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Love at dawn

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Tamaki covers his eyes with his right hand when the bright midday sun obstructs his sight. He wishes to wear the white cape with golden threads, which is part of his knight armor; however, it’s his day of rest and his outfit consists of black pants and a sweater of the same color over a white shirt.

Tamaki (maybe) shouldn't be standing on the outskirts of the northern part of the village, where the Sun is at its highest point despite being a winter day. But he has an important mission to fulfill: greet Mirio from his return from the capital of the kingdom of UA. Nejire and Yuuyu advised him to wait with them at the tavern where Yuuyu works since Mirio would go there to cool off and talk about his trip. Tamaki refused. Although, of course, not without receiving glances and giggles from his friends that he simply ignored. On the other hand, Fat hadn’t had problems giving him the day off from his duties.

"This small village won’t be destroyed if the knight Suneater takes a day off." Fat said before biting a roast chicken leg. That words had lightened the burden, full of anxiety and guilt, that had settled on his chest. "Say hello to Toogata for me." If Tamaki heard the suggestive tone in his last sentence, he decided to ignore it.

Tamaki shifts his weight onto his left foot for the seventh time in the last five minutes and scratches his pointy ear. Mirio told them in his last letter that he would arrive that day, when the Sun was at its highest point. However, Tamaki wonders if he had misunderstood and his return had been delayed. Perhaps Mirio decided to stay more days there and the letter announcing it hasn’t reached his hands yet. When Tamaki is tempted to ask Nejire to use his fairy magic to send a message to Mirio, he glimpses a figure approaching on the horizon.

Tamaki watches the figure on horseback approaching slowly and feels relieved. Mirio stops in front of Tamaki. His horse, Goruden, neighs, and nods, greeting him. Mirio gets off Goruden's back and faces Tamaki. His blonde hair dazzles Tamaki after Mirio took off his helmet.

"I'm home." Mirio says with a smile.

"Welcome." Tamaki answers.

They hug

***

 

It’s late when Tamaki walks back home. His stomach is full of the food that Yuuyu cooked for them, his cheeks are red because of the beer he drunk with Nejire, and his heart feels warm due to the return of his best friend.

They spent the afternoon listening to everything Mirio had to tell them after his three-week visit to the capital. Kirishima sent greetings and he promised to visit them next month, Tamaki smiled and promised, mentally, to send letters more often. Nejire listened carefully to the stories of the knights and other magical creatures that appeared in Mirio's stories, her blue fairy wings beating by the emotion. Yuuyu carefully examined the gifts Mirio brought them, determining whether they were cute or not.

The greatest news was that little Eri (a very special girl who had very rare and powerful unicorn magic) has enough magical power to be able to return the powers that the villain Overhaul took away from Mirio months ago. It wasn't something sure, but a glimmer of hope was better than nothing. Tamaki felt helpless and angry about it. That mission took not only Mirio's powers but also his instructor, Sir Nighteye. However, there was a chance, after all, so he was glad. Mirio has traveled periodically to the capital of the reign to search for a cure or a remedy for his condition. He wanted his powers back. Mirio’s appearance reflected the kind of power he used to have. Mirio had the power of the Sun: the control over the sunlight; the kind of power that allowed him to straddle and penetrate through objects. 

Yet, in a world full of magic and fantastic creatures, some people wanted to make bad things and take hold of the magic for themselves. These villains were dangerous, that's the reason why the knights exist: to protect all people. Although Mirio wanted to restore his powers, he wasn’t angry for losing them. He wasn’t regretful. Tamaki knew that, even without his special powers, Mirio had everything needed to be a knight and, of course, a hero. The best Tamaki can do is to support Mirio and be by his side.

Mirio's father arrived late so they ate and celebrated again. Mirio told his father all the news and his friends listened attentively like the first time. Nejire also told them about her plans for the spring festival that the faeries were organizing. It’ll be in a little less than a month and she has already found an extraordinary minstrel whose songs were beautiful. The night ended with Mirio's father leaning against his son's left side as he muttered how much he had missed him between hiccups. Nejire stayed with her girlfriend to close the tavern. Tamaki accompanied the Toogatas, holding the other side of Mirio’s dad. Mirio apologized and offered to walk him home, but Tamaki refused. He was fine, he could get home safe and sound. Surely his grandmother was waiting for him. They said goodbye and went on their way.

The night is good until those murmurs from the forest whisper loudly in his ear. That wasn’t the first time that happened to him. These noises, that sound like raindrops, like wind, like rocks colliding with each other, combined with the voice of a woman saying his name, all rolled into one, have been haunting him for a long time. However, he didn’t give them enough importance. But now, he feels that those noises wrap around his mind and heart.

Tamaki runs all the way home. The noises were chasing him like a spreading mist. Only after he closes the door, those horrible sounds stop. Tamaki leans against the wooden door and waits for his beating heart to settle down. After a few minutes where nothing happened, Tamaki walks into his house. Tamaki discovers his grandmother sleeping on his chair, possibly waiting for him. He smiles. The old lady coughs a little, so he covers her body with a blanket. Then, he goes up to his room to sleep. 

