Alright, this is finally up! :D And, for a change, I'm not a week late. XD I am three days later than I said I would be if I was late... Reason: Three days ago my computer was moving slowly, and two days ago I had to go to bed, so I wasn't able to finish the author's note, and yesterday I was busy, so I was unable to finish it until now. XP Also, I've been sick with the flu for over a week now, so that's slowed me way down. Anyway... I need to underline this next part, because it's important: This oneshot takes place as a kind of side event for Maple Leaf. If you haven't, I suggest reading The Final Warrior of Light and Maple Leaf before you read this; there will be several things that won't make sense if you don't. Before I continue, because I'm going to be talking about the contents of the spoilers, let me reiterate the spoiler warning:


Okay, now that that's out of the way... Yes, I know, I should be waiting until I finish chapter two of Maple Leaf before making this... But I did this because there weren't enough stories about either Marumaro or Jina (Kaede, for readers of Maple Leaf). And... Well, I already warned you a second time about the pairing spoiler, so I'll just say it: Marumaro x Kaede is the third main pairing of Maple Leaf, and because those two don't have many stories about them, I figured I might as well make a story for both of them. Now, before I talk anymore about the story, it's time for the announcements. The said announcements are pretty important, so I'm probably going to be talking about them in my upcoming author notes until I'm sure that the news has cycled around to everyone who's been reading my stories. The first two are the most important, but you'll probably want to know about the others, too. I'm sure that you'll find the news, the first one in particular, very... interesting. ;) Okay, here we go...

1: In the UK, uncut DVDs have been released for Blue Dragon, courtesy of Manga Entertainment. They're bilingual DVDs, English and Japanese, with English subtitles; the cases carry two discs at a time. The first DVD set has been released, with episodes 1-8; the second DVD set, with episodes 9-16, will be released on July 27th; the third DVD set, with episodes 17-24, will be released on September 21st. If you want to buy these... For those who aren't in the UK, acquiring said DVDs is difficult, but not exactly impossible. First of all, you need to have a Region 2 DVD Player, or some software on your computer that will allow you to watch Region 2 discs (keep in mind that both of these can be a little pricy, depending on what you buy). Then, you should be able to order the discs online through Amazon UK or Manga Entertainment itself; it's £17.99 at Manga Entertainment, and £19.99 at Amazon. If you want to know more about any of this, for buying purpose or just for the information, let me know and I'll either tell you or give you the links to find out more. :) Oh, by the way... Viz Media Europe listed Blue Dragon as having 102 episodes (51 per season)... So, maybe we can presume that they'll eventually be releasing Tenkai no Shichi Ryuu on DVD as well. ;)

2: Blue Dragon: Ikai no Kyojuu, the sequel of Blue Dragon Plus (which is a sequel of the first game), has finally been given a release date in Japan - October 1st, 2009. There isn't much more info about it, other than what's already been known for several months. So... If the translation were to take as long as it did for Plus, we could possibly be looking at a March 2010 release. :D

3: Because I still have yet to hear back from the person who offered to beta read The Tale of Sonata, I have decided to look over the story myself more carefully than I usually do (possibly looking over it several times), then upload the chapter and hope for the best. For readers of my Blue Dragon stories, the reason this is important is because it means that I'll begin to resume my other updates. After Tale of Sonata, Shu and Kluke: Precious Memories will probably be the next to be updated (not including oneshots).

4: Those of you who read For Every Year already know this, but I'll repeat it for everyone else - I am now planning on doing "birthday fics". Basically, it's a non-chaptered story about one of your favorite characters, pairings (romantic or friendship), subjects, etc., that I would write on your birthday. For Every Year is a perfect example of this... I don't think that it will be quite that long (though it's certainly possible). XD I don't know when everyone's birthday is, but if you do happen to tell me, I'd be more than happy to write one for you. :)

Okay; that's all of them. I'm sorry about the length of this; the note in this story and For Every Year seems to be evidence that my rambling is getting worse. XD But, because of that, I'm just going to cut to the disclaimer, and then the story - if I've forgotten anything, it should be in the note after the story. So, with that, read on (and hopefully enjoy)! :D

Disclaimer: I do not own Blue Dragon. Also, I do not own Kaede - if there is confusion about who she is, please see The Final Warrior of Light and/or Maple Leaf for reference.

All in all, despite the fact that the harsh ache and hollowness of what had happened to her village and parents never went away (and never would go away), Kaede had found happiness with her new life.

She had her brother back... The happiness from that was indescribable. Even now, though it had been a few weeks after their reunion, it still felt like a dream. She still woke up sometimes wondering if he was still there.

And she had friends, more friends than she'd ever had at any given time before this. And they were all so kind and nice... In a way, the six of them made their own small family.

Things weren't perfect, of course; there were the important things that had to be done. Nene still needed to be defeated, and that woman, Zola, needed to be rescued. (Though Kaede wanted to rescue her, she still didn't think very highly of her; accident or not, she'd hurt Jiro, after all. While she would help her, it would be quite some time before she forgave her.)

But then, there was a smaller issue, one that continued to nag at her, and probably wouldn't be resolved for a very long time, if ever...


