Disclaimer: Still don't own anything.
Chapter 14: Happy Endings and Whatnot
"You kissed me."
He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Yes. I kissed you."
She was silent, contemplating this. "...why?"
"Damned if I know," he mumbled, scowling and staring at the ground.
She stared at him, considering. "Did you like it?"
He stared right back. What kind of a mood was she in this time? "Did you?" he shot back.
"I asked you first."
But she seemed to be thinking about something else now. Her gaze was focused on his shoulders - on his jacket. She blinked. "That jacket.."
He looked down. "Yeah?"
"Ran told me that you got it from your - from your first love."
He smirked. "Is that jealousy I hear?"
She crossed her arms over her chest and whirled around. "Fine. I don't care."
"You're crazy," he said, "didn't anybody ever tell you not to listen to everything everybody tells you?"
"So it's not true?" She eyed him, gaze narrowed.
"No, no. I picked it up somewhere. Some little town."
Kazuha stared at him for a while, and then shrugged. "Okay." But she was decidedly happier. And as she exited the church, he watched, and finally figured it out.
"I've decided," he said, his voice even and clear. HIs parents fixed their eyes on him, waiting.
"On -" And he hesitated, just a little bit, before stumbling blindly forward, " - on who I'm to marry."
"I want to marry.." And still he was afraid, and he cursed himself for being so weak, for being so undecided. Adrenaline kept him going. "...her."
"Her." There was no question in the statement; they knew full well who he was talking about. His mother asked, "What's her name, again?"
He hated saying her name. The sound of it, as the syllables rolled off his tongue, made him feel awkward, all squirmy inside. He took a deep breath. "Toyama... Kazuha."
His father's tone was cool and brusque. "The servant girl."
Heiji closed his eyes. "Yeah."
"You do realize that your worlds are vastly different," his father went on, tone devoid of any trace of emotion, "you're a prince, she's a servant. If you were to marry her, she would be out of place, very much so. You realize that, don't you?"
"Well, maybe I don't care." His voice was rising, even as he struggled to control its volume. "Maybe - maybe -" But even as he said it, his resolve was crumbling. Their worlds were incredibly different. What if - what if she didn't -
"Does she want to marry you?"
They'd pressed the right button, the one that had kept him up late at night, wondering if she felt the same way he did. He - he thought she did; a sort of feeling that had crept up on him, but still...
"...I don't know."
"And you want to marry her?"
"You like her, then?"
"Enough to marry her?"
"You like this girl, that much?"
"I love her."
Silence. Heiji heard his father slump forward in his chair, his mother exhale. He stood his ground, never wavering.
His mother took him by surprise when she rose from her chair and strode towards him, stopping only when they were about a foot apart.
"You say you love her?"
"When did it start?"
"I - I don't know." Mental flashbacks, of the first time they'd met, the first time she insulted him, the first time she slapped him. The first time he made her cry. The first time he held her in his arms during that dance. The time he'd proposed to her..
The time she'd saved his life, only to endanger hers in the process.
Maybe he'd always loved her, somewhere in the back of his mind.
His mother drew him to her in a quick hug. "If she can get that expression on your face, then we approve." She pulled back and smiled at him, brushing some of his hair out of his eyes. "Now. When are you going to propose?"
He found her sitting underneath the cherry blossom trees - ironic, a voice in the back of his mind thought - just staring out into the distance. She didn't notice his presence, and he took advantage of the opportunity to simply stand back and watch her.
She was so beautiful, it almost hurt to watch her.
His fingers clasped protectively around something in his pocket. He closed his eyes and stepped closer.
"Kazuha?" Even now, saying her name still made him shiver.
She turned to look at him, eyes sparkling, cheeks rosy. "Hey." She smiled and patted the spot next to her. "Sit down?"
His heart beat erratically at the sight of the smile that illuminated her face, and he proceeded to curse and swear violently inside his head. He complied and sat down beside her. They sat in comfortable silence. She was humming, that song, their song, under her breath. His grip tightened on the velvet box in his pocket - now or never. If he was going to lose her, well then... well then, he might as well make an idiot of himself now before he got too attached to her -
Although he didn't think he could ever live his life without her again.
"I have something to say," he said, warily, and he watched as she tilted her head slightly to give him her full attention. "And - and it might take some time, so you'll just have to deal with it. 'Cause I don't want any interruptions, 'cause it's just going to make this entire thing harder."
An amused smile crossed her lips. "All right.."
He stood up, took a deep breath, glanced quickly at the sky - it was blue, a cloudless blue - and said a silent prayer before barreling on, "I love you."
He caught a glimpse of the wide-eyed expression on her face before charging forward, "You have no idea how crazy you've driven me with all of the things you've done. You have no idea how - how you've haunted me, the entire time we've known each other. You have no idea how you've scared me, how you've absolutely scared the hell out of me because of all the things you've made me feel. You have no idea how much pain and torture you have caused me this entire time."
She opened her mouth to protest, but he cut her off.
"And do you know what else? You have no idea how much I've enjoyed these past months. With you. You and your crazy antics, you - you, driving me insane, you, challenging me, insulting me, hell, slapping me, and making me feel just about every emotion that is known to mankind, positive and negative, and more.
"And - this is the plain and simple truth, take it or leave it. I can't live another day without you, so if you love me back, god help me, say you'll be my wife."
He held out the black velvet box.
She gaped at him in disbelief.
