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Treasured Memories

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Polaroids taken during his first year in Night Raven College were splayed over his bed. Polaroids that moved on their own accord; each of them having varying time loops. The polaroids showed glimpses of what happened during the time it was taken; they were the byproduct of the magical tool known as the ghost camera. They were his memories, entrapped in a magical film, and depending on who took these photographs was, for lack of better words, very close to him.

Ace picked up a polaroid. 20th of March was engraved in gold ink at the bottom that also served as the caption; as the polaroid started moving on a four second loop.

It was during his second day in college; which was from four years ago, yet he can still recall that all too eventful second day.

It was the day when he narrowly avoided being expelled for breaking a magical chandelier in the cafeteria.

It was also the day when he met Deuce and Grim; who were merely strangers he had worked together with to retrieve a magical crystal; the light source of the chandelier that they had to replace.

He pursed his lips, trying to remember the exact moment that the polaroid was showing. It was a candid shot; hastily taken at what looked like the hallway just outside the Headmaster’s office.

He had been bantering with Deuce.

“Ah right this was the same day when Riddle...” He trailed off, as he subconsciously rubbed the side of his neck.

It was during that same day that he faced the wrath of Riddle; all for sneaking into the kitchen to eat a tart. 

Off with your head!

He shivered at that thought, vaguely recalling that night before he moved on to grab another memento.

The polaroid started moving on a fourteen second loop; this time the loop was longer. Ace felt his cheeks burn up as the caption read: “Our Unsung Hero , Ace Trappola” before it flickered to “ The Ideal Groom, Ace Trappola” written in calligraphy. 

The polaroid displayed him crouched down on the cafeteria as the person who took the photo was trying to pry his hands away from his face. “Just one photo, please Ace?”

He must have given them permission because he heard a little triumphant “Yes!” followed by a soft click.

“See? That wasn’t so bad! You look really cute too!”

There was a momentary pause before he heard Epel’s faint voice, “...had to choose between us as your ideal groom, who would it be?”

“Eh, me? Well I guess the ideal groom would be...”

Then the loop ended.

“Heh? So I was your ideal type huh...” Ace grinned, taking the photo closer to his face as he watched the caption flicker from “Our Unsung Hero, Ace Trappola” to “The Ideal Groom, Ace Trappola” once. twice. thrice.

He set the polaroid down as he began rummaging through the remaining mementos, trying to find a specific one.

He skimmed through the polaroids as they played different memories, all with different loop intervals.

Eventually, Ace found that specific polaroid with the caption hastily written: “ Until We Meet Again.”

He could hear indistinct chatter in the background. Different voices that held the same melancholic tone.

Ace closed his eyes, trying to recall the memory of that day.

“I’m gonna miss you, Ace.”

Ace frowned slightly. It was the same voice he could faintly hear in the majority of the mementos, a voice that always sounded warm and inviting, yet this time it sounded sad and distant.

“Eh? But you have our numbers, right? You can always give me a call!” Ace paused, before realization struck him. “Ah, right. You have to return the camera and phone to the Headmaster.”

“Then I’ll just write my number on your hand. C’mere.” He took out his magical pen from his front pocket.

“I don’t know if I will be able to contact you through my world, though”

“It won’t hurt to try, right?” Ace gave a reassuring smile; or what he hoped was a reassuring smile.

“C’mon don’t look so down! If the Headmaster found a way to bring you to our world and return you to yours, surely he can bring you ba-”

Ace was cut off, with a hug. Within the warm embrace, he felt secure. A part of him; the selfish part of him, wanted to scream what he truly felt. Surely he can convince them to stay in this world—in his world.

But the other part of him wanted them to go back to their own world. To go back to their family and friends. Ace didn’t have a clue if time in his world and their world were even the same.

In the end, Ace didn’t break the silence. He didn’t tell what he felt, instead he tightened the hug.

“I’m really gonna miss you, Ace. Don’t forget me, alright?”

“I will miss you too, Kantokusei. I will find a way to bring you back, I promise.”

It’s been 4 years now. 4 years since that promise and yet, he still hasn’t fulfilled it. 

For 4 years, Ace had frequented the library, trying to find the summoning spell to bring them back. The spell that the Headmaster had used in the first place.

In numerous occasions, Ace would ask the Headmaster to give him the spell, and he would get turned down–reprimanded, as the summoning spell requires a certain level of skill that a beginner such as himself hasn’t achieved yet.

“Let me ask you this, Ace Trappola-kun. Perfecting the summoning spell would require you years and years of practice. And let’s say you finally perfected it, do you think they would still want to come back?”

Those words struck him. Of course he had thought about it, in his ideal world, his beloved Kantokusei would want to come back. They would be eager to come back to him and he would welcome them, with open arms.

But the world wasn’t built to bend for him and he hated it. He made numerous attempts on the summoning spell which never yielded the result he wanted. 

“Why are you so hung up in bringing them back?” Deuce had asked him once? twice? thrice? Ace couldn’t remember how many times he had heard that line.

And every single time, he couldn’t think of any answer other than, “Because I miss them.”

Wasn’t that enough for an answer?

Though Ace never said it out loud, he knew Deuce could see the answer in his eyes.

Ace opened his eyes, just in time as the polaroid was nearing the end of its loop.

He watched the scene unfold before him.

They had all gathered around for one last photo. With tears stained cheeks and puffy eyes, everyone still put on their best smile.

Click.

“I hope you haven’t forgotten about me, Kantokusei” Ace forced a smile, holding the polaroid close to his lips before he whispered, “I miss you...”