This began as a bunch of small scenes I scribbled up during class. When I began rereading them I was actually really pleased with them. This is the how they finally ended up. I'm not really sure if it's all consistent, and I think the ending was a bit rushed, but I like it as a whole. I hope you enjoy it.

Disclaimer: Well, um haha. Despite the fact that this was forgotten the first time around, I still don't own Persona. Or any of the characters of course.

Lovely

I

He holds his hand out, and she takes it with gentle hesitance. More surprised by how unusual this gesture is than alarmed. "Arisato, Riichi," she introduces. Her expression holding ill-concealed amusement.

He cocks his head flirtatiously and chirps, "That's a lovely name."

II

They are a group. The three amigos; the three stooges; the three idiots. The whole school knows of them by whatever name. There is not one person who couldn't point them out. The boys are fine, they are accepted as an inevitability. It is the girl who is the real problem. It's not that she's out of place among them, it is simply that to outsiders she shouldn't belong. Her graceful figure should have no place amongst their general foolishness, nor should she be so close to the school's new 'prince'.

She tags along when they go out to eat. Like always their conversation is bright, and excited, and full of gleaming laughter. Junpei leaves for the bathroom, and the two who should be near strangers but feel like so much more, are left to their own devices for a time.

The boy turns to her, apologetic smile in place. "I'm sorry you always end up hanging out with us," he apologizes. "I'm sure you'd rather be with the girls." He doesn't comment on how he knows it's his fault most of the girls in their class regard her with spite. That's the main reason he's so sorry in the first place.

She looks at him with mild surprise, before grinning and leaning back on her stool. "Nah, it's okay," she assures him. "We're best friends right?"

He finds himself smiling. "Of course we are." His chest restricts in giddy excitement at this affirmation.

III

It is the two of them today. Alone. By themselves.

Despite the fact that he was the one who called her out, he's having trouble believing that they are actually out right now. Until she had said yes, he couldn't deny the feeling of terror that she would merely laugh at him. It is the first time he can remember being scared.

"Ah," her light gasp returns his attention solely to the present. She is crouched down, one hand pressed gently to the glass of the window of the pet shop in front of her. A small kitten paws at the other side of the glass, as if trying to reach her. "Isn't he cute?" she chirps, moving her head to smile brilliantly up at him.

He is stunned for a short moment, before he smiles himself and moves over to crouch down beside her. "I didn't know you liked cats Riichi-san," he comments.

She lets a teasing smile play over her face as her gaze returns to the struggling animal. "I don't really," she admits.

The boy feels an eyebrow raise in surprise. "If you don't mind me saying," he starts, before he is able to think about whether or not he should be voicing this. "You kind of remind me of a cat." She looks up and raises her own eyebrows in curiosity. "You are a very aloof person, Riichi-san. Warm -very warm- but like you're detached from the people around you."

It is the girl's turn to look surprised. Eventually she allows a rather startling smile flutter onto her expression. "Is that so?" she muses. "I'm rather surprised you noticed." She splays her fingers against the glass, and it is almost as if she is pleased with the vain attempts the kitten continues to make to get to her warmth.

For a moment, he imagines himself as the kitten, and his chest burns with the feeling that even though he is right there, he cannot touch her. She manages to drive this fear away by grabbing his arm and pulling him up with her. She says something about a restaurant she wants to show him, but he vaguely catches it.

He's too busy being thankful she's still there.

IV

"You two are pretty close nowadays aren't you?"

The two in question glance at each other from across the desk. The girl looks up and grins. "Jealous?" she teases, laughing as the capped boy snorts.

"Did we make you lonely?" the raven haired boy joins in. "We won't leave you all alone Junpei-kun."

The standing boy snorts again and ignores them in spite. "Am not," he argues vainly. "It's just, you guys are pretty much always together now. It's kind of strange."

They look at each other again, and once again smile. "We're inseparable," they chime.

V

She is becoming prettier. Not that she wasn't before, but now every time he looks at her, she shines a little bit more.

"You use the constant here don't you?" She bites her lip as he affirms this, and curses. Her hand goes to the eraser, long fingers closing delicately over the pink rubber.

Their after-school study sessions have been increasing. What had once been a once-a-week thing, had turned into twice a week, and then into nearly every day. At first he had been grateful for the extra help, but now he was finding it harder to focus. Even being in the classroom doesn't help his concentration. Moreover having the school so vacant only makes him feel that pull to her even stronger than normally.

He has a sudden desire, and lacks the means to quell it. A pale hand reaches over to run his fingers through her bangs. Her hair burns even more like fire against the pale white of his skin. She looks up in surprise and locks eyes with him.

