Angelique stood in the corridor, outside the tall door. She bit her lip, her fist poised and ready to knock... it wasn't anything difficult, was it? Knock on the door, hear Clavis tell her she could come in, and then she'd ask if, maybe, he wasn't busy to talk for a little while, and he'd say no, that was fine. Then... she would ask him...

After all, Clavis and Lumiale were best friends, were they not? Asides from the guardian of water himself, who else would know him better?

Even so, despite that, and despite the fact that the guardian of darkness and Angelique shared a friendly relationship, she felt nervous.

She pulled her hand away from the door, quickly dusting her dress down. She hopped from one foot to the other, swaying back and forth a little, just summing up that little extra courage to-

"Ohohoho! And what might you be doing here?"

Angelique winced momentarily.

"Aa... Ro-Rosalia..."

Angelique managed a wide smile.

"I was just about to see Clavis-san. Um... how are you?"

"I'm perfectly alright! I've just been to see Randy-san... have you seen the amount of buildings on my continent from him? I shouldn't even need to ask him, but it's been quite some time now... as you might have noticed, Olivie-san also has a... fondness for me. And who can blame him? For I am the beautiful Rosalia! My continent will flourish, and I will become the Queen! Don't you agree, Angelique?"

"Oh, um... well, it all... depends, doesn't it?"

"'Depends' nothing, I've got double the amount of buildings you have and you know it."

Rosalia patted Angelique heartily on the shoulder, "Consorting with the guardians when you should be taking care of your continent... tut tut. If one didn't know better, I might say you wouldn't even want to become Queen!"

"Well... it is good to have the support of the guardians, Rosalia..."

"It's also good to have buildings and a thriving continent, but one out of three is a start, I suppose. Anyway, I think I'll go to the park, see if I can perhaps run into Oscar-san while I'm there... I don't have many buildings from him, and the people of the continent were asking about it. Have fun trying to catch up with me, Angelique! You'll never succeed, but... have fun!"

Rosalia waved, her shoes making a sharp sound in the quiet air as she walked away.

Angelique sighed. She couldn't help it if she ended up spending more time with the guardians than she did tending to her continent... sometimes it'd happen several days in a row, Luva then Zephiel then Marcel then Julious, all asking for her company for that day... and the guardians were such charming people, why see their sad faces at a rejection? Angelique was determined to treat the guardians fairly, and if they wanted to spend more time with her and become deeper friends with her, then that was alright with her. And of course, the friendlier they became, the more likely they were to bestow their power onto the continent below without her having to ask... and that also came as a great relief.

It was, however, true, what Rosalia had said. It was early days into the race to become Queen, but... Rosalia did have double the buildings than Angelique had, so as far as that went, she was indeed on the path to victory.

Dealings with Sara showed otherwise with the guardians, though. Most of the guardians were only swayed one way or another by a small amount, to or against Angelique or Rosalia's favour by a small margin, but when it came to some guardians, the gap of friendship was much wider.

Even so, balancing a social life with the responsibility that came from guarding a continent wasn't easy. Angelique knew that the 'loser', she who didn't become Queen, would most likely become Queen's Aide, like Dia. Dia was a charming lady... Angelique couldn't help but wonder... had the current Queen and Dia had the problems that she and Rosalia had to this day?

Angelique couldn't quite picture Dia and the Queen acting like her and Rosalia, but then again, she couldn't imagine herself or Rosalia as Queen and Queen's Aide, either. She sighed deeply. Such trials.

She shook herself out of her thoughts, remembering what she was standing outside Clavis' door for; before she could stop herself, she knocked on the door, her fist's noise rapping into the silent corridor.

A moment's pause, then she heard Clavis' quiet voice beckon her.

"Please enter."

Blushing slightly as she did so, Angelique opened the door, and walked forward. She smiled brightly at Clavis, and was pleased to note a small smile on his face as he looked up and noticed who it was. He'd been writing at his desk, he placed his quill down next to the parchment he'd been writing on, and sat back a little in his large chair. He leant his hands against his chest.

"Ah, Angelique. Can I help you with something?"

Angelique stood next to Clavis' desk, a little in front of him, a little to the side. She nodded hurriedly, "Ah... I was wondering... Elysion... may I ask you for some power... about it?"

"Of course. I'm guessing you would like me to help nurture your continent... a little power or a lot of power?"

"Ah, a lot of power, if it's not too much trouble..."

