either way. I hope we can still be friends after this..."

Carin lets out a true content smile of her own in response. Thank you…

"Of course. No matter what, you'll always be a great friend to me, fiancé or not regardless."

She finally returned his embrace afterwards.


Siel noticed something different about today.

Looking back, it was now almost reaching his and Carin's 9th friendship anniversary year together. Although now they hadn't really done much to celebrate their friendship day anymore, Siel had managed to remember their encountering date once again. He felt a longing sense of nostalgia every time this day would come around…

But it was strange how he noticed this fact first before realizing his own fiancée's birthday was literally today, however.

He figured it must have been because he and Carin were childhood friendseven if they haven't had much of a conversation together now, they've still known each for practically forever, regardless.

And it was funny how when this particular day came around, they would always do something special for the other. Usually they were quite simple, but it was still pretty meaningful back then when they were still little toddlers that time…

A sardonic smile crept to his face.

For some reason, he now felt a little…melancholic about this. He was fully aware that they were starting to live out their own lives and all, but…was he really the only one who still remembers? What happened to they're never-ending friendships together…?

All in all, he didn't like the feeling he was getting. At the thought of their friendship getting torn apart, he immediately felt greatly insecure about their bondtheir unsubstantial promise they made long ago was all he held onto, now. It was the only sign that indicated they weren't drifting apart from the other; that their everlasting friendship ties still existed between them.

Yet, he also noticed that with each passing day, they were still drifting away regardless. He didn't know how to read his best friend anymore. Her smiles all turned into a semblance of an illusion; a masked guise of some sortit was one he was no longer familiar with. She never laughed in front of him again, and she wasn't so open like she used behe couldn't even tell when she was lying, or when she wasn't anymore.

It was almost as if she had turned into someone elsea complete stranger.

And yet, there were still other times when he still saw itthat faint trace of that wonderful girl he once knew everything about. When he glanced back to see how she looked in front of her fiancé several days ago, he was surprised to find her smiling a real smile. That once joyous, innocent, sweetening timeless smile he came to love so much back then. And what surprised him even more was when she laughed after thatit was the same, beautiful, melodious one she used so long ago.

And he didn't know what to think of it. All of a sudden, his stomach swarmed butterflies again. His mind went blank, his heart quickened, and he had no idea why it was even happening in the first place. He felt like he had turned back to that old toddler self of his again, the one whom always fluttered at the sound of her laughter. The one who always wanted to be only one to protect her happiness.

He unintentionally blushed at the last remark. Oh… He embarrassingly recalled back how he once thought like that, as a naiveté child back then.

When they were still kids, there was a time when he had once felt unusually weird around Carin's presence. He never told this to anyone, but... He recalled having these foreign kinds of symptoms with her, these strange fluttering emotions every time he saw or noticed her in a certain way, such as how he paid attention to how pretty her hair, eyes, and smile were back then, and how he wanted to make her happy no matter what the circumstances. Not that he never wanted to protect her now either, but the will to protect her was especially strong as a child. Was it because she still showed her weakness to him that time so he became especially overprotective of her...? He really didn't know.

But the other emotions he often felt around her would often startle him, as well. It conflicted with how he saw of her, being close friends with Carin. They were supposed to be the best of friends, and as far as he knew, friends didn't feel that way like how he felt like when they were little. He wanted to be her knight in shining armorhe wanted to be her prince, whom could preserve and protect her happiness away from any other vile influences.

Yet, something in that picture awfully didn't seem right to him, for some reason. Did friends think like that? He didn't think so as far as he was concerned.

He had been convinced that the feeling he got from her was what you would call a 'temporarily phase' back then, and nothing more than that. He thought it was some strange sort of infatuation he felt towards her that would only last for a short period of time, a mere illusion that wouldn't last long. That same strange feeling he got from Carin actually somewhat faded away overtime after he met his fiancée, so he thought that would be it. But then…

But then…why on earth was that same feeling coming back now…?

Siel became extremely puzzled by all this. No... Why was he getting these thoughts again? He hadn't had these since he met his fiancée several years ago… He was no longer that boy who would, at times, inconspicuously looked to his best friend like that anymore. He only saw her as if she was the sworn sister he never had, so

Why?

He couldn't possibly...like her more than that, could he?

His eyes burst opened as if lightening had struck it.

Suddenly, a dawning realization came to him.

No...that entire monologue just now…that's how he was supposed to think of his fiancée, not Carin.

Oh no…

Then…did that mean…

Did that mean he possibly fell for Carin?

As in love?

When this new breaching possibility had finally sank in, he unintentionally felt his breath hitch in the process.

No ordinarily person would normally want to make Carin happy the way he wanted to. What…what he felt was probably…special, even if he didn't realize it this whole time.

And just then everything finally clicked to him.

If that were really the case, then that would finally make sense. He had always wondered why he got nervous every time he was around Carin back then. Why he noticed how beautiful her emerald eyes were, how silky her hair looked, and how wonderful her smile and laughter were altogether. He always assumed that this was because of something relating to their close friendship together, but…

Now? It suddenly occurred to him that it probably wasn't.

And true, what he felt back then might've been friendship in the beginningbut it also might've grew to be something more, something even more special than that.

It might've evolved to love instead.

At this new revelation, he instantly placed his hands to his face. Oh why, why, did he have to realize this, now of all times…?

