An Easter to Remember Always

Disclaimer: The characters featured in this story from Trinity Blood do not belong to me. This is the sequel to 'An Easter to Remember' which continues on from where it left off. This is an Ion x Esther story. Hope you enjoy!


Part1

"This really isn't necessary," Ion responded while he felt Esther place a warm cloth against his back, "I told you I'm fine." Esther had started cleaning his back of any dry blood and dirt which had stuck to his back after the fall in the forest. Upon examination, Ion's back showed nothing but a couple of scratches which was a relief. Earlier when Ion had lifted himself from the ground, Esther went into a panic when she saw the long deep gashes over his back. Blood was spilling out of the wounds which ran down his back and stained his top. Ion couldn't even feel the gashes so when Esther started worrying about them, he told her he'd be fine but she didn't believe him. It's why she had dragged him back to the festival grounds and brought him inside her private tent so she could treat him.

"I'm sorry about this, I know you said you would be fine but I just want to be sure," Esther said as she removed the cloth from his back and reached for a towel to dry him off. Even though he could heal at a rapid rate, the fact that he got hurt because of her still remained. Esther felt bad but there wasn't much she could do about it now. Cleaning him from the fall and giving him some new clothes was the least she could do. For saving her life, she would be eternally grateful.

Ion couldn't help but smile as he leaned toward on the stool he was sitting on. They were in Esther's private tent which was set up beside the festival. He could hear carnival music and children laughing with delight over all the games and rides there were. Ion couldn't wait to see what was set up out there, especially if it meant doing these things with Esther, "You don't need to apologise, everything turned out well in the end."

He then closed his eyes as he thought back on their first kiss in the forest. It was such a magical feeling; Ion had no words to describe it. Esther's lips were so soft and warm and the feeling still lingered, even now he could still taste her in his mouth which didn't help settle his desire for her. Feeling her warm hands over his back sent shivers down his spine. All he wanted was to take her in his arms and kiss her again except longer and deeper than before. His hands tightened into fists as he tried fighting back the urge to jump her.

Esther used the towel to dry his back off and removed it once she felt satisfied he was dry. The young Queen could hardly see the scratches anymore; it was as though that earlier incident didn't even happen. She was glad Ion wouldn't be scarred from such an event but as she stared at his back, colour developed in her cheeks as she started looking over him more closely. Ion's back was very defined, along with his arms which had muscles slightly bulging from his skin. He wasn't overly muscular which was good as she didn't think the look would suit him. But right now, he that look of a man which had evolved from the young boy he used to be.

Before she knew what she was doing, Esther's hands reached out to Ion's back again as she pressed them against his skin firmly. Instead of checking him for injury, she started caressing slowly as though exploring him. She started around his lower back first and slowly made her way up to his shoulder blades. She felt Ion tense in response as she felt goose bumps welcome his skin. Esther couldn't believe she was doing this, they had only kissed once, and it wasn't like they were in an actual relationship. Yet look at her now, feeling over him as though she owned him. That would be nice, if she could actually claim him as her man, her Methuselah, her Ion. By this time, Esther's hands had rested on his shoulders while her forehead rested against the back of his head with disappointment. Thinking about it, could they really be in a relationship? Perhaps if she was still that same girl from the Vatican but she wasn't anymore. She was a Queen, and she didn't belong to herself anymore, she belonged to the people. Would it really be right for her to be in a relationship when she had to dedicate her life to others?

"Don't stop," Ion said softly when he felt Esther's soft massage stop. He wasn't expecting her to do anything like that but it wasn't like he was regretting it. The only thing he regretted was that she didn't continue. It felt so good feeling her touch him like this.

When she didn't respond, Ion started growing concerned. Did he say something to upset her? "Esther...?" Ion brought one of his hands over her own as he turned his head to see her, "What's wrong?"

Esther shook her head, not really knowing what to say. Ion was such a great guy; he was so perfect in every way. He really cared for those around him and would do anything to protect them. He was so considerate and caring and his smile would make any woman melt in response. While he had such a great personality, he had looks which could kill. But did she really deserve him? They lived in two different worlds. He had his own obligations to the Empire which meant he needed to be there to follow whatever orders Seth, the Empress required of him. He also mentioned that someday, he would be taking his grandmother's role as Head of the Imperial Council.

