K*H*W* (go to my profile :)
Chapter One Nathan's Point of View
Eugene knocked on Nathan's door. Nathan took a second to ignore him, and just gazed around the pale yellow room. His hand dug into the yellow sheets, and his eyes strayed to where her pillow was.
Eugene knocked again, a little more insistent. Nathan could hear Rapunzel talking to him on the other side of the wall.
"Eugene, maybe we should just let him stay in."
"He'll hate himself for missing this, Blondie. We can't." Eugene sounded pained.
Nathan grabbed Azalea's pillow, gently pushing it against his face. Her sweet perfume hit him in a bittersweet rush and Nathan sighed into the pillow. If only the scent could stay. The necklace and her ring were really the only tangible things he could hold on to, to remember her. But the pillow held her in a sense.
He remembered how Guy and Dwayne searched the back of the house. He remembered how the two of them had frozen when they checked all the rooms only to find the painting. He remembered Guy looking away quickly, his eyes going red around his green irises. He remembered following them as they looked through the garden.
"Nathan, are you awake?" Eugene's voice slowly, slowly made him pay more attention.
Nathan went to the door, abandoning the pillow, and turned the knob. Rapunzel and Eugene were dressed in black and seeing the color nearly made Nathan slam the door in their faces.
Rapunzel caught him in a warm hug and Nathan's eyes burned when Eugene joined in. "Nathan, you have to get dressed."
"I can't." Nathan rasped. He hadn't used his voice for days.
"Please, Nathan?" Rapunzel pleaded. "For her?"
Nathan's heart clenched and he nodded, pain coursing through him. For her, he told himself, trying to push the pain away. It lingered, making a lump rise in his throat.
Eugene and Rapunzel stood by the door when Nathan ducked back in. Nathan took a heartbeat to look around. He gazed at the dresser that still held Azalea's clothes. He looked at the curtains that hadn't been pulled back since he had come to the palace. Nathan went to the dresser, staring at her ring and necklace that were on top of it. He thumbed the ring in his hand, his mind going back.
Azalea looks at Nathan, who is on his knees. He smiles brightly when he saw wooziness and shock flood her eyes. Her hand grabs the back of the table for support and she takes in a deep breath.
Nathan says the words, his heart pounding. For a moment, he wonders what would happen if she rejected him. Would she?
"Azalea Salta Gothel Ruffins, I love you with all my heart. Will you do me the honor of marrying me?"
He watches as her eyes began to glow with tears and happiness. They fog over, the glow still lingering, as she thinks backwards. He sees a smile cross her face when her thoughts change direction, going to the future. Maybe their dreams would be reality. Maybe they would have babies after all.
Azalea breathes in his ear. "Six little Azaleas."
He had wanted them all to be girls. He had wanted six little Azaleas.
He pulled on the tuxedo Olivia had left for him. He hadn't even realized it was in the washroom and on the counter until he had walked in. He kept the ring in his hand and put the necklace on, putting it behind his shirt and gray tie. Another Azalea thing. Gray.
Nathan opened the door and Rapunzel's face was the first thing he saw.
He yelped and took a step backwards. Azalea was right in front of him-
Pain choked him and then tears were streaming from his eyes. He sank down onto the bed, wanting to stop the sobs that escaped him but he was unable to. Eugene sat down beside him, rubbing his shoulder. Nathan glanced at Rapunzel in the door.
She looked stricken. "I'm sorry, Nathan. I'm so sorry."
Nathan shook his head at her, "It's. . . Fine."
It wasn't her fault that she looked like Azalea. Not her fault at all.
That was the thing, though.
He had no one to blame for his pain and Azalea's death.
No one but Jacob.
And he wasn't there.
No one was getting justice for all Dwayne's twin had done.
Nathan wanted to leave. "There's no body. Nothing to bury."
David looked at Nathan but stayed silent.
Seeing the blood and knives in Azalea's home had been enough. But the tormenting thought that she was alive-
If she was alive, then she was probably in too much pain to move, or scream, or anything. If she was alive, she was probably calling for him and he couldn't hear.
He'd rather think that she was with his mother than alive and in agony.
"The ring." Liam said. Nathan snapped his head at him.
"What the hell do you mean 'the ring'?"
"We could bury the ring."
"Liam, are you out of your mind?" Dwayne slapped Liam across the head.
"What do you want to bury, Nathan? Either the ring or her necklace-"
"Liam, if you don't shut the hell up-" Anna started.
"Quiet!" Alex snapped at all of them. They went mutinously silent. Nathan put one hand to his head, wincing. His head hurt. His heart hurt. Everything hurt.
Father Peter and Father Dante gazed at them. They were in the square and there was a coffin in the place where the wooden platform would be for trials. Everyone was standing behind the water fountain except the two ministers. The whole of Corona looked miserable in black. Nathan tried not to stare at the flowers that were either in breast pockets or hands: Red poppies.
Clouds covered the sun and Nathan knew that he wouldn't have felt the sunlight if it had been melting his skin.
"Nathan," Father Dante called to him. Everyone sucked in a breath and Nathan felt the whole weight of the world land on his shoulders. Nathan walked up to him, his mind very far away. He was just going through the motions now. He shut down and didn't want to turn back on.
"She's in a better place."
"She's watching you from heaven."
I thought we were supposed to go there together.
"I'm sure she misses you."
I'd rather she just love me.
"What do you want us to do as fellow Coronans?"
Let me grieve for my lost flower.
Everyone was very quiet, waiting for Nathan to speak. Nathan looked at Father Dante's kind face and found that he didn't have anything to say. He looked down at the ring in his hand. He stared at the light green and deeper green diamonds that represented their eye colors. He gazed at them, remembering how the ring fit perfectly on Azalea's fingers. How her eyes grew shiny with tears.
"Happy tears?" He had asked her and she had nodded. He had spun her in the air, and everything had been so perfect. They were both safe, in love, and in each other's arms. As it should be. As it was.
So how did this happen? How did she die right after they had just seen her?
Nathan looks at her tired face and can't help but ask, "Will we see you later?"
"You should." Azalea say softly.
She hadn't promised him. . .
But that had been the last time he saw her. The last time he had heard her voice.
"Nathan?" Father Peter asked softly.
Nathan looked up, his vision blurry. He felt something soft dab the tears away and for a moment, he pictured Azalea by his side. He looked in the corner of his eyes to see his sister. She gently stroked his cheek, turning his gaze back to the ministers.
"What do I want you to do?" Nathan asked in a husky tone as he tried to stop his voice from faltering.
"Yes," the ministers said at the same time.
Nathan gazed around. What did he want them to do?
"Don't mention her. Let me love her dead as I loved her alive."
Nathan walked away, now unable to see.
Don't mention Azalea. Don't ever mention her again.