Clavis shook his head, looking contented without quite smiling.

"It's not too much trouble. Was that all?"

The image of Lumiale played in Angelique's mind, but she nodded quickly, "Ye-yes, that was all, thank you, thank you very much, Clavis-san."

She curtseyed quickly as she retreated from the room, walking backwards, walking into the door, opening it, leaving through it.

Clavis watched the space where she'd been, feeling somewhat bemused. Angelique was a nice girl. A little nervous at times, but a nice girl. If she became the new Queen, Clavis decided he wouldn't really mind. There was also Rosalia... Clavis had a feeling that she'd be a more efficient Queen, but efficiency wasn't the only quality that made a Queen. Randy and Olivie seemed to speak highly enough of Rosalia, but Clavis himself hadn't had many dealings with her, not outside of a request for power or two. And as his friendliness towards Angelique grew, he felt slightly more loathe to bestow his powers on somebody who seemed just quite that bit full of herself...

Perhaps, Clavis thought to himself, that was why Rosalia and Olivie seemed to get on so well. Both people after each other's hearts. Clavis had found it hard to get along with the loud and outgoing crossdresser; Olivie'd always tell Clavis to lighten up, then laugh, 'Oh, of course, but you're the guardian of darkness, so you can't lighten up, can you? Ha ha ha! I made a funny. C'monn! Laugh! Smile! Something! Jeez, you're so damned quiet'... Clavis winced slightly as he thought about Olivie. Let Rosalia have him if she wanted him.

Clavis went back to his writing. A new Queen in the making... all the paperwork, pledging allegiance... not that he minded, but it did become a little tedious after a while, just slightly. So, on hearing another knock at his door, he didn't know whether to be glad for the interruption or annoyed that someone was making the process last just that little bit longer... he coughed slightly to himself, then raised his head, supposing that this would be Rosalia, requesting power. Or maybe one of the other guardians, come to discuss something. The thought occurred... maybe it'd be Lumiale? Either way...

"You may come in..."

His look softened when he realised who it was.

"Angelique, you return?"

"U-um, ye-yes. Ah, when you asked 'was that all' before, I said yes, but it sort of wasn't, because, also, I wanted to ask you something..."

"It's the wrong time of week to ask for companionship, my lady."

"A-ah? No, no, not that... um... are you busy?"

"At the moment? I was in the middle of this writing... had you wanted to go somewhere?"

"I'd just wondered if you were maybe free to talk for a little while, but, um, if you're busy, then, um, I'll just leave you to it, it doesn't matter, I'm getting a little tired, ah, I should... ah... if you're busy, I'll leave..."

Angelique was already making her way towards the door. Clavis shook his head.

"If it's just to talk, then I'm free. Was there something you wanted to talk about?" He motioned to a nearby chair, "Please, take a seat."

Angelique did so, "Thank you, Clavis-san. Ah... yes, there was something I'd wanted to talk about... well, someone I'd wanted to talk about... that is... ah... you know how you're Lumiale-san's best friend?"

Clavis paused slightly, mention of Lumiale setting him on guard.

"Yes?"

"Well, ah... what... what do you think of him?"

He's beautiful. Nothing is like him, not here, not on your continent, not on Rosalia's continent. Nothing and nobody is like him... no-one can have his grace, his elegance, his beauty, his kindness. Nobody can talk just like he does, and have the kind of mind that always knows what to say. Nobody else earns my smile, not quite like how Lumiale does. When I see you, I smile, for I appreciate your company. But not so much his company... more than appreciate his company... I yearn for it, sometimes... when it's quiet, when there's paperwork, when it's the day that you have to visit your continent and I know I won't have any unexpected visits from you or Rosalia... I like it when you visit, Angelique. But whenever you knock on the door, for those few seconds between the knock and 'please come in'... I always hope that... perhaps... it might be he...

"... Clavis-san?"

Clavis shook himself from his thoughts, "Oh, Angelique, I apologise. I was miles away. You... mentioned Lumiale?"

"Yes... it's just... I know that you and him are really good friends, so I thought that maybe I could ask you things about him that I couldn't quite ask him himself, if you see what I mean... because... well, it's a little embarrassing, but... he and I are friendly, but... um..."

I know you are. He always talks about you, Angelique. He always smiles when he talks about you, when he talks about how you visited him that morning, about the things you spoke about... he tells me what your continent is like, he tells me your opinions on one thing or another, he tells me his opinions of the same.