 

***

 

Tamaki looks at himself in the mirror before going to patrol. His head aches again, the dark circles under his eyes got worse. The noise attacks, accompanied by headaches, have got worse since Mirio returned. He even drunk some sleeping syrup because the noises were worse at night and they didn’t let him rest. He couldn’t sleep three days straight before he went to the herbalist by Fat Gum’s orders. Tamaki thought that he was becoming mad, but all the whispers stopped when he was busy patrolling or in the company of his grandmother, his friends, and, of course, Mirio. Being with his best friend has always given him peace of mind. But now, he needs to be fine. The village needs him. He hasn’t the chance to be in bad shape. He is a knight; he needs to do his job and buy more medicine. That’s all. Tamaki’s resolution wanes after a new pain attack

“What happens, my dear ‘Maki?” His grandmother asks when she saw him pressing his palm over his eyes.

“Nothing.” Tamaki lies and straightens. “Just another headache, I’ll buy more medicine when I came back from the patrol.”

His granny looks at him, worried. That’s why he didn’t want to tell her about it. Tamaki doesn’t want to put more worries over her shoulders. The old lady walks toward him and takes Tamaki’s face between her hands. Tamaki, who had refused to look at her until she cradled his face, looks into her eyes and feels peace.  His grandmother has always been with him, no matter what. She was, along with Mirio and Fat Gum, one of the more important pillars of his life.

“My little Tamaki.” She says and opens her mouth like she wanted to tell him something, but she doesn’t. She bites her lip and says: “Please, promise me you will be careful.”

Tamaki doesn’t know why she tells him that with that serious face when she knows that he had fought with a lot of villains and enemies to protect the village and the reign before, but he nods in agreement.

“I promise,” Tamaki says and kisses her forehead softly. “I’ll be back at nine.”

Tamaki covers his head with the hood and leaves.

 

***

 

Tamaki has always loved to patrol the village’s borders because those places weren’t crowded. Fat Gum accepted this because of his anxiety and for his great affinity with animals. Tamaki, discovered his ability when he was a child. He couldn’t speak with them as some people believed, but he could borrow their skills. He knows the way they feel, what they need and how they function. Later, he discovered that could do the same with plants, rocks, and any kind of thing that comes from nature. The easiest way to manifest their characteristics was by eating the thing in question. That power had been very useful in fighting before. He hoped that nature would allow him to continue using his powers to be a good knight.

Tamaki walks through the grass, enjoying the warm rays of the afternoon sun and the silence in that part of town when he sees a bright lilac butterfly. Tamaki loves butterflies, so he plays with her for a while. However, her plans are different as she flies away from him. Tamaki follows her since he hasn’t seen someone or something that he should be on guard for. Play for a while would be good for him. Tamaki follows the little butterfly until he sees her go into the forest. Tamaki had been cautious with the forest since those sounds and noises started to haunt him, but the healer didn’t detect anything unusual in his ears or head, so these whispers were most likely to be just a consequence of stress.

Tamaki enters the forest, but the butterfly has disappeared. He becomes discouraged and is about to come back when someone says his name.

"Tamaki" a voice calls out and Tamaki recognizes it as the voice that has been tormenting him.

He’s on guard.

"Calm," the voice says. "I won't hurt you."

A beautiful woman with gorgeous purple hair, beautiful blue eyes, and pointed ears appears in front of him. Tamaki feels that he knows her, but he doesn't know exactly who she is.

"Identify yourself," Tamaki says still without letting his guard down. "please…"

"Oh, darling. Do not you recognize me?" The woman asks in pain. "I am your mother." She says and opens her arms, the long sleeves of her white tunic make her look like a butterfly. She speaks at the same time she approaches him. Her voice is sweet and kind. “I’m so glad to finally see you, my dear child.”

She wraps her arms around Tamaki’s shoulders. He doesn’t correspond to her affections, but he doesn’t reject her either.

She separates and continues speaking, with two little tears in her eyes. "I have missed you so much. You do not know how."

Tamaki doesn’t know what to say. He should be happy? Or maybe angry? His father told him that his mother died when he was born. He felt guilty for being responsible for his mother’s death for many years, at least until he moved with his granny and she was his mother figure and the pain decreased. His father disappeared into the forest. Perhaps it was a joke /or maybe fate), that the forest took a father away from him, but now it’s giving him back a mother.

Tamaki reviews the information repeatedly, his heart refuses to believe that the woman in front of him is his mother, but his eyes don't lie. Her face contains small fragments of himself that he has seen in the mirror numerous times.

"Mother..." Tamaki says, he feels strange.

"Yes, my love!"

Tamaki hugs her appropriately this time.

 

***

 

"Are you okay?" His mother, Ume, asks, stopping her gait.

Tamaki doesn't answer. The truth is that he isn’t okay. His mother, who was dead, appeared before him and told him that he is a half-elf, something that he already knew but preferred to ignore, that some villains separated her from him and his father, but her family rescued her from these villains. However, her condition had been critical so she needed years to recover. When she had returned for her son, he was no longer in the village where they used to live. It was recently that she located him. Also, there was the fact that his eighteenth birthday was approaching, and the elves had invited him to join them. In their domain, he could unleash his full potential and learn powerful and ancient magic.

"Sorry, it's a lot to process," Tamaki says playing with his cape. He pulls up his hood, the same way that when crowds overwhelm him.

"I understand," Ume says softly.

They continue walking and Tamaki admires all the flora and wildlife. His mother has crossed the boundaries of what is considered a safe space without beasts and wild creatures. Tamaki had been afraid of piercing them, but now that he sees them, everything is beautiful and natural.

They walk and walk, his mother tells him about plants and animals, elves and magic, his family, and how they would welcome him with open arms, and how much she has missed him. They walk what seems like minutes, but it has been hours. They both come out of that forest and Tamaki can see how the sky has turned dark blue.

