The Artist's Apprentice

Disclaimer: Sonic's too speedy for me to catch, so I can't make him mine.

Chapter 2: Lessons through play

The sun drenched grounds of the castle vibrated with minute waves as a nearly transparent cerulean blur tore through the estate, jade eyes frosted with gold impatiently flicked from side to side as they searched for a rather elusive and wonderfully enigmatic rose of a girl.

"That girl seriously needs to have some sort of a tracking device put on her clothes," Sonic muttered to himself.

He had spent nearly an hour looking for his new friend, yet Amy was nowhere to be found. He mulled over the possibilities of her whereabouts. She wasn't with Vanilla, who went into town to gather more art supplies, Vanilla had said Amy wouldn't be with her until that night for some lesson on water base versus…oil, was it? Or charcoal? Sonic briefly wondered how one could paint with something that could be found in a recently used fireplace.

Amy also wasn't with Cream. Then again the younger girl was in the kitchens, learning about the culinary arts which differed from what the apprentice was learning. And she hadn't been seen by either Sonia or Manic who had come to know her fairly recently.

So where on Mobius was she?

Sonic's attention was suddenly jerked to the right by a cheerful voice calling out, "Hi, Sonic!" About a good twenty yards away, the prince could just make out the waving and bouncing coral and scarlet figure that was Amy.

Well, what do you know? Ask and ye shall receive.

Smirking, Sonic shot over to Amy, realizing that she had been a good distance from the castle the whole time. Inwardly rolling his eyes, he silently chided himself for not bothering to expand his search. This was Amy Rose after all. And like him, she was someone who would not be chained to one place, regardless of her not making that fact as apparent as he did.

"Hiya, Ames," Sonic greeted casually. "Been lookin' for ya."

"Really?" Amy was genuinely surprised. "Um, not to be rude, Sonic, but don't you have some…oh, I don't know…lessons or princely duties to attend to?"

"Nah," the speedster replied with a wave. "When the weather is as nice as this, the 'rents are usually pretty cool about letting us kids hang out in the open. The kingdom is running pretty darn smoothly if I do say so myself. 'Sides, since I'm the youngest, I'm not as hounded as Sonia and Manic are for the whole, 'grooming for the throne' deal."

Amy's smile was laced with concern. "You make it sound like you're pushed off to the side."

"Hardly," Sonic snorted. "I get involved. It's like I said, the kingdom is doing just fine. It's more my mom likes keeping her baby as close to home and as young as possible. And who am I to argue with her?" He winked.

Watching Amy roll her eyes and gain a more relaxed, playful grin, Sonic went on. "Okay, while that's mostly true, it's more like this; having two children married to royals from other kingdoms will strengthen alliances and more trade routes will open up. One kid at home, me, will keep our family line going within this kingdom."

"But what about the fact that you don't like staying in just one place?"

"Ah, don't worry about me. I'll be able to travel," Sonic's grin widened. "It's not like I'll be merely sitting on the throne all day long. My parents also go on the road and visit their own people quite often. Besides, I like living here."

Sonic then leaned in and whispered conspiratorially. "If I live in another land, something tells me that I won't be able to break as many rules over there and do things my own way. I'll have to most likely conform to another way at life. And while I'm pretty adaptable, you should know by now that I could never ever conform and as a royal that's something that's more often that not required."

Amy's brow furrowed in confusion. "I thought marriage was about compromise and making some sacrifices."

"Oh it is," the prince confirmed with a nod. "But with the "rule-breaking" I do, it more often than not benefits the kingdom. And I can do it subtlely without being caught. Moving to another place…you might as well put my freedom in shackles now."

Amy tilted her head as she surveyed her friend. "Either you're fairly deep, or you just don't want to get married."

"A little bit of both," Sonic answered honestly.

"And what rule-breaking has been done?"

Sonic grinned sheepishly. "Well, none, really. I don't know as much about my people as I should. Hence why I'm looking forward to more drawing lessons-"

His grin widened at Amy's light blush. "But I would able to help them by changing things if needed."

"That isn't necessarily rule breaking," Amy pointed out.

"No, but ya gotta admit, it does sound cooler," Sonic responded with a mischievous grin and wink.