She wanted to tell him how she felt, that she loved Ion with all her heart and soul. But how could she when he was such an important figure to the Empire? Would she even be allowed to be with a Methuselah? Sure the war was over, but it wasn't like everyone had accepted each race as equals. There were still humans and Methuselah who were against the peace between both races and she couldn't risk Ion being hurt by anyone because the differences.

"I'm fine," Esther answered, although there was a bit of strain in her voice since she was lying. She felt ready to cry but she didn't want to worry Ion. Stepping away from him as she pulled her hands back, she decided to change the subject, "I'll go get you a new top. Your other one was torn from the fall earlier so I'll be right back." She needed an excuse to get away from him and finding new clothes seemed like the best option. While away, she needed to put herself in line and make herself believe that friendship would be as far as they could go. She couldn't be selfish, she couldn't bare dragging Ion away from his family and home to be with her; it didn't seem fair. Yet she couldn't go there as she had her obligations to her own people.

As Esther walked around Ion, she made sure to have her head turned away so he couldn't see her face as it was hard pretending to be fine when she really wasn't. But before she could walk off, Ion had grabbed her hand and suddenly pulled her to him. Esther yelped in shock and suddenly fell back onto Ion's lap. Once she was sitting against him, Ion wrapped his arms around her firmly and rested his head beside her own. Esther's heart skipped a beat as she sat there, unable to move due to the sheer joy of being cuddled by him and from the unexpected action.

Ion turned her head so he could look into her eyes. He could tell Esther was upset about something so he wasn't going to have her walk out on him to sort it out on her own. "What's the matter?" Ion asked with concern as he shifted aside some of the loose strands of hair from her face behind her ear. Esther was beet red, unable to process any thoughts at this moment. Right now, all she was focused on was how she was sitting on Ion's lap. That and how she was pressed against Ion's bare chest! She couldn't help but allow her eyes to wander, wanting to see how Ion looked from the front compared to the back. She was fascinated by his back earlier but now she had a new obsession with his chest. Again he was well defined and had muscles slightly bulging from his skin. Even a six-pack was very noticeable which drew Esther to him even more. Of course she loved Ion for his personality, but having a great body never hurt. It added to the attraction which made Esther want to scream. Wasn't she thinking earlier that they should be friends only!?

"What are you staring at?" Ion smirked with amusement which made Esther's eyes widen with embarrassment as she quickly turned her head away. Her face was now redder than her hair if that was even possible. She felt so embarrassed right now that she wished lightning would strike her and put her out of her misery. The Count couldn't help but chuckle a bit as he cupped Esther's chin and turned her head to his, "Esther... There's something I've wanted to tell you since I've arrived. Actually, there's also something I've wanted to ask as well."

Esther's heart began to beat rapidly as she stared into Ion's bright red eyes. She couldn't picture what Ion was about to say, but judging by the expression on his face, she felt it must be very important. The young Queen couldn't help but feel uneasy about it, thinking it might be something bad like he had a fiancé back home. 'Oh god please no. Don't let it be anything like that,' Esther thought in her head with fear.

"Esther..." Ion whispered as he leaned in closer to her. He knew he had something to say to her, but staring at her now with her lips so full and luscious were becoming too much to ignore. He had wanted to kiss her some more, and now seemed like the perfect opportunity since they were alone. Plus he forgot what he wanted to say. It may come to him once he settled his desires momentarily.

Esther watched as Ion's face drew closer to hers and felt her heart was going to jump out of her chest. How was she supposed to remind herself that it won't work between them if he was going to make things more difficult? Still, not a word of protest came from her mouth. Instead, she simply closed her eyes and waited as she felt Ion's forehead press against hers. Their breath became one and Esther could almost feel Ion's lips against hers when...

"Ion! Esther!" Abel rushed into the tent, "I had wanted to see if..." He stopped mid-sentence when he saw the position Ion and Esther were in. With Esther on his lap and Ion shirtless, only one thought processed in Abel's head which made him blush a bit, "Oops, sorry! I'll be leaving!"

