Hey everyone! Yukihime211 here. Here's the fourth installment! I hope you enjoy reading even more drama~

Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia or it's characters. They belong to Hidekaz Himuraya


First Encounter

Chapter 1.4

Lesson number two with Mr. Williams

One week had passed since Sakura and Matthew had come to the agreement of training. It was a Thursday afternoon when the two decided to head over to the ice rink for practice. They arrived to the chilly arena which was surprisingly fairly empty. After Sakura had paid for the skate rental, she sloppily headed over to the rink.

"A-alright. What's next?" she asked.

Matthew helped steady her some and thought for a moment.

"Let's try going around the rink a few times to get warmed up. You remember what I taught you last time?"

She nodded slightly and took a deep breath before slowly grabbing onto the wall for support.

"Just take it one step at a time," she told herself.

Sometime later…

Things were actually going pretty well. That is… until more people showed up. Horsing around and skating around expertly. Someone actually had the idea of making a chain and then forming a sort of whiplash.

The chain was slowly growing in size and some people managed to get dragged inside. Matthew had managed for the most part to keep Sakura a safe distance from the ever growing chain.

Oblivious, Sakura had finally moved away a safe distance from the wall and ice skate on her own. Something she was quite proud of.

"Coming through!"

Sakura glanced to her left curiously.

"Eh?"

Before she had time to register what was happening, a hand shot out and grabbed onto her wrist. Several feet away, Matthew gasped at the situation. The chain had gotten to her.

There were about twelve people in all, including Sakura and they were starting to pick up speed, fast.

Panic flooded Matthew's face as he attempted to skate over as quickly as possible.

"Wait!" he called out.

Sakura tensed slightly.

"W-what's going on?"

The one grasping her wrist was a tall blonde with spiky hair.

"You'll find out soon enough!" he chirped.

For some reason, she didn't like the sound of that.

"One…two…three!"

Suddenly, the hand that was once around her wrist was gone. She was grateful, but not for long when she practically flew across the rink, heading straight for the wall. Her mind blanked as she completely forgot how to stop. Her hands flew to her face as she banged onto the wall violently.

Horror struck on Matthew's face as he quickly skated towards her.

"Sakura! Are you okay?!"

A soft groan escaped her lips as she slowly managed to sit up. Matthew kneeled beside her.

"Sakura?"

She glanced at Matthew tightlipped.

"I-I'm alright. Just stunned," she replied.

She slowly made the move to stand up, but winced. Upon closer inspection, he saw a nasty scrape along her ankle. He wouldn't be surprised if she had more bruises littering her arms and back.

The same blonde skated over curiously.

"Is she okay?"

Matthew looked up with a glare. The young man was a little taken aback.

"Are you stupid or something? Of course she's not. Why would you do that to a complete beginner, huh?"

The blonde frowned slightly.

"How was I supposed to know?"

Matthew shook his head with annoyance before standing up and helping up Sakura.

He supported her as the two headed for the benches.

"Th-this really isn't necessary," protested Sakura.

She was going to protest more, but when Matthew looked at her sternly, she quieted.

They finally reached a bench and Sakura sat down. Matthew glanced at the locker.

"Wait here. I have a small kit in my bag in case of these types of situations," he explained.

Sakura nodded slowly, although was curious why he would carry something like that.

He returned shortly and ordered Sakura to show him the scrape. She complied and he took out a small disinfectant spray.

"Sorry in advance."

She winced at the slight sting.

"It's… okay," she said softly.

He retrieved a bandage and placed it on the wound.

"There."

Matthew smiled and Sakura blushed slightly.

"Ano…Thank you," she whispered.

Matthew looked on rather shyly.

"No problem…"

As an after though…

"Want to head up to the lounge area? I don't think we'll be skating for a while, what with your injury. You don't want to strain anything, so you should consult your doctor about it," he suggested.

Sakura was a little downcast over the idea of postponing it, but knew he was right.

"Alright…"

After slipping out of the skates and back into regular shoes, the two slowly climbed the steps to the upper, much warmer area of the building.

0/0/0

Yao yawned as he neared the door leading to his house. His backpack secured on one arm as he slipped the key into the hole and entered the living room. He closed the door behind him and set his backpack on the couch and sat beside it.

