Note to Readers: This is probably one of the first non-Sheelos romance fic I've written. I have a ton of Sheelos one-shots planned, though not all written. Probably not going to be written anytime soon but no matter, I wrote this one didn't I? This is going to be another dark angst fic by me (it was meant to be a one-shot at first). Angst is my specialty (sort-of) and I wish to continue writing it. Fluff is going to be written more in the future okay (though not in this fic)? I promise! If you like fluff, head over to my chapter-fanfic "Crying Without Tears" after this one okay? Now, on with the fic before I bore you all to death. Read the warning first okay?

Summary: Some have freedom of thought or action. Others have both. Zelos has neither. When he becomes obsessed over a girl from Mizuho he will have to learn to pay a price for his passion- a price that might be too high. (Zelos-centric, dark two-shot or more)

Dedication: Houyoku, because she is a lover of angst and an anti-lover of fluff. Besides, with her writing skills, she blows all my fics away in an instant. There is no better angst writer than her.

Inspiration: Once, there lived a man named William Somerset Maugham. He wrote a single book that inspired my life and this fanfic. He probably inspired me to become a professional writer in the future. Thank you deceased English writer!

WARNING: This one-shot contains DARK, SAD, and a few happy moments. Please, please don't kill me by the end of this work! You are putting yourself at risk!

You have a choice. Live or die. Every breath is a choice. Every minute is a choice. To be or not to be.

-Chuck Palahniuk

A smile cures the wounding of a frown.

-William Shakespeare

Wounds Beyond Healing

By Rose-Wisteria

I was the Chosen of Mana and always will be.

Back then I did not know anybody. I did not know that woman. I did not know that girl. I did not know that voluptuous lady. I was always alone.

I was sitting on the floor in the living room in front of the fireplace and amusing myself with wooden blocks. They were colorful and pretty. There was a cushion high on the velvet sofa. Licking my lips, I dropped my toys and climbed upon the cushy furniture. I hugged the cushion to my chest and felt the softness it gave me. I did not want it to be alone. We were not meant to be.

Presently, hearing the door open, I jerked my head up high and saw two people walking in. Silently, I held my breath and listened to the voices that echoed through the large mansion. Father had come home. I was not alone anymore.

The other small person, only slightly shorter than I, was one I did not recognize. Her dress was made of white silk, with short sleeves and laces dangling off her skirt. The girl wore a lovely straw hat with a ribbon tied around it carefully. She was clumsy. The hat soon fell off her pink haired head and onto the floor.

She began to cry and I, though I never met her before, walked over and picked it up. I did not understand why she was so upset. After some hesitation I handed it to her, my eyes shining with some affection. Her tears spilled down her blushing cheeks and she pressed the possession close to her heart.

Daring to peer at me, she pulled herself together and nodded a thank you for the action I had performed. It seemed difficult for her to open her rosy lips and speak. I understood though. I was the same. If there was no reason to talk it was better not to say anything at all.

Father fetched her bags and went straight to the stairs, not pausing once to show recognition of his only son. As he left the shy girl hastily followed him like a shaking shadow. I watched as the two left and knew that they were on speaking terms because soon enough, Father's voice caught my ears. He never talked to me like that.

In those days I cared less for jealousy than anything else. It was as if I was used to it all. Father's routine was a mystery to me because I never dared approach him when he was working. All I knew was that Father did not like to talk to me. He did not care to talk to Mother either. Father was a strange man, but most of all he was a stranger. Maybe that was why I didn't care much about what he thought of me.

Minutes later Father and the shy girl returned to where I was settled, once again, occupied with my blocks. I glanced at the two in curiosity. Then he went to the girl and kissed her on the forehead before putting her on the floor beside me. I gravely stared at the unusual sight of affection from Father. Though he was gazing at me he did not show any kind of reaction to at my amazed stare.

From the way his lips moved I expected him to say something about all this. I waited patiently. However, he changed his mind at the last second. He left the room. The girl next to me, at first, seemed to have no great desire to talk to me or even state her name. Be that as it may, I liked her. She reminded me of Father for some reason.

When she finally gave me some attention her eyes shone with a small light as she dropped a block in my lap. I did not look forward to playing games with anyone other than myself but I accepted this form of gesture as meaning that she wanted to be my friend. I had never had a friend before and I did not know how to react. Her blue orbs continued to urge me though and I gave in.

Time passes quickly when you playwith someone. It was not until Mother walked in the room that the silent bond I had barely begun to form with the girl was disturbed. The reaction was immediate. Mother was not happy. A frown was apparent on her face and the way she gazed at the girl was most disturbing.

The girl's mouth trembled a little but other than that she showed no reaction.

"What are you doing here?" Mother's voice was harsh and all I could do was turn my attention towards my friend with a questioning look. There was obviously something going on between Mother and her and I was not in it.

Again, her mouth quivered and she did not answer.

"You're going to live with us now, aren't you Seles?" asked Mother in a very angry tone. I shivered at the coldness that it conveyed.

Seles dropped her head and still kept her silence. She turned the block she was still holding over and over with apprehension.

"I'm going to take my son back now." Mother said, obviously speaking to the girl while grabbing my hand harshly. With a yank she took me away from Seles without another word and only released me when we arrived at my room.