Fate was cruel to ever make him see this now. After all, he already had a fiancée, and, she also happens to be one whom he cares a lot for as well. What was he thinking? To just call it off like that? He was meant to be a respectable gentleman, not some low, fickle heartbreaker. He was supposed to be loyal, and…even if…even if he did love Carin that way, what good could it do? There's probably a 90% chance she didn't even love him back. Could she...? And even if he did somehow make his fiancée actually agree to this, he knew he would never hear the end of his parentsthey would outright reject the idea of the proposal the moment it was placed out.

He also had a promise to keep. "We'll stay friends forever." Surely, he could not ever break that promise…right?

Right?

But…but then, what did he want for himself? Did he possibly love his fiancée more, or…

Or possibly Carin?

He was challenged between two choicesone that was right before his eyes and everything he could ever ask or wish for, while the other that seemed way too far out of reach, but meant the world to him from the very moment their eyes met and smiled together.


One week later.

Siel had to admit that he honestly wasn't much of a romantic. He was the kind of an uptight straightforward guy now, being the heir to an important family and all. Love wasn't something he was able to expect or comprehend wellfurther more, he didn't know how to express it in many capable ways as he would've like to, possibly.

Though in retrospect, this factor still didn't stop him from courting, however. Before, his fiancée had been the infatuation of his life, the musing beauty that he always admired upon. Everything she did had always been flawless, so full of virtuefrom the very beginning, it was her genuine and graceful nature that had always been what captivated his utmost attention.

Yet, another big reason why he fell in love with her was also partially because his parents. They had desperately wanted him engaged to a good high social standing from the start, and his fiancée just happened to be in that healthy social position at the timehe also didn't want to ruin their expectations of him.

But nobody, not even he himself, knew there was another subtle reason involved to all this.

It was around the same time that his family first announced that he was going to get a fiancée arranged to him, that it was also the same time Siel started becoming self-conscious of breaking his intimate ties with Carin, as well.

Ironic, isn't it?

But now in present time, he was currently going to give his last farewell gift to his fiancée. A bouquet of roses, pink actually, since she always preferred pink over red for some reason. It was still her birthday after all, and he figured it wouldn't be appropriate to give her anything else otherwise.

He didn't imagine this day would ever come, though. He had always thought that they were the perfect couple. No flaws, no anything…it didn't ever seem to occur to him that there was anything wrong with them before, but now that was older, he finally realized something.

He didn't love his fiancée enough to choose her over Carin.

All along, his feelings had been reversed. He never noticed it, but his fiancée was the one he had been a simple crush for back then. Other than Carin, Siel had never really been exposed to other females around his age before. Carin was differentshe treated him casually, and perhaps that was why he was so reluctant to see her in another way. He was struck with still wanting to see her as a trusted friend, and he was probably afraid to ruin their already intimate relationship around that time.

But fiancée was a different story. He was awestruck by her virtue beauty, true, but what was the most appealing about her was probably because he didn't have worry about seeing her as anything else other than his future bride back then. From the very beginning, his parents had already arranged him to marry her when he was youngand it most likely because of this, that he found it so much easier to see her as his love interest rather than a friend as the result.

Therefore, this probably made him even more convinced that he thought he loved his fiancée that way. Since he couldn't possibly see Carin a different way other wise from there, he was oblivious to the fact that he may have had the possibility of loving her all this time.

He then took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

And…even if he wasn't completely oblivious, he still crushed away any thoughts from thinking that way about her. After all, he was suppose to be a loyal person by heart, wasn't he? He wouldn't ever dare think of betraying the person he supposively loved to begin with, so he didn't ever try or allow himself to see any other females that way.

But when he finally did allow himself to see Carin that way, he saw it. He realized just how…precious she was to him. True, everyone else may come to see her otherwise, or even flawed at thatbut to him, she was like a timeless flower. Every smile and laughter of hers was like golden sunshine. Her whole being was glowing and radiant, pristinely beautiful in her own way. He then came to realize that he had always wanted to preserve that happiness of hersshe was most outshone when she smiled, her laughter was pleasantly contagious, and he immediately found himself led into it every time he caught sight of that nostalgic sound in his ears.

He found himself not caring how much time went by. Heck, he didn't care even if she did grow to have many flaws by now. He wanted to be the one to close the gap between them, and he wanted to be the one to find back that genuine flawless essence of hers.

Hence, it was at that moment did he finally realize just how much he truly loved her.

But in the beginning, he was still very reluctant to make this decision on calling his engagement off regardless. The odds were too much, after all. What if she doesn't love me back? What if I was too late? And indeed, she also had a fiancé now that he had to note about.

However a few days ago, it was just as if his prayers had been answered. At that time, he had happened to have a brief discussion with his fiancée about their mutual friend, who was no other than Carin. He was then surprised what his fiancée revealed about. She told him that several days ago, it was Carin whom called off the engagement with her fiancé recently. And at the sudden news, he subconsciously felt…hope?

Yet what led Siel even more taken aback was when his fiancée mentioned something else. She talked about how Carin used to love someone, someone whose description awfully sounds like himself. He was trying to sound cocky or anything, but he still remembered Carin similarly describing him something like that back when they were little.

And he was astounded. Bewildered, even.

Carin used to love him-? Even now, he still couldn't believe it. There was chance that he wasn't a hundred percent sure whether or not she was describing him either at that timeafter all, it could have been anyone.

Nevertheless, that was still enough to reach his hopes up, if any. And now back in present time, he officially decided to spring to action about it. He waited at the usual balcony for his fiancée, the place where they would both gaze at their usual rose garden together. They talked about many things there he realized, but never once did he make any romantic gestures towards her among this area. Perhaps it was his morals, or maybe it was the sanctuary vibe it gave off...?