"I'm afraid our time is over," His mother says with a sad expression. They had arrived at the point they met. Tamaki doesn't know when that happened. "But I enjoyed our time together." Tamaki nods, he did it too. “I have to go, my dear. But here you have. " She gives Tamaki a little silver bracelet with a bell. “I’ll be able to find you with this. It functions in the other way; you can contact me through it too. "

Tamaki hugs his mother one last time and then she disappears into the forest.

 

***

 

Tamaki meets with his mother the next day, the next, and the next. It's been two weeks since his mother came back into his life, but it feels like years. They talked about everything and nothing at the same time. His mother is very intelligent, beautiful, and eloquent. He has gotten along with her like he hasn't gotten along with someone for a long time. She has told him about her people, her travels, and even his father. And Tamaki had told her about his days as a recruit, his friends, and missions. She keeps inviting him to join her and her people beyond the forest, but Tamaki always says he would think about it and changes the topic.

Tamaki doesn’t tell his grandmother about this, even though he desperately wants to. His granny would worry. Knowing it would make her condition worse, so Tamaki keeps this for himself. He also doesn’t tell his friends. They’re busy with the spring festival, that Tamaki burdening them with his worries would be too much. He doesn’t want to overwhelm them. Not to mention Fat Gum, he would tell Tamaki that it was great that he saw his mother again, but that he needs to be careful. He might even force him to talk about feelings. But Tamaki knows that he can tell Mirio. He has always listened to him and advised him well. His first friend and confidant always knew what to say. Surely, he could tell Tamaki whether he would trust his mother's word or not. The idea of going with her to the elves’ kingdom was tempting. There would be people just like him: with pointed ears and abilities related to nature. However, he didn’t want to abandon his friends.

"Mirio went to the capital this morning," Mirio's father says when Tamaki goes to his house after his turn. "Didn't he tell you? Well, I guess not, he left quickly. I am sorry."

Tamaki shrinks and hides in the hood from him.

"It's okay. Thank you."

Tamaki goes to his house, thinking about what could be so urgent to rush back to the capital.

"I'm home," Tamaki says upon entering. He is greeted by his grandmother on the floor. "Grandma!" Tamaki yells and rushes next to her.

Tamaki carries her in his arms and goes quickly to the house of the healer.

Tamaki walks back and forth while he waits outside. His anxiety can spill out of his pores. The door opens after a few minutes and the healer comes out.

"She's stable." He announces

"Thank god." Tamaki says sighing.

“But her condition has got worse. Her lung disease is in its final stage. "

What? Tamaki's heart sinks. His ears feel full of cotton.

“She has a month at most. I am sorry."

Tamaki doesn't know about that. Yes, his grandmother had been taking pills and concoctions for years, but she never told him that her condition was that bad. Stupid, she didn't tell you because she knew you'd blame yourself. Tamaki wants to cry, but his grandmother needs it.

Tamaki enters with his grandmother, who is asleep. He watches her sleep a bit but leaves after a few minutes. He must do something to save her. Tamaki goes to the forest and rings the little silver bell that hangs from his wrist.

 

***

 

"Son!" Ume says and opens her arms. However, Tamaki doesn't move.

"My grandmother is dying." He says, getting to the point.

"Oh."

"She has a terminal lung disease, and she only has weeks." Tamaki gasps, tears threatening to spill from his eyes. "Please," Tamaki pleads. "Help me save my grandmother."

His mother is quiet for some minutes, thinking, then she sighs.

"There is a way." She says and Tamaki feels his soul returning to his body.

"Really?" Tamaki asks hopefully.

"Yes, but the elves have it contained in an almanac. Only the healers have access to it." Ume responds.

“But we can consult witches and other wizards, can't we? They must have a cure.” Tamaki asks.

“Even if we know the recipe, the ingredients: plants, flowers, roots, are very rare. The kingdoms hide it for their rulers. Warlocks and wizards will demand a very high price for them. Would you be willing to fight a kingdom or pay whatever those magic users ask? "

Tamaki's heart sinks.

"But, if you would come and join us, could you ask for a favor," Ume says convinced. "I’m sure that, if you asked them, they would give you the necessary supplies for the medicine."

Tamaki looks at her doubtfully. Was it the only way?

"If I joined ..." Tamaki says and Ume's smile widens. "What should I do?"

“My dear child, nothing bad will happen. I assure you that they will welcome you. The only requirement is to leave at midnight on full moon. "

"And for how long would I go?" Tamaki asks although he is fearful for the answer.

"Oh, honey." His mother says compassionately. “The life of the elves is imperishable. We will live for as long as the oaks, as the water in the sea, as the stars in the sky. You will live with us forever. "

What?

"But you can always go back to the human world!" His mother says, trying to comfort him. “You will be able to see your grandmother and your friends! You could even help them on their missions and improve their quality of life. Isn't there something you want to do for them, but right now you can't? With the wisdom and knowledge of our people, miracles are possible. Imagine, Tamaki, the elves being recognized and respected, your friends and grandmother safe… Doesn't that sound good? "

Ume's words wrap around Tamaki like an elusive snake. Promises and ideals sound sweet, but even so, his heart doesn't stop feeling wrong.

"I-I ..." Tamaki struggles to search for words. "I have to think about it."

"Of course," his mother says with an overly sweet smile on her face. "The next full moon will be in three days, I'm afraid that will be your time limit."