My head was hung in defeat. Mother glared at me for a few seconds before she finally sighed and brushed back my red locks that had fallen down messily into my blue eyes. Even if Mother had been harsh with Seles I forgave her because I was sad. I felt alone and Father didn't care. In a rushing run I jumped into her arms, buried my face in her bosom and wept into the depths of her clothes. It felt as if my heart would break. Maybe it truly would.

"Don't worry, Zelos. We can get through this together. I won't lose to a half-elf." I had no clue what she was talking about, but I was taken back when she used my name in a tone that was ever so gentle. She usually never used it except for in serious circumstances. And when those circumstances arrived, I was glad.

Promising we would have a better life and that she would get revenge against all those who opposed her, I simply snuggled into her loving arms and let her continue to rant. Then she told me of how one day I would be able to see the bright blue skies for myself and feel the sea currents whipping through my fiery hair. Next, she continued on about how I would be able to roam the countryside and hike the highest mountains. By this time I had forgotten all about my tears and grew excited at the very thought of traveling outside my house. I had never left the backyard of my home. If only I could see the world, I would trade anything for it.

I went downstairs after she retired to her room. What confused me was the fact that Father and Mother slept in different rooms. They never talked. They never fought. They never ate together. To me, my parents were strangers and to each other, they were better strangers. That thought amused me.

I had been in this house so long I knew every hidden passage and every secret room available. There was nothing that struck me as new anymore and I grew tired of the same boring sights this mansion had to offer. But there was one person who I thought was my own secret. Strangely enough I did not even know her name. I did not know what she looked like. I did not know how old she was. I did not know why she existed in that hidden hallway on the other side of my mansion.

All I knew was that she was my secret.

Sitting by the fireplace I studied my small hands and waited for the presence of the grownups to die out. Father was going to leave the house for reasons unknown. Mother was going to fall into a deeper sleep. It was not until half an hour later that I knew it was safe to enter that hallway I knew so well. It was dark and cold. There was nothing lively about such a hallway. An eternal darkness enveloped this area on all sides with a peculiar smell lingering within it.

If Mother knew I kept such a secret from her she would have been furious. There was nothing that made her angrier than me keeping her in the dark. At least, I knew I would be. Her attempts to find out what I was hiding were all foolishness. I did not want to tell her anything. I was afraid. I was afraid my last freedom of thought would be taken away from me. I did not want that to happen.

I often walked through this single hallway when no one noticed my absence. I was pretty sneaky for my age. I made up my mind now that I would not let anyone know about her. It was for the best I think.

Suddenly I heard an unexpected groaning from a short distance away. I shivered at the pathetic echo but pity was apparent in my eyes. It did not take me long to run over and collapse by her side. I never saw her face. I only heard her voice.

The woman gasped when I sat down by her side. I knew this quite well. She did not welcome visitors nor did she expect any in a place like this. A place I thought only I knew about. There was a solemn silence between us before she choked out my name- Zelos. I did not answer. She called out a second time. I had nothing to say so again, I did not answer that hurt tone but then I timidly reached out my small shaking fingers until they caught the icy ones she possessed. They were bony, yet they were also soft to touch. Calmness followed.

The poor lady wept silently and wrapped her arms around me. I watched the faceless woman for a second before I felt my heart ache with pity. I did not know her name. I did not know her face. I did not know her age. I embraced her back and that lady in her filthy clothes dropped tears upon my head. I felt sorry. I did not want to make her cry. An unknown force overwhelmed my entire being and soon enough, I realized why such emotions grew from that empty heart of mine.

Someone cried for me. That was enough. That was all I asked for.

Catalysts were not something I liked to touch, never mind try in my mouth. I did it anyway because I had no reason to disobey. That woman still had no name, face, or age but she had become my friend. How abnormal it was for such a young boy to make such a friend was beyond my imagination. I was not fully aware of what a friend really was. I assumed it was someone you knew well and spent some time with. Ironically she was my friend but I did not know her well at all.

It was about a month now since Seles had come into that living room on that fine day. She really did not talk much even though she was brilliant. I watched with stunned eyes when she repeatedly picked up and handed over what my father asked for. Out of assumption, Seles had a wide range of knowledge I did not possess.

As I had never left my house even once it was to be expected that I knew very little. Sometimes I pondered about how I was able to spend so much time in such a dull place. I really had nothing much to do but sit around and play with my toys. For such a boy to live in such a big scary house like mine I had to have a lot of toys to play with. I grew bored of everything though. Nothing seemed to excite me anymore.

That was until I learned magic. A thing that always struck me as abnormal was how the woman knew how to use magic when she was trapped in such a hallway. It never crossed my mind that she might have been from somewhere other than there and had learned magic elsewhere before she came to be here. I assumed that she had been there for as long as I had. I was a curious boy by nature but I had a weak voice and did not like to ask questions. Seles was more of a loudmouth than me.

Magic was difficult. Scratching my head over and over again, I pondered over the various incantations and hand signs needed to use such spells like Meteor. I tried it over and over again. I never succeeded. Surprisingly she was not at all disappointed. I didn't pay much attention but I caught her several times mumbling to herself that maybe I couldn't use magic because I had no elven blood in me. The comment went in one ear and out the other Elven blood meant nothing to me. It was a word without a definition in my mind.

