Love is in the Air
a story by Dot

Ever since Crono and Marle ran into each other on that fateful day, they have had more than a passing interest in each other--BUT--they have been nothing more than friends...until now.
(Remember the 'Family Reunion Ending', where Crono and Marle fly away on a bunch of balloons? Well, this is what might have happened after that.)

The ground was getting farther and farther away. Marle held onto Crono tightly, hoping that she wouldn't fall. A light breeze blew by, bumping the colorful balloons into one another. Above, in the sky, the stars twinkled merrily, apparently unaware of the drifting couple.

How could I have been so...so stupid??? Marle wondered as they floated higher and higher. If she had let go when she detached the balloons from the bell, taking her with them, she would have only fallen a short distance. Instead, she hung on for dear life, and now she dangled precariously in the air, at least 50 feet from the ground.

Marle looked up at Crono's face; he showed no signs of fear. She was sure that he was just as terrified as she, but hid it from her.

I put Crono in this mess, but he still doesn't want me to be afraid, Marle thought guiltily. She was struck at how Crono looked both so young and so old; he, like she, was only sixteen, but had done everything he could-- even lost his life --to protect her and the world from Lavos.

Shifting her weight slowly to relieve her arms ( I hope I didn't get fat in the last few months , Marle thought, then chided herself: I can't believe I'm thinking about my weight at a time like this ), Marle suddenly realized that Crono, too, might be tired.

"Do you want to change sides?" Crono nodded. Marle carefully reached out her right arm and grabbed the balloons while Crono cautiously retracted his left arm from Marle's waist. Then, with a bit of mid-air choreography that amazed Marle for years, Crono switched sides with her and embraced her again. He flashed a triumphant grin at Marle; Marle grinned back, then snuggled close to Crono. He turned bright red, but Marle was too busy thinking to notice the heat of embarrassment coursing through his veins.

How high up are we? Marle wondered. Despite all of her instincts screaming "DON'T LOOK DOWN!!! ", Marle couldn't resist her curiosity.

She looked.

And nearly gasped.

The landscape, bathed in the bright moonlight, was stunning. Marle had never seen such a sight, not even from the highest tower of her father's castle.

It's all so beautiful...I wonder if it would hurt when I hit the ground... Marle thought morbidly.

A bright, almost too cheerful voice startled Marle out of her musings.

"Hey, guys!" It was Lucca, piloting some sort of flying machine which Marle vaguely remembered seeing the inventor tinker with earlier and had jokingly dubbed "Epoch Junior". Marle didn't know whether she should feel relieved or annoyed.

She decided on relieved.

"Lucca! Thank goodness you're here!"

"Happy to oblige, Your Highness." Lucca exaggerated a bow. Marle rolled her eyes.

"Forget the formalities! Just get us down!"

"Okay, okay..." Deftly maneuvering the 'Epoch Jr.', Lucca brought it right under Marle and Crono, who let go of the balloons and dropped into the machine next to her. The balloons, now lightened of their load, shot into the sky like a fightened flock of birds. The moment that Marle sank into the seat, she felt as if a great weight had lifted from her shoulders. Hanging in midair had used up all of her energy, and the relief that flooded her further drained what was left of it. Marle only had enough strength to lean her head against Crono's shoulder; Lucca pretended not to see that Crono didn't mind.


Marle felt some of her strength return when Lucca landed in front of Guardia Forest, and was a bit disappointed: secretly, she hoped that Crono would carry her out, but then again, she didn't want to endure Lucca's eternal teasing.

"I don't know how to thank you, Lucca," She climbed out of the machine.

"Oh, I'm sure there's a way..." Lucca smirked. Marle ignored her and turned to Crono, who was waiting to escort her home.

"Thanks, Crono, but no thanks. You've had enough adventure for one day." Before Crono could protest, Marle pulled him close and gave him a kiss. "My hero." She whispered in his ear. Crono widened his eyes, then blushed deeply.

"What's the matter, Crono?" Lucca giggled. "Never been kissed by a girl before?" Crono looked away and blushed even deeper, the color in his face matching his flaming red hair.

"Stop teasing him, Lucca. It's getting late." Marle scolded playfully, hardly able contain a smile as well.

"Fine." Lucca understood what Marle really meant: You're being annoying. Go home already. "Good night, then."

As soon as Lucca was out of their earshot, she burst out laughing. They would make a perfect couple, she thought mischievously, but not without my help! Lucca wished that her machine could fly faster; she had a little match-making to do...

"You should go home, too," Marle advised. Crono hesitated. "Go on; I'll be all right." Slowly, perhaps a bit reluctantly, Crono began walking away. Marle was about to enter the forest when she thought she heard Crono say something. "What--?" Crono hugged her quickly from behind, then ran home as fast as he could without looking back. If he had, he would have seen the shock on Marle's face.

"Nadia--no, Marle!" King Guardia XXXIII corrected himself, remembering that his daughter did not like being called by her royal name. "You're back!" He was puzzled to see her daughter pass by as if he did not exist; she had a strange, half-possessed, half-excited look on her face. "Are you all right?" Marle gave a start at the question.

"I-I don't know." She stammered. The King frowned; his daughter had always confided everything to him, but now, she seemed to hide something. He soon realized that, whatever it was that troubled Marle, it would not be wise to question her at the moment. Besides, he had seen that look before; it was on his own face when he first fell in love.

"You're tired. Go to bed."

"Yes, daddy." Marle gave her father a quick peck on the cheek. "Good night." She went into her room, changed, and lay on her bed. When she finally fell asleep, she dreamt of Crono.


