A/N: I dunno if this is gonna be read or what, but what the heck... This is gonna be a series of drabbles following the slow progression of the Hazuki Kei and the heroine's relationship. This is also Hazuki-centric and some lines are gotten directly from the game, so to those who don't want to be spoiled, please play the game first before reading the story. =) Oh and about the heroine's name... I'm not very good with names so I just picked some random last and first names in the GS Translation project guide. XD
Pages of a Storybook
Chapter 01: April 4 - Promise
His eyes instantly snapped open, jarring him from his supposedly peaceful sleep as he lay sprawled on the grass. A cool gust of wind caressed his body and caused him to shiver, as if the season was reminding him of how stupid he was for wandering at the back of the school and sleeping on the lawn with only the trees and the deserted church as company.
He couldn't resist it. He was looking forward to the season of Spring and what better way to spend the rest of the morning than to immerse himself in the soothing atmosphere of the forest? The weather - although a bit cold for his liking - was wonderful and the clouds overhead were shaped like frolicking little sheep that goaded him to close his eyes and give in to the promise of a peaceful slumber.
He was supposed to be at the school grounds like all the others who were waiting for the Welcome Ceremony to start. It didn't matter to him... or more like he didn't really need it. He studied in Habataki High during middle school and although there would be fresh faces coming in this year, everything would still be pretty much the same. Besides, the principal wasn't the type to deliver speeches that would hold everyone's attention for even half a minute. What good would it do if he attended?
Also... even if he did attend, he'd probably sleep through the whole ordeal anyway. It made much more sense to him to sleep in a quiet, comfortable place than on a hard, cold chair - which would probably make his muscles sore for the rest of the day - surrounded by impatient whispers of the other students.
He glanced at his watch and realized that only thirty minutes left before the ceremony would start. That meant he only had at least an hour and a half to doze off before he was required to come to class to meet his homeroom teacher. He placed both arms at the back of his head and stared hard at the sky and the passing clouds. He wanted to sleep again, but found it difficult, mainly because the dream that roughly woke him up a few minutes ago started invading his thoughts.
It had been a long time since he'd dreamed of the church and the story of the prince and the princess. He was surprised of how vivid it was, as if he could actually see the light passing through the stained glass windows and illuminating the figures in the story book. He could even hear his own voice reading the paragraphs as his little fingers followed each sentence before flipping to the next page. It was... strange. But what really made the dream so unnerving was the strong emotion that swelled within his gut and continued to remain even after he was jolted awake.
It had been years since he could put a face on that little girl who was with him. This time, however, he had been able to see every detail of that sweet expression of his childhood friend. She had found the fairytale as fascinating as he did back then.
It was surreal... as if it was trying to tell him something.
He remembered how innocent and pure the two of them were, playing and laughing with each other without a care in the world. Every time their parents would come and bring them home, they would stay inside the church and he would do his best to read the story to her. The story book was in German so all she could do was smile at him adoringly as he read her the story, pride filling his chest in every word that left his mouth. And when the day finally came when they had to part ways, his heart broke when she saw the tears in her eyes and he remembered how he had promised to return to her with such determination that it was as if he was the prince and she was the princess in the story.
With a heavy sigh, he sat up and turned his attention towards the almost majestic structure in the middle of the forest. It had been a long time... a very long time. When he finally returned here three years ago and laid eyes again on the same church he'd made a promise at during his childhood, he couldn't help but smile sadly at the memories. So much had happened in his life that he couldn't see himself as the prince he'd promised to become. What happened during those years and how he'd grown so detached and cold towards everyone else were events in his life that he just couldn't explain.
As he grew older, gone were the days where the simplest things were all that mattered. So much had changed and so much was lost.
Completely awake now and frowning at the sudden downward shift in his mood, he dusted himself off and stood up with a need of a change in scenery and something to cool off his head with. He didn't have time to wonder why that particular memory of his long-forgotten childhood decided to haunt him again when the sound of footsteps alerted his ears.
There in front of the church doors was a young girl. She had her back turned to him and was focusing intently at the handles as she pushed and pulled at them for quite some time. He narrowed his eyes at her short hair and its color, which was a unique and disturbingly familiar shade of red that was almost brown. His breath caught in his throat at the possibility and before he even realized it, his legs were now carrying him towards the direction of the girl.