Sighs were more evident than usual. The following day was a boring day for Seles. Father was away and she had nothing to do. No one was there to play with her but myself. The horrid fact was that she had become my sister over the past week. Forcibly, Father told me to call her sister and I obeyed without a complaint. I had no reason to defy Father's wishes. He was like the law and it was my job to comply with it.

"Big brother," Seles said, waving her arm at me. I was quite used to it now, it didn't sound weird to my ears anymore.

I walked over and my brows jerked up with curiosity. I hated it when I was not needed and loved it when I was. There was no doubt that Seles made me feel this way. I did not know whether it was unusual for other little boys to feel this rush of emotion every time they were useful for something but it was like that for me. Seles wanted me to play with her, not because I was rich or had some title but because I was someone she cared deeply about. In a way, I really was her brother.

We ended up playing hide and seekfull stop Sebastian, the butler who had served as aMother for as long as I could remember, was hiding his eyes against a wall while Seles giggled and I dragged her away. This game was actually quite fun when it was not only Sebastian and I playing it. An idea struck in my head and soon enough I walked with Seles to place where my other friend was staying. It was probably time I visited her anyway and for the first moment in my life I wanted to share my secret. Besides, it was the perfect place to hide from Sebastian. The game was in the bag.

Slowly and steadily I walked Seles through those similar dark halls I was so used to. Under my arm was a basket full of fruits ready for my friend in case she needed a snack during this hour. A quiver came from Seles's body to my hand which was occupied with dragging her along. She had been silent the whole time and from my observations it seemed that she was scared to be here. To reassure her I squeezed her hand affectionately and murmured a quick "it'll be all right".

She bobbed a vague nod. Having realized that she was still frightened, I realized reassuring her was easier said than done.

Closing the gap between the two of us and my friend I heard her adjusting her seating. The noises from her movement nearly made Seles jump out of her skin. The tremendous suspiciousness of Seles's reaction occupied my mind until it completely vanished the minute I sat down by my friend's side. I could see her outline.

As was her usual habit, the woman cried out my name softly. This time I felt that it was necessary to reply so I ended up saying that I was here and that I hadbrought someone with me. An unusual silence followed. Not knowing what to do next, I shyly took a hold of the woman's hands and frowned at the unavoidable shaking. That was odd. Both Seles and my friend were uncomfortable in each other's presence.

"Big bro, who is she?" The strawberry-haired girl asked timidly.

"My friend." I gave the reasonable response in an instant.

Heavy with chocked words, the woman suddenly made an attempt to stand up. I helped her. Bracing against the wall with one hand and holding mine with the other, my friend seemed to eye the girl closely. Again, I was suspicious. This hallway was so dark that I could barely make out her outline, never mind her face. Despite that I believed that she truly wanted to search Seles's face even if it was not possible.

Though Seles could not see the woman she unconsciously knew someone was staring at her and moved desperately behind me in an attempt to hide herself. Seles did not like being watched. But Seles's loss for words made a bigger difference than the actions she took. The woman leaned in closer, or so it seemed.

"He wouldn't!" That was the first time I heard in such a tone from the faceless woman.

Curiously I glanced over at the hiding Seles to see if she would give some kind of response to the words thrown out at us. Who was "he"? I opened my mouth for the second time that day to ask a question out loud. My friend gave me a strange look and for the first time she tightened her grip on my hand so that it was so hard that I was trying to pull it away before my hands became totally numbed. It was hopeless however.

"So that would mean you are his son!" She said, raising her voice dramatically.

Who was whose son? A thousand questions raced through my mind at once. Every eager question wanted to be asked right now. Here and now. I wanted to know the answers to my questions. I wanted to know who everyone was. I wanted to know who I was. I wanted to know everything.

This was a surprise to me. I had free will over my own thoughts. Funny enough, it had never occurred to me that I could actually think on my own. So freedom of thought really does exist! If I wanted to think of something no one could stop me. I had free will over my thoughts. All my life I had been forced to believe in certain customs and routines. The actions I took and the words I carefully said were all part of what I had been taught at a very young age. I had had no freedom over my thoughts. The many people in my life had built them up over the years for me.

When I came to this realization I could not stop myself any longer. I started blurting out every question imaginable. Every question increased my confidence and tone. Every question was answered withsilence from both my friend and my sister. That irritated me. Soon enough I could not help but start to scream out the questions. They must listen to me now! Everything irritated me. The blank face I could not see. The shaking I could feel behind me. The dark shadows I could make out. Everything.

Enough was enough. The back of her hand made contact with my face. That was when I stopped. Stupefied, I stared in horror into the darkness. I had never been hit before. Mother spoiled me. Father ignored me. Sebastian placed me in bed. No one had ever performed such an action on me. I did not know if I should reply with happiness or sadness. This was overwhelming. This was something I had never felt before.

Before I could make my judgment, the minute the echo of her slap ceased to exist, Mother's voice came out from the darkness. She had found the secret hallway. She was behind me. She was name-calling. Remembering what I had learned from Sebastian I attempted to shut the noise out of my ears. Tears stung my eyes but I would not allow them to fall. Mother would not let me cry. I had to obey her. As the woman fell to the ground from the slap Mother gave her I gritted my teeth and closed my eyes to try to escape the violence. I tried. I failed.

