A Smile Says It All
She was good at putting on a fake smile.
She was far too good at it for her own good. Nobody could see through the façade that she put on everyday; people genuinely believed that she was the brightest, happiest person that they ever saw. But they couldn't see the scars on her wrists. They couldn't see how she was a slave, living her life to please those around her. They didn't see the tears that fell from her eyes each time she cried herself to sleep.
They didn't see anything but that stupid lie of a life that she showed them. They only saw the fake smile that she allowed them to see. That was the way it was meant to be, though; if those people saw the sadness and hurt that lingered behind her sky-blue eyes, then they would pity her. Either that, or they would call her a fake for putting up a charade of joy every day. But that wouldn't have been inaccurate, now would it?
Naminé sighed, shutting her sketchbook when the school bell rang. Her favorite class was over, and now it was time to move on. She would no longer receive joy from escaping the real world and drawing flowers and pictures that would be found in a fairytale. No longer would she feel any real joy at all.
The blonde put her notebook in her backpack, the pencils going into a special bag that she had for them. Art was the only reason she lived; it gave her hope and happiness that eluded her in life, and she knew that if she clung to her art, she could get a great future for herself.
That takes time, though, she told herself, rising from her seat. You're starting your sophomore year of high school. Don't get so excited for the future just yet. She still had to survive three more years at home with her abusive father and get passing grades in school. It was hard to do that when she didn't have an interest in the classes, but she would do whatever it took to get to Art School.
She waved farewell to the art teacher before she put her backpack on and left the room, failing to notice the student in the corner of the room looking at her.
There was something about the way that she held herself.
She thought that nobody saw past the surface of things—past the light smile that automatically appeared on her face and past the laugh that always lit up a conversation. No matter how beautiful those things were, he saw what most people didn't.
Roxas saw the scars.
It had been an accident, really. He was in Art Class at the same time as Naminé and he walked up to the teacher to ask her a question about an assignment. He got more than just an answer to that, though, for when he walked back and passed Naminé, she had her sleeves rolled up a little bit, revealing the marks from cutting.
The day he made that discovery had been a month ago, at the very beginning of his sophomore year of high school.
But what was he to do about it? He didn't even talk to Naminé, ever. Art was the only class that he had with her, and he had seen her impressive work. He wasn't a good artist at all, which meant that approaching her was out of the question. He would be critically judged if he did that. But he couldn't tell a teacher, either; if Naminé was cutting herself, she had her reasons. Why should he butt in?
Roxas knew the answer to that question immediately: It was because he cared. He didn't even know Naminé, and yet somehow, his heart ached for her. For a long time, he watched her from a distance, seeing how she smiled and laughed with her friends. It was beautiful.
A beautiful lie, he thought to himself, packing up his art supplies and going to his next class. Someday, he would discover what brought out Naminé's real smile.
That was his goal for this school year.
Naminé couldn't believe it. The one good thing that she had in life was ripped right out of her grasp. Literally.
Last night, her father had screamed at her for forgetting to wash the dishes. She had been planning on doing it after she finished her math homework, but she had accidently fallen asleep in the middle of it and woken to her dad's fury. The fury was nothing new to her, and neither was the bruise she had on her arm because of where he gripped her too hard.
But that wasn't what had her distressed. He had taken her sketchbook and tossed it into the paper shredder when he saw that she was, "fooling around with doodling", instead of waiting on him hand and foot and doing the dishes. And then when the book hadn't made it all the way through the shredder, he cursed up a storm and was so distracted that Naminé made her escape then.
However, now she had no escape from reality. Her drawings had done that for her, but now she had no paper to draw on. The only thing that she could do now was draw on her arms with a kitchen knife and create art that way.
She subconsciously pulled down the sleeves of her shirt, walking up to the art teacher the moment class started. She calmly explained that she lost her sketchbook and wouldn't have any of her work to turn in this week. Ms. Appleberry immediately asked if things were alright, and Naminé flashed her best fake smile and lied, saying everything was fine. The blonde was dismissed to her seat.
