The Rose

'Rose of memory, rose of forgetfulness'
Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle
Syaoran et Sakura

Sometimes her blank eyes send a jolt through him-- because sometimes he forgets to remember that inside her there is a void he is desperate to fill. Sometimes when he looks at her, he hopes, by some miracle, that she will look back at him the way she used to. But he had paid a price for her memories, and the method of getting them back, and though his heart hurt with carrying the burden of it, it also burned fiercely with the extent of his love.

"There I sense Sakura chan's feather!" Mokona was pointing to a fiercely flowering rosebush. He did not need to be told where the feather would be. He had absolutely no doubt in his mind that it was inside the red rose that was blooming at the center-- the reddest, the most beautiful. He grasped the stem and felt the thorns prick his fingers as he pulled it from the bush.

When he looked back at her, with her eyes veiled in uncertainty, he could feel the blood dripping from his fingertips, he could feel his heart constricting in sorrow. She took the flower wit outstretched hands and the memory entered her instantly-- he knew because the veil lifted in her eyes, but as always it did not disappear entirely.

Later as she tended to his hands she told him about it.

"In my memory, I was holding flowers," she said. "Red roses. I know they could not be found in my country, so I was thanking the one who had brought them to me. But, Syaoran-kun, there wasn't anyone else there. What does it mean?"

He only smiled. These memories were the hardest on him, because he could not forget what she could not remember.

His gaze fell on the red rose in her hair. Her fingertips touched the petals at once, unsure. "Fai-san put it here. He said it was nice. You got hurt getting this, so I'm sorry."

He remembered one pale day, long ago, when he had come back hom with his father, from an exotic kingdom far, far away. In that kingdom were marble palaces and water gardens, and the flowers that bloomed as beautifully as the sunrise. Before he left his father shoved on him a dozen red roses, and only said, "The Princess would like these, don't you think, Syaoran?"

Syaoran smiled as he touched the rose in her hair. And he knew that it didn't really matter if she remembered or not. His heart would remember, always, the smile in her eyes that he wanted so badly to bring back. His love would remain, he thought as she smiled at him. His love would endure.