Amy giggled and was about to continue the conversation when a bright young voice called out, "Amy!" The pair turned to see a silvery male wolf who was a few years younger than both of the hedgehogs standing on top of a small hill. "Are you coming back? You ditched the game!"

"Game?" Sonic asked, brow arching.

"Yeah, some of the castle staff's kids and I have been switching back and forth between hide and seek and tag for the past couple of hours. We always play out here since there's tons of space and we aren't in the way." Amy looked back at Sonic. "Wanna come play?"

That mischievous grin of Sonic's returned. "Are you sure you wanna play a game of tag against me, Ames?"

Amy gave him her own challenging smirk. "I think I can take you. Unless the all-mighty royal speedster thinks tag is too slow and boring for him."

A chuckle escaped Sonic. "If we play freeze tag, I can make a meadow full of statues!"

"Oh you are on, Prince Sonic!"

Sonic swiped his finger under his nose. "Actually, I prefer plain ol' Sonic the Hedgehog."

Amy rolled her eyes, jogging ahead as she became fired up. "Soon you'll be Sonic the Slowpoke if you don't hurry up!" With that, she raced back to the group of children shouting, " We're playing freeze tag! Prince Sonic is iiiiiiiit!"

Letting out an enthused whoop, Sonic ran after Amy, rocketing past the rosette as he went for the kids who were slow to start due to their amazement that the prince would join them in their play. "Now don't make this too easy!" He swiped at a chestnut furred cat who squealed as she dodged Sonic's gloved hand, giggling hysterically as she ran away from him.

"Run, Amy, run!" The now 'frozen' children cried. "Don't let Prince Sonic tag you!"

They had been playing for about twenty minutes, Sonic kind enough to slow himself down, giving everyone participating a chance to escape his clutches. Unfortunately, Amy had proved to be the only one clever enough to keep herself away from Sonic for the longest time now, resorting to ducking and spinning away from his outstretched fingers, even the occasional swinging herself onto a nearby branch which hadn't been considered cheating since racing up a tree was an easy feat for the royal speedster.

At the moment, Amy had gone back to simply running around the meadow, changing direction every so often as she wove around her fellow players who stood in comical poses with their arms stretched, one limb going this way while the other was splayed in the opposite direction. Fingers were arched in an effort to help lean their bodies away from Sonic, knees bent in the hopes that Amy would be able to tap them so they would be able to spring back into action, yet the children were wary for every time they were freed from their invisible prison, Sonic would tag them back into immobility.

Feeling the burn in her lungs begin to spread, Amy briefly wondered why she was the only one who had managed to keep herself from being tagged. Was she really that clever or was Sonic going easy on her because she was his friend? Amy frowned briefly at this notion. Sure, it was just a game and maybe she was overanalyzing things, but it didn't seem fair that Sonic would treat her differently from anyone else. She wasn't special, not in her opinion. She was Amy, just Amy, and that was how she liked it.

She was so caught up in her musings that Amy hadn't realized that she had slowed down, nor had she noticed that Sonic took advantage of her being lost in her daze and sped up. Feeling a tap in between her shoulders, her eyes widened as a gasp escaped her. She froze on the spot as she heard Sonic's victorious declaration, "Gotcha, Ames!"

"Darn it…" Amy wilted slightly, head and shoulders slumping as her arms went limp. She had lost. Yet part of her didn't care for she was exhausted. Just behind her, Sonic stood, chuckling.

"Didn't think you'd be able to evade me for so long," he grinned.

Turning her head slightly, Amy asked between gasping for air, "You not being able to catch me…wasn't out of special treatment…'cause we're friends…right?"

"Oh please," Sonic scoffed. "I was expecting to be able to tag you right off the bat."

"Gee thanks for the vote of confidence," the artist sarcastically retorted. "Makes me feel good."

"Let me finish," her friend admonished kindly. "I wasn't expecting you to be that clever, but you were, therefore the game was a lot more fun."

"Oh…," She couldn't help the embarrassment that crept up on her. "Well, thanks."

Sonic gave a nod. "Wanna play again, only this time I'm the one running away?"