It had been a fairly long day as he had both work and school that day. At least now he could relax, at least for a little while. Sakura had mentioned she'd return home late due to some after school activities. As much as he wanted to press on more information from her, he decided that today he'd let it slide. It wasn't like he didn't trust her or anything; it was more that he didn't trust other guys around her.

His reverie was broken when he heard the doorbell.

"Who could it be?"

He stood from the couch and opened the door, revealing a rather busty woman with a basket in hand. Her platinum blond hair was short and pushed back with a yellow headband.

"Yekaterina?"

Her blue eyes looked moist and in hand, she held a basket.

"Good evening Yao. I'm sorry for barging in like this… but can we talk?"

Yao nodded and let her in, leading her into the kitchen.

"So… what brings you here?"

Yekaterina settled the basket onto the table.

"Well… it's about Vanya…" she began.

Yao sighed heavily.

"I already told that go-," he started.

Yekaterina quickly interrupted.

"Please! Just listen…" she begged.

He sighed heavily.

"Alright… go on."

She rummaged through her basket and placed a tightly wrapped cheese on the table.

"Would you like to try a bit of this? It's made from the finest goat's milk," she said, straying from the topic.

Yao shook his head.

"No thanks. Now… could we please get back on topic?"

She sighed and nodded.

"Vanya… he really is a nice boy. Just misunderstood and I can't bear to watch him be all mopey…"

Yao sighed, knowing where this was going, but listened anyways.

"And?"

Yekaterina shifted slightly.

"Well… Is there any possibility that the two of you could work out your differences? You know… he really loves you…"

He kept silent. Poor girl… she really had no idea what the real reason was the two separated. It was better that way, he supposed. He knew about the hardships she had gone through raising both her younger siblings at a young age when their parent's passed away. (Mainly because Ivan told him about it) It would break her heart if she knew how her brother could get sometimes. He blamed the alcohol…

"Yekaterina… I appreciate your efforts, but what Ivan and I had a long time ago can't be fixed. Not now… not ever. I've moved on and he should as well. It's just… better this way," he replied.

Yekaterina stared at him intently and a sad smile crept up on her lips.

"You say that… but when I look deep into your eyes, I know the real answer."

Yao quirked a brow curiously.

"Oh, and that would be?"

Yekaterina's eyes watered slightly for some reason.

"You still love him."

Yao's eyes widened and he felt his heart lurch.

"W-what? That's absurd!"

Yekaterina stood from the chair.

"Just think about it… alright?"

She showed herself to the door after grabbing her basket and glanced at the stunned young man.

"Oh… and think of the cheese as a gift."

Once she closed the door behind her, Yao finally reacted. He buried his face in his hands and he sighed heavily with pink tinted cheeks.

0/0/0

"See ya' later Alfred!"

Alfred exited a friend's car and nodded, waving slightly.

"Yeah! Oh, and don't forget tomorrow's match is at 6 sharp, okay?"

There was a nod of affirmation before his friend took off. He turned to his house and it dampened his mood. There was no use avoiding going in… He entered the house and quickly bounded up the stairs.

"Ahem. Where do you think you're going?"

Alfred groaned. Great… busted. He turned around and saw his father glaring up at him.

"What?"

Arthur directed his gaze towards the kitchen.

"Have you forgotten? It's your turn to set the table."

Alfred rolled his eyes and walked into the kitchen to see the damage. It was a known fact that Arthur was hopeless when it came to cooking. He nearly gagged when he saw a charred pan of meatloaf sitting on the counter.

He made sure Arthur had gone upstairs before he sped dialed the source of their sustenance.

"Hey, Steve? Yeah it's me. It's meatloaf this time. Uh-huh. No way, seriously? That's tough man. Okay. See ya' in fifteen minutes. Heh. Thanks… Bye."

It was a ritual as old as time. Whenever it was their turn to 'set the table' they took the opportunity to order take out.

If not… well they'd be in bed for a week due to the poison their dear old dad called 'food'.

0/0/0

Sakura and Matthew sat across each other, mainly talking about school whilst they drank their hot chocolate.

"Oh, that means you have Mrs. Winters as your biology teacher as well? Her class can be a little difficult," noted Sakura knowingly.

Matthew agreed.

"Yeah… last quarter I got a 75 on her exam. Even though I studied…"

The two went on into more discussion until it was nearly eight.

"Wow… Time just flew by so quickly today, huh?"

