"The heart that truly loves never forgets."


Troy was freezing and trembling.

And he was bleeding.

Suddenly, nothing else mattered.

I didn't waste any time. Chad's grip was suddenly gone from my arm. The lights dimmed in my head and the only person in the room that existed was Troy and his shivers. I sprinted, faster than I ever had, over to stand before where he was being propped. Immediately, my hands went to work on tugging the metal zipper – frozen to my touch – down his torso and peeled the sloppy sweatshirt off his shoulders. It dropped to the floor with a squish, seeping water quickly and drenching my feet with ice.

"What the hell are you guys waiting for? Get him dry blanket, dammit!" I ordered, slightly hysterical as my fingers went to the bottom of the shirt; it was the second time I was tugging it upwards with frustration that night.

My heart and my brain were suddenly one for the first time in the two weeks that Troy and I had reunited. The tactics of my mind were attempting to recover the notebooks filled with doodled on notes and scribbles of my handwriting – medical lectures of hypothermia. The beats in my chest were pumping blood and adrenaline wildly through my body; fueled with passion and hot with desperation, it was forcing me to work at a rapid speed. I didn't quite know what I was doing until it was done; which was excruciatingly painful due to the fact that my mission was slowed by his shakes. I knew he couldn't control his body's natural reaction to warm itself, but given that his wet clothes would only chill him more, I needed to get him into dry wear as fast as possible.

"Gabs… here…" Someone huffed – I cared not who it was – and dropped a heap of red and white blankets at my feet.

Although I wasn't a doctor yet, my first year of college wasn't a waste. I didn't need a degree to tell me that he was far more soaked that he should have been if he was just simply under the tree cover of the path.

"What happened?" My voice was monotone when I unbuttoned his jeans and pulled at the zipper, shoving them to his ankles without desire or lust – simply panic.

"We found him on the path we were on the first day." Another voice explained, "he was right by the water. It was fucking muddy out there. He said he slipped and fell in."

I gulped – he must have hit his head on the way down.

My hands ran down his biceps once the shirt splattered to join the sweatshirt on the floor, creating friction. No matter where I touched, however, I refused to look up into his eyes. Already, I was so frantic because I had to distract myself from the inevitable blank stare that was sure to come. My brain, the part that didn't go into combat mode, was flashing back to the horror that was his awakening after the coma. I could still smell the dying scent of hospital and I could still remember the way Lucille Bolton, his mother, had held onto my shoulders tightly as she ushered me into his room. Even now, as threw my tie blanket around him, his skin felt cold and his would be eyes far worse when he then looked at me with nothing behind his stare.

Already, I could feel my heart crackle in foreboding.

"Bring him to the couch." I ordered, letting go of what mattered most and hurried to the foot of the furniture. Sliding as though the floor were home plate and most likely giving myself rug burn, I ripped his bag open and began to fish through the different articles of clothing he had packed. I could hear the rustle of movement and the springs of the couch, but sights and sounds were a complicated web. Obviously, he was going to be fine, but my mind was far to panicked to be able to grasp on that concept.

After settling on a shirt, sweat pants and a new pair of boxers, I threw myself to the couch and knelt in front of him, still keeping my distance from making eye contact.

"Gabriella… take a deep breath and calm down…" A voice instructed me. I ignored it.

"Do we have a first aid kit? Someone bring me gauze!" I shouted. I didn't even register the slowed footsteps when I turned back to the cushions and looked back at the shivers that rippled against the blanket. Like a coward, I refused to look up at meet his stare; I couldn't handle the thought of him not remem…

What the fuck was I doing?

Three years ago, I had taken the chance of my heart by allowing Troy to pull me in for that very first kiss and step over the dangerous lines of friendship into something more. We spent that summer in heaven and bliss – holding hands like normal couples but also playing a game of one on one as the best friends we were. It was a different kind of love; not one that began on the heat of one's skin and traveled into the heart with time. This love, unique and powerful, ignited within the core of my stomach – bursting once the match was lit. Ultimately, the higher one climbs only means the harder one falls. Therefore, my fright and abandonment after Troy's lapse of memory shattered my entire being – it weakened me.

