Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam SEED or any related articles.

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Chapter Four: Winter

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"If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"

- Percy Bysshe Shelley

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White. Everything was white. It was how I had always envisioned winter. White, cold and dead. I had never seen snow, nor have I seen a whole town covered in white. But I have seen death and I have experienced the feeling of a numbing coldness that seeps through one's veins. And if I think about it, I have been feeling that way ever since the loss of my mother. Winter, where all growths cease, where coldness abounds, where death runs amok; it has been a continuous winter for the past year.

But strangely enough, I welcomed it.

The feeling of emptiness was, ironically enough, fulfilling. I had lost everything on that desolate month. Some I lost forcefully, while others I gave up willingly. My mother, my father…my innocence, my youth…my hopes, my dreams, my future…Lacus.

I gave her up willingly. In fact, if I would be entirely truthful, I pushed her away. I don't know what happened. Maybe in the course of my grieving, I forgot that someone was desperately trying to reach out to me. Maybe I forgot that someone might be hurt about the choices that I was about to make then. Maybe I forgot that there was still someone that I had to protect.

It is possible, but it is not entirely true.

I was partly aware of my actions then. It would be cruel to attribute it all to mourning. I just…couldn't sit around, playing house with Lacus while the rest of the world was being engulfed in war. I couldn't sit around while my Father was trying his best to avenge my Mother's death. I could not sit around doing nothing while those who killed my mother were still plotting to do much more damage. I felt that Lacus would not understand what I was going through.

How could someone so full of life comprehend the meaning of death?

Lacus had always lived a sheltered life. What did she know of pain and suffering? She would never understand what I was going through. Perhaps I was a little jealous of her innocence. How did she manage to retain that, in spite of everything?

I gave up on her and, somewhere along the way, she gave up on me. We didn't see each other for months after I told her that I would be joining the military. It was an unspoken understanding that things were not like they used to. We were still engaged, as it was the rule and as it was the will of our parents, but only on the surface. The connection was seemingly lost.

I saw her whenever it was convenient for the both of us, which was not that often. We were more formal with each other than ever. But even with the tension between us, I still care for her. And I realized just how much when I had learned that she was taken hostage by the Earth Alliance ship, the Archangel. But as I was having other problems then, I took no heed of it.

I am always like that. I am very good at hiding my feelings.

She tried to reach out to me, but I pushed her away once more. That day, on the Vesalius, when she reached out to touch my face, it spoke volumes. But again, I turned away. I ignored the hurt look in her eyes. It wasn't the time or the place to talk about our relationship. I was in a war.

'If so,' a little voice in the back of my head asked, 'when is the right time?'

And then we saw each other again, this time, in more amiable conditions. I visited her again at her house when I was on a break. I enjoyed her presence… but there was something different. We talked about the war…

And Kira Yamato.

"I'm rather fond of him, actually."

Those few words, they spoke volumes. 'I'm tired of waiting for you to come around, Athrun. Even someone as patient as I am, could only take so much.'

I was a little surprised. They had met and talked on the Archangel. And honestly, it was Kira who saved her. Kira. Not me. Kira, who talked to her. Kira, who listened to her. Not me. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't bring myself to hate Kira. Perhaps it would be better this way.

It was appropriate somehow. Is this what they called 'destiny'? Perhaps it is. Kira, who once gave me back my life in Copernicus, was about to take it back. But then again, didn't he already take it away when killed my friends? But, as I stated, I could not harbor any ill will towards Kira anymore. Because I knew that he will be taking care of Lacus. That was enough to make me forgive him.

But of course, he never told me verbally, nor did I ask him. I just saw it in his eyes. When he returned Lacus to me, risking everything, I knew it. What about Lacus and me then?

Is this the right time to talk about our relationship?

No, I did not think so. I ignored it, as best I could, that day and concentrated on spending it with my fiancée. It would be much longer before I was allowed a break like that again. I'm not even sure if I would be coming back at all. Being a soldier, I have surrendered to the fact that I may get killed. I have known that ever since I joined ZAFT. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why joining the military was so appealing.

The promise of death. But I will not die until the perpetrators of Junius Seven are going with me to hell. I will not rest until every single one of the Earth Alliance have surrendered and have felt the pain that I felt on that day.