Sakura nodded and she gingerly stepped onto her injured ankle. It wasn't as bad as before, but it still hurt a bit.

"Yes… We should probably start heading home…"

She was a little wary at the thought. If Yao saw the injury, he'd blow a gasket. She'd manage somehow… hopefully.

"True… How's your ankle feeling?"

She smiled slightly.

"Much better, thank you," she answered.

Matthew was relieved.

"That's good," he whispered.

Matthew soon after insisted he take her home, but she declined after assuring him she'd be fine. The two then parted ways.

Once Sakura was sure that Matthew was out of sight, she dialed Monica's number. After a few rings, she picked up.

"Hello?"

Sakura was glad she had.

"Hello, Monica? It's Sakura. I was wondering if I could ask you for a favor."

Wang-Honda Residence…

"Thank you again Monica-san. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it," said Sakura gratefully.

"Ja… You're welcome Sakura. But next time, do try to be more careful. Don't want you to turn out like Felicia…"

Sakura laughed nervously.

"I will, promise."

She exited the car, waving as Monica drove away. She entered the house, which was rather dimly lit for some reason.

"Maybe Yao-nii went to sleep early?"

She shut the door behind her and limped to her room.

"Sakura, is that you?"

She winced. It looked like Yao was in the kitchen. She lightly walked towards the kitchen, trying not to draw attention to the injury.

"Hi…"

She found Yao at the table with a cup of tea beside him. He looked a little out of sorts for a moment, but it was soon replaced with some energy.

"About time you got home. I was beginning to worry," he chided gently.

She smiled slightly.

"Gomen. I must have lost track of time."

He nodded and motioned her across from him. She stood there hesitantly before sitting down and wincing.

"Aha!"

Yao looked on with satisfaction.

"I knew something was up," he said to himself.

She sighed.

"How?"

Yao chuckled.

"Simple. You think I can't distinguish the sound of limping from all the way here? I know you better than that. Of course you'd try to hide something like that. Now, show me."

She showed him the bandaged ankle.

"How precise… Must have had the nurse bandage it," he hypothesized.

Sakura stayed silent, never mentioning that it was in fact, not the school nurse but a boy. He looked back at her.

"Well… we'll go to the clinic first thing in the morning to have it checked, just in case."

Sakura groaned.

"Fine…"

So much for trying to keep the injury a secret…

0/0/0

Felicia skipped happily to Chiara's place. It had been a while since she'd visited and figured she'd stop by. She knocked on the door.

"Sorella~ Are you home?"

The door opened, revealing a brunette with loose, dark brown curly hair. She had a red headband and stormy hazel eyes.

"What?"

Felicia grinned, use to her elder sister's rudeness.

"So! What's new?" she chirped.

Chiara rolled her eyes, pulling her little sister inside.

"Honestly. You have any idea what time it is? Nonno won't be pleased if he find out you snuck out to come see me," she said, a little bitterness in her voice when she talked about her grandfather.

It was the whole reason she had moved out in the first place.

"You worry too much," said Felicia in a laid back fashion.

Chiara groaned.

"Whatever… Anyway, I'm glad you're here though. I've got a job for you."

Felicia looked on excitedly, jumping a bit.

"Really? What is it?"

Chiara handed her several envelopes.

"Here, take them."

Felicia studied the envelopes curiously.

"Uh… what exactly are they for?"

Chiara threw her arms with exasperation.

"Idiota! Do I always have to spell it out for you? They're invitations."

Felicia took a moment to register it and then nodded.

"Oh… I get it! You want me to hand these out. For Antonio's surprise party, right?"

Chiara crossed her arms, looking at the ground.

"It's not like I care or anything. It's just that if I didn't throw him one, he'd go on and on about it, you know?"

Felicia giggled. Chiara could be so silly sometimes. Even though she acted as if she could care less, she really was a softie when it came to family and her boyfriend.

"Uh-huh. Alright! Leave it to me~ Hey, sorella?"

Chiara sighed.

"What is it now Felicia?"

Felicia got into begging mode.

"Is it okay if I also invite a couple friends to the party?"

Chiara sighed.

"Do you mean Sakura and Monica? Fine do what you want."

Felicia cheered.

"Yay~ Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

A little smile crept up to the sourpuss' face.

"Yeah, yeah whatever," she said shaking her head.

