Chapter 14

"The Mending Summer"

Of course Claus didn't need coaxing to stay with Lavie that night. They were both so tired that it felt completely natural to fall asleep beside each other. So Lavie, not wanting the moment to end, gently pulled him to the bed next to her and snuggled in the soft curve of his arm. They murmured their goodnights and soon drifted off to a pleasant slumber nestled close together.

Lavie smiled when she woke up to feel Claus's nose and lips against her hair and neck along with his arm resting about her waist. His warm breath tickled the skin of her neck while she felt the slight pressure of his breathing on her back, causing her to smile even wider.

She slowly turned around, careful not to wake him in their close proximity and gazed upon his face. Lavie smiled as she gently traced her fingertips about his hairline, brushing the unruly strands from his face, and kissed his widow's peak. She traced her fingertips along his strong jaw, his father's jaw. Even now she could see more of his father and mother in him every day. The way he laughed like his father did, rich and merry. His mother's shyness. His father's hands, his mother's eyes. Father's chin, mother's nose.

She lay quietly in his arms, simply watching him sleep beside her, enjoying their closeness. She then wondered if Claus ever saw her father in her, maybe even her mother. Of course she'd never known her mother, but it was obvious that Lavie was very much in likeness to her mother as she didn't quite resemble her father.

Lavie was one never to linger long in bed, she'd done that enough when confined to strict bed rest with her injury. Besides she knew now that it wouldn't be the last time she would sleep in Claus's arms. So at length Lavie knew it was time for her to get up and slipped away. She pulled up the covers around him, letting him sleep as late as he liked and quietly crept down the hall. But before she turned the corner she looked back at Claus, tangled up in the covers, and smiled.

As always, the bright sunlight woke Claus up. He rubbed his eyes of sleep and sat up. He could tell by the intensity of the light that it was already late morning.

"Lavie must've let me sleep in." He thought and smiled to himself as he recalled last night's events.

He looked beside him and wasn't surprised to find that she was already up. Part of him wished she was still there, hoping he could be the first to wake her up with a kiss, to hold her in his arms awhile before the busy day would separate them. But Claus then realized that although he'd wake alone in the mornings, he'd always have the night.

Instead of waking Lavie up at daybreak, he smiled to think that he'd be the one to lull her to sleep every night. He had realized this the night before as he Claus lay quietly beside her, not quite as tired as she was. He had smiled as he felt her arms loosen around his middle as she drifted deeper into sleep. He felt her shallow breathing slow into the deep rhythmic sighs of sleep. He would always have the night.

So he stretched his legs and arms and got to his feet. He wandered down the hall, looking for Lavie but she was nowhere to be found within the house. He paused as he reached the bottom of the stairs as a small picture pinned to the front door caught his eyes.

Claus looked closer and found that it was the old picture they had taken in front of their old house in Norkia. He smiled. Lavie must have kept it with her during their escapades upon the Silvana. He was captivated by the photo; how young they had been! He thought of how far he'd come since then, how far they'd come together.

Soon enough Claus stepped outside into the bright afternoon light and smiled to see her sitting by the river behind their house. She was sitting on one of the stepping stones, dangling her legs in the cool waters of the rivers. She soon looked up and smiled at him.

Claus blushed slightly, even from afar Lavie's pretty face radiated a modest beauty. Her fiery red hair, her porcelain skin, her long slender limbs; she was beautiful to Claus.

"There you are Sleepyhead!" Lavie called across the clearing. She patted the stepping stone beside her and grinned. "I saved you a seat!"

Claus laughed and made his way towards the stream. His mind began to race. After last night everything had changed. Should he kiss her good morning? Or was it too soon? The worry soon left his mind when Lavie's pretty smile halted his racing thoughts.

"Morning." Said Claus as he rolled up the legs of his coverall.

"More like afternoon." Lavie chuckled as he sat down beside her, soaking his feet beside her.

"Oh." Claus smiled bashfully. "Sorry."

"Don't be." Lavie shrugged her shoulders, winding her feet in small circles in the water. "You had a long day yesterday, you needed the sleep."

"Thank you, Lavie." Claus smiled.

"You're welcome." She nudged him affectionately. "Did you see the picture on the door?"

"Yeah, I didn't know you had that." He replied.

"I had forgotten about it too, but I found it the other day in my manual. I must have stuck it in there sometime back in Norkia."

"I'm glad you found it." Claus said.

