I didn't think much of Mai-Hime when I started watching it. The only thing that really drew me was the somewhat pleasant artwork and Kajiura Yuki's involvement. The preview showed me a lot of over-proportionized girls in varying ages battling slimy monsters with what I thought must be armorized pokemon. Mai-Hime ended pretty much as I thought it would, a drama comedy with a slash of emotional mayhem and a lot lot lot of monster action. What it did, and succeded beyond expectations in however was how the show introduced, built and grew its characters, forcing their personal tragedies upon us like a well-aimed sledgehammer. OUCH.

Having finished it and now being seven episodes into Mai-Otome I stand as guilty as charged, the show grew on me. Especially one grrl stole the whole show for me, knocking me off my feet in 200mph with her ever shiny motorbike.

Kuga Natsuki, and with her Fujino Shizuru.



To the memory of a girl who knew too much but in reality understood very little, and to the honour of the young woman who dared to stand her by.

- The Author, Shigan, Me


Learning How to Walk

A Mai-Hime Story by Shigan Lee

Edited by Kieli: You are Great! ;)


"Life is like a beautiful melody, only the lyrics are messed up."
- H.C Andersen, Preface to Works

It was annoying. Extremely so, to be honest, and more than a little intrusive since I'm not exactly your average, huggable high school girl. Attention was always the thing I wanted the least in school, not due to lack of confidence exactly but rather to my preference to be left alone. I was always a private person anyway, even at a very young age; events that followed the car crash and my father's betrayal certainly didn't help matters. No one would - or could - understand me and since then I had long decided to never trust another human being again.

The investigation of my mother's accident and revenge easily became my life; for me, nothing else had mattered. Father did make a few attempts to make amends. He left me messages and invited me over for holidays, telling me that my stepmother wanted to meet me. I don't think I even bothered to decline. My anger and bitterness towards him had known no boundaries. I had written off the man who so easily had left our tragedy to seek comfort in another woman's arms; he, who was supposed to have loved us no matter what.

I locked myself from the world and threw away the key. But somehow, despite my reputation and disgruntled attitude, she had still managed to find it back there among the flowers.

"Beautiful flowers are to be loved, don't you agree?"

I have to chuckle at the memory, still not sure of which of us she had meant with those words; the flower or me. Maybe one of those days, I'll remember to ask her.

Shizuru intruded on my life, had snuck into my world of logic and bitterness with the refined but ruthless elegance of a well-oiled blade. Before I had noticed, she was already there, standing beside me as natural as my other half. She was the model female student; confident, elegant, brilliant and proved to be pig-headed stubborn. Stubborn because she indeed had stood me by, despite all my desperate and futile attempts to fend her off.

In my ocean of seemingly endless anger, her lone ship of order sailed. I took comfort in her perfection and was grateful for her tactfulness. Not once did she ever ask me about the disaster that was my academic records, nor did she ever question my many absences from school. However, I doubt she really needed that to put two and two together. Many of the searches I did were from her laptop, and all the while I was clueless about her identity as a Hime.

A shudder went down my spine at the memory of the nightmarish Hime ordeal, followed by the now familiar shock of amazement at surviving it. Still, I'm grateful we followed it through to the end. I'm glad Shizuru could finally come open with her feelings, truly so. Nothing had pained and scared me more than seeing her as the empty-eyed shell she had been reduced to at my denial. It took so much to make me understand, so much destruction and cost of treasured lives to make me finally realize what she meant to me.

My words in our final moments weren't a lie. I was, and still am, genuinely glad that she fell in love with me. Even if everyone else would deem it as twisted or perverse, I would still feel joy about her feelings for me. Surrounded by the wicked fate of the Himes, and seeing Mai's despair at losing one after another of her loved ones, you can't help but realize how treasured those feelings should be.

Still, putting all that behind me didn't mean that I would naturally become a snugglebunny. I would have never guessed that the infallible president of Fuuka Academy was into surprise-huggles.


"Natsuki, how do you want your tea?"


"That bad?"

"Worse, but I think I'll manage, or Sakomizu-sensei is gonna have kittens."

The taller girl chuckled at my disgruntled mood and brushed her chestnut hair back into a knot, readying herself for the task of preparing our tea. I watched her move around the old fashioned kitchen, looking every bit of the perfect lady in her simple, yet stunning kimono. It was so unusual, for someone of this age and era to harbour everything so traditionally Japanese with such simple grace. Yet she could, of course.