0/0/0

The next day…

Matthew yawned and glanced at his calendar as he was getting ready for school.

"Looks like I have another match today…" he noted.

He bounded down the stairs after he was done changing. He entered the dining room, where Alfred was groggily eating soggy cereal. He shook his head slightly and glanced at the remnants of what looked to be scrambled eggs stuck to the frying pan.

Matthew was always the one cleaning after his dad's messes. Using a spatula, he scraped out the eggs and threw them in the trash.

He glanced at the clock, checking how much time he had before the need to take off to school. He nodded with satisfaction and took out the ingredients for pancakes.

The sound immediately broke Alfred from his sleepy daze.

"Making pancakes Mattie? Awesome! Make mine with chocolate chips, 'kay?"

Matthew sighed softly and nodded.

"Sure…"

0/0/0

"Ve~ Monica!" cried out Felicia.

Monica looked up from her book, a little irritated as study hall had just commenced.

"What is it now?" she hissed.

Felicia grinned and raised a finger as she rummaged through her bag.

"It's around here somewhere…"

Monica shook her head.

"Let me guess… You'd like to copy my math homework?" she guessed.

Felicia focus never strayed from her backpack and then after a few minutes she finally found what she was looking for.

"Aha! Here it is."

Instead of math homework, she had produced an envelope.

"I'm not sure whether I should ask or not…" muttered Monica.

Felicia handed the envelope to Monica.

"It's an invitation. Sorella said I could invite a couple friends over for Antonio's party," Felicia explained.

Party? Well, Felicia had mentioned that her older sister was planning a surprise party. Not exactly her cup of tea… but she knew if she refused that Felicia would bug her until she gave in.

"Is that so?"

Felicia nodded.

"It's on Sunday. You think you can make it?"

Monica was quiet for a moment.

"Ja. But I have no idea what I should get Mr. Carriedo as a gift," she explained.

Felicia smiled.

"Then… you want to go shopping later? I could probably help you out."

Monica paled some, knowing that Felicia happened to be a shopaholic.

"On second thought… A nice gift card would work just fine."

Felicia pouted some, but didn't push it. She looked around curiously.

"By the way… have you seen Sakura?"

Monica looked around as well and noted that Sakura was indeed absent.

"She must have gone to the doctor or something."

Felicia gasped.

"What happened?"

Monica sighed.

"It really isn't my business to tell. But since I know you'll badger me…She called me yesterday to pick her up from her skating lesson. She said she strained her ankle when she slammed into the rink's wall. Something about a chain…"

Felicia winced. Slammed into a wall? That sounded really painful…

The door gently opened as Sakura walked in with a slight limp. Her ankle was tightly wrapped and at her side was a crutch.

In hand, she had a pink slip. Felicia's eyes widened and she nearly tackled the poor girl to the ground.

"Sakura! Are you okay? Please tell me you're okay!" she wailed.

Sakura felt her balance waning and thankfully, Monica pried Felicia from her.

"E…eto. I'm alright. It was only a slight sprain. I should be back on my feet in a few days. The crutch is just a precaution."

Monica smiled slightly.

"That's good."

Felicia nodded in agreement.

"Yeah, it'd be horrible if you couldn't go ice skating with your knight in shining armor anymore," Felicia teased.

Sakura felt her cheeks heat up.

"Can we please not have this discussion again?" she whispered.

Felicia merely giggled.

"But it's just so cute to see you all flustered~"

Sakura took a seat and sighed, gazing at Monica for help.

"I hear we have a pop quiz in history. Did you remember to study, Felicia?"

Felicia gasped.

"Oops… that was today?"

Monica shook her head.

"You're hopeless…"

Felicia took her seat in between Sakura and Monica and the three went to work.

"What's the Capital of Hungary again?" asked Felicia out of the blue.

Sakura chuckled as Monica groaned.

"We've been over this before."

Sometime later, the announcements went on.

"Good morning Hetalia Academy! How are all my lovely students doing today? Well, we've got some important announcements here, so I'll have Toris take it from here!"

There was a sound of shuffling and a scraping chair.

"Ah, yes. Good morning everyone. Toris Laurinitis here. I'd like to start off with our games. At seven, our football team will be facing off against Watercrest high school today on their…turf? Feliks… do I really have to-," began Toris.

In the background, a preppy voice was heard.

"Like, just read it like I wrote it, kay?"

There was a sigh.