Although at any rate, he was now glad he didn't. This place always felt sacred and pure to him, just like his fiancée. And he most definitely didn't want to ruin it now. Hopefully, his fiancée would come to understand…even now, he really didn't want to hurt her in the worst possible way through all this.

For once, Siel made a wry mistake in his life. He loved someone else who wasn't his true loveas he always aimed to be a righteous person, he thought he wouldn't ever make such a foolish mistake like this one. He thought he could define everything that was right, that he could always differ what to expect, and what was going to happen from the very beginning. As a premature child, he had always set himself a strong sense of moral principleshe found everything having boundaries at some point, and that for as long he marked himself a clear conscience with everything he did, he would then be able to achieve anything without making any wrong decisions in his life.

Yet in the end, he still struck a chordit was most likely because he underestimated the concept of love this whole time.

He didn't know which and what was true love until he realized he loved Carin.

So finally, he decided to do it. He wasn't going to lie to himself anymore

It was Carin whom he truly loved now.

"Siel?"

He immediately spun around at the sound of the familiar voice speakingit was expectedly his fiancée, accordingly.

He flashed out a brief smile towards her.

"Hey." He beckoned her to stand beside him, to which she did. Even now, his fiancée was incredibly pretty, no less. That had also been one of the few reasons why I became infatuated with her so quickly in the first place. But that's besides the topic right now. He had to focus on why he called her out here…

So before anything, he first gave her the bouquet of roses out to her. "For your birthday." He then heard his fiancée give out a pleasant giggle before whole heartening accepting them. "Thanks, Siel. I honestly appreciate it. You really didn't have to go through the trouble…"

His smile broadened a bit more at this. His fiancée had always been ridiculously selfless from the very beginning. That genuine quality of hers probably wouldn't ever change even now, perhaps.

But as if on queue, his guilt came back full speed ahead at that least remark. His insides started turning anxious now all of a sudden. What if…what if this wasn't the best time to tell her? Today's her birthday after all. And if he just suddenly told the news to her now…how much would it affect her? Would she be torn? Would he be making an even greater mistake by hurting her? What if he-?

His lack of response soon made his thoughts get interrupted, however.

"Siel? ...If there's something bothering you, would you like to tell me about it?" as he glanced back towards his fiancée, he relaxed slightly when he noticed her usual expression written on her face. It was a look of pure curiosity, and he could tell that she truly wanted to understand him. Now if only Carin would express her true emotions like that, I wouldn't have to try so hard reading her then…

But at the unexpected thought occurring to him, he immediately shook the thought away before responding back to her afterwards.

"I…" he then took a deep breath before continuing. Should he say it…? Yes, you should-! Don't lie to yourself anymore. You can't keep her in the dark forever, it's now or never-!

With this final decision kept in his mind, he braced himself for the coming words that were about to be spoken.

"I…I want to call off our engagement."

There was a brief pause of silence afterwards.

Now that he's really said it, the silence was slowly killing him. The more he thought about his own words, the more he was starting to regret it. For sure, his heart was racing anxiously for who-knows-how-long. T-That was way too direct-! I shouldn't have made it so frank in the beginning-

But then, to his surprise, his fiancée only made a pensive smile after their silence.

"…Do you know why I always preferred getting pink roses over red ones from you?"

Siel blinked at this. Honestly, he was completely left nonplussed about her tranquil reaction. He was expecting at least some kind of mild violent gesture coming from her, but instead, he was asked a peculiar question…?

Well, at any rate he was more than glad for that. But now with the new subject at hand here, he really didn't know to respond this. He wasn't much of a romantic after all, so he never took much interest into memorizing the flowers of language to begin with. It wasn't in his studies of politics either…

Thankfully in the end, his fiancée saved him from the embarrassment of answering back.

"Pink roses signify an expression of gratitude, a simple 'thank you', or admiration, on the other hand. It shows how much the other cares for you, but…" she then took a moment to smell the roses for awhile before finally speaking again, with both of her eyelids lowered slightly as she did so.

"…But it doesn't express anything more otherwise."

To his astoundment, Siel was starting to see the pieces attaching together. Did she mean…?

"Ever since this family arrangement had started, I always tried loving you. I gave you chances to court me by giving you hidden messages into the smallest of thingsfor example, roses, in particular. I always tried hinting you that I wanted red roses, instead. I wanted to see how you would react to it. What you would do to woo me, how you would follow up to these little small details…"

She looked him in the eye afterwardsit was neither a smile nor a frown, however. Her eyes were penetrating, and at that point, Siel uncannily felt as if his very soul was being read through by his fiancée.

"I silently tried testing you, in a way."

As Siel's eyes widened at this, he unintentionally gulped at her sudden implication.

His fiancée then continued on regardless.

"I apologize I kept this away from you. But see, it was the only way to see how far you'll eventually go with me…and, in your case, it proved to me something. Since you weren't ever aware of these details and you never acted upon yourself to really blossom our bond together these past few years…" she then gave out a melancholic smile towards him. "…Then I guess it comes to show that your heart doesn't truly care enough about me to love me that far. Not to me, at least."

At these last few words spoken out, he was completely awestruck by his fiancée. It was a bit offending and eerily, true, but it was also just a tad bit…overwhelming, on how accurate she had been about her past observances of him. Did she also know that he was calling off the engagement because he loved someone else, then…?

"So…so you basically had this all coming…?" was all Siel could reply back afterwards.