We had begun to do this after the spring break started, my coming over to the Fujino residence for daily study sessions. It was an idea born solely out of pure desperation over the threat of being held back a year. Shizuru didn't seem to mind that she would have to sacrifice her spring break because of my lousy attendance.

"He is just concerned, wasn't he an acquaintance of your parents?"

"A colleague of my mother's, and he seems determined to not let me blow school."

"That's sweet for you to have such a close teacher-student relationship. Should I invite him over next time?" She asked, with that sweet yet perfectly diplomatic voice of hers.

"What?"Though she was not facing me, I could almost see the grin crossing her ever composed features.

"I can't fault you since he certainly do have a stylish haircut. It is the hair isn't it?" She finished the water and turned around. Her eyes were filled with laughter as she stepped over the tatamis to set down the steaming cup in front of me.

"Shizuru!"I exclaimed loudly, making a disgusted face while piling my books onto the table. She sat down beside me and laughed, squeezing my arm affectionately under the table while she browsed through my papers.

"Which subject is next?" she asked.

I checked my calendar and made another annoyed grunt.


"That should not be hard, you were quite good at math if I recall. Shall we begin?" She scooted closer and opened the book for me; a myriad of seemingly undecipherable formulas attacked my vision and made me groan inwardly. Shizuru didn't seem fazed, however, as she leaned forward, resting her chin against her palm while she carefully picked out a pen.

I sighed, gritted my teeth, and settled myself into a forced concentration as I took a sip from my cup.



When I think back, I can't recall exactly when she began taking care of me. Of course, she was already doing that in junior high when I still thought of her as the pushy sempai who would occasionally drop by. It had never really occurred to me just how popular Shizuru really was, not until the other girls admitted their jealousy for me having their Fujino-sama as a personal friend. So we decided to be more discreet after that, mostly for my sake since I certainly didn't want to brave a mob.

The quiet and somewhat restrained friendship we had changed, however, since the Hime incident.

Shizuru's opening her heart to me, telling me her secrets; it did wonders for her. She became far happier and more relaxed in her behaviour, both towards me and the people surrounding us. Sometimes she would joke and let her puns slip with others as well as me. I do wish she would keep the newer additions of my collection a secret, though. She also started poking fun at my personal quirks more often. I never felt more bullied in my whole life than during that spring break, not that I minded. Still, you could pretty much conclude that those who used to consider Fujino Shizuru an innocent, pure-hearted person before drastically dropped in numbers or just remained ignorant to the degree of stupidity.

The next few months were very hard on me and not only because of my knowledge of her true feelings. Shizuru had always acted like a lesser guardian to me in the past; that was nothing new. But the attention she was giving me now became almost overwhelming. Even so, I had decided to stand my ground –even if I was being grumpy about it- since it seemed to make her happy.

I was willing to change, or at least try so she could keep that smile.

Shizuru mended my favourite blouse, a sky-blue one that had its seams hopelessly ripped in a fight. I found her one day sitting on my coach with the garment over her knees, her eyes focused on it with such determined concentration that I had been afraid to speak until she pulled the last sewing and marched up to me demanding that I put it on, to which I complied quite happily.

She teased me as usual, but started to cook and take care of me with a gentleness that was so painfully familiar. All of sudden, I would come home to the smell of freshly brewed tea and cinnamon rolls, my favourite snack. She taught me which types of clothing shouldn't be washed together in my never ending pile of laundry, and I no longer needed to stand in the kitchen on my own, cooking a lonely dinner just to eat it alone.

All of sudden I had someone to greet me at home; a kind voice that filled the emptiness between my walls.


"Family?"She looked over at me, surprised at the question.

"Yeah, I've never seen your folks around." This was the truth; the Fujino residence was an old-fashioned Japanese mansion with least a dozen of rooms and an enormous garden. Aside from the occasional servants and maids that moved around the house, I had yet to meet either of her parents or any other relative of hers.

Shizuru shrugged noncommittally. "My father is the managing director of a company overseas so he comes home only a few times a year." There was no boasting a la Suzushiro in her voice, nor any pride at all.

"And your mother went with him, huh?" I glanced at an old photo of a couple whom I presumed to be Mr. and Mrs Fujino. Shizuru took after her father in looks, having inherited his sleek and graceful features whiles her rather unusual complexion tones seemed to be from her mother.

"…you're full of questions today," she noted after some hesitation. I lowered my head in embarrassment when my lack of tact hit me.

