Th' Lady Shadow

Ah...I haven't walked these paths in so, so long. It's good to see...home. Good to be home.

I'd almost forgotten what sunshine felt like, walking such a different path for such a long time. Walking in darkness, and hating every moment of it. I was alone then. I am alone now. I can't wait for Sora to come home - after all, he promised.


I miss him a lot. But I guess it isn't right for me to complain, seeing how much he's done for me and Riku and everyone else. It was only Sora I could see on that long, dark road, and it was only him I reached out for, forever, even though it seemed as if we never got any closer.

And you know what?

As crazy as it sounds, I still want to go on adventures with him.

Just...a little closer to home, please.

But I want Sora to tell me all about his own adventures first. (Then we'll know what to watch out for - like evil researchers and missing kings! That's the mark of a real adventure! But maybe next time we'll just mind our own business...that might be wise, too.)

I wouldn't want Wakka, Selphie, or Tidus to come. Just me and Sora and a paopu. They're big fruits -- one can last us days! But they're sweet, and eating them too fast gives you a tummyache. So I guess we'd bring fish too. Knowing Sora, he'd probably go flail around in the water trying to catch the fish and show off at the same time. Either that or take a nap on the beach...silly sleepy-head.

Not that I could blame him. After coming home, I did all my sleeping right on the shore, too. The sunshine just felt so good - I loved the warmth, the light. The others didn't get it. I didn't ask where they had gone, and they didn't ask what had happened to me. We were back, and that was well enough...for them. But I ached for the light almost constantly. It got better over a few days, but I wouldn't even dare step in the shadows - even for a second - when I first returned. Silly, huh? Yet all I wanted was the constant warmth, the absence of darkness. (They thought I was crazy.)

I know I shouldn't, because they grow really slowly and there are plenty of other things to eat on the island, but when I'm really lonely I pick off a paopu and retreat to the highest room to nibble on it in solitude. The view's wonderful from up there, and filled with great memories. Sora and I loved playing there when we were younger. And later on, before all this Heartless stuff happened, we used to go up there just to talk, too. Sora...he's wonderful; he's my truest friend of all. He'd always listen to me seriously, even when Riku just brushed off my complaints with a grin and some affectionate sarcasm.

I miss Riku, too...but Sora...he's different. This is gonna sound really strange, but I feel as if we're connected somehow. Connected, and it's something very, very special. That's why I never stop believing he'll come back.

And when he does, I'm gonna whack him one for leaving me alone for so long! And then I'll hug him so tight he won't be able to breathe...'cause that's what he deserves. A great big hug...

Or is that improper for a princess?

I think that was the most surprising part: waking up in a strange palace only to hear that I was a princess, and I was important for some reason. And Sora...he was there, fighting for me. Protecting me.

It was really...nice. Even though seeing him fight was horrific and I was constantly afraid that he was going to end up dead, he kept surging forward, never giving up. And he won. (I was shocked at how strong he'd gotten - my Sora, a warrior, a Keyblade master! What a change from the boy who used to land on his butt a dozen times a day from Riku's wooden sword...)

He was really stunning.

That hardly makes up for him not being here, though! A princess needs her prince! Right?

Thinking of Sora as some kind of prince makes me laugh, though. Silly, clumsy Sora, falling over his own feet trying to catch my attention even though he always had it to begin with. Now Riku - there's a prince. He's tall and handsome and regal and everything a prince has to be. (Personally, I prefer the silly type, myself. Sora's just right.)

Yet except for Alice, all the other princesses had their princes. Why not me, too?

'Cause I love Sora, really. Maybe not in the way that Cinderella loved her prince, or Belle loved the Beast, but I care about him to the point of distraction. I can never help wondering where he is, and whether he thinks of me, even though I know he does. When I gave him my lucky charm, it was half plea, half promise: don't forget me, and I'll never forget you.

He never gave it back. But I'm glad for that. He'll keep me close to his heart through all his journeys; he won't ever forget me.

I kinda hate it how the only thing I can do is wait, though. I wish I could help him...even if I was in the way, like he said. I wish I could be with him.

But he'll come back to me...I know it. Because he promised. Even though I already knew it, even though I never doubted that he would, promise or no, he made a vow.

So until then, I'll bide my time, and wait for him, like any good, devoted princess might.

And there's one paopu fruit that sits on the tree, untouched, no matter what.

That's for the two of us, for when he finally returns to me.

And we may be worlds away from one another, but until we meet again, we have our hearts.

Those will never be far apart.