His fiancée closed her eyes and nodded her head in response.

"I wasn't sure when exactly, but I knew as long as you didn't see through my tactics and so on, it was bound to happen eventually." She then smiled knowingly at him in a way as if knowing something even he wasn't aware of yet. "Two people whom truly love each other at the very pits of their hearts will notice everything about the other unconditionally."

Realization dawned onto him. He had never known his fiancée had so much wisdom hidden inside her until now. He was astonished, even.

"You should go. Through my past years with you, I noticed that there's someone else you want to meet now, isn't there?"

Now that finally understood her sudden implication made on him, this time he didn't hesitant to respond back to her. He at least wanted to tell her this much before he left, either way.

"...Yes, but…I need to greatly apologize to you first. Just because I had stopped loving you now doesn't mean that I hadn't ever loved you before. In fact, I did feel that way for you back then. But like you said, it...wasn't strong enough to hold me that far. I should've realized this sooner. All in all, I haven't been a very good fiancé…"

His fiancée merely shook her head in response.

"It's not entirely your fault. From the very beginning, this whole engagement was made by our parent's decision, and that's something I cannot blame you for. …Plus, I can see that you've already done your best these past couple of years courting me, trying to woo me and managing time whatnot. But if we didn't truly love one another, it wasn't going to work out. It was only a matter of time, really. As your fiancée, I'm happy enough that you've always been frank with me this whole time… Thank you. Don't ever change that, Siel."

He couldn't help giving out a content smile afterwards. Even now, she's still being incredibly considerate... Even if he didn't love her that way anymore, every word she said still moved him to the bottom of his heart.

"You too. Don't ever change yourself eitheryou're completely beautiful just the way you are, you know. Even if it can't be me, I hope you'll be able to find that special someone soon…"

She gave back a beautiful smile of her own.

"Likewise."

As soon as they finished exchanging their last regards, he finally strolled out their balcony later that day.

He was finally going to set things right for them.


The following day.

Siel's eyes went bulging like never before. What…?

As soon as Siel went back to Carin's usual manor that day, he was clearly taken aback to hear one of the maids informing him that Carin suddenly went missing yesterday.

"And she hasn't came back ever since…?" he didn't like the gut feeling he was getting again…

To his falling dismay, the maid shook her head in response.

"Not that I have heard of. Everyone's looking for her right nowshe left around yesterday afternoon giving us a heads up notice about something, but she hadn't return since then..."

Siel had quirked an eyebrow about this. A notice…?

"What was the notice about?"

The maid then cast her eyes downwards while looking a bit gloomy about the whole situation.

"I don't know. Her notice only stated that she was going to go out alone somewhere, but…it didn't state when she was coming back though. And that's strange, because usually, she'd always tell us ahead of time..."

He didn't need another moment to hear anymore of this. Gritting his teeth and heading out for the door once again, he was then stopped by the maid's voice calling back to him.

"Your grace-! Y-You aren't supposively-?"

In response, he didn't hesitate to answer her back.

"I have an idea where she might be right now. I will find her, and I will bring her back afterwards."


—Hours earlier.

It was finally that day again. Even after all this time, she still kept count of it regardless.

Her 9th friendship anniversary with Siel was finally here.

But even so, Carin had lost most of her enthusiasm for it a long time ago.

She was now back at her parent's grave tomb again. For some reason, every time she visited this place, she was always reminded of how lonely she truly was. There was just so much death everywhere that it'd usually make her feel the worst degree of gloominess every time she'd come here.

But today was an exception. Since she visited around the morning, the sun was raying down upon the once murky graveyard now. The air was chilly, but the silent breeze was relaxing. She thought she'd never feel this way, but for once…she actually felt slightly content coming back here.

And perhaps, it was because she didn't have to worry about anything here. In a place where no one would listen to her, Carin could finally let out all her troubles and be herself, unlike back at the manor household. It was painful back there because she was the highest degree on everything superficialsaying you were perfectly fine in there would constantly hurt, because really, she wasn't.

Although that was the one thing she'll never admit to anyone. She didn't ever want to become a burden to anyone else…Siel, of all people especially. If anything, she definitely didn't wish for his pity for the most part.

Siel… At the thought of him, she gave out a pained smile. It's funny how quickly she thought of him again…

However, she then shook her head afterwards. Oh whom was she kidding? There was no one else to judge her thoughts here anymore. She could freely think how she wanted to now…

And so, she allowed herself for once.

What she wanted more than anything else in the world from him was his love. From the very beginning, that was all she wanted from him. She thought she would've been okay as long as she had him as a valuable friend to her, but…but as time went by, she couldn't help thinking…or wishing there was something more between them.

Wishing. How unattainable that word is…just simply wishing wasn't enough. I always knew that. I always knew he would never love me back that way. I knew it from the start, and I knew it every time. But yet, I…I…

At the last thought, her breath got caught in her throat. There was that sudden twinge in her chest againthat so dreaded, aching feeling she often got. She then felt her heart churning once more, and as if all in one great impact, she finally felt her tears freely streaming down her cheeks.

It was also only then did she fully allow herself to collapse in front of her parent's gravestones with endless tears brimming her eyes.

Back then; you were the only one who didn't look to me with biased eyes. You were so righteous, yet you defended me so. We became close friends. We promised to stay together. Though we had our differences, I thought I would have been satisfied as long as we remained friends. But now…

She cried harder at the last thought - But now, you clearly love another…

I tried getting over you. After all, this was all one-sided... We were not meant to be. From the very beginning, an indescribable wall separated us. And yet…for some reason, I… She voiced out her own thoughts at this point. "I-I…I couldn't stop loving you…not even till the very end..."

