The Weaving of a Net

© 2000 by Sofía 'Toffee' Francisco

This page was last modified: 2000/12/21

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The first thing I remember is my father, the tall bulky man who would set sails and go fishing whenever the thought struck him, and would leave my poor mother sobbing beside a candle at night, waiting for him to return. I remember her siting beside the window, eyes lost in the flickering light as rivulets of wax accumulated on the windowsill. By the time I was four the window frame was covered in it, and my mother no longer waited for him, having me to take care of. But he always came back, soaking wet and laughing like madman, telling tales of huge sharks and fish that soared up into the heaven's like whimsical birds of silver.

"It's all in the net," my father would say, teaching me the loop and overlap of each cord as he fixed and readied his weapon for the next hunt. "Some nets are strong, others are weak. A good fisherman has the patience to weave a great net, and the knowledge of when to let go."

"Let go?" I asked, pulling slightly on the fish scented ropes near the boat.

"Well... once every full moon a fisherman catches something too big to be held," my father told me, smiling a pirate smile as he pulled the whole netting into the boat and wiped his hands on his trousers. "And you know that you cannot have such a thing for yourself."

I had to think that over for a while. My father made the biggest nets I had ever seen, and he was renowned for his big catches, yet he was telling me that he also had to let go, once in a while. An eternal game of give and take.

"Sounds like your dad is in love with his food," my mother had replied laughing, when I told her of this conversation. "I wish he would apply his net-theorems on me and not the fish."

But my mother was always like that. She would wait for him crying, and then laugh all through his stay until the day he decided it was time to go out and dare the ocean. An eternal game of give and take.

I would wait for him every morning, wondering when it was that he would appear over the horizon is his great boat, laughing because one if his men had tripped and fallen in the water, or because a fish slammed itself into the boat. He always came back with stupid little stories to tell. I suppose there was a strange kind of love between my mother and father, that she would love him enough to let him go at his heart's desire, and that he loved her enough to always come back. So most of the time it was just me and her, until my younger brother was conceived. I was six when I noticed my mother was starting to loose her perfect figure, her belly rounding noticeably. She seemed happier then, her face bright as she glided through our little house singing to herself. I would look at her, and wondered if my father noticed any changes, but he left before she began to truly fatten, so he was not around to see her or share in the mysterious and secret joy of a pregnant woman.

From what I knew, he wasn't around when mother bore me either.

Mother explained to me what it was that was going on, and the idea of having a little brother became an obsession to me.

"It's like your father's nets," she told me one night. "Only this is a catch that I must let go of sooner or later."

"Father doesn't know..." I had murmured, looking at her worriedly.

"Aiolos... don't worry, he always comes back on time," she had winked at me then, stroking my pale brown hair. "I have the bait to goad him into my net."

"Because father loves you?" She laughed when I asked this, one hand falling to her belly, stroking the rounding swell affectionately.

"No, you." I blinked in surprise, and she let out a fond sigh. "As long as I have you, he will always come back, my lovely boy."

This was rather confusing to me, for it implied that father loved me more than mother, and that made no sense, not to me. I tried to understand it, but I simply could not. Father came back for her, though I was sure he, too, loved me. And now, there would be another one.

The people in the small island town congratulated my mother, as they always did when one of the younger women were expecting a child. But there was something odd, sometimes. The midwife would come to see mother often, which was good, but I could not shake the feeling that she came a little too often. So I began to stay up at night and pray for father to come back soon, because mother needed him.

And mother began to light candles for him again, tears streaming down her cheeks as she waited... and waited...

And waited.

Father had been out for almost five months, which lead us to guess he had gone to trade on other shores, since he never told us where he went. Still, he had been away for so long that he would surely come back soon.

"Or not at all," my mother stated, eyes hollow as she looked out the window at the setting sun.

"He will!" I cried, glaring at her angrily. Mother smiled and picked me up, setting me against her belly where I could feel the feeble kicks of my baby brother.

"I will trust you on that one," she whispered. "But he'd better arrive soon."

Yes, he should.

Yet things could not go on like that for long, I knew it. Mother knew it. I woke up one night to hear her gasping for breath, crying out softly. I jumped out of my bed and rushed to her, seeing her tossing and moaning in her bed.


"Aiolos... go... the m-midwife, down... town..."

I stood there numbly as she arched her back and cried out, unable to think.


