White Roses

By, Esmee

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Disclaimer: All characters are copyright CLAMP.

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This is dedicated to my little sister: THERE! I've written it now so you can stop bugging me already!

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          All around me people flit back and forth dressed in gauzy silks that flutter behind them like huge butterfly wings, clucking and chattering over this and that, exclaiming over a certain piece of cloth or jewelry. Everything must be perfect, they all exclaim as they converge on a slight young woman with hair like a corona of living fire about her head, It's your wedding! Everything must be perfect! and the young woman laughs.

         It's an incredible sound, her laughter. It's filled with joy, wonderment, and love; it's infectious, her laugh and all the people around her start to laugh happily. But I just smile; if I were to start laughing now I'm not sure I would be able to stop.

          Involuntarily I glance at my watch. It's almost time for the woman I love to get married to the man she loves, and I will be happy for her. I am her best friend and I am happy for them, I tell myself, I am happy that she is happy. and I am; part of me just wishes I could have been the one to make her happy.

          I was the one to help her find the perfect dress, a dress beautiful in the clean simplistic lines that best suit her. I did her hair, twisting it into a sleek knot at the base of her neck with a few favored red roses woven in. Perfect roses created purely from my will and colored with my blood. No jewelry, I told her, you don't need jewelry. She looks like an angel to me, and I envy him. She's doing all this for him; he'd better know how lucky he is.

          "Oh Umi!" She exclaims over me in a moment when she is left alone. "You look so beautiful! We're going to have to get you married next." She smiles at me. Out of the three of us I am the only one not married or in the process of getting married, so I will be her bridesmaid. I wear a dress very similar to hers and my hair is done the same way as her's, except I have white roses in my hair. These roses too are made from my will, but my tears have bleed away any color they could have had and I prefer it that way.

          Before I can answer her, everyone - including me - is shooed out of the room and told to get into our places. The ceremony is going to be a special one, both bride and groom are going to read vows they have written then they will give each other a gift made with their own hands, after which they will bind their hands together signifying their unity.

          We all enter the chamber that will be used for the wedding. It is large with a high ceiling that makes it seem even larger. It's an octagon, and has four doors leading into it. At the center is a small round dais, which is my destination. The bride will enter from my side of the room and the groom from the opposite. The walls are hung with roses, hundreds of thousands of roses. Roses colored like wine, rubies, and blood. Woven through the red ones are white roses catching up the long curtains of red. The domed ceiling is made of stained glass, spilling rich light on everyone beneath.

          Besides being the bridesmaid, I am also one of the witnesses. The groom's second and witness - Hikaru's eldest brother, Satoru - stands opposite me. It still amazes me that Masaru and Kakeru didn't insist on standing with their brother on the dais, and not in the ever-growing crowds that surround it.

          Looking out over the crowd, I spot the man she didn't chose. My heart aches in sympathy for him, if it had been me she hadn't chosen I don't think I would have been able to come. But, I then remember with a jolt, she didn't choose me. I love her and she didn't choose me.

          I am still in a fog as they enter the room, each beautiful and shining and unaware of anything but each other. They come and stand on the dais and I stand behind her listening as they each in turn say the vows they had written just for each other.

          And while all this is going on the only thought in my head is; I wish it were me. I wish it was me saying those vows, I wish it was me standing there looking in her eyes, I wish it was me making her smile like that.

          And suddenly I am saying "Witnessed." in tandem with Satoru. Then a great cheer rose up, things blurred in front of my eyes and I think to myself, It's over.

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          It's dark out now. The feasting and revelry have reached a lull. The bride and groom have taken their leave, with the almost obligatory good-natured jokes that all newly wed must be subjected to called out after them. Even her brothers joined in the teasing a little.

          I escaped to my room then, and stood staring in the mirror, trying not to think.

          Once, someone had asked me if there was someone that I wanted to see, and had I answered no. I had answered no because there wasn't anyone I wanted to see, only someone I wanted to touch and love desperately. Only someone I could see every day but never hold, because I had never told her how I felt, and I never would. Because I already knew where her heart lay, and I knew that if I told her she would feel badly that she couldn't reciprocate those feelings. She would be unhappy, and I would be miserable. Her happiness is more important than anything else to me.

          I am happy. I stress to myself. I am happy that she is happy.

         But I wanted to make her happy. I wanted her to be happy with me.

          I stare at my reflection. Large blue eyes framed by dark hair, and skin as pale as the roses in my hair. I can't help thinking how pale I seem compared to her vibrance, the way she had glowed as they left the feasting to go their room-

          I cut myself off abruptly, feeling my throat close. I didn't want to think about what was happening right now, in that room. I lifted trembling fingers to undo the knot at the base of my neck, lifting the roses out of my hair. Suddenly I jerk my hand and drop a rose on to the vanity-top. The rose had picked my finger deeply as I was removing it, deeply enough to draw blood, staining the pure white petals red.

          Like bright blood staining ivory bones. Like my blood staining my bones.

          I was the one who chose, made, and arranged these roses, and I am, I think, the only one who truly knew what they meant. I chose red roses for her because they meant 'love triumphant'; I chose white roses for me because they meant 'love dead or forsaken'.

          I pick up the rose again and laugh unsteadily, as I streak the white petals red with my cut finger. The blood from my finger spreads as it soaks into the petals, changing 'love forsaken' to 'love triumphant'.

          I laugh again, but even to my ears it sounds more like a sob. I am happy for her. I tell myself. Happy. I pull out the rest of the roses and leave my hair loose.

          Then I went and sat on my bed, looking at my white roses until the sun rose.

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Esmee's notes: I hope you enjoyed the fic. Now I shall clear up a few points for everyone.

1) I Deliberately refrained from saying who Hikaru was marrying so you could fill in the blank with your own preference, whomever that may be.

2) You most likely already know when Umi refers to 'Her'; she's talking about Hikaru.

3) There are different meaning associated with the different colors of roses. Pink is 'love hopeful and/or expectant', Red is 'love triumphant', and White is 'love dead and/or forsaken'.