LEAVE

[She was not an angel. She had never had a halo to break and a pair of wings to burn.

Remember her as she was, and quit thinking of her as someone she could have been]


~a~b~c~d~e~f~g~h~i~j~k~l~m~n~o~p~q~r~s~t~u~v~w~x~y~z~

She was always looking at him.

They were both small children when they had met the first time. She was a visiting princess from a faraway land, and her homesickness was slowly gnawing at her from within when she found herself all alone in the palace garden, surrounded by trees so green she never thought she could see for real. Her home country was covered in an endless color of white, wind gusts were a regular, the fungi were the only things closest to flowers her eyes ever registered.

Many people found life in the far north unpleasant, even her own father, the only successor to a dethroned king who longed for the gentle wind and blossoming sakura of a distant past that forever stayed beyond his reach. She had always wanted her father happy – after all, his fiance and her supposedly sweet mother had ditched him when the news spread that he was no longer a legitimate heir to the throne, only to seek him out a year later so she could push responsibilities aside and embarked happily – freely – on her way searching for another gold mine to dig. She did not even stay for the formal naming of her own daughter, despite her father's insistence that both parents present would be a blessing to the infant girl. Her father was badly burned, to say the least, when someone he had planned to spend his life with turned out to be the most despicable of all. He had raised her single-handedly, tended to her when she cried out in her vain quest for the caress of a loving mother, soothed her fear when a nightmare of abandonment and loneliness swarmed her once pleasant dreams, taught her every skill a woman should have to stand up for herself.

He had molded her into a stubborn weed, daughter of the snow and blizzard, instead of a wallflower like many other courtesans. And when he passed away, sending her to a distant cousin's kingdom – Terra, was it? - for care during her adulthood, she had left without a single tear. Many people spat in her face that she was not born to feel any emotions – that she was a ruthless monster – when all their diligent spying did not turn up any trace that the northern princess had been crying over the loss of her father. She simply did not care. She cried in her sleep, she cried when alone, she cried for herself, she cried for those she loved.

Not for show.

And that afternoon was one of those times when she could not bear the weight of her suppressed emotions any more.

Love of my life, my soulmate
You're my best friend

She was sitting alone on a bench near the farthest end of the garden, her hands curled up in two protective balls, determined not to show her weakness. She had come to release her feelings into the wind, the grass, the clouds, to return what was natural to Mother Nature. Not to whine.

Out of nowhere, a dirty ball bounced on her head, messing up the elegant bun she had spent so much of her time arranging. She whirled around, prepared to face the bully, her vulnerability switched to anger in the wink of an eye.

Instead, all she found was an apologetic young boy around her age, with midnight blue eyes and ruffy black hair, whose clothing she recognized to be that of royal markings. She had heard of him before, enough to know who he was even though he had yet identified himself. She dipped into a formal curtsey, bracing herself for whatever it was that was to come when he realized who she was. Regret was a facade, her father had taught her so; if the pain in his eyes back then was not a tell-tale sign, she did not know what would be. He was thinking of her treacherous mother.

_Sorry about that, - the boy said gently, extending his hand to her, on which she found a white handkerchief. Jadeite was nagging at me to compete and see who could kick the ball farthest, we thought the garden was empty, we did not notice you, and... Well... I hope you aren't hurt?

She looked up at him in surprise. The heir to the almighty Terran throne was apologizing to her? It must be some sort of twisted joke. No one had ever treated her in such a respectful way. Of course, that was nothing out of the ordinary – she did not have the power or authority to reward the attention.

_No, - the prince furrowed his eyebrows, when she suddenly realized with embarrassment that she had blurted out her thoughts without being conscious to her actions. No, that wasn't right. I mean, who could do that? Everyone deserves to be treated well, right? At least my mom taught me so...

He trailed off, recognizing the pain in her eyes when a mother figure was mentioned. Acting quickly, he stepped closer to her:

_Look, why don't we... er, take this ball back to my friends, they must be exhausting their patience waiting for me. Then you could tell us about your homeland, perhaps? I've never seen snow before, what's it like?

She blinked at him in amazement. Did he just say he had never seen snow before? Snow? Snow, of all mundane things? She had thought he was a spoiled brat who could have the whole world as his playground, if he wished so.

May be not, she thought and sent him a cautious smile. He grinned back.

In the moment he took her hand, the breeze played with her disarrayed hair, and instantly she felt at ease.

Part of me like breathing
Now half of me is left

She still could not help a chuckle when she thought back of Zoicite's horrified face when he realized her elaborate hair was nothing but a dirty mess. Zoicite was meticulous when it came to appearance. Amidst his friends' teasing, the strawberry blonde indignantly huffed at them and sneaked into the queen's dressing room with his friends hot on his tail, proudly claiming he was the first to discover the secret route. He had done his best to pull her hair up into its former shape, when all of a sudden Endymion suggested that she looked better with her hair down.

