"Amu, we need to talk to you."

A tall, slender teenage girl looked up lazily from her bed. Her eyes were bright with laughter as she held a phone to her ear. " I've got to go, Rima. See you later." She flipped the phone shut, rolled over to face her parents, and stretched leisurely, her longer choppy pink hair stretching along with her. " Mom? Dad? What's up?"

Her mom sat down beside her, looking uncomfortable, while her dad stood stony-eyed above her. "Amu, sweetie, you're starting to get to that age where we, as parents, start to worry about serious things."

Amu's eyes narrowed suspiciously. Her mom couldn't be starting a sex talk, otherwise her dad wouldn't be there. "Mom, I'm only sixteen."

"Even so." her mom said nervously. " You've been going out with Tadase-kun for awhile now, almost two years. He's a very nice boy, and it's clear to me he has incredibly strong feeling about you..."

Amu's eyes flared. Oh my God, it was a sex talk. Her parents thought that she and Tadase-kun... AAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! NIGHTMARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"So we decided to tell you that you're engaged."

Amu just sat and stared blankly at her mother. "Uh, what?" "It was all her idea!" her father burst out passionately. "I suggested we all move to Italy and you could join a convent, but no! That idea, according to your mother, is a bit extreme!" Amu's mom sighed. "We're not even Christian, dear."

"Engaged?!" Amu exclaimed. "Like, to be married? To who? When?" Her eyes squeezed shut in horror. Oh my God, this is where they introduce me to some freakishly ugly old guy!

Her mother sounded surprised. "Why, to Tadase-kun, of course. That's what I just said. It'll be next year, too. A lot of girls your age are getting married next year. We worked everything out with the Hotori family. They agree there wasn't a better match to be made. Tadase adores you."

Oh. It was to Tadase-kun.

But that was almost worse.

I never wanted to marry him... I never wanted to marry anyone...

Amu did love Tadase. But it was always with guilt when she touched him, when they held hands, when they kissed. She had always felt that their love was unequal, that Tadase loved her so much when her heart had rated him second-best. Second to none. Second choice.

With Ikuto gone...

She shook her head slightly. No that was unfair. She wouldn't think that and ruin this. This was a special moment, a life-changing moment. It didn't make sense to open an old wound now.

She cracked a half-hearted smile for her expectant parents. "Oh, uh, wow. That's so, well... unexpected. Could you...give me a moment?"

"Of course." her mom said immediately. "We'll give you some time, Amu." She took Amu's dad by the hand and dragged him out.

Amu buried her head into a pillow and screamed. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." she wept. She didn't know what she was apologizing for, exactly, but she knew she was guilty of some crime.


Amu bolted up. Four small girls floated in front of her. "Ran? Miki? Su? Dia? I thought you were gone!" Dia smiled at her warmly. "I told you we're always with you, Amu-chan. We could sense that you needed us and we came." Su waved at her. "We'll help you get through this, Amu-chan! Everything will be fine, okay?"

Amu's eye's watered. "Guys..."

"No matter what, Amu-chan!"