This is my gift fic for Ari or vetur02 over on tumblr!

When I first learned I was doing something for you for the NNT Secret Santa, I'll admit I was a bit panicked ( Cerulean Grace can attest to this) simply because I knew whatever I did had to be really great for such an amazing person. A week's worth of writing and wonderful advice from my dear friend lickitysplit helped me create this!

Happy Holidays! I really hope you enjoy your gift, Ari!

-A Night Full Of Wonder, Her Heart Yours To Keep-

Crisp, skin-prickling ice numbs his posterior a bit as his legs dangle precariously over a cliff's edge. Flecks of fluffy white bits of frozen water dance down from the heavens as he gazes ahead through dark, intense eyes. Tree tops dusted in white illuminated in the moon's radiant glow doesn't draw his eyes downward once. The beauty of the frozen forest run through with a glimmering iced over river is completely lost to him. All that seems to peak the blond's attention are the thoughts that buzz through his mind, the frigid glass bottle containing throat scorching liquor in his left hand, and vivid images that paint themselves in his mind of a woman.

Meliodas laughs, a single harsh sound, before lifting his bottle and downing a bit of the chilled alcohol. Women. Definitely not something he has time for right now or in the nearest future. War over Britannia has been long and extremely tedious to the Demon Prince. The goddesses were determined to see the demons defeated, even joining up with the giants, fairies, and humans in their attempts to make this a reality. But with his father having hand-picked ten of the most powerful and vicious demons to form his Ten Commandments-even with a lot of the members being young and inexperienced-they've been able to stand strong against their opposition. Meliodas, being the leader of said Commandments, however always takes it upon himself to handle the more perilous tasks.

This includes encounters with the four Archangels.

His breath forms thick plumes of white smoke that evaporates quickly after each exhale he makes. His free hand clutches the edge he sits on as his mind wanders like a figure lost in the middle of nowhere. Going back and forth, never staying to long as he tries not to think of tresses thick, lusty and more silky smooth than the finest sheets he's ever felt. He blinks and the image fades. The sound of glass creaking within his hold just the slightest inches above the soft whispers of the wind.

The constant battles he's partaken in during this war of the ages has been an absolute thrill. His strength has been tested on more than one occasion, as well as his strategic planning and ability to command. Never once has he failed to leave the battlefield covered in the mangled bodies of his enemies. Never once has he led his brigades into fights that didn't end in their bloodthirsty victory. Not once has he failed to go toe to toe with the most powerful goddesses that have come to be, his body littered with wounds, but theirs carrying far more.

He discovered a dirty little secret of theirs that hasn't stopped eating away at his thoughts since.

Meliodas gives a lengthy breath as he tosses his empty bottle aside. The thick glass clanks loudly before rolling a short distance right over the edge. The blond prince flops backwards and stares high above at the dusty blue cloud covered night sky. Tiny white specks still persist in falling downward and he wonders silently why a lot of beings seem to enjoy the stuff. Shiny bright cerulean eyes more deep and telling than the beauty of the cosmos appear in his mind for a moment and he sees her, twirling and dancing with such innocence and grace as she tries to catch as many snowflakes as possible. With her tiny pink tongue.

His spine tingles with the fluttering in his gut before he wipes the image from his mind physically as his hand goes down his face. This one day. This one single day, everyone-except for himself- gets it in their mind to "cease fire" and regroup. "An excuse," his mouth sets into a hard frown, "Drinking and partying on this so called holiday is not my definition of regrouping."

He'd declined joining his father and two brothers' idea of a party in favor of seclusion. It's not unusual of him, the cold, severe, and indifferent demon, to want to spend this holiday alone. Although he doesn't exactly feel alone. With thoughts of her continuously popping up in his mind, she may as well be with him at this very moment.

He growls at the thought, his hands curling into protesting fists. How many times has that very idea gotten him deeper into the twisted mess he's in already? A single trip alone had started this all. Simply because he wanted to put a dent in the goddesses numbers himself, he's now caught between what's right and what's wrong. And the shitty thing is, is he doesn't know which is which anymore. Hell, there never used to be a right and wrong.

Just kill or be killed.

