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~Hikaru~

༻Chapter Twelve༺

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

Why must it be this way?

I lay against a tree, staring at the dark canopy above. In my hands, I hold the necklace…not just the charm, but the entire thing. I can’t stand to wear it right now.

I try focusing on other things, like the sound and softness of the breeze…but I can’t. No matter how hard I try, only tonight’s conversation repeats in my mind.

“There is something we need to talk about,” I said.

“But, aren’t I the one who called you here?” replied Maiden Moon.

“Yes, but…” I sighed. “I must know…why have you been this way, lately?”

“What way?”

“You’re nearly always angry anymore…not that we haven’t had troubles before, but now—”

“You’re right. I am upset.”

“…All right, then why?”

“You need to leave her, Hikaru.”

“Suzette?”

“Who else would I be referring to?”

…Great.

“She’s one of my dearest friends…you know this. And besides, we haven’t even made it to Solzédniê yet. What am I to do? Just abandon her in the woods to starve?”

“Then find her a place in Solzédniê!” she shouted. “Surely there is much work there, she can fund that bakery of hers that way!”

“Please…you should know by now I’m not going to abandon her. So please, can we just—"

“Have you forgotten?” she spat, “You’re my priest! The only one who’s entitled to your time is me!”

“And you say that as though I don’t visit you every night lately,” I sighed, putting my hand towards my aching head. “I even hardly get sleep anymore to be with you. Clearly, I’m not going to abandon you.”

“I don’t know that for certain…it’s not enough.”

At last, I lost it.

“Yeah, of course it’s not enough! When is it going to be enough? When I forsake everything in my life for you? When I screw you?!” For a minute she just glared at me wide-eyed, before contorting her face in anger once more.

“That was the fucking past and you know it!”

“Then why do you keep acting like it’s the present? I thought we agreed to end that years ago, and yet lately you keep acting as though there was no such thing!”

“My…” she put her thin hand to her chin, “You say I’m so angry, but look at you; I have never seen you this way…it seems you really do have feelings for her.”

“Whether I do or don’t, that shouldn’t matter to you either way. That shouldn’t affect our relationship.”

“Well, I guess not…but I’m just trying to help you, Hikaru,” she said, and for a split second it seemed a dark grin appeared on her face, “Do you really want to betray Alex for some random woman? At least I’m a goddess, and she is just—”

“SHUT. IT.”

She flinched back, and stared at me with what seemed to be shock in her face.

I turned my head away; with one hand my hat was thrown on the ground. The other clasped the necklace.

“Wait—”

“I’m ending this. We can talk later…somêl amé, Maiden Moon.”

And off the necklace went.

I heave a heavy sigh. I should be returning to Suzette, and yet mentally, I’m exhausted…

Maiden Moon has always had a bit of a harsh personality, but still kind in the end…yet, in the past few years she has grown nearly insufferable. I don’t wish to abandon her; we were truly close at one point, and I am all she has…

Well, this journey is just temporary. Suzette and I will split our ways soon enough, and everything can go back to normal.

But even the thought of that brings a small aching to my heart…

Damn it, no…there’s no use in thinking such thoughts. Even if he wouldn’t mind…nothing will ever come of that. I’m here to help her, not for any of my selfish desires. I’d…only make everything worse for her. I’ve already thought about this too much as it is.

All I want is to live in peace…is that too much to ask? I just need to—

“Hikaru!”

My eye shoots open, startled—but by the time I process everything, Suzette already has her knees dug into the ground, and arms around my side.

“S-Suzette?”

“…I was so worried about you,” she whispers. “Why have you been away for so long?”

“I just…became exhausted, is all,” I tell her. It’s not a lie. “Have I been gone that long?”

“Dawn is rather near,” she says. I look up, and indeed notice the pitch black sky between the leaves changing hue to a dark blue.

“I’m so sorry, I had no idea…” I utter. “It’s been a rough night.”

“It is all right…” she whispers, holding me tighter. Although I think better of it, I still reciprocate her hug. For a few moments we stay there quietly, wrapped within each other…

“Ah,” she says after a while, pulling back, “Someone wished to see you.” I gaze past her, and soon see the tall, inhuman figure.

“Oh, so you’ve met Chêne?”

“Yes; for some reason he thought I were you…so he came to me instead.”

I freeze.

We look completely different, so the only way they’d confuse us is if…

I shake my head.

“Hikaru?”

“Sorry, my head still hurts from earlier. Anyways,” I gaze up towards Chêne, “There’s something I wanted to discuss with you.”

“I had assumed,” they say, and delicately sit down on their knees. Even kneeling, they still tower over Suzette and I.

“What is it you wish to speak of?”

“Do you know the fae in this area?”

“You should know the answer to that question,” they say.

“Then, can you see what Solstice celebrations may be happening around here?” I ask, and Suzette swiftly gazes at me, wide-eyed.

“…Solstice celebrations?”

“I told you I would find a way we could celebrate it, didn’t I?” She gazes away from me, a small grin on her face.

