It was snowing the morning Jade finally lost his hearing. Of course, he was in Keterburg and it was always snowing. On top of everything, he just felt so tired. Peony had been reading to him- his voice growing more and more distant, but Jade clung relentlessly to every word. The prince had crossed the world and back to break the curse- braving the deep of the sea and the cunning of thieves. But he was nearly out of time, especially after an early frost struck while he was making the dangerous mountain passage. He didn't know if he could make it in time… but he had to.

"Peony?" he called out hoarsely, feeling the other grasp his hand. The world had gone silent aside from the barely audible sound of his own blood, pounding in his ears. "I'm sorry," Jade whispered, holding his palm out to him. "It seems that I won't be able to hear the end of the story,"

I-T-S O-K, Peony traced on his hand, mouthing the words silently. But it wasn't. Jade deserved to hear the end- Peony's thoughts drifted to that book he kept on the nightstand for show, each and every one of its pages blank. The tale had come entirely from himself- but it was Jade's story and Peony didn't have the heart to finish it for him. He was sure Jade knew from the second chapter it wasn't a real book, but was willing to humored him. Jade was always doing that-humoring people, distracting them with his words to throw them off the trail that led to his own sufferings.

"Even so…" Jade trailed off, overcome with exhaustion. "The prince saved him, didn't he?"

Peony traced a 'Y' on his hand shakily. It wasn't fair for him to leave like this; he still needed to tell Jade- needed to make him understand how much he loved him.

"I knew he would," Jade replied. He tried to ask what became of them, but at that moment his voice finally gave out.

However, it seemed Jade did understand. It was simply his nature not to let on that he understood more than people expected from him. Peony began to trace something quickly on his hand, but Jade couldn't feel enough of the letters. But it was the thought that counted, right?

His hand slid out of Peony's, falling to his side.

"They lived happily ever after, Jade."

Jade Curtiss' last words were a smile.

"The End."