For reasons that her innocent heart had yet acknowledged, she always wore her hair down ever since.

I don't know anything at all
Who am I to say you love me?

She was always looking at him.

She could never forget that afternoon, when they had all played together among the queen's pillows, staining them with dirt from the garden, juice, wild fruits and whatnot. They had frozen in place when a key was heard turning in the lock and the queen stepped in. She frowned. They held their breath. And even she was surprised when the queen let out a silvery laughter, leaning down to pat each of them on the head.

When the queen touched her with all the gentleness of a mother, she silently thanked Gaia for the stray ball. It had led her to the prince. He had proudly introduced her to his friends like she was the rarest pearl on earth. He had showed her how it felt to care and being cared for by others, unconditionally. He had shared with her his mother, without ever asking for something in return. He had opened her world to something new, to a strange place that might not be so bad after all, she remembered thinking when she realized she was the last one not sitting on the queen's lap, and popped in with a smile from her heart, silently thanking Endymion with her grateful eyes.

He had winked back at her like he could read her mind, and she slightly blushed.

I don't know anything at all
And who am I to say you need me?

She was always looking at him.

Ever since that fateful afternoon, she had always been tagging along when the prince and his friends went out, be it playing in the palace garden, hide-and-seek in the queen's wardrobe, or training in combat. She had surprised them all when she unsheathed a heavy sword with comfort of an ancient warrior. Her father had taught her well. She had grinned back at them, and dueled with Jadeite for hours on end, until the stubborn blond had to acknowledge that girls could fight. As well.

They had become her best friends and her confidants, for like eternity until they all became adults and defenders of their homeland – she was the first female leader of the royal defense team, Kunzite's second in command when the white-haired man had something else to attend to. She was also the one to cover up for them whenever they wanted to sneak out of capital boundaries for some simple treats from the countryside. Nephrite was the first to get a black eye from beating up two spoiled aristocrats who spread nasty rumors about her around the palace, out of spite simply because they had lost a duel with her. She almost felt like she was their brother-in-arms.

Almost. That is, until Endymion shyly took her hand amidst the cheering of their four mutual friends, and told her he wanted her to be on his side until the very end. Her eyes had widened. And somewhere from above, she thought she heard her father's gentle laughter when they were still together, playing in the snow. The wind rushed through her hair like a blessing. And she held his hand tight, smiling, nodding back.

Color me blue

I'm lost in you

She was always looking at him.

The king and queen were simply too happy to hear of the news. They had been expecting it for a while, hoping that in the end the descendant of their ill-fated cousin could find happiness and compensation for all the pain she went through – the pain that no one deserved. An engagement was in motion when they heard their ambassador to the Moon had fallen terminally ill and had to be rushed home because the lunar atmosphere was no help to his recovery. Endymion and the four generals had to come as replacement, but they all promised her they would be back as soon as possible. She had promised to take them to the far north for a look at her homeland, to play in the snow and ice, a childhood promise they all honored.

She was all prepared on the day they were scheduled to come back, checking hour by hour back at the main teleport portal. When she saw the familiar flash, she was more than happy. She was going to throw herself into Endymion's embrace when she noted the apologetic – and pitiful? - look Kunzite was giving her. She had not noticed a new addition to her childhood team – a blonde clinging to Endymion's arms. And on the prince's face was a dreamy look all too familiar, for she had been looking at him that way for eternity.

She was never one to show her weakness, but the sight of her putative fiancee absent-mindedly stroking the strange woman's hair, the pair glowing with happiness, was simply too much to bear.

She fainted.

Don't know why I'm still waiting...

She was always looking at him.

Even when she came to and took notice of the blonde sitting beside Endymion, unfazed as ever, she could not tear her gaze away from the midnight blue eyes that had always enchanted her. She was always good at reading others. One look and she understood why the prince had broken his commitment. The blonde was perfect for a queen, a treasure, a rare of the rarest embodiment of naïve innocence, faithful hope and unconditional love; just by the gentle, slightly worried look she had been giving her, even though they were each other's greatest competitor. She could not bring herself to hate the girl.

Many moons have come and gone
Don't know why I'm still searching...

It was not so much that she liked the blonde as a person, the reason why it was so free for her to let go. It was more because of the delight evident in the prince's posture when the blonde came into the room, the loving look he gave her when he thought no one was looking, the protective gait he took up when he was on her side. She and the prince was compatible, and their shared feelings were as calm as the Terran sea, while his love for the blonde was fierce, determined and youthfully joyous.

I don't know anything at all
And who am I to say you love me?

That was the first time Nephrite had not beaten up the one who brought a sad veil over her eyes. He apologized to her in his own way, by training endlessly with the punching bag until he collapsed out of exhaustion. Even then, tending to his side was a brunette whose hair was tied back into a curly ponytail. She had never seen Nephrite more gentle, more caring, more delighted.

