Disclaimer: I do not own anything but my love for Pandora's Tower.

"Aeron?" Elena walked through the observatory, glancing around fervently, but she couldn't find him anywhere. He had been laying on his bed just a minute ago... Had he... had he already left to go back to the Towers? She looked over at the clock that Aeron had bought for her from Mavda only a few days ago. It was only a few hours until nightfall. Couldn't he have waited until the next morning to go? And why did he leave without saying goodbye?

Elena sighed and watched the seconds slowly tick by on the clock. It looked like it was going to be another long, lonely night... She had been having a lot of those lately. They were only a few towers away until she had finally eaten twelve pieces of master flesh, and the closer they got, the more Aeron was away in the Towers.

She knew that he was doing this for her, but she still felt so lonely. She talked with Mavda, of course, but it wasn't nearly as fulfilling as when she was with Aeron. Elena wrapped her arms around herself, looking down at the ground with half-closed eyes. So lonely...

She shook her head, dropping her arms and looking up at the ceiling. "C'mon, Elena," she whispered to herself, "get it together. You can't be moping about." With a forced spring in her step, Elena walked over to where the broom was. "Might as well get some cleaning done," she said to herself, pushing cheerfulness into her voice that she didn't feel.

The cleaning didn't fill up nearly as much time as she had hoped, not it was that surprising. She swept and mopped nearly every day, so how could the dirt have piled up enough to give her more work to do? And she had washed the dishes earlier that day as well as shaken the rugs, tidy up both her and Aeron's desk, tend to the garden, fold and put the laundry away, wash the windows, and everything else that was on her list of daily chores.

With a sigh, Elena sat down at the table, folding her arms across the wooden surface and laying her head down on them. She stared at the clock, eyes following the second hand as it moved steadily around the face of the clock... but it wasn't moving fast enough. It was slow, so slow. Each second took hours, each minute took decades, and each hour felt like an eternity. A hollow, lonely eternity.

I could write in my diary, Elena thought, without any real emotions behind it. I could look at the birds on the roof... I could look around in the cellar...

But she didn't. She felt too empty to do anything except sit there, staring at the clock. She couldn't even hear it from where she was; she could only watch it from afar and imagine the sounds it made, imagine the gears slowly spinning around inside of it...

That's how she had been feeling with Aeron lately, too. She felt that he was always away, always fighting the monsters lurking in the Towers. When he did come back, he was covered in cuts and bruises that broke Elena's heart over and over again. No matter how many times she told him to be careful, he would always mange to find some way to get hurt. No matter how many times she bandaged him up, he got hurt again.

No matter how much she tried to help him, she couldn't.

The first of her tears had just begun flowing down her cheeks when the door of the Observatory opened silently and Elena, having her face buried in her arms, didn't notice. She didn't notice the blonde-haired warrior enter the Observatory and walk over to her, holding a bag in his hand.

"Elena?" Aeron said quietly, setting the bag on the table. "What's wrong?"

Elena looked up at him with tear-stained eyes. "Aeron!" Standing up suddenly, she wrapped her arms around his waist, burying her face in his chest. Startled by the sudden show of affection, Aeron froze while his face flushed with red. It took him a second before he returned the embrace, encasing her in his arms. After a few minutes of this, Elena finally pulled away, wiping at her eyes. Aeron let his hands fall to her waist, forcing her to stay close to him.

"Elena?" He asked again, reaching up with one hand to wipe away a stray tear. "What happened?"

She shook her head slightly, a small smile on her lips. "N-nothing. I just... I felt like you were so far away..." She clutched at his shirt. "And I... I couldn't reach you..."

Aeron stroked her cheek gently with his thumb. "I'm not, Elena. I'm right here."

"You didn't say goodbye," she whispered. "You just left without a word."

He swallowed, realizing what he had done. "I'm sorry, Elena. I wasn't thinking..." He leaned his forehead against hers, cupping both her cheeks with his hands. "I won't do that again."

Elena blinked up at him, covering his hands with hers. His were so large, and they were so warm, too... "Promise?"

Aeron brushed his lips against hers. "Promise."