I

She orders him to undress her and shivers every time his hands touch her bare skin.

When he removes her shirt, she's almost expecting him to laugh and comment on her bust size, but he doesn't. His fingers barely brush against her breasts as her bra falls to the floor, and she knows it's only by mistake, too.

She's the one who takes his hand and presses it between her legs: he would never touch her like this. Her knees tremble and her forehead meets his shoulder; her other hand searches for his face and settles on his cheek. She stares into his eyes and they're so empty.

It's as though as she doesn't exist at all in his world, even though now, as furniture, he's only devoted to her and she is his world.

She could say, kiss me, and he would, but she doesn't, because he isn't himself anymore; he isn't the one she wanted anymore.

II

Battler glances at the ink stain on the parchment, next to her signature and then back at her. Just looking at her smile is enough to make him smile too.

If he signs—Once he signs, everybody is going to be happy and Beatrice… Beatrice, who looks so innocent and fought so hard will gain that happiness too. Right now she isn't a rival anymore, she's just a spoiled kid that he's finally come to understand. They won't need to fight anymore, he thinks, and then realizes: we will be happy together, and, I want to kiss her. And Battler decides that he will kiss her later, as soon as he has signed; he will grab her shoulders and kiss her, and then they'll probably both laugh at his own embarrassment.

But he never kisses her in the end, because this red-haired girl arrives, uninvited, and tells him that he was a fool and this isn't real, this isn't what he was fighting for.

Beatrice laughs because she's right and Battler is her toy, and there's no happy ending in this game and he never kisses her.

III

"Who am I?"

It's her voice that talks, her scent that Battler can smell when he buries his nose into her hair, but this isn't really her; just a husk.

He makes a promise and holds her tighter: don't disappear until I make you. (Do I really want you to disappear?)

Battler thinks that her scent is sweet, so sweet, too sweet – like dying flowers. Beatrice wants to kiss him at least this once but she doesn't, she can't, she won't, because she too, is dying.

IV

Her coffin is filled with golden roses, flowers that will never rot. Her face is like that of a doll: round and peach-colored and cool; but that mouth… those hands… her beloved figure won't decay either.

This isn't really a funeral. He is giving her the peace she deserves, he is putting her to sleep.

Beatrice is beautiful and he loves her. Battler wants to touch her lips with his own but, ah, it would feel too much like a farewell.

So he kisses the book he's holding between his hands, instead. It's his final gift to her: a story that nobody but Beato can read, a dream that nobody can defile. It's the happiness Battler created just for her, the happiness she wanted, the happiness she deserves and that he promised.

Putting the book between her arms feels almost like tucking a child in. Battler smiles.

Sleep well, he tells her, don't worry. I won't let anyone wake you up.

V

Beatrice is resting. Her dream is filled with gold and warmth: happiness.

Dreaming feels like sinking deeper and deeper into waters that aren't dark and aren't cold, no matter how far away from the surface she gets. Her dress and her flesh are both drenched with this miraculous water, with this honey. In this bottomless ocean, she feels so heavy that she knows she'll never be able to leave, and at the same time she feels so light that she knows she could fly, if she wanted to.

The roses are sparkling like they never did; like stars; like her eyes now.

Everyone is happy here, even the adults remembered magic and they can see her. She's real, her happiness is real, and this is what she had wanted and she… she received it from that person, the one she was waiting for all of this time.

The garden is like a beautiful maze and she's running through it in a way that's neither elegant nor graceful. She's running like an overexcited kid, smiling like a fool; once or twice she even almost trips and she knows that once she stops her hair will be a matted mess – Teacher will most likely scold her, but it doesn't matter.

Then, she sees him. Battler is waiting for her, grinning stupidly like always, one hand in his pocket and the cape making him look even taller. His posture is relaxed; it's as though as he knew she would find him soon.

"Look at yourself!" he says chuckling, playfully taunting. "You look like a mess, Beato!"

For the first time since they met, she doesn't tease him back: she just laughs and throws her arms around his neck.

"Hey, what are you laughing about, you idiot?" he asks, but he's still smiling.

Beatrice doesn't answer, then, finally, she kisses him.