Welcome, to the Archives...


How interesting, you are not like most of my visitors. I am Aurillie, the keeper of the Archives.

The Archives exist in a space between matter and time. It is both nowhere and everywhere. It stretches across all planes, universes, and realms. It records every thought, every action, every decision. With each choice, new planes emerge, and worlds crumble. Here, you would be able to find the secrets to everything.

That is... if you know where to look.

Countless people unconsciously visit here, thinking that they are still in their own world. They cannot see past what they believe is reality. They remain locked within their minds.

In the Archives, the veil between worlds is thin, and time itself hides from the beauty and vileness of knowledge.

It seems that you can see the Archives in its true form. Feel free to peruse the infinite information at your fingertips.

Take care to not get overwhelmed. I would have to fill out an awfully large amount of paperwork for the higher-ups if you were to perish.



Explore


The Archives is a page devoted to the storage of my (Cynthia's) past stories and drabbles. These stories were written for previous pets, or are previous character designs for my current pets. It is also the home of File: Cynthia.



The Archives consist of many sub-pages within one petpage. On each subpage, there is a back arrow to lead you back to this home page.






What is this?


A large, dark green file lay on the table in front of you. Sheets of parchment are overflowing from the bulging folder. The words File: Cynthia are scrawled across the cover in silver ink.



(Click on the file to see its contents.)







Books

A stack of books sits on one of the wooden tables. One of the texts lay open, illuminated by a desk lamp. From where you are, you can read the spines of three of the books.



(Click on a book spine below to read its contents.)









Credits

Layout and content are by Cynthia for personal use only.
Images used in the layout found on google and brush sheets from Details.
Art background of "Caught in the Madness" banner by Darkcloud013 on dA.
Art background of "Cross My Heart" banner by mrainbowwj on dA.
Photo background of "Cross My Heart" banner by OliverBPhotography on dA.
Other banners and the file for File: Cynthia from Pottermore.
Bullets (recolored) and credit sign from The Lunch Box.




Welcome

Hello there! Welcome to my joint 'about me' and 'goals' page. Feel free to explore!
(Please note that the neoboard fonts and requested graphics are for my personal use only.)

Edited: 23 July 2015; 7:39PM NST

Currently Reading

I am a lover of books, and I am constantly reading new things.

Current book in progress:
Longitude by Dava Sobel

About Cynthia


Name: Cynthia
Gender: Female
Age: Teenager
Employment: Student/Student Intern

I am a student who currently plans on entering the computer science field. I greatly learning new ideas and topics, and I try to accrue as much knowledge as I am able.

I am not the most creative person, but I do love coming up with character ideas and stories for my pets. I also enjoy drawing and art in general. Though I am mediocre at best when it comes to digital art, I'm trying to practice in my free time. I do enter the BC on occasion, although I do not always find the time to advertise.

During my free time, I like reading, exercising, hanging out with my friends, playing violin, and being on Neo. I do not have pets in real life which is one of the reasons why I enjoy Neopets.

Subjects/Things Cynthia Adores

One great love of mine is Harry Potter. I love Harry Potter, and more often than not, I turn into a raving fangirl when discussing HP. My love of Latin also adds to this (somewhat) obsession.

Note: Pottermore house- Ravenclaw (Though my friends have remarked on my Slytherin tendencies.)


I enjoy learning things on my own. I keep a journal of notes on the subjects I'm interested in. Most recently, I've taken to learning introductory Psychology. I simply appreciate knowledge in general.


I also love music. It is an amazing art, especially in how it can convey what words are unable to. My favorite pieces include Méditation de Thaïs, Beetoven's Romance in F, and Paganini's Caprice 24.

Pet Lookups

Cynthia on Neo

Accounts: epistulae | bls5281997

I have a schedule that I generally maintain for Neopets. While school is in session, I go on hiatus. During vacations, I come back on Neo. I must say that this method have proven to be highly successful for me.

I am extremely attached to my pets, as they are my inspirations. They help me get my creativity flowing. I absolutely adore them for it.

Currently, I'm working toward finishing all my permanent pet's stories and collecting more avatars. I've stopped actively NC trading, but I still love NC. I like my pets to have permanent character related customization and when needed, I trade my past items for GBCs to trade.

I enjoy making graphics and coding, thus I spend quite a lot of time on my pets' petpages. I don't have many pets, and I have a lot of pages that need hosting so sometimes one petpage can host multiple pages at a time.

Pet Origins

Aurillie Created by me; labbed from January 15, 2012 to August 2012; Painted baby November 23, 2012; Morphed into a rainbow kacheek on February 2, 2014; 7:12 AM; Morphed into a pirate draik on January 24, 2015; 11:11 AM; Painted golden on January 24, 2015; 11:13 AM

Prewetts Adopted on July 22, 2015; 7:00 PM; currently raising stats by Faerie Quest Cookies and training; I aim to have her be my BD pet; Thank you so much Mel!

Rinoko Adopted on July 22, 2015; 11:00 PM; Thank you so much Lionx!

UCantFindMeLOL Adopted on August 6, 2014; 5:28:18 PM; Thank you so much Maria!

Neofonts

Please note that this is for personal use only.

Omnia | In Dreams | Aut Viam | BC Ad



Custom fonts (In Dreams) by Mo, and (Aut viam) by Enraptured.

Requested Graphics

Credits

Layout and content are by Cynthia for personal use only.
Chibi made by Ashe at Bisou. (which, by the way is a fantastically amazing site)
Bullets, icons, and credit sign from The Lunch Box.

Link Back


Before you begin, reader, please know this. This story was written during a short dark period in my life. The over plot is depressing. Very. Though the tone the story is told in is fairly light. That period in my life is now over, but I don't really want to delete this story. Again, this story is kinda depressing.

Also, this story was somewhat inspired by George Orwell's 1984.


Up is down...

There was as time when I was so blissfully ignorant.
Perhaps George Orwell was right when he wrote 'Ignorance is Strength'. Then, maybe, all the other slogans of the Party was correct as well.

War is Peace.
Freedom is Slavery.
Ignorance is Strength.


It's like everything and everyone just decided to flip the world upside down. Right is left, and left is wrong, and wrong is right.

Did that make sense?

It's like thinking in doublethink. Except to think in double think you have to understand doublethink first. So you would think in doublethink to understand doublethink.

Oh forget it.

It doesn't really matter anyways.


Character


Name: Ascwire Watt
Age: 26
Eye Color: ice blue but now dark brown after surgery
Hair Color: shades of brown, from chestnut to burnt umber
Hair Style: short, loose, sweeps upward, in a smooth yet spiky manner

Character Design:
Ascwire is a rather apathetic inventor in a futuristic utopian state. After a near apocalyptic war, the world has readjusted itself to fit a new mold. As a prestigious inventor to Res, the Designator, Ascwire lives a life of comfort. He has everything he needs to live comfortably. However, Ascwire's life is full of holes everywhere. No friends, and no real desire to live. Ascwire is much like a puppet, and a willing one at that.

Behind the Name:
One of the main ideas I got from Ascwire was a reference to Aeneas and Ascanius. I separated 'Asc' and 'Wire' and the one of the things that I saw from Asc was Ascanius, the some of Aeneas, the founder of Rome. Romans were said to be his descendants. This led to more inspiration from the epic poem, Virgil's Aeneid, particularly relating to the end of one era and the beginning of another. 'Wire' also greatly inspired me as well. The number one thing that popped into my head was the theme of innovation and invention. This is how I came up with Ascwire's profession as an inventor.

Ascwire's last name in the story is Watt. I chose this last name because a Scottish inventor by the last name of Watt made improvements to the steam engine. Also, watts are the derived unit of power in the SI system, and they measure the transfer of energy in joules per second. This again relates to Ascwire's scientific area of study.


Part One


10 Years Ago, December

Most sad stories start in December. Maybe it's just a coincidence. Who knows. It was December when the little foster home where I lived was attacked.

Back then, I lived in Maine, United States of America.

It's like that place never existed now.

But I digress.

It was December when the first bomb fell. If you were to look at a map, and the places where bombs fell were pepper flakes, it would look like you randomly threw a handful of pepper flakes all over North America.

I don't think anyone knew exactly who was attacking. Kinda strange considering the fact that the internet has literally everything on it. And it's not like Twitter didn't exist or anything. Seriously, practically to the second updates with surveillance cameras and secret agencies everywhere across the globe, and no one saw it until it was too late.

Anyways. Bombs.

We didn't have a bomb shelter. Who does really? The world, ok well, North America at least, was at peace. The Middle East... now that's a different story.

It was daytime, but all the smoke and fires blocked out everything. That. or I was panicking, and decided not seeing light equals calm.