For two weeks, I had taken the opportunity to re-fall in love with the man who owned my entire world. In that time, I realized that Troy was not the same guy he was that summer, but yet, he was. He was still the passionate lover who looked at me as though I was the only one who existed: the only one who mattered. His voice was tainted with a sarcastic edge, but it made him unique and powerful. However, he was matured – physically and emotionally. He knew what he wanted in life and he was going to get it no matter the cost. He had turned from the boy I fell in love with that summer, to the man I had fallen in love with this summer. And I wouldn't trade them for the world.

Yet, I was in a state of déjà vu. I was currently falling into the same trap that I had when I left him.

He was Troy. No matter if he lost his memory once or twice or seven times – he was still Troy.

And that was all that mattered.

Something dropped beside me, stripping me from my thoughts and reminding me that there was a task at hand. I looked up, unseeingly, and nodding in thanks at who ever had retrieved the necessary equipment for me to continue with my task. Now or never was bestowed after I picked up the medical tape and gauze pad and weighed them in my hands. I realized I couldn't be a coward any longer; no longer would I push him away until he was out of reach. As I curled one of my fingers around his vibrating shoulder above the blanket that covered him, I took a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut, mentally counting to three.

One… Two…


My eyes flashed open at the stutter of my name – initiating a stutter in my heart.

He was looking up at me the way he had that summer we first fell in love – his eyes dark with desire. But he was also gazing upon me in the same passionate and devotion he had since I first climbed down the stairs the first night in the cabin. It reflected love within the turquoise flecks in his irises; I could see myself shining in them. Both were a combination of both Troys – the boy and man that combined into the person I was desperately head over heels for.

His hand, shaking in the cold, slid into mine.

He still remembered me.

The tears of relief finally breeched, "Troy…" I whispered frantically and leaned forward and shoved my lips against his icy forehead, water streaming down my face. The blood in my veins ran quickly with each kiss I slammed against his skin. Pure and untamed love exploded beneath my fingers, raking through his soaked hair with a sense of urgency and need. When it was too difficult for me to form my mouth any longer, my forehead pressed against his as my body began to tremble as violently as his did – his due to the cold, mine due to my happy sobs.

"I'm s-s-o… f-f-uck-ing… co-cold." His teeth were chattering wildly.

"You're so stupid." I cried, cradling his head within my arms and never allowing him to escape again, "So so stupid…"

He suddenly winced when I pressed too tightly above his ear. Pulling away, my fingers were suddenly stained crimson. Panic rushed through me again, remembering the cause of my hesitations previously. I scooped up the bandages once again and sat on the edge of the couch. My world was consumed with him, for I hadn't noticed that the others had slipped into the shadows and were watching us with both concern and bewilderment. Instead, I watched painfully as Troy turned his head and continued to shake; though it seemed to be slowing under the masses of blankets that now buried him. I noticed that someone – most likely Taylor – left an amber bottle the height of my finger but not quite as thin.

I poured the iodine onto a tissue and turned back to him. Swallowing thickly, my hand cupped the opposite cheek and brought him to look at me again. Slowly, my thumb caressed his paleness and I gave him a soft smile.

"This is going to hurt."

He tried to force out a pathetic curl of encouragement, that he was fully prepared, "B-b-bring… it."

Of course, that courage disappeared the moment I touched his temple – straight into his wound.

"Fuck!" He screamed, throwing his head back in pure agony. I watched as his teeth, beneath their clatter, gritted and his eyes snapped tightly shut. Grabbing my knee, his fingers squeezed to displace the pain somewhere else.

Due to the relief had washed over me, I felt light and airy. Therefore, I rolled my eyes, "I told you."

He tried to chuckle, but it only sounded like huffs of breath, "L-l-look who has the s-s-superhero complex-x n-now."

With the back of my hand, I wiped the now silent tears and leaned forward again, stroking the opposite sideburn with the backs of my fingers. He closed his eyes at the closeness of my face again.

