Lord Cynic: "One-shot time! Sorry this isn't an Advice from an unlikely source update, but I couldn't pass this idea up. Besides, it helps to get into the groove. Maybe I can get the juice flowing enough to write more. Yeah, that'll work. If the summary didn't grab you, this is a Colloyd. My attempt at fluff. Enjoy!… or not."

Lord Cynic: "I don't own Tales of Symphonia's rights. I do have the game, though. Yee-haw!"

Her thoughts, his knowledge

She thought no one could see past her excessively buoyant exterior. If she wore her perky smile and appeared as if nothing in the world troubled her, she'd be fine. All she had to do was smile and nod, maybe chip in with occasional optimism. If she acted well, she could convince the others that there was nothing wrong with her. No, not in the slightest, or so they'd assume. Every worry in the world could be shoved away with a laugh and the occasional stumble. After that, they continued on their merry way, oblivious to anything that wasn't in front of them. But she didn't mind. It was perfect for her. No one would have to know the fears she was experiencing with every passing moment.

But he knew what they were.

She thought no one noticed the melancholy tone in her eyes when everyone talked so animatedly about the regeneration of the world. The excitement of the mission to Sylvarant weighed on everyone's minds, but troubled hers the most. The dread of her objective compounded her fears of isolation and loneliness, leaving her to cry at night, away from her friends. She didn't want them to see how weak she was, how easily torn she was from the pressure of the journey. She didn't want them to see her crumble at the thought of failure and consequent disgrace. She didn't want them to see the tears of her sorrows.

But he saw them.

She thought no one detected the sudden change in her tastes, or loss of her appetite altogether. Even though she was full after only a nibble or two, she passed it off as simply not being hungry. She didn't want to dump her troubles on the others, and she definitely didn't want them to worry. Why make them fret over something as trivial as her losing her appetite, or... sense of taste. There was nothing wrong with not eating anything. Of course not. She persuaded everyone to forget about it, even if she did start eating green chillies, which she hated more than almost anything. There was no point in making them panic over her. There was no point in them worrying about little, wing-clad her and her lack of an appetite.

But he did worry.

She probably thought no one noticed her sitting alone at night, looking up at the stars. While they slumbered, she stayed awake; unable to dream the sweet dreams she wished she could. Oh, how she longed to experience that luxury. It was something many people took for granted, but to her it was an impossible luxury. In her case, while gaining wings, she lost her ability to be human. She would maintain that she was getting sufficient sleep, and since her eyes refused to grow an alarming shade of red, she got away with her little white lie. But it was eating her inside, her inability to do what normal people do. She was positively certain that no one knew how she felt, how she craved to be like everyone else. She was sure that they didn't discern the tears she wept because she wasn't normal.

But he did observe them.

She thought no one observed the despondent aura surrounding her as they travelled. She was convinced that her acting fooled everyone into believing she was happy-go-lucky as ever, and even forced herself to trip over as they'd almost become accustomed to. The odd stares she received were disregarded as quickly as they came, even from strangers who had witnessed her antics. She wasn't concerned about them. Oh, she was in the sense that she was going through her journey for them. No, what she meant was she didn't care what they thought of the way she acted. If they wanted to label her weird, she'd let them without much fuss. Although it did eat her while she was unaware of it. Her rejection was obvious, even as the Chosen. She'd failed the first time, so how did she expect them to forgive her? Consequently, she thought she was useless, a hopeless Chosen.

But he didn't think so.

She thought no one paid attention to her efforts in battle. More often than most, she'd become sidetracked and almost killed, only to be saved in the knick of time. Too often, if 20 times per battle was anything to go by. But no one would say anything, not a word. She wouldn't be scolded, she wouldn't be chided, and she'd never even get condescending words sent her way. She thought that maybe it was no use for anyone to tell her anything, pathetic as she was. Maybe they thought it best to protect her that way, like a child. She hated the thought, but couldn't deny the possibility that it might be true. Who's to say it isn't? Who's to say they're looking out for her because she's the fragile Chosen who might be protected at all costs against wolves and rabbits? She just knew they thought of her as the weakling of the group, and silently resented it.

But he didn't think of her like that.

Most of all, she thought no one knew of the person who had stolen her heart for longer than she could imagine. The person who, while his academic performance wasn't top of the class, was practical and oddly philosophical when he had to be. He wasn't the brightest star in the sky in terms of intelligence, but he was the brightest star in her sky for so many reasons. She could always count on him to say what needed to be said, especially when she needed consoling. She could always count on him for protection against those who discriminated against her for being the Chosen. He was hotheaded at those times, usually picking a fight without meaning to, but his intentions were honourable. He was the one who saved her the most, and not just on the battlefield. He saved her from her affliction, her moments of weakness in her heart. She never forhoy the most important words he's ever told her: "You're you, and no one else. No matter what happens, that's who you'll always be." That's why she loved him, even if he didn't feel the same way.

But he did love her, more than she could possibly fathom.

The End