Three months later in August

~Tadase's POV~

I woke up with the sound of rain beating against the roof, a little cloudy. I looked at my alarm clock: 8:30 AM. I wanted to sleep in some more, since it was Saturday, but I wanted to see Amu today. She's not available this afternoon because she and her family will go somewhere.

I got out of bed, stretched myself, looked at the ceiling, and sighed. I've been going to Amu's house every Saturday for the past two months now. She hasn't been communicating much with society ever since Ikuto-nii-san died. She's still coping with his death, and I hoped that I would comfort her. Amu lets me comfort her, but I don't know if it's doing much good.

I had a hope in me now that since he's not around, I might win her back again. I know that sounds harsh, but I just want to look out after her. If she won't return my feelings in a few years, I'll give up.

I ran a hand over my hair and then went to change into some clothes. Kiseki isn't here anymore; he's been gone for two years already, saying he thinks I've accomplished what I've hoped for. It's been a little lonely, but of course I've gotten used to it.

After I changed into some clothes and combed my hair, I went to get some breakfast (A/N: A traditional Japanese breakfast is usually some fish, rice, miso soup, and some other stuff). I told my plans for the day to my parents. "Make sure you bring an umbrella," my mother warned me. I smiled. I didn't really need that… parents are so weird.

I brushed my teeth and fixed up myself some more, then I finally went out the door (with my umbrella, of course!), saying goodbye to my parents as I went out.

I sighed and looked at the rain. It just had to rain today, I thought. I was wanting to take a walk with Amu down at the park… I guess it can't be helped. I'll just have to stay over at Amu's house.

I finally got to her house. Before I was about to push the intercom button, I saw a figure standing out on Amu's balcony, getting wet in the process. It was none other than Amu. I tried to wave to get her attention, but she seemed to be in another world. I began to worry a bit. What if she catches a cold?

I tried calling out her name, but still it wouldn't work. What's she doing? What could make her be so oblivious to her getting wet by the rain? Or maybe she doesn't care? More like, how long has she been out here?

I pushed the intercom button, anxious for someone to answer. Amu's mother finally answered and encouraged me to come in. I, in a little bit of a hurry, ran to the house, opened the door, shook off my umbrella, flung my shoes off, hurriedly said, "Please forgive me for intruding," ran up the stairs to Amu's room where the door was open, and burst into the room.

She was still out there, in the same exact position. I rushed out to the balcony and shook her. "Amu! Amu! What happened?"

She looked at me, her dull honey-colored eyes looking lifeless as they have been for several months, and her hair dripping wet. She murmured, "Tadase…?" and widened her eyes a little. I noticed her eyes were a little red and figured she had been crying.

I steered her to her dry room, her clothes and hair soaked to the skin. I blushed as I saw the clothes sticking to her body, and rushed to get a warm towel. I put the towel over her shoulders and started drying her body and hair. She was shivering!

"Amu, how long have you been out there?" I inquired, concerned.

Her eyes still looked lifeless and in another world. I shook her to get her back to the present. She looked at me again, and I saw tears coming out of her eyes.

I couldn't stand being left in the dark, couldn't stand her suffering emotionally when I was right here to try to give her comfort.

"Amu… please speak to me!" I implored, shaking her gently. She shivered a little more and I wrapped her tightly in the towel.

Tears poured out of her cheeks. "I… miss Ikuto," she managed to utter. A pang pierced my heart, not for myself, but for her. He's been dead for three months, and yet she's still suffering terribly. When would she get out of her despair?

"Amu…" I began, "I know you miss Ikuto-nii-san, but you've got to move on with your life. Your grades have dropped tremendously these past few months, you've gotten skinnier, paler, and you're almost isolated from your friends. We're worried about you! Your parents, little sister, Nagihiko, Mashiro-san, Kairi, Yuiki-san, Souma-senpai, Utau, your college friends, and me!" I hugged her tight. "When will you come back to life?" I whispered, some tears coming out of my eyes.

Amu kept motionless. I hugged her gently, cradling her head and rubbing her back to try to keep her warm. Before long, I heard some soft sniffles and eventually felt my shirt getting wet. I felt her arms wrap around me and squeezed tight. She shuddered from the small sobs some more, and I kept rubbing her back saying, "It's okay, it's okay… I'm here."

Amu pulled back, her face red and streaked with tears. She looked at me, her eyes no longer looking as lifeless and dull. She wiped her eyes, giving out small sniffles. Then I saw the most wonderful sight that I have not seen in three months.

She smiled.

I smiled back, relieved at the first sign that she's finally getting better. "Are you ready to talk now?"

She nodded, drying the remainder of what was wet on herself as she sat on her bed. I sat with her, facing towards her.