"You're lovely," he finds himself admitting softly. His fingers continue from her hair to gently stroke her cheek.

She smiles sweetly. "So are you."

VI

It's noisy. Unbearably noisy. Class has never dragged so long; what used to be fun was now becoming more irritating by the minute. All he wants to do is rush over to her, and pull her away to be alone. It is only when they are alone, that he is able to feel at peace.

He looks back over his shoulder, and comes to the realization that she is fidgeting almost as much as he is. They lock eyes and he feels that previous desire wash over him, and it becomes so overwhelming that he stands up in order to reach her before he can squash it.

The class goes silent, and he feels all eyes on him. The boy laughs nervously and attempts to calm down the now furious Mr. Ekoda. Upon managing to do so, he seats himself back down, and tries to pretend to pay attention to the board.

When he glances behind him, he notices that her chair is pushed slightly farther back than it was before. It occurs to him that she might have been ready to stand as well.

VII

"I hope you know I don't approve."

Yukari is standing above him; glaring down so hard that he is surprised the couch is not full of holes.

"Pardon me?" he manages to squeeze out. There is only one reason she should approach him like this, but that one reason is the only one he doesn't want to think about.

She curls her nose in disgust, and snorts. "You're a bad influence on Riichi. Ever since you've started hanging out with her she's been problematic."

This flicks something inside of him, and for a moment he is enraged. "Problematic?" he seethes through clenched, smiling teeth. "I don't see how Rii-chan has become problematic at all. If you would care to explain."

The girl seems to catch her mistake soon enough. She bites her lip, sniffs delicately, and crosses her arms. "What I meant is, she's been distracted. You've seen it too haven't you?" He can't deny that he has. "Her scores are drastically dropping, she's spacing out at very inconvenient times, and she has nightmares almost every night now."

The last part was the only thing unknown to him. It is also the only thing that he is genuinely surprised to find out. It is not the nightmares that surprise him, it is the fact that he feels as if he already knows what they are about that has really shaken him.

"I wouldn't have said something if you didn't look at her in such an obvious fashion. Akihiko-senpai is also getting a bit jealous." For some reason, this angers him as well. "So I wanted to tell you, I don't approve."

She walks away and he is left feeling angry and confused, and above all, guilty. "I didn't want your approval," he finds himself whispering against his better judgment.

"And you don't need it,"

He does not shudder at the arms that encircle his neck, and the soft chin that gently lowers to meet his collar bone. He does not move to grasp the hands that are now clutching her elbows, finishing the circle that is looped around his neck. He does not speak, nor look at her, and barely makes an effort to breathe. But he does permit himself to close his eyes, and imagine what it must be like to be allowed to carry something so lovely close to your heart.

"What do you dream about?" he finally manages to whisper.

She shifts slightly, then whispers against his jaw. "A little black-haired boy in striped pajamas."

VIII

Her breath comes out in white puffs. Whenever she speaks it appears as if haloing her mouth with every word that passes her lips. For some reason he imagines it is her life; ebbing away before his very eyes. He wants to catch it, but knows trying will have it slip through his fingers.

He called her out to the school, and despite the fact that today was Sunday she came willingly enough. Now they stood on the roof, laughing and joking and acting as if nothing would ever change. He knows deep down that everything will soon enough, but allows himself to be fooled by the façade a little longer.

There is a reason for this meeting today. He doesn't get to it until they are both spent, lying on their backs and staring into the wide expanse of the sky. Even when they become silent he hesitates to bring it up, afraid that saying anything will shatter what they have.

She breathes again, blowing white air into the space above her. This action brings his gaze to her lips, and he wonders if maybe she would ever allow him to touch them.

"Riichi," he whispers. "I-"

(I love you.)

"You know," she interrupts. He clams up at once, emotions a mixture of interest and fear. "I am unable to be in a relationship with someone," she explains. "You of all people should understand this." Her pretty lips are turned down, as if she regrets this simple fact.

His face in turn falls as well. "I

(I love you.)

know," he finds himself whispering. He moves his gaze back up towards the sky in order to keep himself from staring at the one thing he knows he cannot have. His chest ties itself into a thousand tiny knots, and the boy wonders if maybe this was a horrible idea. Perhaps he should have simply left things as they were.

"But," and in his surprise his neck snaps to allow him the sight of her, "if it's you, then I think it will work."

She bites her lip as she softly rolls on her side to face him. Her face is flushed from the cold and the embarrassment this new revelation brings. "If it's you…" and as she peters out she gazes shyly up at him from under her eyelashes.

He wants to shout. He wants to cry, to laugh, to ravish her right here and now. He wants to proclaim his happiness to everyone.