"What?"

Ume sighs.

"I have special permission to come with you. The full moon is my time limit." His mother says with a grimace, showing a tattoo of a flower on her wrist that has worn away, and now it only has three black petals left. “If you decide to come with me, with your people, I will see you in this forest in three days at midnight, leave all your outstanding issues resolved before that day. If not, this will be the farewell. "

Tamaki wants to cry. Everything is too sudden. Everything is too much.

"It was very nice to meet you, my dear son," Ume says and caresses Tamaki's cheek tenderly. He wants to back off, but he can't move. "Goodbye." She says, leaving Tamaki alone in the dark.

 

***

 

Tamaki knows that he looks horrible. He feels bad because he hasn’t been able to sleep since he talked with his mother. His mind has been repeating Ume's words, the possibilities of seeking help elsewhere, and the picture of his granny on the floor. He had sent letters and messages to various wizards and witches in neighboring villages and more distant kingdoms, but none has given him a satisfactory answer. Nejire, Yuuyu, and Fat knew something was happening but he didn’t tell them anything, it was his responsibility, not theirs. Tamaki is running out of options and time.

His grandmother didn’t want to leave the kingdom in the last weeks of her life. She told him that if she was going to die, she would be in his homeland. Tamaki had argued with her, but she didn't want to listen.

“You still have a bright future ahead of you, my dear. Don't let this old lady ruin it. I have lived a good life. I will not complain if I die tomorrow, I just- I just don’t want you to blame yourself. "

She had delicately stroked his hair, like when he was a child, and dispelled his worries. But Tamaki didn't want to give up. However, before surrendering to the elves, he must know if, as his grandmother said, he would have a future there. The truth was that, if he left, nothing wouldn't change too much. Fat Gum has recruits to train; Kirishima would continue traveling with his friends and he even might find a cooler and less nervous superior; Yuuyu would keep working at the tavern to keep saving money to pay a good wizard to train her; Nejire would continue to be herself and cheer for everyone while kicking the bad guys and Mirio ... Mirio would keep trying to regain his powers. He would keep traveling to the capital of the kingdom to visit Eri (from whom it hasn’t returned for weeks and had only sent letters), he may even move in and help train new knights while he finds a cure ... Even Tamaki, with ancient knowledge, might find one. But, if there was a chance that Mirio said he didn't want Tamaki to leave, he wouldn't.

Tamaki knows that he is selfish, he is vile, even. Abandon his grandmother and a great opportunity for love… But he is willing to respect his grandmother's wishes, even if they aren’t the right ones if he will have a future, a family, a home there. Mirio would be back that day and Tamaki had left a message with Mr. Toogata to tell him to meet him at the usual place: the lake. He hoped that a talk with his best friend could solve his doubts.

"Oh, Tamaki!" Mirio calls waving his right hand to get his attention. Tamaki comes out of his thoughts and looks at his friend. The blonde runs to where he is and takes a seat on the grass next to him.

Tamaki blushes when he feels that their knees collide.

"Sorry, my father gave me your message and I came as fast as I could."

Tamaki shakes his head.

"It doesn't matter, tell me how it went"

Mirio smiles and tells about what happened on his three-week excursion. He tells him about Eri and how she has learned to write, about how his teacher’s troop is in good hands. Mirio talks a lot and Tamaki listens carefully. He has always liked that. That feels good, both sitting looking at the sunset, Mirio filling the silence, and Tamaki listening and appreciating each of Mirio's words.

"I'm sorry" Mirio apologizes scratching the back of his neck. “I think I have talked too much. Tell me, why did you want to meet me here? "

Tamaki sighs and looks at the lake in front of him. Little by little the darker colors take over the sky.

"I wanted to know something," Tamaki says in a whisper. For Mirio, who has spent more than half of his life listening to his voice, is not difficult to decipher the words.

"You can ask me anything!"

Tamaki swallows and hugs his knees. His cheeks feel warm.

"Do you see me in your future? I mean, by your side? " Tamaki asks, then shakes his head. "What I want to ask you is: What do I mean to you?"

Mirio is strangely quiet. Tamaki must turn his neck to see that he has heard it.

Mirio laughs but feels forced. “Of course, I see you in my future, Tamaki. After all, you are my dearest friend ... I love you like a brother and you can always count on me. "

Tamaki turns his gaze to the lake.

"I see…"

"Why are you asking this so suddenly?" Mirio squeals. "Something happened?"

Tamaki shakes his head.

"Everything is fine. Thanks."

Mirio opens his mouth, as if he wanted to say something else, but he closes it.

"Well, I'll go home, I'm tired from the trip and I promised my father to have dinner with him."

"It's okay," Tamaki says with a small smile. Mirio sits up and shakes off his pants. He offers Tamaki a hand but Tamaki refuses. Mirio starts to walk, but Tamaki calls him. "Mirio"

"Yes?" He stops.

"You are also my dear friend."

Mirio's smile falters for a second.

"See you tomorrow!"

Now, Tamaki knows what he needs to do.

 

***

 

Tamaki goes home. His grandmother is knitting in the living room.

"’Maki" She calls. "How are you? Are you hungry?"

Tamaki smiles.

