Post Reply I'll Make things Right: pt 3
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 6/30/09 , edited 7/16/09
Find Part 1 HERE
Find Part 2 HERE

Last Update to the Story ::
July 15 {{ Confessions }} OMG *faints* intense O__O
July 4 {{ Even MORE Tragedy in her Past }} Defy-chan don't keel me for this >__<
July 2 {{ Too Much Information in One Day }} O__o Wow.
July 1 {{ Diagnosis... }} May shock you O__O ... SAD T^T

Chapter 9

The next day, Mari was as happy as a clam. She walked in the gardens a lot with Lizzi and Vale, learning more by the minute. She would inquire after the name of something she had seen or heard, and would ask about other things as well.

But as they walked, Mari felt more and more as if she would be sick. Her stomach was aching and her chest was pained. Vale noticed her cheeks losing their color, and asked whether she was okay.

“Mari, you look a bit pale. Are you alright?” He looked concernedly at his young companion.

Lizzi nodded and looked to Mari questioningly.

Mari nodded slowly. “Yes, I’m fine I think. Though I am a bit tired. Could we sit down for a moment?”

Vale nodded eagerly and led her by the hand to the nearest bench. She sat and blew out the breath she’d almost been holding. Vale sat on one side of her and Lizzi on the other.

They sat for a while, and soon Mari began to feel better. She was about to get up, but decided not to.

Without warning, Mari entered into a coughing fit. She covered her mouth and coughed painfully. Her throat felt raw and her head began to hurt. After a particularly painful cough she uncovered her mouth and was shocked and horrified to see blood on her hands.

“Mari? Mari, are you alright?” Lizzi’s voice came as though from a distance, and the forms of Lizzi sitting next to her and Vale getting up and hastily picking her up faded. She could still feel herself coughing, but all thought seemed to cease. She knew she was being carried to the house but didn’t seem to care. Vale carried her to a spare room in the house and placed her gently in the bed. He rushed out of the room to call the doctor and left Lizzi to look after Mari.

After about ten minutes, Mari had stopped coughing, but had lost a lot of blood. Lizzi was very frightened. She’d never seen anything like this. The doctor got there soon after, and looked Mari over. Vale and Lizzi stood on the other side of the bed from the doctor silently, worried for Mari. After about thirty minutes of thorough investigation, Dr. Lay looked up and had on an expression of discomfort.

Mari was barely aware of anything that was happening by now, and Dr. Lay said, “It seems as though she has some sort of respiratory problem. Though I must say that I’ve never seen such a thing before. She had no symptoms aside from coughing blood?”

“She was feeling a bit dizzy I think, just before she started coughing.” Vale looked at the doctor, wanting to know if that information helped at all.

Dr. Lay shook his head and said, “I do not know what has happened to her, but I do not think it was good… at all. It may be fatal. If she had kept coughing like that she may have died of blood loss. She got close today, even.”

Lizzi looked troubled and leaned over Mari. “It’s nothing contagious, is it?” She looked up worriedly.

The Dr. shook his head. “No, no. I know that it is not anything contagious. I’ve not had any reports of anything like this. I would have if it were contagious. You need not fear being near her.”

After a short pause, Vale looked up and said, “Is there any way we can find out what is wrong with her for sure? I don’t like the idea of not knowing anything except that she may die from blood loss any day of the week.”

The Dr. thought for a moment and said, “We could try taking an image of her lungs. It may at least give us more insight into the problem. But we should wait until you can safely get her to the clinic. When she can travel, take her to me and we’ll take a look.”

Vale nodded and walked with the Dr. out of the room.

Lizzi sat on the bed next to Mari and held her hand.

Mari’s eyes flickered open and she whispered, “Lizzi, what’s wrong with me?” It was so feint and she didn’t move much, and it frightened Lizzi, who knew her strong personality.

“We don’t know.” She squeezed Mari’s hand to show that she was there and would not leave. Mari closed her eyes again and slept.

When she woke up, Katharine and Tom were standing next to her bed, looking down concernedly at her.

She smiled weakly. “Hey, guys.”

“Hello, Mari. We heard the bad news and came right over! The others are with Vale and Lizzi in the living room. Oh, how are you holding up? Are you okay?” Katharine talked fast in her fear.

“I don’t think I’m fine, Katharine.” She had never bothered with false hopes, and told the truth. She really believed that she might not ever be fine. And just when she’d found a home, too. She sighed, and closed her eyes again.

“So no more tree climbing for you?” Tom tried to grin as though nothing had happened but couldn’t.

Mari laughed and smiled and said, “For now.”

Her next visitor was Benjamin, who wished her well and asked how she was and if he could get her anything. Mari was a bit uncomfortable being alone with him, even after getting to know him, and he seemed to perceive this and left soon, a bit flustered and embarrassed.

When Anne and Arnold came in, they talked to Mari of what was happening outside the window in the room. Mari always liked to be outside, and the happenings of the outside world were welcome to her.

