Disclaimer: I do not own ToS.

In other news, my story titled Crack the Sky has been halted-- I've been writing it all down on notebook paper and just lost interest. Hopefully I'll pick it up again one day.

I also started a new rp site-- it's my homepage! Check it out if you're into high school rps.

'The future has a way of arriving unannounced.' --George Will

TO be chief of a town like that of Mizuho, one must have a marriage controlled by the town elders. To have an arranged marriage, one's heart must be purely devoted to nobody other than your chosen spouse. You must think of your village and its people, rather than your own personal happiness.

And because of those things, I lied. I lied so much that I became the exact thing I did not want to become: a heartless soul. My heart no longer existed, I had no more reactions to even the most unpleasant of surprises, nor did I feel any joy at the prospect of my future with a good-looking husband. I did not gasp (unlike the ladies around me) when my fiancée was introduced to me-- according to many, his face and body seemed to have been carved by a sculptor with the talent of a god. I did not lose myself in memories of the happiest time of my life, which was a year ago when I traveled around the worlds with my friends. I did not recall Corinne's deep desire for me to be happy. I did not bother to remember how strong my feelings were for... for...

As I said before, I was heartless and emotionless. I have never been good at confessing the pains my heart felt, and after all the terrible things I have done, I did not want my grandfather to worry about me any longer. So when my friends-- my true friends, the ones who I thought I would never see again-- arrived that beautiful spring morning, I broke down. The great wall inside of me cracked and was breached by a flood of emotions. I was open and honest like I'd been on the journey to save the world; I was an open book, ready for him to read me at first glance.

"Shee- I mean, oh crap, what's your official title again? Wake up! Wake up!" A high pitched voice startled Sheena out of her sleep; a few moments later there was the sound of yanking cloth, and light flooded into Sheena's bedroom.

"Oh, Riley, can't you just call me by my first name like you always have? And how did you get into my house?" Sheena mumbled, shoving her face into her pillow. Sheena adored the fifteen-year old Riley, who was practically a younger sister to her, but she was not a morning person at all.

"The Chief gave me a spare key. This place is so messy for an eight-month old home!" Shortly after Sheena's return from her journey to stop Mithos, a small home had been constructed in Mizuho. It was located on the farthest end of town from her grandfather's home. Igaguri had built it as a gift to prove that he was proud of his granddaughter, even if she biologically wasn't related to him. Sheena was Igaguri's only granddaughter and living family member, and he would do anything to make her smile. Sheena had become attached to the place, because it was absolutely perfect.

"So why did you have to wake me up at..." Sheena pulled her face up very slowly so she could peer at the clock that hung on the wall in front of her "... eight in the morning?"

"You have guests!" Riley chirped.

No emotion wavered on Sheena's face. "Is it Derek again? My fiancée always--"

"No, it's your friends--" Before Riley could finish what she was saying, the bedroom door banged open and seven amazing people flooded into the large room. Something within Sheena seemed to break as she stared at those eager faces before her, and she slowly brought her hand to cover her mouth. The broken pieces within her seemed to glue themselves together messily, a bunch of emotions that had been bottled up inside for so long released themselves, and then he spoke-- he always dared to do what others didn't have the courage to do.

"Sheena, why didn't you tell us that the wedding was in a month?" he asked softly, not in a disappointed way. Rather, his face seemed to say that he was extremely concerned, maybe even a bit protective of her.

Colette walked over and sat on the edge of Sheena's bed. She reached over and gently touched Sheena's wrist, as if that would give her strength. "I've been worrying since I got your last letter two months ago. You didn't sound the same. In that letter you confessed that you had been engaged for a while. I wrote back immediately, but got no answer back, so I asked the others and ended up telling them... I'm sorry if you wanted to keep it a secret or something..."

"Anyway, we all grouped up and decided to come and celebrate your marriage!" Zelos continued on cheerfully, striding over and placing his arm around Sheena's shoulder. "Raine and Regal figured it would be best if we asked your grandpa about a few things before visiting you. We had a feeling we'd get more information from him than from you."