Since I was left out of the conversation that was exchanged heatedly between the woman and Mother I was startled to see Mother yanking Seles away with a firm hand. I removed my hands from over my ears. Cries for help bellowed from Seles toward me. I was helpless. I could not move. Reaching a small perfect hand out in an attempt to hold mine my sister burst into tears and squealed my name again and again. Her cries were horrifying. Every second I wasted my sister was taken further away from me for reasons unknown to myself.

Freedom of action. Did I lack that too? Was I not allowed to do anything at all? Revolted by this thought I shook my head fiercely and finally used my own two feet to chase after the girl that was being taken away from my life. She called out "big bro" again. No, please don't do that. Please don't call me "big bro". I don't deserve it.

I found out that it was a foolish attempt on my part to try to rescue her. I was too slow. Every single time I caught her fingers they slipped through my hand and continued on through the dark hallway. I persisted in running after that outstretched hand and hoped to take her safely back to my side. My footsteps echoed louder and louder. The distance between us widened and widened. My mind told me there was no hope of catching up now. My heart told me otherwise so I did not stop.

The basket of fruits that I temporarily had forgotten tilted slightly. Now not only were the echoes of my footsteps ringing through the hallway, the fruits that escaped from the basket also tumbled and echoed as well. I hated my lack of luck and skills. The fruits fell down one by one. They worked like the magic spell Stalagmite by surrounding me and stopping me from making any affective move. Inevitably I tripped over an apple or orange. I watched in dismay as my sister was taken completely out of sight.

If only our fingers that had touched could have stayed grasping each other things would have been different. No, they wouldn't. Suddenly I realized the foolishness of it all. Even if I were to accomplish my goal Mother could have easily taken her within her grasp once more and walked off with her as her captive. Nothing was different. My chase was useless.

Dropping down on my knees, encircled by a variety of fruits, I buried my head into my quivering hands. Now I knew what it was like to be scared. Now I knew what it was like to have someone close to you taken away before your very eyes. I knew too much. I hated knowing too much. Keep my freedom of thought. I don't want it. If keeping my freedom of thought and action were this painful I would rather not have them at all. Everyone else could have themfor all I cared.

It was time to shut up once more. I had to obey. I had a reason to obey now. If I don't follow other people's rules the closest people to me would be taken away. They would be dragged out of a cold hallway. They would cry my name out in pain. I did not want to feel those emotions anymore. I hated it and therefore I obeyed.

Father was a busy man and he was rarely at home to spend any time with Mother and I. Mother did not care much for him though and during those days I believed that she did not love him. Mother thought that she did not as well and most of the time she was correct. While Mother was busy with her various tasks as the mistress of the mansion Father was in his own world writing letters and confirming notes sent to him by people of high society. I dared not disturb him. He was a powerful man.

Both of my parents were from different universes or something like that. They rarely spoke to each other and rarely did anything together. I questioned the relationship they had before I came to this world. Were they closer before I interfered in their lives or had they been as distant as they were now?

Before their relationship had already been like this but after Father found out about Mother's treatment of Seles and the woman in the hallway he couldn't take it anymore. Father began to pack his items away into his luggage. I remembered staring at his strange actions from the doorway with wide eyes. I found out eventually that Father, after a long time, finally noticed my presence and motioned for me to come closer. This command frightened me but I obeyed without hesitation.

Placing a firm hand on top of my red hair Father continued his task with his other hand. He did not say anything for a while. I glanced at the luggage and noticed that all the clothes that he owned were there. I glanced at the closet which was now empty. Shrugging, I tried to ignore these factors and continued to stand there, observing Father who folded his many clothes very carefully.

A few minutes later Father asked me if I was fine living in this house with Mother and Sebastian. I did not know how to answer. Father asked me a question, an honest and serious question, something which had never happened before. Since I had never experienced such words from him I was taken aback and speechless. In truth, I hated this mansion. I had been trapped here for what felt like forever. However, at the very memory of trying to have some freedom of thought before but having failed miserably and to the expense of others, I hastily answered with a "yes". Father did not ask any more.

Without any freedom of thought or action I continued to stand there like a statue before my father's busy hands. Finally he picked up everything he had prepared minutes ago and started heading out of the door to his room. I did not know why but I followed closely behind with my lips sealed. Sensing my footsteps Father turned sharply around to face me and stared into my eyes. I had inherited his eyes so it was as if he was staring into his own. With every passing minute I felt numb from top to bottom but I did not cry out in pain or move at all. Father simply took his eyes off me, as if bored of it all, and told me that he was leaving Mother in my hands.

"You must take good care of her. She has suffered enough."

Those were the exact words he said. I did not understand what he meant but if he were going away it seemed logical enough that he would want me to take care of Mother. He had left home many times before but he had never left me with such instructions before. This was strange behavior, even coming from him. Then I realized when I saw him descending the stairs that he was leaving for good. He wanted to leave so badly that his footsteps quickened slightly. I thought that if I let him go like this I would regret it. He had ignored his only son his whole life and even when it was time to say good-bye he could not look at me and say those instructions. Why did he dislike me so much? With this thought in mind I did not hurry to stop his actions. I did not attempt to move from my spot above the stairs but continued to watch him descend and then open the front door. It was only when he opened the front door to its full extent that I felt something move inside me.

