EPILOGUE: In Memory Of...

Himeno smiled when she saw Hayate leaning against the gates to her school. She ran up to him and he bent to kiss her quickly before taking her bag from her. "Why is it this thing gets heavier and heavier every time?" he complained, arm around her shoulder.

"Maybe you're just getting weaker and weaker," she answered. She waved at Yayoi before her friend became too distracted with Feryn, who was also there to meet her. Those two were awful about the public displays of affection. Tonsil hockey did NOT go well over coffee! That was the first and only double date they would ever do!

"Am not! You're just being lazy."

"LAZY! Hey, you don't know how much homework the teachers assign! It's insane!"

"The only thing insane about this is the fact that you're bag is so damn heavy!"

Himeno shrugged his arm off and began to walk away. "You took it from me, just remember that!"

She stopped when she heard a heavy thud. Uh-oh.

Hayate stared at where he'd thrown her bag down. And it had fallen open. And the bricks that were in it had fallen out it. "You filled it...with bricks?" he said tightly.

"Uh, ahahaha! It was just a joke," she said nervously, backing away from him. She screeched when he ran for her. Himeno took off, running as fast as she could.

It wasn't fast enough. Hayate caught her, swinging her up onto his shoulder. "THAT IS THE LAST TIME I EVER CARRY YOUR STUFF!"

"Help! Lemme down! HEL-OW!" He dropped her right on the sidewalk next to her bag. Fuming, she picked her now much lighter bag up and swung it at him. "You big jerk! What's wrong with you, dropping me like that?"

"What's wrong with me? What's wrong with YOU?" he shouted back. "You're the idiot putting rocks in her backpack!"

"Idiot? IDIOT! Why you...you..." Nothing. For once, she couldn't think of a damn thing!

A slow smile crept over his lips. "Why you, what? Come on, let's hear the brilliant comeback."

Himeno scowled at him. She was pissed, she...she couldn't stay mad at him when he was staring at her like that. A smile forced it's way through and she took his hand when he offered it to her. They walked down the sidewalk for a bit until they came to the florist shop on the corner. He went inside and she waited. Today was the day...

When Hayate came out, he had two small bouquets of roses. "Ready?" he asked, handing her one.

Himeno nodded silently and together they went down a side alley. He looked around and when he was certain the coast was clear, he opened a gateway into Leafenia. They went through and came out on the other side.

Himeno stared at the blackend Tree of Fenril, clutching the roses tightly. Had it really only been a year ago? It seemed so much longer than that! She gave Hayate a reassuring smile when he touched her back, eyes worried. "I'm fine."

"Are you sure?"

She nodded and went forward. This was the spot...right here. Himeno lay her bouquet down on the spot where Sasame had faded and both she and Hayate stood there for a minute before moving closer to the Tree. Just being this close to it was unnerving. The air was so thick here, and smothering!

Hayate lay the other bouquet at the base of where there was a hole, but now it was closed again, only a thin seam noticeable if you knew where to look. Again, they paused for a moment of silence before he sighed and hugged her. "Let's go, Himeno. I think they know we were here."

Himeno nodded and together they left that silent area, Himeno glancing back briefly before going through the gateway and back to the real world.