Esther quickly got up from Ion's lap then, thankful internally for the distraction, "Father Nightroad! I need to go get Ion another shirt. Can you please keep him company while I get something for him?" Abel blinked in confusion, not really certain if he should stay in Esther's private tent. He raised his index finger in the air and was about to present a reasonable excuse but suddenly saw her rush passed him, "Thanks Father!" Abel turned and watched her go then lowered his hand slowly, so much for his excuse. It wasn't keeping Ion company that bothered him so much, it was actually how perceptive the Count could be.

"Father," Ion sighed, both in annoyance for Abel's sudden appearance but also upset over Esther leaving so suddenly, "There's something I've been meaning to ask you."

'Here it comes,' Abel thought but smiled all the same, trying to look innocent, "Yes Count?"

"You knew about Esther climbing that tree didn't you?" Ion asked suspiciously, "It's why you rushed in to check and see if we were okay right?"

"What makes you think that?" Abel tried acting dumb.

"So you did know," Ion suspected as he got up from the stool.

"I didn't say that."

"But you didn't deny it," Ion narrowed his gaze on the tall priest while Abel felt a bead of sweat run down the back of his neck. Even though he was taller than the blonde, Ion could still be quite intimidating if crossed the wrong way. He watched as Ion walked to the dresser which held a few of Esther's belongings on it like a brush, mirror and makeup. But what Ion reached for was the Easter egg Esther had retrieved from the tree. Esther had mentioned to Ion that it belonged to Eris but Ion had his doubts on it. How could such a little girl get it up that high? Even if it was thrown, the chances of it landing on a branch right on the top of the tree was still highly unlikely. It had to be put up there by someone, and that someone had to be Abel. The young Methuselah looked at the egg for a moment, staring at its bright blue wrapper before tossing it up in the air and catching it again, "I can't believe you'd risk injuring your Queen like that."

Abel took offence to that but he could see where Ion was going with it. Technically it was wrong of him to gamble Esther's life on a little match making plan but he never intended to put Esther's life on the line. "I didn't expect that it would turn out as bad as it did," Abel admitted, feeling guilty about it.

"It's alright Father," Ion turned to look at the priest again thoughtfully, "You brought both of us together and for that I thank you." He smiled as he tossed the egg towards the Crusnik. Abel caught it without any problems and stared down at it for a moment. He remembered putting this egg in that tree for himself when they were hiding the eggs. It was selfish as the chocolate was meant for the orphans but he couldn't help himself. He didn't intend on telling the Count this as he knew he'd be in more trouble then. Instead, he looked back at Ion and tossed the egg back to him, "You can have it. I'm sure you haven't tried one these yet have you?"

Ion caught it again and shook his head, "No, I haven't." But after all the issues in saving it, Ion decided it would be best for Esther to keep it. Perhaps it could be kept in memory over the little drama this chocolate egg caused.

After a moment of silence, Abel took another step into the tent and asked, "Tell me something Count. How did you know that tree incident involved me?" Even though the issue was resolved now, Abel knew this little puzzle was going to bug him all day. Better to ask now and have it forgotten then to bring it up later down the track and recall the fright of risking Esther injury again.

Ion smiled a bit, "Well, first there was you in that bunny suit when you came to scare away those girls. Then when I was conveniently on my own before a little girl came up to me out of no where and tells me Esther was in the forest. But how would she have known that I wonder? And Esther couldn't remember how she got up in that tree; she's usually responsible enough not to put herself in situations like that. So who did that leave to suspect? If that wasn't a big enough clue, it was you two spying on us which gave it away." Ion raised an eyebrow at the priest while Abel turned his head away and rubbed the back of his head; so much for the under cover match making plan.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Esther had returned a few minutes later with new upper garments for Ion. It consisted of a white long sleeve turtleneck shirt with a black button up jacket to go on top. When Ion put them on, he looked down at himself and noticed the jacket sat above his stomach while the white shirt underneath went down to the belt of his pants.

"This reminds me of the outfit I wore when you first came with me to the Empire," Ion noticed as he looked to Esther for confirmation.

Esther simply smiled, "I suppose the style is similar. It's not quite as elegant as that outfit you wore those years ago but the look suits you."