Amu sighed, as if she put off a huge load. "I guess I have been mourning over Ikuto's death for too long," she squeaked even as she spoke his name. She looked at me and gave me a small smile. "I guess it is time for me to move on."

I gave her a big smile and took her hand, holding it in both of mine. I pressed it to my lips, although not exactly kissing it. "I'm so glad… I was really worried about you." I lifted up my eyes and saw her blush a little. I released her hand in order to prevent her from getting more embarrassed.

After a few moments of silence, I cautiously asked, "Why were you out there in the rain?"

She flinched a little bit but didn't cry. That was a good sign. If she was out there because of Ikuto-nii-san, she'd remember it and then she'd start crying right away.

"I don't know, really… I was just thinking about Ikuto and then I just walked onto the balcony, apparently forgetting about the rain," she chuckled slightly, which was also a good sign. She sneezed.

"Are you okay?" I asked, concerned. "How long were you out there, anyway?"

"I don't know…" Amu said, shaking her head. "When I think about Ikuto, I just lose track of time." She sneezed again, and I hurried to give her the tissue box. "For all I know, it could have been as long as thirty minutes or even an hour."

My forehead wrinkled up in concern. She might have a cold… I hoped not, but that's probably what she's going to have. She noticed my look and assured me saying, "It's probably nothing, Tadase. You don't need to worry," she laughed softly, her eyes looking more alive than ever.

I nodded and smiled back. I looked her over and said, "What you need is some food to warm you up. You're skinny and it'd help if you're about to catch a cold."

Amu nodded, agreeing. "Yes, I suppose I had better… I do feel kind of hungry. I haven't eaten breakfast." Her stomach growled as if on cue. She blushed and turned her face away from me. I chuckled and said, "Even your stomach agrees."

We were silent for a few moments when her mother knocked on the door and said, "Amu-chan, can I come in?"

Amu complied, and Mrs. Hinamori opened the door. She saw us both sitting next to each other and smiled. I smiled back, getting the idea.

Amu's mother came near Amu's bed. She looked at Amu, and Amu looked back at her. Her mother looked surprised at how she looked.

"Amu-chan, what happened? You don't look as sad as you used to."

Amu smiled. "I came out of my mourning world and now I'm getting back to the present, Mother. Tadase helped, actually…" she trailed off, seeming to catch what she said. I was surprised that she would say that I helped her… but if I did, I'm glad.

Mrs. Hinamori gave us two a curious look and smiled. "Thank you, Tadase-kun, for making Amu-chan feel better. I'm glad to see that my daughter is almost back to normal again." I bowed my head, saying, "You're welcome," while blushing a bit.

She turned back to Amu. "Anyways, Amu-chan, I came in here to tell you that you should be getting ready for our trip to Osaka. It is almost 11:30, and we'll be having lunch in half an hour. Right after, we'll go to Osaka. Okay?"

Amu nodded. "I understand, Mother." She smiled, stood up, and gave her a hug. Mrs. Hinamori seemed surprised at the gesture, but returned it saying, "There, there…"

Amu hugged her mother tight. "I'm sorry, Mom, for being so selfish and going off into my own mourning world without ever considering my family's and friend's worried feelings for me." Her voice choked. Her mother continued stroking her back. "It's okay, dear. We love you and forgive you. We'll help you get out of your sadness." Her eyes also started to well up with tears.

They stood there for half a minute before letting go, smiling at each other, Mrs. Hinamori gently wiping away Amu's tears. I was touched at this mother-daughter scene. I should remember to thank my mother for all she's done for me.

"Now," Amu's mother continued. "You'd better get ready. Tadase-kun, I think you should go, too." I nodded and said, "Yes, ma'am."

She left the room. Amu looked over at me, her face red from crying. I smiled. "Isn't that nice? You got to reconcile with your mother."

Amu smiled and nodded. She looked at the clock. "11:35. You better go. I need to get my stuff ready."

I agreed, getting up from her bed. "I suppose this is where we part for a while…" I said, a hint of sadness in my voice.

She laughed. "Tadase, it's only for today and Sunday. I'll be back for college on Monday. Don't worry."

I smiled at her, my eyes twinkling. "I know. I was just teasing you a little."

"Why, you…" she started, but then stopped, blushing and looking away. I wondered what made her do that. She glared at me teasingly under her gaze and then said, "Well, what are you doing? I need to get ready, you know!"

I chuckled. "True. I suppose I won't bug you any longer." I hesitated a little, then kissed her cheek. Amu jumped back a little, her hand to where I kissed her, and blushed. I also blushed, for I didn't really expect to kiss her.

She looked down at the rug, muttering, "Just get going, will you?"