"I'm sorry." Sheena managed to say, looking at each and every face. All of them were there: Genis, Lloyd, Raine, Presea, Regal, Colette and Zelos. She felt safe again. "I just... I don't know. Derek and I are still getting to know each other; I thought you all would be too busy..."

"We'd never be too busy for such an important event, Sheena!" Genis exclaimed. His exclamation set off a round of similar denials as well, which in turn brought forth much chatter. A half hour seemed to fly right by as the various men and women talked to each other. Then one by one, her friends trickled away. Soon it was just Sheena and him-- Lloyd-- alone.

Lloyd picked up a picture that stood on one of Sheena's two nightstands. He studied the man in the picture, the man whose arm was settled loosely around Sheena's shoulders. Lloyd smiled faintly, and then looked over at Sheena. "Is this him?"

"Yep, that's my fiancée. Derek." Sheena's heart skipped a beat or two as she waited for Lloyd's reaction. None. Lloyd set down the picture frame and sat next to Sheena on the bed. His feet were planted surely on the ground, but he looked at her with an uncertain gaze. They talked as if nothing was wrong and as is Sheena had never had more-than-friendly feelings towards Lloyd; but then again, Lloyd had never been informed of these feelings. They chatted like they had the day before the fight Sheena had with Kuchinawa; they spoke like they were best friends. It was after that fight when Sheena first realized she loved Lloyd.

Maybe Sheena was the only one with romantic interest; maybe he was oblivious and thought of her as just a friend. But he spoke of his and Genis' journey to destroy all Exspheres, he listened intently to Sheena's thoughts on her upcoming marriage, and he hugged her when she told him of how numb she had felt for the past few months, although she refused to tell him the cause. All too soon, there was a knock on the door.

"Sheena, I've just received news that Derek will be here in an hour. He requests to walk around the Ozette Lake with you and the Chief." Riley's high pitched tones flooded into the room, replacing the comfort of Lloyd's deep voice. "Do you want me to assist you in getting ready?"

"No, no, I can do it myself." Sheena replied, hurriedly getting to her feet. She walked to the wooden vanity table nearby and grabbed a brush, then ran it through her hair several times. Lloyd had seen Sheena in her bathing suit before, which practically had the same style as her underwear, so for Sheena, it wasn't all that awkward to pull off her nightgown in front of him. She quickly pulled on a silky, lavender, knee-length dress with thick straps and delicate white slippers. It was springtime, so Sheena's normal purple and black attire was discarded for the colder months of the year. As Sheena began to put her hair up, she started to tell Lloyd about her first kiss with Derek.

"--so we were just standing outside Grandpa's door, waiting for him to come out, and Derek was really uptight. I told him I was cold," In the mirror Sheena saw Lloyd get to his feet, then walk up behind her. Sheena jumped a little when she felt his hands on her back-- he was buttoning up the back of her dress.

"Does Derek like the color lavender?" Lloyd asked after a moment of silence. Sheena had forgotten all about her story. Was Lloyd jealous of Derek?

Sheena looked down at her hands. Of their own accord they'd grabbed the vanity's edge, as if that would give her the resolve not to melt in his arms. "No, he doesn't. He thinks it isn't a good color, I guess it's too feminine or something. His favorite color is navy." She felt no need to remind Lloyd that lavender was her favorite color. He met her eyes in the mirror and smiled gently. His fingers brushed Sheena's skin with every button that he did, and she felt her skin tingle.

"I think you make lavender look lovely, Sheena." Sheena blushed as he said this, and looked down at her curvaceous chest. It was covered. No cleavage showed to tempt him-- he was just being sweet.

The next two weeks passed in a state of both bliss and stress for Sheena. Wedding plans consumed and suffocated her constantly, but she had her friends in town, which relaxed her. They all had their own quirks that brightened Sheena's day; however, Lloyd was uncharacteristically quiet and avoidant. He had been very distant, ever since that first day; to be exact; he'd been this way ever since he had met Sheena's golden fiancée. Not much had occurred, to be honest. They greeted each other, Lloyd gave Derek a dry 'Congratulations on winning such a perfect bride', and Derek had replied with a courteous 'thank you'.