"I didn't mean to pry" Indeed, It had been none of my business.

She shook her head while giving me her usual Zen master smile, jotting down the last comments on my assignment paper before handing it back to me. Her indifference didn't reassure me though, since I could not help but notice the hint of sadness that had crossed her face at my ill-expressed question.

I took the sheet of paper from her and looked down at the many corrections she had done, focusing my eyes on anything but her face.

"My mother lives with my grandmother in Kyoto, I spend the summers with them." She continued, breaking the somewhat uncomfortable silence. Her usual calm and soothing voice suddenly weighed by a quiet sadness.

The soft, shuffling sound of fine cloth told me that she had moved away from our table. Bright sunlight flooded my vision when I looked up, as she had pulled the garden-side shouji open. Cool air washed over my face as a strong spring breeze almost tore the homework pages out of my hands. Carried by the wind, a few petals of fallen sakura brushed past her still figure at the door. Caught by the moment, I could not help but openly admire her in front of the scenery she was heartbreakingly beautiful, as if she had been plucked directly from an ink painting.Her words shook me from my stupor.

"She doesn't come here anymore. They're not divorced but won't meet each other either." I sat there stunned by both her revelation and the trust she gave by telling me this.

She had already guessed my silent question but left it unvoiced for my discretion, leaving me with the privilege of remaining silent. I knew that Shizuru had attended Fuuka Academy even since elementary school and came alone to school even then. I opened my mouth to speak but the words faltered in my throat. What could I possibly say to make the situation any better?

We sat there for the longest time. My eyes were still fixed on her, taken by her honesty while the rain of sakura covered the garden with soft pink.

"Natsuki?" she asked carefully, her voice almost inaudible.


"Do you mind staying today?" It could have been my imagination or a simple trick of light, but for just one moment, I thought a tear trickled down her cheek. "I would love some company."

I smiled.

"No rice cakes, ok?"


I was naïve, though, believing that we could simply stay like that, despite the fact that I knew the depth of her feelings. Maybe it was because she always seemed so happy in front of me during those days; at least compared to how she had been before. Every response and task I performed– no matter how trivial - seemed to be enough to light her face up. Every word and face she gave me seemed to be of relief and joy, the emotions so intense sometimes that it scared me.

Yes it scared me, so much that it may have blinded me from the small things I should have noticed, the signs of that everything was not right and happy ever after. I didn't see, or couldn't or maybe I just plainly refused to look, doing my best in avoiding her eyes and the looming truth that waited for me there.

At times, the weight became too great for me to handle, so I had to retreat behind the walls she once tore down. Hiding in my pitiful sanctuary of denial and anger alone, I deliberately ignored the many small things that made her happy. I shunned the pieces she had worked so hard to mend. There were those times when I even refused myself to carry out the most trivial of gests, just because I was scared. Of what, I do not know.

We were like two shipwrecked sailors, trying to desperately to stay afloat. But while she was willingly reaching out her hand to help save me, I was slapping it away. I really did succeed; there's no other way to describe it.

She offered me the friendship and kindness I had since long abandoned. For some strange reason, I felt that I had to push her back, fleeing the threatening yet tempting sweetness of her smile, afraid that it might engulf me like it once had done and never to let go again. In one her attempts to reach out to me I may have pushed too far.




"For how long?"

"Six months, least, she replied, as gracefully as ever but with a hint of sadness.

"But school starts in less than a week." How intelligent of me, telling that to the former president of the academy.

"The University uses quite a different timetable, Natsuki." Her eyebrows wrinkled as if a thought had just struck her. "You didn't seriously believe that I would stay behind a year did you?"

"Of course not!"

"Then why are you so upset?"

"You didn't tell me!" I exclaimed, mouth hanging open. "I thought you were going to Fuuka University."

"You didn't give me the time." She tilted her head, eyeing my reaction with evident amusement. I made a face, she was referring to the time she spent helping me with my schoolwork."And yes, I am going to Fuuka University, the foreign exchange is a compulsory part of my program."

"And when were you planning to tell me?"

She turned away from me, going back to the flower she had been tending before my outburst. Even though she was no longer facing me, I caught the look of displeasure that crossedher usually neutral face. For one second, it felt as if the temperature in the room had dropped.

We were actually having a fight, for crying out loud.

"I wasn't under the impression of that I was obliged to inform you about every ongoing aspect of my life," She murmured in a frosty tone.