Your continent is full of his buildings. Like Rosalia and Randy, she likes him, her continent grows. Olivie also likes Rosalia, and so, more so, her continent grows; perhaps he's vying for her attention, perhaps he's just being genuinely friendly...

Your continent grows with Lumiale's buildings, and it also grows with mine. But unlike Olivie, I am not trying to vye for your attention against Lumiale. I know Lumiale likes you. I like you. You're a friendly, genuine person. And if Lumiale really does have feelings for you, Queen in training, then I don't want to deny him that. I don't want to appear unfriendly to a possible future union, though... if you were to become his, then you couldn't become the Queen...

Would you give up your position as Queen to become his? Would he... give up his position as guardian to be with you? And what should happen then?

"... um... I was just... wondering... if, um... you... could tell me more about him?"

"... More about him? In what way?"

"Well... if I wanted to bake him some cookies, what kind might he like? Do you think he likes the park or the lake better? Oh, he'd probably like the lake better, being the guardian of water, ha ha, silly me. No, but... just things like that, little things... just the things you think about him, really. I value your opinion, Clavis-san."

... Cookies? What kind of cookies he'd like?... I don't know. The park or the lake? I think he enjoys both. There's the peace and the tranquillity of the lake, the calm water, the element which he guards... to enjoy the atmosphere of the lake with somebody else would be something he'd enjoy greatly, I think. Oh, but the park, he also enjoys the park. A place where the people from the continent can come; he enjoys to walk around the grasslands, he likes to see the flowers, he likes the bustling community, he likes the shy young lovers taking their first steps into a world together, their love blossoming like the flowers that surround them. He thinks it's sweet, or at least, that was what he told me.

"... The park or the lake? I'm not sure. Both places would be nice places to go with him, I think. They both have their benefits."

I like to stand by the lake when it's dark. Maybe I hide under the cover of darkness... am I hiding? Perhaps. Nonetheless, the darkness... it's my element, and I cannot feel uncomfortable when it's dark.

Sometimes it's dark and the moon shines into the lake. The moon, the stars... their light shines onto the lake and creates a mirror image, disturbed only by ripples in the water caused by... maybe small marine life disturbing the surface... or a leaf that falls onto the water... oh, but the water seems so dark when viewed under the cover of night. Were you not to know the lake was there, you might not notice it, and you might fall in... sometimes I crouch beside the lake, lower my hand to the water, touch it as I feel I cannot touch him.

It's cold, during the night. Water, touched by darkness... it's cold, and it could be deadly.

Is that how it must be, Lumiale? You, the water, and I, the darkness... does water only become tainted when touched by darkness? Does it take life and light and warmth to make it sparkle and glow? Can the water be anything but sinister when touched by darkness, by my own hand?

It's almost calming, though. Hearing the sound of the water... seeing shapes in the darkness... I am content, and even if he is not with me, I can look at the water and think of him.

"I know, but... well, he's the guardian of water, isn't he? The lake would be the best place, I think. Don't you agree, Clavis-san?"

Sometimes when I stand by the lake, I stand and I watch the water lapping at the bank, and I hear footsteps behind me. I turn around, I look, I see, and it's him, it's Lumiale. He asks me if I had trouble sleeping; I say no, I just felt that I wanted to see the water, to be somewhere calming while it's dark. Another person might walk away, feel that they're bothering me, but Lumiale knows that he isn't, and so he remains with me. I stand beside the lake, and he stands beside me. I sit down, he sits beside me. Maybe we watch the lake, maybe we talk... maybe he'll talk about the beauty of the darkness on the water, and I'll talk about the water's beauty in the darkness. It's beautiful, Lumiale. Like you.

"Perhaps, perhaps... but I think Lumiale also enjoys the life of the park, also..."

Angelique nodded, "He seems to like it when we go there, anyway... he's so talkative! He talks about this and that, and maybe it's nothing at all, but I enjoy going to the park with him..."

You're blushing, Angelique. Do you love him? If you do, I don't blame you. You wouldn't be the only one.

The park... sometimes, when it's quiet, I might leave my own room, and go to the park. Sometimes I might go to the lake, but it's quite a lonely place to go when you're on your own, and it's daylight, and the couples are all standing around... if Lumiale asked me to walk with him then I would, but I don't know if he would, so I haven't. The park... that's somewhere easier to go when I'm on my own.