"I need to clean this." I told him, slithering my hand down his chest and trying to help his body to stop shaking. It wasn't in a response to my touch, rather the blankets against his bare skin, but his vibrations slowed in the slightest. He was still freezing – the clammy surface of his scalp was a symptom of this. I was waiting for a clear sign of heat to prick beneath him: a blush on his white skin. His legs, mounds beneath the blankets, were scissoring – an attempt at friction to create warmth.

"Grin and b-bear it." He leaned backwards, making his neck arch around the arm of the couch and fisted his knuckles. I bit my lip when I touched the chemical to it once again. This time anticipating it, he simply squeezed his eyes tightly shut and ground his teeth, though he was silent.

I sighed, though never ceasing to dab his wound, "What were you thinking, Troy?"

"I was p-pissed." He said coldly.

Our eyes caught again and I froze. Guilt immediately surged through me, electrocuting every nerve ending until it became unbearable. I had completely forgotten our argument and the revelation of our past when I thought Troy had lost his memory once again. It hadn't mattered – all I was focused on was the urgency to make sure he wouldn't suffer from any more head trauma. Now, knowing that Troy wouldn't suffer permanent damage and should have probably had a few stitches, the rawness of my betrayal stung far worse than the iodine ever would.

I waited for him to scream at me – to shout and yell and shove me away in pure hatred. Instead, silence fell before us when he closed his eyes: an indication for me to simply continue.

He sucked in a hot breath, making me pause momentarily and look down to find that he was fighting with his natural reactions to pull away from me. At my hesitation, his fingers curled around my wrist in encouragement to continue with my aid. His grip tightened in an attempt to steady himself as he held me. I focused back on the gouge and tried not to think of the pain he must have endured when his head slammed against the boulder as he took his tumble – the black ooze of blood was enough to send shivers down my own spine and pulse with sympathy.

Troy hissed as I finally retreated when the area was matted with iodine. Within the darkened strands of his hair, a midnight pool of blood still trickled over his ear and down his lobe, dropping onto the couch and most likely causing a stain.

I realized his shivers weren't quite as violent any longer, but when I reached up to frame the gauze pad on his temple, his body was still frozen. My fingers were working with precision and tactic – rip, snip, and press. Before long, I had created a makeshift bandage in his hair that would absorb the blood for the next hour before I would need to dress it again. He stared up at me when I was finished and dropped my materials to the couch, slightly wary to turn back to him. Fingers tracing over the white patch, Troy chuckled bitterly to himself.

"I thought… m- maybe if I ever hit it again… I'd remember…"

He suddenly appeared exhausted, like his trembles had sucked the life out of him. I imagined I wasn't quite so far off, for he snuggled further into his blanket to hide all signs of the bare chest that was sticky with the mixture of rain and lake water.

Hesitantly at first, my palm curled around his cheek – cupping his face with pure devotion. Our eyes - despite his droopiness – locked once again. The earth wasn't quite as powerful or plundering as the way we burned. His hand caught my wrist again weakly, juxtaposition to the intensity of our gaze.

"I'm so…so… so sorry. I should have told you… but after you shook off Sharpay…I was just… I was scared…" My voice shook as I sniffed in my tears, trying not to begin sobbing once again. Obviously, I was failing – acid was raining down my cheeks and dropping onto the blanket, "You would have…I didn't want you to break my heart again…"

Troy nodded, his eyes were half closed and his breath coming thickly. I watched the way his chest rose and fell, not rapidly, but deeply. His ceruleans were dark with desire and intensity; the ocean at twilight, twinkling a reflection of the first star after a storm.

"He's never going to come back, Gabriella." His voice was black as night, deep with confession and fatigue, "If you're waiting for your Troy, walk away right now. I wish I could bring him back to you… I wish I could make you happy… but I can't. I never will be able to give that to you."

Lip quivering, I shook my head, "It… it doesn't matter."

He raised an eyebrow skeptically, "It doesn't?"