His brilliant idea had lead him quite deep into the goddesses' territory one late evening only a few weeks prior. He had heard that the goddesses were keeping something of importance hidden, not to be brought into the war unless absolutely necessary. Well, what better news would draw a demon like he out in seek? Of course, he had known it could be a trap but he was more than willing to risk it if it meant taking down whatever possible tricks they had up their sleeves.

Trees were thick and clustered, and the grass seemed to grow thicker with flowers the closer he had gotten to his destination which had pinged as odd in his mind with it being so deep in the frosty months as of late. He'd pushed branches and vines with the idea of tripping up those not careful enough out of his way. The sound of his own breathing had picked up in his ears just the slightest when he took in a taste of a being's essences not far ahead. A goddess. So perhaps it was a trick. He was prepared and one less goddess around wouldn't be skin off his back.

His heavy black boots had halted at the edge of the tree clustered cover and it had only taken a moment of tense anticipation for him to hear something… odd. It had been a voice, light, melodious, and pure satin as it brushed against him tangling him up in the brief stuttering of his hearts. His hands were quick and just a smidgen away from smooth in pushing back the foliage to see the creature who could make such a sound. He had sworn on that day he had never known what beauty was until he'd seen her.

Her skin was pale, like velvety porcelain as he'd caressed her with his gaze. The silver hair that fell around her shoulders and down her back like smooth rivers caused his hands to tingle. He had wanted to run his hands through it then, curl his fingers in her thick tresses as he held her against him. She was curvy, taller than him, and donning a familiar pair of downy white wings that belonged to those of the goddess realm. He should have known something was off when that hadn't bothered him in the slightest. It was her lips that had pulled him in next, full, a deep cerise and softly parted to allow her peaceful song to flow.

The demon was captivated, spellbound by a forbidden divinity he knew would only lead to his downfall. She was the enemy, some sort of secret being kept away for a reason. Her blood needed to be spilled and painted across the vivid flowers that grew around her. But he hadn't moved. The thought to conjure his sword hadn't even flitted through his mind. Then she had opened her eyes and those big wide windows to her soul had locked right onto him with a curious intensity.

He was lost.

Elizabeth. Goddess of Virtue. She's terribly inexperienced in every way, from her magical ability to her sense of self preservation. She knows he's a demon, but she persists in seeing him when she can. He, on the other hand, doesn't wish to draw near her, for once, fearing the darkness that runs beneath his touch will do her more harm than good. His stiff mannerisms never bother her though in their brief meetings that he knows should cease, that he knows will end in a disastrous circumstance.

Her touchy feely displays always seems to break any tension between them as she runs her fingers along his wiry arms and torso always with a soft pressure and astonished eyes. He's had to swat her hands away playfully every time she gets the bright idea to try and lift his shirt up to see beneath it. Her naiveté is like a treat he'll never get tired of. He'll always come back for more.

Elizabeth was very open with him, despite knowing of his demonic heritage. That's how he'd discovered her importance and her relation to the Archangels. Her power is pure, sweet and gentle, but it can also be malicious. It had taken him only once to witness her in utter distress as she'd watched a wolf tearing into a defenseless doe. The charged sparks that had formed around her palms had been bright, woven in gold, and dripping of toxic dread before a similar aura had formed around the wolf's paw. Blood had splattered more thoroughly than its attacks upon the dear and it was quick in its retreat from then.

Guilt was not a pretty image upon a beauty such as she.

Meliodas glances around now searching for his bottle of alcohol and then recalls he'd finished it all as his expression hardens in displeasure. He could really go for a drink right now. No, he wants more than that. But when has more ever been the right thing? He knows what he's doing it stepping over the line of betrayal to his race. He's mingling with the enemy, craving her presence, reveling in her tentative touches. He's starting to fall across that line to the side that wants her safety, that wants her life protected. And for that to happen it means he'll have to do the unthinkable. The unspeakable.

He draws his legs up onto the flat surface of the cliff as he lets out a terse growl, his hands rising to cover his face. "Fuck, I need to get wasted… Maybe these damn thoughts will disintegrate for a bit."

He stiffens. The sound of flapping can be heard just above him and he knows just who it is from her warmth of her energy, her tinkling giggle that follows shortly after, and those damn feathers that tend to float from her wings every now and then that brush against the back of his palms that still cover his face. His entire body jolts in the next instance, a heavy weight having settled atop of his stomach running currents of tingling wonder through him before he stems the emotions all together.