By the time her friends had left, she was able to sit up in the bed. A maid would come in periodically to make sure she did not need anything, and either Vale or Lizzi was constantly with her, keeping her company and making sure she was not lonely or bored. Lizzi would continue their lessons in literature and Mari would pay the best attention she could, though she’d get light headed sometimes. Vale would simply have intelligent conversations with her, which was a welcome thing to Mari, since where she had been before she came here, nobody bothered to assume she was smart. The fact that Vale considered her intelligent enough to have a conversation with seemed to make her very happy.

On the third day of being bed-ridden Mari was strong enough to go to the Clinic with Vale. He helped her down the stairs, since she hadn’t been on her feet in a while and felt odd standing up.

It felt good to get back outside when the sun hit her face. Even with the window open wide, she had felt confined in that room and it had made her uncomfortable at times. She smiled and closed her eyes and Vale let her just stand there for a moment before saying her name softly and beckoning to the car.

Mari nodded and followed Vale to the car, getting in reluctantly. She still did not like the cars. She would much rather be in an open car, instead of one with a roof, and Vale rolled down the windows in the back for her, knowing that she didn’t like the confined place.

She smiled and thanked him, and then looked ahead of her at the dark glass that separated the driver’s side of the car from the passenger’s side. She sat back in the seat and closed her eyes. She felt tired already from walking, and it made her feel weak. She could almost hear Marty yelling at her. “Why are you always so weak, girl?! I don’t even see why I decided to keep you! You better be happy I wasn’t like your mother, just leaving you with people.”

Mari sighed and opened her eyes again. She caught Vale looking at her and said, “What?” She shifted in her seat to face him, sitting next to her.

“Oh, nothing. You just looked troubled.”

She looked away, and said quietly, “I was just remembering something Marty once said to me… It wasn’t something very nice.”

Vale put his hand on her shoulder. Mari jumped only slightly; having the thought of Marty still in her mind made her automatically weary. “You don’t have to ever think of Marty again, Mari. You’ll never have to see him again. You live in my home now, and he is not ever going to be welcome there.”

Mari closed her eyes and nodded, driving Marty out of her thoughts to be replaced with thoughts of her new home. She’d only been there for three months and some things in it were still unfamiliar to her, but she had grown used to it and the people in it.

Vale smiled and watched her sitting next to him for a few moments, before shaking his head slightly and looking out the window at the things moving past. Mari eventually opened her eyes and looked out her own window. The rest of the ride was short and quiet.

When the car rolled to a stop outside the Clinic where Dr. Lay worked, Vale got out of the car and walked to the other side to help Mari out. She was still a bit weak and awkward on her feet, so she needed help up the stairs of the building too. Once they were inside, she sat in a chair in the waiting room, and Vale went to the clerk who sat behind a desk.

He came back in a few moments and helped Mari up, leading her to the room where the image-taker was located. Dr. Lay was in the room, and beckoned Mari to sit on a chair in front of a large machine.

“This won’t hurt, will it?”

Dr. Lay smiled and shook his head. “No, not at all, Miss Mari. You won’t even feel anything.”

She hesitantly sat in the chair, after a quick glance at Vale, who nodded encouragingly.

Once she was seated, Dr. Lay maneuvered the machine so that the part that took the picture was right above where her lungs were. “Now, hold still, Miss.”

Mari closed her eyes and waited.

“All done, Miss. You can get up now.” She was surprised and opened her eyes to look around confusedly.

“Didn’t you do anything?” She looked at Vale, who smiled from his chair in a corner of the room.

“Yes, we took a picture of the insides of your lungs. I told you that you would not feel a thing!” Dr. Lay smiled and beckoned her to a chair next to Vale. “It will be about ten minutes until the pictures are ready. Would you like something to drink while you wait?”

Mari shook her head and sat in the chair next to Vale, confused. When the Dr. left the room, she turned to Vale and said, “What did the thing do? It didn’t seem like it did anything. How does it even see things inside me?”

Vale smiled and said, “It sends little Z-Rays [[ haha, a little parallel from our world ]] at you, that go through things like skin and muscle. But your lungs will reflect them back at the picture taker in certain ways, so the machine knows how to paint the picture.”

She didn’t understand a word of this and it was evident.

“It’s confusing. Don’t worry about that, Mari.” He laughed and picked up the book he’d been reading. She made out the title but didn’t understand it: Platypuses Revealed. At first she thought she was reading it wrong or mixing up letters.

“What’s that?” Mari pointed to the book.

“Oh, this is just a book about a mammal that lives far away. It lays eggs like a bird. But that is odd because mammals always give live births. It’s a conundrum that has puzzled biologists for years.”

Mari tilted her head, thinking “So,” she contemplated, “Humans are mammals, right?” She was even now still learning new things all the time.

Vale nodded. “Humans are mammals. And so are cats and dogs and horses.” He was happy to see her smile after so long being bedridden. When she’d had to stay in that bed, she hadn’t truly smiled but for once or twice.