Amy smirked. "With a whole bunch of kids attempting to tag you?"

Sonic threw back his head and laughed, "Ha ha! As if you guys would be fast enough to tag me!"

Unable to resist, Amy's hand shot out and smacked his arm, abruptly cutting off his laughter. "Hey! Cheap shot, Ames!"

She shrugged. "You made it too easy."

Sticking his tongue out at her and ignoring her utterance of 'real mature' and began jogging backwards, calling out to everyone else, "C'mon guys! This time, I'm the one you're after."

Sonic got his response in the form of several groans as everyone else collapsed to the ground, their stiff muscles singing praises of relief. He looked around in slight amusement. "Guess I'll take that as a 'maybe later'." He turned to the female hedgehog. "Well, what about you, Amy? You tired?"

Nodding, Amy sank to the ground. Looking up at Sonic, she said, "this definitely reinforces my statement of never wanting to be one of your fan girls."

"And why is that?" Sonic teased. "Too tiring?"

"Exactly!" Amy cried. "I wouldn't be able to keep up! I'm exhausted!" She fell back onto the grass, eagle spread and smiled lazily at the cloudless sky.

Sonic leaned over far enough so he was staring directly into Amy's eyes and effectively blocking off her view of the sky. "Need a lift back to the castle?"

"I can't exactly leave everyone else behind," the artist pointed out. "That'd be rude. Besides, I'm the oldest. It's my responsibility to make sure everyone gets back safely."

Glancing up, Sonic smirked and replied, "Ah, I'd say that they're doing a fairly good job of ditching us, Ames."

Sitting up, Amy saw that Sonic was indeed correct. The children had gotten up and were already heading back onto the estate. "Traitors," she muttered.

Laughing, Sonic held out a hand to her. "So, how about that lift?"

Smiling gratefully, Amy took Sonic's hand and allowed herself to be lifted into his arms, mentally preparing herself for the exhilarating rush that would be sure to follow.

Naturally she wasn't disappointed, her smile blossoming into a beaming grin as she watched the world around Sonic and herself blur, colors melding and yet at the same time holding their individual distinctness. The only thing that left her slightly disappointed was the fact that the rush came to an end. She didn't know what to blame, the castle for being so close or Sonic's dang speed. Sometimes she believed it to be a gift and a curse of her friend's. She just didn't know if whether or not he agreed.

As Sonic set Amy back onto her feet, he asked, "So, ya gonna go off and collapse quietly before meeting up with Vanilla tonight?"

The apprentice shook her head. "I've gotta go draw," she replied, slightly bouncing on her toes and flexing her fingers, actions Sonic knew meant that she was itching to go off and create some impromptu sketch that would invariably turn into a brilliant masterpiece. "Brilliant masterpiece", while those were words that rarely, very rarely entered Sonic the Hedgehog's vocabulary, they had been used as a compliment toward Amy's work more than once, yet she was always quick to deny, sometimes calling her drawings colorful, imaginative scribbles.

Though her sudden bout of energy threw Sonic off. "I thought you said you were exhausted," he pointed out. "You looked ready for a hundred year sleep and I was gonna have to rush off to find another prince to wake you up!"

Amy rolled her eyes. "Nice attempt at a joke your highness."

"It's part of my charm," Sonic chuckled.

"Shall I start addressing you as 'Prince Charming' then?" A wicked grin played about her lips.

"Oh ha ha, Ames. Classic."

Amy rolled her emerald eyes and tilted her head toward the staff wing. "Wanna have a lesson now, or later?"

Sonic studied the sky for a moment. It was nearing sunset. He bit his lip in contemplation, before light golden jade eyes widened in remembrance. "Ah, I may or may not have to meet up with my brother and sis. Wait right here." Without waiting for a response, Sonic jetted off, leaving Amy in the corridor.

He found Sonia and Manic in what all three siblings liked to call "The Underground Cavern", a room that was rather small compared to any other room within the castle, yet it wasn't exactly cramped. And yes, true to its name, it was underground, a space created by erosion, perhaps it had once been an expanded air pocket. The Underground Cavern was a place for the royal children to escape to whenever it was called for. Each sibling had taken to an instrument and sometimes had jam sessions down there. Other times it was simply a place to think or to talk.

