Yuki Sora looked back into her life as she stared at her window and silently watched the snow slowly cover the ground.
The Soras were considered the second most influential family in the country. They were not of noble birth, and neither were they wealthy enough to be considered such.
The Soras were considered a powerful family only due to their close association with the crown.
Yuki's father was the brilliant adviser and scholar Yao Sora. It was said that the emperor trusted him with his own life. Because of her father's close association with the emperor, Yuki practically grew up inside the palace.
Growing up, Yuki realized that the palace was a sad place for a child. Lies, deceit, and manipulation were unnecessarily ingrained in a child's mind as the infant witnessed the cruelty and pretenses of those inside the castle walls.
In that sad and cold place, she was like a flower being carried by the wind, she thought, as she held the cherry blossoms in her tiny fragile hands.
Yuki ran as fast as her feet could carry her, trying to chase after the flower that has flown away.
The flower fell in a boy's lap. A boy with raven-colored hair and eyes the color of the molten sun.
Even at that young age, he had the bearing of a prince.
From the outside, everyone viewed him as the pampered heir of the kingdom's monarchy. He was, after all, Prince Jiro Takeshi, the emperor's only child.
It was said that he had been spoiled rotten and that because of this he barely smiled. But when their eyes met that day, Yuki could see the loneliness in the young prince's eyes.
Yuki stood, frozen, as she studied the most beautiful face she had ever seen.
It was a face blessed by the gods, she mused, as she met the fiery embers of the molten orbs that were silently studying her as well.
Then the prince stood up slowly as if he was afraid that she would be startled and run.
The young prince held out the cherry blossoms she had been chasing after and placed them in the palm of her hand. She was suddenly lost for words, unable to meet his gaze.
The crown prince couldn't help but smile, almost unaware that the young woman had completely caught his attention.
At that instant, he thought that he had never seen anything more precious than her.
He was mesmerized by her golden locks, like spun gold, he thought, and he was captivated by her large hazel eyes as they finally dared to shift upward to his face.
As the sun shone on her hair, he realized he wanted nothing more than to see that face every day for the rest of his life.
"I am Jiro Takeshi, can you give me the honor of being your friend?" he asked, with fear in his heart; for he knew that if she declined, he would forever be haunted by those hazel eyes.
The young woman smiled and offered her hand in a handshake. "Yuki Sora. I would love to be your friend."
"Then, as your friend, I promise you this. That I, the crown prince and future emperor, will lend you my protection for all eternity."
The young prince smiled as he reached for the handshake offered by Yuki. The young miss smiled, and warmth slowly thawed the coldness of the prince's heart.
From that day, the young prince and the little miss were inseparable.
The young prince demanded her presence wherever he might be and whatever he might be doing. And by order of the prince himself, Yuki never lacked anything.
She was allowed to study side by side with the wealthy aristocrats and was given a seat by the prince's side.
She was pampered as if she had been born a princess, if not more.
Over the years, she declined many valuable presents from her beloved friend.
The only gift she ever allowed herself to receive from his highness was the time she spent with him.
She treasured every minute and looked forward to hearing his baritone voice as she pretended to listen to the affairs of the realm.
When they became of age, she finally realized that she had fallen in love with him.
She had fallen in love with her best friend, the crown prince, Jiro Takeshi.
It wasn't an adult kind of love. It was irrational. Unplanned. Unwanted.
It was a love borne from innocence and whimsical illusions of a young, tender heart.
It was the kind of love that once shattered, can never be repaired.
It was the kind of love that can make someone suffer in perpetuity.
Yuki could never forget the night her heart was shattered by the same person who promised to protect her not so long ago.
It was Christmas and snow slowly fell from the heavens like a deity was crying her precious tears.
Jiro had insisted that she not call him by his title when they were alone.
He said he preferred to be called Jiro and it made him sad that no one ever did, and so she relented and called him his name when no one was around.
They walked to the gardens, his hand on hers, their fingers intertwined.
The young prince had grown to become a well-built man. He had a gentle face, fancied by the ladies of the land, and vibrant raven hair that reached his shoulders.
His heart felt warm every time he had the opportunity to hold her like this.
Somehow, all of his worries disappeared whenever their fingers were intertwined.
"Jiro," Yuki said as she dared to look up at him. He has grown up to be a very tall man. Yuki had to tilt her head to get a glimpse of his golden eyes.
Yuki admired how Jiro's long raven hair gently framed his face. With his hair the color of the night sky, the captivating color of his eyes was emphasized.
"What is it you wish to tell me?" The prince tilted her face up to meet her eyes.
He gently cupped her chin and whispered, "If there is anything you wish for, don't hesitate to tell me, and I swear on my honor that it will be done."
"Jiro, do you mean that, really?" The innocent Yuki felt her cheeks turn hot.
"Yes, of course. Then there is something you wish from me." The young prince smiled as he anticipated her request.
He loved fulfilling her every whim and caprice, although she rarely had any. Truth be told, all of his gifts to her have been returned. The little miss had grown up with too much pride, he nearly frowned at the thought.
Yuki gathered her courage and spoke. Her mahogany eyes looked at the crown prince, and the prince felt a determination to give in to whatever request she might have.
She had always managed to evoke the same kind of emotions from the deepest seat of his heart.
"I wish for you to look at me differently," Yuki said. She could hear her own heart beating against her ribs.
Jiro smirked, finding her words silly.
In his mind, he couldn't accept what he had heard.
What did she mean to look at her differently when she captivates him like no one ever did?
"Then how do you want me to see you?" he asked in a teasing tone. He thought that what she was telling him was nothing but a joke.
"Look at me as a woman, Jiro. This is my request." Yuki felt like someone with a high fever, her voice is hoarse and very faint.
In her heart, she knew – now they can never go back to what they had before.
Like a deity's answered prayer, this night would change everything they once had.