Ion blinked, "You took the time to examine my outfits back then and assess if whether or not they looked good?" He couldn't help but chuckle while Esther went wide eyed, realising how strange that must have sounded. "That's not what I meant. It's just, the clothes were different from what I usually see." It wasn't like she was 'checking him out' or anything. Not that she needed a reason or excuse as that was five years ago! She just took into account how nice his clothes were, and how cute Ion looked in them. None the less, her cheeks turned slightly pink with embarrassment.

"Well, I liked that outfit you wore back then too," Ion admitted as he thought back on it, "It was very cute. And I liked how we matched." It was Ion's turn to blush a little then but wasn't afraid to show it. Turning his attention back to Esther, Ion walked over to her and took her hands within his. He then brought her hands up to his face and started pressing soft kisses against her fingers and backs of her hands. Each kiss felt like fire on Esther's skin and she could feel it flow all the way through her body. She shuddered slightly with delight but had to remember they shouldn't be doing this. It sucked the enjoyment right out of her.

Because of this, Esther slowly pulled her hands away from Ion's which made him look at her quizzically. She noticed he looked a little hurt by her actions but she couldn't bear to explain why. Instead, she forced a smile and walked to the entrance of the tent saying, "Come on, let's go enjoy ourselves. Everyone is having fun without us." Ion was still confused by her actions but decided to let it slip this time. He wondered if this had anything to do with her strange behaviour earlier but figured she didn't want to talk about it. It bothered him, but for now he'd let her have her way. She may explain herself later after the festivities.

As he made his way to the entrance of the tent, Ion reached for Esther's hand but watched as she slipped outside before he could. Why was she being so distant all of a sudden? Was she ashamed to look too involved with him in front of others? Ion let out a long sigh but followed after her without a word.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Esther was ecstatic by how lively everything was. She knew she had organised this festival but it turned out a lot better than expected. There was music playing all around her from the different game stands. There were people everywhere with balloons and fancy hats while children were running all over the place with chocolate in hand and plush toys in the other.

"Wow, where should we go first? It's so crowded that it's hard to see everything," Esther started surveying the area while Ion stood by her patiently waiting. He watched some of the people passing by and couldn't help but stare at some of their strange hats. One lady had a wide brimmed hat with ribbons attached to it everywhere while a nest and a yellow chicken sat on top. If that didn't get any stranger, he saw someone else with a rabbit standing on top of theirs with long stems of flowers in each of its paws. Was there some sort of fancy hat day along with Easter that he didn't know about?

"Oh! This should interest you Count!" Esther squealed excitedly as she took Ion's arm and started running with him through a large crowd to a particular stand which radiated a strong cocoa smell. Esther managed to get them to the front of the crowd. When Ion had a clear view of what was in the stand, his eyes widened with amazement once he saw what was inside. This stand featured a documented run down of how chocolate was made. There were pamphlets for people to take home which featured ingredients on how to make milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate and many more. But what shocked Ion the most was that they were actually making it right there right in front of him, and with a large machine of all things.

Father Wordsworth was watching the machine do its thing while he held a smoke pipe to his mouth. He had made this machine especially for Esther's Easter festival and was pleased it was working beautifully. It would take the ingredients needed for the particular chocolate recipe he set it to, as there were different functions for it, then the machine would mix the ingredients together, take them within itself and start making loads of chocolate Easter eggs which would come out from the other end. They were ready to eat by the time they came out and Sister Kate was there selling them to those fascinated enough to try them.

"Wow, Father Wordsworth!" Esther smiled brightly with awe, "This machine is amazing! I've seen chocolate made before but it was only ever done by hand!"

"Careful now Your Majesty," Sister Kate rolled her eyes, "You don't want to swell his head any more than it already is."

"How rude!" The Professor huffed but smiled with amusement at the same time, "I'll have you know that I spent months getting this contraption to work. I was worried I may not have it ready in time but I'm glad it came through! I call it, 'The Wordsworth Chocolate Maker!" Sister Kate simply sighed at the lack of a creative name but decided to keep her mouth shut about it.

"This is incredible..." Ion gapped with amazement, "You can even see what's going on inside from these little windows."