Marumaro was... unique, she decided. He was a pervert, a Shadow User, a pervert, a "defender of justice", a pervert, directionally challenged, a pervert, an almost-but-not-quite-idiot, a pervert...

Oh, and he was also her first friend after Mafe's destruction. And very likely to be her best friend.

He was an odd friend, but he had been the first person to show her true kindness after she had everything taken from her.

But that didn't stop him from being so accursedly agitating!!

Now, since Marumaro didn't do to her the things he did with other girls and women, one might wonder how exactly he was agitating her.

Well, the occasions taking place presently are a good example:

He tilted his head to the side, trying to look as cute as possible - which wasn't hard to do for those who didn't know him - as he asked, "Can I have an apple, please, maro?"

What does he think he's doing? I'm standing right here, and he has the nerve to do this right in front of me! The nerve!!!

The woman who owned the market stall, oblivious and taken with his faked cuteness, happily handed him the fruit.

And here it comes... I don't know which of them is the bigger idiot - her or him.

Marumaro pretended to be "overcome with joy" at the woman's "abundant kindness", and launched himself towards her, wrapping his arms around her.

... Would he ever hug me like that?

It started out innocent enough... Until Marumaro pressed himself against the center of the woman's chest in what Kaede thought was a highly inappropriate manner. Apparently, the woman thought so, too, since she screamed and punched Marumaro's head.

Serves him right...

After Marumaro had recovered from the injury, they resumed their supplies gathering.

This was the hardest time, she found - when they went shopping.

The marketplaces, in every town, city, or village, were always filled with women. And, she thought begrudgingly, they always had bigger chests than hers. (This, of course, was unavoidable, since one can only be so developed at 7 years of age. With the exception of Bouquet.) She wouldn't have cared at all, except that was a physical feature that Marumaro was practically obsessed with.

And when there are so many other lovely ladies for him to look at, why would he pay any attention to me?

The last incident was soon followed by another, though he tried a different approach this time:

The girl was much younger this time; only a teenager. Marumaro had his foot on the counter, forearm resting on his knee, a broad smirk on his face. "I never knew I could find such a beautiful angel at a fishmonger's, maro."

Does he think I'm beautiful? Does he even think I'm attractive?

After that, the conversation between Marumaro and the girl became little more than sweet talk and flirting - Kaede didn't know the specifics, because she had started blocking out all of their chatter after that. The only bright side that Kaede could find was that Marumaro didn't try any groping or skirt-flipping.

Eventually, when she could take no more, she grabbed him by his cape and dragged him behind her as she strode forward.

We can buy fish from somewhere else. Preferably somewhere else that the merchant is a man, fat, and extremely old.

After several moments of feeling like he was being strangled, Marumaro gave a "maro of protest" and pulled away from her. He looked at her warily as he fixed the corners tied at his neck. "What's gotten into you, maro? You've been acting weird all day, maro."

Kaede looked away from him, a coldness in her eyes that was unnervingly similar to Jiro. "I'm not acting weird. You must be imagining things."

Marumaro tilted his head to side, as if he was trying to figure her out. "Really, maro..."

She turned her head towards him again with narrow eyes. "Really." Kaede answered shortly.

He looked at her a moment more, and then something seemed to light up in his seemingly closed eyes, a slow, almost smug, grin spreading across his face.

She snapped her head away, blushing madly.

He knows... He knows!... I-I can't believe he figured out that I'm-

In an almost natural movement, Marumaro slid his hand into hers. Kaede's face became redder; she chanced a tentative look at him. He had a soft smile on his face.

"M-Maro-kun..." she stuttered. "Wh-what...?"

He cleared his throat. "I was wondering if, maybe later, we could spend some time together, maro..."

Is he... blushing? It couldn't be... Him, blushing?

"Kluke mentioned this nice restaurant she saw, maro..." Marumaro continued. "So maybe before we continue our journey, tomorrow we could have some lunch there, maro." He looked over at her, a bit nervously, seeming to gauge her reaction.

She looked back at him, a memory of a moment playing in her head, a moment that was not that long ago but felt like an eternity away...

Kaede groaned. "Can we please get out of here? I need to get away from you as soon as possible..."

He bumped against her arm good-naturedly. "Come on, you know you like me, maro! I'm your friend, maro!"

"I guess you are..." she smiled to herself at the thought.

Kaede blinked, as if waking from a dream. She saw that Marumaro was still looking at her expectantly. She smiled warmly at him. "Sure, Maro-kun. I'd love to."

He swung their joined hands back and forth, looking the happiest she'd seen him, starting to talk about the food and what he'd heard about it...

He can be so annoying sometimes... But to me, when all is said and done, it's worth putting up with.

And it's done! Well... It definitely wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, but hopefully you still enjoyed it. Some things may not make a lot of sense at this point, but after seeing the relationship between Kaede and Marumaro in future chapters of Maple Leaf, the way they behave around each other in Games of the Heart will make a lot more sense. Also, I know this probably wasn't the best place for those announcements, but I think For Every Year would have been a worse choice, and these things hadn't taken place yet during my upload before that one (It Will Last). But, that's also the reason I'll be mentioning the news in other places... Anyway, please review and let me know what you think. I'd appreciate it. :) Well, that's all I have to bother you with for now. Thank you for reading! :D