"Uh, were we supposed t' hang out right about now?" Sonic asked, a sheepish grin adorning his face as he rubbed the back of his head.

Sonia looked up from her book. "No, we agreed we'd meet up after dinner, Manic and I just happen to be in here because we felt like it."

"Great, thanks!" A strong gust of wind blew through the cavern, it's ghostly echo reverberating against the walls.

Manic paused in his drumstick twirling as he looked at his sister. "I know this gonna sound stupid, but what was he rushing off for?"

Sonia grinned, "I think our little brother's in love."

"And what gives you that idea?"

"I saw him running around with Amy the other night. I think he took her to the village festival. Sonic normally goes alone."

The green hedgehog continued to look confused. "Your point?"

The princess rolled her eyes. "He likes her. What, you didn't notice the light in his eyes when he realized he could run off?"

"Sonic always gets excited about running off."

"True," Sonia conceded. "But trust me, he's running back to her."

Dropping his drumsticks onto the table, Manic stretched and said, "There's only one way to find out."

Sonia stared at her brother in open mouthed surprise. "Manic the Hedgehog, are you suggesting we spy on Sonic?"

The drummer grinned roguishly, "That's exactly what I'm suggesting, sister dear."

Amy had barely spent five minutes gazing at the clouds when Sonic was back at her side. "Don't have to meet up with the sibs til later," he said by way of greeting. "So are we gonna have this art lesson or what?"

The rosette hedgehog turned to him and nodded. "C'mon," she said as she tugged on his arm. "Let's go to the reading room. It's where I do my best work." She paused and grinned lightly. "Well, at least I think so."

Sonic blinked in confusion as he followed his friend. "Ah, don't you mean the library?"

"This is more of the secondary library," Amy explained. "It's less grand than the one you and I met in, and it's kind of a bit more hidden so I doubt you've seen it."

"Puh!" Sonic scoffed. "You should know me by now Ames. I've been all over this castle and then some. I'm pretty sure I've seen your hidden library."

Amy giggled as she continued on. "We'll see." She led the prince to a rock wall that was adjacent to the staff's dining room. Sonic watched as Amy glided her hand along the wall before finding and pressing a stone that was far darker than the others. It sank past the remainder of the rocks, causing the wall to slide a few feet to the side, revealing a set of stairs behind it.

The aspiring artist began to climb the stairs, hearing Sonic follow close behind. When the two reached the hidden library, Amy couldn't help but snicker at the boy's surprised face. "Well what d'ya know. I really haven't seen this place before! And I thought I knew the castle inside and out!"

Sonic examined the place. It was certainly larger than the library he was used to seeing, but it seemed to have a more homey feel to it while the other one was…colder, more imposing. The reading room was filled with books that appeared to be dustier, some falling apart at the spine, wooden furniture that looked to be carved by hand with an altogether warmth in the air. There was one window that provided the source of light during the day. It was a perfectly square window, that when Sonic peered down, looked out over a series of valleys, a crystal clear stream running through the dips in the earth.

Hearing Amy's heels knock against the wooden floor, he turned to see her walk over to an alcove he was surprised he failed to spot. It was sunken into the wall and had a rounded seat covered with a crimson velvet cushion and looked big enough for at least two people. Amy gently lifted the cushion and slid back another door, this one fairly sizeable and wooden, nearly taking up the whole of the alcove. The door that revealed an equally sizeable compartment. She reached down and removed a sketchpad and set of coloring utensils before closing the door and setting the cushion back down over it.

"Full of secrets, aren't we?" Sonic quipped as Amy sat on the cushion. She merely laughed and patted the spot next to her. He complied and plopped down next to her as she opened the sketchbook. "So what is it that had ya dyin' to draw it?"

"You'll see."

The speedster groaned. He hated that answer. Well, okay no, he disliked that answer. At least Amy hadn't said "wait and see". The word 'wait' alone inspired fear and loathing within every fiber of his being.

He watched as Amy began to draw, littering the page with curves and straight edges, shapes and amorphous figures. She shaded and etched, she even did this dotting technique that she called "stippling". She brought the kids that the two had played with to life, highlighting here and adding shadows there.