"Yes well, what's the fun of seeing the chocolate come through the machine if you can't even see what its doing inside?" Father Wordsworth explained, "I'll be more than happy to let you in on how I made this if you like."

"Oh please no," Sister Kate shook her head, "He has tried explaining five times now to other visitors but they would give up trying to understand what he's saying!"

"Nonsense, it's quite simple once you get your head around the concept, but anyway, it all started when..." The Professor started going into his long excessive rant which made Sister Kate want to smack him. Instead, the Iron Maiden handed Esther and Ion pamphlets and a small basket of chocolate for them both to share. She whispered quietly and said, "If you don't go now, you'll be stuck here for the whole day." She smiled and added, "Enjoy yourselves you two. It was nice seeing you again Your Majesty." She bowed to her while Esther waved her hand in dismissal, "Please Sister Kate, Esther is fine."

"Then enjoy yourself Esther," Sister Kate reiterated as she turned back to the Professor, who was still going on with his rant.

Esther was holding onto the little basket of chocolate while Ion was reading over the ingredient pamphlet. It was a shame the Professor had only made one of those machines, he would love to have another which he could take to the Empire. Perhaps if he asked the Professor nicely, he may consider making another one. Still, the directions on how to make chocolate didn't seem too hard. Plus they had all these ingredients back home so hand making them didn't seem too bad for now. "Mmmm." Ion heard Esther make a little noise and turned his head to look at her. He noticed Esther was chewing on one of the chocolate eggs Sister Kate had given them. "Is it good?" He asked.

Esther nodded as she finished one of them, "They're delicious! Here," Esther held the basket out to Ion, "Try one!" Ion looked at the basket for a moment then looked back at Esther as he noticed a bit of melted chocolate on the side of her mouth. He couldn't help but smile at the sight as it reminded him of a little girl. He felt tempted to lean in and lick the chocolate off but with her strange behaviour back at her tent, he didn't want to force anything on her which would make her feel uncomfortable. Instead, he brought his hand to the side of her face and wiped the smear of chocolate off with his index finger. He then brought his finger to his mouth and brought the tip inside as he sucked it off. He had his eyes locked on hers as he did this while Esther couldn't help but stare back with her cheeks burning bright red.

"It's good," Ion said as he removed his finger from his mouth, "Very good..." He smiled sweetly at her which made the young Queen want to faint. How is it that Ion knew exactly what to do to leave her breathless? She loved him and hated him for it all at the same time. 'Enjoy it while you can,' Esther thought to herself, 'Because he won't be here much longer...' Esther upset herself again with these thoughts but she made sure to turn her head away so Ion wouldn't notice. Unknown to her however, Ion actually did and had to bite his tongue to make sure he kept quiet about it. He knew he promised himself not to pry but how much more of this could he take? Esther was upset about something, and that something involved him.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

They walked around a bit more with Esther acting as Ion's guide. They went to one area where children and some adults were making Easter bonnets. This is where those strange hats were being made that Ion noticed earlier. Lots of colourful ornaments revolving around Easter were being used for decoration like bunnies, colourful eggs, yellow chicks, then there was the excessive use of ribbons and flowers to add with them.

"Would you like to make one yourself?" Esther asked Ion.

"Um, thanks but I think I'll pass this time." It was nice to watch but Ion didn't feel he was in the spirit of Easter. To him, making a bonnet like that would be pointless as he wouldn't have the nerve to wear it. Everyone seemed very creative with their ideas as well. He could picture himself not having a clue as to where to start.

After watching bonnet making for a while, Ion turned his head to another activity area which was located just next door. "What's over there?" Ion asked. Esther looked past him and smiled as she led him to the next area. From what Ion could see, they looked to be making Easter eggs but not in the same manner Father Wordsworth was. There were different coloured paints all over the tables while children and adults alike were painting red shelled eggs. Ion was confused with this as he thought they were for eating.

"This is another activity people like to do on Easter. These are just normal eggs which are used for painting but are first dyed red. You can then paint these eggs in any pattern you wish," Esther giggled a bit as she picked up a red egg which hadn't been painted yet then borrowed an egg from a child which had already been painted. "I used to make these when I was little. Eggs are a symbol of eternity and Christ's resurrection." She held them out to Ion so he could get a closer look. The Methuselah was a bit confused with the concept behind the eggs, but he did like the designs.