"Dammit, Shizuru, don't pull that with me." My hands clenchedthemselves into fists without my noticing. "Don't mistake me for one of your groupies."

"I apologize if it seemed so."

"Then don't talk that way." I turned my back to her, too, as stubborn anger boiled within me. Her calm words of logic and sense suddenly felt like a wall, a barrier of ice which had flung itself up between us and I was helpless to breach it.

"If you stop being a brat, I will," she replied without missing a beat.

The day had already passed early noon. Sunrays penetrated the cover of the curtains and illuminated the room's spartan décor. Even though it wrapped us in its golden embrace, I still felt surprisingly cold. It would have been a truly beautiful afternoon, had this pall of silence hung over us like a cloud that seemed to grow with every passing moment.

Her words had hurt, and surprisingly a lot more than I thought was possible. Every syllable she spoke had stung like a well-aimed dagger and made me seethe with anger. I promised myself that I would never feel it again, those dreaded feelings of selfish rage and bitterness that now threatened to burst out at any moment. Yet, I gave into my impulsive feelings, which angered me even more.

"You're not my mother." I almost spat.

"No, apparently not."

I couldn't have cared less about her answer and stormed to the door, almost tearing the shouji from its hinge in frustration. Shizuru didn't move, neither did she try to look at me which hurt even more. I was expecting some kind of reaction, anything, but not this stony silence and the cold shoulder.

"My flight is the day after tomorrow," she said in a soft, but indifferent tone. I bit my lip and swallowed hard.

"I'll see you at the airport."

I didn't bother to close the door.


She left.

Before I knew it, the first days of school started and my life seemed to carry on as usual. Mai and Mikoto invited me over to a dinner party with all of our friends. Even Nao showed up with a somewhat sulky expression, drug into the apartment by Aoi.

I went to school, attended my lessons and fought my losing battle of homework, all according to my new, unfamiliar regularity. Not as a Hime but as a normal, although short-tempered, high school student with rather miserable grades. I even got a few confession letters from guys, but none whom I could recall.

At home, I would do the house chores the way Shizuru had taught me. I washed my clothes on my own rather than dumping them at the dry-cleaner's, and cleaned the apartment thoroughly for the first time in many years. I vacuumed the rooms, ironed my clothes and cooked my meals; real food instead of instant, much to Mai's amazement.

I even managed to read a few books, something most people would never associate with me.

I was fine, I really was.


The numbers stared back at me with a neon-green, almost angry glare. For some reason, I had forgotten to turn on the lights and the darkness in the room suddenly felt strangely suffocating. The moon outside watched me from the window, as it has for so many nights like this one; yet this time it offered me neither solace nor peace. I shivered in its light, despite the warmth of the summer night.

I bit my lower lip. It was now or never Kuga.

My hand seemed to move in slow-motion as it reached towards the dial button. I had re-checked the phone number three times just to be sure. Damn it woman, just press it would you?

The dial tones seemed to drag on forever -three, four, five… I breathed out in shameless relief, she wasn't hom-


"Hi, Karen speaking!"

English.Oh crappers.

"Uh…Ano, moshimos-."AAARH.

"Who is this?"

Kuga Natsuki looking for Fujino Shizuru, who are you?

"Eh…hello, ano…talk…with?"

"Excuse me?" The voice was light but not overly girly, even spanning over a satellite phone-line the woman seemed to laugh at my obvious state of confusion. Fat help Mai's English lessons did.

"Ah…talkwith – Fujino Shizuru?"

"Fuji… oh, OH! You're Japanese! Um… erh - gomen nasai! Chotto matte!" The woman then obviously dropped the phone in her haste as the sound almost punched a hole through my ears. A few English curses I recognized was heard before she started to call out in English.

My breath had picked up without me even realizing and my blood was literally pounding in my ears like a small drum. The awkward conversation was nothing compared to the abyssal pit in my stomach that threatened to suck me in at any moment. I listened, making the best out of my rather pathetic language skills.

"Oiii, Shiz! Phone! Someone calling from Japan."


"I will be done in a minute, who is it?"

"Dunno, didn't say."

My heart almost stopped at the familiar, yet different voice. Hearing her speaking English was uncomfortable in a strange way. The foreign syllables spoken by her seemed to send tremors through my whole being, echoing against the walls in my apartment as I realized just how far away she really was.

A few more friendly phrases I couldn't follow were exchanged as footsteps came closer. Shizuru chuckled at some joke and made a reply that sent the other woman into hysterical giggles.

