Everything had happened so fast.
It was a few hours later, and Hanana was kneeling by the bed, her head in her arms as she tried to wrap her mind around everything that'd happened, everything she'd been told. Her gaze shifted from a spot on the wall to Yukiki, lying on his back and still unconscious.
But at least he was breathing.
Almost immediately after the last petal dropped from the rose--and seeing that filled Hanana with intense fear, though she still didn't fully understand why--there was a brilliant flash of yellow, and she found herself sitting in the middle of the room she'd slept in during her stay with Yukiki. She glanced down, to make sure...she didn't know what. But she let out a small sob of relief, seeing she still held her snowy friend, saw he was still breathing. She hugged him tighter, relief surging through her as she felt his heartbeat--stronger than it had been back in the forest, thank god.
"Let's get him up here," the enchantress said, pulling the blankets back. It took a bit of effort, but finally he was in the bed, blankets up to his chest.
The enchantress turned to look at Hanana, smiling at the look on her face, then reached out to rest a hand on her head. "He's going to be alright," she said. "Thanks to you...you spoke up just in time."
"But...but what happened, though?" Hanana whispered, voice still thick and quavery. "I don't understand...What..."
"I suppose you are owed an explanation," the enchantress said, crossing her arms and sighing. And she told her. She told her about how, a century ago, her teacher had been an angry, vengeful sorceress who'd cursed a man simply because he did not return her supposed feelings. How the woman had left a rose behind, and the younger enchantress had decided to use it as a timer when she used what little magic she knew to help the man.
"But I didn't know this til just recently," the enchantress, who had introduced herself as Samama, said. "But my teacher had cast one more spell. I don't know if she considered it an act of mercy or to put him out of his misery, or if she was even more spiteful than I thought, but she'd also tied his life to that rose. As the petals fells, he'd grow sicker and weaker...."
"I....I saw that," Hanana muttered, face paling again. But she hadn't considered that was the cause.
"Then when the last petal fell..." Samama went on, but then stopped and shook her head. No, she didn't need to say any more; the pink-haired girl could connect the dots there. "As I said in the forest, I have gotten stronger since that day, but to restore him to his original form and sever his tie to the rose would take me more years of study--magic doesn't come easily, contrary to what mortals may believe," she added, a touch of irritation in her voice as she folded her arms.
"I could only do one or the other...and you chose to save his life rather than let him die as a human. Actually, you didn't even listen to my other option. I'm not blaming you for anything," she added quickly, seeing the distraught look on Hanana's face. "Only giving you an explanation. Actually, I think I should commend you for making that choice." One corner of her mouth quirked up. "I know some who would choose the other option."
Hanana shuddered involuntarily.
"And," Samama put a hand on her head again. "You said you loved him. Didn't you?" she asked, voice softening.
Though it was horribly inappropriate for the situation at hand, Hanana blushed faintly. "I..." She had, hadn't she? It had just slipped out without her even thinking, but she'd said it. Actually, if she was able to say such a thing without even thinking it, then that surely meant...
"I bet he'll be happy to know that," Samama chuckled, "when he wakes up. He didn't think anyone could after a while..." Pulling her hand away from Hanana's head, Samama strode to the door. "I'll leave you alone...I don't know when he'll wake up, but rest assured, he will."
"W-Wait!" Hanana gasped, suddenly remembering something as she turned around. "M-my sisters--the villagers might--"
"Your sisters are downstairs, thoroughly confused and a little frightened. I'm going to explain things to them and tell them not to come up here." The door shut behind her, and Hanana was left alone with an unconscious Yukiki.
All this time left her plenty opportunity to think things over, try to recover from all these big things happening at once. The villagers attacking them, the two of them suddenly being in the forest, Yukiki was...dying (Hanana still didn't like to think of that), and now all this...it felt like it had all happened weeks ago, instead of only a few hours. And then it all hit her at once; all that had happened in the village, the fact she came this close to losing her dearest friend, the one she loved, the information she'd just been given... Hanana lowered her face, hiding it in the blankets she she started to cry softly, shoulders shaking.
A few moments later, she felt someone put their hand on her head, fingers gently brushing her bangs aside. She felt her heart twist a bit; it must be the enchantress again...being magical didn't mean she couldn't knock. "Leave me alone," she sobbed, not wanting the woman to see her like that.
But the voice wasn't Samama's. "Please don't cry."
With a small gasp, Hanana lifted her head, hastily wiping her tears, her gaze meeting Yukiki's.
The snowman looked uncomfortable, tucking some hair behind her ear. "Don't cry," he repeated. "Why were you crying?"
Much to his alarm, the pink-haired girl only cried harder, trying to wipe her tears away as quickly as they came. Yukiki tried to sit up, tried to tell her she shouldn't cry, everything was alright, he didn't mean to make her cry, but Hanana just shook her head and pushed him back down, leaning over him to hug him tight. "Hanana?"
She sniffled, shaking her head (inadvertently drying her tears on his shoulder in the process) and hugging him tighter. "Y-You almost died..." she whispered.
"...I'm sorry." It was all he could think of to say. What else was one supposed to say to that? "But I'm not dead now, am I?"
Hanana let out a small laugh through her tears. "N-No....th-there was an enchantress...S-Samama, she said her name was--sh-she managed to save you, b-but..." She hugged him even tighter, if such a thing were possible. "I'm so sorry, Yukiki! I didn't recognize any of it sooner!"
"Recognize what?" he asked, frowning. This was getting very confusing now.
"A-All of it! Th-the rose, why you weren't feeling so well...I should have known--we read fairy tales together, remember? I should have figured it out, I should have guess before it got this bad!" She paused, hiccuping a little, but at last the sobs were starting to subside. Distantly, she felt Yukiki's hand on her upper back, awkwardly returning her hug. "I...I almost let the one I love die..."
Yukiki suddenly felt like his heart had stopped. Wait...what? "You...you nearly let who die? What?" he blurted. If he had his usual sense about him, he'd have felt embarrassed by the way he sounded.
Hanana finally released him, pulling away just enough so he could see her face. She smiled, lifting a shaking hand to her face to wipe the last traces of her tears. "I said...I love you, Yukiki."
Now he was certain his heart had stopped. That or he was still dying in the forest and this was all some hallucination. But it certainly felt real-- "You what?"
Hanana laughed again, a tiny, weak, but utterly-relieved laugh, leaning forward to hug him again, pressing her cheek against his. "I...I love you. I didn't realize it until it was nearly too late, but...But I do. I don't even know exactly when it happened--no one does, remember?--but I do. I love you."
He didn't respond for a few moments, and some part of her feared he'd gone into shock, or maybe he was horrified by such a thing.
But then she suddenly felt his arms encircle her, hugging tightly as he hid his face in her shoulder, one hand going up to stroke her hair. "Hanana..." he choked. For a brief moment, the butterflies showed up again, only to quickly fade away and be replaced by a warm feeling in his chest. Oh, that was much better than butterflies, far less worrying.
The girl in question smiled, wiping at her eyes one more time as she shifted a bit, giving him a soft kiss.
"I love you, too."
Unbeknownst to either of them, the door had opened just slightly, three pairs of eyes watching the two of them. Samama grinned, softly shutting the door again. "Alright, I don't think an audience is needed."
The other two females exchanged glances, their expressions a mixture of shocked and confused, though there may have been a tiny bit of joy in there, too.
"The question is, though," the redhead went on. "What happens now?"