"Father." The word was soft and cool but the very echo of it made Father jerk his head up at me in surprise. He caught my eyes once more.

"What did you just call me?" He asked in disbelief, his tone wavering.

"Father." I repeated, watching the older man's face twist with some sort of horror.

It was normal for him to have such a reaction. His only son never talked to him much and when he did it was not of his own free will. I knew those were his very thoughts because I was brought up that way. I was brought up to have no free will over any thoughts I had and actions I took. Everything was under someone else's control. Under these circumstances, however, I couldn't stop myself. Father had ignored me for long enough. The shocked look on Father's face made me feel guilty.

"Are… you leaving?" The question came out of my mouth before I could stop myself.

"Yes." An awkward silence followed before Father added, "I will never see you again, Chosen." That word. That title. My everything.

"May Goddess Martel be with you," I chose those words carefully.

"That's your job as the Chosen… to spread the teachings of Martel." Father decided to tell me something I had known from the minute I was born. He smiled sadly. "I was afraid of you, Chosen. I did not like the idea of my son being the future Chosen." There was another pause as he sighed and then continued, "Actually, I never wanted a son. That choice was out of my control."

"You're afraid of me?" I asked, my voice trembling with rushing tears that threatened to spill from my eyes at any moment. Was that why he didn't like me?

"The Chosen is not really my son. The Chosen is Cruxis's son. You do not belong to Myrene and I. You belong to Goddess Martel and Cruxis."

Standing there I tried to fully comprehend those words but I could not before Father had closed the door behind him. He was gone. Even as the house continued on without a single sound I sat against the wall at the top of the stairs with Father's words on my mind. I was the Chosen. I belonged to the Church. I belonged to Martel. How miserable it must have been for Father and Mother to take care of me, thinking that I was someone else's son. If they caused me any harm Goddess Martel and Cruxis would not forgive them. If they did not bring me up as a proper Chosen they were likely to suffer under Goddess Martel and Cruxis. The Church was the center of everyone's lives and everyone believed in it.

That was the reason why I had no freedom of thought or action. There was no other option for Mother and Father but to raise me into this statue that obeyed every command that was thrown at him and listened to conversations that were spoken without opening my lips in reply. I had no freedom. Goddess Martel, Cruxis, and the rest of the Church would never allow such freedom for the Chosen.

Rushing down the stairs I positioned myself right by a window and watched the groups of people walking outside. I couldn't find Father. I searched and searched but I could not catch any glimpses of red hair. He really was gone. I wanted to thank him before he left. I wanted to bow down low and kiss the ground he walked on. Father may have ignored my existence throughout the early years of my life but he finally gave me the reason for all the injustice I felt so far. I was the Chosen. I was the son of Cruxis or angels. There was no place in society for someone like me. Everyone was afraid of me, even my Father and Mother, but at the same time everyone wanted to protect me with everything they had. I had some sort of weapon in my hand. Unfortunately, at the moment, I did not know how to use it.

Now that I knew why my existence had been different to those around me I did not know how to react. It seemed that everything was out of control again. If only I had not found outI was the Chosen from Father maybe I would have stayed in that world of speechlessness and thoughtlessness. No freedom of action or thought.

The fact had been leaked howeverso I made a note to myself about one important rule for the future: ignorance is bliss. And the people continued to walk down the streets.

I dreamed of death. I dreamed of myself standing in a world of white as red petals plunged downward around me. The sun suddenly appeared and just as rapidly it was gone. When I woke up I did not sweat and I did not sob out loud. Instead I felt enlightened and quickly wrote my vision down in the dream journal I had by my bed. The message somehow became clear to me, as if Cruxis and Goddess Martel had implanted this seed within my mind in the middle of the night. I wrote it down:

Dusk represents the death of a person. Every sun must set and every person must die. Death is inevitable. Just like falling red petals.

Rushing to the window near my bedside I watched the snowflakes lazily floating down onto the streets. The streetlamps had been lit early this morning. I had never seen the lamps lit this early in the day so it surprised me greatly. Removing my presence from beside the window I went back to my bed and dropped my head upon a fluffy pillow.

On the desk beside my bed rested a thin book, alongside my dream journal. The object surprised me greatly, I had never noticed it there before. Gently I picked it up and observed it from all angles. The cover page was pretty boring. There was only a title and the writer's name along with a picture of a setting sun in the background. It didn't interest me much until I carelessly dropped the book onto the bed, causing a piece of paper to slip out. I picked it up and caught sight of the elegant handwriting. I recognized the object at last. It was Mother's bookmark… Mother's letter.

My vocabulary was pretty limited. Mother planned for a private professor to teach me soon but for now I was still a lame duck at home. Because of these factors it was pretty hard for me to read anything in that letter. The vocabulary and context was pretty complex so I decided to only read the bits I could understand. It took me a long time to finish the parts I could read but at the end of it I was satisfied. Why? Because I started to understand why Mother had taken Seles away from me. I understood why Mother disliked the other woman so much.