Sometimes I see you two there. I see you, and you don't know how to react. When I make my greetings to you, do you laugh in happiness, or smile fondly? Either way is fine by me, and Lumiale is hardly going to begrudge you for talking to me, even if it is his day spent with you; maybe I'll watch you talking with him, and... yes, you're right. He DOES seem to like it when you go there. I like how happy he seems... the way he's captivated by you, and the way you look at him... captivated by each other. His smile is beautiful, and it's beautiful for looking at you. I can't hate you for making him so happy...

"... or maybe he's like Luva-san or someone, and maybe he prefers staying in my room and talking... what do you think? Do you think he's the kind to stay in and talk?"

The thoughts, dreams and fantasies that pass my mind when he walks into my room don't bear repeating to another living person, Angelique. He'd walk in, and... maybe he'd stay to talk. That's usually what he does, he'll stay, he'll talk, I'll treasure his company... oh, but the breadth of this desk... might it hold our weight? If he brushed the papers and quills and ink to the side, let them fall to the floor as he lay himself over my desk, I wouldn't mind. Papers, quills and ink can be sorted later, they would wait. He wouldn't be able to wait. I wouldn't make him wait. He'd crave my touch and I'd crave to touch him. Touch him, touch his skin, gently part him from his robes... those sparkling blue eyes would sparkle for me and me alone, and I'd run my hand through his hair, his soft, silken hair... I'd hold him close, I'd kiss him, kiss his forehead, his eyes, his nose, his... his lips, his soft lips... capture him in my embrace, but I'd be at his mercy, how could I bring myself to try to control that beauty?

He'd tell me where to touch him, and I'd obey him. He'd trace his fingers down my own body, showing me what he wanted me to do, show me by demonstrating on my own body... he'd make me gasp, maybe he'd make me cry his name... cry his name! I, so quiet... would I cry his name?...If he wanted me to. If he wanted me to pin him to the desk and take him without holding back... I could only obey him, couldn't I? If he wanted me to be so slow, so gentle, so passionate... I could only obey him.

Lumiale, would you be a gentle lover?

I imagine so.

Would touches and caresses burn against your skin? Would your taste linger on my lips, would my lips linger against your skin? Always. They'd go wherever you wanted them to... would your lips meet mine, would you stare into my eyes, would you hold me against you, talk of what you wanted...?

Perhaps I'd kiss you, maybe you'd kiss me. Maybe it'd be your lips that lingered, and maybe I'd let you do what you wanted. I'd let you touch, let you feel, let you explore... we're friends, Lumiale, but... might you still be embarrassed, might I? Maybe we'd touch shyly, almost unsure... but sure that we wanted each other.

I can only imagine what your voice would be like, caught around my name. I can only imagine that cry, but still I treasure it, still I savour it.

If they can only be dreams, then I'll treasure my dreams.

"... Clavis-san?"

"Ah?!"

Angelique frowned, "Are you sure I'm not disturbing you? You keep becoming so distant so suddenly! If I was disturbing you, then I could come back later, perhaps..."

Clavis shook his head.

"No, I just... I just have a lot to think about that's all. I'm sorry, I'm not being an attentive listener. You want to know more about Lumiale, about the things that he likes and dislikes?"

Angelique nodded, "Yes, please! If it wasn't a problem..."

"It's not a problem. Angelique... you and he, you... get on well, don't you? Lumiale is a friendly person. He's friendly, and he's kind. I think there is little you can do to displease him; carry on as you are now, and I think he'll warm to you even further with time."

"You think so, Clavis-san?"

Clavis nodded, "I'm sure. He speaks of you often."

She brightened, "Really?!"

"Yes, he does. The dates you go on, the places you visit, the things you talk about... he enjoys your company, Angelique. And his enjoyment certainly comes out in our conversations... as I say, I don't think there's much you can do to displease him. I've seen your continent; are not most of the buildings there by his hand?"

"Well, yes..."

"That has to mean something. Other buildings have been destroyed by Rosalia and her hindering, but... Lumiale has hold over your continent, and even if Rosalia were to request he damage your continent, I don't think it'd make much of an impact against the power he already holds there."

Clavis looked Angelique in the eye for a moment, then glanced back to his desk.

