Disclaimer: I don't own Ar tonelico. Or the song Shurelia references, which I suggest you look up since it's hilariously appropriate.

It had to be done.


"He was so nice to me, but no matter what I did he wouldn't look at me that way. Sneaking into his room at night, wearing skimpy clothing… He'd even make me skimpy clothing, if I wanted it, and he made me a Don Leon, even though he had to go to so much trouble to." Aurica dabbed at her eyes. "I found him pouring over the recipe several times when I sneaked in, although I think sometimes it was the recipe for your ocarina, Misha."

"I even wore a dress shirt into battle, and you wore a towel, Aurica, but he only thought about in terms of what they did for our strength. He didn't even realize that people were staring! He thought I looked good, but he thought I always looked good." Misha fiddled with her red china dress.

"I thought it was strange, but it didn't occur to me at the time either, even though I've been alive for longer than you." If Shurelia had missed it they had no reason to feel they were foolish for making the same mistake.

"He didn't even remember me, and he befriended me and helped me and tried to save me all over again even without those memories. It's just the kind of person he is. I wanted to be a little kid who never had to grow up, but he grew up and stayed that nice little kid." It had given Misha much of the courage it had taken to resume her adult form.

"It' s not his fault, Misha, human children's memories work that way and he was so heartbroken after you left that we all did our best to distract him from thinking about you until he forgot." Shurelia sighed. "It took such a long time, and I think much of his determination to protect me came from the feelings he first had for you. Are you angry with me because of that?"

Misha shook her head, wringing the handkerchief in her hands. "No. He did want to save you even if I had to go back there," to where she had been trapped, a caged bird, "but that's just the way he is. He wanted to save both of us, and you were the guardian of the tower. You might know how. He didn't say anything like that, but I know he just didn't want to get my hopes up or make promises he couldn't keep."

"He's such a nice person even Mir recognized it." And Ayatane. "I think it makes me feel a bit better. He was so nice, and I could tell that he liked me, but I thought maybe there was something wrong with me, that I was ugly, and he was just too nice to tell me." That had been horrible.

"No wonder no matter what I did he didn't want to do anything naughty." Misha nodded. "It just didn't make sense. Guys never are so nice unless they, you know." Not that Misha had all that much experience with guys to go on.

Shurelia, however, did. "He performed a marriage ceremony with me in the game in my pseudo-cosmosphere, because my character was dying. He then did the scene again so that she would live. He did it for me, because he cares, but he didn't want to be anything more than friends."

"It's a relief to know there's a reason, you know?" Sighing, Misha admitted, "Although I wish it had been a problem with me, really, at least a fixable problem." Shaking her head, she went on, "He would take me to the park, and buy me treats, and he was always a perfect gentleman."

"There was a song about this phenomenon in the first age called, 'gay boyfriend," Shurelia told them softly as they watched Ayatane walk up the aisle in the dress Lyner had been running around the tower for the past two months trying to find the perfect materials for. It was his fourth try at it, in fact. He'd been creating original grathmelding recipes for two years now, but he'd never been satisfied and finally the day for the wedding had come and Ayatane had forced him to hand over his best attempt.

"He loved us, and not for our bodies, but for who we were. I don't know how we're going to be able to find anyone who will match up. He spoiled us for other men," Misha complained.

"He asked me to perform the ceremony, but I just couldn't." Shurelia had been sorry to disappoint him. "I'm not jealous of Ayatane," at least it was better than losing him to another woman: if it couldn't have been her she didn't have to ask why it was that other woman instead of her, "but I just couldn't. There's never been anyone like him, not in all my life."

Aurica, looking at Roland, who was performing the ceremony instead of Shurelia, kept tactfully quiet. Bishops might need to be chaste, but at least that meant she wouldn't be losing him to someone else. Still, little tears trickled out. "Now I understand why women always cry at weddings."