I was one of the lucky ones who escaped with my life. I had 3 broken ribs, a shattered knee, and severely damaged eyes. Apparently inhaling all the smoke gave me asthma too.

At least I wasn't dead.

All major Western and Eastern powers were attacked within the week.

I was in the hospital, somewhere in northern Canada, untouched by the bombs, for a while. Too many people were dead, too many injured. Supplies were scarce. But people were dying left and right, so I had a bed to stay in.

Selfish, right?

In any case, I stayed in the hospital, and - surprisingly, news channels still were active and reporting, for the first two days at least - reports about other mass bombings were being shown.

Again, this brings up the question of why was no one able to track the suspects down? Why did it end so drastically?

Who knows.

Then there was the isolation. After those first two days, everything shut down. No internet, no cable, no news, no phone service. Zip.

I wonder why no one fought back. It was like they somehow took out not only the world's entire military in one go, but also destroy most major production facilities and medical supplies and ships? (Again, I'm not quite sure if they actually happened... but if the world I live in today exists... this had to have happened. Though how possible this actually is... It's not impossible so it has to be plausible. And by the current state of things, this must have happened.)

Surprisingly, (actually not surprising at all if you think about it logically) more people died as the precious medical supplies dwindled due to the high number of casualties.

Again, I was so terribly lucky. Sure asthma was bad, but that really didn't fully develop until way later. I was just diagnosed with the possibility at the time. And broken bones can heal without any medication.

I don't remember much from there on. I know that we survived the winter. I mean, obviously. And spring. But then I draw a blank.

It's just all black.

Everywhere.


Part Two


8 Years Ago, May

His name was Res. That means 'thing' in Latin.

No one knows how he somehow came into power. It's kinda like one day, just *poof* 'Res is our leader' sort of deal.

Apparently he brought us 'out of darkness'. I was around 13 or so. He took control of North and South America while some other people took control of other areas. It was a blurry time. Both literally and figuratively. I don't remember much from then, though I know I was half blind from the damage from the bombings, so, actual hazy eyesight.

I was still in the same hospital in Northern Canada. Almost felt like home.

I had started going outside to salvage random stuff. No one cared too much anyways. I was just the broken young lad. Tragic. No family left.

The hospital was full of family-less people anyways, but they formed groups and decided to call themselves Neo-families to fill that hole of feeling like they belong somewhere.

I never felt the need to do so. Therefore I didn't. I had no hole that needed patching up since that place didn't really exist. Group foster homes do that to you. Why bother befriending someone when they could easily leave the next day? Sure there were the promises of 'I'll visit someday!' or 'Don't worry, we'll keep in touch!' and mush like that, but those promises were never kept.

After all, promises are made to be broken, aren't they?

I do recall a girl though. She was from my foster home. I found her some time after the initial tragedy. She was older than me. That's all I remember about her. I knew because she was much, much taller than me. But she died too.

So I was still alone.

So I went outside and salvaged junk metal and random thingamabobs.

Yes, all I saw was burry blobs. No, I did not care. Why? I was bored.

Seriously! I was bored out of my mind. I was healed (mostly, except for the growing asthma, the permanent limp that comes from having shattered a kneecap, and my eyes, but who can fix those?) so I had plenty of time.

And speaking of my knee, apparently a doctor actually took the time to help fix it for me! The bone was broken into multiple pieces but he screwed it together or something.

I apologize for my continuous digressions.

But right, metal. I built things with my metal.

Crooked little boxes. A crutch to walk with. A crude bell.

Then I met an old dude.

...Sorry that sounded rude.

But he was old. And he was a guy. So I therefore dubbed him old dude. I guess I didn't care to remember his name.

We met while scavenging, so naturally we became scavenging buddies.

He lived in a different part of the hospital.

(As a side note, how did we get food and what not? I don't really know. I was a kid. I couldn't have cared less. I didn't need to eat much anyways so it's not like I was putting a serious dent in our supplies or anything.)

He told me one day that he used to be a teacher at MIT in Boston, Massachusetts. Well, that sounded interesting... but I had no idea what this MIT was. I didn't bother asking.

In any case, he started teaching me basic... school subjects. It included stuff like math (Algebra I and II), physics and chemistry and, just overall school subjects, though I suppose he leaned heavily on the hard sciences.

He had this really ratty old AP physics textbook that he used to teach me the basics. I still have that book now. It's surprising how that book was the start of everything. I mean, I couldn't technically see the text in the book at all, but it's the thought that counts right?

I don't think he even knew that I couldn't read the thing.

I picked up the information he told me like a sponge.

I also stopped being bored.


Part Three


8 Years Ago, September

Res cleaned up the world faster than humanly possible. It was like magic. But of course it was really just fancy technology. (Where did this technology come from you ask? Gosh, stop with all the technical questions will you? I was a blind teenager who was having fun instead of being bored. I couldn't have cared less.)

The hospital was taken down and the remaining inhabitants separated for evaluation. They took us... somewhere. It was a big central area with everyone just huddling around. I think survivors from other places also joined us. I can't really remember anything else.

The officials interviewed each of us privately. They asked generic questions like: "When were you born? Do you have any remaining family? What kind of education have you had?"

I went into the interview hoping that they wouldn't ask me to read anything. Obviously if they did they would know that I was half-blind.

There were a few people who were whispering about some conspiracy theory about purifying the world, or something. The guy, my MIT teacher guy, was taken for interviews fairly early on. He didn't come back. (To the extent of my knowledge at least.)

Everyone was getting fidgety though. The tension was tangible.

Apparently no one was coming back out of their interviews.

The process went on for days. A few people, here a few there.

Near the end, when nearly everyone had been questioned, when there were only a few dozen of us left, we started smelling smoke.


Part Four


8 Years Ago, October

The smoke was the burning of the dead bodies. Not just of the people that died before Res took over. No. It was all the people who were thought to be burdens to the new world.

Unneeded. Unwanted. Unnecessary.

How am I still alive?

That's actually a funny story. (Well, for me. It's funny how awesome my luck is.)

I went to the interview feeling a ball of apprehension in my stomach. It was like a black cloud had settled over me. (Yes. I'm not the most mentally stable person. Got a problem with that? Tell it to the hand.)

Anyways, I walked into the interview with that ratty old physics book in my little itty bitty hands (ok they weren't that small but I feel like they were at the time, especially compared to that giant book), and sat down on the chair shaped blob.

That book saved my life.

They did find out that I was 'visually impaired' as they called it. However, one person noticed the book and questioned me about it. I ended up answering lots of science related questions.

Thus, I was deemed potentially valuable (or at least not useless) to the new world.

The one who noticed the book took a particular interest in me and took me in, sort of. He sent me to another hospital, an actual one this time.

I never got to thank him properly, but it's because of him (and his money I suppose) that I can see.


Part five


7 Years Ago, April

The surgery went very well. And as for the man who helped me, I never met him again. But I owe him many thanks.

The surgery was quite expensive since it was so complicated, not to mention highly dangerous and experimental, but hey, I had nothing to lose.

Oh. What surgery you ask? Long story short, it involved them installing some sort of micro-camera or micro-computer of some sort into my skull. The mechanisms let me see clearly from both eyes.

No I didn't get laser vision.

No I couldn't see through doors.

No I didn't get any sort of super powers what-so-ever.

Seriously this thing fixed my sight form like... 5/5 to 20/20, what else can you ask for? that's a miracle in it's own right!

The doctors told me that it would require some weekly maintenance and a few months of therapy to get used to.

That's why I'm still at the hospital. But this is my last week of therapy. I'll be moved to somewhere else soon.

I wonder where I'll end up.


Part Six


6 Years Ago, October

I ended up in school. Yup school. I was fifteen and I was in school. It was like nothing happened.

Only difference, I was in a specialized science school.

The science school, Ingenium Tech. (As alumni and student, and fine everyone called it, I.T.)

There I was taught all sorts of cool science stuff. If I listed what I learned I would sound like a terribly pretentious idiot. So I won't go into too much detail.

Just know that what I learned eventually led me to develop some advanced medical equipment and even a machine to control the weather with the push of a button. (Of course I didn't do this while in school. Those things were much later when I was actually employed.)

I worked hard in that school. Looking back on it now, I was such a nerd. Like, I had no friends.

I was in my own little world.

According to my current assistant, who is three years older, and remembered the antisocial little freak from I.T., I was hailed as some sort of genius who was out of everyone's league, which is why I never talked to anyone. (Whoa, power of rumors right here.)

It did help that I was sort of brilliant and a teacher's pet.

Huh. I guess that's why I was never bullied? Yay mysterious aloofness?

Anyways, I started building walls around myself around then.

No one was getting in.

Or out.


