It's the only photo he has of them.

Actually, it's the only photo he has of her at all.

He keeps it tucked away in the pages of a book, where he considers it safe.

Often, he'll see that book, rest his eyes there for a moment, and then look away. Less often, in a moment of weakness, he will take the book down and open it.

It's not a good picture, not by far, but it's all he has. He only has it by what he considers a rare stroke of luck. Some girl had been wandering the park that day with a Polaroid camera, snapped the shot, had thrust the picture into his hand, and then run off before he could thank her.

In the photo, Elincia is looking straight at the camera, her eyes bright, liquid sunshine, smiling in a way that makes his heart tighten now. He is off to the right, smiling as well, but he appears to be watching something in the distance. At the time, he remembers, he hadn't noticed the girl taking their picture.

Elincia had looked at the picture and laughed, remarked upon his rather vacant expression. He'd laughed too, agreeing that it wasn't the most flattering portrait.

She'd murmured something, then, about throwing it out. He'd agreed, again, but slipped the picture into his coat pocket as soon as she turned away.

Even then, he'd known that what they had was transient, unreliable.

Even then, he'd taken measures to protect those times in his memory.

Sometimes now he wonders if he might have dreamt the whole thing. After all, with the distance between them now, no one would never guess that they had loved each other, once upon a time.

But he has that photograph.

Even with its edges worn, its colors blurred and faded, running together like his own memories, it is proof.

Proof that he had something precious once, even if it is long lost.