"Fine… Let's move on. Our hockey team will be playing today as well at six o clock. A home game…"

The announcements went on and Felicia looked at Sakura.

"Didn't you say that Matthew was on the hockey team?"

Sakura nodded.

"And?"

Felicia crossed her arms.

"Anyone up for going to today's game?" she chirped.

0/0/0

Matthew exited the classroom after the last bell, feeling a little upbeat about the game.

"Yo, Williams!"

Matthew looked back, and spotted one of his teammates.

"Yeah?"

The guy grinned, patting his back.

"We're going to destroy our competition tonight!"

Matthew nodded, smiling with confidence.

"Right," he agreed.

A mass of athletes headed for the locker room to get changed, the game on their mind. Matthew entered the locker room and made a beeline for his locker.

"Mattie~"

Matthew glanced over and saw Alfred dressed in his football uniform.

"Hi Alfred…" he greeted.

Alfred grinned, slapping a hand on Matthew's shoulder.

"Good luck in your game!" he chirped.

Matthew smiled.

"You too," he replied.

It was moments like this that made Matthew happy that he had Alfred as a brother. Not that he had anything against him… it was just that Alfred was always the one dominating the attention… He cleared his mind of the thought and quickly changed, ready to go out there and give it his all.

0/0/0

Sakura finally reached the stands with Monica and Felicia trailing beside her. Due to her… temporary disability, she wasn't exactly that thrilled going up the stairs to a seat. After what seemed like forever, they found a seat and took their place.

"How did I let her talk me into this?" Sakura wondered as she glanced at Felicia.

Felicia was giggling happily, chattering about some party that her sister was throwing. She turned towards the rink, where nets had been set up on either side. She wasn't exactly what you'd call a hockey expert, but she got the very basics. Finally, after what seemed like forever, the players entered the rink. The match was about to begin. The crowd began cheering for their school, and Sakura could feel the excitement fluttering in her chest. It must have been the influence of those around her.

After everyone took their position, a puck was placed on the center, ready for whoever reached it first. The whistle was blown, and the game was in motion.

0/0/0

Arthur sighed once his class had let out. He glanced at his watch. It had definitely been a long day, especially after getting into a heated discussion with one of the other Professors about Shakespeare. All he wanted to do was to go home and get some much needed sleep.

After stuffing his briefcase with the pop quizzes he had yet to finish correcting, he headed out. He exited the school and entered the nearly empty parking lot. A cold breeze past through the air, causing him to shiver involuntarily. He pulled the collar of his coat closer and entered his car.

Just as he was buckling in, he heard a gentle rapping on his window. He slowly turned toward the noise, clearly annoyed. He gazed at the person before him and couldn't help but look on with surprise.

It was definitely a familiar face; one that belonged to the Culinary Arts department. Professor Victoria Laurinitis. (Note: I accidentally used Lithuania twice as two different characters, so… let's just say Victoria and Toris are related. Again, sorry about that. ^^;) Her bright blue eyes twinkled lightly and her light brown hair was tied in a small ponytail. She still donned an apron and he took note of the flour smeared on it.

He rolled down the window curiously and she smiled.

"Oh good... I'm glad I caught you before you left."

She was… glad?

"Can I help you with something Ms. Laurinitis?"

She shook her head and waved a manila folder with his name on it.

"That won't be necessary. Actually, I happened to come across this in the lounge and it had your name on it so... I'm guessing this is important," she explained.

Arthur nearly slapped his forehead. How could he have left something so vital and not realized it?

"Ah… thank you Ms. Laurinitis. You have no idea how grateful I am," he said, slightly embarrassed.

He took the envelope and placed it on top of his briefcase.

"Victoria."

Arthur's emerald eyes met her blue ones.

"What?"

She shifted slightly and her cheeks flushed.

"Uh… you can just call me Victoria. No need to be so formal."

A small smile crept its way onto Arthur's lips.

"Pardon me, Victoria then."

Victoria still looked a little flushed, but she couldn't help but smile.

"Anyway… I should probably let you go. Um…Sorry for bothering you when you were on your way home," she said apologetically.

Arthur shook his head.

"It's perfectly alright. You were right about the manila being important. Again, thank you. Well, I suppose I'll take my leave now then," he explained.

She nodded and the two bid each other a farewell.

