2 December 2017: I was thinking I might hold onto this story for Semana de Parejas later this month, but I've had something come up and I won't be in the country to be posting then.

This story is part of my series that I am calling Griþian and Friþian (story list/reading-order is in my profile). It takes place before Sanctuary and somewhere in the middle of Enchanted. It's after Clef has grown-up and he is avoiding Umi more than is probably polite.

You don't need to have read any of the other stories to understand this one, though. It stand well on its own.

Good Advice

Clef could tell Umi was upset about something the moment she walked through his office door. She merely muttered a greeting before flumping into her usual chair.

At first, he just ignored her. She still sometimes she used his office as a hiding place to cool off after a fight. Especially if it was someone who was already avoiding Clef - like Ferio, who was prone to taking extra time off during the knights' visits rather than readjusting his schedule like a sensible person.

Only Umi didn't calm down. If anything, she just seemed to grow more and more agitated the longer she sat there. She fidgeted and twirled her hair, staring up at the ceiling, then the wall, then over at Clef, before staring back up at the ceiling. After the fifth over-dramatic sigh - an almost blatant cry for attention - Clef set down his pen and looked over at her properly.

"Okay, what's wrong?" he asked.

Umi's face went the reddest he'd seen it in a while before she flailed her hands. "I kissed Huki!"

Clef blinked, unsure of exactly what to say to that. He'd expected an argument, not—

Well, not kissing someone.

Suddenly on her feet, still gesturing wildly, Umi paced the floor. "Not just kissed, either. We made-out. Like a good twenty minutes. There were even hands involved!"

Yes, he definitely wasn't sure how to respond to that. Part of him wanted to ask her to stop talking, to tell her he didn't want to know the details, and that it wasn't exactly polite to vent about kissing other people to someone who was interested in you. But pointing that out would mean admitting that he was - well - interested in her.

And at sixteen, she was still a few decades too young for him to be thinking that.

But the other part of him hated seeing her upset, no matter the reason. If he could help, he wanted to. Umi's statement hung in the air a long, agonising minute before Clef sighed and asked, "Did you want to kiss him?"

"Yes - No - I don't know!" She flopped back into the chair. "I mean, I probably started it, but I'm not even sure now."

He raised an eyebrow at that. "You don't know who kissed whom first?"

"Well…" Umi waved her hand in the air. "There may have been a little alcohol involved, so I guess it probably seemed like a good idea at the time."

Clef sighed. He was sure she didn't want a lecture about alcohol consumption and decision making, but it hung heavy on his tongue, so he stayed silent.

"Oh, shut up!" Umi snapped.

"I didn't say anything."

"You were thinking it!" She spun her hand in a circle near her head. "Don't tell me that you haven't ever gotten drunk and kissed someone."

"This isn't about what I have or haven't done. It's about what you've done that's upset you so!"

Umi crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him.

Clef rolled his eyes. If he got to the bottom of exactly what about kissing this Huki-fellow had upset her, he could get back to his reports. "Did you enjoy it enough that you want to do it again?"

"Well, yeah, I guess I liked the kissing part," she shrugged. "But I'm not sure I want to kiss Huki again. I mean, I like him. He's been my friend for years. It's just… I don't think I like him like more than just a friend, you know?" She sighed and covered her face with her hands. "I haven't spoken to him since it happened last night. I don't even know what to say to him!"

It was the tone of her voice that made him stand up and walk around his desk, where he knelt down in front of her and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "Umi, if you don't want to kiss him again, you don't have to."

"That's easy for you to say." Umi rubbed her face and looked up at him. Her eyes glittered with unshed tears and his chest tightened. "You didn't go making stupid childish promises about marriage to someone before kissing them."

That knot in his chest pulled tighter, despite him knowing full well that she was too young for him, even if he were allowed to express an interest. "Did you make him those promises last night?"

"No." She shook her head. "But when we were twelve - just shortly after I moved back to Tokyo - we promised to never part again. That when we were grown up, we'd get married and he'd run Ryuuzaki Enterprises for me."

Clef took her hand in his, kneeling down so that he was at eye level with her. "You don't have to keep that sort of promise if you don't want to. A lot has happened in four years."


He cut her off with a stern shake of his head. "Just because you kissed someone doesn't mean that you owe them a relationship. Even if you have sex with someone you aren't obligated to stay with them."

"Hey!" Umi ripped her hand out of his and pulled away. "I just kissed him! And maybe he touched my boobs, but we didn't—" She flailed at him, face flushed. "I haven't had sex with him - or anyone else - for your information!"

"Well, you're too young to be doing that anyway," he said before he could stop himself. He bit down on his lip to keep from saying anything else. She was certainly young, but he'd certainly done some of his own experimentation when he was about her equivalent age.

"What right do you have to say I'm too young?" Eyes narrowing, Umi glared at him. "I'm practically an adult. I can do what I want with my own body; I could have sex with someone if I wanted to."

"I'm not saying you can't! I just—" He waved his hands at her. He really didn't want to think about her being intimate with someone else, and he most certainly shouldn't be thinking about being intimate with her. "Why are you even asking me for advice? Caldina would be better suited. I haven't had a romantic relationship in over 400 years!"

Umi crossed her arms again. "I didn't ask for advice; you just started giving it." She huffed out a heavy sigh. "But if you are still giving advice, what do you think I should tell him?"

"Just tell him what you told me." Clef leaned back against the edge of his desk. "That you like him, that you're friends, but you don't think you like him like that, and you don't want to kiss him again. If he really is your friend, he'll understand."

"I'm probably just being stupid," Umi said. "I mean, I don't even know if he actually even likes me as more than a friend. I don't even know how to tell." She looked up at him. "How do you tell?"

Clef shrugged. "I have no idea. Sometimes you can just tell. Other times they need to say something. You could just ask him how he feels if you really want to know." He paused and added. "But you might want to lead with the not wanting to kiss him part or he might get the wrong idea."

Letting out the heaviest sigh, Umi leaned forward and rested her head on her hands - elbows on her knees.

Clef reached out a hand toward her and then pulled it back, curling his fingers into a fist at his side as he held himself back. "Was there something else you would rather be doing than lurking in here while I work on these stupid reports?"

"Oh, yeah." Umi lifted her head up and turned her wrist over to look at her watch. "We're going for a walk soon." She looked up at him. "Do you want to come with us?"

Did he want to? Yes. Was he able to? No. He waved a hand at his desk. "I need to finish this. Next week?"

Umi nodded in understanding. "Okay. Don't work too hard."

He smiled. "I'll try not to."

The corners of Umi's mouth turned up as she got to her feet. Halfway to the door, she turned around and managed a smile. "Thank you, Clef."

Clef shrugged and shooed her out the door. She was definitely making his life a lot more interesting than he had expected.



Thank you for reading. All feedback is loved!