Through my tears, I forced a smile. Without regret, hesitation, or fear, I leaned my forehead against his and cupped his face, the face of an angel, in my hands.

"No… because you are my Troy." I whispered, "Memory or not… you're Troy. You always have been."

I could have wasted the rest of my life wishing for Troy's memory to return. It would have been easy to wallow in grief of lost kisses and caught glances of our childhood. I could have fought desperately to remind him of the days we sucked on creamcicles until our mouths turned raw or tossing paper footballs to each other in the back of homeroom freshman year. Someday, whether it had been a year or seventy years, I could force Troy to wake up and tell me he remembered the way that black dress fit around my stomach or how awkward our first time had been. I could take him to the best clinic in the world to extract his inner most thoughts and be able to point to a picture and recall what happened behind the scenes of the smiles and giggles.

But, as our lips found each other in a chaste kiss, I realized I didn't care.

My swimsuit was dried, my sports bras stunk, and my duffle bag was shoved in the far corner of the truck. The bottles had been recycled, the sheets stripped and prepared to be washed. There was no coffee waiting to be brewed, nor was there a fire to be tended to. For the first time in two weeks, the cabin was bare.

Despite the sadness of leaving the refuge and the paradise vacation in the middle of the woods, I couldn't stop smiling.

"No… I'm sitting in the back with you guys. There's no fucking way I'm going to be within a five foot radius of the Blonde Bitch of the North." Jason, with a baseball cap turned backwards on his head, glared ruthlessly at me.

"Fuck no." Troy cussed loudly, squeezing my hand that was laced in his in a silent promise that he would protect me from Jason's complaints. Rolling my eyes beside him, I kicked his ankle that was dangling off the trunk of Chad's SUV – where both of us were seated. Smirking slightly but not looking at me, he took the opportunity to curve his foot around mine and rub softly up and down my calf. A part of me – the section of my brain that I cursed – turned to mush. I tried not to show the effect he had on me; obviously, I failed.

I nuzzled my head against Troy's t-shirt, feeling a headache beginning to pulse on the bridge of my nose. The morning had been anything but relaxing – Taylor had been insistent about leaving the cabin cleaner than we had found it. Grumbles had been exchanged between bagels during breakfast at the thought of making the finishing touches to be sure that we were respectful to the Danforth's home. Chad had attempted to convince her that the house was as tidy as it possibly could be. She wasn't satisfied – therefore we ran around all morning to be sure that nothing would be left behind.

"Jason." I spoke and looked up at him after Troy kissed my forehead comfortingly, "We all have to do things we don't want to at some point in our lives. You'll be fine."

Jason huffed and sent daggers in our direction, "You two just want to fuck in the back seat."

"Yeah! We do! Now shut the fuck up." Troy hissed, making me finally smack the back of his head. His eyes widened, feigned pain, and whirled around to me, "Hey! I'm crippled over here!"

Despite the mockery of his words, a slight jolt of guilt rushed through me at the sight of the clean bandage on the side of his head.

There was a crunch of footsteps against the gravel, causing my to turn my head around from Troy's wound. Three figures, squinting through the sunlight, approached with a steady pace. I noticed Zeke stood between the ex-couple, though there was a slight easiness in their stance. After Troy's scare had originally brought all of us to fright, it seemed that Taylor and Chad had decided to place their priorities in order. They weren't exactly friends, but from what I could tell in front of the final bonfire the previous night, it seemed they had agreed to attempt to work in baby steps into rebuilding a foundation that they could stand on when we all hung out again during the course of the summer.

"What's Cross crying about?" Chad asked as they stopped before us. His arm curled around the top of the truck, leaning towards me with a sense of protectiveness.

"He wants to split Troy and I up because he doesn't want to smell Sharpay's perfume for more than a minute." I whined.

"No… I'm saving you from having to clean up Troy's cum in your back seat."

"Really?" Chad snorted and winked at me; I shoved his shoulder until he staggered.

