The prince pushed himself off the wall.

“I w-wish I c-could do m-more for you,” the prince heard Grant choke out. “But I c-can’t. I’m too w-weak—-”

There were more words exchanged, but they no longer reached his ears, and they didn’t have to.

The prince had heard enough.

He started to walk away, ignoring the part of him that felt it was too damn soon, too damn quick. It was as if he had only a taste of what life could be, of how it was to be loved, and how it was to love-—

But the other part of him told him he was only fooling himself.

You knew.

You always knew it couldn’t last.

You always knew you would have to leave her one day.

Yet he had still allowed her to get under his skin anyway, and now they were both paying the price.

A shuddering breath racked his body as the coldness of the dark started to spread inside of him. The cold would keep him in line, the dark would make him strong, and he needed both to break her heart before he broke his.

Pretensions made the world go round.

By the time the prince made it out of the hallway, emotions no longer existed for him.

He motioned for a guard, asking him to deliver a message to the student council’s vice president, and when it was done—-

He couldn’t remember the darkness feeling this cold.

The prince walked past his friends, impervious to the grim gazes that went his way.

Wheels had already been set in motion.

And there was no turning back.

****

Heartbreak was like having to live through bad weather, and there were always signs that foretold it. The only problem was, some people didn’t know what these signs were. And some of those who did know didn’t want to see them.

Heartbreak was like a storm that didn’t seem to want to leave you alone, making you think that it could last forever, even though the mind knew better. Its taste was of endless raindrops dripping past your lips, the terrifying feel of wind whipping against your body, capable of blowing you away anytime it wanted to.

Heartbreak, once experienced, could never be forgotten.

And yet the heart was a curiously strong little thing.

It was able to mend, to piece itself back together, and to beat for another person.

It had the most powerful ability to forget the pain of breaking—-

It had the most incredible ability to blind itself to all the signs it should have seen the first time, the second time, the third time, the signs it should have seen now—-

But perhaps that was where its strength lay.

The heart’s impossibly tenacious hold on hope was why it survived.

No matter what it saw, heard, felt—-

No matter what it sensed—-

It would always want to believe that things couldn’t be as bad.

Any time now, Fawn told herself. And yet despite time moving so slowly, the prince still hadn’t appeared.

People started filing inside the trade hall, and there were only five minutes left before the opening waltz.

Craning her neck, she tried looking for the prince in the crowd.

Where are you?

The opening notes of the waltz began to play, and her head snapped towards the orchestra in shock. What did they think they were doing? The prince wasn’t here yet!

Grant suddenly appeared in front of her, a harassed expression on his face. “Lou’s not here,” he told her, “and the president says we should partner instead.”

“But—-”

Applause filled the trade hall, leaving Fawn no time to ask any questions. She took her position alongside the other girls, and screams from the females in the crowd were earthshaking as they saw the BBFs—-

Fawn couldn’t help looking, couldn’t help hoping.

But the prince was still nowhere to be found.

The orchestra gave their musical cue for the dancers to begin, and the men bowed while the women curtsied.

And then they started to dance.

It was a magical, glittering moment, an electrical display allowing brilliant beams of light to shower down on the couples waltzing on the dance floor. The orchestra’s instrumental introduction slowly faded, and when they started to play again, everyone gasped as they recognized the next piece being played.

So This Is Love.

Fawn’s own smile started to wobble.

Holy sweet Jesus, is this your way of telling me that I should keep hoping?

“Don’t w-worry,” Grant said under his breath as he pulled her for a spin. “The p-prince h-has to have a r-reason that he c-couldn’t m-make it.”

A tiny ache squeezed her heart at his attempt to reassure her. It was like having the old Grant back again, the one that didn’t flinch at every shout, didn’t whiten at the sound of people laughing, didn’t look like he wanted to throw up every time he saw any of the security personnel with their guns on their holsters.

As Grant spun her back to him, she told him brightly, “I’m not worried.”


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