Always

XXX

She didn't know when she'd realized it, nor could she comprehend how quickly that very same thing had slipped from her fingers; she couldn't count the days she'd spent lying in bed, neither sleeping nor awake as she clung to memories of his face, his name, his voice.

"Very good. You're a fast learner." Ur smiled, closing the book in front of him as he peered across the table at a now slightly red-faced Tia.

"Well, I have a wonderful teacher. It's not every day I study under someone who's seen the creation of the world and everything in it." She answered, all smiles as she rolled up the scroll and text she had been assigned to translate. "If anything, full credit goes to you."

Ur shook his head, chuckling. "I don't think that's true. In order to teach, one needs a student willing to learn; your enthusiasm for literature and your success is completely your own."

Yes, Tia was enthusiastic, and yes, she put forth her best effort—but not entirely for the reasons he seemed to have in mind.

It took almost everything she had to get up out of bed on a regular basis, let alone eat or make her rounds to the town; she had grown thinner, less animated, unmotivated. Tia constantly reminded herself that it was a phase—that it would pass soon enough, and that she was allowed to mourn her lost love for just a little longer.

But she hated the looks. Those pitying, concerned, sympathetic looks…particularly from her friends. She couldn't stand it. Not Anwar's, not Rex's.

The air was particularly chilly that night, Tia noted, as she studied the Book of Prophesy intently at her desk. She glanced longingly at her coat, slung over the footboard of her bed; her haven, her sanctuary, with its inviting promise of warmth and comfort—

Shaking her head and giving her arm a firm pinch, she wrenched her attention back to the text before her (but not without some difficulty and a faint inkling of regret).

"Tia?"

The girl in question jumped slightly as an all-too-familiar voice broke the calm silence that had settled over her home. Rubbing her eyes quickly, she turned around in her seat, plastering a sheepish grin onto her face as she looked up at Ur.

"Well, hello, Ur. Nice evening, huh?"

If not for the mask blocking her view of his eyes, she would be almost certain one eyebrow was arched in a critical manner.

"As impressed as I am with your diligence, it's after midnight. Time for bed."

Really, the way he phrased it, he made her sound like a child. Puffing out her cheeks, she jabbed a thumb in her direction pointedly and not entirely without dramatic intones. "I can't go to bed, yet. I'm the Chosen One, right? I have to work hard and finish what I start."

"Yes, but even heroes need to rest."

Tia pouted, but nonetheless rose from her seat, kicking her boots off underneath the desk before launching herself into the comfort of her mattress. She felt the bed sheets being tugged out from over her, craning her head to look up at Ur as he draped the sheets over her slight frame. It always infuriated her, not being able to read his expression…

As the sheets settled, Ur made to return to his own place within the book—

Just as Tia grabbed hold of his hand.

His head jerked slightly, lips parting in surprise. The girl had hidden her face away in her pillow, voice muffled as she spoke.

"Can you stay here for just a little while?"

After a moment's contemplation, Ur smiled, sitting lightly down on the edge of her bed, hand still within her grasp. "Always."

Come to think of it, was this how Anwar had lived from day to day? When they had first met, he'd known nothing—even now, emotions like 'affection' seemed to confuse him. It was a learning experience for him.

She, on the other hand, had lived while knowing fully of things like 'love' or 'sadness'. It seemed excessively self-pitying, but she'd known happiness, and had known the feeling of it being torn away from her; it was, Tia decided, a very different situation indeed.

He'd promised, hadn't he? He'd promised that he'd always stay by her side, even in the new world. It wasn't out of obligation, either, or loyalty—he'd wanted to. She'd wanted him to, though she'd never been given the opportunity to admit it aloud, even in the weeks following Kullervo's defeat. Even when he'd inquired as to why she continually turned down the few suitors she possessed, her stubbornness had gotten the best of her and she'd not uttered a word.

It was her fault, then, wasn't it? She'd waited too long, and in the end, she'd paid the price, never mind silly promises.

"I have to leave."

Tia stared at him blankly, uncomprehending. 'Had to leave'? What was he talking about? Kaleila was still in the midst of rebuilding—and he'd promised her. He'd told her that day, when she'd seen his face for the first time since their meeting, that he wanted to stay with her. Ur had never been one to contradict himself, so…

"Why?" She asked softly, finding herself unable to even look into his bi-colored eyes as she said it.

Even he seemed to be having trouble keeping his tone even. "Your world is no longer in danger; the reason the Book appeared in the first place is because Kullervo threatened this world's existence." He inhaled quietly, pausing a moment before continuing. "As such, it…Rempo, Mieli, Neaki…myself…we are no longer needed at this time—"

"But why?!" Tia could feel the volume of her voice rising. "Why? Your shackles—they're gone—"

"Our shackles only restricted our powers," Ur interjected, gently placing his hands on Tia's shoulders. "Tia…I would give up my immortality a thousand times over if it meant I could remain here with you. But…"

"You promised."

Ur froze as Tia looked up at him defiantly, tears welling up in her eyes and spilling over her cheeks.

"You promised me, Ur. You said…you said that you'd always stay with me, always. Are you breaking that promise?"

He seemed at a loss as to what to say; briefly, she swore she could see his expression pass between anguish and frustration before resuming its usual calm mask. "…I don't have a choice."

He said something else then, but the words were lost to Tia—the incessant beating of her heart in her ears and her sniffs as she cried drowned out any outside sound. Ur bent down slightly, pressing a chaste kiss against her forehead and gently took her hands; hands…that were fading. Not hers, but his.

Her head jerked upwards suddenly, and she felt herself throw her arms around him, as if she could keep him from slipping away. His hands found her waist, and she could swear she felt something warm and wet on her shoulder as they held to one another.

"I'll always love you, Tia."

In a matter of moments, he was almost entirely translucent; in the next, Tia found herself clinging to empty air. She dropped to her knees, already knowing that the book beside her, too, had vanished as quickly as he had.

She couldn't recall how long she simply sat there, crying; she couldn't remember anything prior to being half-carried to her home in Anwar's warm, strong arms. Looking back, she felt slightly guilty; she'd refused to speak entirely the whole way back to Rhoan, and even then, she'd immediately retreated into her home, leaving him standing, confused, outside.

He still worried, she knew, but so did many other villagers these days, and, despite how much it bothered her outwardly, deep down…she knew she didn't honestly care. Since that day, it had been that final promise he had made to her—one she was certain he would keep, no matter what.

He'd said always, just as before, and, as usual, she believed him whole-heartedly.

XXX

Right, so, I've finally gotten around to writing about Ur—never mind the angsty-ness of it all! I might tack another chapter or so onto this, but for now, I'm going to say it's complete.

So, it's choppy and kind of confusing with too long of flashbacks, but I thought I should share it with you guys. Please read and review; I promise, reading your feedback really does encourage me to continue writing.

Ah, and if you want the full effect…I wrote this entire thing while listening to "My Heart Will Go On" repeatedly. xD Just putting it out there.