Why wasn't dad here? He should be here!


Mother needed him... I needed him...

I turned around and ran out of the house in my pajamas, feeling tears streaming down my cheeks. I ran as fast as I could until I reached the town and found the house I remembered my mother visiting often. If it was not the midwife then at least I would get help.

"Open up, please!"

An elderly lady came out, grey hair dishevelled. "What in the name of... oh, what is it child?"

"Mother... she's up there, she wanted me to get you..."

I couldn't form any coherent phrases, all I could think of was my mother, waiting. And my father, that would not arrive on time. And the windowsill... I had to light a candle.

"Wait just a moment," she replied, eyes lighting up as she understood. "Amelia! Get my things!"

In a few minutes she was running up to my house with her daughter close behind. I struggled to keep up with her, amazed by the speed such an old thing could attain. And how dark the little house looked...

The midwife ran in without any ceremony and began to arrange things, the daughter working just as surely as if she were following the instructions of a book. My mother writhed on the bed, moaning my father's name as all three performed a ritual older than humanity. I stared, hearing the cries of pain, the hiss of boiling water and the rasping voice of the old woman as she told my mother to relax. Just relax.

I turned around slowly, staring out the window into the night. Slowly, as if in a dream, I took a candle out of the cellar and set it on the windowsill, lighting it and letting the wax secure it to the inch thick layer that was already melted, that had been a part of our window for as long as I could remember.


It was then that I heard my mother calling me, almost pleading. "Aiolos... Aio...los..."

I walked back into her room, feeling the acrid scent of blood and sweat in the air. She lay there, her lovely face flushed, strands of blonde hair falling into her mouth and eyes as she struggled to smile.


"He'll come back, I know he will... but...light the... the can..."

"I already did," I whispered, holding her hand.

The midwife stood before her, and I tried to ignore whatever it was she was doing, feeling to sickened by the sight of my mother's glassy eyes and spread legs. It was not something I wanted to see, and yet... and yet...

I had to be here, because father wasn't.

"He'll come back, because you are here... and when he sees your brother... he'll stay... he'll stay..."

"Amelia, hold her down," the old woman instructed as my mother feverishly tried to grip my hand. I stood there, staring deep into her brown eyes as she whimpered softly and struggled weakly under the younger girl's strong arms. The old lady took a few steps back, feeling my mother's belly with her fingers, sinking them into the swollen flesh a if searching for something. All of a sudden she drew back, and stared at my mother, paling.

"He's in the wrong position... we can't get out like that..." My mother let out a cry of agony as she heard those words, her fingers digging into my hand almost viciously.


"He's upside down..." the midwife whispered. It was the daughter who startled us all, by speaking.

"We have to get it out, or they will both die."



I looked at my mother, seeing the fear in her eyes as she let go of me. "Go into the other room..."

She told me, smiling weakly. She old lady bowed her head sadly and began to take some sharp objects out of her bag, setting them on a clean towel.


"No!" I cried, holding on to my mother's arm desperately. No, they couldn't do this.

"Go... Aiolos..."

I knew that I should refuse, somehow, I knew. But I obeyed. My mother smiled at me one last time and stroked my hair.

"He'll come back, and stay for both of you. He loves you so much, he'll live your brother too... and... he will stay... with you."

I did not realise then, that she knew what would happen.

I was pushed out by the young girl after that, hearing the slam of a door behind me.

All I could do was wait, and I did. The candle burned brightly as the sound of the waves drowned the cries and shouts from the other room, and I could have sworn I saw a boat in the distance. But it was impossible, my father would not come back.

All of a sudden, silence fell upon the house, and a small cry was heard. I looked away from the window, staring fearfully at the wooden door, afraid I had heard wrong. But there it was, the soft mewling of a baby, and silence.

I did not have the courage or the strength to move as the door opened and the girl came out, holding a small shifting bundle in her arms. She looked up at me, huge blue eyes wide and fearful, her youthful features spattered with blood.

"She said, his name was Aiolia," her voice wavered as she leaned down to show me the pink frowning face of my baby brother.


The girl swallowed thickly, biting her lip. I glanced up, straight into her eyes and sighed.

"And mother?"

I could smell blood in the air, and not a sound. And she was out here, with the baby. I knew the answer even before I asked it and yet...