That was also the first time Kunzite had not chided Endymion like he used to do when the prince played out his hobby of rule-breaking. He had loosened up considerably, she noticed, when a golden-haired woman who could easily be the new fiance's twin popped up at his side. He had given her his favorite sword, a family heirloom he held dear to his heart, as an apology. She understood that was not monetary compensation. That was the bond they all shared, and he was torn between trying to reinforce it and risk hurting her, or severing it and lose a hard-earned friend. She sent him her blessing. She had never seen Kunzite so relaxed, so carefree.

I don't know anything at all
And who am I to say you need me?

That was also the first time Jadeite had not teased Endymion on his lovestruck behavior. He was struck himself. She had never seen the blond general so tender, so smitten he could hardly take a look at any other person aside his angel of fire.

Now you're a song I love to sing
Never thought it feels so free

That was also the first time Zoicite's music had not cheered her up. He had planned to play for her like any other time he noticed she was down, but she did not show up to the room where the wooden piano stayed. She did. But he never knew. Her steps had stopped at the entrance, behind closed doors, when she heard a silvery laughter that she knew instantly to be from the quiet bluenette that had hardly left his side when they all came back with the Moon princess. Zoicite had never looked so appreciated, so happy.

Much like she used to feel on Endymion's side back then, when it seemed like nothing would ever change.

Now I know what's meant to be

She was always looking at him.

_Lady Beryl, - the servant girl's tentative voice woke her up from her train of thoughts – your carriage is ready.

And that's... okay...

With me

She was always looking at him.

_Thank you – she forced a smile back to the girl. Neither that girl nor anyone else was responsible for a change of heart in humans. She had noticed her friends were happier than she ever thought they could. And that was all she needed. She was no angel, but if someone just had to suffer, she would rather that person to be her, her alone and her only. She could not stand any of her beloved getting hurt. But she could stand the hurt by herself. She was used to it, like she was used to the cold of the far north, to a complete family with no mother figure, to a wonderful company composed of no women anywhere near her age.

But who am I to say you love me?
And who am I to say you need me?
And who am I to say you love me?

She was always looking at him.

The king and queen, no doubt, would feel even more guilty and torn than Kunzite. Selfishness always got in the way. They were happy for their only son, but Beryl had long become family to them. They could not bear to let her go. Yet, they knew she would be hurt worse if she stayed.

She simply made the decision for them, like she had always saved others the trouble, without shedding a single tear.

I don't know anything at all
And who am I to say you love me?

She was always looking at him.

Looking at her now, she knew her father would be bitterly proud. No matter how much her mother had hurt him, she knew the time spent with her would always be a memory her father held dear to his heart.

And sometimes, to let go was not to be weak and refuse to fight. Fighting was futile. And did no healing to the raw wound. She remembered a saying her father blurted out once in reference to her mother, and never repeated again.

Sometimes, it just meant you were strong enough to let go.

I don't know anything at all
And who am I to say you need me?

She was always looking at him.

Maybe now it's time to tear her gaze away.

She took up her little suitcase, containing everything she ever had in her life. Not much. All that she held dear was in her heart already.

I don't know anything at all

Maybe someday, she could return to the palace that had become her second home, where she once again felt genuine happiness, and hopefully played with the children of someone she could never bear to hurt.

And again felt at ease.

I don't know anything at all

Maybe someday, she could find someone loving her the way she had loved Endymion. Calm and serene as the sea. Unconditional as a mother's heart.

And forgiving, the way her father could never hate her mother, no matter how many times more she broke his heart.

I don't know anything at all

She had been there for them, her second family, her only friends. No matter when it was, she had always given them a shoulder to lean on, an environment where they could be vulnerable and protected.

Now they had each found someone willing to take up that task for eternity.

And she thanked Gaia for that. There would always be a goodbye eventually. She did not want her beloved stumbling, lost, bewildered when that day came and all they had left was a hole in their heart. It might not be enough, but at least for now the holes would not be as wide.

I don't know anything at all

For now, she was contented with returning to the far north, her homeland, and let the wind gusts, the snow, the blizzard freeze the inner pain she had been suppressing ever since the fateful arrival of the Moon princess.

And maybe someday, she would be able to live again.


~a~b~c~d~e~f~g~h~i~j~k~l~m~n~o~p~q~r~s~t~u~v~w~x~y~z~

Disclaimer: All belongs to Naoko Takeuchi, lyrics and song belong to Hope (One Tree Hill), I own nothing, just borrowing, you know the drill.

A/N: Frankly, I'm fed up with portrayal of a starkly divided black and white kind of world. And be real, for once. What's so hurtful about Endymion & Serenity's love when they would find each other ever again, no matter how many times they were separated?

What hurt the most was hurting the people you care for deeply. What hurt the most was being condemned to an eternal life of loneliness because your selfishness had overwhelmed your senses just once.

Looking forward to your review,

Chrys.