The other woman was… my other mother. The woman who had tried desperately to teach me how to use magic was actually my stepmother. Seles, in fact, was my sister. She had Father's blood flowing through her veins. We were related. We were siblings. We were supposed to be close. Yet, in the end, we were separated.

For some reason I searched through my bookcase and read through the only books I was allowed to read. I read books about Goddess Martel and the edict of the Cruxis. I read books about Spiritua and how she had helped the King. I read books about the laws regarding half-elves. I read books written in the angelic language. My head almost collapsed into sleep from all the reading I decided to do in one day. I had to distract myself from the sounds of joy outside my bedroom window. I did not belong in the fun world of children. I did not belong in the joy of childhood. I belonged to the Church of Martel and that was where I had to remain. The world of happiness was beyond my reach. Everything I ever wanted was outside that window… that horrid red door of Mother's mansion…

The thoughts I began to have about running away scared me. Glancing at the open window I smiled at this new line of thought that had occurred so suddenly. I wanted to be a dove and fly out of the window. I wanted to explore the skies and never come back down to Tethe'alla. If only I could sprout wings and leave this cursed place I would welcome anything. There was nothing that I wanted more.

Again, the lack of freedom of thought and action prevented me from achieving my dreams. I had no right to do any of that. My fantasies were useless. People can't sprout wings and fly. The images of angels I saw in my picture book were everything I wanted. If what Father said was true however, that I belonged to Cruxis… Cruxis couldhelp me fly. They could help me accomplish the impossible.

That was when I started to cry. I did not know why. I had never cried before. The thought of pointless tears had never entered my mind. However, at that moment in time, I started to sob desperately. My shoulders shook violently and my throat held a lump that I had never felt before. The despicable tears that I had hidden all came out in a rush. The rivulets flowed down onto the books I had placed on my lap and then onto the white sheets. I couldn't take it anymore. I flung my whole body against the pillow and hid my tears. I wanted to bury all my feelings away inside the very ideas that had held me prisoner. I was human wasn't I? No, I was not. I was the Chosen.

My head jolted up when I heard footsteps leaving my room. Why hadn't I heard them when they had first come in? I did not know what to expect next so I hastily wiped my tears away with the back of my hand. My cheeks glowed with embarrassment. There were two other people living in this mansion besides me and hopefully the person who had caught me crying was the one with the mustache.

That afternoon I busied myself in front of the greatest game in the world- chess. My opponent was my butler and there he was, playing a hard thinker with his serious eyes and deep frown. I stared harder at the way he rubbed his right hand against his chin and tapped his left hand against the wooden table. The butler sighed a couple of times and occasionally blinked. His eyes were gazing at his white queen so hard that I wouldn't have been surprised if it had explodedinto pieces.

"Sebastian," I reminded him that I was waiting in an irritated tone.

"Hold on one minute, Young Master," The butler raised a finger of silence before he carefully placed the white Queen diagonally across from the black King. "Checkmate."

"I lost." I mumbled as if it was the least important event in the world.

"I'm sorry, Young Master." The butler got up and bowed deeply in apology.

I shook my head. I did not like it when anyone bowed to me. It reminded me of how different I was for being the Chosen. Returning to what he had said, I continued to gaze at the board at my inevitable checkmate. Chess was such a complex game to me at this young age, maybe that's why it fascinated me so much. The idea of being in control of something else attracted my interests like nothing else. If I couldn't control my life then at least I could control the moves of the pieces that I played. Yet, even in such an attempt, I had failed to keep my King safe. One wrong move could change everything, especially in such a game. Sometimes there were only two options and I had chosen the wrong one. If it had been life, there would have been no chance of turning back.

A loving hand touched my shoulder so I glanced uponly to see Mother in a flowing white coat. I cocked my head in curiosity. Mother didn't usually want to talk to me much so when she did I had to pay attention. Her hand gripped tightly onto my shoulder before she released it and motioned toward the door. I still did not understand. This type of gesture was new to me and for some unknown reason it terrified me.

"Let's go, Chosen." She said sternly.

"Where Mother?" I asked, pretending to be a simpleton.

"Outside." Mother grasped my hand gently and pulled me towards the door.

"Really Mother?" I asked again.

This was all an illusion. Any minute now Mother would take off that coat and hang it on the door where it belonged. Any minute now Mother would urge me to climb the stairs to my room and read some more picture books. Any minute now Mother would tell the Butler to deliver my usual evening soup to my room and make me sip it in silence without a soul to bother me. That was the routine. The idea of that routine being broken was incomprehensible.

"Grab your coat, Chosen, or else you'll catch a cold," Mother commanded.

My jaw dropped but I obeyed nevertheless. Instead of Mother taking off her coat she was commanding me to wear my own. Instead of climbing the stairs to read in my room I was grabbing my coat. Instead of the usual evening soup I was receiving a play day outdoors. This was strange. This was out of the ordinary. This was everything I wanted. When I grabbed hold of my white coat I snuggled my face against it into its soft depths. The scent of freedom had never smelled so good.