All with bright smiles and this light in their eyes that made them seem all the more real to Sonic, and not just mere illustrations. Though when he studied the drawing more carefully, he realized that Amy was doing it again, adding that uniqueness to her work, this time the kids seemed to be drawn with partial solidarity and a they were not quite there. It was almost like the portrait she had done of him about a few days ago, only this drawing had color.

Sonic smirked. "So what's the lesson this time, Professor Rose?"

Amy looked up, shaking her wrist slightly as she tried to relieve the cramp that was starting to form. "Hmm," she mused. "Are these really lessons, Sonic? Or are you just wanting an explanation because you don't understand my drawing technique?"

"Understanding your drawing technique is the lesson, Ames," Sonic replied. "If I understand how you draw, how you see the people of Mobius and apply it to my own way of ruling...well, one of these days, anyway...I'll be able to help my people more." He grinned. "Didn't we already go over this? Is your exhaustion from earlier making you forgetful?"

Amy rolled her eyes and gently elbowed him. "I remember," she began. "I just wanted to double check and make sure you were willing to listen to what I have to teach you."

"I'm ready and willin'."

"Alright then...but before I explain anything to you, I want you to tell me, aside from a bunch of kids laughing and playing around, what do you see?"

Sonic took a moment to carefully pick his words before answering Amy. He was slightly nervous, he didn't want to sound stupid or naive. Or worse, shallow.

"I think you drew them as half there and half...not there because kids don't like to be in one spot all of the time?" The prince grimaced at how his answer became a question.

Amy smiled as she watched Sonic try to think of the answer. "Are you truly thinking of the kids here in this painting or are you applying the answer to yourself?"

"Well, I know I don't like to sit still, but I thought that kids are the same way. Y'know always wantin' t' play. They're like bundles of boundless energy. Can't reel 'em in and expect them to stay." Sonic rolled his eyes. "I'm talking about myself again, aren't I?"

"No, no. That was actually very perceptive," Amy encouraged. "Any other observations?"

Sonic bit his lip, tilting his head this way and that. He looked up when his friend giggled and scowled indignantly. "Don't laugh, I'll figure it out!"

That was when Amy raised her hands defensively, still laughing as she shook her head. "It's not that, Sonic. I was going to say that you already did a good job. There aren't exactly any right or wrong answers. Not with this drawing anyway. Besides, this is Mobius through your eyes. Not mine."

"The picture seems to describe otherwise." Sonic pointed out.

"Well, yeah," Amy agreed. "I'm the one who drew it. But, you will start drawing soon and eventually after that, you'll be able to draw with just your eyes."

"So what is it that you see?"

The aspiring artist tilted her head, light coral bangs slightly hiding her eyes. Her voice took on this musing, almost dream-like quality as she began talking. "I see a group of play children who are happy with where they are right now in life."

Her fingers that had been resting on the thicker, more solid shading moved ever so slowly to the softer aspect of the drawing. "Yet they are still young and may not know what the future holds for them. It's okay however because they are ever curious and looking forward to growing up, one day seeing what the whole wide world has to offer."

Amy rolled her eyes as she finished her explanation, coming back to reality. "I'm sorry. That was too deep. I was over-explaining things again, wasn't I?"

Sonic shook his head. "No, that was fine. This is how you see the world. Through your art."

His friend smiled. "Art is my passion, a great joy of mine. You are right, this is how I see things, how I perceive what is going on in life. It's also a part of who I am. I can't help but draw all that I see; every action, thought, sight, sound, emotion." Amy exhaled before looking right at Sonic. "What's your passion, Sonic? What makes you, you? Is it running? Or am I way off?"

Sonic dropped his gaze to the picture, studying each smiling face that Amy had drawn. "That's part of who I am Ames. I've always been running, my whole life. Even if I tried to, I just can't find it in me to ignore the siren call of the wind. But…my love for running does not describe the entirety of my personality.