"Are you okay, Meliodas?" Her voice is soft and questioning. She pulls lightly at his hands, trying to remove them.

Shivers race all along his skin as he allows her to take his hands into hers. Her soft and warm hands are like pleasant shocks along his hard and stiff ones. His jaw muscles clench to disguise his intaking of breath when she decides to rub her thumbs along the back of his hands. The insanity of it all doesn't stop him from sitting up and lightly removing his hands from hers in order to grasp her wide hips to keep her from falling back over the edge. He tries to tell himself to pick her up and place her to his side instead. Keep distance. But for once he lets her stay close like a warm fire in the hells of a blizzard that he's inevitably drawn to.

"What are you doing here?" His eyes narrow just the slightest in reprimanding as he gazes up at her, finding her eyes latched onto his chest where her hands now dance lightly. She always tells him she likes to feel for his hearts, make sure they're all still beating. He was wary at first, knowing what she could so easily do, but the look in her eyes always tells him that she'd be more than devastated if something were to ever happen to him.

His hearts beat strongly for her now at the thought.

"I was lonely. I wanted to spend the holiday with you, Meliodas…" Her lower lip juts out just the slightest and her eyes flick up to his in pleading.

He knows she's left alone quite often in the center of goddess territory with a cave full to the brim with all the comforts one would need to live at her reach. But a person such as she desires company and grows saddened with the silence around her. He just so happened to be the person she latched onto. Whether he counts himself as lucky or not is yet to be known. He's a danger to her. He's already lured her out, exposing her for others to find here in Britannia. And yet he feels happy to see her now and have her so close as he'd been desperately yearning, but denying with more effort than he can discern.

If it's discovered that she's missing, however…

"It's dangerous, Elizabeth. You know this," he bites out in a tone similar to the air around them.

She huffs and places her hands on his shoulders in a temporary show of stillness. "Why didn't you come to see me?"

The way she regards him as if she's disappointed in his actions makes his lips curve up in a smirk. "We need to keep our distance. I've told you this many times."

"And yet you still show up frequently enough." She lifts an eyebrow, smug. "You and I both know that's a silly excuse, Meliodas."

His fingers tighten against the silk like material of her dress that drapes against her skin like water. "Your safety is not a silly excuse for us to part ways, Elizabeth. You know why I shouldn't ever come near you."

Her arms encircle his neck as she presses close to him in a desperate hug. So close… They've never been so close and the suddenness of it makes him more conscious than ever to the tether that runs between them, warm, powerful, and eternal. He feels her cheek nuzzle against the side of his face warming him considerably against the weather around them as his hands stay awkwardly out to his sides. "Please. Let's not have this argument again. Let's just enjoy the time we have together, alright?"

He knows he should argue. She should go back. She needs to leave him. But his hands have other plans as they slide tenderly around her waist. Maybe the bit of alcohol he had it affecting his judgement…

"Why are you out here alone in the cold anyway, Meliodas?"

She hasn't moved from out of his hold yet. He can feel the tips of her now cold fingers brushing beneath the high collar of his shirt. The sensation feels amazingly better when he closes his eyes. "I was trying to clear my thoughts away from my family."

Now she pulls back, causing his eyes to open to see her giving him a bright eyed smile. "I could have helped you, Meliodas! We could have had fun together partaking in the festivities of this holiday."

He gives her a dry smile as his eyebrow raises. "Do you even know what people do on today?"

Her lips open as she blinks a few time. Then her mouth closes as they thin in deep thought. A distinct sensation of interest rushes through him just from watching her. He'll never grow tired of seeing her expressions shift so openly. He's always unsure of why she enjoys being around such a closed off bastard like himself. "Not really… But I do know that you're supposed to spend it with the people you care for deeply."

She giggles for a moment as he stares in open shock at her implication. Her button nose brushes against his sweetly as she pushes forward as if to make sure the message burns through his mind clear as day. She shouldn't care though. He shouldn't care. But they both do with a ferocious strength that doesn't appear to be wavering at all. In fact, it's strengthening with each passing moment, with each breath they take.


She pulls back and he swears a current of delight tightens his stomach at seeing her blue eyes glimmer more dazzling than the stardust above. "Okay?" Her lips slowly begin to curve up with her rise in excitement just at hearing him crack-not for the first time.