"I'm sorry... there was so much blood and..." I looked away as she tried to explain, not wanting to listen to her excuses, or explanations. The baby cried softly and wriggled in her arms. I looked up and stretched my arms, wanting to hold it. Amelia placed the warm little body on my lap and sat in the floor beside me.

Father arrived two days later, after mother's burial. The midwife had found a young woman who had just given birth, and asked her to be Aiolia's milk mother. She was holding him when my father came in, looking around the house with an expression that was nothing short of suicidal. His eyes finally set on me.

"Where is your mother?"

His voice was hoarse and desperate, his eyes glimmered as he stared at me.

"You arrived too late." It was all I could say, all I could think of. He sank to his knees in front of me, still slightly taller, and hugged me to his chest.

"I'm sorry... so sorry..."

Why did he even bother apologising to me? I knew the truth even though mother did not. He would have traded both me and Aiolia in order to have her back. He had loved mother, but he had loved the seas more.

If there was anyone he should have apologised to it was her, for waiting so long, and having nothing returned for her love. She never thought of leaving, she raised me and bore Aiolia because she thought he loved us more than her... everything for him. But he could not stay beside her, because he did not love her... enough.

That he would set sail a week later was no surprise to me, that he would say goodbye was startling. He hugged me in his huge powerful arms and sighed.

"The town's people have agreed to take care of you two," he told me, his eyes dull and lifeless. I nodded and pulled out of his grasp. "Aiolos..."

"Father," I spoke quietly and levelly. "Don't come back this time."

He didn't.

A year later a strange man came to out town, wearing a long dark blue robe and a mask on his face. The people bowed profusely, mumbling praises and thanks. I stared at him, confused and taken off guard. Aiolia clung to my arm for balance and laughed when the man passed beside us. He turned to look down, cocking his head to one side gently.

"I came looking for you two," he whispered, and the town bowed lower in abject thanks. I stared at him, frowning.

"Why? Who sent you?" Aiolia giggled and took a stumbling step to clutch his robes. The tall man caught him before he could fall, graceful hands steadying my little brother as he inspected the beautiful blue garment.

"There is nothing here for you. But you have a destiny somewhere else... where you will be able to protect that which you love," he spoke smoothly.

"All I have is my brother."

"And how can you protect him?" the man inquired, running his fingers through Aiolia's pale brown curls.


Truthfully, I had not thought of that. I looked down at my brother, seeing him laugh and tug on the long robes almost demandingly.

"I don't know."

"Perhaps there is something else for you... if you are so eager to protect... I can give you the strength to protect your brother."

The people of the town were all staring at me, eyes fixed on me as they urged me with their looks to the only possible answer. I said yes.

When I think back on that day I realise that I also accepted because I wanted to leave the town, the place where my mother had died so sadly, and my father had left us behind. It was not only for Aiolia, but there was a lot of that, too.

My life began only then. We were placed under the care of a kind yet stern man who took care of Aiolia, and concentrated on teaching me how to fight. I learned that the man who had come for us was the Kyoko, Athena's high priest. And I also learned of Athena, the Goddess who would save us all from evil.

In truth, I came for no reason in particular. I came because it felt right. My reasons, motives, loves and hates all were found here. I learned to fight, but I also learned to forgive. I learned of loyalty and courage, of hope and death. And as time went by I learned to love this life of eternal war, because not only was I strong... I was doing something worth the effort. I was no one's reason, no one's dream... I fought to carve a life of my own and find a place in the world.

I guess my father would have said it was the right kind of net. A small town could never have held me, but the world... ah, the cosmos had no limits. But most of all, faith had no limits. Athena became an obsession to me, from the day it was announced she would be born and it went all over, as Sanctuary went into a joyous uproar at the coming of our saviour.

I thought of that little girl, hardly younger than Aiolia, and remembered myself. She was bound, the world would use her as an excuse as my mother used me, and everyone would come to her for help but rarely for friendship. Boats might touch her shores but the sailors would only come to her door when they felt the need, not when she did. She would be eternally alone.

Like mother.

And no amount of candles would save her from this destiny.

I thought of this girl, of this messenger of hope, and decided that I would bring hope to her, too. That I would not be like all those who fought for her. I would not die for Athena... I would live for her.

I wove these purposes into my heart and forged my beliefs upon the fact that someday, she might need someone, and I would not let the same mistake happen twice. There would be someone for her, someone who would arrive on time.

