Author's note: People are gonna get mad at me for updating this first, I guarentee it. But, I needed to stroke my ego. You realize my only completed multi-chapter story, I deleted because it was being ripped off left and right? Depressing, seriously. So I needed one "completed" on my list. Don't worry, I've got the others in progress. I'm just in a bit of a stump, and Will (ironically) was being a more cooperative muse. So we'll end this on a bittersweet note, and then I'll go on and entertain the minds of disturbingly sadistic fangirls. The worst part? I'm one of them. Oh, dear me.

PS: I like Lyra's version best. What do you think?

Edit: It was pointed out to be that I accidentally (repeatedly) typed Kaisa after the first couple times. Sorry about that! Thanks for not like, burning me at the stake for it. But yea, fixed that. Thanks again for the correction, mate.

It may have been a wet and rainy day in Lyra's beloved Oxford, but the sun was hot and bright where Will was. It did not, however, succeed in making the day enjoyable. It was terribly humid, and Will had walked to the garden where he promised Lyra he would meet her each year. By the time he collapsed on the bench, he was drenched with sweat, and it clung to him uncomfortably. All Will knew was, Lyra was damned lucky he missed her more than he had words to express. He might have been a little consoled had he known that Lyra was not in a much better state, except she was drenched with rain water. But of course, he couldn't know. He never knew anything that happened to her. Had she found someone else yet?

The thought hit him suddenly, and with such force that he might have staggered had he been standing. As it was, Will couldn't help but put grip the bench's arm rest a little bit harder as Kirjava mewed and leaped onto his lap. Contrary to Pan and Lyra, they tried keep a little distance in public, but nobody seemed to be around. They were all being smart and keeping indoors, with the air conditioning blasting and something on the television while Will was being all honorable. He refused to call it stupid though. It was his "thinking place". That was what he called it to a friend of Mary's who had asked where he was going. A simple walk didn't seem to be a good enough reason anymore. In Oxford today, you had to have a reason for doing everything. It was really bloody annoying.

But that wasn't what was on his mind right now. Mary was alright, and her friend (colleague, she had insisted defensively, for she had landed herself a new job after suspicion seemed to wear off) could be worse, Will supposed. He didn't really care. That was Mary's business. But this thought, this fleeting idea that Lyra might have already found somebody new, someone who could hold her hand all day long and sit beside her on the bench in the same world, seeing the same sky and living the same life. She could have found someone else to kiss when she thought no one was looking, and someone else to sneak off with when lectures and day to day routines got boring and mundane. They had promised they would, if someone they liked came along. They promised not to put their own lives on hold for the sake of Maybe, for the chance at Possibly. It was likely the worlds' balance would never be restored completely in their lifetime, not enough to risk opening a window to her world. It was indeed a depressing thought, one Will tried to suppress. But when he was here, alone at his "thinking place", sometimes these unwanted thoughts crept up on him with little to no warning.

Unlike Pan and Lyra, Kirjava and Will didn't speak much during these times. Kirjava didn't try tell Will that it was time to go home, or even that he should drink some from his water bottle, which lay seemingly forgotten on the empty bench beside him. It might have seemed strange, if he knew how Lyra spent her Midsummer's Day. Would he have moved the water bottle if he knew that Lyra kept the other half of the bench open, as though he was sitting right beside her? He didn't even know that she still went to the bench she had pointed out what seemed like so long ago, though he was sure she did. He didn't doubt Lyra's loyalty, or her stubbornness to continue until she was physically apprehended. He did wonder if, once she found someone to share her days with, and her self-appointed missions (for he also had faith in her sense of adventure), if she would tell him about Will. He wondered what she would say, if she would bite her lip and lower her eyes the way she did when she felt guilty. He wondered if the other guy would mind. The other guy. That was the only way he could think of it. It wasn't just a guy. It was his replacement. He had to feel a little resentment towards the hand they had been dealt; he was, after all, only human.

He hadn't even been able to so much as look at another girl, in all that time. Lyra would probably roll her eyes. She'd say he was breaking his promise, that he said he'd not compare another girl to her. And that was true; he had. But he couldn't help it. He saw a glimpse of blond and thought of her, or heard a girl laugh and remembered her, or saw strawberries and his heart hurt. Like, really hurt. He thought that was an exaggeration, once upon a time. He thought that heart break and all that stuff was just melodramatics, people being sore that they didn't get their way, that their lives hadn't turned out exactly as they had planned in that moment. But he had gleaned a little sympathy for them over the years, found it a little bit harder to laugh at chick flicks and movie romances that were so sweet that he actually felt the need to go brush his teeth lest he get cavities. He'd had a romance like that, once. And now it was gone.

A purr, and Will absently pet Kirjava. His thoughts were getting too far gone, he was slipping too much. She brought him back to reality a little. There were no words exchanged. There was no utter of gratitude, because it went without saying. They were not a pair of many words; all they had to say flowed between the bond of human and Daemon, or soul, or whatever you wanted to call it. Will was still a little confused about all that. Kirjava was sometimes the only thing, the only one that kept him from believing it was all a dream, from leaving Mary's and returning to his life in the shadows, going from place to place, paranoid but feeling oddly safe in the movement. She was the one who linked him to Lyra and Pan, who kept him sitting on the bench when he sometimes wanted little more than to ignore the heartache and return to normalcy. Sometimes it was all a little too much to bear. And that was where Kirjava came in.

