Green eyes alight upon the single rose, resting in the small vase, positioned perfectly in the shaft of light that creeps between the curtains and will wake her every morning. In this way, her bedside table rose will always be the first thing she sees. As he always intends.

As the warm light caresses her quills, her hands repeat their daily dance of searching the bed for her absent companion, even though she knows he will not be there. Instead, he sits, almost invisible in the half-light, blending into his namesake darkness to observe the world. A shadow in both name and nature, an enigma to most, a nightmare to some. But only because they did not understand, didn't see how his strength was driven by a desire to preserve, that his reluctance to engage was only the fear of another loss. One that was inevitable, given that was as reluctant to touch him as the light was each morning. He knew it only in passing, in the way it changed those around him. In his sorrow that, every day, the rose from yesterday would be a little less brilliant, a little closer to fading away.

Beneath that crimson gaze, drinking in the sight of her at the prime of her life and youth, she performs the rest of her morning routine. Bare fingers caress the still unfurling petals, noting in amusement how this rose matches the tone of her fur exactly, a lovely pink she certainly isn't growing in her garden. Curiosity drives her closer, her nose twitching to catch the salty scent of sea air, yet to drift free of the skirts of the flower. She turns it in her hand, waiting to see or feel the slight imperfection that always accompanies these presents. Many would find a flawed flower a poor gift, she understands that Shadow brings them as a promise… that he will love her even when she is no longer the fresh flower, the blossoming Amy Rose of her youth. It is an assurance that he cares not for her anger or her impulses, the way she still keeps Sonic company after all these years. The proof that he loves her comes each morning in a de-thorned rose. He can never be the cause of her pain.

Green eyes hold a warm smile as she turns to find her watcher. The catch in his breath is something she hears only because she has learnt to listen. Not an admiration of her looks, just the pleasant surprise that this smile is for him, that her adoration and joy are tied to his now. It has taken them years, but she has come to understand him. A blush tinges her cheeks as she thinks how much more quickly, he had learned to understand her. Perhaps, if she hadn't spent so long chasing the wrong guy, she might have learnt to read him sooner. She would have understood that everything she had been looking for had been right under her nose… just like the rose bushes that now framed every window of her home.

The first rose bush was a gift, brought by the shadow in her life as a silent thank you when he had remembered why he wanted to thank her. The had been yellow, bright, and sunny and buried in the earth that she had helped persuade him not to destroy. While she had spent her days chasing Sonic, Shadow had tended his gift, helping it grow and prosper… until she could not ignore it anymore. His perseverance had been rewarded; it was the grandest plant in her garden. One of its stunning blooms lurked in her kitchen. It had been yesterday's rose, still soaked with morning dew which had caught rainbows in the sun. He gave her a yellow flower every month, proof she was the light he had been drawn towards. No one else would ever believe he could be such a romantic. They just saw a yellow rose, decorating some table. A pity.

In the years that had followed, he had brought her more bushes. Her garden had exploded in all manner of colours, white roses for the day she turned sixteen, bright red two birthdays after that. A soft purple when she returned from a trip, ambers, and peaches for events in her past. Her favourites are a collection of bushes that bloom flowers so dark they might be black. She watches those petals daily, waits for them to begin to lighten, for the red to creep through. She picks these half-grown flowers and shows them to him on their anniversary. After all, they were the flowers he planted to apologise for the guy who broke her heart. She pretends not to notice the way he smirks at her joy in these flowers. All roses remind him of her… why should she not have a set to remind her of him?

Delicately, she plucks today's offering from the vase and smiles. Her quills brush into her eyes as she sniffs and admires the bloom. This rose was hers and she was his. That was their exchange. And, just as he admired her each morning, she would be given a flower to enjoy too. His fur is soft as he slips in behind her and buries his face in her quills. At this moment, before the sun has finished rising, before the world finds its way into their space, everything is perfect. For this moment alone, the bliss of two beings utterly content with each other, in perfect understanding of the other's needs and desires, the sun has risen. Each morning, he wakes to do something that makes her happy. Each day, she starts her routine as if time does not exist, as if, like him, she could spend the next century in this bed and nothing would have changed. For five minutes, ten, fifteen, she pretends that her forever and his are the same, letting the half-light hide any proof that she is not the young girl he first met, the young woman she had become when he first saw the dawn at her side. She laughs as if she doesn't worry for what he will do when he is left alone and simply enjoys his unspoken promise and the weight of kisses, soft as brushing petals on her neck. This is a routine she will repeat to her end, even if, one day, she cannot tell the exact shade of her present or raise her head to admire the bloom. She will do it because she loves him and loves to be loved by him. She will bask now and forever safe in the knowledge of his affection.

She is his rose; he is her thorn and he well never let anyone hurt her.

I'm both surprised and delighted that this story still receives a lot of attention, even though the original is actually over a decade old now. While I enjoyed the piece at the time, and still think it has a lot of worth as a simple and easy to read piece, I feel, after all this time, it would only be fair to attempt to see how it looked in my present style and with more life experience behind it.