He settles for reaching over and stroking her face with as much tenderness as he knows how to display. She closes her eyes and presses against his hand.

His mouth opens when suddenly he is struck with an image. An image of her warmth freezing over. Her lovely features cracking and shattering and slipping through his blood soaked fingers. He has sealed her fate and there is no longer anything he can do to change that. Instinctively, he knows he will be the reason for her sorrow.

A sob bubbles up from his chest, and he has to choke it down and swallow it before he alerts her to his distress. Instead he tries to smile. "Thank you," he whispers. "My dearest."

She reaches out and loops her arms around his neck. He brings her closer to hold against him, and marvels at how tiny (how breakable) she is. He prays that sorrow is the only thing he's cursed to bring her.

XI

December 31st.

The boy marvels at how something as miniscule as a date change can induce such overwhelming anxiety. He leans against her desk, and comments on how long it has been since he has been in this room. His gaze is out the window, focused on the pale moon that will turn sickly in only a short time. He cannot look at her, he cannot look at anything else in this room. There can be no distractions, or the easygoing façade he is keeping up will shatter completely.

He can hear her breathing, even and soft. A calmness that is the complete opposite of the chaos raging inside of him. He hears her pad over to her bed and lower herself onto the mattress. She does not speak; he does not wish her too.

The click of a holster being released finally manages to get him to focus his gaze on her. The girl holds the gun loosely in her hand, eyes trained idly on the barrel that is pointed right at her. He releases a breath that he didn't know he was holding. She has chosen, and she has chosen what he desired her to.

"You know," she begins, tilting the evoker in an attempt to further inspect it. "I was a little angry."

He lowers his head. He deserves this. Her anger, her sorrow, her hate. He deserves everything she wants to throw at him. And yet none of it will be enough to make up for everything he is forcing her through.

"Christmas eve. I was alone on Christmas eve."

Red eyes flicker up to take in his confused expression. This conversation, he believes, is out of place. It does not belong, should not take place between the two of them as they prepare to help her choose how to die. He does not understand.

"Pardon me?"

She leans back, hand pulling the evoker away and out of firing range. "You left me all alone, on a day that is meant for couples," she explains. "Christmas eve. I was very lonely."

The thought that perhaps she will be reiterating all the ways he has let her down, flashes through his mind. "I'm sorry," he apologizes and his expression turns dry. "I wasn't sure you wanted to see me."

The girl shrugs and straightens back up. "I want you to know, that I won't be killing you," she comments. "We're going to be fighting."

His eyes go wide. A million images of how she will be torn apart flash through his mind. She will not be spared, no matter how much he wills it, no matter how much he desires. Because she is beauty. She is the loveliest thing he has ever laid eyes on. But beauty is always the first to die, and the easiest to tear apart.

"You don't understand," he pleads. "You can't kill her."

She smiles, and he is struck by how much it resembles the smile from back in front of the pet store. "I believe it is you who doesn't understand. Even if it would stop Nyx from coming, I would not be able to kill you."

"I am not human."

He doesn't want to show her this. Doesn't want to reveal how far apart the two of them really are. But if it will change her mind, he is ready to do anything.

"You don't think I know?"

The smile is still in place, and accompanied by that statement he is no longer able to move. He cannot fathom how her mind works. Even growing inside of her for all these years, he cannot hope to come close to understanding that part of her.

"I am Death," he reminds her. "I am the Appriser; the thing that will bring death to everything."

(I am what will destroy you.)

She sighs, brings a knee up to hold loosely to her chest. "Ryouji, do you remember? That time when you told me I resembled a cat." He nods, still unsure of what he was now supposed to do. "Well it is said that cats have nine lives." She cocks her head and gazes at him with amused, half-lidded eyes. "I doubt that even you will be able to kill me nine times."

For some reason, he cannot stop the laughter that bubbles up. "Is that so? Well then, I suppose I'll have to make sure I stop at eight."

Her smile reaches her lips, and despite the fact that he wants to cry, he allows himself to believe that she is right.

X

"Ryouji," she lifts her hand and marvels at the way her fingers looked, splayed against the never-ending whiteness.

"Yes?"

"You were only able to kill me once."

He sucks in a breath, cannot bring himself to respond.

"I still have eight lives left. So, will you stay with me?"

She leans back, pressing her back against his. He can feel the slight tremors she produces. The fear that he will leave her, is badly hidden.

He smiles, presses back. "Anything for you, my dearest," he assures her.

The girl hesitates, then slowly pulls away in order to readjust herself. Her smile when she fixes it on him, is the most brilliant thing he has ever laid eyes on.

And she has never been so lovely.