“I'm fine, I just got back from the tavern. I ate there. " Tamaki lies. Well, it was true that he had gone to the tavern, but he hadn’t eaten anything, he went there to say goodbye. Yuuyu was busy cleaning up after a bar fight and Nejire was working on a case where Ryukyu, the dragon lady, had asked her for help. Tamaki helped Yuuyu and chatted with Nejire for a while and then left. He also talked a bit with Fat, who was about to have dinner with the recruits. He said that he would see him tomorrow morning and Tamaki didn’t contradict him. Tamaki preferred it that way, something normal and simple, so he could pretend that he would see them tomorrow and not until a long time later.

His grandmother nods at him with sleepy eyes.

"Why don't you go to bed?" Tamaki asks and removes the yarn from his grandmother's hands. "I'll go to sleep in a few minutes."

His grandmother nods and says “Good night.”

Tamaki stays in the living room for a while. He appreciates his small but cozy home. After a while, he goes up to his room and does the same. When he's ready, Tamaki puts on his armor.

It's time to go, however, he has something to do before going to the forest and disappear for a while. Tamaki sighs and walks out the window.

***

Tamaki watches Mirio's chest rise and fall gently. His sleep should be placid and peaceful. Tamaki smiles despite the sadness that floods his heart like a ship about to sink. Tamaki reverently kneels next to the person who, in his opinion, is the personification of the Sun, and strokes his hair. When Mirio frowns and fidgets, Tamaki withdraws his hand, fearful that any movement will wake him up. However, his friend sighs and relaxes again and Tamaki continues brushing the gold threads.

Tamaki observes Mirio’s broad forehead and his eyelids framed by eyebrows just as bright as his hair containing dazzling blue eyes. He observes his turned-up nose and his plump cheeks with a slight shadow, a symbol of his maturity. He observes his strong chin and his soft pink lips. Tamaki gulps and leans toward Mirio's face. He feels his cheeks burn with shame and his heart pound with ecstasy. He doesn’t understand how feelings so contradictory, can coexist inside him.

If Tamaki were braver, maybe a little crazier, and less anxious, maybe, just maybe, he would lean in and brush his lips against his beloved's. However, he isn’t like that, so he doesn't do it. Instead, he simply places a kiss on Mirio's forehead and wishes with all his heart his happiness. Tamaki truly and deeply loves him and wants nothing more than his health and happiness. If he was a poet, he would write a letter; if he was a great speaker or a musician, he could whisper his love in his ear; if he were different, he could do many things. But he isn’t. So, all he does is say "Goodbye." and leave behind the cloak, like the one that Mirio had covered him with so many years ago when they were kids, hoping it would warm him that cold night.

 

***

 

"My son!" Tamaki's mother exclaims, opening her arms when she sees him arrive. Tamaki approaches her and Ume wraps him in a hug. Her perfume is intoxicating, and her touch is just as magical as the first time he met her. Ume steps back and takes Tamaki by the shoulders. 

“I'm glad you decided to come with me, with your people. You won't regret it, I promise. "

Tamaki forces a smile and then offers his arm. His mother takes it and they start walking. The forest is much more beautiful at night than during the day: dragonflies, cicadas, and fireflies, as well as butterflies, fly, illuminating the flowers made of precious stones. Mushrooms also light their path with their fluorescent light. Tamaki can hear many species’ songs, some never seen before, climbing trees, sliding between branches, or swimming in the small ponds and fountains that are scattered throughout the place. Nature is beautiful, but at the same time it is wild, Tamaki can feel the eyes of many creatures following his steps, the energy that they radiate, as well as the unique language of him that he can’t understand and that scares him.

"Please don't forget our promise," Tamaki says in a tremulous voice after walking what seemed like hours.

His mother glances at him and gives him a slightly tight smile. "Of course not, darling." She responds, his purple hair shaking gently with each step they take. "Once we make your conversion official, and ask for a favor, we will return to heal your grandmother."

Tamaki makes an affirmative noise and turns his attention to the front. His feet hurt even though he has walked on soft dirt and grass. Despite this, Tamaki doesn’t stop walking, he continues doing it for a long time, listening carefully to the few interventions that his mother has about plants or animals. But even as interesting as that is, Tamaki only thinks about how his grandmother would admire butterflies, how Yuuyu would like small ponds full of fishes, how Nejire would love flowers, how Fat would want to eat mushrooms, how Kirishima he would climb the trees, and how Mirio and Eri would pet and feed the deer, rabbits, and chipmunks. Even though Tamaki knows that his friends are far away, they are still present in his heart.

"We have arrived." His mother announces after a while walking in silence. Tamaki looks at the exquisite tower in front of him made of woven branches, it is imposing and mysterious. "Come on Tamaki, we're home."

Home. Tamaki wonders if that place could become his home. Until that moment, his home was his grandmother, waiting awake for him to return from patrol, it was Fat saving some food for him, it was Yuuyu, Nejire and other colleagues celebrating at the bar, it was Mirio talking with him at sunset. Tamaki shakes his head to put all that behind him. You abandoned them. He follows his mother.

They enter the tower, its floor is full of leaves and flowers, crystals and some jars with fireflies hang from the ceiling, although it appears to be deserted. Tamaki follows his mother as she goes through the hall. They cross a thin barrier full of color like a soap bubble. After that, they go upstairs. All the floors are like the one where they entered, just an empty space with junks and stairs. Ume stops after a few floors and she approaches a balcony 

"Welcome to our kingdom, my son." His mother says looking out the view. Tamaki can see an exquisite multi-level structure both above and below them. That must be the magic his mother spoke of when she explained that the elves' fields were the earth, the subsoil, and the space beyond the treetops. The bridges link houses, huts, cabins, and other places where elves established in the trees meet with others. The materials of those bridges and varied, some seemed woven with leaves and flowers, others made of branches, and others of glowing minerals. Each hall is adorned with fibers, flowers, lamps, magical ponds, everything was beautiful and magical. But the most surprising of all, were its inhabitants, elves with pointed ears with colored hair walked from one side to the other reading scrolls, carrying baskets full of vegetables and herbs or simply speaking a language that was unknown to him but familiar somehow.