“So Ginger Cat and I aren’t that different.” Though the cat had another name, Mari had gotten into the habit of calling her nighttime companion by the name of Ginger Cat.

Vale nodded, and said, “And do you know what else makes you like each other?”

Mari tilted her head, confused. “No, what?”

Vale smiled and said, “You’ve both got long red hair.”

Mari realized it was the truth, and smiled a little; but she was uncomfortable that Vale should mention something like that. It gave her the impression that he was looking at her often, and that made her worry.

She remembered what she’d thought about that day… after the nighttime encounter she’d had with Vale. I trust him too much… She just knew he was going to betray her trust… She was silent for the rest of the wait, shifting uncomfortably every once in a while.

She looked up when the Doctor came back in after knocking politely, and the look on his face did not make her feel any better…

He had two pictures in his hands. They were on a sort of black plastic… or something… He put them on a bright white-lighted wall, and Mari gazed at the pictures of her lungs, in awe.

“What did the pictures tell you?” She asked, shifting in her seat. She felt too weak to stand for very long.

The Doctor was silent for a moment, and Mari could tell Vale was staring at the pictures intently as well. She looked from one to the other. “What’s wrong…?” She asked, her voice small.

Dr. Lay looked up slowly and said, “Mari… There’s some sort of odd growth in your Lungs…” He pointed at a large white spot on the picture. She didn’t understand it though.

“What does that mean?” She asked softly.

Dr. Lay looked sadly at Mari, and said, just as softly, “It’s a kind of growth that infects the lung tissue around it. It will keep growing, until your lungs are so infected that you won’t be able to breath…”

Vale shot a glance at Dr. Lay. “And that means she’ll-” He stopped abruptly when Dr. Lay nodded.

Mari glanced from Vale and the pain that was evident in his eyes, to Dr. Lay, who was equally upset. “It means I’ll what?” She asked fiercely. She stood up, but swayed a little, before Dr. Lay steadied her.

Vale was looking down; staring at the floor.

“What’s happening to me…?” She repeated, tears falling down her cheeks.

“Mari, you have less than a year to live…” Said Dr. Lay.

“Less than a year?!” Said Vale, looking up now. “That little time?”

Mari was staring blankly ahead of her. A year to live… only a year… Maybe less…

Dr. Lay nodded sadly yet again, and helped Mari back into the chair.

After a long silence, Vale said out of the silence, “Is there no way to remove that… growth?”

The Doctor shook his head. “Even if there were a procedure we could use, the lung tissue is too precious to risk it. She would have more chance of dying than of living. If we had caught this earlier, we might have been able to do something about it. But it’s gotten too large to risk.”

Vale nodded slowly, obviously distressed.

After a few more minutes of question and answer, Mari was lead shaking back to the car. It must have been all that disgusting City air I was breather...

She was so fidgety and unresponsive during the ride back home that not even Lizzi would have been able to get a single reaction out of her. It was just as well, because Vale was pensive as well.

Neither of them noticed when the car had stopped, until the driver lightly tapped Mari’s window, causing her to jump as if she’d seen a ghost.

Shaking, she got out of the car, with help from Vale. He led her back up to her room, where she asked to be left alone. He nodded, and closed her door behind him as he left.

Now alone, Mari collapsed onto her bed and cried.

Chapter 10

Lizzi walked into the house, and could feel the mood. She’d heard the car pull up, and had come inside to see what news Vale and Mari brought. Worried by the silence of the house, she hurried to the living room, where Vale sat in his chair, his forehead in his clasped hands.

“What happened?” She asked. “What news did you get of Mari?”

When Vale was silent, she got really worried. He wasn’t one to be so hesitant.

She sat down next to her brother, and said again, “What happened…?”

Vale looked over at his sister, and whispered, “less than a year…”

Lizzi tilted her head, not sure what her brother meant.

“Less than a year to live,” Vale finished, looking down again.

Lizzi was frozen in place, her eyes wide and heart beating fast. “What…?”

They were silent the rest of the afternoon.

In her room, so many things were going through Mari’s head.

I’m dying.
One year…
What about all the things I’ve never done?
What about my garden?
What about my friends?
I’ve just found them, and now I’m dying…
This is all Marty’s fault!

She buried her face in her pillow, letting the tears fall.

The next day, when the others came to visit, Mari was still up in her room. She hadn’t even bothered getting up when Lizzi had come in. Ginger Cat sat on her chest, and she hugged him close, burying her face in his long fur.

Down in the living room, Vale was explaining the situation to the others, while Lizzi sat silently, slightly pale.

When Vale had finished talking, the room was silent and cold. Tom was the first to speak.

“There’s nothing you guys can do?” His fists were balled up.

Vale shook his head.

“How can that be?!” Tom stood up.

Vale looked at Tom, and sighed. “There’s nothing we can do.” He repeated.