"Me too." She replied, smiling up at him.

"There's still some film left in my father's camera. We'll have to take another one. You know, of this house." Said Claus.

Lavie looked over at him. "We'll pin it next to the old one."

"Yeah." Claus smiled back.

She smiled. "I picked some fruit this morning for breakfast if you're hungry." She said.

"You went all the way out to the orchard?" Asked Claus. "With your leg and all?"

"We don't have any food in the house, and we've got to eat." Lavie laughed. "Besides, It didn't hurt. I had just overdone it last night."

"And you didn't overdo it today?" Asked Claus.

Lavie smiled. "Not yet." She said as she held out a golden pear to him.

Claus smiled lovingly at Lavie. Pears were his favorite and she knew it.

He remembered when he was young how they used to save up to buy the expensive fruit displayed at Norkia's open markets. Fruit was hard to find then, especially in the city so it was expensive enough to keep it out of their fingertips. Now here was Lavie, offering him such a special treat to him without the burdening restrictions of money.

"Thank you." Claus gratefully accepted the fruit. With a blush growing on his cheek he gently kissed her temple.

Lavie looked over at him and smiled, her own cheeks rosy from his loving gesture. "You're welcome." She murmured back.

They were quiet a moment, both still shy to become openly affectionate with one another.

At first Claus worried that he had ruined their moment together by becoming too affectionate too quickly. But he was soon relieved when he felt Lavie slip her hand into his and rest her head on his shoulder.

Claus smiled contently, just the slight touch of Lavie's skin instantly warmed his heart. It was in this moment that all the uncertainty cleared out of Claus's heart. This was Lavie. She'd seen him through thick and thin, the light and dark alike. This was Lavie, she'd love him no matter what he did. She'd always love him and that feeling of constant acceptance warmed his heart.

The way she held his hand, the gentle pressure of her head against his shoulder was more than he could have asked for. This feeling that enveloped him now, the wonderful feeling of just being with Lavie, was more than he could ask for.

The hours passed by and soon enough Lavie and Claus both set off to their different tasks for the day. Claus worked on building a table for their kitchen; while Lavie, not wanting to strain herself, busied herself with making more manuals. Neither one strayed very far from the other as Lavie worked on the porch while Claus worked just outside the hanger, being in plain sight of each other.

"Hey, Claus." Lavie called out to him.

"Yeah?" He answered, standing up and wiping his brow of sweat.

"You know that extra bedroom we have." Said Lavie, resting her chin in her hands.

"Yeah, what about it?" Claus replied.

"Well, we never really talked about what we wanted to do with it."

"Yeah." Claus chuckled, pushing aside his rowdy bangs. "I kind of forgot about it."

"You built it, yet you forgot about it?" Lavie raised her eyebrows at him. "Oh Claus, you're really hopeless sometimes."

His chuckled quickly turned to a laugh. "I know. So what did you want to tell me?"

Lavie smiled warmly. "I think I know what we should do with it."

"And what's that?" Asked Claus, gathering more nails in his hand.

And with that, Lavie smiled and went back to work.

As dusk approached, they both questioned what they would do for dinner considering they had no food in the house, no ice box to store it, no stove to cook it on, nor did they even have a table to eat it on.

So Claus was relieved to see Dunya and the others descending down the mountainside. Behind Dunya, came Moran, Alistia and Tatiana, and at the very end came Dio and Alvis each carrying a bundle that could only be their dinner.

"Look Lavie!" Said Claus as he stood up from his work and waved at the large company approaching them.

Lavie looked away from her writing and up at the hills. She rolled her eyes playfully and slowly got to her feet. "I should have known." She said as she stood beside Claus, waving a warm welcome alongside Claus.

"Dunya would never let us go hungry." Claus replied.

"We're so lucky." Lavie smiled. "We're so lucky to have such good friends."

"Yeah." Claus smiled at her.

They walked to meet them, slowly for Lavie's sake.

"Well, well, well!" Lavie called out to them as they walked. "Miss us already?"

"Well when you didn't show up for breakfast or lunch, I figured you two would need a nice hot dinner to stick to your ribs." Dunya replied.

Claus eyed their heavy baggage. "That looks like a lot more than a meal just for two people."

"That's because we're eating too!" Alvis cried.

Tatiana and Alistia chuckled at one another.

"Do you really think we'd come out all this way just to turn around and go back?" Tatiana laughed as they stood before them.