He shakes his head lightly with a small grin at her clear indicator of wanting to hear him repeat himself. Instead a mischievous light begins to curl within his eyes and her squirming in his lap once she notices it lets him know that she's eager and cautious as to what he plans to do next. He keeps his intentions hidden as his grin continues to grow. His hold on her tightens then-

they both go over the edge.

"Meelioodaas!" Her hands get a killer grip of him as she shrieks with peals of laughter mixed in. The wind is absolutely biting against their skin as they both plummet to the harsh earth, but Meliodas smiles fearlessly through it all. The alcohol is definitely causing him to be a bit reckless… but showing this goddess a taste of how much of an adrenaline fanatic he can be might get her to open her eyes up a bit.

But as he lets his darkness unfurl a bit, a pair of inky black wings sprouting from his back just before they can reach the treetops, the sound of her girlish squeals and the feel of her thudding heart proves quite the opposite. As they cut through the air blazing over forests, villages, and flat planes at breakneck speeds, he realizes Elizabeth is having the time of her life.

He only slows down when they begin to touch upon a territory he's become quite familiar with as of late. He knows it so well at this point he could plot infiltrations through the holes in their defenses. However, he chooses to use his knowledge to reach Elizabeth, or in this case to reach her hidden away abode.

Fingers tighten curiously against his back before he sees her face leaning back from where it pressed against his chest, her hair blowing about her face messily from the constant attacks of the wind. "Why did you slow down?"

His eyes scan the vast expanse of the land, clustered with vegetation and swarming with the enemy. He flies lower, pressing tightly into the trees as he keeps his senses stretched out far. "I have to be careful here," is all he says as his expression once filled with the color of exhilaration now closes off to one of stern concentration.

Elizabeth tucks her head down and he almost doesn't hear her tiny word of, "Okay."

The danger of being caught must be clear to her as well now that she feels the tension in him spreading like a noxious fume. His worries seem all for naught though as they draw closer to their destination, disturbing leaves from their resting places upon thick branches. The goddesses all seem preoccupied, gathered together a good distance away from Elizabeth's residence. Perhaps this holiday will yield some positive results after all.

Drawing up in a neat landing, Meliodas lets out a slow breath as he places Elizabeth on her feet in the place they've spent more time than any. His eyes mold to her, taking in the delicate way she gazes around at her surroundings with a quickly brightening expression. Then her eyes land on him and her radiant visage seemingly explodes. He's unprepared for the excited way she wraps her arms around him in a strong, affection dripping hug, before she's taking his hand and dragging him off towards the cave off to the side.

He only sees the thick tree hangings above it for a brief second before his eyes focus on the deep cavern that opens up much farther than he assumed. The dark grey stones are surprisingly smooth on all sides, and the taps of his boots echo lightly before dulling all together as they travel over the decorative rugs that begin to smooth across the floors. A glowing fire pit off towards the back, flickering with cracks and pops as it consumes the wood it's fed, throws light to her furnishings. The fluffy white cushions of the bed pushed to the far left side that's held up by smooth wood looks to fit only one person. An opening off to the side leads to what he can tell is a natural water source, constantly rippling and wide enough for her to bathe in.

He notices a few wooden chest of drawers crammed over to the opposite side of her bed, laden with knick knacks, trinkets, shiny bobbles, and orbs here and there over its top. And he squints as a pleasant twinge contracts his belly- the frosted glass orb he'd given her not long after they'd met, just small enough to rest in one's palm, hides in plain sight containing a bit of his darkness compressed within it. It was an odd request she'd had one day, her voice had been soft and her features hopeful. She'd wanted something of his to be with her at all times and the very thought had rendered the usually astute demon speechless. It wasn't hard finding a mage intrigued enough to help him with his cause. The force of her body slamming into his in her grateful hug still causes his lips to tug up to one side every time he recalls it.

Meliodas feels Elizabeth slow them gently to a stop a few strides away from her bed and the coziness of her cavern begins to really sweep in from all sides as he unthinkingly begins to run his thumb along the back of her hand still clutched within her tight hold. What ends up catching his eyes at last is the giant pine tree shoved in the very back of the cave so tall the top is forced to curve awkwardly.

"Do you like it?" He can feel her eyes burning against the side of his face as he stares the large eyesore down.

