By Queenie Z

Lloyd stared into the horizon, watching the orange sunset lapse into lavender twilight and the waves rolling endlessly across the deep blue sea. Occasionally, he would dig his toes into the sand and let the water gently run over his feet as he sat in the sand. The air was still and quiet, save for the sound of the waves and the seagulls.

This place, off the coast of the Iselian peninsula, held special memories for him. It was were he and Colette used to collect seashells when they were younger.

It was a good distance away from town, but the trip down was never a bore. Most of the time they would take Genis along, but there were a few times when it was just the two of them as well. Together they would play in the surf and splash each other until their eyes stung from the salty water. As they let the hot summer sun dry them off, they would stroll across the shoreline and pick up anything interesting they cold find. They often joked about someday finding a message in a bottle washed up on the shore; however, they never managed to find one.

What they did find, however, were shells - lots and lots of beautiful seashells, big and small, shiny and dull, and all different shapes and colors. When they had amassed a large collection of seashells - usually by the time the sun had nearly set, just like this evening - they would head home, talking of the things they did that day. Lloyd would use the seashells to make crafts by himself and with his dwarven father, while Colette had gathered a collection inside a small leather pouch in her room, no two seashells being the same.

However, as the years went by, they went to the seashore less and less, until finally, they stopped going all together. This was about the time that Colette was summoned by the oracle - the start of their journey. But with that journey came a change. The more danger they faced, the more they came to realize just how much they treasured each other, until a time came when they were no longer just best friends. The boy and the girl who would collect seashells by the seashore grew into the young man and the young woman with an incredible and unbreakable bond.

The first time they made love, Lloyd knew that their bond would last forever. The ecstasy and affection they felt had completely engulfed them both, and with it came sacred promises to adore and protect each other whispered lazily into their ears. Two souls, permanently entwined, lay still in each other's arms; the world was for them, and for them alone.

Lloyd smiled a little, remembering the promises and the kisses. To know how far they had come, just in the year after their journey had ended. But... something seemed off. As much as the joy they gave each other through love was great, he found that he missed those days at the seashore; the blissful innocence of youth, where happiness could be found in a simple shell and the merry laughter of friends. He wanted to go back and experience that, just one more time...

Suddenly he felt a pair of arms wrapped around his shoulders, followed by a peck on the cheek. He turned his head.

"Hey, Colette," he said.

She smiled. "I was looking for you. What are you doing out here?"

Lloyd looked back out onto the sea. "Nothing much... I was just thinking."

She nuzzled his neck a bit. "About what?"

"Eh... not much, just remembering stuff."

Colette giggled and produced a basket. "I guess you were thinking what I was thinking!"

He beamed at the sight of the basket, the excitement of a child shining in his eyes. "I guess so!" He stood up and took her hand.

She let go of his hand and took a hold of his arm instead, her other hand holding the basket. "I think I saw a whole bunch over there," she said as she nodded over to the left of them.

"Okay," said Lloyd with a grin, "let's go look!"

And together, they strolled along the shore, just as they had done in their youth, reliving the merriment of collecting seashells.