Moments passed, and his heart began to pound so loudly he thought for sure she could hear it. He wondered what he might do if she'd said no. He didn't actually entertain the thought, knowing that it would only wreak havoc on his nerves. But she still wasn't saying anything, and what the hell was he supposed to do now?
Still - nothing but stone-cold silence.
Slowly he began to withdraw his hand. "Forget it," he muttered, raking a hand through his dark hair, "I thought that you might love me too, but obviously I'm wrong -"
Her hand, smooth and soft, reached out and touched his.
"Hattori Heiji, if you don't put that ring on my hand in the next five seconds, I'll slap you. Again."
He froze, and then met her eyes. "Well," he said, deliberately slowly, "I'm probably immune to your slaps by now.."
She held out her hand expectantly. "Ring. Now."
He rolled his eyes - all for show, of course - and kneeled down, and slipped the ring on her finger. They both leaned back to admire it. She let out a giggle, and he turned to face her with raised eyebrows.
"I have the right to be happy," she said, "don't I?"
"Of course. You're marrying the greatest man on the planet."
"Is that so? I thought the greatest man on the planet was Kudo-kun."
"Watch it, woman.."
She laughed again, threw her arms around his neck, and kissed him with all the strength she could muster. They toppled backwards, he making sure that he took the brunt of the fall. Not that he minded - he had other things on his mind.
"So," she said, pulling back, and he locked his arms around her waist, "when's the wedding?"
"As soon as possible," he declared. "How about tomorrow?"
"...you're kidding me."
"Eh. Yeah, actually. It's already all planned out; we've got everything ready."
She shot him a Look. "Confident, weren't we?"
"Not really. But I figured if you said no I could vent by throwing cake at Kudo and Kuroba."
"..." She shook her head. "...it's tomorrow?"
"...oh, for the love of.."
"YOU!" Kazuha screeched, squeezing all the bones in Heiji's left hand. Heiji bit back curses. "YOU did this to me, YOU'RE the reason I've been throwing up in a toilet for the past NINE MONTHS and YOU'RE -"
"The reason that you're now the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl," the midwife interrupted. Kazuha fell silent and Heiji took this opportunity to remove his hand from her deadly grasp. He accepted the wailing girl and managed a smirk towards his wife, "Hey, she sounds like you."
"Shush." There was no heat in her words. There never was. She took an inward breath of air as Heiji handed her their newborn daughter. "Look at her..." She smiled at him, "we did good, didn't we?"
"Yeah. Real good."
And like all fairy tales, this one ended happily ever after.
"If there were an eternally falling snow - this feeling I have for you... could I hide it?"
Kazuha watched with an amused expression on her face as her husband - gosh, but it still felt so weird to say or even think that - sang to their daughter of five months.
"Hey," she whispered, tiptoeing towards him. She slipped an arm around his elbow, leaning. "I wanted to ask you something."
"That song. Where did you learn it? I never got to ask you."
He let out a soft laugh. "I learned it from a girl in pigtails. Cute girl. A bit annoying and bossy, though."
She turned and raised her eyebrows. "Is there something I should know?"
"No," he said, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "That would ruin the mystery of it, wouldn't it?"
Kazuha scowled. "Heiji!"
"You're not telling me something."
He laughed. "Okay. Remember - say, ten, fifteen.. maybe twenty years ago. I came to this small town with my parents, got lost and ended up on a playground. Then there was this girl, in pigtails, on the swings. She was singing -"
"Oh, god. That was you?"
He simply grinned.
She dragged him outside of their baby's room and smacked him soundly on the head. "And you never told me?"
"Well, I never really -"
"You never told me!"
"It's not a big deal," he protested, rubbing at his head. She shook her head at him.
"I never knew. Oh, I feel silly. I never knew."
"Well, now you do. Can we go to sleep now?"
"Mm. Yeah. "
They were slipping under the covers when she poked him again. "How long have you known?"
He groaned. "I don't know, 'zuha. Long time. Before we married. When we still hated each other."
"That long ago?"
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I don't know. Between getting stuck in the snow and getting to Kudo's wedding and proposing to you, it kind of slipped my mind."
She scowled - and then smiled. "Sing it for me."
"Yeah! Sing it for me."
"Just do it."
So he opened his mouth and sang, feeling like an idiot the entire time. She watched him, smiling, until he finally got tired of it, shut his mouth, and scowled.
"It is you. You screwed up the lyrics again. Just like that little boy."
"I did not screw up the lyrics."
She laughed. "Sure. Let's go to sleep."
And just like Cinderella and Snow White and their respective princes, Kazuha found happiness with her prince. It wasn't a perfect marriage, if by perfect one meant no fights, no bickering, no shrieks, no getting kicked out of the bedroom to sleep on the couch. Because that happened on a weekly basis, as it were.
But if a perfect marriage was based on happiness, and love - real, true, love -
Well, then, this one blew Cinderella and Snow White's marriages away.
Finally! Gosh. Took forever, but I finished it, and I think the ending is sweet and.. yeah. Actually I'm still blown away by the fact that it was actually finished. Millions and millions and bunches of thanks to all of you. This final chapter is for all of you for.. ya know, standing by me, not mobbing me with rotten tomatoes and eggs and whatnot. Thank you!
For those that didn't know - the song throughout the story is called Eternal Snow, and it's sung by Changin' My Life and is featured in Full Moon wo Sagashite. It's a really pretty song.
Again - thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. Words can't convey how much I've appreciated your support and your reviews.. just... wow. Thank you.