Warnings: 3x09 spoilers. Also, I've been told that my sibling fics tend to have incestuous undertones (or overtones...), so I wouldn't read this if you think you might be offended by anything of the sort.

hinc illae lacrimae
(hence those tears)

"I've tried so many times to think of a new way to say it – and it's still I love you – love you – love you."

"I love you, even if there isn't any me, or any love, or even any life. I love you."

––Zelda Fitzgerald

On the night Thea was born, Oliver tried his best to stay up for as long as possible so he would be awake when they brought her home. Robert and Moira found him asleep when they finally arrived, but not without the teddy bear he had insisted on buying for his soon to be baby sister a week before rather than getting new toys for himself nestled in his arms. The nanny informed them later that he'd refused to budge from under the "Welcome to the Family" banner and balloons opposite the front door. No matter how many lies he told from then on, the truth was that he was happiest when he was with his sister. It was her smile he missed the most when he wasn't around.

When he'd caught her making out with someone during his first Christmas back in Starling City, he wanted to punch the guy in the face. He almost wondered how many of these incidents he had missed out on from his time on the island and beyond, and then decided that he would rather not know. Yet it was all he could think about for days, plaguing him to the point that when Diggle asked him if anything was wrong, it was actually difficult to cover with something made up about their latest crime scene of interest. He'd been foolish to believe that all Thea still cared about were the exact same things she had when he'd boarded the Queen's Gambit years ago – distant memories of racing to finish candy canes, the self–proclaimed most important person in her life who'd left her and never truly come back.

He'd once told Laurel that he had loved her for half his life, but was done running after her. It was as real a statement as the hood he wore every night, but the unspoken that he constantly told himself that she was the first girl he ever loved really wasn't. The first girl he ever loved was one he still loved, because he'd loved her for far longer than Laurel. He'd loved her for his whole life, and no force in the world could stop him from running wherever he had to for her. So he was glad that Felicity hadn't asked him to stay, because he couldn't have. For Oliver, it had forever been Thea over everyone. He sealed his fate, chose his weapon, and Thea's laugh rang in his ears like a story he wasn't supposed to have heard at all. It was only a reminder of her brother who had died too soon and this one who would too late.

Before he'd left, he kissed her. She tasted like peppermint and goodbye. Maybe because their holiday drink of choice wasn't eggnog – they had discovered that it was better to take shots of peppermint schnapps and chase them with chocolate syrup. He closed his eyes as he fell off the mountain, and he saw her again. There had consistently been technicolor visions behind his eyelids ever since he'd returned from the grave he'd forced his family to dig for him, a consequence of horror tales that he'd never uttered out loud, but this was the Thea who used to run so fast when he chased her that it resulted in her silly nickname, the Thea he'd held onto despite all odds during his five years in hell, the Thea he'd fought to the death for because she deserved everything he didn't. And though Oliver wasn't aware of it, Malcolm Merlyn had been wrong to tell her that the two of them bore any resemblance in appearance. Thea always had Oliver's eyes, and Oliver's heart.

A/N: I would say that I have no words, but I guess this entire thing counts as words. Kind of. Reviews would be much appreciated!