I drummed my fingers against the wall.

"…to young to be your mom and can't speak English, a friend of yours maybe?"

Same to you, Karen or whatever.

"Moshimoshi?Hello?" My strained face cracked up into a faint smile at the unmistakable Kyoto accent. It really was her on the other side.

"Took you long enough."

"Natsuki?"She mouthed my name, and for once with ill-covered surprise.



I laid down on the couch, turning on and off the TV for the umpteenth time in my obvious impatience. The dishes were washed, the fridge was filled, everything was dusted and every room had been vacuumed. There was really nothing more to be done.

I could go for a ride of course, the weather had turned for the better in the recent days and it was a brilliant spring day outside. The trees had since long changed into their crispy spring colours and the mountain view from my window couldn't be described with anything less than glorious.

Yet, it would probably have taken nothing less than an earthquake to stir me from the apartment right now.

Where was she?

I sighed and buried my face in the pillows, hoping that the action would soothe the unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach. The cup of tea I had prepared for myself was still on the coffee table, its contents untouched and cold. She had taught me how to do it but her brew still always turned out the better. My lips curled into a smile at the memory; I must have ruined one month's worth of tea to learn the trick.

One had to wonder what Shizuru really saw in loving me. I could understand the frustration of her fan club to some extent. We were creatures from completely different worlds. It takes no genius to see that tea ceremonies and motorbikes don't mix, and it confused her group of female followers to no end. I had felt their questioning and envious stares many times on my way through campus. I never paid attention to it since honestly, what did I know that they didn't?

The mind and whims of that woman were as much a mystery to me as it was to them and even more so since I was under some pressure to figure her out.

This chain of thoughts preoccupied me for some time until it was time to start dinner. She was definitely late and I made myself a mental note to call the airport about her flight.

The cooking had gotten easier, as long as I followed her recipes at least. The other tenants no longer needed to rush to my room at the smell of burned carnage or whatever they used to call it. Even Mikoto had forgiven me for the small mishap that almost killed her a few months ago, even if it still took some trudging from Mai's side to make her touch whatever I made. But while I had gotten used to actually making an effort in the kitchen, it irked me somewhat that I would probably never attain Shizuru's level of natural grace. The image of her standing in the midst of a chaos of pots, unwashed vegetables and other ingredients, happily humming on a lullaby while her hands worked like a lighting blur, cutting, slicing and arranging our dinner in a masterly way sprang to my mind unbidden.

Shizuru, unlike me, was a lady all the way down to her toenails. Sure, I had the looks, the equipment and the underwear collection. But watching her, I honestly couldn't fathom what she saw when she looked at me. I had none of the traits she was brought up to respect. My sense of tradition and manners were as brusque as my flaring temper; or could it be that it was my defiant and unruly nature she liked and learned to love from afar?

I shook my head subconsciously and soaked the rice. She always preferred Japanese food over western and only heaven knows how much takeout sushi she had been forced to order to survive her time abroad. Next came the vegetables. I noticed with some annoyance that I had forgotten the groceries in the hall.

The rest of the apartment was almost spookily quiet, as if everything was holding its breath, waiting for its guest to come home. Her favourite books which she had brought over were still on the table where she had left them; I had never bothered to read them despite her nagging. The curtains in the softest blue, my favourite colour, rustled in the cold breeze from the sea. She bought them for me last year I think.

Then I heard it.

The sound of footsteps made me freeze in my tracks. My body tensed up at the approaching footfalls by old habit, yet my sense of danger failed to kick in. I watched in quiet fascination as the doorknob turned. Someone rattled at the lock and suddenly the grocery bags lay forgotten on the floor.

Thinking back now, there shouldn't have been anything special about it. It was simply Fujino Shizuru walking through my door, closing it and putting down her bag; she had done it hundreds of times before. For some reason I remember that bag very clearly. She had no doubt shipped the rest of her luggage to her house, bringing only the small but practical suitcase you usually used for weekend stays. She looked as stunning as ever, the year seemed to have treated her well. She had even developed a light suntan, although her eyes were weary and maybe just a bit worried.

Yet somehow, it felt like as something else beside my door had been opened as well, something that entered through with her and was never to leave unless I wanted it to. She looked up, and it a fell into place. All of sudden, the past ten months seemed to have been so unbearably long. I held my breath in wonder as the hollow feeling of absence drained from the room and was filled with what she brought in; a familiar presence of peace and home I could only faintly recall at best, which was rather strange considering I was standing in my own apartment. I exhaled the breath I hadn't realised that I'd been holding and met her eyes. Who had I been kidding for the past year? How could anything have been fine without her?