Rushing down the stairs I jumped into Mother's arms as she carried me out ofthe door. The sun beamed down on me as I shielded my eyes from the magnificent light. I inhaled the cool air. The scent of fresh winter pines filled my senses. The raining snowflakes dropped onto the palm of my hands. This was Heaven. Cruxis and the angels did not live in Heaven. I was living in it right now! Heaven was right here- outside my home.

What I did next still astonished me. I started running around in the blanket of white snow. The feelings of joy I experienced were overwhelming. I was at lost for words. I jumped into the snow and felt the cool crystals between my fingers. Mother watched me from afar and once I thought I caught a ghost of a smile playing on her lips but I dismissed it as an illusion. My fingers grew numb from holding onto the freezing flakes. Suddenly I sneezed. Mother gasped and hurried over to my side. She was worried that the Chosen might catch a cold. I sneezed again and again and again. The body that was so accustomed to indoors was finally experiencing sickness. I felt horribly sick now but it didn't matter. I hadn't been this happy since the day I was born!

My coldness was soon forgotten when Mother touched my red locks of hair. In that moment she didn't look like a scary woman anymore. Pulling my body up into a sitting position I touched her icy cheek. Her eyes watered. I did not understand. Was she sad? Why was she sad? Was something in her eye making it water? My heart skipped a beat. I felt extraordinarily helpless.

Then, unexpectedly, I placed my arms around Mother's neck and dropped my head onto her shoulder. She didn't push me away. Her breath tickled my ear. I could not see her eyes but I knew that she was crying. I still did not understand why she cried. Was it possible for people to cry out of happiness? What a strange concept.

Her entire body trembled. When I lifted my head from her shoulders I watched her in amazement as tears rolled down her cheeks, one by one in an orderly fashion. I did not know what to do. I felt that the tears she now cried were somehow my fault. It was almost always my fault. I was the cause of her misery. Mother was a poor lady. I understood this well. Without any hesitation I pressed a kiss against her tears. I stared into those miserable blue eyes and then I kissed her again and again. It wasn't until I stopped that I realized this was the first time I had kissed Mother this way. This was the first time I had kissed Mother at all. Mother made me suffer. She had always made me suffer. My childhood was being wasted in that mansion but somehow she was the center of everything I lived for.

"Mother, I will get you some hot chocolate," I offered to stop her tears.

Nodding, she said softly, "Thank you."

"Are you sure you don't want to come inside with me?" I asked, trying to sound gentle. Mother hated it whenever I had a free will of my own but right now I took advantage of her disheveled state. I took a few steps towardsthe mansion.

"I want to be left alone," Mother whispered.

"Do you hate me?" I asked in a distant whisper.

I had to know. Mother kept me like a prisoner in that house. She took away any freedom I ever had. She made me follow certain routines and certain customs to please her. When Father had beenaround she had been gentler with me but with him gone she had started abusing my silence. She screamed at me. She smacked me once. She kept repeating her lines over and over, telling me to say something, anything at all. However, I refused to say anything at the fearsome thought of more abuse. That was when I hid myself in my room and tried to read various picture books. That was when I hid and cried myself to sleep. She didn't know about any of this. Her temper was unbelievable and uncontrollable after Father left. I could not go near her.

Now this change of attitude scared me more than her abusive words. Was she the one who had seen me cry earlier? If she had then I wouldn't be surprised at her new treatment of me. What kind of Mother abused her son for days and then tried to be nice by taking him to play outside in the snow? There was nothing real about Mother. She was made up of lies and deception. I stopped trusting her.

The silence was broken. "I hate you. I wish you were dead." She said sadly.

"Why?" I felt pain but on the surface, I showed none of it.


However she didn't finish before my attention turned upward at the sight of something falling from the sky. I did not understand what happened next. When I saw the red object in the sky I did not know what to do but scan for any sign of the Papal knights or any other law enforcer to help us in this situation. As I searched for them my eyes fell upon that woman. Although I had never seen her clearly in the light I was sure she was the same one that I had met in the dark, cold hallways of my mansion. That petite figure… that silver hair… it all led to one conclusion- she was a half-elf. Other than that she was someone else. She was my stepmother.

Her hands were moving in some sort of incantation. I knew that spell well. She had attempted to teach me that exact spell in the past. It was Meteor. It was one of the most complex spells she had tried to teach me but I could not gasp it. I did not have an ounce of Elven blood in me to enable me to be able to chant such a powerful spell. Then the whole meaning of the event dawned on me. She was attacking Mother and me.

My legs were shaking and I couldn't move my feet. Every part of my body suddenly stopped working altogether. I stared up in horror at the falling meteor that was aimed right at Mother. I was not in range of the attack. I had two choices- I could either run over and rescue Mother, risking my own life for hers, or I could run to the mansion and keep myself alive. This was reality. It was no longer chess. My choice would affect both our lives forever. That deciding move began all over again.

In my mind those few seconds where I had to make a decision suddenly froze in time. Mother barely noticed the meteor coming down on her. I tried to find the right answer within myself. The snow descended around us. Much of it had already melted from the meteor's heat. Many of the flakes shone a bright red. That was when I started seeing red petals falling around us.

I remembered my dream. During that frozen moment that dream became a reality. Turning my head from left to right I gazed at the red petals that lazily floated down around me. Was it really true? I asked myself over a hundred times. Was death really the end of everything? My whole body trembled at this thought. When people started to imagine falling red petals around them, it was over.