She wanted to ask her mother then why love had become something so resentful to her. Something so brutally foul, yet emotionally painful even. It was heart wrenching really, the fact that when someone doesn't reciprocate back your feelings to you, that all of these ugly feelings she's currently feeling right now would happen as the result of it.

But more than anything, she wanted to ask her own heart why she still wasn't able to let go of that certain someone. It had been four years, after all. Wasn't four years enough to get over someone by heart, then…?

Yet, something inside told her that she wasn't about to get over him for a very, very long period of time.

She was torn. Slowly, she felt her own brightness decaying. She couldn't keep up this semblance forever, she knew that, but she just might do it for Siel's sake. Oh, how complex her unwavering heart can be to her, and how she almost wished she never fell in love with her best friend to begin with…

She wanted to end it all. She wanted to end this long-term internal suffering she's endlessly put up with somehow, but how…? She didn't have any more ideas to turn to.

At the nearing age of fifteen, Carin was at a complete loss once again.


After silently crying all her feelings out for about an hour or so, Carin decided not to return to her manor that day.

In fact, she planned to never return anymore.

It was too much for her to handle. Carin full well knew her limits, and she knew she could only handle so much back in the crude world of reality. She decided that in order to keep her promise to Siel, she wouldn't ever face him again. That way, I could keep back my sanity, and I'll still be able to have him as a friend regardless…

Although, coming to this last resort was admittedly difficult for her. It was true that she had all the money, but she was still reluctant abandoning her homeland…she didn't know how long or when she'd ever return. Probably never…

But she had no more true relatives here. And, this was the best option for her nowbeing desperate, what else could she do?

However before she was going to leave, there was still one last place she wanted to visit before leaving her past behind. It was the usual meadows she and Siel used to play in back when they were little. It was time when they were both so true, so honest to each other back then…it was strange how far they suddenly drifted apart overtime.

At the thought, Carin's smile went crestfallen. The usual flower meadows still looked as ethereal as everit was as if it was ageless, the flowers still in full bloom like the lush green springtime appearance it gave off back then. Carin was glad that at least the beautiful meadows hadn't change yet. Hopefully, it never will. Then I'll have one less thing to regret about, at least…

But leaving without saying a word or even a goodbye to Siel was probably something she wouldn't ever forgive herself in a lifetime for. He was her best friend after all, but she still had to do itshe also knew Siel wouldn't ever let her go without a good reason. And…what could say? That she loved him? No, she couldn't ever do that. That'd totally ruin everything she's kept up with all these years… All these years of hiding, pretending, and deceiving.

She was extremely afraid of rejection, as well. She didn't need Siel of all people getting disgusted by her. And, even if he didn't, pity her at that. She really didn't want to see any of that coming from her best friend. If it really comes to it, she'd much rather leave without saying any farewells at this point…

It's best for the both of us, anyway.

"Carin?"

Carin's eyes widened like never before and she immediately flinched in response. It was totally uncalled for that someone would still be around these parts around this time but, to her utmost horror, she knew that familiar voice anywhere. Oh no, no, please, please, don't be him-!

But to her unwanted anticipation however, it really was him.

Looking back behind her now, she saw him up ahead.

—Siel.

It was at that moment did time seem to have stop itself.

She didn't know what to think of it. At the recognition of him, it was if her body went malfunctioning. Her throat went dry, and she immediately felt her breath hitch in the process. She felt her stomach doing several flip-flops here and there, and overall, she was just plain dumbfounded.

She was too shocked for words by then.

But just as quick, she soon snapped back to reality afterwards. Why was he here? Did he try finding her? Did he know that she was going to leave now…?

Numerous questions popped into her head then and there, and they wouldn't stop in the slightest second after that. Should she remain silent throughout the whole time? Should she run and leave him? Should she say her last farewells to him? What would be the right thing to do right now…?

Though by the time she fully regained back her composure, it was already too late to respond back. Siel had already begun closing the distance between them, and Carin felt her heart speeding up a thousand miles again before anxiously trying to calm down that wretched heart of hers in the process.

Calm. No matter what the circumstances, even now, she had to remain as calm as possible. There's no turning back now. Whatever you do Carina; do not blow your cover. You've already gotten this far, so you have to pull this through for all these years…!

With this last thought engraved in her mind, she finally placed on her best stolid smile towards her best friend. Luckily after crying her heart out several hours ago, she didn't feel much emotion leftshe had already long been too jaded with her feelings by now, anyway.

"Siel? Why are you here…?" She didn't have to counterfeit too much on this question. After all, she was genuinely curious about this. Did someone inform him about my disappearance…?

"I could ask you the same thing."

In response, he reflected back the same stolid emotion towards her. But, unlike hers, he was frowning, and… was there was a hint of slight anger in his eyes?

It could have also been her own imagination, however. Regardless though, she unintentionally shrunk back a little at his unusual stern vibe he was showing. It was almost like he was giving her the cold shoulder purposively. Usually, he'd only show this towards someone he didn't like, or someone he was greatly irritated with to a futile extent. She honestly didn't like the way he was treating her but…what could she say? He had every right to be. I just ran away without even saying goodbye to him…

He then stopped his tracks when he was finally in a comfortable speaking distance with her. Throughout the whole time however, the expression in his face remained gravely solemn.

"What gives, all of sudden? Why did you leave the manor on such a short notice like that? Were planning to just leave-?"