Tom shook his head, refusing to believe that. “No…” He ran out of the room, to the garden outside. He was wondering why the sky could be so beautiful… so beautiful on such a horrible day. Without knowing it, he found himself leaning his head against the tree he’d first met Mari in. It hadn’t actually been all that long ago, but it felt like so long ago now. He turned so that his back was against the tree, and slid down to sit on the ground, looking at the cloudless sky.

Meanwhile, Mari had decided to go down and meet her friends. She figured she owed it to her friends to at least see them. She got dressed silently, and looked in the mirror at her hair. It was a mess…

She picked up the brush, and tried to run it through her hair, finding that she couldn’t make her hair behave as Lizzi could. She held the brush in her hands, fighting back the tears.

She managed to make her hair at least presentable, and wiped her wet, red eyes.

When she went down to her friends, she found them all sitting in silence. But… Tom wasn’t there. She looked from face to desolate face, and tried to force a smile. “Why so gloomy?” She asked.

Katharine got up suddenly and rushed at Mari with a hug. Mari went stiff for a moment, but slowly relaxed and patted Katharine on the back. “I’m still here you know.”

One by one, everyone looked up, and said their hello’s. All, that is, except for Benjamin, who was silent and contemplative.

“Where did Tom go?” Mari asked after a few moments.

Vale sighed, and said, “He went outside in a fluster…” He managed a half smile for Mari, who desperately needed to see them smile. “I think he’s very upset… We all are…”

Mari nodded slowly, and got up slowly. “I’ll go talk to him…” She was glad that no one suggested she sit down, or not go alone. She wanted to show them she could still do the things she always had.

She stepped outside, and shaded her eyes from the bright sun, becoming dizzy for a few seconds. When she regained herself, she made her way through the garden. Tom was not there, so she tried the woods.

She spotted him, and smiled slightly. He was at her tree. He looked so sad; he had his eyes closed, his head against the tree.

She sat down next to him, and he looked over at the noise she made. He didn’t say anything.

“Come on, a year’s a lot of time when you think about it…” Mari tried to make it sound like everything was going to be okay, when she knew nothing would.

Tom looked over at her, almost mad now. “Don’t you understand what this means?” He asked, a little harsher than he had intended.

Mari sighed, and nodded. “You don’t think I haven’t been thinking about it?”

Tom also sighed, and looked down. “It’s just…” He started, and paused while he collected his thoughts. “I’ve been thinking for the past few months that life would be great. We’d all grow old together…” After a few moments, he said quietly, “And now I know that won’t happen.”

Mari looked down, and didn’t say anything, fighting the tears again.

Tom made up his mind, and turned to Mari. She looked over at him, and the intensity in his eyes scared her. “Mari, I-” He blushed ever so slightly. “I love you! I don’t want to find out I won’t be able to spend my life with you…”

Mari’s heart almost stopped, and she was suddenly so aware of how close she was to him… She backed up, and abruptly stood up. “Uh.” She looked around, and dusted herself down. “I… I have to go inside now…”

She turned quickly, leaving Tom, wide eyed and stunned. He’d never seen her so fidgety like that before. Was she appalled that he had feelings for her…? Did she hate him?

Mari shut her eyes as she power-walked back toward the house, hoping with all her might that Tom would not follow her. She held her head in her hands, shaking it slightly.

It’s not his fault! How could he have known…. I made Vale promise not to tell anyone about what I told him. But why, WHY did he have to say that? It was so easy to forget that he was a man when we joked around. Now the fact will be in the front of my head every time I see him! And now I’ve hurt him…

She was getting dizzy now, and found a chair to sit in until she could make the rest of the journey back to the house.

She sat back, breathing heavily and closing her eyes to the bright sunlight. After a few moments, she heard a noise, and looked over frantically to see Benjamin approaching. Oh, no…

She still saw Marty’s face in Benjamin’s, and that made it even worse that he gave her special attentions.

She watched him wearily as he sat down next to her on the bench. After a few seconds, he said, “How was Tom?”

Mari jumped slightly at the question, and said, “Oh… er, upset.” She looked straight ahead, and down.

Benjamin nodded and sighed. “He has a very high opinion of you, Miss Mari.” He didn’t know just how high that opinion was. After a few moments more, he added, “We all do.”

Mari just nodded. She was already in a bad state of mind to talk to him… what he was saying was not helping.

“Mari…” Benjamin’s voice had suddenly changed. It was softer, slower. Mari looked over at him, scared of what she just knew he was going to say. “I’ve had… fairly strong feeling for you since that day you bumped into me in town.” He was blushing.

Mari tried to get up, but her legs failed her. She panicked, and said, “Oh, uh…” She blinked, and finished, “I’m sorry…”

Benjamin looked at her; his feelings were clear in his eyes. “I love you.” It was nothing more than a whisper...

Mari’s legs finally obeyed her commands, and she got up hastily at those three words, the words she never ever wanted to hear. But Benjamin reached out and took her arm, gently but forcefully. “Don’t go, please,” He said.

At his touch, Mari screamed. It made him recoil, shocked and hurt, and Mari ran away, forgetting her dizziness. Two in one day… This week could not get any worse!