"... or the power I hold on Elysion either. As much as I can, I'll help the growth of your continent; Lumiale obviously wants Elysion to prosper, and so do I. You should focus your attentions on the other guardians, Angelique. Lumiale doesn't need your bidding to raise power on your continent, and-" Clavis smiled slightly, "- neither do I. Randy or Olivie might be hard to obtain and keep buildings and power from, but... Luva also likes you... Marcel, Zephiel... listen to the people of your continent when they speak. I can hardly believe they keep requesting buildings from Lumiale..."

Angelique smiled, blushing slightly.

"I can't help having so many buildings from him... maybe you're right. Sometimes I can't help just wanting to go and see him, though. And then I don't know what to say to him, so I ask him for power, because that's something he'll reply to, and it's not going to sound stupid asking, is it?"

"Like how you came in here, asking for power when you actually wanted to talk about Lumiale?"

"Ye-yes... maybe I should see Julious, he... he always seems a little cold, but I'm sure he's a nice person. Maybe once I've got to know him a little... oh, in a few days I go to Elysion, though. I'll be sure to listen to the people and find out who they want buildings from..."

Angelique stood up from the seat, "I'll try my hardest to build a good continent! Rosalia may be beating me, but... I have support, don't I? I'm sure that things will go well in the end, don't you think, Clavis-san? I just have to have a little faith in everybody."

Clavis leant his cheek against his fist, his elbow against his desk. He nodded, warmth in his eyes.

"... Indeed."

Angelique was already standing by the door. She turned to face Clavis, performed a neat little curtsey, then left, calling her thanks as she went.

Clavis smiled, alone again. She really was a nice person. And if she did end up capturing Lumiale's heart, well, there were worse people he could end up with, by Clavis' reckoning.

He looked back at the papers on his desk. All motivation to finish them seemed to be drained from his body. Angelique had come and gone, having done what she set out to accomplish, but Clavis almost yearned for her to disturb him again. She was talkative, and she helped relieve the monotony.

Clavis sighed, stepping out of his chair, pushing it underneath his desk. Paperwork could wait until later; maybe he'd visit the lake, maybe the park... maybe visit one of the other guardians... maybe visit Lumiale...

He'd stepped out into the corridor and was closing the door to his room when he heard the voice.

"Clavis?"

Clavis looked up, shocked momentarily, but able to keep his composure.

"A-ah, Lumiale. Was there something you wanted?"

Lumiale just smiled his radiant smile, "I saw Angelique leaving as I walked down the corridor... I suppose she visited you today?"

"Yes, she did... just requesting more power, talking a little about her continent..."

"I see, I see. Well... I was just on my way to see you, but... were you on the way to somewhere else? Catching you in the middle of leaving like this... did you have somewhere else to be?"

"Oh, I was just leaving because I wanted a little time away from that room... it seems quiet somehow. I thought of perhaps going to the lake... maybe it'll be quiet there too, but... a different kind of quiet, a peaceful kind of quiet... and..."

"If I came with you, it wouldn't be as quiet as if you went on your own, would it?"

Clavis smiled warmly at Lumiale; Lumiale understood Clavis completely, it seemed... and Clavis didn't know if he could have asked Lumiale to accompany him to the lake, after all. He nodded.

"... Exactly."

And so the two guardians went to the lake; some days there were people at the lake, some days Angelique or Rosalia would be there with respective partners, some days Sara and Pastha would be there, but... that day, to Clavis' relief, the lake was devoid of anyone but he and Lumiale. Talk would be quiet, but friendly.

Angelique seemed determined to become a good Queen... and even if she didn't become Queen, even if Lumiale gave up his post as guardian... that was in the future. Clavis looked at Lumiale as he ran his hand through the spring near the lake, and loved how beautiful he looked, what with the sun shining on him, the water sparkling, Lumiale the same...

So perhaps it was a different reaction to water under darkness, but Lumiale wasn't water, and Clavis wasn't darkness. It was what they represented, but... well, that didn't matter. Just the companionship and friendship mattered for the time being.

Night would eventually fall, and the guardians would remain there, watching the sun fall, the sky darken, the moon and stars emerge... they were beautiful, Lumiale would remark on their beauty. Clavis would agree, unable to say that one comment more, say that Lumiale was also beautiful...

He was, though.

He was so beautiful.

He was so beautiful, and Clavis fancied that one day he'd have the courage and strength to tell Lumiale so; one day he'd tell Lumiale, and he'd react how Clavis had always dreamed, and...

Well.

That, also, was in the future.

~Fin~