"Jase, man… don't sweat it… I'll ride with the girls." Zeke offered kindly, smiling down at Taylor who beamed back at him. I could see the pure relief that spread over her face – dark skin against her white teeth. Obviously after The Incident, Taylor wanted nothing to do with the drama queen. However, she didn't have much of a choice in the vehicle arrangements: Troy refused to go anywhere without me after he had slept off his dizziness from the lake and was staying with Chad until he went back to Santa Fe. Troy pulled the "I have amnesia and can't get headaches or I'll die" card – which, I might add, was the most idiotic excuse I had ever heard – and managed to keep Blondie in the opposite SUV. Apparently, I owed him a blow job for thinking so quickly – or so he said.

"Where is the bitch anyways?" Troy furrowed his eyebrows and cranked his neck around the others, looking through the waves of heat that rose from the dirt paths.

On cue, a sudden shriek sliced through the air like a knife.

Immediately, we all jumped in fright. The echo ripped through the trunks of each tree. I practically toppled to the dirt floor in shock, but luckily, Troy had managed to catch my arm before disaster struck. I smiled in thanks before joining him in a stance to watch as the heiress – who somehow managed to wind up in the gravel, face down – struggle to find balance on her obnoxiously large suitcase. Judging by the fact she was a mere foot away from the steps, I assumed that she tripped whilst attempting to make her voyage to the cars.

"I hate this place!" Sharpay screamed. Conveniently, she was dressed in an all white outfit that appeared as though she was about to attend a Wimbledon match.

I smirked when I caught Troy's glance: karma's a bitch.

We all ignored her and turned to each other, realizing that it was time to end the vacation. Chad was first to move, placing one arm around my shoulders and the other around Zeke's. In synchronization, we all followed his lead, encircling each other until we were a giant ring – unbreakable.

Troy was cheating with me, of course, as I was with him. Our embraces were entwined at our hips; each was snuggling into the other without drawing attention. Nothing was said, but we all caught glances at each other, smiling when another had and gracing a higher power for such an incredible group of friends.

Eventually, we had to let go. Hugs were exchanged; tears pricked in our eyes. Of course, we would be seeing each other for the rest of the summer – September was a far ways away. But, despite the lies and arguments and mosquitoes, we were going to miss the escape from reality. Worries of the books and professors would come at another time; now was for mourning over our return.

I glanced once more at the cabin and smiled.

The reunion as Wildcats, including Troy, was one that had been –dare I say – unforgettable.

Everything was perfect.

Small water droplets collected on the burning surface of my skin, dancing upon the tiny blades of grass that cushioned my body as it lay in the bed of the earth. Above me, the stars – winking and twinkling – illuminated the night sky. The darkness around was comforting, kissed with a bluish haze that swirled evenly in the breeze. The air was warm – not quite scorching and not quite chilled. Silence, apart from the even chirp of crickets, was the soundtrack to bliss. Nothing could harm the bubble of the night – not a lie could stir chaos. Purity rang with the soft creek of a swing nearby – a child's innocence mixed with the gentle gargle of a stream hidden behind the emerald tree line.

It was exactly the same as it had been that first date we had all those years before.

And of course, the perfection of the atmosphere in the park that evening mattered not – the reason for flawlessness lied in the grass beside me, jean clad legs entwined with mine and holding me with devotion.

"Can I ask you something?" The voice of angles requested. Hypnotized by his tone, my head lifted from his chest and I looked into the sparkle of his eyes – far brighter than The Northern Star.

His fingers, previously rested on my hip, lifted and pushed back the ebony curls that spilled out across his chest. Far into ecstasy, I felt my heart evenly thump against his body. It took a long moment for me to process the words that hummed in my ear – the silence had been all so consuming that I had forgotten what written speech was. I was drugged off of love; off of the pure knowledge of being within the arms of the man that held my heart in his hands and – even after three years and a barren collection of memories – refused to let it go.

"I suppose." I responded, softly stroking the collar of his green t-shirt and brushed against his golden skin without apology, although he had been asking me questions about our previous life all night.

His lips were suddenly hovering over mine, mere centimeters before connecting, "Why does your dad hate me?"

