Disclaimer: I don't own Loveless, but I DO OWN THE POEM and of course Miss Annabelle Smith.
FINAL CHAPTER DEARS!
Chap 24: "In the corner"
The next morning went much like any other. Annabelle eased out of bed despite the pain, this time her entire body was encased in a grip of that old devil. She avoided being in the same room as her parents before they left for work. Her planned excuse for anyone who asked was that she fell down the stairs. She was readying to leave early when her mother stopped her on her way to her bedroom.
Mom looks… older…
"Annabelle we need to talk"
The woman was too distracted by recent occurrences to realize the many bandages and bruises though.
Ritsuka rose and readied the same way as any day, thankful his mother did not harm him when he asked if she felt alright to keep her from asking him that very question. The weight of events from the night before left him more fatigued than usual.
Soubi sent him a single text message just after dawn which indeed showed he was not as lost a cause as Annabelle seemed to believe: Ritsuka I beg your forgiveness
Walking on the path to school he was surprised to see Annabelle wasn't staying home. She wore a fashionable violet scarf around her neck for obvious reason.
She seems upset…
Annabelle halted quickly when he approached. "Ritsuka" she cleared her throat, "I hope you're not still too mad at me" "I'm… not sure" he responded truthfully with downcast eyes. "I-" she started then clenched her fists, and said "My mom finally got the nerve to leave my dad, and she's taking me with her to Hokkaido".
Ritsuka was surprised and saddened but "I'm… I'm glad you're getting away from your dad". She grasped his arm as tears rose to her eyes "If there was any way I could take you with me I'd do it in a heartbeat". His mother's means of abuse were worse than her father's, but there was no way to adjust reality so their parents agreed to Ritsuka living with her family.
Trying to brighten both their moods she remembered "I made you something". Unzipping her bag she then took out a self-made white envelope and handed it to him.
"To: Ritsuka, From: Annabelle".He slid it open and removed the handmade card. In large letters with stripes shaded interchangeably with light and dark graphite the cover read:"THANK YOU RITSUKA"
He opened it: "7/10/13 Ritsuka,
Thank you for being my dearest friend. Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for helping me. Thank you for not shunning me when I shared my deepest secrets with you."
On the opposite page was a poem "Though I go"- For Ritsuka "As branches of/The tree we/Shall ever be/Connected/Now to leave/But never gone/As leaves do/Come again soon/So will I/Be/Always near my/Companion"
He looked up from the page "Thank you Annabelle". She hugged him, "I'm sorry for coming to help you but winding up causing so much trouble in your life"
He only nodded so as not to take that route. They proceeded down the road to school.
"What?!" Yuiko shrilly exclaimed "Oh Annabelle-chan I'll miss you"
Quite a change from months ago…
Shinonomi-sensei frowned "Smith-chan you will be missed"
Youji and Natsuo had a conversation in a glance, then turned "A, we're gonna have a going away party for you, Soubi will even come" "Definitely" "Well it'll be at his place" "We'll raid the fridge for some liquid fun" Youji concluded with a smirk, and Annabelle ruffled his hair "Silly". With a glare Natsuo pinched her and she quickly pulled away.
"Sagan-kun please don't talk about such adult things!" Shinonomi called with hands on her hips. The three snickered.
"Soubi you'll love the news!" Youji called as they approached the gate and said man crushed a cigarette beneath his shoe.
You can say that again…
Annabelle's thoughts concurred. "I'm-" Ritsuka unintentionally cut her off "She's… moving to Hokkaido"
Soubi would have been elated had his sacrifice's face not showed such sadness. "Is that so?" He asked with little emotion in his tone, paying no mind to the scarf around the girl's neck- courtesy of him. "Shall we have a 'going away picnic' tomorrow Ritsuka?"
Black ears perked up seeing that Soubi was not overjoyed with the news of Annabelle leaving "Yeah that would be perfect"
The next afternoon Ritsuka, Natsuo, Youji, Yuiko, Youji, and Soubi ate sandwiches and salad in the park.
During a conversation earlier that day, Zero informed A that Soubi typically stood in Ritsuka's place as the one who was hit by the other team's attacks even though it was a Sacrifice's duty. Aware she could not fully comprehend the adult's ingrained rules of his teachings that she saw as the cause of his lies, she did respect him for disobeying those rules and not allowing Ritsuka to play the role of a sacrifice during battle.
As he passed a wrapped sandwich to her she found it necessary to look away from his eyes when they met hers for they did not hold the same malice as last night, but friendly kindness as though everything was the same as before. She wondered if he would behave this way if Yuiko and Youji weren't present.
Soubi knew if he initiated anything further he would fail his sacrifice. Yes, in spite of the beliefs Annabelle spun in Ritsuka's mind, he remained his sacrifice.
In one year not only did Annabelle at last find that missing piece,
I found someone who will be my friend for a long time…
"Soubi, I know I don't need to tell you this but" she stepped closer to speak low enough for only him to hear "Keep Ritsuka safe or you'll be sorry".
He allowed that empty threat, especially because there was no doubt he would keep his sacrifice safe.
Gently yanking on black hair "Try not to pick any more fights, okay mister?" she joked, and Ritsuka nodded "Yeah, you stay out of trouble too".
She wrapped her arms around Ritsuka and he returned the embrace. "We'll keep in touch" she said. "Definitely, and we can meet on the weekend or something" "Mhm". Stepping back they didn't notice Soubi's scowl, but Annabelle knew he was sorely displeased by their show of affection.
Later that afternoon Annabelle hugged her father feeling a pang of sadness. After glaring at Rita he frowned and waved to his daughter.
I guess I'll miss dad…
She would surely miss her friends. After stepping into her mom's minivan she did not turn away from the window until they were far past anyplace she recognized. As they drove by Ritsuka's house she waved.
It made her happy seeing Ritsuka happy, and no matter what she was sure Soubi could protect him better than she.
Ritsuka turned to Soubi and clasped his hand "Let's go buy ice cream". Soubi realized now that the girl's appearance hadn't hindered his bond with Ritsuka after all. Smiling sweetly he replied "Alright". "I want to try a new flavor, how about you Soubi?" Yes sometimes change is good "That sound like a great idea", Ritsuka smiled. The best change in his life was that lovely smile.
Perhaps from his increased maturity, Soubi's comfort, or meeting Annabelle- the one who shared his name, he felt at peace for the first time in a long time.
A/N: I modeled the card from one I made for a friend.
Thank you for the pleasure of your company throughout the writing of this story. As for Annabelle, I liked yet disliked her.