“I appreciate that deeply, but…” she looks up towards me again, that fleeting grin now a small frown. “Are not faerie feasts said to be…dangerous?”

“Not if you know what you’re doing,” I smile. “That is why I’ve asked Chêne to help us; if they want to, at least.”

“I do not mind,” they say. “I currently have nothing in particular to attend to.”

She pauses for a moment.

“Well then, it shall surely be something…different!” Suzette chirps, voice becoming filled with life. “Celebrating the Solstice, with a group of faeries…well, I can surely say that is not one thing I never anticipated doing. But—”

She pauses once more.

“Thank you so much, Hikaru,” she whispers, smiling gently. “You truly do not know how much this means to me…”

“It’s no problem,” I reply.

Once more she hugs me, holding me close…it’s warmer than the sun could ever hope to be.

“Well…” I whisper, breaking free of her embrace, “Do you mind if we rest for a while? I haven’t sleep all night.”

“That would be nice; I am a bit tired as well,” she answers, “But, what of…” her voice trails off, as she looks towards Chêne.

“I know your kind needs much rest,” they say. “I would enjoy some as well. So it is fine.”

“Then it is good for everyone,” Suzette comments with a smile, and moves a little further from me to lay down.

“Sleep well, Hikaru…and Chêne.”

“You too,” I say as I lay down, and sigh deeply. I shuffle slightly, seeing Suzette laying down nearby, seemingly already falling asleep.

“For some reason, he thought I were you…”

Chêne can easily tell humans apart, just as many fae can, with their ability to see a person’s soul, the star at the center of their being…

Each one is unique. Unless…

“For some reason, he thought I were you…”

The thought haunts me as I drift off to sleep.

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{“Hikaru!” he shouts, nearly busting down my door.

“A-Alex?” I stutter startled, looking up from my spot on the bed. “I didn’t know you were coming today…”

“Your mom said it was okay if I came in…is it okay?”

“Yeah, yeah!” I say, patting beside me. “I don’t mind at all!”

Abruptly he plops down, nearly making me fall off.

“You’ll never believe what happened! So, my master took one of my paintings to the salon in the capital of our province, right?”

“Yes, I remember you—”

“And then, it actually sold! For a lot of money!”

“Oh, that’s—”

“And then—!” Alex goes on as I finally decide to stop interjecting, “I bought this!”

He quickly reaches into his pocket, bringing out a small, brocaded pouch.

“…What is it?”

“Look,” He says softly, and delicately opens up the pouch, bringing out a tiny silver ring. Etched all around the edge are small sparkles and twinkles, with two larger stars in the middle.

“Are you proposing to Ines?”

“N-no!” Alex says, face turning awfully red. “I just wanted to give her a gift, since we have been together so long now, and at last the opportunity arose…”

“It’s very pretty, but…” my voice trails off a moment. “I think this is a wedding ring.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Alex…do you not know what stars mean?”

“They symbolize love, right?”

“You’re not wrong, but…” I sigh.

“It’s from some old story, isn’t it? You know I don’t know much about religious things.”

“Well…it goes something like this,” I begin. “When Mère Terre began making humans, she wanted to make us different from any other animal…so she gave us stars for souls.”

“The stars were her and Père Ciel’s child like the sun and moon, right? But they were fragile…”

“Yes,” I say with a slight smile, a bit amazed Alex has genuinely paid attention to my ramblings.

“So…what does this have to do with marriage, again?”

“Père Ciel didn’t want Mère Terre taking too many of the stars, because he became fond of them…so he asked her to split all the stars up in pieces. But that means, everyone shares their soul with someone else, and is always striving to find that person. They say they’re always connected by a string of stardust…it doesn’t technically have to be romantic, I don’t think, but it’s usually taken that way.”

“So…it’s like saying we’re the same soul, tied together, and destined to be together?”

“Basically.”

“…Oh,” he looks down at the ring, seemingly a bit disappointed. “That…is a bit intense.”

“Well—!” Alex exclaims abruptly, putting the ring back in the bag, “Maybe she won’t know what it means like I didn’t!”

“I hope it goes well,” I say softly.

I’m happy for him, although slightly sad as well; maybe I’m just jealous because I know I’ll always be alone…

“I’ll tell you how it goes!” he says, hopping up. “See you then!”

“You too,” I say, and he’s out the door just as quickly as he came in.

The rest of my day I stay indoors, going about my business as usual. Late in the afternoon, Alex returns.

“Hi Alex, how did it—”

Roughly he plants himself on my bed face first, making me fall back against the wall.

“Ow…be careful!”

“Yeah, yeah…” he says, words muffled in my sheets.

“Alex…are you all right?”

“…No. It went like shit.”

“What? What happened?” He turns over and looks up towards me, still laying down. His eyes and nose are completely red…

“I went to Ines’ house, and…before I could even tell her why I came, she said we’re over.”

“Did she tell you why?”

“No!” he shouts, shooting forward. But he only hunches down, throwing his face within his palms.