As Arthur drove off, he contemplated asking her to go out for some tea or something as thanks the next time they met. After all, he was an English gentleman.

The more he pondered about it, the more he thought it wouldn't be such a bad idea…

0/0/0

Matthew looked on with concentration as his teammates continued passing along to puck. Watercrest really was a tough match up. Though, he was determined to make sure they won the game. This would possibly lead them to the semi-finals.

Watercrest intercepted, taking hold of the puck and headed straight towards their goal. The same glint passed through Matthew's violet eyes. Losing was not an option. He sped off to the one in control of the puck and stole it back, sending it flying along the ice and towards one of his teammates.

In the process, however, he was rammed into the wall. A grunt of surprise escaped his lips.

Sakura watched from the stands in surprise and held her breath. Was he okay? Felicia stole a glance at her ever reserved friend and Monica stared on at the scene in awe. It really was quite an interesting game, if she did say so herself.

Matthew quickly recovered from the shock, more determined than ever.

After the match…

The crowd cheered loudly as the final goal had been placed, leaving the victors proud.

"Another victory goes to Hetalia Academy!"

Hetalia Academy Hockey players huddled together with ecstasy. They parted, heading off the rink and into the locker rooms.

"Was that a great game or what?"

The others couldn't agree more.

"Hey, let's head out for some pizza or something afterwards, this definitely calls for celebration," said one of his teammates.

Before the guys had a chance to chime in, their coach brought them down to earth.

"Don't get cocky. We haven't won yet. We still have a long way to go before heading to finals. Today's match was sloppy, and I intend to change that, you hear me?"

There was a soft murmur rippling through the locker room and the coach growled.

"I can't hear you!"

The guys stood straight.

"Yes sir!"

The coach nodded with satisfaction.

"Good. Now get out of here, all of you and have your fun."

The guys nodded, jostling cheerfully. Same old coach…

Matthew walked towards the door with duffle bag in hand and hair damp. He was silently cheering over their victory.

"Hey Williams!"

Matthew blinked, glancing over at a redhead… Tomas.

"Uh… yes?"

A little smirk played on Tomas' lips.

"You got yourself a cute looking girlfriend there. Her and her friends are waiting for you," he commented.

Matthew looked on blankly and walked out of the locker room, where Sakura, Monica, and Felicia were waiting.

He took note of the crutch at Sakura's side immediately, but before he had a chance to say anything, Sakura beat him to it.

"That was amazing!"

Monica was a startled at Sakura's little outburst, but kept silent.

He tilted his head, confused.

"Eh?"

Felicia intervened.

"We went to the game. You were pretty cool. Don't you think so, Monica?" she chirped.

Monica hesitated to answer, but then admitted that it was pretty remarkable. Matthew felt his cheeks redden a bit at the praise.

"Uh… thank you."

Sakura couldn't help smiling. When she saw Matthew on the ice like that, it really inspired her to improve. Sure, it wasn't super graceful or anything like a figure skater, but the sheer force was definitely impressive.

Matthew hesitated for a moment, but then faced Sakura.

"Uh, how's your ankle doing?"

Sakura glanced at her crutch in realization and then at him.

"Oh! It's nothing serious. I should be in top condition very soon."

He looked on with relief.

"That's good."

He looked like he wanted to say more, but was unable to.

"Williams! We're heading to Giovanni's Pizzeria. Are you coming or not?"

He glanced over to see his teammates looking at him expectantly. This was certainly new to him…

"Uh, sure. I'll be there in a minute," he called back.

Sakura gazed at the scene before her, a little disappointed.

"We should head out too," noted Monica.

Matthew turned back to the girls.

"Well then, thanks for coming to watch the game. Uh... I'll see you tomorrow," he stated, heading over to his team.

"Yeah… bye," Sakura replied meekly.

0/0/0

Chiara mailed the last of the invitations after sending Antonio out to buy some milk.

"Leche? But mi tomate, we have an entire gallon in the refrigerator that I just bought last Tuesday," he argued.

Chiara huffed with annoyance, yelling at him until he finally left. She felt a small pang in her chest when he left, but she really needed to send them out now if she wanted them to arrive in time. The only way to do that was to go directly to the Post Office as not to raise suspicion if Antonio decided to check the mail.

The walk wasn't very far, only a couple blocks. She reached the Post Office, where things were starting to slow down as it was almost time to close.