"What do you think?" Ume asks her son.

"It's amazing," Tamaki admits. He believes that, however, the weight that lays on his chest doesn't go away. Tamaki thought that, after arriving at the place where he was supposed to be more accepted than anywhere else, he would feel that the decision to left everything behind for knowledge, magic, would be worth it. But it doesn’t. Tamaki observes a group of friends talking a few floors below. Tamaki watches them and wonders if he could one day strike up a friendship like the one he has experienced with all of his companions. He is sullen, nervous, and reserved, so he doesn't make friends easily. His friends were irreplaceable, all of them. "But I can't stay," Tamaki says and his mother's smile disappears.

"What?" she asks dumbfounded.

"I'm sorry," Tamaki apologizes for the inconvenience he has caused, but he hopes that she could understand him. “But I want to- No. I need to go home. I know that I will find a cure with the help of my friends. I'm sorry, mother. Deeply. But I have to go back. "

Tamaki turns around and tries to go to the stairs, desperate to get out of there.

"Oh, Tamaki." His mother says in a sweet voice but that she gives him chills. "I wish you hadn't said that."

Tamaki tries to reach the stairs, but something stops him and falls to the ground.

"What?" Tamaki asks and sees a chain linking his right wrist to his mother. The chains emerged from the silver bracelet she had given him. Now Tamaki knew that it wasn’t only used to locate him. "Why are you doing this?"

His mother sighs and brings the chain to his chest.

"Oh, Tamaki, you are necessary for my repositioning."

"What? What are you talking about?" Tamaki asks as he struggles to free himself from her chains even though they seem attached to his skin.

"I will tell you a story, Tamaki." His mother says as she turns and goes down the stairs. She goes down several floors until they return to the initial point. They cross a door that hasn’t been there before and enter a hallway. She quickens her pace. Even though she didn't seem like she was exerting force, Tamaki was dragged by the chains. “Once upon a time there was a very beautiful elf, the best one in medicine and science. However, on her first outing to the human world, she met a man and fell in love. Although the romance between humans and elves is forbidden, she did not care and lived a very happy time with him. They were blessed with a child, but he didn't care that she had sacrificed everything for him, and he enlisted to be a knight to defend his people. Leaving behind his wife and his child." Ume's voice turns sour at that point. "In the end, a message said that he had died in battle and she was left alone with a boy who was identical to him."

Tamaki knows the story is about him, but he doesn't understand why she thinks her father died when he was a baby.

“She couldn't bear it, so she abandoned the boy and begged her family to accept her back. They accepted her back, but she was disowned by everyone. Nevertheless, there was a way to clear her name. If she gives them her half-blood soon and he fights for the elves, her reputation would be cleansed and forgiven. I made your grandmother’s condition got worse to make you come with me. "

Tamaki gasp. So, it was her. The chains hurt him and his heart aches from the betrayal. The story of his mother hurts a lot but deep in his heart, he understands it.

"Now do you understand, Tamaki?" His mother says, facing him. Small drops of water hanging from her eyes. “I have to give you up. Only then, I can be accepted again. "

Tamaki denies. Maybe if he explained to her what had happened, she would understand.

"My father didn’t die in that war," Tamaki says. “He came home and only found me. He thought you abandoned us, but still, he always took care of me. " Tamaki exhales. "Because he thought he looked like you."

Tears spill from his mother's eyes.

"He disappeared into the forest when I was six years old." Tamaki continues. “I waited and waited for him, but he didn't come back. I thought the forest had claimed him as well as it once claimed you. Don't blame him. I think that message was a trap, for you to come back here. He went into the forest to find you ... "

"That doesn't change anything." His mother says. Her sadness is replaced by anger. “We cannot trust humans. Your family is the only thing you have. I'm glad you left those friends of yours. They did not let you unleash your true potential. You will see. You will be the best and most powerful of the elves and our era will finally arrive. "

"You're wrong." Tamaki declares. "Humans are good and kind. They are bright and reliable. Yes, they could be bad, but some try to be better. I'm glad I'm half of who they are. "

His mother frowns.

"Well, you say that, but you're here for a reason and that was because they did not listen to you. Because they did not appreciate you." His mother laughs. “Besides, I don't see anyone around here to save you. It seems they cared a lot less about you than you thought."

His mother pulls on the chain to drag him away. But, as he struggles with her, a rumble echoes throughout the place. Tamaki looks to the left and finds himself face to face with Mirio.

The first thing Tamaki feels when he sees Mirio is overwhelming relief. The next thing is anger, since, by going there, surely, he broke many pacts, treaties, surely the elves would hang him for his daring.

"Tamaki!" Mirió exclaims as he comes down.

"Mirio!" Tamaki exclaims as well and, taking advantage of his mother's stupor, rushed towards him.

Mirio was full of dust, crystals, dirt, and branches, even though he has passed through the walls effortlessly. Like he had his powers back. Tamaki thinks he looks stunning in his armor.

"What’re you doing here?" he asks him as he helps Mirio to incorporate. A shell sounds in the distance and Tamaki notices that it’s his warning signal. Now everyone knows there were intruders in the area.