Part Seven


4 Years Ago, June

I graduated I.T. at the tender age of seventeen. My final project was a type of paper and printer. The printer is specifically designed to reduce paper wastes. My type of paper was made from very thin plastic that was made up of innumerable small, cells with leuco dyes. The dyes are sensitive to temperature and thus will show color (or rather shade of black) when varying amounts of heat is applied. When passed through the printer, the printer heats then cools the paper to erase any existing images before applying varying amounts of heat to create a new image. Voila reusable paper!

Of course I assume you see the flaw with using temperature sensitive inks. What it is left in the sun? Or near a fireplace? Or the heat from your hands change the color of the inks from the paper?

Ya... it was a work in progress.

With the completion of my final project though, came graduation from I.T.

I was graduating a year early, and I missed the senior job fair. Obviously, I wasn't a senior at the beginning of the year, so when companies came around looking for interns, I wasn't included in the potential pool.

Thus, around May, when all the seniors started their internships, I was the lone junior who ended up finishing early without a job.

This was unlucky for me at the time because I was financially insecure. (I had been living off of school support until then. My housing, food... pretty much everything since I was living in the dorms.)

Normally, I.T. graduates intern at a company, and the company helps the new graduate though their specialized training. Some become doctors, weapon specialists, social welfare researchers (aka, they designed stuff that helped people in day-to-day life) , etc, etc.

Now with me, I didn't have this security. As luck would have it, because my final project which was turned in in April, was submitted by my environmental sciences teacher, some of the director heads saw and were discussing potential improvements when Res himself heard about it. He was doing a routine checkup of the major educational institutions at the time. I.T. is usually his last stop.

There are three schools like I.T. each of the two continents Res is in charge of. By this time, the world has been pretty much reorganized into four spheres of influence. One sphere, ruled by Res, is North and South America. Another was the continent of Africa and neighboring islands. Asia and Europe made up the third, and Australia and Antarctica which people now lived in was the fourth. The ice caps around the North Pole were pretty much no-man's land.

Anyways, Res heard about the invention when the directors and professors were all bragging about the cool and useful new inventions or improvements to old inventions that their students had done. There was a series of negotiations and paperwork and whatnot, but in the end, Res decided to take me in.

He had a new, potentially controversial lab he wanted to be a part of. I apparently fit the bill. (Once again, I marvel at the sheer about of luck I must have to be able to live the life I do.)


Part Eight


1 year ago, January

I've been working full time at the lab for just about three years now. The lab was quite controversial, just like Res said. We did a lot of human experimentation, some of which were considered taboo, even now. Sometimes the experiments got really messy.

I'm not going to explain anything in detail because... I don't think it makes for good conversation.

On a side note, most of our experiments relate to medicine. Of course that included medical warfare, since Res's sphere of influence is fighting with the Europe and Asia sphere over the area around the North Pole. (Which is why we recreated the Bubonic plague, you know. We are quite horrid aren't we? That's why Res only hand picks people for this lab. Gosh that says a lot about me if he could tell that I would be fine with this at seventeen...)

There were six other head researchers at the lab. I started off as a intern under one of the heads. I was promoted to research assistant about six months after I started because I showed no qualms about doing some of the more... graphic experiments. Blood never really bothered me. I continued... being me, I guess... and I moved up to resident researcher about a year and a month after arriving.

About nine months ago, I was offered the position of being the seventh head researcher. I was to take charge of a new project Res had in mind. I've now got a team of two resident researchers, three research assistants, and one intern working for me. An alumni from I.T. transferred to the lab 3 months ago and has been working as assistant head researcher.

I never really got close to anyone except Res though. That could be because I live with him. The other staff have got their own place. When Res hired me as an intern, he let me live with him as well. I suppose we're... friends... of sorts.

His real name is apparently Joan.

But that's just between us.


Part Nine


Present

."Hey Joan? Did you get your inspiration for your style of government from Orwell's 1984?"

Joan looked up from his paper work.

."Yes I did. Why?"

By style of government, I meant an established 'normal' populace, including ordinary occupations that cater to the 'normal' people as well as the governing elite, a extreme lower class that are mainly uneducated and are just... there, (and of course serve as test subjects to any of our labs experimentations of course. No one cares if a few of societies lowest class goes missing.) and a elite that essentially control everything.

."No particular reason really. I was just ruminating on the similarities of my lab and the whole room 101 thing." I tapped the fingers of my right hand on the sides of my coffee mug.

It's quite true though. I'm working on psychoa(na)lysis and means of mass persuasion.

."Well I should get going, Joan. I've got a few more tests to run. Have fun with dealing with all that...whatever fighting is going on now with the sphere. Oh and paperwork of course."

He hmmed before looking up. "Ascwire?"

."Yes Joan?"

."Do you have any plans for the future?"

I gave him a puzzled look. "What, in the world, do you even mean?"

Joan put down his pen and reached for his own cup of coffee. "Do you just plan on working at my labs forever?"

I must have looked at him like he was absolutely crazy (obviously the answer was yes!) because he immediately shook his head and gave a small chuckle.

Never mind," he said, "I'm being ridiculous."

Yes you are," I agreed, "what would I even do with myself if I left?"


End


There are some days, when I reflect a little about my life, about the state of the world. There must be so many people suffering out there. Like the lowest class, they're being treated like nothing but cattle. It was times like these that I remember the advocations of human rights and ideals of equality that existed in my youth.

There was a time, when I was not apathetic towards the world, when I had hope that I would belong somewhere, with a family, when I had friends, before I gave up on the world, before I was left alone too many times.

There was a time that I cared about other people.

Sometimes, I would think about those times, when I was ignorant about the ugliness of life.

Everything, my values, the world, my personality, seemed backwards now.

I may reflect on those times, what it could have been like...

But I always arrive at the same point of: what does it even matter.

It is what it is.

And I'm not naive enough to care about changing things for the better. (Because really? It can't be done.)






Credits

Layout and content are by Cynthia for personal use only. Please do not steal it.
Background stripe image from google and edited.
Paper texture background of profile image by bashcorpo on dA.
Profile image style (and particularly hairstyle) influenced heavily by sambees's art on dA.
Back sign in layout from Bedazzled.
Bullets and credit sign from The Lunch Box.



Note from the future: This is a self commentary as I look back on this story. I have to say the plot is hackneyed, and characters lacks depth. I tried to force a few things, and parts of it is also quite rushed... but I still think Cher is a really adorable protagonist.

I hope you enjoy the story!


Character

Name: Cherbenok Salainen
Nickname: Cher
Age: 20
Eye Color: slate grey
Hair Color: midnight black, with a blue sheen
Hair Style: short, curls out slightly around her face, red and orange highlights at the tips

Character Design:
Cher is the Princess of a kingdom known as Netherland which existed many years ago. Historians, or rather storytellers, have often recounted her life in a grossly overly romanticized manner, as the fairytale most people know as 'Snow White'.
Much like Snow White, Cher is one of the most beautiful people in her kingdom, ruled by her stepmother, Queen Illiona.
Unlike the fairytale, Cher and her (step)mother have a great relationship. However, things start crumbling down with the beginnings of a plot against the throne, and Cher's quickly approaching 21st birthday.
Cher is a snarky, overly confident young woman who, although she has been exposed to the worst aspects of the world, is naive and believes the best in people.
Extraordinarily loyal to her mother, Cher does everything the Queen asks of her with little doubt or question.

Behind the Name:
Cherbenok: This means Snow White in Ukrainian.

Salainen: I decided on this for Cher's last name because it means 'hidden' in Finnish. This describes the hidden side of her personality and role in the Kingdom.

Undesirables:
These are people who oppose the Queen's rule for some reason or another. They are usually not organized, and there has been no history of such organizations. No plot against the throne has ever been successful. (Or even fully carried through.)

Queen Illiona:
Cher's mum (officially, stepmother), rules over Netherland, ever since the death of her husband and Cher's father. Her origins are unknown even to the court librarians, who are rumored to know everything in the realm. Although her beginnings are not known, she had been an admirable Queen. Her 'trickle down' economics program has lifted the country out of a long recession, and a thorough civil service reform has essentially purified the national bureaucracy. However, certain acts have alienated her to the lower classes and minority creature races. Particularly, the Anti-Host Act, which prohibits the use of any living plant animal or creature as a temporary or permanent host, greatly agitated Druids and other benign hosts. (Even though it did help with the extermination of Shades and other malignant spirits.) Her actions, much like those of many other world leaders, aim to better her kingdom, although certain sacrifices must be made. (Other unfavorable acts include the Prohibitive Act, Isolation Act and Reproduction Acts.)

Once upon a time...

The Salainen family has ruled Netherland for many generations. The key factor of their long reign has been kept a secret to all, but those within the immediate family.