She entered the brightly lit office and placed the invitations on the counter.

"Chiara?" called out a familiar voice.

Chiara nearly froze as she slowly turned to the source. A man with dark hair with several stray curls and familiar amber eyes looked down at her. Stubble was evident along his chin.

"Nonno," whispered Chiara.

Of all people to encounter, it had to be her grandfather.

"What the hell are you doing here?" she demanded weakly.

Her grandfather arched a brow and sighed.

"Always so hostile…" he murmured.

He motioned to the envelope in hand.

"I'm merely here to send out this envelope to Florence," he explained.

Chiara was still tense as she turned back towards her own errand. Her grandfather nonchalantly glanced at her invitations.

"Still living with that good for nothing man I see," he said a little coldly.

Chiara could feel her blood boil. After making sure her invitations were secured and ready to send out, she glanced back at grandfather.

"Antonio is not 'good for nothing' as you put it! I love him, and that's not going to change anytime soon. You just can't seem to get it through your head."

He scoffed.

"Clearly blinded by love… If you had only listened to me two years ago about leaving him, maybe things would have been a lot different."

Like their strained relationship… Unable to see her little sister without restrictions… Being looked down upon by her family… Hell, her family was living life in luxury, something she had been accustomed since she was a baby. But after choosing Antonio over money, things changed.

Don't get her wrong, the two lived pretty decently, but that was only because the two had managed to recently get pretty good jobs. When she first broke from her family, the two had lived in a dingy apartment that was falling apart. Antonio and Chiara had to live on cup of noodles as their only source of sustenance for almost four months. Thank God for friends. She used to be too proud to accept anything from anyone, but they helped them out through the tough times by providing them with so much until they found some stability. For a while, luxury was not an option, but with a lot of hard work and perseverance, things were okay. Sure, it wasn't like she could go on a shopping spree whenever she deemed fit anymore, but in the end, it was worth it.

Chiara whipped back towards her grandfather.

"That may be true, but if you thought turning your back on your own granddaughter played no part in it, then you're sadly mistaken!"

Some of the employees looked at them uncomfortably, not sure how to intervene.

"That was the consequence of choosing him over your own flesh and blood," he said steadily.

Chiara looked on with disbelief. Could nothing get through his pigheadedness? She managed to blink away tears that were aching to creep out. He would have much rather seen her crawling back to him, even if it meant her almost starving.

"You know what? Go to Hell! I never want to see your stupid face ever again! You may have disowned me, but now I truly understand that it was never worth being part of that family if it meant being related to someone so heartless! Or is that what you call, 'Vargas Pride'?!"

She stomped out of the Post Office, leaving behind her stunned grandfather.

"Good! Let that entire spiel sink in! Maybe he'll finally understand!"

She doubted it though. By the time she reached her home, she realized that Antonio had finally returned. Antonio smiled rather proudly with milk in one hand and a clear plastic bag filled with her favorite type of tomatoes in another.

His smile faded however, when he saw her face contoured in a shaky frown.

"Chiara? Is something the matter?"

That did it; she was no longer able to suppress her emotions. Tears bubbled from the corner of her eyes and her lip trembled.

"Idiota!" she exclaimed.

He looked on with confusion, drawing closer to her.

"I…don't understand."

She rubbed at her eyes furiously, trying to rid herself of the tears, but they just kept coming.

"Why are you always so damn good to me, even though I've caused you so much trouble?" she managed to choke out.

A softened expression crossed his face.

"Why? That's a silly question. You know very well why. It's because I love you, and you're worth everything in my possession."

He placed a comforting arm along her shoulders, staring into her eyes with such sincerity. Her sobs seemed to increase at the look and words. She nearly flung herself at him as she buried her face in his chest, holding him tightly as she cried.

Antonio rubbed small circles on her back as he attempted to soothe the distraught woman. He had an inkling of what had caused her to become so emotional.

"It's okay… let it all out," he coaxed.

Even though Chiara was crying, she managed to retort.

"S-shut up. I'll do whatever the hell I want…"

It came out somewhat muffled though, as her face was still buried in his chest. Antonio chuckled lightly, and merely held her close with tenderness. He was always so good to her, even if she could be a little bitchy sometimes… He loved her unconditionally, something her grandfather never seemed to get and it just felt right being held in his arms. She really loved Antonio and she knew nothing would ever change that.