What had I been afraid of really?

I'm not entirely sure of what happened next for she was suddenly in front of me. I think it might have been me who closed the distance. Her eyes were wide in relief and joy, but mostly surprise. We stood still, staring at each other for the longest time. I could see the confusion that was evident in her face. I smiled in understanding.


"I'm back," she said, her voice quavering with uncertainty. I must have leant forwards, since our foreheads were touching.


It's really ridiculously simple; love is funny like that. We learn it step by step, like a child who trains to walk. We fall and hurt, yet struggle and continue until we learn. We start to realise that happiness may not derivate from simply receiving and giving, because that is how it's supposed to be. That caring and understanding may not always last forever, because that is how it's said. We learn that loving someone may really not be about forgiveness, or selflessness or simply loving until you hurt and bleed. No, love is far simpler than that and I think I've found it; the simple but precious balance, or fact.

Half the joy comes from returning that love.


"Welcome home." I replied, and she was in my arms as a veil of chestnut hair covered my face. Something wet touched my face briefly as I felt a pair of arms encircle my waist, slowly finding their way up towards my back. She is warm, so warm and she is trembling.

Wet tears slid down her face as my hand found her cheek. More of them were spilling as her eyes were overflowing with the salty droplets. She let out a small chuckle – and almost choked on a sob as her fingers dug into my shoulders, repeatedly mumbling something into my neck that sounds suspiciously like my name. In the end, my legs gave out under the stress of holding us both up. I doubt she noticed just how much she had been leaning on me, or maybe she did, I wouldn't be surprised.

We fell to the floor in a heap of tangled limbs and muffled laughter, none of us really letting go of the other. Somehow, I ended on top with her still hanging onto my neck like a baby koala. She brushed back my slightly dishevelled hair. Whatever I felt at the image of her pinned under me, chestnut hair spilled around a heartbreak of a smile and slightly puffy eyes, must have shown.

Since the next time our faces closed, it was not our foreheads that touched.


"I thought they wanted a permanent exchange?"

"I didn't take it."

My jaw dropped. I had to admit, I was pretty shocked.

"You're the first to not reprimand me you know."

"I kind of like the outcome." I smirked.


The arms encircling me squeezed me gently, pressing my back into her chest as she rested her chin on my shoulder. I squirmed, but made no protest.

"You mean like this?" she whispered, and blew in my ear.

Heat flared up in my cheeks.

"Or like this?"

One of her hands moved, and slipped under my t-shirt.

"Or maybe like this?"

She giggled; a mellow sound I never quite tired of hearing - until I realized where she had placed her hand.



Author's Notes: A friend of mine asked if I never got tired of writing drama and romantic pieces, the answer would be, no. Or, not yet. Love is a growing thing, especially when you start to try to put it into words at the brittle age of twelve. That's how old I was when I started off my writing hobby, although not in English; ironically, that was also when I for the first time stumbled into a relationship, and sent it to an early grave over a fight of who was the best Super Mario Kart player.

Love grows with the lover. Its shapes and forms change as we go from childhood to adolescence and to adulthood. As children, we love unconditionally; we love and expect love back. As teenagers, we love selfishly; for the first time confirming our role and ability as a sexual lover amidst the joys of ego rollercoasters and raging hormones. As an adult, being the ever obvious goof, -I- finally learned to love back.

Loving back, as in finding the simple joys of seeing your beloved happy; not only in your arms or amidst your bed-sheets, but to feel that surge of exhilarating delight each and every time you perform a task which will place a smile on his or her face; making a snack, sneaking a hug, mending their clothes or even losing at Super Mario Kart.

Making someone happy sounds like such a noble and selfless thing while in reality it is so often the other way around; love is always a multi-directional thing, you are never really making your lover happy, you are making you both happy. To claim otherwise is hypocrisy close to vulgarity.

Natsuki's and Shizuru's story ended where I thought another was just beginning, one that held potential for a lot of headaches, misunderstandings and flustered glares on Natsuki's part. Given their personalities, those two have quite a road ahead of them, which is all the better for us, since it certainly gives us something to fantasize about.

So my writing goes on. I've come a long way since being that angry sixth grader, but with love, I'm not quite done.

/Shigan Lee

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