"Oh no! I should be at the ceremony by now. I have to hurry..."
He hardly heard the school bell ring when all of a sudden, the girl made a sharp turn and ran straight against his chest. It was then that he caught a glimpse of her face and he felt as if time had stopped at that very instant.
The next thing he knew, he was staring down at the girl who was sprawled in an undignified heap on the grass, a painful groan escaping her lips as she rubbed her backside.
His mouth went completely dry and he didn't know how long he stared at the girl before he eventually regained his senses. He still couldn't believe his eyes as he held out his hand to her with the intention of helping her up. He wasn't even sure if this was all a crazy dream and his mind was just playing tricks on him. Feeling the need to make sure he wasn't imagining things, he called her. "Hey..."
She was staring at him with an almost dumbfounded look on her expression. Feeling slightly uncomfortable when she still didn't make any move to accept his outstretched hand, he tried again - more insistently this time. "What's the matter? Here, take my hand..."
"O... Okay." She replied with a trembling voice as she clumsily took his hand as he helped her stand up.
"Are you okay?" He could feel his fingers tingling at the contact, dismissing all his doubts that she was just a figment of his sometimes wild imagination. During the time she was pulling herself together, he took the time to continue studying her face.
To his utmost surprise, he realized she still looked the same.
"E-Excuse me!" She choked out and bowed low, her cheeks flushing a bright pink. "Oh, sorry, sir. I was in a hurry, so..."
"I'm a freshman, too." He cut her off. Those were the same brown eyes, the same innocent expression...
"Oh, is that so? Ah! My name is Kimura Akari." She smiled and he was almost taken aback when she had just confirmed to him that she really was the girl in his dream. She was the girl in his childhood whom he played with at this very same church.
She was... his princess.
That one thought was enough for reality to come crashing down on him as if he had been splashed by a bucket full of ice-cold water. He suddenly felt like leaving her there without saying a word. He even mentally slapped himself over and over again as he regretted coming to this place. "Don't you have to hurry to the welcome ceremony?" He suppressed the feeling of irritation festering in his mind in every passing second.
He was so different now, how could she have stayed the same?
"Ah, right!" Her expression brightened immediately at that. He felt his mood lighten up a bit at her upbeat personality. She really hadn't changed... especially her smile. "But... What about you?"
A tug pulled at one side of his lips as he was filled by the happy memories of his childhood. Now that he'd found her again, the times they had spent together became clearer in his mind. He couldn't stay irritated for long because even though he wouldn't admit it out loud, he still treasured those memories spent with her when they were children. "I'll have my welcome ceremony here."
In his mind's eye, he could picture the boy and the girl playing in front of the church's gates. He must have spaced out for some time because he found the girl staring back at him with a curious expression. For a moment, his heart skipped a beat at the thought that she might have remembered him. Not wanting to show his unease, he mustered a stoic expression and threw her a questioning glance. "You'd better hurry."
"Okay... Umm... May I ask your name...?"
His name? Would she remember him if he gave her his name? He studied her face more closely. He didn't want her to remember him. He didn't want her to see how far he'd fallen. Even though he had returned, he highly doubted he'd be able to fulfill his promise to her.
He was too different, too different from the boy she used to play with.
Seeing no traces of familiarity in her eyes, he decided to risk it. "Hazuki Kei."
"Thank you, Hazuki-kun."
She left him then and his green eyes followed her back as her figure slowly disappeared from the high walls of the school building, his mood darkening as a myriad of thoughts swirled in his mind it was giving him a splitting headache. Although he was sort of happy to see his childhood friend again, he definitely wasn't expecting her to suddenly turn up in front of him... at this very church.
He dropped down to sit on the stone steps and leaned back, his head tilting upwards to watch the clouds. The birds in the forest chirped a merry tune as the leaves danced and swayed with the cool breeze among the trees. He stared at the huge bell on top of the marbled structure, holding out a hand to the skies with his expression distant.
He had to be careful from now on. He had a feeling that the years ahead would be the beginning of a journey in which fate would unleash its dirtiest tricks on him yet.
A/N: So... what do you guys think? I'm not so sure about the heroine's features, especially her eyes... But I think I read somewhere that she had brown eyes. I dunno where, though. ^^; Anyway, if ever someone did take the time to read this lil' fic of mine, reviews are always welcome. =D