“I don’t…get it, Hikaru…” he mumbles through sobs. “I feel like such a fool…but I know it’s all my fault…”

“I’m sure it’s not your fault…” I whisper, putting my arm on his shoulder. “There must be another reason…”

“Then why won’t she tell me? Because she’s too nice to directly tell me I’m garbage, so she’ll do it discreetly…but it’s still very clear!”

I sigh. As long as she doesn’t say why she’s leaving, I can’t tell him either way… So instead I just stay by his side, letting him cry it out. After some time he stops, but still sits still, silent. After a while, he lifts his head up again.

“…Mâzjêr Hikaru, for not mocking me.”

“Why would I do that?”

“I’m pretty sure all my other friends would.”

I don’t say anything…I don’t know what to say. If his friends would really laugh at his pain like that…

“It’s fine,” he says. “I…should probably stop bothering you. See you later, Hikaru.”

“You too,” I whisper, and he leaves again, nearly as abruptly as he came.

Why would she just leave him without saying anything? It doesn’t make sense…

The entire night, I can’t help but think about it.

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

The next day I find myself standing at the door of a large house…I have come here before, but only with Alex.

Slowly I go to knock the door; but yet, just before touching, I stop. My chest thumps wildly, and I sigh.

I guess even with Alex around, I’m still not very good at talking to people, huh…

Even so, I finally pound the door before overthinking it again.

Soon the door opens to—

“Oh, jéyu bon, Hikaru.” Immediately, I start panicking even more.

“S-Sâlêzj Ines, I…I wanted to talk to you.”

“You may come right in,” she says softly, leading me to the sofa. For a moment we sit in an awkward silence. Does she know why I’m here?

“I’m assuming you wish to ask me about Alex, am I correct?”

Ah, so she does know…

“Yes…”

“Did he ask you to do this?”

“No,” I answer, shaking my head. “He has no idea I’m here at all, I don’t think.”

“Is that so…” her voice trails off, and she goes to sip a cup of tea.

“Um…” I mumble again, “Can I…can I ask you why you left him?”

“Why do you wish to know, if he didn’t ask you?” She stares at me seriously, her eyes seemingly piercing straight through me. I can’t help but swiftly look away.

“He’s just been so depressed lately; crying, hardly painting at all…”

“I’m sorry to hear that…” she sighs, shifting her gaze towards the floor. “I do not wish to hurt him; but, this is better for both of us.”

“Then…do you mind saying why?” I ask, growing slightly irritated. She keeps avoiding the answer…

“I will tell you, and you may tell him if you so wish,” she answers, looking towards me again.

“Alex is very friendly, sweet, a wonderful friend…but I am not anywhere near in love with him. I never have been.”

“Then why did you—”

“Because I never believed I would ever have whom I truly love. In truth, I still do not believe I will…but, even so—

“It seems to me that there are others who love Alex much more than I ever can; wouldn’t it be cruel to keep him for myself in that circumstance? It seems so to me. I…I cannot do that. It is better for us to find our own ways. And staying too close may only make the pain worse for him.”

“I see…” For a minute, I become lost in thought. It makes sense. But, now I have other questions; maybe they’re better left unasked, but…

“Erm, if it’s all right to ask…who is this person? That likes Alex so much?”

“You…you don’t know?” she says, as though it should be incredibly obvious.

“No? But, I guess you don’t have to say, it is a nosy question—“

“I could be wrong…” she mumbles, “But…you sincerely don’t know, then?”

“…No?”

“Ah…I was certain it was you.”

Me?!” I exclaim, completely baffled. “Ines, you know I’m a boy, right?”

“Well, obviously,” she replies. “And?”

“I can’t…two men can’t be in love…”

“Says?”

“…Everyone? It is not like men can have children…”

“I never spoke of children,” she says. “Not everyone in love has children, even a woman and man.”

“Yeah, but…” I grow very quiet. “Why do you think I’m in love with him?”

“I’ve witnessed the way you look at him,” she whispers. “How flushed your face grows, the way you smile in his presence. Look, you have even gone out of your way to speak to me, solely because you saw how sad Alex had grown.

“It may indeed be a coincidence…only you can answer that. But, that’s merely my impression.”

“W-well, thank you,” I stutter while getting up. “I think I should go for now.”

“Farewell,” she says, going back to sipping her tea as I scramble out the door.

“That was…stranger than I thought it’d be,” I mumble to myself once the door closes. “It’s really ridiculous!”

Although I laugh at the thought, as I walk home…it’s all I can think about.

Imagine, me and Alex, a couple! Spending so much time together, perhaps one day living together, hugging, kissing…

As I reach my doorstep I stop, and pause. My chest, and even my head hurt.

If I’m being honest with myself, I think, maybe…it doesn’t sound so bad…}

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

Slowly the image fades from sight, as my eye opens up to reality. Present reality.

Groggily I lift myself, and sigh.

So these memories still insist on coming back, huh…and what a fitting one for last night…

⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽✧☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅

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