I smiled a little. "All right, I will. Take care, Amu, and have fun." I hugged her whispering, "I'll always be there for you."

When I got out of the house, I smiled up at the sky, which was finally cleared of rain and the sun started to show. Today was a good day. Amu finally broke out of her shell. Now maybe I can grow closer to her heart…

That's exactly what I did. I came over to Amu's house every other Saturday and we did some stuff together, whether it was studying together, talking with each other, or comforting her when she needed it. During that time, I started to love and cherish her more. Amu seems to appreciate me being there, and I dare say that she's starting to love me more than a friend.

I got a part-time job with Easter as a boss for a certain section of the company in September (same year), which has really good pay. After I began to love Amu more, and I think she might even have feelings for me, I started to save up money and bought an engagement ring.

Finally, about a year after Ikuto-nii-san died (in May), I decided to muster up the courage to ask her.

A week after the memorial funeral, I went over to Amu's house, casually dressed. I asked if she would come out to dinner with me.

She looked a little surprised. "Well, okay. I'll have to ask my parents first, though. Do I have to dress up?"

I shook my head. "No, you don't. As you can see, I'm casually dressed."

Amu nodded and smiled. "I'll just go ask my parents. Stay here, okay?"

A few minutes later she came back, saying that she had permission. She got her things together and we went out the door together. Amu's father stopped me. I turned around and saw him giving a serious look. "You will not do anything to my daughter, won't you? And you'll protect her, won't you?"

I smiled, amused at his protectiveness. Amu turned around and was about to say something until I cut her off saying, "Yes, sir, I will not do anything bad to your daughter, and I will protect her with my life. You have my word." I stuck my hand out. Mr. Hinamori looked at it, then cautiously shook my hand. "All right, then. You better keep it, or else."

I bowed respectfully to him. "If I do not, let my mouth be filled with a thousand needles." I looked up and saw him nod approvingly. I stood up straight and saw Mrs. Hinamori hold in a giggle. I smiled at her.

I said, "Then, please excuse us," bowed again to both of them, then went out the door. I wanted to go to a nearby restaurant that wasn't too casual or fancy, since I didn't have a car. I took her to a traditional Japanese restaurant where you sit down on the floor on tatami mats.

We ordered the courses to be brought to us one by one. As we ate, we talked about various stuff and laughed together. I was planning by the end of the meal to propose to her.

The waitress came and brought us our bill. Right then I knew it was time for me to propose.

I cleared my throat. "Um, Amu…" I started. My heart was beating like crazy.

"What is it, Tadase?" Amu inquired, her chin resting on her hands, giving me her full attention. That encouraged me a little.

"…You know we've known each other for several years. Even then I thought I loved you. But I only loved a part of you then, so I'm sorry. But then I started to love you for who you really were. But I was too late. It seemed as if Ikuto-nii-san had already stolen a portion of your heart. I wasn't always there for you even though I said I would be. Ikuto-nii-san was. And because of that, I think that's why he managed to make you fall completely in love with him. I tried to fight that, but I saw that you were serious about him, and stopped trying to get you back. But, as you know, I still had feelings for you, but I kept it all in and didn't let them interfere with your relationship with Ikuto-nii-san," I sighed and gave her a small smile. "You don't know how hard it was for me."

Amu's eyes expressed concern. She reached over and held my hand. I was surprised at the gesture, but I continued:

"Amu, what I really mean to say is, for the past few months I've started to fall in love with you again, and I actually think that you seem to love me back, too. Correct me if I'm wrong?" I inquired.

She blushed a little bit and withdrew her hand. She fidgeted with her fingers for a few moments before she started, "Tadase…" and then stopped. She looked down at her lap. I waited for her to speak.

She finally looked up, tears in her eyes. I was alarmed, but Amu stopped me. "No, Tadase, these aren't tears of sadness; they're tears of joy and gratefulness. When you asked that question, I thought about all the times you've been to my house and I was just lifeless and completely oblivious to everyone's worried feelings for me. But then at that one morning when you dragged me out of the rain, dried me, hugged me out of my mourning world, and comforted me, you brought me back to life again," She sniffled and wiped her tears away, smiling. "Tadase, if you never existed, I probably would still be in my mourning world today. It was thanks to you that I got out of it."

I was a little astonished at this, but Amu kept going: "You faithfully kept coming to my house and comforted me when I needed it. I enjoyed the times that we shared. I appreciate your kindness, patience, perseverance, and gentleness towards me. This time, you were always there for me. Tadase, I…" She stopped, tears started to come out again. "I started to fall in love with you again like I did before, only it's more mature and stronger. I started to love you for your inside character, which I have not before. I– "

I cut her off, for I went over to her side, hugged her, and started giving her kisses on her forehead and cheeks (we were in a private room, don't worry). I hugged her tight against me and cradled her head.