Without hesitation, my hand slipped to the back of his neck and I stared deeply into his eyes, feeling waves of passion wash over me, "Because you own my heart." I whispered before I met his lips with a gentle caress.

The separation of three hours after Chad had dropped me off that evening had been unbearable. Of course, I was happy to see my family. My mother had eagerly sat beneath the canopy of my bed as I retold stories from the two weeks in my absence. She grinned brightly when Troy's name dropped –she had always been a fan of us. After I tossed my dirty laundry in the hamper and sat impatiently through a welcome home dinner, my phone had buzzed and my smile grew. Old habits apparently died hard: my father's glare returned when Troy knocked on my front door with his beaten up truck coughing in the driveway and a look of lust curled on his lips.

Our mouths were in no hurry when Troy rolled me ever so slightly so his hip pinned mine down. I was busy re-exploring his body for the umpteenth time since we had first been in that clearing just a few weeks before. Every time I assumed I had his entirety figured out, I would be pleasantly surprised to find another divot in his back or admire the way my palm curved perfectly against his peck – just above his heart. He was doing the same, though discovering me without a predisposition of my makeup. As his tongue flicked in and out of his mouth as it dragged over my neck, I realized it was filling the void of his brain with new memories, replacing the blank slate of our relationship with moments he would be able to retrieve when needed.

We were breathless when we surfaced from the depths of our kiss. As one, our chests were panting and pressing to the other. My hands were stroking the little hairs on the back of his neck, his were avoiding knocking the sunglasses perched on my head and trailed down my side.

"What is it?" I asked softly when his eyes fluttered to a close. The breeze teased the strands of hair falling into his thick eyelashes.

When his eyes flashed open again, bright and cyan, he leaned his forehead against mine.

"You're beautiful." He mumbled, twirling one of my curls around his finger. I grabbed his chin and pulled him down, connecting our lips in an intimate waltz.

"I love you." I whispered when we pulled away, staring up into the corners of his eyes so he could see the vitality of my statement.

A soft smile tugged at his lips, "I know," he responded, knowing that eventually he'd be able to repeat the words back to me when his consciousness felt the same, instead of relying on the undertone of his psyche.

His hands, careful and precise, ran from my thigh and through each bump of my rib. They passed the cushions of my breasts, not without a squeeze first, and then took my clavicle in his grasp. I felt vulnerable and electrocuted, anticipating his ambush on my mouth but never receiving it. Instead, he kissed my forehead and glanced towards the sky once again.

"I should get you back before your dad calls the police." He joked, arching his body in a pushup position and finding the strength to climb off of me.

I knew he was right; the long day of driving was beginning to make my eyes droop. With an offer of his hand, I sent him a longing look before slipping my fingers between his and allowing me to stand.

We were halfway across the baseball diamond that led to an abandoned playground when Troy suddenly stopped. His head snapped towards the bubbling stream.

I narrowed my eyes questioningly, "Troy? Come on, we parked by the swings-"

"Hang on," he mumbled incoherently, "I wanna see something."

He tugged on my hand, not bothering to wait for my approval of this task. There was suddenly a spark in his eyes, a hunger I had never seen before – new or old Troy. I stumbled away from the swings, struggling to keep my balance as his feet frantically stepped down into the grass. This sudden desperation frightened me when we made it to the thick of the trees, hiding the whispers of the stream as a secret. Small twigs poked and splintered against my bare feet, but I was too focused on Troy's persistency to notice. With the grace of an athlete, he skillfully pulled me through the thicket until I could see the black rush of water reflecting the shining stars from above.

"Troy?" I called again when he let go of my hand and took a step back, "Troy stop it! You're gonna get hurt!"

He was in a trance, and it scared me. Vigilantly, he tested the rocks with pressure on his foot. Deciding it was safe, he bounded until he was at the water's edge, staring into the waving reflection of him.

"Come here." He ordered passionately, never once looking at me but arching his arm back to offer his hand.

I crossed my arms stubbornly, "No… Troy we're trespassing. We're gonna get in trouble."