Cher's father had promised to tell her this story once she was old enough. She was only fifteen now, but due to his untimely death and her stepmother's minimal inclusion in the secret - Queen Illiona was, after all, still an outsider to the family, having been married to Cher's father for only three years - she resorted to learning the information from the family grimoire.

The entry in the grimoire stated thus:

The most noble house of Salainen began with a man who fell in love with the Moon: William Salainen. His love for the Moon, and, more importantly, her love in return, sparked the jealousy of the Sun, who believed that the Moon was his, and his alone.

To protect her love, the Moon gave a key to the first Salainen. It granted him the power to unlock the hearts and minds of others, granting him access to their secrets. This way, the Moon could protect her love from the schemes of the envious Sun.

As the first Keeper of Secrets, William built the Depository under the guidance and magic of the Moon. It is physically located deep under Marshore Castle, the current winter estate of the royal family. It can only be accessed from there.

The Depository actually exists on a whole different plane, similar to that of the mortal realm, though it is devoid of human beings and populated only by magical beings known as shades. Four windows, carved into the side of the dome of the Depository, each facing a cardinal direction, allows the Moon to keep daily tallies on the vast chamber.

The Depository is the central hall of an ever expanding library, where tomes containing the secrets of all living humans are kept. Moon shades, immortal shadow-like beings, update the library, both its wings and the books themselves, on a constant basis. Current tomes are kept in the Depository while the secrets of the deceased are moved to the archival rooms branching off from the Depository. They are stored in rooms based on the year of passing.

The Keeper holds the sole key that can unlock the Depository. The key also grants the Keeper the ability to learn a person's secret by a style of mind reading called unblocking. That is a very difficult power and can only be controlled through rigorous practice. Unblocking techniques are normally passed down from Keeper to Keeper, as William passed it down to his son, and his son to his granddaughter, and his granddaughter to his great-grandson.

Should the former Keeper be unable to teach this method personally, please see chapter 5 for more information. The power itself is instinctual. However, a lack of control will lead to potential overload for the Keeper, and cause mental instability. Please see the Keeper Index for more information.

The Keeper's only means of gaining secrets is reading the books at the Depository or learning to unlock minds.

The key is passed down from Keeper to Keeper. Note that only one Keeper can exist at a time. The Keeper must be of Salainen blood. The Keeper need not be the eldest heir. The former Keeper may choose their successor based on potential for the role.

A Keeper heir must be able to keep the secrets they learn. Secrets may only be used for protection or retribution, never initial attack. Keeper heirs are allowed to succeed the former Keeper upon their twenty-first birthday, though they may postpone the exchange until a later point.

Should a Keeper pass away before the heir's twenty-first birthday comes to pass, the position is passed on automatically come the heir's coming of age.

There are multiple families associated and blessed by the Sun. Those include the Lumiere family, the Bukas family, the Adlaw family, and the Otvoren family, amongst others. Those families, though not outright enemies of the Salainen family, should be dealt with caution.

Any interaction between families of the Sun should be watched over carefully by the Keeper.






Arrows shot past me, barely missing my head as I threw myself into the ground to avoid the onslaught_ Quickly rolling over and running to a large tree, I crouched as another volley of projectiles sailed overhead.

I was being chased through a dense forest. The undergrowth was thick with vegetation. The trees themselves shot up into the air with tens of feet of bare trunk before any actual branches began protruding out.

They're pretty impossible to climb.

Even for me. I jokingly added to myself.

My breath was only a bit wheezy. Yay for training! But frankly though, I was more worried about my hair. They had been throwing knives too. I gingerly touched my head. They'd better not have cut it somehow.

."Get her out here!" An enraged voice shouted. "And I want her alive and kicking!"

The cold ground was covered in a soft blanket of snow. The crisp smell of burning pine trees filled the air and the world glowed orange and blue under a starless sky.

I felt the belt at my hip, pulling out a pair of throwing daggers.

."As you wish." I mockingly answered.

Grasping my weapons, I stood and turned to face the group of enraged men.

They all had masks on, but there was no mistaking the fact that they were Drus, the male counterpart of Dryads. Their skin were varying shades of brown and their hair was tangled with vines, leaves, and twigs, not just from chasing after me either. I had a few leaves stuck in my own hair.

."By the order of the queen, you are on forbidden territory. Go back to your reserves." I ordered them with authority. Of course I knew they weren't going to. After all they were trying to capture me and use me as a bargaining chip with my mother. Actually, hold up, that's a pretty nice plan. Mum loves me. I've the only heir... now I'm pretty valuable. Go me.

The leader scoffed while some of his lackeys gave snickered. "As if princess. We're taking back what is rightfully ours."

."Gee. I knew you guys weren't that bright, but I never thought you were this dull. Have termites been eating at your brain? Or is your photosynthesis just slow? You're on the reserves for your own safety. This area is over-saturated with magic as it is."

."Lies." Lackey C hissed. "We would have felt the overflow if it was here."

I shook my head with a disbelieving chuckle.

Oh well. Might as well get it over with... I thought to myself.

I crouched into a fighting pose, the rebels doing the same.

A few slashes and more than a couple dagger throws later, it was all over.

I sported a large cut from my left shoulder down my arm, but the five rebels laid unmoving in the red stained snow.





Cher has been serving as Queen Illiona for five years, ever since her father's death. The kingdom had mixed feelings about the Queen. To some, she was beloved. To others, she was hated. Leaders rarely are able to please everyone after all.

Cher adored her stepmother. Her birth mother died in childbirth, and though her father never blamed Cher for her death, Cher felt guilty nevertheless. The absence of a queen by her father's side ate at her heart.

Therefore, she had accepted her new mother with open arms.

No more guilt.

In the three years before the king's death, Cher and Illiona had built a nascent friendship that grew quickly. They were practically best friends overnight. They had shared a tutor for governing classes after the King's passing, and Cher grew to love Illiona as a mother and a sister, both of which she never had. The fact that Illiona gave Cher the idea to prank the stuck up, and quite frankly boring, tutor by glueing his trousers to the chair helped too.

Cher taught Illiona about the customs of Netherland and the Salainen family, whilst Illiona taught Cher about the art of poisons. She soaked up the knowledge like a sponge, and when she wanted to learn more about self defense, Cher hired a body guard to teach her.

From learning to use the environment, to knife throwing, to even a bit of hand-to-hand combat, Cher learned about them all. Cher's favorite were the knives. Princess or not, Cher didn't quite care about rules of etiquette, though she followed them religiously around outsiders.

In later years, her love for the queen translated to loyalty.

Upon her eighteenth birthday, Cher was designated, by Queen Illiona of course, as the court assassin. This was all quite unofficial, and kept under wraps. It just meant that Cher would protect her mother from any plots or schemes against the throne. Some of Queen Illiona's laws were controversial, though Cher knew that Illiona only made them in the kingdom's best interest.

Queen Illiona liked the unofficial title though. She enjoyed teasing Cher about being a little-miss-sassy-pants.

And Cher enjoyed pretending that she hated the name, though secretly she was pleased. After all, it suited her perfectly.





The Queen was worried.

Cher could tell. Illiona was eating chocolate like no tomorrow.

The Queen usually had a small bowl of the delectable treat on her desk, in case she ever felt peckish, but now she was just being ridiculous.

In this afternoon alone, Illiona had polished off a dozen chocolate covered strawberries, three large slices of devil's food cake, including all of the chocolate cream cheese frosting as well, mind you, and a few handfuls of chocolate pearl, the ones she usually had in her office.

The queen pretty much just raided the pantry.

Now, Cher would normally leave this charming little situation alone, and let Illiona binge on her chocolate sugary deliciousness, and calm down... But this time she knew that there was absolutely no reason for the queen to be worried to this extent. The other times Illiona did this, Cher knew the cause, and felt like the queen was perfectly reasonable to stress a little.

This time was just madness though.

There was no pressing council meeting. There's no threat of any new schemes. Cher knew that because one, as princess she has to go to the council meetings too. And two, as unofficial court assassin, spies reported all threats to both her, and her mother.

So, this situation was just ludicrous.

So, of course Cher was going to step in.

She stepped in when Illiona went down to the pantry again and was about to leave with- can you believe this?- a baker's bar of dark chocolate. That's right. It's literally a chocolate brick.

."Whoa there horsey. Hand over the chocolate." Cher stuck her arm out, blocking Illiona's escape, before gesturing toward the chocolate. "Come on spill, what's got your dress in such a twist? You've consumed more of that this time than even the Yule gathering of Elders. I understood it that time too. Vampire, spinx and siren elders are scary as hell, but there's nothing even remotely wrong this time!"

