Season 3, Episode 7
It turned out to be a surprisingly easy search.
In the grounds of a temple nearby, Rosalie sat pensively on a bench.
Not wanting to startle her, Shun slowly walked towards the bench and sat down.
He wasn’t exactly quiet , what with his rustling footsteps, but Rosalie didn’t seem to notice him at all.
Sitting down on the bench, Shun noticed that it was a lot smaller than he remembered. He used to come here all the time when he was a kid still.
“Shun, why did you lie to me?”
That was unexpected.
“You lied to me. You said my food was ‘strong’. You even ate it all and –“
Oh, was this about the bento from the other day?
“Well… You did make it just for me after all. There’s no way I could’ve said it tasted bad.”
Rosalie lifted her head slightly to stare at Shun.
“You’re very kind, Shun.”
She gave him a small smile, and then proceeded to hang her head all over again.
“You’re very kind. I don’t deserve to be your bride.”
Without letting him get a word in edgeways, she continued with her tirade.
“I failed the bridal training! I failed at cleaning, at laundry, at cooking. I failed at everything!”
Her eyes were red and puffy from all her crying.
“At this rate, I can never make Shun happy.”
Shun didn’t quite know what to say to cheer her up.
The Rosalie he knew from the games was very much attuned to people’s wishes. He knew that if anything went wrong, she would really take it to heart.
But he also knew that she’d get up and say “I’ll definitely overcome this!”
Or so he thought.
This time though, failing the bridal training really seemed to hit her hard. She seemed defeated, broken even. And while he was waiting for her to get back up and say her usual “I’ll get it next time!”, even he knew that it wasn’t forthcoming.
It seemed that this time, it was down to him to cheer her up.
“Rosalie! It’s alright if you can’t cook. Don’t worry too much about it!”
“You’ll improve with time, I’m sure. And plus, you’re not the only one who needs to cook. I can cook for both of us.”
“Sure I can. That Yakiniku Pork Bowl that you had for dinner the other night? Yeah, I made that.”
“You … You made that?”
“Sure did. And that’s not all. I make a mean –“
Shun looked up from his tirade to find Rosalie sprawled out on the ground, her face crumpled with shame. Clearly, it was her pride he heard shatter.
“I’m going to go out and train.”
Rosalie stood up, almost as if she were about to head off again.
Shun couldn’t let her go that easily.
“Let me go, Shun. I’ve lost all right to be your bride.”
Almost as if she couldn’t control it, her pent up emotions started to colour her face, and tears were close to falling.
“I’ll kill the Demon King even without your power, Shun! Just you wait!”
Now she was starting to sound like sour grapes.
What in the world did he just start?
Shun was about to put an arm around her shoulder when Rosalie turned, and just like in those old period dramas, gently but irrevocably escaped from his grasp.
“Shun, just marry Mikoto. She’s most suited to you.”
“What are you talking about? Wait! Wait, Rosalie!”
He was pulling at straws here. She could run faster than the wind. He stood no chance of catching up once she was gone –
“You were waiting here weren’t you?”
The evening brought with it the sounds of crickets in the fields, as weary feet retired games of tag.
“You were waiting here, hoping for someone to come along, weren’t you?”
And turned around.
Her face said it all.
“How did you know?””
Because I know that bench you were sitting on.
“Because, I too… When I was younger, I used to sit where you were sitting.”
Shun fingered the edge of the bench.
“When I was younger, I used to be fairly unpopular. Always used to stand around at the edge of things. I’d never be allowed to play with them, and when they left, I’d just sit around on this bench.”
Wisps of dim sunlight shone through the leaves, leaving an impression of darkness still to come.
“I didn’t really want to go home, and there was nowhere else I could go. I guess I was hoping that if I just waited here long enough, someone would come by.”
And that’s why, when Rosalie went missing, this was the first place that Shun thought of searching.
Old habits die hard.
“I was always alone…”
His voice cracked, the hurt from the past palpable.
“–What are you saying Shun?”
Rosalie grabbed ahold of his wrist and pulled him down.
And with that, he found himself sitting side by side with Rosalie, on that small bench.
“Shun is not alone.”
Rosalie stared at him indignantly.
“I’ve always been here with you, haven’t I?”
She seemed angry that he had even thought of himself as a loner.
How could he be when she was right there with him?
“I’ve always been here for you, and I’ll always be here for you. For as long as you need me to. And that’s the truth.”
A mellow breeze blew, leading the trees to a gentle waltz. The dim patterns made by shadows and leaves looked absolutely beautiful in the evening sun.
A quiet lull fell upon Shun. It was amazing, really, that he was now sitting next to Rosalie, right on this bench.
All those years ago, when he was an outcast, it was “Dragon Bless” that brought him right back in with his friends.
And now Rosalie was sitting next to him, welcoming his presence.
It was simple indeed, this business of sitting next to each other on a bench. But to Shun, this was… special.
Gathering up his courage, Shun shoved a hand into his pocket and handed a letter to Rosalie.
“Rosalie, this is for you.”
Rosalie stared at the blue envelope.
“It’s for the, um, exchange of letters.”
Was it just him or did Rosalie suddenly sit up much straighter than before?
“I feel bad just receiving stuff, so, yeah…”
He wrote that letter this morning. I mean, of course he had planned to give her a reply. He was the one to suggest this ‘exchange’ after all.
Rosalie looked shocked, and more than a little touched. With shaking hands, she accepted his envelope and took out the letter.
All of a sudden Shun felt really nervous.
“Rosalie has a lot of good points.”
Did she have to read it out loud?
“She’s stronger than anyone I know. She’s kind, and straightforward, loves helping people, and although that gets her in trouble a lot of the times, I think it’s very admirable. She works hard for people and for the world, and if she could bring happiness to anyone with her own two hands, she’d only be too happy to do it.”
This was so embarrassing!
No wonder he couldn’t man up and hand it to her earlier.
Why, oh why, couldn’t he have written something semi-proper? At least he’d be spared the embarrassment.
“And that’s the part of Rosalie that I like the best.”
Big fat drops of tears started gathering at the edge of her eyes.
Shun was panicking on the inside.
She’s going to laugh, she’s going to laugh and I –
And then, Rosalie clutched the letter to her chest, and smiled.
“I’m so happy!”
The tears fell, but Shun didn’t make an effort to stop them.
He was too stunned.
“I’m so very happy!”
Her smile lit up her entire face.
Shun couldn’t say anything.
Embarrassment, guilt, happiness, and a bunch of other emotions were all rolling around inside of him.
“Shun, Shun, thank you!”
The letter he wrote sucked. No two ways about that. But to think that he could make someone that happy with just a few written words.
“I’ll do my best and complete the bridal training.”
Hands still clutching the letter tightly to her chest, Rosalie sniffled and smiled with renewed determination.
Ah, that was the fiery warrior he knew.
She did best when she was working to help others after all.
Leaning back on the bench, Shun stared ahead at the evening skyline, bright for a June summer.