Spring, in Allegra's opinion, should have been the only season of the year.

This was the first day of spring. That meant, at last, that she could leave her freezing bedchamber and step into the sunlight. It meant she could finally breathe in the warm air without feeling a stitch in her chest. The air smelled always of rain, so she did all her lessons out on the balcony, day-dreaming as she read her history and Latin. Nothing would disturb her on this first day of spring, her first day healthy in two weeks, the day of her uncle's masquerade. Nothing would distress Allegra on this first day of spring…

Nothing would, but someone could.

Allegra scribbled her last exercise and shut the book. The vast plaza across her house was empty but for a handful of old friars who crossed the street. But still she looked, for, somehow, she knew he was near. She always knew when he was near.

The very thought of him made her heart pound and ache. It had been so long since she had seen him.

What if he had changed? Although Allegra had never met him, she knew him so well, and had even missed him through these weeks. He was so lighthearted, loud, and funny - for the most part, quite like Allegra herself. She had never spoken to him, of course, only seen him duel with her brothers and cousins. That meant she was not allowed to meet him. If Theobald and Ricardo found out their little sister even thought about speaking to him, a friend of the Montagues... Allegra would bring shame to herself and her family would hate her. Would her cousin Juliet like her any less?

No, Allegra thought, banishing the thought. Juliet is my best friend in the world!

While Allegra was deep in thought, it took her a few moments to realize she had just heard a familiar explosion of laughter that came from a person she knew but had never spoken to.

Her heart ached even more. She looked down the street; sure enough, he, Romeo Montague, and a tall man whose name she didn't know crossed the plaza towards her house. Romeo pushed the tall man into the empty piazza so he fell flat on his back, causing them all to laugh. And as usual, he,who had to be the loudest of all, put one foot on the tall man's back and claimed him like a knight.

Even though she doubted he had ever seen her, she always felt she must act in a perfect way when he was near. But nothing she did when he was near was ever perfect. Sit - don't sit! Marry, thou mayst sit, but not too straight nor still - nay, just stand, never mind. Fool!

All the while, the men in the street continued to laugh. He didn't even notice.

Had he ever seen her before - even for a moment? And if he had noticed her in the past, did he think she looked different than before? She believed she did; at fourteen, she was long past the days when she would lie abed for months, the sickly child she had been gone forever. People said she was fairer now that she was grown, that a gentleman would want her soon. If he had noticed her, would he think her fair, too? Would he want to be that gentleman?

They had made their way through the plaza and were passing the house now. She knew he needed to see her. Now. She drew in some breath and proceeded down the stairs and into the garden. How do I get his attention without him thinking I am a maniac? she asked herself. She feared no matter what she did, she would not look sane -although with these racing thoughts, she hardly felt sane.

Knowing she was now within his view, she looked their way, but tried not to look at him - her Mercutio - as he passed her. His friends were in stitches of laughter again; he had just said something so repulsive she knew she would never be able repeat it. She tried not to laugh, not to look at him.

Still, her eyes fell upon him and she could not look away. He and his friends did not stop and stare at her, but once or twice, she felt his eyes fall near her.

The men lingered, shouting and attracting glares in the street. Allegra found herself in a strange position: she wasn't sure whether she wanted him to stay or to leave.

Soon, a strange-looking man who resembled a penguin waddled down the street near Mercutio, and when Mercutio mimicked him, Allegra could contain herself no longer. She burst out laughing.

Romeo and the other gentleman stopped and grinned at Allegra as soon as she laughed. Mercutio was in the middle of telling another joke to the tall gentleman, who prodded Mercutio in the arm and pointed at Allegra.

And Mercutio, for the first time in the history of Verona, smiled at Allegra Capulet. "Uh, ciao," he said, with an eyebrow raised.

Allegra was still tearing with laughter. She gave Mercutio a subtle wave and disappeared behind the garden wall. She stayed there until Mercutio and his friends were out of sight.