He turns slowly to regard her. Her cheeks are filled with a soft pink hue and her eyes twinkle, seeking his approval. "It's… well…"

Her fingers flex around his in their handhold. "We can decorate it together and I even have some refreshments we can share."

Her wide eyed gaze under the fringe of her bangs nearly sways him to her wishes. But he turns his eyes away, keeping them on the strained tree before them. "Elizabeth, this is all too risky. What we're doing." He slips his hand from hers while keeping his eyes ahead, steeling his thrashing darkness that demands he keep her close. He pretends the soft sound she makes doesn't cause his hearts to squeeze painfully. "I don't want to see you hurt."

The air is silent and thick with regret as all the efforts he put into being relaxed and open for her come undone in just seconds.

She shifts uncertainly and he knows she wants the closeness back that he craves with a reckless abandon. "But… there's no fighting today. I don't understand. We… I just wanted us to spend time together that isn't rushed or full of worry, Meliodas."

The higher tones in her voice alerts him to the damage he's done. He faces her quickly as his eyebrows furrow. "Elizabeth-"

Her head's shaking before he can even continue. "I don't get it. Why are you so against this? Do you think I like seeing you hurt when you visit me? You try to hide it, but you can't keep something like that from me," she says lowly as her hands begin to quiver at her sides. Her eyes turn away from him, but he already caught the waver in them. The beginnings of tears. "You won't let me heal you though. You always stay away. Why won't you… w-why won't you let us be close?"

Words refuse to come past the tightening in his throat, her words having slammed into him more quickly than he could assume a counter. 'She… How long has she been harboring this?' And as he stares at her figure stiff with hurt yet somehow still flowing with resistance as she finds it in her to look at him, eyes rimmed in her sorrow, it comes to him, the truth behind her words. Those touches he always thought were curious and innocent were really her way of examining him, searching for new abrasions each time he appeared. And when she didn't find any from simple touch she'd seek visual confirmation, which he never granted her, always trying to keep her at arm's length.

This whole time he thought she was ignorant and naive, those sweet smiles and big open eyes, all of it was a way to deceive him. And he let her. His chest tightens as he grimaces. He trusted her-

"Please." She reaches a hand out to him her fingers delicate, caring, and so very unsure as they just skim across his cheek like fiery trails, "Don't give me that look. I have not lied to you. I would never lie to you."

But she never gave away her intentions, never told him why it's so important for him-for them-to be this way. He lifts his hand and captures hers against his jaw, disregarding the way her fingers somehow sooth the ache that had spread throughout his chest. Although their hands drop between them he doesn't let hers go this time. "Why did you never tell me?"

She actually gives him a soft smile as she forces her emotions back, easing the sense of dread that had cemented within him at the idea of having brought tears to her eyes. "You said it yourself. In fact, you mention it all the time. You worry so much about what this war can do to me and I just never wanted to bring it up because if I did… we wouldn't get to have as many carefree moments as we've shared. But," her head tilts downward allowing her silver bangs to shield her expression for a moment. Her voice grows smooth, even, like a melancholy night. "I know I can't hold back any longer. The war starts anew tomorrow. You'll be out there fighting before long. And… I'll be drawn in eventually."

His hand slips up and around her wrist, anchoring there as he pulls her towards him in a swift motion. She tumbles against him, the foolish words of hers dissolving as she braces a hand on his shoulder and glances into his hardened gaze. The lines of his expression are unyielding as his jaw tenses and his teeth bare. The splash of the fire flares light in his eyes, burning the fear he wields for her down as a surge of protectiveness rises from its ashes. "Never." The tone is rough and low and she has no way of responding as he gives her no choice but to withstand his wild emotions. "I won't ever let you be a part of that war."


He watches as her lips purse through the powerful maelstrom of images that try to shatter his mind of her figure bloodied, battered, and torn, a simple pawn in the goddesses' plans. His free arm snakes around her waist, pulling her soft curves against his stoney form, just below her wings.

"You can't prevent that from happening." Her blue eyes look between his again and again as if searching for a hidden answer.

"Like hell I can't."

"You're the most prominent figure in the demon race besides your father. How would it look if you suddenly stole me away? If you tried defending me from every obstacle that arose?"