From that day on, Crono and Marle saw each other almost every day; neither saw their outings as 'dates', however, since Lucca or someone else was always with them, and they usually did things like trying out Lucca's inventions. (Marle never understood why she was crazy enough to risk messing around with Lucca's crazy ideas.) Even after Marle was crowned and became a more serious, responsible person, she continued to enjoy her friendship with Crono.

One day, just before he dropped her off at the Castle, Crono gave Marle a note.

"Do you want me to open it now?" she asked. He shook his head, then left.

What could he possibly have written? Marle wondered. Going into her room, she dismissed her servants and locked the door behind them before tearing open the note and reading it. The note said:


Dear Marle,

Meet me tonight at 7 o'clock. Dress nicely. Will take you to a special place. (I have permission from your father.)


Signed,

Crono


Marle sighed. That Crono...he's never been a person of many words, not even in writing. She carefully folded up Crono's note and tucked it into her secret drawer. Still, what could be so important that he would write me a note like that?

Crono came at seven o'clock, on the dot. When Marle saw him, she almost didn't recognize him: instead of the casual, loose-fitting clothes that Crono usually wore, he was dressed in a navy blue uniform that fit him so snugly his bulging muscles rippled beneath it whenever he moved. Gone, too, was the headband that was always tied around his head. Marle had never seen Crono dressed so nicely before, not even on her coronation day, when Crono wore what looked like a slight modification of his normal clothes. Now, Crono looked noble, regal...like a prince. Marle felt ashamed that she hadn't chosen to wear her best dress; after nearly an hour of deliberating, she had finally settled on a light green two-piece dress. She had been proud of her decision, but--compared to Crono--she seemed, in a way, unworthy of his presence.

"Aren't you going to say goodbye to your father before you leave?" King Guardia asked playfully. Marle gave him a 'don't-embarrass-me-in-front-of-my-friends' look, but hugged him anyway. "Bring her back on time," He said to Crono with mock solemnity. Ah...young love; how romantic, the King thought nostalgically as Crono escorted Marle out of the Castle.

Crono took Marle to his house, where the two were served a magnificent dinner by Crono's mother, who kept dropping hints about herself, her son, and her life in general.

"That suit belonged to my husband," she told Marle as she brought another dish to the table. Crono shook his head vigorously and gave his mother a pleading look. "He was married to me in it." He ground his teeth in frustration.

Mom just HAS to say that, doesn't she? Crono thought, watching his mother make a total fool of herself. He wished that he could have thought of a better place to eat dinner.

"Don't be angry at her, Crono." Marle said after Crono's mother left the table. She saw and understood the look on his face. "My father is just like her sometimes."

After dinner, Crono guided Marle through a winding trail that led to a cliff overlooking the sea. The moon was just rising out of the water, and the waves glistened with moonlight. Marle took a deep breath, smelling the salty air.

"This is a really nice place," she looked around. Crono nodded in agreement. "So...why did you really bring me here?" Crono gave her a bewildered look. "Come on, don't pretend you don't know," Marle scolded. "You wouldn't dress up so nicely just to take me to dinner and look at the ocean." Crono lowered his head. "Well?" Marle asked. Crono opened his mouth to speak but closed it again. He had prepared all week for this moment, and had rehearsed over and over. But now, he just couldn't find the right words to say how he felt about her.

"Come on, spit it out." Marle pretended to be impatient. Crono tried again, but once more his tongue and his nerve failed him. "If you have nothing to say, I'm leaving." Marle turned around, as if she would really leave.


"Wait!"


Marle stopped, surprised. Only once before had she heard Crono's voice: when they first met and he told her his name.

He never said another word after that; Crono was rather shy despite the bravery he had shown. Marle had always thought that was because he hated his low, raspy, and grating voice that sounded like a cross between Donald Duck and Darth Vader.

"You talked," she looked back at him, but still acted like she would go at any moment. "How come you've never talked before?"

To her amazement, Crono walked up to her, took her hands, and looked at her seriously.

"Because," he whipspered, "I've never had to say something so important before." He lifted Marle's chin slightly with his right hand, then kissed her tenderly on the forehead.

"I love you."

That's the most beautiful voice I've ever heard, Marle thought, her eyes watering. She closed them; her lips, as if moving by themselves, touched Crono's.


The two wrapped their arms around each other as they kissed passionately. When the kiss ended, they gazed at one another for nearly a minute.

Then, Marle blushed and began giggling uncontrollably; Crono, too, turned red and started laughing.

"What's so funny?" He grinned. Marle was too out of breath to answer. After a while, she finally managed to control herself and calm down. Suddenly, both felt very awkward and embarrassed. They tried to talk to one another, but only succeeded in 'um's and 'ah's. After that, they just stared at one another for a while, not knowing what to say.

"Well, uh...I'd better get you home," Crono finally managed to say. "Your father would kill me if we were late," he added with a mischievous grin. Marle nodded, and the two, holding hands, slowly made their way home.

Behind them, the moon, like a giant hot air balloon, had risen completely out of the sea. One of its beams shone on a stone slab erected near the head of the cliff.

On it was carved: "Here King Guardia XXXIII wooed his Queen."


Finally closed the gaping plot hole in the story. (You see, the ending where Crono and Marle float away on the balloons is only possible if you crash the Epoch into Lavos, completely wrecking it...oops. ^^;) The glaring anachronisms, though, stay. ^_^
Copyright 1997 by Dot

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