She darted inside the back entrance, and made her way -around the living room- to her own room, and shut the door behind her, turning the little key in the doorknob to lock it.

She sat on her bed, breathing heavily and dizzy beyond her own comprehension. The three words she’d heard twice already today spun in her head, and as she sat on her bed, her head gently fell on the pillow as she passed out.

When she next opened her eyes, someone was banging on her door and shouting.

“Mari? Mari, are you okay?”

It was Vale…

“Mari, oh please! Say something and let us in!”

Mari let out her held breath; Lizzi was there as well… She shook her head slightly, and realized she’d left the key in the door. It was locked. How long was I out…? She cleared her throat and said quietly, “C- coming!”

She scrambled out of bed and to the door, noticing as she looked out the window that it was dark out.

She hastily opened the door, and Lizzi shot through, throwing her arms around Mari. “Good Lord, don’t scare me that way, Mari!” She said, nearly in tears.

Mari blinked, and said, her voice muffled by Lizzi’s dress, “What time is it…?”

It was Vale who answered. “It’s nearly one o’clock in the morning, Mari.”

Mari’s eyes widened, and she said slowly, “So I’ve been out a while…” She felt like she was going to fall down, and Lizzi must have noticed, for she lead her to her bed.

“What happened today, Mari? Benjamin went to go see how you and Tom were doing, but he and Tom were both a while coming back, and they were both looking quite put out.” Vale looked at her from where he sat in the chair he’d brought next to the bed.

Mari hesitated, and said, “I think I just didn’t help them feel better about my condition…” She looked down, not wanting to talk about it. Maybe later, when it was just Lizzi with her, she would reveal what happened…

Vale and Lizzi were silent for a bit, and then Vale said, “Are you alright?” His voice was soft and quiet, and when she listened more carefully, she heard that it seemed strained, as if he’d been yelling.

Mari hesitantly nodded, not quite sure of the answer herself. “I passed out… I think I was up for too long.” She looked down, wringing her hands in her lap.

Vale could tell there was something more to the story, but he didn’t want to pester her, so he didn’t ask. Instead, he got up, and took one of her hands momentarily. “Well, I’m relieved you’re better.” He let her hand go, for she was fidgeting, and took his leave of her room, leaving Lizzi still sitting next to Mari on the bed

After a long silence, Lizzi said, taking Mari’s hands in her own and looking her in the eyes, “Is that really all that happened, Mari…?” She desperately wanted Mari to confide in her as a sister would.

Mari hesitated, and then said, “Well…” After a pause, patiently accepted by Lizzi, she continued. “Tom said he loved me when I went to find him…”

Lizzi’s eyes widened, but she staid silent.

“But I was scared and left him abruptly without replying… and then on my way back to the house, I had to stop, and Benjamin caught me.” She sighed, and looked so forlorn. “And he said that he loved me too, and when I tried to get away he took my arm and I screamed as if a murderer were after me…” She got her hands back from Lizzi and covered her face in them. “And now I’ve hurt them both!”

Lizzi was still silent, but she assumed that was best right now. All she needed to do was wrap her arms around Mari to make her tears subside.

After a few moments, Lizzi said, “They’ll be alright.”

Mari sniffed, and wailed, “But…” She couldn’t finish her sentence. She was so despaired at having hurt them both.

Lizzi frowned, and sighed. “Why were you scared?”

Mari blinked, and realized that she hadn’t told Lizzi about what happened two and a half years ago. She shook her head slowly. “I just don’t trust men…”

Lizzi knew this already… She had never learned the reason though, and that hurt. She let her hug loosen a bit and said, “You trust Vale.” She said it very softly.

Mari froze slightly, but she knew it was true. She did trust Vale. But at the same time, she felt certain that the trust would be betrayed when she let it show. After a long silence again, she sniffed and said quietly, to get her mind off the subject, “Will you brush my hair?” It was a mess, all over her head.

Lizzi smiled sadly and nodded. “But first, take a bath and get into your night dress, love.”

Mari nodded, and slowly got up and made her way to the bathroom, and the tub she’d thought to be magical at first.

She took a quick but refreshing bath, and put on the soft, long night dress she slept in every night. When she got back out to her bed, Lizzi was waiting with the hair brush. Mari smiled a little, and closed her eyes as she sat on the bed with Lizzi behind her, pulling the bush gently through her light curls.

As Lizzi brushed, Mari sighed, and said suddenly, “Has Arnold said he loves you yet?”

Lizzi paused for a moment, and said, “No, he has not…” Mari could hear the disappointment in her voice.

“But he does. I can tell.” Mari said it with conviction. “He looks at you alone, and he's always doing things just for you…”

Lizzi nodded from behind Mari, and said, “I know he does. But… I wish he would say it.”

They were silent after that, and when Lizzi had finished brushing Mari’s hair and left her, it was very late in the night, and Mari soon fell asleep.

The wind blew into her room from the open window, and she shivered in her sleep.