By now, she knew someone had informed him about her disappearance. But Carin was more surprised by the sudden change of his voice nowhe looked so indifferent, yet beneath that cold detachment, he sounded so…angry. To be honest, she was starting to feel a little more than anxiousness in the pit of her stomach. What if he didn't like her now? As in, not even just as friends…? Her heart slightly twanged at the thought of this.

Although thankfully, this didn't affect much of her usual exterior, however. It doesn't matter anyway. Because in the end, the result will still be the same, regardless…

For only a second, her unreadable smile only turned a tad bit sadder now. As long as I stick around, I'll only become a nuisance to your life. After all, the problem's all on me, and no one else otherwise…

"It doesn't need to concern you. After all, it doesn't matter anymore where I go or where I want to live out my own life anymore…" she then decided to leave it there. Hopefully, her best friend won't question and he'll understand…

Too bad she knew better of him, though.

For a split second, he looked slightly taken aback before he soon clenched his teeth afterwards.

"—Why? Why on earth would you ever consider leaving, Carin-?"

She only gave out a half-hearted smile at this.

It's because I can't seem to get over you. Because no matter how many times I tried keeping you out of my mind, your smile would always come back to me. Because no matter how many times I wish you'd love me back, you already have someone else much better suited for you than I. I can't take it anymore. I really can't. You may have moved on, but…I can't move on, for some reason. It's only a matter of time before I'll need to take this last final step to break us apart…

She thought back how Siel used to treat her this whole time. From the beginning to the end, he had always been there for her, for all the hard times she's always been through. It was just like her best friend to do something similar like thathe played his part. Carin was at least thankful for that, even if she couldn't him as her lover, she was still able to have him as her best friend regardless…

You and I live in two different worlds now—we can't return back to the way it once was anymore.

"It'll never be the same." She found herself saying. It was funny how unwavering her statement sounded, because it was a sad fact that was never voiced out from her until now.

But on the other hand, Siel couldn't believe how lifeless and stoic she looked at the moment. It was incredible how she managed hiding her emotions to him throughout all these years. Had she always been like this…? He really had to wonder at that point.

For the record, Siel had been extremely anxious upon her proposal on leaving. Was she serious…? Based on his observations on her, it really did seem to be the case, however.

But Siel wasn't going to let her off that easily, not when he finally realized he was the one who loved Carin all this time. He was determined to find out the real reason why she was leaving, and what made her drift away from him after all these years of oblivion. He was willing to risk it now through a gamble of options he now had.

He could either risk losing their fragile friendship by going for what his heart is telling him to do, or he could follow his rational thinking through empty persuasion and if it really comes to it, accept the fact his friend really was leaving in order to have their unsubstantial friendship kept intact.

In those types of choices, for once, Siel chose the option to his break his promise, this time.

It suddenly happened in a flash.

Carin was greatly taken aback to what Siel did next afterwards. All of a sudden, he…embraced her-?

She immediately stiffened in response. She couldn't believe it—Why…w-why on earth was he doing this…?

Carin lost all sense of composure by now. She was at a complete state of loss and confusionas much as she wanted Siel to feel that way for her, she didn't want any false hope welling up inside her anymore. Did he possibly pity me…? It must have been. Otherwise, he couldn't possibly have

"Stop." She found herself saying. She unintentionally felt her shoulders threatening to shake, but she ignored it regardless. "S-Stop treating me like this. I don't want your pity-"

She never got to finish her sentence when Siel did something she least expected.

He kissed her.

Kissed her.

And at the growing realization to this, her mind instantly went blank. With the sudden turn of events happening so fast, she wasn't able to process anything. Carin was too caught off guard with this sudden gesture made by her best friend. She flinched the moment he made contact, and she was way too flabbergasted to respond back at the time.

He was seriously doing it. He was actually kissing her, right now. Although Carin still didn't know why yet, she had a feeling that Siel wouldn't ever do this kind of stuff unless he really meant it.

Which made her feel a new surge of emotions. She didn't know how she could ever feel so…hopeful at that point. She actually felt happy, and if fate were to be so cruel right now, she'd end up finding this all a dream afterwards...

—But the dream never came. Everything was as clear as night and day still.

Carin now felt so many tears threatening to rim at the corner of her eyes again at the sudden realization to all of this.

When Siel finally ended the chaste kiss after a brief moment, he gently placed his forehead against her own so they could finally remain eye level with one another.

Emerald eyes searched cerulean ones, and he finally spoke out the words that Carin never thought she'd ever hear from him in this lifetime.

"I love you."

Her eyes widened like never before afterwards.

Then just as fast, she shadowed her face as her shoulders shook violently. This…this was all so surreal to her…

She was afraid that this ideal world would eventually slip at any moment.

"I…I thought you wouldn't ever love me back…d-don't you have a fiancée already…?" In truth, she really didn't want to bring this topic up, but still, she had to know right now…

She was taken aback by what he said in response.

"From the very beginning, I've always loved you—my heart's always loved you, even since the time we were little back then."

Carin was extremely surprised to find his face filled with genuine sincerity then. He meant every word of it…

But now, she was consumed by a new confusion.

"Then, why…why did you tell me all those years ago, that you loved her instead…? Your fiancée is so much prettier than I am. Her personality's completely flawless compared to mine…" as much as she wanted to believe him, the questions kept spouting out of her mouth. Unknowing to herself, she was slowly opening back the lock she placed on heart. She was finally opening up all her questions to him, all her insecurities she locked away for years now…

She finally wanted to know answers to them, this time.