"Tadase…" I heard Amu's muffled voice in my shirt. She pulled back and we looked in each other's eyes and blushing faces. She looked down at my shirt and stuttered, "S-So what I m-mean to say is…" She blushed bright red and closed her eyes tight before I felt her pair of lips on mine. I was extremely surprised, excited, and happy at the same time.

She broke off the kiss and hugged me, probably so I wouldn't see her. Then I heard, barely in a whisper:

"Tadase, I love you."

My eyes widened. I hugged her a little tighter, stroking and kissing her hair. "Do you love me more than Ikuto-nii-san, then?" I asked softly. Amu didn't even flinch, but it took her a while to answer, probably because she was thinking about it. "Hmm… Yes, I do. It's getting there, anyway," she murmured, hugging me tighter.

I pulled back from the hug and we looked into each other's blushing faces. I smiled at her and she smiled back.

"Amu… what my real purpose for tonight was because of this," I said, taking the ring box out of my pocket. I knelt down with my knees together, opening and showing the ring to Amu.

"Will you marry me, Amu Hinamori?" I asked, smiling gently.

Amu gasped. She looked like she was on the verge of crying again. "Tadase… how did you get it?"

"Don't worry about how much it was, just answer the question," I smiled teasingly.

She just looked at me with a surprised, happy look. She looked back at the ring. She finally broke into a smile and said, "Yes, I will marry you, Tadase Hotori."

I beamed at her and I slipped the ring on her left ring finger. "It looks beautiful on you," I remarked. It was a platinum ring with a small diamond in the middle and two smaller ones on the side.

Amu smiled and blushed, looking at the ring. She looked up at me and asked incredulously, "Did you buy this all by yourself?"

I nodded. "Remember the job I have at Easter? They have really good pay and when we started to get closer, I started to save up money for an engagement ring for you."

She continued looking at the ring. Tears started coming out again. "Nobody has ever bought me so beautiful or expensive a gift," she whispered. Amu looked up at me and smiled. "Thank you, Tadase. I think I feel a little bit of love you have for me from this ring that you saved up so much money for." She hugged my neck, kissing my cheek. "I think that makes me fall in love with you more."

I smiled, feeling victory within myself.

When we were finally done, I paid the bill and we walked out the door, hand in hand. I walked Amu back to her house around 9:00. We said our goodbyes and smiled at each other.

"Hey, you didn't do anything "bad" to me," Amu said teasingly.

"No, but you're the one that did something to me. Your dad will be extra surprised about that one," I teased back.

Amu giggled. "I think he'll soon understand that I'm growing up and can take care of myself. He'll be super surprised when he learns that I'm engaged. I wonder if that counts as anything bad."

I smiled and shook my head. "Well, if it does, I suppose I'll have to take my punishment." I looked over Amu's shoulder and saw Mrs. Hinamori waving at us. I looked back and said, "You better go inside; your mother is outside the door."

She nodded. "I hope Dad will approve of our engagement and we can set up our marriage ceremony."

I rubbed her back as she turned to go inside. "It'll all work out," I murmured.

I walked back home, grinning all the way because of the victory I achieved today.

So it turned out that Mr. Hinamori, with some reluctance, agreed to our engagement and let us make the plans. He also agreed to us going out on dates once in a while as long as we don't do anything too "daring". Mrs. Hinamori, of course, agreed right away to it.

We settled our marriage to be on December 25th, and we were really busy those remaining months, but it was fun. Perhaps it was because I was making the arrangements with Amu. Christmas Day came, and the marriage ceremony started. We invited all our friends from elementary school, our college friends, our parents and family, friends, and everybody else that we knew. It was an exciting and happy day for both of us, and, of course, all our friends and family.

Thus, Amu Hinamori became Amu Hotori, and we vowed to each other that we would love, cherish, and protect each other under any circumstances until the day we die. It will be a long journey for us, and I'm sure it'll also be hard and sometimes frustrating. But we'll face it together, and that will make it more fun and somewhat easier.

So there you have it! This is the longest chapter I've ever written and also the longest story! I know it was kind of boring towards the end, but I hope it satisfies some of you "Tadamu" fans.

Sorry for the long wait; I'm in America right now and will be until November 6th. I finally had the chance to write the last part of this chapter! I have a few other ideas for stories (at least one for SC and another for Kimi ni Todoke), but I don't know when I'll write them. So, you probably won't see me for a while.

Also, if you like, you can read "Tragic Memory" as it shows how Tadase and Amu are doing in their marriage life. Thank you for reading! またね!:]