Her rationale is starting to agitate him, tensing the muscles in his back and shoulders as logic insists on being an annoying nuisance. She is right though and he knows it. He is the driving force for the entire demon army. Attempting to save Elizabeth would be a betrayal to the demon race. Disloyalty for a goddess, for Elizabeth.

"Would you really be able to do something so unforgivable for me? I would never want you to, Meliodas. If that meant you having to live a life always looking over your shoulder for the next strike, I would never wish for that." Her eyes shift from his slowly with a hint of bittersweet tendrils, having apparently found what she needed. But it makes him uneasy, the way her arm suddenly tries to pull out of his hold. "I'm not worth it. We barely know each other… I mean nothing to you."

"What…?" The word is as broken as the cracks of the fire that slashes through the silence that descends around them. 'Is she… insane? How can she think… she means nothing?' The anger that had fueled him before now dies out, leaving him limp and vulnerable as he gazes at her in disbelief. She slips out of his lax hold. Each step she takes away from him makes him feel more frigid, his skin frosting over encasing him in an icy demise at his loss.

He watches her drift further away, step by step, as his heartbeats reverberate through his ears. They don't know each other as much as he would like. But, even so, she's not like the demons he knows. She's not like his comrades that follow his every command, their respect for him only from his show of prowess and through their fear. She's not like his brothers who strive desperately to be like him or to gain recognition like he. Elizabeth is not like any man, woman, soldier, or being he's ever met. "You're the only person I've wanted to trust." The words are a lifeline he hadn't realized he'd been clinging to from the moment he met her.

She stops abruptly, a few paces away. Then she turns, the tips of her wings brushing against the ground as she faces him and the straight stance he takes.

"I don't care if I don't know you as implicitly as I would like 'cause it's the way you make me feel that really matters, you know?" He continues feeling more open and exposed than ever before as he keeps his eyes locked on her shining blues hoping to convey the answers he's suddenly finding within himself that had honestly been there all along. "This war… I'm only going on orders, on instinct, and the thrill. There is no reason I truly have to fight. But when I think of you, when I think of you possibly being out there… Seeing the things I've seen, facing the things I've faced, Elizabeth, I won't have it. I can't let that happen."

The passion of his words is what pushes him towards her. The affection in his hearts is what causes him to collect her hands in his grasp as he looks up at her, watching as the gasp she takes paints her visage a rosier hue. She's as mesmerizing as always. "Let me decide what I want to do with my future, Elizabeth… and if that just so happens to involve me falling headfirst into a life of protecting you, then so be it."

The unsteadiness in her visage as her emotions war behind her eyes, her lips opening to protest, rolls all the way down to her hands twitching in his. He tightens his hold and gives her a little grin. "Don't think about it too much. I'm not going to rush into anything. War resumes tomorrow and I have to retake my position."

Just as relief begins to fill her eyes he adds with a smirk that doesn't disarm the spikes of seriousness that lines his eyes. "But the moment I decide you'll be the first to know, Elizabeth."

Her pulse quickens beneath his fingers as she clamps her lips shut. Then she detangles her hands from his in order to encircle his neck as she presses against him in a hug. Her scent wafts up like a pleasant fragrance around him as she breathes against his neck and he's quick to sweep his arms up and around her waist earnest in his endeavors to close the gap he was too stern about keeping between them until now.

"I'm sorry, Meliodas. I trust you. Completely. And I…" She presses her face tighter into the junction of his neck and shoulder and the heat of her breaths has never felt so pleasant and reassuring before as his arms twitch, pulling her closer. "I care for you more than you'll ever truly know." The words flow hidden between them, soft. Loving.

He doesn't speak. Instead his eyes drift shut as his head lays against hers. His hand rises up to let his fingers finally slip between the strands of her hair, combing downward again and again as they stand in an embrace filled with unspoken words. He shudders a breath at the feel and sensation that sparks from the tips of his fingers to the depths of his hearts, her hair twining around his fingers a dream fulfilled. Silky, smooth, and simply indescribably, he breathes her in as an emotion begins to build inside of him, overflowing; never ending. But he knows, as he clutches her as his, that he doesn't need to worry, not here not now. With Elizabeth in his hold, it's clear to him what he wants, what he'd throw everything away to fight for. With her trust so carefully in his hold, he knows he'll never let her go.