Derek was, in one word, perfection. He resembled a golden statue, for he was tall and even his skin was a golden tan. He was blonde and muscular in all the right places; his hair was short, his curls close to his skin, and his eyes were a unique honey color. Raised as a courtier in King Tethe'alla's court, Derek was instructed to be charming and polite even from a young age. He was twenty-six years old, meaning that Sheena was six years younger than him. Lloyd was nineteen, and Sheena's birthday would be in two months; she would turn twenty-one. Truthfully, Sheena felt as if she connected more with Lloyd, since they both were on the same maturity level. Derek was far too serious, and normally it was Lloyd who made Sheena giggle. When Sheena stood by Derek's side, she was reminded of her duty as the next ruler of Mizuho. Derek was not a bad man at all, just the complete opposite of Sheena. He kissed her in the most amazing way, and often asked her if he could do anything to make her smile. They were friends, but Sheena's connection to him just wasn't as deep as the one she had with Lloyd. Derek's quiet, businesslike exterior had been tough to breach, but Sheena had done it.

"This is great, Sheena," Derek complimented one night. Derek had stayed for dinner, so Regal and Sheena created a complex meal while the others entertained him. Everyone-- Sheena's friends, Riley, Grandpa and Derek-- had been seated at the dinner table and were now devouring their meals.

"Regal did most of the work. He's a great tutor." Sheena replied modestly. Derek put his hand on her knee, giving her a comforting squeeze, so she grabbed his hand and held it gently. They exchanged a smile, and it was obvious that Sheena really appreciated the compliment. There was a silence at the table, filled by the sounds of clinking silverware.

"So, Derek," Zelos began cheerfully, "Have you had a bachelor party yet?" When Derek looked confused and even a bit awkward, Zelos continued to speak. "You know, a party for you and your friends before you get married. To celebrate your remaining days as a free man."

"It's not as if I'm being sold into slavery, Zelos." Derek smiled a cute crooked smile. "I've never really been a party person anyways. Which is a bit weird since I've always living in a King's court, I know. Where would the party take place anyways?"

"Usually they take place at a strip or dance club." Zelos smiled mischievously. "Speaking of parties, guess whose birthday is coming up, everyone? Two days until..." he looked around the table eagerly. Sheena searched her memory and drew a blank.

"Yours? I'm surprised you didn't brag to us about it." Genis looked surprised even as he spoke.

"I scheduled it weeks ago; I just forgot to mention it. Anyways, it's at a club in Altamira-- which means you underage losers can't come," Zelos taunted good-naturedly. "Everyone has to look really sexy, so Raine and Sheena, you two should go shopping for slightly fancy clothing tomorrow. Lloyd, Derek, and Regal--"

"I'd rather stay here in Mizuho, if you don't mind." Regal interrupted. "I lost my taste for those kinds of parties long ago." All eyes turned to Derek after that statement. He shifted uncomfortably and stared into his soup-- it was obvious that he didn't want to go either.

Finally Sheena saved him by saying, "Don't you have a thing with the King that night?"

"I believe I do..." Derek smiled shyly, and kissed her right there in front of everyone. It was on the cheek, so it wasn't a big deal. Sheena didn't like public displays of affection very much, and neither did Derek, so this public kiss was quite rare.

"Now, Sheenster baby," Zelos was grinning now. "I want you to act alive for this party. No hiding in the corner, capeesh? And no wearing black or purple either. I'm gonna make you shine, baby!"

After that everyone seemed to engage in conversation with the person sitting next to him. Sheena just concentrated on her soup, but wait-- Lloyd was over there, across the table. He looked up at the same time she did and smiled, very slightly. Sheena smiled back at him, a sad sort of smile. She mouthed, "Why are you so quiet lately?"

Lloyd looked back down at his soup. That awkward silence resumed once more, and Sheena felt a gap grow between them, a gap that felt impossible to fix.

AN: Chapter two coming up! This will be 2-3 chapters long. Reviews are great; Join my RP site! It's my homepage on my profile.