Cher had her hands on her hips now. Well actually one hand was on her hip. Her other hand had swiped the chocolate block from the queen, and was holding it. Her eyebrows were raised in a questioning manner.

Illiona on the other hand, was quite unqueenly at the moment. She fidgeted slightly with her gown.

Before anyone even thinks that it's an after effect of chocolate, no, it's nothing to do with a sugar rush, because Illiona is a freak of nature, and does not have sugar rushes. Nor can she get fat apparently because despite tons of stress chocolate over the years, she is still model thin, and she doesn't exactly exercise outside of walking around the castle.

."How in the world can I not be nervous?!" the queen blurted out.

Now Cher was completely confused.

."That is..." Illiona seemed at a loss for words before suddenly bursting out, "Your birthday ball! Cher, my goodness you're turning twenty-one! We're inviting everyone! Everyone who is important that is! Do you have any idea how stressful that is Cher? The Elders are coming, all eligible bachelors and their families are coming, all Nobles within the kingdom are coming, not to mention all the long lasting friends of the family! You know! The ones in the grimoire you told me to memorize about the Salainen family? They're all coming! That is a lot of planning Cher. And, I've only just finished the guest list. No activities have been planned, the menu is not decided, I need to approve the music. And all of this coincides with Yule planning!"

Cher was slightly floored. Not that she didn't know her coming-of-age ball was soon approaching, not at the large to do list the queen the sprouted off, but rather that the -disallowed_word- ki)lled the cat.

But satisfaction brought it back.

I felt no such satisfaction.

And I died that day.





What I found out... let's just say I felt something... that was nothing short of utter and complete astonishment.

There was a plot.

But not against my mother.

No.

It was against me. Led by my own, darling mother.





I fled Marshore that day. I took some nonperishable food, a sheathe of arrows and a bow, my belt of daggers, some clothes, and left.

It was so unreal. I've always known that Illiona could do magic. I knew that she loved the power of being queen.

I didn't know that she wanted more.

According to the noble's secrets, Illiona was planning to murder me, and take the powers of being the Keeper. It was certainly a tempting enough prize, and she knew enough about Keepers to know how succession worked. I gave her the grimoire to read after all. She got her own magic from the Sun.

I'm an idiot.

It makes so much sense now.

She wasn't worried about parties back then. She was scared that I would unlock her secret about the plot.

And she was an heir to the Lumiere family. A family that was well known for being favored by the Sun.

I've never felt more stupid.

Now the Sun can finally wipe out the family who stole the affections of 'his' Moon.





."My queen!" A guard ran up.

."Yes?" I was impatient. I was worried. I was tense. The plan commences tonight. I've already put off assassinating Cher for far too long. I have gotten attached, it would seem.

."My queen," the guard repeated, slightly out of breath, "the princess is missing."

."WHAT?"





Two years passed. Former princess Cherbenok has been listed as the kingdom's number one undesirable.

Queen Illiona herself continued to rule as she previously did, though she was much more short tempered. It was quite easy to incur her wrath nowadays.





Queen Illiona received a missive from her home country across the seas, days after Beltane passed, right after the second year anniversary of Cher's disappearance.

My dear sister,

I hope you have completed your mission Illiona. You've had more than a decade now. I thought you said you would have finished within half that time?

Our patron isn't pleased with your progress.

Therefore, I must inform you that I will be paying you a visit. I do hope you won't mind.

I'm going to be teleporting to you some time in the evening in three days.

Do prepare for my arrival properly, big sister.

Emilda Lumiere






Illiona was worried. Again. So she was eating more chocolate. It was really a habit she must break.

How was she going to explain this to her sister?

That she didn't have the guts to off her pseudo daughter right after Cher became Keeper? That she somehow delayed the job for months, and the day she decided to actually carry through with the plan, the target somehow fled?

How hard was it to capture one measly girl in the forest? All alone in the freakin' forest!

Cher had to have ventured into a town somewhere! How has no one reported her after two stinkin' years?!

No sane person would pass up on the size of the reward that's been placed on Cher's head!

Oh great. Illiona sighed. She needed to find more chocolate.





Cherbenok has been in hiding. Obviously.

Contrary to what the queen expected, Cher decided to hide in plain sight, that is after a small three month hideout in the forest.

Cher was a maid in the castle.

It's pretty funny how her mother doesn't even recognize her.

Although... to be fair she did dye parts of her hair red and orange, and she cut her hair into a much shorter hairstyle, and the old Cher wouldn't be caught dead dusting shelves and polishing silver. The old Cher hated cleaning and organizing of any sort. The old Cher was more interested in her missions and her mother.

Well that all changed, as anyone who knew Cher before and after would be able to tell. She now went by the name of Snow White, a simple country girl from the eastern borders of the kingdom. The lasting living member of a agricultural family by the name of White.

She's been slowly gathering allies within the court. They've helped her hide her identity. Two members of the Elders are also in on the secret.

Cher has also gotten the support of about one third of the council.

It's been a long two years, but her time is soon approaching.

The arrival of Illiona's sister might just be the perfect time for Cher to reveal herself. A perfect opportunity to take back her kingdom, and deal a severe blow to the Sun loving family at the same time.





There was no dramatic showdown. Well, actually... there was a small dramatic showdown.

Illiona only knew something was wrong when her sister Emilda collapsed and face planted into the second course soup.

How lucky it was then, that the three council members dining with the queen to welcome her sister were allies of Cher.

A chuckle came from the servants corridor leading into the formal receiving dining room right after Emilda took a dunk in soup.

."Who's there?" The queen demanded, already standing up, intending to check on her sister.

."How very... disappointing, mother," Cher said, stepping into everyone's view. "You don't even remember me?" Her voice mocking.

Illiona's face was pale. "Guards! Someone! Sieze her!"

."Uh uh uh!" Cher admonished Illiona in a singsong voice. "They listen to me dear mother."

Now Cher had taken great pains to make sure everyone involved in this dinner would be her supporters only. It had taken a few threats and more than a few bribes, but she had done it.

."Now, your majesty," Cher continued in her mocking tone, "Do sit down. You see, I have quite a few interesting questions to ask you. Esteemed council members, my fellow servants, guards, would you all please give us a little privacy please?"

The queen's face was frozen in shock, and her eyes held not a little fear.

Cher smirked at the chorus of "Yes princess." that she received to her request.

After the room was emptied of everyone save the mother and daughter, Cher began her interrogation, one that was one word long.

Cher stared into the eyes of the woman she had loved like a mother.

."Why?" Her voice held so much pain, and anguish, that Illiona looked away.

."I..." Illiona faltered, before seemingly gaining confidence and taking on a mask that was best described as malicious. "It was my duty. Someone like you wouldnt understand. My family, the Lumiere family is dedicated to the Sun. The Sun is our patron, and we do any task 'he' desires of us. 'He' wanted the Salainen line extinguished. As the eldest child, it was my duty to fulfill that wish, a wish that my ancestors have failed to fulfill."

Cher was gaping. "You... you murdered father too!" Her voice rose to a shout.

Illiona had risen out of her chair with that outburst. The two women glared at each other across the dining table.

."Yes! Yes I eliminated the king! That was necessary for extinguishing the line! Or are you so dense? Princess. And before you start asking how your father couldn't tell that I was plotting his death, considering he was the Keeper at the time, I drugged him. I cast a love spell on him. I cast a weaker version of it on you as well. Didn't you ever wonder why you liked me so much? And so soon after meeting me?"

That's why the woods around the castle was so full of magic! She must have renewed those spells so many times over the years! Cher realized.

Illiona gave a chortling laugh. "I thought it would be so simple to just off the two of you but no! No! The Sun wanted more now. 'He' wanted the power of the Keepers transferred to him. the amount of research I needed to do was astronomical! I tried to get the information out of your father, but I suppose not even the strongest love potion could convince him to release such a huge secret. As soon as he told me, I took his life. But, you see. The problem is, according to your father, the only way I can get the power of the Keepers is to get rid of you after you became Keeper yourself, and take that key you have from you then, and make a potion using your fresh blood as base. And your blood is only viable to be used as base after your death. So I've had to wait all this time. But now you're here. And now..." She cupped her hands together, a yellow glow beginning to form within them, "I have my chance!"

She threw the light ball at Cher.

Expecting the attack, Cher had ducked under the table. The ball hit the stone wall behind Cher and exploded in a large roar of flames.

Cher jumped back up and ran to the side, throwing two daggers at the queen. Illiona managed to just miss the second dagger and sent two more light orbs at Cher, whose hair was singed by the flames from the exploding attacks.

."I won't be failing this time!" Illiona shouted with another light ball thrown at Cher.

Cher retaliated with three more knives thrown in quick succession. She stayed in the open this time.

