Hello everyone! I sincerly doubt that anyone will read this for a very very long time, but just in case, thank you thank you thank you for reading La Esperanca. I'm finally publishing this, cause I've wrote it and many more forever ago but no one was writing for this manga, but what the heck. Now or never! I believe it is a wonderful yet unappreciated story that should have more than twenty fanfictions! And now, I ask you to go out and read Alice the 101rst, also by mangaka Chigusa Kawai. Then we can start a category for it! Woohoo!

Disclaimer: I don't own the genius that is La Esperanca because then it would be signifigantly longer :)

P.S. Hope they're not too OOC. I'm worried about Robert... let me know!

1. Trading Places

Georges scrambled up the side of the tree, huffing and puffing as he tried to find good handholds in the coarse bark. Eventually, how, he did not know, he got high enough to gingerly reach out with one hand and wrap it around the large branch he was aiming for. Slowly, he reached out with the other hand and began to pull himself up until he finally got his knees on the branch. Breathing a long, loud sigh, he slumped against the trunk and stretched his legs out, and looked over the way he had come.

Wow, he thought, look how far up I got! And what a great view! The light spring breeze rippled through the air and blew his strawberry blond hair into his grass green eyes. Shaking his bangs away, Georges leaned back and turned his head up to soak in the beams of sunlight that were filtering through the leaves. It was their lunch period, so everyone was inside, and the peaceful quiet, free of Erwin's cute-boy-spotting-screeches and Freddy's annoyed accusations, let Georges relax and plot his next move.

Wait until Robert sees me up here! he laughed in his head. And he thought I had no strength at all…I'll surprise him so much maybe he'll fall out of the tree! (Of course, Georges immediately took that thought back, for fear Robert really would fall). See, Georges had been daydreaming in class, wondering how on earth Robert could scale a gigantic tree like that, and then he had a brilliant idea! Since he was so accustomed to finding Robert ditching some class (usually English) and reading a book in the tree near the music room (usually the second closest branch to the window) until someone (usually Georges) came along to try and convince him to come down, and since Georges could basically predict when he would find the older teen in his favorite spot, Georges decided to climb up in this specific tree and surprise the brunette when he came up at anytime…now.

Georges could see the lanky boy walking across the grass with a large novel in his hand, in a direct path with the tree he was in. He began to giggle uncontrollably with the thought of Robert's surprised expression, then immediately clamped a hand over his mouth when the teen stopped and looked puzzled. Georges was afraid Robert had heard him and mentally scolded himself, but then he saw him reach into his pocket and pull out a bookmark, and then continued to the tree again. Georges kept himself quiet the whole time, and was relieved when Robert finally stopped at the foot of the trunk. Georges smiled mischievously and was preparing to 'boo!' in his loudest voice when suddenly he heard from below, "I see you, you know".

Georges was paralyzed with shock for a few moments, his mind going blank. He couldn't deny the fact that Robert was most likely talking to him, because that was the tired, half-amused tone that the older boy usually used when it came to Georges' strange antics. Timidly peeking out over the branch, Georges found those captivating deep blue eyes that he always lost himself in staring back at him. His mouth formed an 'O' but no sound came out of it.

Robert smirked up at him. "You're not all that good at hiding, you know. I could see you across the yard." It was true- Georges' bright hair was positively blinding in the bright sunlight, and anyone who knew, or even heard of the blonde celebrity would recognize the one-of-a-kind shine. Of course, he wasn't about to tell Georges how his heart seemed to beat louder and faster when he caught sight of it, or how hard he had to work in keeping his walk and expression normal just so he could come over and see what on earth the blonde was doing up in a tree (his tree) during lunch.

"Reeeaaaallllyyyy?" Georges wined. He was so sure that Robert couldn't see him! Phooey. Now his whole plan had gone to waste.

"…boo?" he said suggestively, half-smiling. Robert looked at him like he was an alien with four eyes and purple skin. Georges deflated. Of course, that's how Robert always looked at Georges.

"I climbed up here to surprise you. I thought you wouldn't see me and I could say 'BOO!' and you would be so surprised that you would fall out of the tree because you know you always come to this tree and oh but I didn't want you to hurt yourself because that wouldn't be good but I figured since you're always complaining that I get surprised or scared so much and I'm so clumsy that I could prove you wrong by climbing up here and…" Georges continued rambling on and on about his reason for trying to hide in Robert's tree, but Robert stopped listening after a few run-on sentences and let his mind wander (the spring breezes had a habit of doing that to him). Particularly wandering over Georges' pretty face and thinking how deep and beautiful his eyes were, or how delicately his golden hair drifted in the wind, or…

"…so anyway, I'm REALLY SORRY!" Georges finished his excuse turned apology (the way his ramblings usually ended up) and Robert snapped out of his daydream.

"So…how is that a bad thing?" Robert asked, regaining his indifferent composure. He didn't quite understand how the boy had gone from planning to ambush him in the tree to apologizing for some unknown misdeed. There really was no link. Then again, there hardly ever was.

"For… for messing up! Oh, and I took your relaxing spot. I'm sorry!" Georges wailed, becoming frantic again. "I'll get down right now."

Yeah right, Robert thought. I can't even figure out how you got up there in the first place. "And how are you going to do that?"

Georges looked confused for a second. "How am I? What?…but…well…" The smaller boy looked down at the ground, then back up to the branch he was sitting on, then over to the window that was a good three feet away from the end of the branch. His complexion immediately paled. "Uh…uh…"

Robert tried not to laugh. Oh, god, the look on his face…priceless. Obviously he hadn't thought about how he was going to get out of this predicament before he climbed up.

"…Ro-bert? How do I get down?..." Georges asked softly from up in the tree. And as much as Robert's conscience was telling him to help, he felt he had to decline.

"Sorry. You got yourself into this mess, now you have to get yourself out." Ignoring the gasps of shock and half-angry, half-frightened protests, Robert turned on his heels and began to stride in the opposite direction.

Man, if Henri finds out what I did, he'll have my head, Robert thought. But damn, that stupid kid…how does he come up with these incredibly dumb ideas? He's supposed to be smart… I'll just have to keep an eye on him more often. Robert laughed under his breath and opened the school's front door, while trying to both preserve that precious image of Georges' surprised face in his memory and blocking out the blonde's cries for help from up in the tree on the other side of the yard.