Siel suddenly realized why she kept a distance with him. After all this time, was it because of his fiancée…? Just then, everything finally clicked to himwhy she always didn't show her emotions easily anymore, why she feigned her happiness to him, why she became so hesitant every time she responded about the topic of his fiancéehe couldn't believe how he never noticed this up until now.

And to be honest, he suddenly felt guilty now. How could he have not noticed, all these years…? Had he noticed his own feelings sooner, maybe they would have made up by now...

At this, his expression was gradually becoming more softened. How long did she pretend to be happy around me…? He tried not to think about it. The more he thought about it, the more his guilt came. At least he wasn't planning on messing up this time, not anymore. He needed to focus—he was to going to get things right this time.

And with this new resolution engraved to in his mind, he then smiled back his warm smile he'd reservedly shown her years ago.

"I didn't realize what I felt for her had been a simple infatuation this whole time. From the very beginning, some part of my heart knew I always loved you, but I was never aware of it until now." He then gently gripped onto Carin's hand to his left chest afterwards. "What I feel for you is different, however. Even now, my heart flutters every time it hears your voice. It pounds rapidly every time it sees you smile." He then closed his eyelids briefly. "Do you feel it?"

If it could, Carin's eyes grew even wider after that. Everything he said just now was how she felt. And his heart…it really was beating rapidly.

Carin was way too awestruck to say anything else at that point.

"Everyone might find my fiancée to be the prettiest girl on earthbut to me, you would always be the most beautiful. Don't ever change yourself, Carin. I love you just the way you are, withal your flaws, your quirks, everything. I'll vow to you that no matter what, nothing will ever change that from me for a million years. I promiseonly this time, it'll be a promise I can keep."

Carin could feel the unbreakable lock placed onto her heart was finally breaking apart. Even if she didn't want to, she was honestly so touched by his words, then. There was no way she could possibly not believe him, by now.

She found herself tearing up afterwardsshe could finally say it. Those magical words she's always wanted to say to him, after all these years…

Even as the tears rapidly streamed down her cheeks now, she looked straight into his eyes before finally finding the courage to speak up to him once again.

After so long, she was finally able to allow someone to glimpse into her heart.

"I…I love you too-!" At the final proclamation, she felt more tears well up in her eyes, but choosing to ignore it at that point.

She was still crying, but if you paid close attention enough, you'd also see the hint of a genuine smile written on her face, the one she used so long ago. I've always loved you too, you know. From the very beginning, I've always loved you…

And it was only then did she allow her vision to blur itself after that.

As if releasing all her overwhelming emotions from there on out, she finally returned his embrace and cried into his arms afterwards.

While she cried, Siel slightly started flinching at some point before calmly whispering back sweet nothings into her ear. She's longed for this day to come for far too long. At last, her feelings weren't unrequited anymore… She was finally confiding, and he was comforting her now. At that point, nothing else could be better for her than at that one blissful moment.

And throughout all the waterworks, she repeatedly whispered back the same two words she's whole-heartily felt to him then.

"Thank you."

At the nearing age of fifteen, the unbreakable lock to Carin's heart was finally lifted.


At the age of sixteen.

It was now their 10th friendship anniversary today.

Or rather, their first year of truly being together, so to speak.

A year had past since their last incident occurred. Siel and Carin were finally engaged back to their rightful placesthey were both engaged to each other now.

Carin didn't leave after that. Instead, she stayed with him from then on since her only reason of leaving was gone.

Although, she had to admit that it did take a long while before Siel's parents finally accepted everything. Some of his family members didn't favor her, and they were furious when they found out Siel and his fiancée had called it off now after all these years. Even Carin was surprised, as well.

But she had to admit, if Siel wanted to start a relationship with her, it would make sense why he would do that. That was something her betrothed would probably do in those circumstances. He was always one to get straight to the point, and unlike Carin, he was true to himself.

She smiled at the word betrothed mentioned at first. She honestly liked the sound of it. I can't believe we're actually together now…

She was grateful he decided to show up on the day of her disappearance. If he didn't, she may have left town by now. She may have thought all of this was impossible for her…

But she was wrong again, however.

Now, it was only two more years before the coming of age was approaching for the both of them. By then, Siel could officially court and marry her if he wanted to. It wouldn't just be an arrangement by chaperones afterwardsthey would be considered adults, and Siel would most likely lead his family's throne soon when he turns twenty after that.

Carin tried not to think so ahead, though. After all, if everything turns all right and they do happen to marry each other in the end, Siel will still have some time to spend with her nevertheless. Her smile broadened at the last thought. If anything, she always has faith in him. It'll be okay. If it's Siel, I know everything will turn out alright…

Her ears then perked up at the sound of another person approaching. To her correct anticipation, in came said fiancé sauntering towards her. She was at her usual manor, and Siel was expectedly visiting her, it seems. Now that their misunderstandings had finally cleared up, Siel visited her a lot more frequently.

She knowingly smirked to herself and immediately did the one thing that came to her mind afterwards. She casually tackled him into a brief embrace like how she did when they were little, and then looking up to see his reaction in response. This all felt so strangely nostalgic to hershe liked how she didn't have to care about how to react to Siel anymore, and just be her old naive self again like all those childhood years.

In response, he looked slightly taken aback as usual, before his own amused smile gradually came to light. Her heart fluttered at his smileit was that same, reserved smile he gave her long ago. The same endearing one... However, it was soon concealed with a roll of his cerulean eyes, and Carin suddenly found this whole scene a bit of a déjà vu on both of their parts.