"You are a romantic!" Saga had told me once, his blue eye shining strangely as he trained beside me. "Kanon used to talk like that, too..."

His eyes would darken then, as they always did whenever he mentioned his brother. The evil and much feared Kanon who was never quite caught in the act, but clearly the one to blame for most of Sanctuary's disasters. They were so different it was hard to believe, and yet... sometimes, it seemed wrong. There was something about Saga I could never quite put my finger on.

"He's a Gemini! What can you expect!?" There was Shura, who held the extravagant charm of a gypsy but for all his strangeness he was much more understanding of my motives. He would accuse me of loving Athena every now and then.

"I don't love her... I just want to be her...her..."

"Knight in shining armour?" Shura teased. He was only a year younger than me, but sometimes I felt he was older, though only Athena knew why he was here and who brought him. Shura never mentioned his past. But we got along, and he took to Aiolia almost instantly.

In short, I was happy.

Perhaps for the first time in my life.

Nothing could be so perfect, could it? I should have known... I should have known...

Disaster and Kanon were considered practically the same thing, that was how I had been told the story by many people. They all said that he was once really nice and quiet, but something corrupted him; though most of the inhabitants of Sanctuary assured me that it was just his true nature coming into the open. No one suspected anything until the day he was to contend for the Gemini cloth, against his twin Saga. The former Gold saint Gemini Claroscuro had announced that he would step down in favour of the winner. Rumours had it that there had been a previous fight a few years earlier, but that it had been a draw so Claroscuro decided to wait. I listened to this strange story, woven from mouth to mouth gossip of the fearsome monster Kanon became on that day.

Instead of fighting his brother, Kanon struck down his benevolent teacher and then attacked Saga. Curiously, even though Kanon was judged to be stronger, he lost. And Saga could not kill him, so Kanon simply stayed and... no one knew what else. He spread pain and disaster all over, but never actually killed anyone.

An enigma.

And I had been on the farside grounds when all of this took place... I only met Saga once we were both confirmed saints. But, it was as people said, as Saga said: you could not have Kanon without disaster soon after, and not have a disaster without spotting Kanon in the radius of a kilometre from where whatever it was that had happened.

But it was him who stepped into my path one morning, eyes gleaming strangely and sagely. "Sagittarius Aiolos, how nice to run into you!" Sarcasm hung upon his words like a bright banner, and I tensed. He was only a year older then me but... Goddess! If the rumours were true then there was no limit to this man's power.

"Perhaps to you," I replied without flinching at his sardonic smile. "But I have things to do - duties - you must understand."

"Ah yes, duties, quite understandable... and whatever might they be?" His mocking tone made my skin prickle, it was almost too hard not to hit him.

"Guard my temple, of course."

"Why? Athena is not alive... and even if she were, do you think those temples really matter? She could go anywhere, she's a Goddess, it's not like she needed defenders."

I clenched my fists in fury at his sacrilege. "We exist for a reason, Kanon."

"Indeed, killing humans while she drinks her tea with her promiscuous family," he drawled, smiling a feral smile as I gritted my teeth, seething.

"You can think whatever you want, I know why am I here. I know my place!" I stressed the last word, my eyes flashing. For a moment - so small it must have been illusion - I thought I saw a spark of pain in those stony blue eyes.

"Oh? And what might that place be? Defending a Goddess that needs no defending? Or your baby brother? How noble of you to give your life for an ideal that is just as utopic as flying cows!"

I stared at him, trying with all my might to keep my cosmo at bay, to not kill this man. "Athena will come to save us."

"Or enslave us, does it matter as long as we are happy? People like you think not. So... if you really believe in her so strongly, then I hope you can save her from my evil side." This last comment made me shiver in sudden fright.

"You wouldn't..." I warned, slowly falling into combat stance.

"No, 'I' wouldn't. But someone else might just..." he hinted, as if he knew some big secret.

"What are you planning, you monster!" I cried, and he smiled.

"Ask my brother... he might know..."

And he was gone.

But I never got to ask Saga, he was constantly summoned by the Kyoko. Ever since it was announced that Athena would be born Saga spent most of his time doing some hidden task the Kyoko ordered, and so no one saw him. And when he was around, the Kyoko left on some trip or other and left him in charge, so he was too busy to talk to me.

And why should I, Kanon was probably just trying to get a fight out of me!


