Yes. I'm still crying. That latest episode in Orange Marmalade broke my heart, stepped on it, then scattered the pieces. Did you watch it? You should before reading this chapter. Remember to bring a box of tissues when you press play.

Watch episode 9:

Previously on Orange Marmalade: Look At Me


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Orange Marmalade: Look At Me
Chapter 7: Losing Her

I don't even know where to begin or what to do next. The world I knew has been shattered, and from the pieces something new has been born. The problem isn't learning about this new reality, I can do and adapt to it. That's what a warrior does. The problem is to accept I'm the monster now.

But I don't feel like a monster. Yes, I crave blood. I do feel that in my very core. However, this thirst isn't stronger that I am. I can control it and I can decide what to do. I still have my mind and I know I wouldn't hurt another human. But I'm still a bloodsucker and a threat for all human beings.

How do I cope with that?

And she… the girl I love is also a vampire. She is the kind of monster I thought I could at least protect her from.

My mind is swirling, trying to process all these changes and come to a conclusion. My heart is struggling to understand, apprehend and move on from this so I can carry on instead of staying like this. I'm not used to this, I'm always moving, planning. I never get stuck.

It's a relief that I find that letter to Ma Ri, because it helps my mind focus on something else, something practical. No matter what she is, my whole body reacts first, demanding to save her for a certain trap. My mind also tries to ease me saying I'm also doing these for the other soldiers, but I know in my heart it is for her that I'm running and trying to stop this.

I'm surprised to find not only the vampire girl but also Jae Min. Even if he's covering his face I just need to hear his voice to recognise my friend. And it breaks my very soul having to reveal my new nature to him. I know he's struggling already knowing the girl he also loves is a bloodsucker monster, and now I add this new information. How heartbreaking must it be for him? Losing both his best friend and the girl he loves?

I'm willing to face all those soldiers. I even hope to die here because I don't want to live as a vampire, but I don't get a chance to even try my newfound skills because Ma Ri's family arrives, putting to sleep all the soldiers and giving us a chance to flee.

On our way back, leaving Jae Min behind, I see Ma Ri heartbroken. Her suffering is so much that it resonates in my own heart. How can a monster feel like that? It's not possible. Then she can't be a monster. Being a vampire doesn't make this girl, with a broken heart crying for the guy she loves, a monster. Seeing her like this and getting to know their way of living makes me think it can't be like we thought it was.

It's not black and white with vampires. And just like there are rotten humans, there are also good vampires. She and her family are good and kind. They love each other more fiercely than humans do and when I see them I get a bit comforted. It still tears me apart that I'm not human anymore. I still want to die. That is why I go back to Jae Min, hoping he'll end my own suffering and the confusion in my mind. But he doesn't. His arrow purposely misses me, and I understand. I couldn't kill a vampire with the face of my best friend and who's suffering that much. Or maybe that's how he's punishing me, by making me live like this. I can't really tell.

However, I make a decision. If I have to live as a vampire now I'll make sure to be a good one and help to bring down all those vicious ones that want to only bring chaos and destruction. If now I'm a vampire then I'll use that for the purpose of my oath. Besides, I owe Ma Ri's father an apology I pledged to give. This is my apology, to join them and help them until my last day. I'll protect Ma Ri until my last breath.

That's why I do my best to learn and assimilate. I don't hate her for what she did to me and to be honest, knowing that we are the same kind, that she can understand me and I can do the same for her consoles me. It'd probably be worse knowing we are different species. Knowing there’re even more walls between us. This at least makes me feel closer to her.

She says she couldn't let me die and that stirs my heart. Knowing she had to save me at any cost, letting me drink her blood to come back as one of hers. I find comfort in the knowledge I'm important to her. She doesn't love me the way I do, I can see that, but I'm important to her.

It's not that terrible after all.

But I don't get much time to get used to this. Soon, Ma Ri is taken, and not only her but the Queen. War has been declared and we need to act fast. Save them both, even if all I care is saving Ma Ri. If I had to choose I most likely would take the vampire girl with me and leave the Queen to face her own destiny.

It’s the first time I fight as a vampire and I realise it's a plus. I'm faster and I can keep up with the other bloodsuckers. I can jump as high and I heal as fast. And thanks to my own training I’m beyond their level. Still, having another vampire to fight alongside helps. A vampire that has turned sides, realising where he stood was wrong.