."Then when didn't you try to wipe me out me earlier? Why did you wait so long after my birthday? Huh?!"

Illiona faltered, and Cher took this opportunity to launch grab a steak knife off the half intact dining table. She had used up all her own knives by that point.

Thud.

The queen stared in disbelief at the knife in her chest. It was straight in the center, either just nicking, or just missing her heart.

She grasped the handle of the knife and pulled it out. A rush of blood followed and she crumpled to the ground, her left hand grasping onto a flipped chair for support to keep her upright. Her right hand tried to stop the bleeding.

Cher walked over to the fallen queen and crouched down.

."Why?" Cher asked again. Softly. Quietly.

."Because... I had come to... actually care... for you."

A single tear slid down Cher's cheek as she watched the only mother she knew fade away in front of her.

She didn't bother wiping the tear away as the council members and castle staff returned to the room.

It was truly impeccable timing on their part.





Time continued to flow.

Life moved on.

Cher took control of her kingdom and assessed the conditions of her people, reversing some of Illiona's decrees while keeping others. The Drus and Dryads were allowed back to their hosts, and though they were grateful, relations remained somewhat tense.

New problems also popped up. The Lumiere family issued an official blood feud with the Salainen family upon hearing that both Illiona and Emilda perished at Cher's hands.

And it took a lot of diplomacy, but Cher managed to sway most of her people toward her side. Therefore, revolution was avoided.

There was no happily ever after in this story. But, Cher did get a suitor after becoming queen. Apparently she met the man while she was in hiding.

People say that they make a cute couple.

Art Gallery

Drawings of Cher:
Drag and drop into the url bar for full sized versions. These are drawn by me. Please no sticky fingers!


Credits

Layout and content are by Cynthia for personal use only.
Image used under the poem: "Frost" by kuschelirmel on dA.
Poem in layout by oaklungs on dA as indicated under the poem.
Paper texture background of profile image by bashcorpo on dA.
Back sign in layout from Bedazzled.
Bullets and credit sign from The Lunch Box.









Character

Name: Sakura Mayonaka
Age: 15
Eye Color: Deep caramel brown
Hair Color: honey blond
Hair Style: waist-length, either loose, or braided with seasonal flowers woven in

Behind the Name:
Sakura: Sakura are cherry blossoms. In Japan, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It's a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful but that it is also tragically short. When the cherry blossom trees bloom for a short time each year in brilliant force, they serve as a visual reminder of how precious and how precarious life is.

Mayonaka: This means midnight in Japanese. It refers to a certain theme in the story.







Story

Beginning:

He walked into the hospital.

It was clean and sleek. The atmosphere was light, an unusual trait for a hospital. The bright colors from a few modern art pieces on the walls brought color into the building, and the large glass windows allowed ample sunlight onto floor the entrance hall.

He carried a violin case in one hand, and a basket of different colored common garden iris in the other.

The flowers were grown in a green house. After all, it was only the beginning of February, and spring is far away.

This was his first day for volunteering. When his school announced that all juniors and seniors must have a community volunteer activity, he chose to play violin and piano, if the hospital has a piano somewhere, for the patients at the Cardiovascular Institute Hospital in Tokyo. C.I. is well known for excellent treatment for heart diseases, as it's name implies.

He walked into the lobby.

It was a Monday.





."Hey everyone! My name is Damian and I'll be playing violin for you today," he addressed the third floor central area.

There were only a few people. Most of the patients were in bed right now for an afternoon nap.

A couple who looked like visitors had sat down after seeing him take out his violin. Three to four other patients looked at him expectantly.

Damian lifted the instrument up to his chin and began the first notes of Medication from the opera, Thais.

."Ooooo! Do we have a visitor today? What do you think he's gonna do, Amanda? Is he gonna make cool balloon animals like that guy, Jonathan? Or is he going to draw us pretty pictures like Sarah? Oooo! Or maybe teach us to dance? Or maybe-"

."Hush please Sakura, Mr. Damian is going to play his violin for us."

A young girl with long golden blond hair walked out from a hallway, eagerly tugging the hand of a nurse with copper red hair.

Damian had stopped playing upon hearing her voice.

He smiled at the girl.

."Hello, I'm Damian, you must be Sakura," he turned toward the nurse, "and you must be Amanda."

The girl, Sakura, laughed.

It brightened up the whole room.

."Isn't he so smart? Say, Mr. Damian, could you play something by Vivaldi for me?"

Yes, she was absolutely charming, and she acted a bit like a child, though she looked about his age.

."Please, just call me Damian, I'm only 17. And of course, would the first movement of the Mandolin Concerto be alright?"

."Wow Damian! I'm only two years younger than you! And yes! I love the solo from the first allegro of that piece!"

And so they met.





Clap clap clap.

Sakura applauded after each of Damian's pieces. After an hour of performing, he was putting his violin away when Sakura walked up to him.

."That was really pretty Damian!"

."Thanks. Here, would you a iris?" He reached over to the basket of flowers he had brought with him into the hospital. He had given away a few already in between pieces to patients or other visitors walking by.

She smiled and nodded.

."Are you going stay for a while longer?"

."Yup. I've got about 20 minutes before my bus gets here."

She beamed.

."Great! This is your first time here right?" He nods. "I'll show you the gardens! They're so pretty even in winter! There is this little glass gazebo greenhouse thing connected to the first floor east wing. They've got all sorts of pretty flowers there!"





He came back on Friday and visited her room after performing on the fourth floor. He didn't have his violin with him since the fourth floor had a keyboard piano that was in one of the chemo lounges. He had asked someone at the third floor nurse station for her room number.

."Good afternoon Sakura."

She was sitting cross-legged on her bed, a notepad in her left hand and chewing a pencil in her right. A textbook laid on the bed before her. Her hair was braided in a single braid that hung down her back and curled around toward the side facing him. He hadn't noticed her hair was this long.

."Damian! You came back!"

."Mhm. I'll be coming every Monday and Friday to play for the patients. I'm on your floor on Mondays and fourth floor on Fridays."

He noticed that the iris he gave her a few days ago was tucked into a part of her braid. Reaching into the basket that he had once again brought flowers in, he held up a sprig of bluebells.

."Here." He tucked it into her braid .

."Thanks Damian, it's pretty," she proceeded to chew on her pencil a bit more. "Could you help me with this problem? I don't really get multiplying matrices."

He missed his bus that day.

(His mom scolded him for not paying attention to the time.)





The third week of February, Damian came early to visit Sakura before heading up to the fourth floor. He happened to walk in right before afternoon rounds got to Sakura's room.

."Hi Dr. Suzuki!" Sakura looked up from the book she had been reading with Damian, "this is Damian."

The doctor who just walked through the door with an entourage of three interns smiled. "Hello to you too Sakura. And you as well Damian." Looking at Damian, she said, "I've seen you in the common area a few times. Thank you for volunteering you time."

."Oh it's nothing. I enjoy doing it." Damian replied.

."Well the patients certainly enjoy it as well. Now Sakura, care to give us the update?"

."Ok! Patient, Sakura Mayonaka, age fifteen. Sakura began showing minor signs of cardiomyopathy, potentially caused by myocarditis, around January when taken to the Kameda Kyobashi Clinic for a check-up. She was transferred to the Cardiovascular Institute Hospital for further investigation. Her condition deteriorated near the end of January and a pacemaker has been inserted. She is...." Sakura paused here.

."Stable," a random intern inserted.

."Yes, stable. Though she is currently stage II on the heart transplant list, due to a request made by the family over concerns of possible congenital causes, she has been kept at the hospital for observation after post-op. Cardiomyopathy has been observed in other family members according to medical files." Sakura recited professionally.

Dr. Suzuki walked over to Sakura and ruffled her hair slightly. "Couldn't have said it better myself. I'll see you tomorrow for morning rounds Sakura."

."Bye Dr. Suzuki!" Sakura waved as the interns filed out after the doctor.

Damian felt slightly conflicted. They had talked about a lot of things but... he had never asked her what her condition was. Well at least she's fine right now.

Though, he couldn't help but feel guilty at the fact that he didn't even think to ask.

They went back to reading Le Petit Prince together, alternating who read out loud every page, with Sakura occasionally asking Damian what a certain French word meant.





On first week of March, Damien started visiting Sakura on Wednesdays.

They had started tutoring, or gardening, or random chatting session every time Damian visited the hospital, and more than once, Damian had lost track of the time.

Damien decided to just come visit Sakura normally, though their before and after-performance talks didn't stop either.

(He missed quite a few more buses.)





Damian and Sakura were debating the role of fate in Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Macbeth when Mr. and Mrs. Mayonaka waked in.

This was the first time Damian had met Sakura's parents. (As he later learned, that was because they usually visit on the weekends.)

