+ Category: Fantastic Children

+ Rate: T

+ Genre: Drama / Angst

Author's Note: This is supposed to be our hero's thought on the day his princess truly belongs to another man. Well, enjoy guys! ;)

Oh, please never forget that I don't own FC.

~ VOWS ~

I dared not stare into her eyes.

I dared not reach for her, touch her, marvel at the softness of her skin and the highlights on her silky hair. I dared not ask her out on a date, walk across the park with her in my arm, her laughter like a thousand bells mingling with the gentle breeze. I dared not let her know I cared for her most of all, save as perhaps a friend.

There were too many things I dared not do. I hated myself for it. I could not be a part of her life in a more significant way.

But it was the best thing I could do for her, I knew, deep in my heart. There were too many things that could go wrong, for either of us. More importantly, will she ever love me as much as I held her in my regard?

There are too many unanswered questions in life, and often they are the most important ones.

And lately, I have seen her in the arms of another. Enfolded in his embrace, she seemed content and almost happy. Almost.

I would have believed it had not our eyes met, as she walked down the aisle in her pale pink wedding dress, where at the other end stood Kailan and his father. The swordmaster looked extremely handsome in his black suit. He was the picture of subdued excitement and contentment. Just as she had been.

Had. Because as our gazes locked, I noted the faint flicker of regret that seemed foreign on her cheerful face. And just as quickly that had I not been so sure of the emotion in her eyes, I would have doubted I saw the change in her expression at all. But I knew, there and then, what I had never perceived, even with vaunted genius senses.

Now I was standing with Ian and Chitto by my side. We watched as Kailan took Helga's hand and turned toward his father, who was to perform the joining ceremony. And we were to witness the wedding that would make Helga a princess, a wife. Though she had long been such in my dreams.

Dreams. In my dreams we were together, just the two of us. I would be training the secrets of Papan Kenpo under the silver-streaked light of the harvest moon. She would be right there, waiting with a caring look shone in those beautiful eyes of hers. And when tired, I would stop and hold her as we lied on the ground and basked in the warmth of the greatest treasure any man can yearn for; that is LOVE. Or in other dreams she would be my wife; we would have a child or two. They would grow up to be proud warriors like their father, or just simply pursuit their mother great artistic skills. Of course, in living happy lives, in a happy family full of laughter.

I wondered now if she ever had such dreams.

And I wondered if I will ever have such dreams again.

Kailan had spoken the words, and each syllable he uttered was like a dagger being plunged deeper into my heart. For I knew I would have uttered the same words, to bond myself to her, to completely make her mine just as I would be. To keep no barriers, hold no secrets, even about my sinful past. For I knew she would have understood.

And now it was Helga's turn to bond herself to him.

They turned to face the crowd as she uttered the last few words, and as they did, her eyes caught mine again. And somehow I knew, though I could not tell exactly how, that her final words had been meant for me. Then with a little shake of her head, she faced her new husband fully and smiled as he bent down to kiss her, in front of the cheers of onlookers.

I could only clap politely, but never cheer. Yet the least I could do was pretend to be happy for them, knowing that they would be perfect for each other.

Chitto nudged me, and we approached the dais to greet the newly-weds. I kept my face as impassive as I could, though I knew that if she looked into my eyes there was no way I could shield the truth from her probing glance. I shook Kailan's hand firmly in congratulations, because though hurt I was I knew he would be good to her. Just as he had always been.

"Do take care of her." I said quietly, my voice sounding neutral, polite, unconcerned.

"I will." He replied, his eyes glinting in scrutiny and silent challenge. I returned his gaze, returning the challenge, though he must have known I have already yielded much to him. Finally, he nodded and his gaze turned slightly away, toward his bride.

"I meant it Kailan." I offered, and was surprised to find out that I did. I wanted them to enjoy a full, contented life together. "Make her sad and our friendship is over."

"I know." He promised. We shook hands, both our grips firm and sure. And I knew he would try his best to make her happy in his own way.

Finally I got around to congratulate the bride. Her hair fell freely around her shoulders. Her dress clung to her slender form in soft satin folds, highlighting and accentuating her feminine curves with elegance. Her cheeks were slightly flushed, and she was smiling. A genuine smile, I was pleased to note.

"Have a good life together." -was all I managed to say, my lips curved into an amiable smile I did not feel. Eyes flickered once again, betraying wistful sadness, though her smile did not change.

"A good life…yes…I hope we do." -was her response. I leaned down to kiss her cheek, knowing this will be my last chance to do so in this lifetime. As I did so, she whispered in my ear. "I'm sorry... Goodbye, Thomas."

"Goodbye, Helga." I said, touching my lips to her soft flesh gently. Then, I straightened and turned, joining Ian and friends, who were already quibbling and fighting over the banquet food. I did not look back.

But I knew I would always remember her. And love her.

The last part of her wedding vow was all I had to truly hang on to. A message I knew she had meant for me. And words I will never mean for another.

"I promise I will always wish for your happiness." I whispered to the wind. "Though you will never be mine but his, for the rest of your life. Yet for the rest of my life I will never pledge myself to another, for long had we been pledged together, though we knew it not 'till now. And now though we will not know togetherness, the brief acknowledgement of your love for me will be my greatest treasure and best-kept secret...

...And I swear, Helga, to love you always, with all my heart."

The End