A figure passing by her room paused by her door, and looked in. They saw her shiver, and silently walked to her window, shutting it with a soft click. As they were going back to the door, they paused for a moment, and turned to stand next to Mari’s bed. They gently brushed Mari’s hair back from her face.

There was a sad sigh, and Vale leaned down to kiss Mari on the forehead, before exiting and leaving the door open a crack.

Chapter 11

Tom and Benjamin only stopped by briefly after that day. Three days had passed with only a few minutes with them. Mari was deeply upset… they must not want to see me. She looked at both of them for a few seconds when they stopped by the day after the Three-Word-Incident, as Mari had started calling it.

She, Lizzi and Vale had been sitting in the living room reading, and a maid had come to say that their friends were here. Lizzi glanced at Mari briefly, and nodded.

“Let them in of course!” She said, sounding cheerful.

Mari was looking up at the entrance of the room when the cousins entered, both trying to be cheerful. But Mari could tell they were upset…
After an awkward few moments, Mari stood up and said, “Tom, would you like to walk with me outside for a minute or two?” She needed to at least give an answer to his confession.

He looked up, hopeful, and nodded. They left the room to go outside, but were silent.

They got to a bench, and Mari needed to rest, so they sat down there. There was a silence…

“Um… about yesterday…” Mari mumbled, and Tom looked over at her. She had his full attention. “I… I’m sorry, but I can’t return your feelings.” There. It was out. Now what?

Tom looked crestfallen, but he seemed to have prepared for the worst. “But I still want to be your friend!” Mari stammered, afraid he would hate her now.

Tom smiled, and said quietly, “That’s okay, Mari. You’ll always be my great friend…” She could hear the pain in his voice, but she knew that Tom would move on. She didn’t think he was fickle, not at all. But she didn’t think he could stay so attached to someone like herself. She was so unsuited for this life, with her background and attitude. She didn’t know most of the customs of this area, and she still spoke with the hard slang of her childhood most of the time. She didn’t believe it was possible to love someone like her. But she said nothing of this to anyone. Not even Lizzi.

Mari smiled, and hugged Tom. “Good.” Vale’s words from his birthday rang in her head now. “I wish you would let more people hug you.” She smiled, and got up. “I need to talk to Benjamin now…” She murmured.

Tom looked up. “Are you rejecting him too?” At Mari’s shocked expression, he smiled a little. “He told me. And I told him. We were at each other’s throats last night arguing over who would make you happier.” He laughed a little at himself, and Mari stayed silent until they reached the house again.

“Yes, I’m saying no to him too…”

Tom looked over at her. “Hmm…”

They walked back into the room where the others were, and Mari said, “Um… Benjamin… would you care to walk with me too?” She thought she was being sly, but Lizzi and Vale knew what she was doing. Benjamin stood up too fast, and walked out the door to wait for Mari in the hall.

They didn’t get far outside, when Benjamin turned to her, and said, “I am terribly sorry about yesterday, Miss Mari! I did not mean to hurt you in any way!” He bowed his apologies and kissed her hand, which he’d taken in his own.

Mari tried hard to keep from going stiff. “I-it’s okay… you didn’t hurt me! I was startled, is all…”

He looked up at her, and sighed. “I am relieved to know that I did not hurt you.”

There was a pause, and then Mari gave him her answer to his feelings. “I, er… can’t return your feelings, Benjamin…” She looked down.

Benjamin was silent for some time, and then hastily let go of her hand. “I… I’m sorry to have disturbed you then…” He looked as if he was about to walk away, but Mari touched his shoulder gently.

“It’s not you… trust me, it’s not you. You look like the person I hate the most in the world… I know you’re not him, but every time I see you, I can’t help but think of him… I like you as a person… but I couldn’t possibly love you…” She hoped she didn’t sound harsh. This might be a slap in his face.

He was silent for a time, and then nodded. “I’m sorry about that as well. If I could change my face for you, I would…”
Mari smiled a little, and said, “Don’t do that. You wouldn’t be Benjamin if you did that.” She closed her eyes and hugged him gently, because if she had kept them open, she wouldn’t have been able to do it. The hug was brief and a bit stiff, but Benjamin smiled.

She pulled away abruptly, but he didn’t look troubled by it.

“Is there someone else then?” He asked, slightly pained.

Mari looked at him, confused. “What do you mean?”

“Someone else… that you love?”

Mari stopped walking, and stared into the distance. She didn’t want Vale’s image to pop into her head now! No, I don’t love him… I don’t love anyone as a man, because that sort of thinking leads to bad things… No, I don’t love Vale… She shook her head to answer, and walked back into the house.

The next day, no one showed up to visit, and Lizzi, Vale and Mari had the day to themselves.

Mari sat in her tree after breakfast, thinking hard. Benjamin’s words kept playing in her head, and she tried to shake them away. But the words stayed there, and so did the image of Vale smiling at her, the feeling of him hugging her tight, his anguished expression at the doctor’s office…

She closed her eyes and held her head in her hands. “No… Anything but that…” She didn’t want to be in love. Love was bad. It always ended up hurting you… and when a man and woman loved each other…

No, she wasn’t going to think about it. Just push it out of your head. She sighed, and opened her eyes, turning her head up to the sky.