Naminé folded her arms across her chest, going to her desk and sitting herself down. Ms. Appleberry told the students that today was a day to work in their sketchbooks and Naminé frowned, her sad eyes wandering down to the desk. She had nothing to do.
She stared down at her desk as the rest of the class worked and she did nothing but feel self pity. Art was what made her feel like life was worth living, and now she couldn't even do art for the forty minutes this class provided for her.
"Need some paper?" a male voice asked from beside her.
Naminé blinked, turning her head to look up at the blond boy who stood next to her. "W-what?"
"Paper? You need some, right?"
"Y-yeah, I guess," the girl stuttered, not recognizing the boy that she spoke to.
"Here," he said, handing her a few sheets. When she didn't reach out a hand and take them, he set them on her desk, at the same time looking at her with a quizzical expression.
"I can't take these," Naminé finally said, shaking her head. Most people that went to this school were poor like her; she couldn't' take away somebody else's art supplies. That would have been unfair.
"Take 'em," he insisted, offering her a smile. "From what I've seen, you'll put them to much better use than I ever would."
Naminé blushed, recognizing a compliment when she heard one. "Thank you, uh—" What was his name? She couldn't even thank him properly without saying his name.
"Roxas," he said confidently, a smile reappearing on his lips when he spoke his name. He was sweet.
"Thanks, Roxas," Naminé said, giving him a weak smile of her own. She saw Roxas nod in response before he turned and headed back to his seat, a single piece of paper sitting there for him to draw on the rest of class.
Roxas figured it out. He realized now what brought about a real smile on Naminé's lips.
After he walked back to his own seat, he doodled on his sheet of paper for a little while, but his heart wasn't in it. It never was, since he was distracted by watching the blonde beauty a few rows over.
She was so intense with her art—so focused. When she drew and colored, it was as if nothing else in the world existed to her. She drew beautiful abstract creations and made even the simplest flower look stunning.
Naminé was much more stunning than any of her drawings, though. She was practically glowing when she focused on her artwork, and it was as if she could suffer any hardship as long as she could draw and focus on the beautiful things in life.
However, that wasn't what gave away her secret. The fact that she smiled faintly at him when he gave her the paper was enough to let him know that he discovered how to make her smile. That, and the cute way her eyes would shine when she drew a picture.
That was what prompted Roxas to do what he did the very next day. He had gone to the store the previous night and bought a present with the money he earned from his part-time job, even getting a bow to put on it.
The next part was where it got tricky; he went to the school office to try and get Naminé's locker number, but they wouldn't give it out, since they assumed he was a creeper and was going to harass her. Of course, he would never dream of that, so that was no real concern. When he couldn't get the information from the office, he went to Ms. Appleberry. It took some explaining, but when she heard about what he was going to do, she happily surrendered Naminé's locker number. Part Two was complete.
And now, all Roxas had to do was wait. The sketchpad was in her locker with the bow and note, ready to be admired and enjoyed by somebody who needed a little bit of joy in her life. Somebody who deserved it.
He peeked around the corner when he heard footsteps, the blond seeing Naminé opening up her locker right then and there. He watched in anticipation, subconsciously gripping the corner of the wall as he watched her.
Naminé tilted her head to the side, seeing something that she didn't remember putting in her locker before. What was that? She reached in and pulled the item out, a soft gasp leaving her lips as she held the item in her hands. A brand new sketchpad.
She fingered the material of the cover, the smooth surface feeling good against her skin. This…was hers? How?
She flipped the sketchbook over, looking for some kind of note on it. When she saw none, she flipped it open and there was the note she was seeking, on the inside cover.
"The real smile you wear when you draw is much more beautiful than the fake one you wear everyday."
She felt her eyes become moist, both at the thoughtfulness of the gift and the note's words. But that wasn't the only thing that happened.