Mr. and Mrs. Mayonaka were happy that Sakura had someone other than the hospital staff to talk to, and that Damian was helping Sakura with her education as well.

They invited him to join them for an early dinner in the hospital cafeteria.

Mr. Mayonaka was a botanist, and he and Damian hit if off especially well. They discussed various flora and fauna throughout dinner.





One day, Damian walked in on Sakura crying into her pillow.

."Sakura what's wrong?"

She gave a muffled sniffle.

."Nothing. I'm fine. They needed a spinal tap, and it hurt a lot. Plus I don't like needles."

He sat down next to her and patted her hair.

."You're not fine. You don't need spinal taps, you're a cardio patient. They don't give cardio patients spinal taps."

Sakura looked at Damian quizzically. How had he known that?

Damian scratched his head in an embarrassed manner. "I did some research after I heard your afternoon rounds the first time. And Amanda keeps me updated too. I know you definitely do not have symptoms of meningitis so they don't need cerebrospinal fluid from you to diagnose anything. Plus, you have nothing against needles, and you're too strong of a person to cry about getting physically hurt. What happened?"

Red puffy eyes looked up at him.

Sakura sat up and proceeded to tackle Damian into a bear hug, before starting to rant about a certain intern who had offended her greatly when they asked why she was even in the hospital if she's stable and perfectly fine.

."I am not a waste of space!"

Damian patted her head comfortingly before frowning. "Of course you're not Sakura. But that was really inappropriate of the intern. Did you tell anyone? Do you want me to tell Dr. Suzuki?"

Sakura gave an impish smile. "Oh no it's fine. I told Dr. Suzuki already and she chewed out the intern in front of the nurses' station. I told her about the incident when she was bringing her interns down to the labs. They passed by the nurses station and there was no way I would've given up that perfect opportunity."

."Meaning that all the other interns will know about his breach of propriety and embarrassment within the day."

."Yup! This is stereotypical, but our nurses do so like to gossip."

."You're so devious." He shook his head, though he had a approving smirk on his face.

."Awww. You still like me anyways."

."That I do."





."Wheeee!" A bundle of energy shot down the hallway.

."Kara wait up!" The young man, familiar to many of the hospital's staff by now, chased after a little girl.

."Gotcha!" He scooped up the girl in his arms. She looked about six or seven years old.

."Come 'ere you little troublemaker."

."We gonna go see Sakura now Dammy?" He gave her a mock glare at the nickname, and walked toward the elevator.

After reaching her door, he used his elbows, since his hand were occupied with Kara, to knock on the doorframe.

."G'afternoon Sakura."

This time, the girl was lying on her belly and reading a book. Upon hearing his voice, she glanced up before she rolled off bed and stood up.

."Hi Damien! Who is this little cutie?" She walked over and tickled Kara cheek, causing her to laugh.

."She's Kara, my little sister. My parents told me to take care of her today since they have a business dinner tonight and Mom couldn't pick Kara up herself."

The little girl poked Damien cheek a few times and gave a dimpled smile toward Sakura.

."You're really pretty," she said, making Sakura coo at the cuteness, "Dammy, you never told me she was so pretty!"

."...Dammy?"

."Don't even think about it Sakura."

."...Alright...Dammy."

The two girls present burst into hysterical giggles.





Near the end of March, Damian started visiting Sakura on Saturday mornings as well.

Sakura wanted to spend time with Damian and her parents at the same time.

The two of them can talk about nothing, and everything at the same time. Mr. and Mrs. Mayonaka were surprised at the closeness between their daughter and this young boy. They talk to each other like they've been friends for years. Sakura had even told him about how she got her fear of jellyfish and the ocean! It was a memory she didn't like remembering, much less tell other people about.

They were also quite amused when Sakura started finishing Damian's sentences for him.

Damian and gave her a fake glare before reaching over and beginning to tickle her mercilessly.

That had started a tickling war between the two of them.





Sakura and Damian got into a lot of trouble around the middle of April.

It wasn't that serious really...

They had gotten permission to make brownies one Saturday morning.

Sakura's parents had to go out of town for the weekend so it was just the two of them.

Everything was fine... until Sakura decided to throw some flour in Damian's face after they had put the brownie batter into the oven.

That of course, required Damian to retaliate in some manner, so he took the piping bag of melted chocolate, (they had drizzled it all over the top of the batter) and squirted a bit at her nose (or the general directing of her face) while Sakura took to evasion tactics to avoid the attack.

The chocolate ended up in Sakura's hair.

And that meant war.

A food fight followed with sugar, flour, eggs, melted chocolate, and chocolate chips being flung every-which-way.

They ended up sticky, covered in baking ingredients, on the floor, and laughing their heads off.

A cook coming in to start lunch service found them like this, and, needless to say, they got throughly chewed out.

They had a fun time cleaning up together though.

There was a small bubble skirmish that ended with Damian with his head in the sink.

They got permanently banned from the kitchen after that.





When Mr. and Mrs. Mayonaka visited Sakura the following Monday, they found Sakura and Damian together again. This time working on a history paper Damian had to finish by Thursday.

Damian had already performed for the third floor.

When they asked the two of them how their Saturday was, they said simultaneously said, "He did it!" "She did it!"

Mr. and Mrs. Mayonaka were confused of course.

But, the two of them vehemently denied any troublemaking.

Where had the two grown-ups got that idea? They had been perfect angels.





April showers may bring May flowers. But it also brought some terrible developments in Sakura.

Her pacemaker wasn't enough anymore.

."Patient, Sakura Mayonaka, stage B heart failure. Transplant status 1B. There is a family history of the disease, the cause is still unknown. Sakura has shown signs of minor cardiomyopathy since January and is being kept at the hospital for observation due to the possible congenital cause. She began deteriorating about a week ago. Current symptoms include shortness of breath, trouble breathing when lying down, fatigue and swollen legs. She is scheduled for a LVAD implant later this week."





Damian visited Sakura almost daily now.

Sakura couldn't go anywhere so they just talked.

They talked about their lives, family, friends. They talked about funny anecdotes, and odd eccentricities.

One day, Sakura asked Damian for something that had been on her mind since she was diagnosed with stage B heart failure.

."Damian?"

He was instantly alert. Sakura had dosed off it about an hour ago, and Damian had been working on some homework.

He shuffled his chair closer to her. "Yes Sakura?"

."Damian, if I die-"

He looked like he was going to cut in.

."No, listen. If I were to die, please promise me that you won't cry for me."

His face was blank.

."Damian. Please, promise me."

."I... I promise."

Sakura visibly relaxed. "Good. Now don't worry too much. I have plenty of time to wait for a donor heart. I'll be fine. There's no point spending time needlessly worrying."

Damian wasn't convinced.

She had sounded like she was reassuring herself.

But he nodded anyways. His heart stuck in his throat.





."Patient, Sakura Mayonaka, end stage heart failure. Transplant status 1A. There is a family history of the disease, the cause is still unknown. Sakura has shown signs of minor cardiomyopathy since January, but has deteriorated rapidly since three weeks ago. A LVAD implant was unsuccessful. An attempt to put in a Berlin heart failed due to clotting. The patient is currently on ECMO and is stable."

Mrs. Mayonaka had tears in her eyes. Her husband had his arms around her, supporting her. He was rubbing circles on her back, trying to calm her down as Dr. Suzuki delivered the latest information.

Damian was in shock. His insides felt mushy, stiff and empty, all at the same time. If he tried to talk now he doubt he would be able to make a sound.

She was fine only a few weeks ago! She was perfectly fine! They were about to discharge her because diagnosis and research found that it was unlikely for her to get worse!

."H- Ho- How long can she survive on ECMO?" Mr. Mayonaka managed to stutter out.

Dr. Suzuki was hesitant. Her voice was even, but it was laden with hidden sadness. "With sweep counts this low... at least a week. We are aggressively looking for other solutions..."

Mrs. Mayonaka shook off her husband's support and walked out of the room in a daze.

Mr. Mayonaka followed her out after giving Damian a pat on the shoulder.

Damian himself... he still felt empty.

He couldn't lose her. She had become a best friend. More than a best friend.

She knew him almost as well as he knew himself.

Or was it the other way around?





."You said she was stable!" Mrs. Mayonaka was yelling at Dr. Suzuki, shaking her hands desperately, "You said she had at least one more week on ECMO!"

."We thought we had it under control, we didn't expect for her to clot-"

."And eight months ago, we didn't expect any of this!" Mrs. Mayonaka interrupted.

Damian was sitting on a chair next to Sakura's bed.

He had brought a basket of a variety of flowers and was braiding them into her hair. He's been doing that a lot lately. Just coming in every day and re-braiding Sakura's hair with new flowers.

