|Where You End
Author: Aeris Ultimavara PM
When he didn't come to the party, she couldn't help herself from asking about him. And when Suzaku answered that Lloyd hadn't mentioned her - not even once - she felt her carefully constructed reasonings crumble right along with her heart.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst - Milly A. & Lloyd A. - Words: 1,488 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 5 - Published: 08-18-09 - id: 5311905
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"I thought I was fine
Everything seemed perfect
'Til I had you on my mind."
She had put on her party dress knowing full well, but not daring to admit to herself, that she did so in the hope that Lloyd would see her in it - in the hope that would show up to the festival she was putting on in honor of Suzaku. He was Suzaku's mentor in a way. And he had come to the last school party she'd put on, so perhaps he might come again.
She chose that dress because it was the one she had worn the day they simultaneously met and got engaged. Back then she hadn't thought much of the outfit. It was just the first reasonably nice thing she had found in her closet that day. But now she found herself getting strangely sentimental, both over the dress and over the event. Maybe seeing her in it would do the same for Lloyd. And if not, she at least knew that she looked great in it. Good enough, she hoped, to do something about those words Cecile had once said to her...
"...He has no attraction whatsoever to the opposite sex..."
It wasn't that Cecile's statement surprised her. Milly herself had surmised as much before being told it. And the thing was, the fact hadn't bothered her at the time. She didn't feel anything in particular for Lloyd, either. But somewhere between then and now, those words had started to bother her. She wanted him to notice her.
She felt the smallest bit silly for feeling this way - she, who had never suffered for a lack of attention from men. Half the boys in the school would date her if they could. And perhaps that was why she didn't want any of them. They were all too easily won. With Lloyd, on the other hand, there was something about his seeming indifference which inspired a competetive spirit in her. It was as if they were playing a game to see who would conquer whom first. He with his teasing dispassion or she with her charm and gaiety.
"That must be why," she said aloud as she dressed in her room, slipping on her black heeled boots. "I just want to see if I can do it."
And after all, Lloyd didn't seem to be entirely out of reach. He did say that he understood the "general idea" of attraction. It just seemed like he was so distracted by his computers and his machines that he didn't have enough attention leftover for people at all, female or otherwise. But looking the way she did in that dress, she thought it might be possible to force him into paying attention. He had proposed to her while she was wearing it, hadn't he?
However, if she had to be honest with herself, she knew that wearing it also meant something more than that. Besides being physically appealing, the dress looked like something a proper earl's wife would wear. More so than any of her other outrageous party outfits, anyway.
Even if Lloyd didn't desire her, she wanted him to at least be proud of her.
But when had she start caring so much? Having gotten the "why?" out of the way, this was the next question that began to bother her. If it had been up to Milly, she never would have gone on that interview with him in the first place. But now she actually found herself wishing she could see him more often. She thought of how nice it would be if he would come visit her at school, where she could show him off to her classmates.
"It's only because I like the attention from them. It's not like I really love him or anything," she told her reflection as she applied her lipstick with a skillful hand.
It was true that she took some pleasure in the awe she saw in the other girls' gazes when they would reverently tell each other "There goes the President, an engaged woman," as she passed. And Milly happily basked in the admiration. As far as any of them knew, she had achieved every girl's dream - she had not only secured a promise of marriage, but a promise from a man with riches, status, and looks which were not displeasing.
Those girls didn't know Milly's engagement hadn't been born of true love, and she didn't bother to correct them. It was nice to pretend that she had someone who cared for her like that. As long as she and Lloyd both pretended they felt that way, it wouldn't be any different than if they actually did. They'd do all the things people in love did for each other, and no one would be any wiser for it. Except for Milly herself, of course, who really was beginning to feel that way, and felt the absence of similar emotion on his part all the more keenly for it.
But it had been his idea to marry her. She didn't force him into it. That had to mean something. Even if it wasn't true love, it was very considerate of him to offer to help her and her family with no real benefit to himself. She was grateful to him for that, at least.
"I'm confusing gratefulness with love," she said confidently, fastened on her hat, and headed out the door. "I want to repay him for helping my family by giving him a wife he won't be ashamed of around his noble friends. We are just doing this for looks, after all."
He didn't come to the party, and in spite of her attempts to talk herself out caring, she couldn't help asking for news of him from Suzaku. And when Suzaku answered that Lloyd hadn't mentioned her - not even once - she felt her carefully constructed excuses crumble right along with her heart. She knew, finally, that it didn't matter what the reasons were. The simple fact was that she'd grown to care for Lloyd in a way she hadn't before, and the thought that he didn't feel the same way hurt her in a way she hadn't expected. Whatever it was that made her feel this way, she no longer had her heart entirely to herself. She was still the same old Milly, but some new part of her now depended on this man to make her feel like everything was right in the world.
But what scared her the most was that she didn't know where the line between these two parts of her was drawn. She didn't want to become one of those mopey, lovelorn girls she had always made fun of for sighing so dramatically over their unrequited feelings. She didn't want to lose Lloyd, but she didn't want to make a fool of herself either.
"No," she decided. She was not going to lose her head over some ridiculous man. Not she. Not strong, cheerful, independent President Milly Ashford to whom everyone looked as a role model, an oracle of confidence and spunk even when things appeared to be going downhill. She would show everyone just what it meant to be strong in the face of adversity. She would pretend like she didn't care. Like it didn't matter to her whether Lloyd noticed her or not. She'd been fooling herself that way for a while now - how hard could it be to fool everyone else?
And so, that night she slipped her dress back on its hanger, looking at it with a mix of sadness of resolution. In the time since she had put it on, she'd gained perfect insight into her heart, but realized just as quickly that it didn't matter anyway. Whether her own feelings had changed or not, they were no use if Lloyd's hadn't.
She made to hang the dress up at the back of the closet, determined not to wear such a silly sentimental thing again. But her hand hesitated as, against her will, her heart added "Or at least not until Lloyd loves me for real."
"Don't think that way," she scolded herself, and shoved the hanger on the rack angrily. "You don't care about any of that. You really don't care at all."
And she almost believed it. Almost believed that she could return to the way she used to be, back when she was only a happy-go-lucky student who had no idea Lloyd Asplund even existed. Back when she cared for no one and suffered no cares in return.
"I don't know where I begin
And where you end."