Would Lacus miss me?

Would she mourn for me?

Would she cry for me?

In all the years that I have known her, I have never seen her cry. Near tears, perhaps, when I was going to Copernicus, but -truly- cry, I do not think so. But I would never want to see her cry. It does not suit her, in my opinion. Perhaps this is also one of the reasons why I pushed her away. So that when I died, she would not miss me. She would not mourn for me. And she would not cry for me.

I didn't want her to feel the emptiness I felt when my mother passed away. But it seems that I was wrong. She felt it. She was feeling it. She wanted to help me.

She tried at first, but how could she heal someone who doesn't want to be healed?

My heart is too troubled, too tempestuous for even her soothing nature to calm. I could no longer find shelter and comfort in her presence. I could no longer make her smile. Our engagement, which used to bring us such a blissful feeling, turned into something that seemed akin to an obligation.

We slowly and deliberately drifted apart from each other. I am to blame. I pushed her away. I drove her away. I regret a lot of things. I regret not telling her how much I loved her. I regret not telling her how much she meant to me. I regret not spending enough time with her. But mostly, I regret not being able to apologize properly for all the pain I must have caused.

I want so badly to tell her how sorry I am…for everything; but I never did get the chance. Or perhaps, I was given countless chances, though I never took it. She never said anything, she never blamed me, or showed signs that she hated me. At first, I thought that she didn't care, but do I know her that much? Another thing that I regret, was not taking the chance to get to know her thoroughly.

I took her for granted. I realize that now.

You can never truly appreciate how much warmth a summer's day brings, until you feel the coldness of winter. It is also the same with someone you hold dear. You never know how important they are until you lose them.

When my father broke off our engagement, I felt…distraught. But somehow, we never got to talk about our relationship, because there were more pressing matters to attend to. But I felt it again. She managed to put my heart at ease. She relieved me of the guilt that I was feeling. When she smiled at me, and told me that Kira was alive, that I failed to kill him, she managed to do just that.

Lacus saved me once again.

And when my own father sent me to be tortured, she, however indirectly, saved me also.

Was there hope for us then?

Was there?

As I look at her in Kira's arms, I start to think that maybe there is hope for us, but in a different sense. She has found that hope in Kira and I have found mine in Cagalli.

I will always love Lacus. She will always have a place in my heart. She was the first one that I have ever felt so deeply for. She taught me how to love for the first time. She showed me so many things. She gave me a reason to wake up each day.

But as seasons change, so must we. Nothing is constant in this world.

We have both moved on. We are both happy now with our respective relationships. But I will never forget that once in my life, we loved each other. And I am certain that she feels that way, too.

Fate has a funny way of balancing things out for you. Sure, it takes away something from you. But you just have to wait patiently, and it will give you back something in return. This is one of the most important lessons that Lacus has taught me. Perhaps, if I waited patiently, we would still be together. But maybe we just weren't meant to be.

Our seasons may be over, but another cycle will surely begin.

I turn my attention to the blonde girl sitting next to me and I find amber eyes looking deep into mine.

Winter is over. The seasons turn and Spring comes once again.

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Author's Notes: Forgive me for the abrupt ending and I'm sorry if this didn't end with them getting back together. Thanks for all the support and the nice, long reviews! Thank you also for sharing your opinions with me! I would really like to know what you think of this! Pardon me for sounding so egotistical, but this is one of my favorite fics that I have written (erm, that didn't sound right…)! Except the ending… I felt it was too…rushed. Maybe it's because I spent all my creative juices on the Autumn chapter! Argh… But I'll edit this chapter… Sooner or later…

Once more, thanks and see you in future fics!

Lethal Dose – thank you very much for sticking with this story. You got me! I also have a thing for angst! I love angst! I hope you're not -too- disappointed with the ending. I tried to balance it out! As I've said a million times before, I'm an AC fan but I like AL nonetheless. Or maybe, it's just -Athrun- that I love? Hmmm… But anyway, their relationship -did- happen, it's a fact!

Tylec Asroc - well, humor is good. Thanks for reading and reviewing! Sometimes I think Lacus is so naive that she's almost wiser...