 "I came for you," Mirio says.

Tamaki doesn't look him in the eye. He couldn’t. He lets Mirio's forearm go and keeps looking down. "Why?" he whispers. Anyone else could have lost the sound of his voice, but not Mirio.

"Because you leave this!" Mirio says as he takes Tamaki's cloak between his fingers. Amid all the commotion, Tamaki hadn't noticed that Mirio's cloak wasn’t the one he always wore, but his, the one he left behind. "And most importantly, I don't want to live in a world where I didn't do everything to make you stay."

Tamaki feels his cheeks burn. Does that mean what he thinks it means?

“But I- I don't…” Tamaki searches for words to express the silly ideas he had thought of in the past, but he can't find them.

"Tamaki" Mirio calls. However, Tamaki doesn't look at him. Could he look at the Sun directly without burning?

Tamaki looks up and encounters a beautiful dazzling smile and a soft gaze.

"If you want to stay here, if you think this is where you belong, then I won’t object," Mirio says taking Tamaki’s hands between his and looking at him intensely. “But if you feel that your home is with us, with me, then we can go back. I'm sure everyone will be happy about your return. "

Tamaki feels such a joy that he could burst into tears right there. With just a few words, Mirio has cleared away all the dark clouds that tormented his heart.

"I want to go home." Tamaki declares taking the cape.

Mirio smiles tenderly and nods.

"Mother," Tamaki calls out to the viewer who has observed everything in silence. "Sorry, I can't stay."

Tamaki's mother smiles, but it’s a sad smile. Tamaki didn’t expect that reaction, he thought they would have to fight it, but it seems that won’t happen.

"Oh, honey." She says and Tamaki thinks it's the first time he hears her speak like this, without ulterior motives. "I'm glad you have a home."

Tamaki blushes, but nods. She walks over, but Mirio steps forward, standing between her and Tamaki. Ume stops and raises her hands as a sign that she won't try anything. Mirio looks at Tamaki and he nods. She walks over to Tamaki and grabs his right wrist. The chain disappears

"Go." She says, "They'll be here soon. Follow these fireflies, they will lead you home.”

"What will you do?" Tamaki asks, concerned, he can hear the guards approaching.

"I will distract them while you escape."

"And then? Won't they punish you for this? " Tamaki asks, he doesn't want to imagine what will happen to his mother if the elves capture her. Mirio holds his arm as a sign that they must leave. "You could come with us."

"You are very kind, Tamaki." Her mother says and caresses his cheek. “Offering me a home after everything I've done to you. But no. I do not deserve it."

"But-" Tamaki tries to object but is interrupted by his mother.

"Do not worry about me." She magically builds a wall of lianas to prevent arrows and spears reach them. "Your father is still lost in the forest, isn't he?" Tamaki nods. “Then, I will find him and when we see you again, I will be a mother worthy of you. By the way, sunflowers are the key. Now go away."

Mirio takes that as his signal and holds Tamaki by his waist to use his power to penetrate through walls, leaving her mother behind them.

"There!" Mirio points out a group of glowing fireflies after they achieved to get out of the principal tower. He chases them as he pulls Tamaki by the hand. Tamaki is too shocked to notice that he and Mirio are holding hands.

They both run after the fireflies, Tamaki's legs work more by inertia than because he wants to move them. Tamaki hugs the cape with his free arm and just follows Mirio. They run away from the elves for what seems like hours, but it was only a few minutes. They reached the clearing again. Even though it’s still night, Tamaki knows that it is his town, he can feel them all.

Mirio lets out an exclamation of surprise. "Your mother was right, Tamaki," he says, looking around the clearing and then meeting his eyes with a smile. "The fireflies lead us home."

 "Yes ... we are home."

Tamaki smiles despite the weariness in his bones and his heart. After all the hustle and bustle, Tamaki realizes that his and Mirio's hands are intertwined and he walks away quickly, embarrassed, putting his hand on his heart that runs like a horse. Mirio notices this and his smile softens. He approaches slowly, as he would approach a frightened animal. Tamaki doesn’t move away, but he doesn’t approach either.

"Are you cold?" he asks, breaking the silence, noticing the little chills that run through his spine.

Tamaki shrugs. Mirio takes the cloak from Tamaki's hands and wraps it around him, gently knotting the noose over his collarbone.

"Done" he exclaims. Tamaki caresses the little bun with his fingers, feeling his cheeks burn from the closeness. "Tamaki," Mirio calls and continues until he looks up. “That time, at the lake, I wasn’t honest with you. The truth is that I was afraid. " Tamaki is about to say something, but Mirio continues. "It's silly, now that I think about it! But I couldn't help feeling that way since you make me feel so weak but so strong at the same time! I feel this in my chest and I was terrified to tell you, I thought I would lose my best friend. " Tamaki's mouth falls open in surprise, his heart racing past him once more. "But I don't want to have regrets, I have promised my teacher, so I want to tell you something." Mirio takes Tamaki's hands into his. "Tamaki, I-"

"I love you," Tamaki says for him even though he thought he was unable to speak after his friend's statement. "I have always loved you, Mirio." Tamaki declares. And I think I always will. He doesn't say, but he leaves it hanging in the air. It’s something simple but fundamental.

Mirio's smile is so dazzling that not even all the gold in the world could compare. Tamaki modifies his grip so that he has Mirio's fingers between his hands. He draws his knuckles closer and kisses them reverently. Tamaki looks up and meets Mirio's deeply serious gaze despite his red cheeks.