"The minute you see falling red petals… when you know there isn't a single cherry blossom tree in sight… death has come."

My whole life was full of foolishness because of Mother. She obeyed Cruxis and the Church of Martel with all her heart. She had married Father and had had me. The minute I was born I became the Chosen. Mother treated me well at times, I must admit, but she took away everything essential in a human being from me. She took away my freedom to think and to act. Every other boy and girl in the world had a chance to play outside and make friends. Every other boy and girl in the world had parents who would hold them and kiss them. Every other boy and girl in the world was called by their birth name. Then what was I? Again, I asked myself. Was I not human? Was I always to be called "Chosen" or "Chosen of Mana" all my life? Was I not Zelos Wilder?

Father told me to take care of Mother but did he ever take care of me? Did he ever treat me like I was his son? Did he ever look at me like the way he looked at Seles? Did he ever once call me Zelos? What right did he have to ask me for a favor?

Mother had taken everything from me for so long that I had forgotten how to love. I had forgotten how to smile. I had forgotten how to talk and be happy. My gestures and expressions hardly expressed how I felt. I was not only Chosen as a title, I was already a Chosen at heart. A Chosen who would one day travel to the Tower of Salvation and leave this world to join Martel. A Chosen who would one day teach the world about Martel and her angels of Cruxis. I was to love Martel and Martel alone and because of that I was meant to be alone and be separated from other inferior beings. I was no ordinary boy who could enjoy a dinner without a poison inspection or sleep in my bed without a quick bomb sweep. Yes, that was my destiny.

Now it was time to grow wings and fly. Mother… Father… I'm sorry. You had obeyed your destinies in life so well but I will not follow your footsteps. I will leave my own tracks behind. I will make my own destiny.

I caught a red petal in my hand. I heard Mother shriek as the attack obliterated her entire being. When I pressed my hand against the fragile red petal in my hand it turned into scarlet water. No, it was not scarlet water. It was a hot crimson liquid. It was red snow. It was blood.

And it was… checkmate.

"Because…" Mother repeated again in a raspy voice. She was struggling against death. Did she see the red petals too? I came back to reality and saw her body covered with blood. Her eyes firmly glared daggers into my entire being. "You should have never been born." With that, her hands dropped motionless on top of the snow and her eyes dropped down, forever closed.

I felt nothing. I felt empty. I felt no emotion whatsoever.

All around me I heard whispers from the groups of women who gathered around. I heard the cries of the woman who had attacked Mother as she struggled against the Papal Knights that came and arrested her. The sun was setting on the horizon. Dusk had finally come to end another life. People were now clearing away and walking back home to pack up for the pilgrimage tomorrow. Some of them were probably picking out their best black clothing for the funeral that would take place during the pilgrimage. And most certain of all, they were all talking about me.

"Chosen… are you okay?"

Only one woman dared to come close to me and ask me that simple question. This kindness that I had never felt before suddenly pulled my spirits up. This species… I believe they were called females… were caring? I elevated my gaze to look at the stranger who had concern written on her face and sadness in her eyes. This… woman was different from my stepmother somehow. Were all women like this?

"Are you okay, Chosen?" She repeated again.

Yes… why was I thinking of Mother anyway? I was free now. I had finally gained everything I had wished for. With Mother gone I was finally free to think on my own and move on my own. I had my ownfree will now. I had the right to leave my house and play. I had the right to dance in the moonlight if I wanted to. I had the right to do anything now. Nothing was holding me back. No Mother. No Father. No customs or rules or routines or anything! Those wings… I had finally gained those wings!

If only the pain in the pit of my stomach and my heart would stop aching so much! I tried hard not to show the pain when I finally faced the woman directly. My lips curled up in a smile. It was strange to smile. I wasn't supposed to be happy. I wasn't meant to be happy. I wasn't supposed to feel such emotions. Now, all I wanted to do was smile to be rid of the pain in my racing heart and the pain in my captured soul.

The woman was quite taken aback at first at the bright face I showed her. I bowed to show my courtesy. I could do whatever I wanted to now. There was no need to be quiet anymore. I could talk of my own free will now! There was no need to keep my emotions bottled up inside anymore! To hell with silence!

I lifted an offering hand. "My lady, may I offer you my assistance?"

Ending Notes: That scene with the petals… I wish I had the skills to draw that powerful image… oh well… A different writing style from me eh? Okay, okay… the symbolism and a few of my usual literary words were still there but I thought everything else was different no? My friend said this fic was another side of Zelos she didn't expect to see! To tell you the truth, I really liked this newest piece of work I'm attempting. Actually, I think this is the best work I had attempted in a two-shot/one-shot so far. It was meant to be a one-shot but I changed my mind at the last minute. It was much too long for a one-shot especially if this many pages were only on Zelos alone and without Sheena. Now, with only one or two chapters left, everyone will expect Sheena in the future right? Okay, hopefully, everyone will stop throwing tomatoes at what I have written so far. Thank you for taking the time to read this fic! Thank you Sis Samuu for beta reading this fic! Minnie loves you all very much. Please R & R.