I love this kingdom, and I care about each and every one of the people who live in it. Sure, I may not know them personally, but I'd want them to be safe and happy, whether I was their prince or not. Mobius isn't just my home, it's the home of many. I want to look out for them, learn what's working and what isn't and figure out a solution to fix what's broken or missing. The people of Mobius and their happiness is my passion, and it's going to be when I'm king and after the fact."

Amy sat there, having been shocked into awed silence. She opened and closed her mouth several times as her mind frantically scrambled to string together an intelligent sentence. And as she was doing this, she felt shame beginning to creep over. Did she honestly expect Sonic to be that shallow or something?

"Hey, Amy?"

Said girl jumped, having been startled out of her thoughts. She turned toward the speedster prince, eyebrows raising when she saw Sonic studying a picture from her sketchbook. Her gaze dropped to her empty lap. Just how lost was she in her own musings that she hadn't noticed Sonic take the book from her?

His own brows were furrowed, nose wrinkled slightly, as his lips were pulled down in a confused frown. Leaning over slightly-there was only so much space that the alcove could provide-Amy saw that Sonic had come across a picture with one of the more darker themes she had drawn.

It was of a family of four, looking quite desolate, for they were short on money and had meager belongings with a crumpling shelter. She had met them during a trip with Lady Vanilla to Marmolin. It had taken nearly every ounce of strength on her part not to cry when she spoke with the family and when upon leaving after the fact.

Not that Vanilla hadn't done anything of course, she had given them money while Amy had taken off one of her typically worn gold bracelets in the hopes the family could sell it for more money. She had remained curious as to how the family was doing in recent times and was longing to return to the foreign planet to find out for herself.

"How come you drew this family so solidly, Ames?"

Blinking in surprise for she hadn't expected this to be Sonic's question, Amy studied the drawing for a moment before coming up with an answer.

"I drew this family fully colored using bold, if dark, colors because of how they acted as they lived. Life was and possibly still is very difficult for this family. Though they were polite to Lady Vanilla and I, as well as made it seem like things remained cheery no matter what, I could feel their sadness as they struggled to get by. Their pain was so palpable that I could almost physically touch it."

The apprentice looked at the prince with a serious expression clouding her face. "It isn't going to be easy Sonic, to make everyone happy. That is going to be quite the uphill battle, it may even be an impossible goal. I know you have time before you ascend the throne, I just don't know if in that time and even during your reign, that you'll be able to put everyone who is broken back together again."

Amy was surprised once again by Sonic's reaction. His contemplative expression hasted for less than a minute before being replaced by a borderline cocky grin. "Don'tcha worry, Ames!" He winked. "I can handle it, this is what I signed up for! I know trying to make everyone in the kingdom won't be easy, heck, I probably can't fix every little problem Mobius may have in the future, but that doesn't mean I can't try! Life most likely won't be perfect, actually, life is never perfect, it'd be boring if it was. I can make things better and that's what I'm gonna do, you just wait and see."

A smile blossomed onto Amy's face. "You're really sure about this, aren't you? No worries? None at all?"

Sonic waved his hand in a lazy, nonchalant manner. "Eh, I've got people who can worry for me." He laughed as Amy rolled her eyes. "Ya know what? There's someone I need to fix right now."

"Huh?" Oh, intelligent response Ames.

"I need to get you to stop worrying so much!"

The rosette hedgehog was wary of the mischief dancing in Sonic's eyes. Leaning back, her smile becoming strained, she asked, "And how do you plan on doing that?"

"Glad ya asked!"

Amy erupted into peals of laughter as Sonic pounced, tickling her sides and stomach. They both tumbled to the wooden floor as the prince continued his attacks, now reaching for her neck. "No, no, no, no!" Amy shouted, shoulders shooting up in an attempt to get Sonic to stop. After all, both sides of her neck was where she was most ticklish. "I'm not worried anymore! I'm not worried!"

"Good!" Sonic said as he leaned back. "You'll get wrinkles if you do. And since you're a girl, I'm pretty sure you get fussy over that sort of thing."

Amy rolled her eyes as she sat up. "Nice, Sonic. Very nice." Sarcasm dripped from her voice. "Not stereotypical or sexist at all."

"You've gotta admit, girls tend to worry more about their looks than guys do."