And there were this rumours too, that Saga was actually the Kyoko's lover, and that was why they spent so much time together. Though they had been careful enough to never be seen together.


It was almost too strange, that they were never together except in secret... and when one was in the other was out.

"Maybe they are the same person!" Shura had laughed, eyes glinting with his gypsy mischief.

"Don't be ridiculous..." I had told him, trying to hide a smile at the joke. But still, there was something strange there that I could not quite figure out.

I could never quite figure Saga out anyway.

But Kanon's warning had me jumping, afraid he might do something, even though his comment implied that he himself would not do something. An enigma. I would replay that conversation in my mind over and over, but nothing in it made sense. It was too strange.

Athena was real, not a dream! She would come and save us, and we had to defend her... But if she had the power to save us... if she was really a Goddess of War... then why did she need us?

Because she is a Goddess of War, my mind would answer. But I did not want to think on that, because it brought me too close to what Kanon had suggested.

(Defending a Goddess that needs no defending?)

But she needed us! Or she would be completely alone and... and... if she would need someone, I would make sure she would need me. Really need me. Not like mother, who thought she needed when it was in fact a case of mistaken thoughts. Not like Aiolia who was slowly carving his own way here, who loved me as much as I loved me but did not need me. He could take care of himself. I wanted to do something, to be needed, and be more than just a pawn.

(...killing humans while she drinks her tea with her promiscuous family...)

Something more than that, much more than that.

It was perhaps this strange line of thoughts that lead me astray one morning, as I walked through the streets of Athens, and wound up in a strange secluded sector with a few merchants and artisans trying to sell their products and manufactured goods. I shook my head and tried to get my bearings back, cursing myself for being so distracted.

"A flower?"

A soft voice behind me made me start, turning around to look at the speaker. "Excuse me'"

"Would you like to have a flower?"

She was a tall woman, with striking silver hair and violet eyes that seemed to draw the light into them like black holes, darkness at it's most seductive. She reminded me a bit of the Aquarius saint. Her skin was a lovely caramel shade, and her smile oddly ironical, as if this was some cruel little joke.

"I don't have money," I told her honestly.

"And I am not selling it, I offered it as a gift." I stared at her confusedly as she stretched out a perfect white chrysanthemum, its petals still fluffed up and lush, as if it had been freshly cut.

"Surely there is a catch," I murmured, unsure of whether I should take the flower.

"Of course!" She chirped happily. "You accept this kindness from me, and I will sell you your fate in exchange of a story."


"For a story."

She smiled, her eyes glinting in the soft light, the flower still thrust under my nose. "I'm not sure I should trust you," I replied, taking a step back, ready to go. But her words stopped me.

"Do you not want to save your messiah, from being murdered in her crib?" She whispered it gently, her voice no more than a gust of wind. But it shook me, and I could only stare in awe and fear.

"Who are you?"

"A simple flower girl, who sells fate and white petals to those willing, in exchange for a story."

"Why my story?" I demanded, eyes blazing. She looked up at me curiously, touching the flower to her full lips.

"Because I know your future, but lack your past. How will you be perpetrated, when I know only where you go but not whence you came from?" she murmured against the fluttering petals, her eyes seductively lidded as she studied me.

"Perpetrated? I am known, I am the Sagittarius saint, I have no need of stories to be told of me." If she knew who I was then why not voice it.

"Oh yes, the Sagittarius saint, like so many other who carried that title. But who is Aiolos then?" she asked, cocking her head to one side with a vague lidded expression in her eyes.

"How do you know my name? Who are you!?"

"I am Moerae, the giver of fates. And your name is not mystery to me. Now, will you give me your story in exchange for your fate, or will you leave your Goddess to die?" Serious voice, I had no argument against that.

"What if I don't believe you?"

"Your loss. Cassandra made flawless predictions but no one was wise enough to believe her, that was her curse."

"But you are not Cassandra, woman."

"It's Moerae, and no, I am not Cassandra. Which is why you will believe me."

"For a story."

"Yes, for a story, " she answered, and held out the flower to me. I looked at her, at this strange apparition of silver and purple that made no sense, and yet made perfect sense. I stretched out my hand, and took the flower.

And that was that. I told her my story, of my father and my mother and my strange feelings, and I realised that I felt comfortable doing so, it felt right. She smiled and nodded and when this was done she closed her eyes, and everything ceased to be felt. I jumped in surprise, but she took my hand and steadied it.