"Tamaki," Mirio says again. Tamaki could get used to the tone in which he says it. His voice is soft as honey "Can I kiss you?"

Tamaki's heart skips a beat. At that rate, he would end up getting off his chest. Tamaki nods. Mirio lets go of his hands and before he can complain about the loss, Tamaki feels the warmth of Mirio's hands cradling his face. Tamaki rests his hands on Mirio's waist. The look that Mirio haunts him is one that he has seen in himself: sweet and full of love. They both get closer little by little, without haste, until they can breathe the same air and their noses touch. Tamaki is the one bridging the gap.

Dawn coincides with their union. However, Tamaki feels that the true dawn happens within him. He didn't think his love for Mirio could grow even more, yet it does and now he feels an inner warmth like no other. He feels like the first hot day after a harsh winter, a bowl of hot soup after a long day at work, that kiss was all that and more. Although it was only a few seconds of a soft brush of lips, Tamaki found it perfect. They both separate and bring their foreheads together.

However, Tamaki was a lover of the rays of the Sun and leans in again to capture Mirio's lips in another kiss. After all, his knight's name was Suneater. They both kiss a little more before separating and hugging. The last traces of purple paint in the sky dissolves to give way to a painting full of warm colors.

"It's true!" Mirio exclaims after a few moments. Tamaki becomes exalted and separates. They both start running with their hands were hooked "I have to tell Hadou we're back!"

"It's true, why did you go alone?" Tamaki complains. "That was very dangerous."

"I'm fine! Don’t worry about it! But I told Hadou that if he didn't come back at dawn after a day, she should go for the heavy artillery! "

"You left for a day!?" Tamaki asks, he knew that time was different in the elves’ domain, but he didn't know how much. It seemed like hours to him. "How long was I gone?"

"Two days," Mirio said. “We looked for you relentlessly, but I knew you weren't around. When I spoke with your grandmother, I knew it. "

"And how did you get into the domain-"

Mirio laughs.

"With this!" Mirio points to the left side of his chest with his thumb. Tamaki blushes. He doesn’t particularly believe in soulmates, despite all the arguments Kirishima with his dragon wisdom has told him, but, if there are any, he is glad that he and Mirio are one of them. Even if there were none, he is sure that they would meet again. Repeatedly, in one life and the other. “And with a very useful compass, someone gave me after I got my powers back!” That was true, he had his power again. They need to talk about it later.

They both enter Yuuyu's tavern, their lungs are burning. The ringing of bells echoes throughout the place.

"Thanks to Faery!" Hadou exclaims as he runs towards them. She wraps them in a hug. Yuuyu joins soon after. “I was about to send these butterflies to our friends in the Endeavor’s kingdom! Fat has eaten twice due to stress! "

"No, Please. Don't call them. " Tamaki doesn't want to cause the boys any more trouble. "I'll go see Fat after this ..." Tamaki hoped he didn't cry too much.

"I'm very glad you are well!" Yuuyu says with teary eyes. "You have to tell us everything!"

“And we will. We are at home! Aren’t we, Tamaki? " Mirio looks at him and squeezes his hand.

Tamaki smiles.

"Yes, I'm home.

 

Epilogue

 

"Don't give Fat more meat, please." Tamaki pleads for the fifth time.

"One more piece won't hurt!" Kirishima says putting a large piece of pork on Fat's plate. "A man as masculine as Fat needs to eat well!"

Tamaki sighs and lets his friends get away with it.

"Shitty hair, come here." Kirishima's barbarian friend yells.

"I'm on my way! See you later!"

Tamaki nods and watches Kirishima delivering the food to Fat, who takes it with stars in his eyes and then joins his friend on the dance floor. The spring festival organized, by Nejire, is being celebrated. It turns out that the minstrel Nejire hired was Jiro Kyouka, a friend of Kirishima, Midoriya, and the entire gang, so they ended up attending the festival as well. 

The musical event had been a success. Little Eri, who had also attended, had a lot of fun, she hasn't stopped smiling. Now, Tamaki watches the crowd from a safe distance. He watches Nejire and Yuuyu braiding Eri's hair; he watches her grandmother, who after drunk a special medicine made of sunflowers seeds got better, chatting with her friends; he watches Todoroki and Midoriya dancing in the middle of the dance floor. Everyone is happy.

"Psst. Psst,” Tamaki listens. He searches the crowd, but he doesn't see anyone. "Down here." A voice that he identifies as Mirio's says.

Tamaki looks through the bushes and sees Mirio hiding behind the leaves.

"Mirio!" Tamaki exclaims and Mirio hides again. Tamaki lowers his voice and continues. "What are you doing there?"

Mirio sneaks into the bushes and signals for Tamaki to follow him. He follows Mirio confused but amused at the same time. Mirio guides him towards the now deserted buildings, as they are all celebrating in the square.

"Hello!" Mirio says with a smile

"Hi." Tamaki's smile grows even bigger. "What are we doing here?"

Mirio leans down and offers his hand.

"I want to dance with you, but I know you wouldn't feel comfortable dancing in front of those people," Mirio says and Tamaki's heart skips a beat. God, he loves him.

Tamaki accepts Mirio's hand and they begin to sway from side to side as they embrace with a soft melody in the background.

The wind blows his hair, the pink light of the evening sun shines and they are both in each other's arms.

Tamaki smiles.