"Really Carin, this again? You have to stop doing that almost every time I come to visit you. We aren't children anymore, you know." Normally, this sentence would've been hurtful if it weren't for the tease she sensed in his tone of voice and amusement she saw in her fiancé's eyes.

Carin only gave out her dazzling smile in response. It took awhile, but she finally gained back her optimism again. Both she and he were more than glad to have it back, anyway.

But almost immediately, she switched her smile into a smirk afterwards. "Nah, I just like bothering you. You should've gotten used to it by now."

Sadly, Siel did get used to it. Despite her insecurities, his fiancée was always a ball of energy to begin with. He would know better of all people, of course.

He dramatically feigned a sigh in response, and as if on queue, the two began laughing comfortably again.

When they were done laughing, Carin was the first to speak up this time.

"By the way…you didn't forget what day is it today, did you?"

Siel rolled his eyes once again. It was a little funny how even though there were now betrothed to one another, their current interactions with each other still hadn't change much from back then. They still acted casually, as if they were still the best of friends, although the two knew better now.

"Whom do you take me as? Of course I remember."

"Then…" Carin looked to him curiously with batted eyelashes. When her eyes grew bigger, and Siel tried not to blush from noticing how innocent she suddenly looked now. "…Are we going to spend it together? Like how we did before?"

Siel absentmindedly blinked before incredulously eyeing her back in response. Back when they were little, they always did something special together during their friendship anniversaries. They only stopped doing it over the recent years because of that major miscommunication that happened between them, but other than that, it was still considered something he cherished even now.

But he was surprised that just like him, Carin still saw the significance to it.

"—Pfft! Of course! Do you honestly think I wouldn't spend time with you on our friendship day together? It's special because-" When he realized what he was about say, he immediately felt his cheeks flush before averting his gaze afterwards. Why was he so embarrassed to say this, anyway...? "…Because that's the day I first met you, you know. I thought you knew that."

Carin suddenly felt an unusual surge of affection hearing his honest words. She was so taken aback he would react that way to her question that she couldn't help giggling in response. That side of him made her love Siel even more.

Then while he was protesting about her trying to surpass a giggle towards him, Carin instinctively felt like doing something else that was still out of the ordinary to them.

Siel was extremely taken aback when Carin suddenly pecked him in the lips in the middle of his bickering embarrassment. His face went even more redder after that, and as Carin leapt away quickly while properly standing up again, he couldn't find any words to say to her in response. Even if they were considered lovers now, he was still not used to his fiancée's sudden affectionate gestures made on him. Call him naturally stiff and bad on reaction, maybe, but that was just within his nature. It'll take time before he'll finally get used to it…

Carin smirked momentarily before genuinely smiling back at his reaction. She then extended out her hand to him and acted as if nothing ever happened, else she would start blushing as well. Even now, she was still also trying to get used to the idea of kissing Siel, but the feeling still made her feel incredibly giddy, nevertheless.

"Before you say anything, that was a 'return kiss' from our previous friendship day incident…and a 'thank you' on my part." For everything you've done for me, actually. She unintentionally felt her cheeks burning up afterwards. "B-But anyway! Never mind that, let's go somewhere. Need a hand?"

Siel relaxed slightly when he saw her smiling back and he could tell that she was desperately trying to her hide the tint of pink in her cheeks now. He knowingly smiled while shaking his head in response. Carin was always best when she smiled brightly like that. He hoped she would always continue to smile like this from now on. She's like a timeless flower. From the very beginning, that's how he always thought of heran ageless, beautiful, ever-lasting flower…

No matter what, she will always be precious to him.

"And who was the one who came to tackle me again?" he musingly asked.

As Carin helped him back up, she couldn't help grinning back at his rhetorical question. Now when she thought back about it, it was a funny thing how they both couldn't keep their life long promise they made in the end. We didn't stay friends forever, but… She then thought back to her own question she'd been wondering for awhile.

But we could still stay together as lovers, right?

And it was even funnier how she already knew the answer to her own question later that day. She knew that it would be known to become a statement later on by proving it overtime.

After the two intertwined hands together, they now went on their way with smiles and laughter written on their faces.

Like an everlasting flower, the blooming moments in their relationship will soon become timeless from now on.

—At the of sixteen, the two were finally happy together.


~Fin.


A/N: Oh. My. God. This was like, what, 22,710 words? My word, this is by far the longest I've ever written for a one-shot…it took me two weeks+ finishing this, actually. DX I also apologize for the ridiculous length, by the way. I never expected this one-shot project to have THIS many pages…I was shocked as well. In the beginning, I almost wanted to turn this into a two-shot since it was just that long, but I felt like that would really hurt the idea of it being a one-shot originally…so, in the end, I decided against it. I'm sorry though if this story being a one-shot rather than a two-shot was a hassle for a lot of you to read…T^T

Though I mainly wrote this because of angst inspiration, I've actually had this idea for quite some time already…actually, the two characters in this story are suppose to be parallel to one my other stories, and even the story happens to intersect with it later. This was my first time actually trying to depict a more angst-romance aspect between two characters, yet it's also still fluffy in the end. (Just because I can't take bad endings… OTL) Haha but anyway, please tell me what you think of it, and if you can or have time, PLEASE review. I'd really appreciate it, especially since this is by far really the longest piece I've ever written for anything. But anyways, thanks a bunch for reading this far, guys! I hope you enjoyed the whole story, regardless. ^^