“Mari!” Lizzi was calling her.

“Yeah?” She carefully made her way down the tree, slower than she would have if she had her full strength.

“I’m going to town with Anne. I’ll be home before suppertime, okay?”

Mari nodded, and waved at Lizzi as she made her way to the car. She stood silently for a few moments, and then went into the house to get a book to keep her mind off of the things she didn’t want to think about. She took the book off of her nightstand, and sighed before going back to her tree.

As much as she tried to pay attention to her book, Mari found her mind wandering far too much. She remembered the day she told Vale about her past, about Billy… she remembered how he’d helped her settle into her new life… how he’d been the one to save her in the first place.

She couldn’t get him out of her mind, and that scared her.

You trust him, and he breaks your trust! He’s going to break it! He’ll break any promises he makes!

She covered her face in her arms, and let the tear drops fall as she was brought back to her past.

She sat with Billy, looking at the happy child photos.
Billy was ever cheerful, and was trying to make Mari see the brighter side of things. “Oh, come on Mari! Life isn’t so bad. You eat, and you get to play every day with me!” It wasn’t helping.
“But I’ll never have a happy childhood.” Mari looked down, and Billy hugged her.
“It’s okay Mari! I promise, I’ll always be here for you, so cheer up. I promise!”

And then a few weeks later….

Mari stood in the rain, staring wide-eyed at the scene of the accident.
The driver was getting out of the car… He saw the lifeless, little body beside the car, and frowned, but didn’t seem all too disturbed.
She could here the people talking…
“Oh, it’s a shame… what a cute little boy.”
“It is a shame… indeed…”
“But I heard the police say he lived at the orphanage…”
“No one is going to miss him, poor thing.”

NO! I will… BILLY!
Mari pushed through the crowd of people gathered, and ran through the alleys.

Billy… you broke your promise! You’re not here for me… Where did you go?
She fell against a wall and wept more than she’d ever wept. But you couldn’t see her tears in that rain…

Chapter 12

Mari hiccupped and wiped her eyes, but the tears wouldn’t stop. Everyone she’d known had broken her, bit by bit. And now she was paying for it. She couldn’t function as a normal 18-year-old girl should. All she could do was weep.


She inhaled sharply, and looked up from her hands. Vale was standing at the base of the tree, gazing up at her.

“Mari, is something the matter?” He looked frantic, and it made Mari wish she had not been thinking so much of him. That frantic look was added to the pile of reasons she loved him.

After she had wiped her eyes more, she shook her head. “No… nothing’s w-wrong…” She climbed down the tree slowly, but refused Vale’s offered hand. She couldn’t be too near him in this state. Even speaking to him now was just about too much for her to take.

“Is it time for lunch?” She asked, drying her eyes once more, and adjusting her hat.

Vale gazed at her intently, and made to help her stand. “Yes… Are you sure you’re alright, Mari?” He spoke softly, and it broke Mari’s heart. No…

“Y-yes… I’m fine.” She patted down her dress and started walking toward the house, but lost her balance. Vale was by her side in an instant, and held her up.

“You are not a very good liar, Mari.” He helped her stay upright on the way to the house, and helped her into her seat for lunch.

No… No, don’t get so close to my heart… you’ll end up breaking it!

She and Vale ate lunch in silence. She managed to keep the tears down, and even put on a brave face, but she did not speak… and Vale was smart enough to see that speaking would do no good. If Mari had looked up at Vale at all, she would have seen the pain… and she would have wanted to cry.

She finished in no time, eating much less than she usually did, less even than on the first day.

She stood up and said a quick, “May I be excused…?” But she didn’t wait for the answer. She just got up… and she made her way to the door to go outside. A maid offered to help her, but she refused.

Vale stood up, and followed her to the door. He stopped there, watched her walk to a bench; watched her start to cry. He couldn’t hold these feelings at bay any longer.

Mari held her head in her hands again, and couldn’t help crying. These feelings… they were bringing back too many painful things. Billy… oh, Billy! And now Vale… He’ll betray my trust… break his promises…

And then his arms were around her. She opened her eyes and didn’t know what to think.

Why was her body reacting in such a way? Her broken heart was telling her to run, run as fast and as far as possible… but her body would not move. She wanted to get away, but she wanted to stay. The pull to stay is stronger…

“Mari… please tell me… what on Earth is troubling you so much…?” Vale didn’t want to think that she was so upset about anything… He assumed it was the fact that she had so little time left…

After a long pause, Mari hiccupped again, and said, “Billy…”

Vale blinked, surprised. “What about Billy, Mari…?” He knew; he understood how important Billy was to Mari. But he had never stopped to consider what happened to him.

“He broke… broke his promise! He said he would be there for me… and he broke it!” Mari was sobbing into Vale’s chest by now, completely giving up on being stiff and mistrustful.