Bringing his hand up to the painted egg, just so he could get a closer look, his fingers caressed against Esther's which sent a sudden wave of electricity through the young Queen's body. She almost dropped the egg from that unexpected reaction but Ion quickly caught it before it fell from her hand. The Methuselah stared at her for a moment, trying to figure out what he had done wrong that time. He could tell that Esther looked uncomfortable but he didn't understand why. He couldn't take it anymore; he needed to find out what it was.

"Esther, did I do something to upset you in some way?" There, he finally asked, now to follow his question through.

The young Queen looked at him quizzically, "No, you haven't done anything like that. If anything, I've really enjoyed your company today." Esther smiled a bit, but the nervousness was still there. She wanted to enjoy this day to her fullest and hoped to achieve the same for Ion but her conflicting emotions were getting in the way. She couldn't let this let to her though. She needed to give Ion a good time for coming all this way today for this one event, as it was uncertain when this chance would ever come again.

Ion gave out a little sigh with annoyance, he asked the question but it didn't answer anything. Perhaps he needed to be more direct about what their relationship was to Esther. He was curious to see how she answered but at the same time it frightened him. 'Please Esther; please tell me what I want to hear...'

"Esther," Ion started as he kept his gaze locked on hers, "What made you want to invite me here today?" That question was certainly unexpected; she had been anticipating another question about egg painting, but since it wasn't about that, she didn't know how to respond. Ion kept his gaze on her, patiently waiting for her to answer his question.

"I-It had been five years since we last saw each other," Esther replied, "During that time, we hadn't kept in contact at all and that upset me." It was true, ever since she was crowned Queen of Albion, her life had changed dramatically. She didn't mind becoming a Queen, but she missed the freedom she once had. Secretly she had hoped to visit Ion back at the Empire after the war. She loved it there; it was a very beautiful and peaceful place. Going there also meant she could spend time with Ion and it wouldn't be work related. She had dreamt of those times again and again and always dreaded waking up finding it was all a dream.

"Why?" Ion suddenly asked which brought Esther out of her thoughts, "Why did it upset you?" Again, Esther felt put on the spot. It was as though Ion was trying to pry something out of her but she didn't know what. Why was he asking these questions all of a sudden? Wasn't it good enough to finally spend time together and just enjoy it while it lasted? 'Why did losing contact upset me?' Esther thought in her head as she looked down at the ground, 'Because...' She looked up to Ion as she stared into the pools of his red eyes, 'Because, I love you.'

"Because, you are a dear friend," Esther replied softly, almost silently as she turned her head away. There was a long awkward silence between them. Esther didn't know what to do, she feared seeing the look on Ion's face after that lie she just made. Why couldn't she be open and honest with him? Sure he started out as a friend at first, but it didn't take long for their friendship to develop into something more. She longed for him and wanted to always have him by her side. She wanted him with her as not only a friend but a lover. Yet... She was too scared of losing him all because of the difference in their titles and status.

Ion couldn't believe what he just heard. He was stunned; he couldn't get over the overwhelming disappointment in her words. He felt as though Esther raised a gun to his chest and shot him with a silver bullet. Was he the only one that wanted something more between them? He didn't want to just be 'a dear friend'; he wanted Esther to be his other-half, his lover, his wife, his partner for life. He thought that could be possible after that kiss they shared in the forest. He was so happy to think that Esther may feel the same way he did. That kiss was filled with so much love and desire that he didn't think words were needed to describe how he felt. He had wanted to tell her he loved her but after that, he didn't think it was necessary.

Now look at them, she seemed to keep her distance from him every time he made an advance on her. What did that kiss mean to her then? Was she just toying with his emotions? Was it just a 'friendship' kiss?! Was that all it was?! Ion's hands clenched into tight fists then, he was so angry and upset right now that he felt like screaming. But that's fine, that's okay. He could handle being rejected. Sure it hurt, but what could be done about it? If Esther didn't feel the same way then fine, he'll learn to get over her with time. This pain in his heart will be a reminder not to fall for anyone so easily again.