A little girl was playing nearby. He hadn't realized the sound at first, but then her laughter carried to him on the wind. A family had come to enjoy the gardens, to bask in the shade cast by the glorious trees and to enjoy the sunshine in the only way the humidity seemed to allow. But he couldn't quite bring himself to leave yet; it had only been a little more than an hour. Kirjava, though, slinked off to do... whatever Kirjava did. Kept an eye on him from a distance, Will figured. He wasn't too concerned. She would never leave him forever, and that made him feel safe. He didn't feel so insecure, and so uneasy in his and Lyra's sanctuary of sorts, to call her back. She melted into the shadows, a subtle blend of blue and black that allowed her to blend in beautifully, just as he had done for his entire life. They were really one and the same, Will and his Kirjava. It made him think of Lyra and Pan, and their relationship. The feeling of when they had first touched one another's Daemons. He couldn't describe it; it was shock, and pleasure, and fear, and excitement, and all those feelings that holding hands for the first time brought up. And he wanted to feel it again. Only with Lyra though. No one else would understand Kirjava, and if they couldn't understand her... how could they possibly love him?

He kicked a pebble as the girl's laughter carried closer, though it was not as infectious as it might have been to anyone else on any other day. It seemed to make Will broodier, because it reminded him that he wasn't the sort that laughed and frolicked, and threw himself out there, at least how Lyra did. She would have made friends with the girl, and gone running off with her to tell some wild adventure that might have been true, but that nobody would believe, and she would've smiled because she knew. But Will didn't feel comfortable with just that. He wasn't as open, as loving and warm and approachable as Lyra was. He didn't have that natural ease with social situations that made him not care, because he knew what else mattered. He didn't know. Lyra was the other half of him, and better, she knew about Kirjava, and knew the importance of her, and knew everything, it seemed. And he was breaking his promise, he thought with a humorless smirk. Right there, just by refusing to even consider the idea that there might be more than one person out there for someone. He had to admit, it was a difficult concept to consider from Lyra's bench.

A rubber ball bounced past him, almost in slow motion. It was kind of comical. He wondered if that was him going insane for one wild moment before he heard a loud cry, and a man's voice saying "I told you to be careful; it probably fell into the river or something." And the little girl was crying harder, although her father's voice wasn't exactly unkind. He sounded as though he had given that warning before. Don't let it go, you'll lose it. What a painful lesson for a little kid to learn. Without thinking, Will stuck out his foot to stop the ball. It rolled over, but slowed enough for him to stoop down to catch it. He kind of liked this better than sitting there, just... sitting there. He wasn't used to the prolonged inactivity, the sitting there, the... nothing. Just, thinking. Remembering. Wanting, wishing, yearning, praying, begging, pleading, loving and hating and sighing in defeat. That was doing a whole lot for sitting there, staring at the sky and trying to ignore the fact that he wished he brought shades.

"My ball! My ball!"

"Amanda! Slow--- Ah, forget it," the father said with exasperation. He fell from a jog to a walk, allowing his daughter to sprint ahead after her prized possession, which Will was holding in his hands, still sitting on the bench. She skidded to a stop, looking uncertain. Avoid the stranger, or claim what was hers? He wasn't stopping her. He held out his hand, tried to... channel Lyra, her easy going personality, and her approachability, and her, tried to be what he learned from her. It kind of worked... maybe, sort of, he hoped. She took a step closer, the scurried over to take her ball before stepping away again. And by this time, her father had caught up again, and he was frowning.

"What do you say?" She shrugged, the way little kids did when they were pretending to know less than they really did. Maybe it hadn't worked after all; maybe she just really, really wanted her ball. Ah well... he could work on that. He could practice. He had no reason to slink in the shadows anymore, did he? The danger was behind them, no one had made any inquiries in a long time and Lyra was safe too, from the Church and everything else. At least, that was what Will wished. He wished for her more than for his own selfishness, or maybe because of his selfishness. He hoped she was still the Lyra he remembered, a force to be reckoned with, a whirlwind of energy and determination to challenge the weather itself.

"Thank you," the father said warily, nudging his daughter's shoulder when she didn't speak when prompted. Will shrugged. It wasn't a problem. He told the guy so, too. It was just a ball. A prized possession. It meant something to the little girl, or she wouldn't have tears making her eyes bright as she embraced it to her chest. Like the girl's favorite doll, because Will supposed all had one from what he could tell, she would remember her toys, how one almost bounced away. Even when it finally popped, or rolled along into traffic, and was unable to be fetched back. She would remember that the ball, the baby doll, once made her smile. And Will was surprised to think that was a good thing, to remember. Even if his heart hurt and he found himself wanting to cry at the thought, precious things should be remembered.

He excused himself not long after, for the father had joined him on the bench while the little girl played. He didn't know where Kirjava was; she was probably watching from the shadows. She was watching, making sure he didn't snap. Well, in his words. She didn't think he would snap. She just let him work her fur beneath his fingers when he was quieter than usual, which was saying something most assuredly. She licked his hand if his fingers shook, she distracted him when he had wallowed for long enough. And he thanked her for it, in his mind if not out loud. She knew; like Lyra, Kirjava seemed to just know. She just seemed to understand, with a glance at his eyes. He missed that connection with Lyra. But she had been right; they might meet other people some day.

But he would never love another quite like he loved Lyra, and he had never promised her that.