Sakura herself was hooked to numerous machines. She's been hooked to them since a little more than three weeks ago. Her eyes were closed in slumber, though it was clear that she was far from comfortable. She rarely had the energy to hold long conversations now. She mostly either dosed in a place between waking and unconsciousness, or she slept.

Mrs. Mayonaka continued, " Sakura was well on her way to the Intel International Science Fair after passing regionals! And I was waiting for her to call and tell me she's done with whatever after school activity so I could pick up my beautiful, healthy child! And now, now her pacemaker can't even keep her alive anymore, and nothing you do is helping her, and she's in end stage heart failure! An- and you can't even tell me why she's sick! You can only say that it was possibly caused by a congenital attribute, but you're not even sure of that! You even said it seem like she was going to be perfectly f-fine! She was going to have a long happy life! And now you're just shaking your heads and telling me that, that there is nothing we could do for Sakura except wait?! Just wait for a heart to pop up out of nowhere? Wait for her to die while you wring your hands and do nothing!?"

Dr. Suzuki's face was filled with compassion. Not that it helped at all. Not to the three people in the room that were reeling at the news.

."Sakura is first on the transplant list at 1A. There is... I'm afraid there is nothing else we can do right now. I'm truly sorry Mrs. Mayonaka... Truly..."





Sakura's parents pretty much live in the hospital now.





Damian still comes every day with more flowers.

He also brings a book with him. He reads three chapters a day to Sakura after he braids her hair.

Her parents leave them alone to give them some sort of privacy. They come back after he leaves.

The nurses say he sometimes just stares at her until his mom drives to the hospital.

She comes up to get him personally.

(And she doesn't scold him for missing the bus anymore. She's just there for him to lean on if he needs it, because this girl clearly meant a lot to him.)





Dr. Suzuki walked in with her usual group of interns.

The three people in the room looked up upon their entrance. Surely, surely it cannot get any worse now right? Surely it cannot be more bad news.

."I have some good news," Dr. Sizuki began.

Good... news?

The three people took a second to process that. They allowed themselves to hope. To just hope.

It's been two days. Two hopeless days.

Were they really lucky enough to have such a miracle?

The doctor continued, "A heart has become available in Kawasaki General Hospital. They're just waiting for confirmation from our side. Do you consent t-"

Mr. Mayonaka cut in, "Yes! Yes, we consent!"

Mrs. Mayonaka just nodded in shock. Damian was grinning like a madman.

Dr. Sizuki turned to an intern. "Alright then. Tell Kawasaki the heart's a go. We're going to begin prepping Sakura for the surgery."





."A heart has become available.... A heart has become available.... A heart has become available...." Damian's brain slowly processed that tidbit of information.

His heart was hammering away in his chest.

He grinned.

End:

The operation had been a success.

Sakura had went into the OR with a diseased heart and came out with a functioning, healthy, new one.

She was still in post-op though. It's barely been a week since the surgery.

Damian rushes to the hospital every day after school. (And he stayed the whole day on weekends.)

They've been talking again, sharing corny jokes, including the the oldest one of all.

."Damian, why did the chicken cross the Mobius strip?"

."Why?"

."To get to the same side!"

They've shared this joke at least five times already over the months they've known each other.

They still laugh at it each time.





Damian stuck with the tradition of bringing flowers every time he visit.

He still braids her hair every day, though Sakura helps him with it now.

Now, instead of his reading to her, they go back to alternating who read out loud every page.

The staff comments on how cute they are on lunch breaks.





Sakura had a slight cold. It's nothing too big though.

Dr. Suzuki is keeping a look out for possible rejection.





It was a beautiful near the beginning of June. It was finally starting to feel like summer.

Spring had hung around for much longer than it usually did, and many flowers were still in full bloom, though they will soon fall away to reveal the leafy greens of summertime.

It was Tuesday.

A young man walked into the hospital. He was holding a small basket of lilies of the valley, aster, and orange blossoms.

He whistled a small tune that had a melody which kept repeating. It was a small part of "Requiem for a Dream".

He stepped up to the nurse station and placed the plants on the counter.

."Hey Amanda!"

A young nurse with copper curls pinned on her head turned around. Her face was guarded, wary.

."Damian," she forced a smile, "Hello."

."What's wrong? What happened?"

What could possibly be wrong? Damian was running through his research. What were the post-surgical risks of transplants again?

Amanda's face fell.

."Sakura's rejecting her heart."

Damian stood here. His face as white as a sheet. If he hadn't put the basket down it would have fallen to the ground.

."No," he said with a slight tremor in his usually smooth voice.

Amanda patted his shoulder gently.

When had she moved?

."Why don't you go up and talk to her."

But he couldn't, she was asleep.

So he just sat down at a open chair next to her bed and took her hand in his.

Her parents sat across from him on the other side of the bed.

Her mother was holding her other hand.





Mrs. Mayonaka's face was tear-stained. Her husband was trying to hold it together for her sake.

Damian just nodded blankly at the doctor's words, not really processing anything. The eerie, never-ending beep of the heart monitor rang in his ears.

He stood up and walked out of the waiting room. To the elevator. Out of the hospital.





Sakura Mayonaka died nine days after a successful heart transplant surgery due to acute rejection which caused sudden cardiac arrest during a heart attack.





In memory of Sakura Mayonaka,
a loving daughter,
and a kind friend.


He stood, decked out in black.

No tears.

He did promise after all.



Someone gave him a letter.





Dammy,

I know you don't like that nickname, Damian, but indulge me please?

I don't know if you will ever get this letter. I'm not sure if this letter is even necessary at all. Maybe you're reading this now because Amanda or my parents gave it to you. I hope you don't ever read this though.

It's me, Sakura Mayonaka.

It's the middle of May now. Hopefully they can find a heart soon. I'm sure you know the risks involved in surgery and organ transplants. But even with the risks, I shall head into the OR with my head held high. Obviously figuratively since I'm being wheeled in on a bed.

Because death is the force of equality, I will look into its eyes and stand proud.

I have high hopes that a miracle will happen. Hope. It's keeping me quite bubbly. I know it doesn't seem optimistic right now but, if I have enough will, maybe it'll push through. Plus, I'm stage 1A, I'm on the stop of the transplant list. And I have O positive blood! I have a high chance for a match if a proper sized heart comes in.

You probably know all this already since you've done so much research.

My condition... have been a source of both happiness and sadness. It's because of the cardiomyopathy that I am in the hospital. I may have met you otherwise... but I doubt we would have been able to know each other this well. So... silver lining I guess.

I'm glad I've lived this long. I'm so much happier than I could have imagined!

Just like you told me at once, "life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away."

It was incredibly cheesy, but sweet. And if life is really measured like that, you have made my life quite long.

I'm writing this letter to you with the threat of death hanging above my head. But it's not actually this bad you know? There is definitely hope. I sincerely wish right now, that you would never have to read this letter. Though if you see this... I suppose the worse has come to pass.

But anyways, just in case do you end up needing to read this, thank you Damian. Thank you so much.

Sakura


Middle:

."I didn't know white camellias were so pretty. Thanks Dammy."

."...Sakura."

."Sorry. Thanks Damian."

."Happy now?"

."Very."





."We should make Easter eggs for all the staff!"

."Sakura, there are over a hundred staff members in the hospital."

."Come on! It's not hard! Plus I have so much free time and it's getting boring..."

*Sigh* ."I'll bring some paint."

."Yay! I'll ask Amanda get some plain plastic egg shells!"

That easter, every member of the hospital staff received a hand-painted plastic Easter egg with three assorted Heresies kisses in them.





."Hey Damian..."

."Ya?"

."Why are you doing that?"

."Hmmm? Doing what?"

."Staring at me like I'm a ghost."

."......"

."Oh come on! I am feeling better! So smile, please?"

."... Sakura."

."Well it's true! It should count for something that I'm personally feeling better. No matter whatever counts they have say. Plus, if anyone is going to be gloomy, shouldn't I be one sulking around here? And don't you dare just up an leave me now 'cause you're too scared and- shoot, now I'm rambling- what I mean is-"

."... Sakura."

."Huh? Oh. See? That's a nice smile."





."Damian? If I feel all mushy and my heart is racing, and I almost feel like a unicorn that pukes rainbows when I'm near someone... is that love?"

."Yes. But be careful with it. Be sure to not let anyone steal it from you."

."Oh. Well then I'm giving it to you, now no one can steal it."

."..."

."Dammy, your face is all red."

."Oh hush you."

I love you too.




Credit

Layout and content are by Cynthia for personal use only.
Paper texture background of profile image by bashcorpo on dA.
Back sign in layout from Bedazzled.
Bullets and credit sign from The Lunch Box.



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