Disclaimer: I own nothing recognizable from Ashita no Nadja.

With the Sun in Her Eyes

I never really believed in love. The kind that was respect and fondness for a person, that grew over time and years spent together? Certainly. It didn't occur very often, and was to be treasured—more often than not, people tire of each other in close quarters. But I never believed in the kind of love that was fiery, all consuming and passionate, so that people would desire to leave everything behind to be together; I certainly never believed in love at first sight.

Then I met you, and I loved you the moment I saw you. Your blue eyes glittered like the moon that lit the woods in which we stood, and your blond hair shone like the sun in the dark. Your eyes were filling with tears at the terror that you had just encountered, and I found that I loved each tear; mourned each perfect crystal that fell to the ground.

So I, the cold, aloof, distant man I prided myself to be, leaned down and kissed you almost lovingly on the forehead.

You slumped to the ground then, and I knew a moment of alarm before I saw your smile, and knew that in your reassurance, you had been overwhelmed by the horrors that were no more.

I studied you in the moonlight then, and brushed your hair from your face as tenderly as I knew how. Then I lifted you, cradling you so as not to harm this precious life that I carried, and took you to a place where I knew you would be safe.

Then I left for London. I had to forget about you. I had a dream, and any kind of distraction would be my downfall—my death. I could not afford to fall in love with you.

So imagine my surprise, no more than a few nights later, when I came across you wandering the alleyways of night in London!

There was something distinctly different about you—about us—then. I was a masked thief, and you were a mere country girl wandering the streets, who would not know me even if you did remember me.

For my own good, I should have left you there. Maybe I still could have forgotten you then. But fate was against me, for there were police coming down the street. All I could do was snatch you by the waist and drag you into an alley, where I covered your mouth with my other hand and held you still until the danger had passed.

Only, I had to hold you against me, and that set my heart racing like a teenage boy's. I was, in actuality, a teenage boy, I suppose, but in light of the things I did, I could not afford to have the weaknesses of a teenager.

But I was still a teenager, and I suppose that was why I couldn't resist one taunt: "You're too skinny, shorty." You shoved me away and snapped at me. I continued to taunt you as I rushed away from you, and could not resist leaving with you a warning of the city at night.

I thought that now I could forget, because I would be leaving England, so surely we would not meet again. But we met again, a mere month later, in Paris. You were among nobles—a single, fresh white rosebud among carefully polished rubies.

You recognized me. The first thing you did was question me as to my motives for stealing. I did not expect that; perhaps that is why I replied as frankly as I did. I stepped back from our dance as suddenly as I had coerced you into it, and disappeared from before your eyes for the third time, praying that this would be the last. I could see no rhyme or reason in it, but with every time I saw you, I loved you more. Soon I would be lost to it; I had to stop it before I became so.

We did not meet for a long while after that, and for a time I thought with disappointed relief that we would never meet again.

But we did, though this time I tried to run; and this time you were concerned for my safety, of all things! If I had turned just then, I would have kissed you. So I did not turn to you.

Then you mentioned a name, and my world came crashing down around me. I looked at you. The sun was still in your hair, but now it was in your eyes as well.

You were in love with my brother, and my heart was so lost to you that I doubted I would ever get it back. So I kissed you—a last pleasure before I left you behind, I told myself.

But fate knew as well as I that that would not be the case. Over the next few months, I found myself gravitating toward you. I would go to cities where I knew you were for no reason other than that I could watch over you from the shadows for a time.

Then came the night that I heard you murmur my brother's name, and my blood froze in my veins. I had not seen him anywhere near you, but you were in love with him as surely as I loved you.

On the day when you went to walk through the deserted city alone, I should have known that there would be trouble. I should have been more alert, noticed the lowlife thieves before they stole your most prized possession. I could not avoid reclaiming it for you, and inevitably, you mistook me for my brother. I could not find it in myself to correct you, yet every time his name fell from your lips it was another knife in my heart.

The kiss we shared that day showed to me all that we could be: the passion, the heat that rose between us could have ignited all the stars in the universe. Your arms clung to my neck with the strength of a drowning man gripping a lifeline, and yet with the gentleness of a rose petal's carass. Your lips were soft and yeilding against mine this time, not reluctant like when I had kissed you as me. No—on that day, your lips opened under mine at the subtlest coaxing, and your tongue enticed mine into a dance.

But you still thought me my brother, and the ruse would not last much longer. I gave you my mother's kaleidoscope: an object that had dominated the most special place in my heart, until you came along and robbed me of my heart and mind alike.

When you all but said that you loved me more than my brother, I needed not remind myself that you thought me him. So, coward that I am, I showed you the truth—and ran.

The next time we met, I thought we might speak face-to-face at long last, all secrets behind us. But again, you would not abandon your declarations that my brother was your Lord, standing in your heart and mind in a manner that I could never even dream of doing.

All I could do for you was place my life on the line. After all, I was the dispensible one.

Finally, there came today—the day on which my brother and I at long last tell you to choose.

Of course, you choose him. Your heart has been his all along. I knew that—I know that—but it still hurts. I comfort myself knowing that you will be happy. After all, the pair of you look beautiful together, out there on the dance floor. Always completely in synch, as though you breathe, think, and move as one.

You and I argue more often than not. How could I ever have hoped to even contend him for your affection?

I suppose I get my wish. You are now out of my life for good, and I am free to forget about you and concentrate on my dream. I just didn't expect my chest to burn like fire; I didn't expect the back of my nose to sting like acid; I didn't expect my eyes to fill like bubbling springs.

I wish you all the happiness in the world—his, yours, and mine, at least—as I slip away from the one person who destroyed my life in a heartbeat one dangerous moonlit night in April. For I know, at least, that I will never love you any less than I do now, but the sun will never rise for me again.