Romance Etude

"There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved." – George Sand (Amantine Aurore Lucile Dupin)

Chapter 03

The first day we spent in Baroque, I quickly found myself bored with the political discussions and quietly excused myself. Everyone else had scattered to different ends of the castle and town while the adults – I scoffed at the word – discussed the next course of action to take. Halls were deserted for the most part, so the few passersby didn't pay me much mind as I excitedly dashed through the wide corridors and down the large staircase. My heavy boots thumped on each step and startled a guard awake. I chuckled slightly when he frantically whirled his head around in search of the culprit.

A big door to his right caught my attention at that moment. Curiosity got the better of me, so I silently strode over to it, mindful of the nearby drowsy guard. I pushed open the large door and was met with quite the sight; the room was larger than the chapel of Ritardando. This must have been the ballroom or something… The heels of my boots lightly clicked against the smooth floor tiles. Within minutes, I had reached the throne and regarded it mischievously.

"Would anyone mind if I sat in it for a bit?" One glance at the stony man next to it discouraged me right away. "Probably not." Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a short hall with a door at the end. My feet moved toward it before I could stop myself.

I pushed the door open and immediately came in contact with the Baroque's cool evening air. There were piles of snow everywhere, forming a narrow path. With a shrug, I followed along the wall until something near my feet caught my attention. Its bright colors stood out in the great expanse of white.

A lone flower was braving the bitter cold.

Carefully, I knelt down beside it, a smile unconsciously fighting its way to my face. It was just like Polka… It was fighting against the world for its place and looked just as, if not more, beautiful than its surroundings. Suddenly, an overwhelming urge to protect this blooming wonder came over me. Footsteps shook me out of my reverie and alerted me to the presence of someone else, so I skillfully faded into the chilly ice and made my escape. In my flight, I made an unspoken promise to visit the petite flower the next day.

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Over the course of several days, visiting the lonely flower had become part of my daily routine. At first, I was satisfied with seeing it once a day… the first day, anyway. Whenever I had taken to wandering the palace, I'd always somehow find myself back in front of that flower again like today. I gently stroked the tiny yet vibrant petals and smiled in satisfaction. A moment passed, and I shook my head in disbelief.

"Why am I obsessing over a flower, of all things?" I knew perfectly well why. Images of a certain girl don't just conveniently flash in your mind when you ask yourself questions like that. Once again and at the same time as always, the usual footsteps crunched the small layer of snow just around the corner. I instinctively stood and prepared to make my getaway but was caught red-handed.

"Allegretto?" I knew that soft voice to be Polka's. Now she was at my side, trying to peer at my face. "What are you doing out here?"

"O-oh, you know…" I nervously scratched the back of my head. "I'm just getting some exercise."

She seemed to hum in approval. A silence fell between us faster than the falling snow. I cleared my throat in preparation to speak.

"So what about you? Why are you out here?"

Polka tilted her head to the side and seemed to dawn a thoughtful expression. "There's a flower that I wanted to check on."

My heart hammered in my chest.

"I want to be strong just like it! But…" she trailed off sadly. "I'm worried about how long it will last. What if its death is inevitable, unavoidable?"

I stooped back down to the snowy earth and cupped the delicate bloom tenderly. "I won't let it die. I'll protect it no matter what, even if –"

Her giggling interrupted my heartfelt speech. "You don't have to go that far, but… I understand." She lowered herself to join me and reached her hand out toward the flower. Our hands touched for a brief moment. When Polka turned her eyes to me, they seemed to twinkle with unspoken emotion. "That makes me happy."

I so wanted to tell her that I was really referring to her, but there was no need. There was only unspoken understanding.

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A/N: I got sidetracked by homework, but I was finally able to crank this one out. Like I said before, these one-shots are disjointed and don't relate to each other.

If it wasn't already apparent, the inspiration for this one was the little flower in the Baroque Castle side garden and Polka and Allegretto's respective comments about it.