In a short time I've learnt more about vampires than what I read in books. They are very much like humans, same feelings and troubles. That's why I still love Ma Ri, why it hurts so much to see Jae Min looking at me as if I weren't standing in front of him. What changed the moment I turned into a vampire wasn't my soul, just my body. I'm not a monster… I’m just different

With our help not only the queen but also Ma Ri is rescued. The ringleader is killed and all the members of the Vampire Tribe are safe and sound. But Jae Min was bitten, just like I was. Despite everything, there's no way to save him without turning him into a vampire. It kills us all not to be able to help them.

Ma Ri is desperate. I can see her going around, trying to find the way to save him. I know that if it weren’t for the way Jae Min treated her and the things he said to her that made her cry so hard, she would've given him her blood already. I wish I could do something. The problem is that Jae Min isn't conscious as to ask him about it.

I hear Jae Min got bitten trying to protect Ma Ri. Even if he hates vampires, he loves her more than that, enough to put that aside and just save the girl. And because of that I dare to believe he would understand that him being a vampire is the only way. It would even allow them to be together as the same. But I can't make that choice for him.

I'd like to think that if I were in his shoes, knowing that a vampire isn't always a monster, knowing that both the girl I love and my best friend are also vampires… I would've willingly drunk the blood and joined them

But I'm not Jae Min and I know Ma Ri regrets not giving me a choice. She can't do that to Jae Min, even if she is as desperate to keep him alive as she is.

At some point she just disappears and no one can find her. Her family worries because she needs to drink blood or she'll die. Even a little, just enough to keep going. So we all go out searching for her. I think I know where I'll find her, so I head to that part of the forest and before I can see her I hear her. The clear flute that calls me like a spell, so beautiful and painful. The emotion takes my heart, squeezes it and leaves my wounds open, but it also heals it and lulls me back into peace.

It's her and our promise is fulfilled. She's let me hear her clear flute and she smiles at me with love. Not the kind of love I want her to feel, but a kind that lets me know I'm dear to her.

She smiles trying to reassure me, but she's pale and sweating. She looks nothing like the bright and strong girl I met. This is a decaying shadow of her usual self.

"It says that a vampire near death gets to a state similar to a human. And only the blood I bleed in that state can save him," she speaks and I know immediately her plan.

She's dying to let him live again.

How--how do I stop her from this? How do I keep her alive? Do I have to lose one of them no matter what? How do I refuse to help her even if that is like ripping my own heart off of my chest? What am I supposed to do when they girl I love asks me to take her to my best friend's death bed just to take his place?

What do I do when she can't even walk?

What can I do but take off her shoes?

What do I do when she says goodbye?

What do I do when I can't see her anymore but my heart cries her name?

What do I do when my whole body trembles, wanting to go after her and save her?

She's gone and I'm here, waiting although I'm not even sure what I'm waiting for. I'm sure Jae Min won't want to see me. But I stay outside, watching her shoes and taking care of them even if she will never wear them again. I look after the only thing she’s left behind with me.

Then I hear it. His screams, his cries for a girl that is gone. A girl that saved his life after paying with hers.

No. Vampires aren't monsters. Sucking blood isn't what makes them monsters, it's the choices they make. And Baek Ma Ri is the best creature I've ever met.

When vampires cry they pour the same pain any human would do when they lose someone. And I know Jae Min is crying the same tears I'm shedding outside. We are both crying for the same girl we have lost.

“In the next life… please, look at me. Love me,” I whisper to her shoes, touching them with the same tenderness I would touch her.

She's gone forever. All I have is the girl that keeps looking after me in my dreams. That girls that sings and plays music for me, one that calls me to wake up every time. I still have that Ma Ri that is only mine. She lives only in my dreams and when I close my eyes I can see the butcher girl I met here, standing behind her, smiling and telling me we should duel again.

In my dreams now they are together.

"Han Shi Woo," she calls like every time. "When are you going to wake up? You're healed now. Please, wake up."

Maybe it's time I wake up and join her. I lost her here and Jae Min is still a human. We stand at different sides now. What else do I have here? Maybe I should go to the girl in my dreams that wears all her hair loose, the one that doesn't call me her Lord because we are the same.

Maybe I should open my eyes and answer her calls.

Ma Ri-ah, I want to say. From the darkness of my unconscious state I want to call her name and talk to her one more time. "M-Ma Ri-ah."

A loud gasp is heard when my lips move and words come out. And that's the moment I stop dreaming, when I stop seeing her and myself from an outsider's point of view. It's when all gets black and I'm left alone in the dark. Just her voice echoing around, calling me over and over again.

I'm getting there, Ma Ri. Just a little bit more. A little bit more.

This is a work of fiction with no profit intent. All characters and context belong to the rightful writers of the webcomic and drama. This is made by a crazy obsessed fan for other fans who suffer from Second Lead Syndrome.

Bel, xx

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