For most of her life, Neo never knew happiness. It was always an illusion, always fleeting, never solid. A loving family, a warm bed, never knowing the pains of hunger. Any time she'd reach out to touch it, to hold it close and tight, it would always shatter just as she touched it. Maybe that was why she developed her Semblance, to create a world around her of false hope, to remind her of what was always out of reach.

She never knew happiness until she met Roman.

It was the first real time her happiness didn't shatter. He had taken her in, given her food and warmth and joy, and a sense of purpose, treating her like family. He was going to be one of the best thieves in all of Remnant and she wanted to be there to witness his dreams come true. For the first time ever, Neo knew happiness.

And then that fateful night came and shattered it like always.

Never again, she swore as she had gripped his bowler hat amidst the devastated ruins. Never again would she let anyone in. The world was so cold and cruel and devoid of light, so she would never let its false happiness hurt her any more. She would find the ones responsible for taking her happiness, remove them from this world, and then... She hadn't bothered to think that far ahead. She was just so cold and tired and broken, shattered like her illusions, like her heart.

Until she met Jaune.

She had kept him at arm's length for a while, annoyed by his presence, but she saw a kindred spirit within him as time had passed. He too had his happiness shattered and stolen from him. He too sought to bring vengeance upon the ones who took it from him. Unlike her, though, he wasn't cold and broken. He still had a light within him, a warmth that radiated. He made her feel content, evoked laughter out of her, made her smile just by being near her.

So she pushed him away.

She couldn't bear to have this happiness shatter in her hands, so she would push it away before it could latch on and hurt her, no matter how much she sought it. It was for the best, after all. That's what she kept telling herself. He would be happier without her as well. It was for the best.

And yet, she couldn't stay away, try as she did. She knew that by staying near him, she would only bring pain upon herself, but she found the lie was too beautiful to ignore. The laughs, the cries, the soft kisses and tender bruises, the happiness she felt around him. She lost herself within this beautiful, ugly, wonderous lie and accepted that when it eventually shattered and broke her fully, she would blame no one but herself.

Yet when she sat in that bed, hair messy and body exhausted, and felt that tiny hand grasp her finger, as she felt tears leaking from her eyes and her husband kissing her forehead and holding her close, she realized that, maybe this wasn't a lie after all. Maybe she had finally found her happiness.

Welp, this took a while. Less trying to get it edited and polished and more getting myself motivated to do so. Depression is a constant battle and most days, I lack the drive to do anything, but I keep pushing myself forward and taking it one step at a time. Also was bust with dog sitting a 13 month old Purebred Aussie Shepherd, so that was fun XD

Hopefully, next chapter will be slightly longer than this one, maybe even post a few scenes for fics I have ideas for but no idea if I'll get around to doing them. Too many AU ideas, latest being Stardew Valley/Harvest Moon/Rune Factory style with new to the village farmer Jaune and the mysterious quiet girl he meets.

So until the next chapter, keep your flames burning bright, everyone.

-Spirit, the Archivist of Nyx

Posted: July 21, 2021