"I see," Ion responded after what felt like eternity. He wanted to say more, a lot more, but what would be the point? Esther had told him how she felt, it would be pointless of him to say how he felt and be rejected again. All he could do now was try and enjoy the rest of the day while it lasted. After all, it might be the last day he'd be willing to spend with Esther. "Shall we go then?" Ion finally said after another moment's silence. He turned his back on her and started walking while Esther stared at his back with both worry and sadness. His voice just now sounded so hollow and emotionless. Even his eyes looked lifeless, as though he was now an empty shell.

"Ion," Esther murmured, "I've upset you haven't I?" Ion didn't respond, he continued walking as though he didn't hear her. This upset Esther more. The young Queen followed quickly after him and reached for his arm, "Ion, please wait a-." The moment she touched him however, the Count shoved her hand away as though she was nothing to him. Esther stopped where she was, so surprised and hurt by his actions that she didn't know how to respond. Ion took a few more steps but eventually stopped as well, feeling the guilt in what he just did to her.

"Esther, you aren't just a 'dear friend' to me. I'm selfish, and want more from you," Ion took a deep breath but kept his back to her, feeling as though he'd lose his nerve if he turned to her, "If that's not possible. Then this will be the last time I'll come see you on a personal basis. It will be business from this point onwards. And I doubt if I'll make the time to come here unless it was absolutely necessary."

Esther was speechless. If she didn't know any better, she'd say he was threatening her with those words. "What's wrong with being my friend? Do you suddenly hate me?"

Ion turned and glared at her then, "When did I say I hated you!?" His words shook her like a mild earth quake, "I never implied such a thing! Are you even listening to what I'm saying!?"

It was now Esther's turn to lose her temper, "What do you expect me to think!? You suddenly tell me you want nothing further to do with me and that I bother you!"

"I never said you bothered me!"

"I must bother you if you don't want to see me anymore! But as far as I'm aware, if it weren't for me sending you constant letters, our communication would have broke when I left the Empire those five years ago!" Esther was so upset that she was starting to say things she didn't mean, "It took you all these years to finally give some confirmation that you even existed! Did you think you could just waltz into my life whenever it pleased you!?" She glared angrily while Ion's anger started to flare as well, "Don't come into my life if you plan on running away from me again! If you hardly cared about me, then you should have just continued ignoring me!"

"Hardly cared!?" Ion was astonished, he usually considered Esther quite an intelligent woman. But right now their argument was making no sense to him. Especially with her words just now, he wondered if even she knew what she was saying, "Do you really think I'd come all this way just to toy with you!? Do you really see me as being that shallow!?" Ion shook his head with disbelief and took a deep breath. "The incident in the forest," he lowered his tone so he wasn't shouting anymore, "Did my actions really show I didn't care about you?" When Esther didn't say anything he continued, "If that's what you think, then I guess I'm wasting my time."

"Ion… Ion I-"

"Leave me alone," Ion sighed as he turned his back on her again, "At least for a little while…" Ion's words were so cold and dead that it sent daggers to Esther's heart. What happened to them? She had wanted this day to be something special between them. It started out so well this morning so what caused the sudden drift? It was then that Esther felt tears developing in her eyes when the realisation dawned on her, 'It's because of me...'

She turned her back on him as well, unable to contain herself. A tear slid down the corner of her eye as she started running away from him. She didn't want him seeing her like this.

"Esther, I'm sorry," Ion bowed his head with sadness. His first instinct was to chase after her and apologise for what happened but he couldn't. He stayed right where he was. He was hurting too, not just her. But what really bothered him were her feelings towards him. Was his love really one sided? Did Esther not care for him at all? "I'm such a fool..." Ion brought a hand over his eyes as he felt ready to cry himself.


Author's Note: Well, so much for making it shorter lol. I tried to but it didn't work o.o. Short stories are something I can never do. I write with too much detail I think, I can't get out of that habit. Hmmm... Well anyway, yes it has been a while since the last update. I know it's not Easter anymore but I can't say I was going to leave this until another year when Easter came again. There will only be one more part, or two more at most, it won't be a long series or anything. Hope you like it :-)