The apprentice shrugged one shoulder before looking up at her friend and smirking. She then reached out and ruffled his fur before batting at his quills. He laughed and dodged the swatting hand. "H-hey, watch the quills!"

"Girls tend to worry more about their looks than guys do, huh?"

Sonic grinned. "Okay, okay, you've got me there." His smile grew softer as did his eyes. "You know, Ames. This is really fun. I like learning like this. Wish all lessons could be like this."

"I like this too, Sonic." Amy fiddled with the hem of her top. "Just talking, about serious things, fun things. I don't really get to do this with anyone else. And after time spent with you, I'm finding it kind of difficult to want to have these talks with anyone else."

The cerulean speedster bit his lip before going on. "You…wanna know what else I'm beginning to like?" His voice had become hushed.

Amy's voice also became soft. "What?" Neither hedgehog realized how close they had become, knees touching as they faced one another.


Amy could've sworn her heart skipped a beat at that. "I think...that I…" The two drew closer, eyes sliding closed. "Am beginning to like you too…" They were a breath away from a meeting of the lips, when two simultaneous sounds of cooing and gagging forced them apart.

"Who's there?" Amy's voice was panicked, as she looked around.

Sonic on the other hand, rolled his eyes as he glared at the ceiling. "Heh, looks like your library isn't exactly hidden to everyone in the castle, Ames." He then leaped up and yanked on the vent that was about eight feet up and two feet away from their heads. Much to Amy's surprise, two hedgehogs, one deep jade and one fuchsia, tumbled down from the ceiling.

Manic and Sonia both winced as they sat up from their crash landing. They looked up to see one confused artist and one annoyed little brother, foot tapping as his face silently demanded an explanation for their spying.

Manic was the first to speak, and when it came to confrontation, in a manner very much like Sonic.

"Duuuuudeee!" The eldest of the royal children whined. "I thought you weren't gonna kiss a girl until the day our parents dragged you down the aisle! That was the pact we made as kids!"

Sonia whacked Manic on the arm, not noticing the flood of scarlet that stained both Sonic and Amy's muzzles. "Shut up, Manic! It was sweet! Don't be such a baby!"

Rolling his eyes once more, Sonic said in a dry voice. "Amy, I think you're familiar with my older and slightly idiotic siblings."

Quickly getting to her feet, Amy bobbed her head and gently jabbed Sonic in the side with her elbow, silently scolding her friend for insulting his brother and sister. "It's nice to see you again, Prince Manic and Princess Sonia." She pointedly ignored Sonic's smirk for she knew he noticed the false politeness of her smile.

Her emerald gaze flicked over to the window and widened when she saw the sunset. "Oh, I'm gonna be late!" She began to dart toward the door when Sonic called her back.

"Wait! Ames, are you gonna be okay?"

She flashed him a grin. "Don't worry about me, Prince Sonic. I have a lesson very soon and I just don't want to keep Lady Vanilla waiting."

She then darted out of the door, leaving Sonic to deal with his brother and sister, completely missing the look of worry that began to creep into his eyes when she had addressed him with formality. When she reached the bottom of the stone stairs, Amy leaned against the wall that had yet to conceal the staircase. Placing a hand over her pounding heart, she willed it to slow.

What on Mobius was that? She asked herself. One afternoon of getting to know someone, particularly a guy, a really cute one and not to mention a prince didn't mean that she should start kissing him! The hand on her heart moved to run through her quills as she berated herself.

That's the thing, isn't it? He's a prince and you're the apprentice to the royal artist…portrait maker to be more precise. He's gearing up for the throne while you're learning about painting techniques. This can never be more than friendship. Oh, but he was so sweet and kind…rather handsome and ca-no, Amy, no! You can't think about Sonic like this. Right. He's my friend. That's it, end of story.'s not that simple, is it?


Heaving a sigh, Amy pushed herself off the wall and began to run down the halls. Well, she had told truth, she did have a lesson with Lady Vanilla and she didn't want to keep her mentor waiting.

Um, hi there. bout them Mets? *grins*

Heh, sorry for the six month or so delay. I have been thinking about this fic and I have friends who can back me up! I have plans for this story and I'm not giving up until I hit the "Complete" button!