He didn't look at me, but the world around me suddenly shook when he whispered, "This place… I feel like…I've felt it before…"

My heart stopped beating.

I suddenly lost myself, feeling the earthquake of my heart shatter the world. Nothing seemed to be truth – black and white were no longer opposites and the stars were shining through the ground. Weeks became months, years became seconds. Time was suddenly lost to me; I wasn't quite sure if I was sixteen or nineteen anymore. It didn't matter – had it been either, I would have been more than content. But both – both had never been an option.

I don't know how I managed it, but I was suddenly at his side upon the rock. Without looking myself, I knew the mocha in my eyes was smoldering when I grabbed his shoulders and whirled him until he was finally gazing upon me with as much passion as I was.

"You remember?" I asked frantically. I cared not if he did, but the astonishment of this revelation left me breathless.

Swallowing thickly, though never faltering his stare, he shook his head, "Not a memory… I just…I feel it… I've been here before… I know I have…"

I threw my arms around his neck – that was good enough for me.

Around us, the stars burned brightly in the velvet night as the rest of the world faded into a forgein existence. Musical and enchanting, the bubbles from the creek floated between our skins, slick with love. Troy held me close to his body, connecting my existence to his as one. The wind twirled my hair around us, sheltering our arms from the outside world. I closed my eyes, feeling one single fleeting emotion rush around. Love surged through me, tickling my eyelashes and escaping my flesh to be absorbed through his. Though he may not have remembered, I knew he felt it too. And that was all that mattered.

Troy grabbed my face and kissed me with raw yearning. The sound of my giggle filled the dead of the night when he pulled me close. Drunk off his touch, I peered down into the tender trickled of the creek flowing below. With the moon illuminating the black sky, I noticed the shimmering reflection of us in the clarity of the water. It was crystal; crisp and pristine without a doubt of what was swimming at the bottom.

Smiling to myself, my foot kicked a glop of mud into the depths of the creek, fogging the perfection that lay within.

A/N: I wish I could individually thank every single one of you for taking the time to read this story and really bringing it to life. To be perfectly honest, it was just sort of a whim that I decided to write it, but I'm really happy all of you gave it a chance. I know the updates were fast, but maybe that's what added to the magic of it. Seriously, thank you so much. Honestly, this was one of the saddest chapters I've ever had to write, so I really hope you enjoyed it and I hope you took away more than meets the eye of it. Thank you, so much for your support of this story.

Three years of consistent writing is a long time… and three years ago at this time, I was starting to write my very first story for Troy and Gabriella. Since then, I've really grown as a writer and a person, and I just want to thank every single one of you who has been with me for a long period of time. Because you guys are the ones who pushed me to be better. I'm not perfect, because there are so many authors on this site who can run circles around me, but I really have gotten a lot better in three years and that's all thanks to your support. I don't know if I'll come back and post anything more for High School Musical, but I will most definitely be reading and cheering the rest of the amazing authors on. Of course, nothing is ever set in stone, so if I settle into this new life and come up with a solid plot line, I won't hesitate to post it. I will always be writing, know that. It's is too important to me to give up – it's a bit of an addiction I'm not willing to let go of.

Good luck to all the other authors on this site, keep making me feel inferior – I know you will. Don't let the magic of Troy and Gabriella die. Thank you, to Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens for giving me inspiration. Without the sparkles in your eyes and the giggles slipped, there would be no Troy or Gabriella. I wish you luck in your careers and where ever life takes you. You'll always be the music in me.

Honestly, I have the best readers on this site – you guys have stuck with me no matter how much ridiculous shit I've thrown at you. Nothing I will ever say will express my gratitude for you guys. So just, thank you. Thank you for letting Troy take Gabriella to hell on a summer night and thank you for trusting me and allowing Gabriella's balcony doors to be unlocked on a stormy Christmas Eve. I owe you all so much more than I can express.

I'll be around cheering the rest of the authors on. If you ever need me, I'm always a PM away.

Thank you, for the opportunity you've given me. Keep rocking, I know you will.

xo runninequalslife