She was doing it, it was her.

Her cosmo was like an antithesis of cosmo itself, nullifying all of it, hers and mine. And then she began to speak, telling me of what would happen, on the day after Athena was born, but not who did it.

"It will be the man called Kanon, right?" I asked finally.

Moerae's head jerked up in surprise, a sad smile covering her face. "No, it will be a monster formed by a wrong union. And yet it is a union that had to happen. A creature that thinks it is a God, but is not more than a blending of flesh and metal, gold and blood. A consciousness that grew to aware of itself when the power and potential were given, nothing more."

"I don't understand..."

"That is unimportant, your mission is to save the child Goddess, cast a net strong enough and take her with you." She paused then, a strange look coming over her face. "Tell me, do you know of the Scorpio saint?"

"The Poet? What about him?"

"Is he all right... I mean... is he happy?" She sounded suddenly too vulnerable, too wrong.

"As far as I know, yes he is. He spends most of his time with his lover Aquarius Ganymede." Her head came up, fear and pain welling up in her eyes, and a painful resignation.

"Ah... yes, I knew it would be so." But still, for reasons I could not fathom, it hurt her.

I smiled, still holding the flower, and left her there. Somehow, I knew our conversation was over, I had to go now.

A few weeks later, Athena was born. I used my power to write a message in my temple, for those who would come in my place, and left. It was on a stormy night that I crept up to her room and saved her from being stabbed by the Kyoko. And when the mask fell and I saw the grey hair and red eyes, it was not Shion or Kanon that my mind registered, but Saga.


I could not understand what happened, all I knew was that I had to run. I clutched the wriggling baby to my chest and ran, hearing the cries and shouts behind me. And all I could think of was Aiolia, my little Aiolia whom I had left alone. Like mother...

But Athena was warm against me, and too real. I held her and ran, I protected her from Shura who would not hear reasons or motives, just clashing swords. I saved her from the bloodthirsty guards and ran on, dizzy and sick, feeling the soft laughs of the girl in my arms.

"Don't worry... you will be safe..." and I was so tired! Did she even understand what was going on? Why this was happening? No...

She didn't.

She was just like the rest of us, wasn't she? A pawn... and that was why we existed. Or perhaps not, things had stopped making sense, and Aiolia was alone up there. But Athens would be a good place to hide and I could save Athena.

A good mission, this was something worth holding on for... But Aiolia...

Goddess, I was dying!

I heard my panting breaths, coupled with the little girl's first protests of hunger, and I wondered... was she really a Goddess, or where we all living a lie? No... I collapsed behind a pillar and held her, staring deep into the dark eyes.

"You won't even know my name..." I whispered, stroking her soft baby hair. She cooed and smiled, hunger forgotten, and I sighed. "But I believe in you... because you will save us..." Even if I wasn't here to see it.

Even then...

A few hours after dawn a man came and looked at me; old and serious, he stared at the child and then back up at me, and though he spoke words of confusion... it was not confusion as to what was going on, but as if he had known... ah yes, this man knew.

He had known the girl who would save the world was here, just as the flower girl must have seen my death, and Aiolia's loneliness. And the girl's future. I held her out to the man, blabbering because of the pain, hoping he might understand.

"Take care of her..."

But there was no need for words, he knew.

He knew.

Yes as he took her from my arms, and I was left alone with my wounds and my receding thoughts, I felt suddenly robbed of something precious. I had held the most beautiful thing in the universe in my hands, and I had been forced to let it go.

Ah father... you were so right! Sometimes... the catch is too good and the net is not good enough, simply not good enough! But she would live... and she would do what I would have wanted to do beside her.

And someday, there might be others for her... warriors that would not see her as a symbol but as a person, and she might just find out how to live.

Someday... I might see her again.

I should build a better net, till that day comes... and until that day I will stare out any window there is in heaven, and make Sagittarius shine so bright that she might find her way home.

The End


This is for Cygny! See? I wrote you a present and I hope you like it! (why do I have this tendency to make my characters suffer? *siiigh*)

Anyway, happy birthday to you on this lovely 20th of December... and happy birthday to me too! *sobs* (after all, you were born exactly ten years before me!) May you have many more B-days and yet not age a single day! *toffeeghugsqueeze*

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