A SOFT MOMENT WHEN BOTH HAZEL AND AUGUSTUS LET THEIR SARCASTIC DEMEANORS FALL AWAY TO REVEAL…

"Hazel?" I say, stroking her prickly hair.

"Mm?"

"Do you think we'll ever marry?" I say quietly. I have no idea where this came from; I only know that I have to say it, even if there is no real answer, especially if there is no answer.

"We don't have time, remember?" Hazel laughs harshly, her eyes flickering. "We're too cancer-ridden."

"What do you mean we don't have time?"

"Well, if you marry it has to be usually when- Oh shit. You mean marry? As in like, without the actual wedding?"

"I guess." I realize my hand is now stroking nothing, so I look up. Hazel is sitting up, her hands anxiously scrubbing her cheeks.

"Augustus, we can't do this. I… I… I'll never say those two words. You'll never make me." I smirk a little.

"That's what you say now."

"No." Instead of smirking again, which is what I would do usually, if it weren't so… different, I sigh a little. Hazel looks up, eyes widening, waiting and waiting for me to be the strong one: the Achilles of her Greece.

Of course, Achilles had a heel. And mine is that dream I have every night, of our gravestones. But that isn't the part that bothers me; the part that bothers me is this: our gravestones are always separate, far away from each other, two stories that broke in the end. I only wish that we could somehow still be together, after all this work to be together, and not to end up as… nothing.

That is my worst fear.

"Hazel?"

"Yeah?" And hearing her voice, I know that hidden in that little syllable are two other little syllables.

And in this moment, I know that someday, somehow, she will say it.