Vale was silent for some time, and rubbed her back. He couldn’t control the throbbing heart in his chest. “Mari… did Billy…”

“He died! And it was my fault!”

Mari had been laughing and calling to Billy. They were playing tag in the streets, and she’d run across the street. Billy was it.
She hadn’t been looking… Billy ran after her, and the next thing Mari knew, she was watching Billy die. Hit by a truck. Gone forever. The little smiling face she depended on so much… gone.

“It was all my fault!” She repeated, after telling Vale the whole story.

“No… no, Mari, it’s not your fault… Don’t blame yourself…” Vale had tightened his arms around her, held her head close to his beating heart.

By now Mari had cried too much, and there were no tears left. “Yes… it was.” She hiccupped. “And he broke his promise… My best friend… only friend. He was such a happy kid! He had so much to live for, and he died because of me.”

Vale shook his head. “Shh,” he said, rubbing her back still.

Mari didn’t say any more. She knew it was no use trying to convince him that she was right.

And then suddenly, “Mari!” Vale pulled her away from his chest a little, and stared at her for a few moments. Mari was scared by what she saw. “Mari, forgive me for this. I can not hold this in any longer.” The stress in his voice made him sound as he’d never sounded before.

He brought her head to his, and kissed her on the lips. He didn’t want to be too forceful, but he just couldn’t hold it in. For so long, he’d wanted to do it, but had known she would never forgive him if he did. He’d held it in; let it build up until it finally burst out in a rush of emotion.

Mari held her breath. What was happening? What is he doing? Why… why am I letting him?! I can’t trust any man! She pulled away from Vale, scared and shocked. He’d finally broken her trust. Now she wouldn’t know who to look to…

Vale looked pained, and said, “Mari…”

She shook her head, and stood up hastily. “No! I’m scared!” She held her hands to her heart, trying to stop it from beating so fast, so hard. She folded her knees up and hugged herself. Vale got on his knees in front of her, and hugged her tight.

“I will never, ever hurt you Mari.” He said quietly.

And Mari knew she trusted him, even now.

“I promise, I will never hurt you.”

Mari flinched slightly at that word. Billy promised too…

But why did she trust him so deeply? Even if she knew he would betray her, hurt her… she would still believe what he said. He could tell her the sky was green and she would see green when she looked up.

“Mari… I know I don’t have much time with you… so I want to spend the rest of that time… as your husband. I don’t want to waste any of the precious little time we have left… Mari, be my wife.”

Mari stared at the ground. This is… a proposal… of marriage!

She was silent for a very long time, and finally said, “Y-you promise you won’t hurt me…?” She had stopped crying, and had let herself sit fully on the ground.

Vale smiled, and lifted her chin up with one hand, running the other through her hair. “I promise.” It took all of his will power not to take her up in his arms and kiss her and caress her gently. And it took all of hers not to give in to the tingling in her spine when Vale touched her like that.

Mari gave up trying to stop her heart from beating so fast. Love… I love… Love Vale. Vale……

She leaned her forehead on Vale’s chest, and said, very quietly, “Only… if you promise…”

“I promise… I promise. I promise… promise.” Vale repeated those words over and over. He wrapped his arms around her once more, and picked her up, alarmed by how light she was. He kissed the top of her head, and hugged her close, unable to let go.

He led her back to the bench, and sat her down. He could not describe his feelings right now. He was… so relieved; and yet, he was so deeply sorrowed that it was hard to stand. “Less than a year…” The Doctor’s words would not let go of the tight grip they had on his heart.

“Mari…” He lifted her chin up again so that he could look at her eyes, those green eyes that made his days so much brighter. “Mari, I’m going to kiss you again…”

She turned her head away, still afraid, but Vale gently tugged it back to face him, and kissed her gently, much more gently than before. The first one had been… almost rough, too passionate. But this one… This one made Mari feel safe, truly safe for the first time in her life.

She closed her eyes, and hugged Vale. Maybe he won’t… betray me.

Find Part 4 Here
Posted 7/1/09 , edited 7/1/09
-FIRST post DAWGGG- O_O.............
I wonder wats happeing O;
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26 / F / In my own little...
Posted 7/1/09 , edited 7/1/09
lol coool xDD
Though, you already knowwww some of it because you read what I sent you finally xD
I said a little bit about this in there :3
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Posted 7/15/09 , edited 7/15/09

O________O S.R. Embie-chan how could you *tears start go come out slowly*
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Posted 7/15/09 , edited 7/16/09
Oh jam! Vale and Mari, totally mindboggled at how fast this story is starting to pick up now!!! S.R. Embie-chan quickly add more to this story purty please ^^
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Posted 7/15/09 , edited 7/16/09
lol yeah I thought you wouldnt like that part Defy-chan ^^'
*shoves tears back in you*

Nothing like a time limit to make things happen :DD

I'll add more in a little bit, I need to re-read what I've written and make sure it's all good >:3
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