"Oh." Claus laughed in embarrassment. "Sorry."

"It's okay." Alistia smiled.

"Dunya worked hard to make this and I helped too." Said Alvis as she scurried down the hillside.

"Careful you!" Called Moran he then gave a boyish grin. "I don't think we need any more injuries, right Lavie?"

"Right." Lavie grumbled, rolling her eyes.

Claus chuckled.

Finally Dunya stood before them and gazed behind Claus and Lavie towards the house. "Well," she sighed, "it's really finished."

"Yeah!" Moran added. "We haven't seen it since it was nothing but those rocky foundations at the bottom." He sighed. "Look how far it's come since then."

"Yeah." Lavie smiled, looking back at the house. Even now she still marveled at the construction of the house. "You've worked so hard, Claus."

"Thanks everyone." Claus blushed. He was proud of his hard work, but in this case his own pride didn't matter to him. He wasn't one to boast his own work. He looked over to see Lavie beaming up at him and realized that it was the notion that Lavie was proud of him that made all of his hard work worth while.

Lavie smiled and looked away.

Dunya cocked her head at the two of them, witnessing the tender moment between the two while everyone else passed by and went inside. She sighed and smiled with relief. "At last." She said as she walked through the small gap between Claus and Lavie. "Finally."

Claus looked behind him and watched her walk away inside the house. "What was that about?"

Lavie smiled. "Nothing." She loved him too much in this moment to ridicule his sweet naivety. It was what she loved the most about him: his gentle, untainted soul. But ironically it was also this innocent characteristic that sometimes irked her the most.

And so she gently brushed her fingertips down the lean muscle of his forearm and slipped her hand in his. "Come on." She squeezed it affectionately. "They're all waiting for us."

"Okay." Claus replied, warmed at her loving gesture. He smiled and followed her inside.

Although Claus had nearly completed the kitchen table, it unfortunately could not be used, leaving everyone to eat their dinner on the kitchen floor. It wasn't exactly practical, but it somehow made the evening more special, like an indoor picnic. Everyone sat in a circle, simply enjoying each others' company.

Claus smiled with content as the laughter of the evening filled the walls he made. He soon drifted out of consciousness and into what seemed to be a dream. The loud voices seemed to fade away as his eyes fell on every face in their close circle. In perfect silence his eyes fell from person to person.

First he looked upon Alvis, who loved him like her brother, who looked up to him in every way. He found that her baby like face had grown thin with age, making him realize how quickly she had grown in the last few months. And how quickly she would continue to grow.

Next was Alistia whose wisdom now shone freely through her amber eyes, from every whisper to every smile Alistia never missed a thing. He knew that now. Next to her as always was Tatiana, and to him it seemed all of the cold aloofness had left her face. She was opening up to people, exposing them to the tender soul within.

Then there was Dunya, who held her laughing son in her arms. It was Dunya that had held them together in the beginning, the glue among the myriad of different personalities in her household. It was she that had made them a family. Moran sat happily beside her. Reliable Moran. The one who had provided for them since the beginning. The one who was always willing to help no matter how hard the task.

Then beside him was Dio, whose pale face seemed to glimmer in the illuminating candle light. Of course Dio was damaged, he always would be. Such a hard life isn't easily forgotten. But even still Dio was healing every day, and little by little he would become himself again. He watched as Dio smiled softly and spoke with Lavie.

Lavie. Of course she'd be the last he'd look upon. The one he knew better than anyone and the one who knew him inside and out. Of course at the end of all things there would always be Lavie.

Claus smiled with happiness as he beheld his friends and how chance had brought them all together. He thought about how if he hadn't flown after the Silvana that one fateful day, that none of this would have happened. How remarkable life was in that one simple decision can change a lifetime.

Claus beheld his friends, in all of their integrity. And smiled at how the summer's events had brought them closer together. It had given him so many new friends…it had given him Lavie.

"Claus?" Alvis tugged his sleeve.

"Oh." Claus was startled out of his revelation. "Yeah Al?"

"You're so quiet." She said. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." Claus smiled. "I'm just happy."

Alvis grinned.

"Hey everyone!" Claus then held up his cup, filled with water from their river.

Everyone grew silent, their eyes falling on the young boy who'd grown into a man in the past few months.

"In the last few months I've done some pretty ridiculous things." Claus said with a chuckle. "I put myself in the middle of a war. I left everything I knew behind me and came to the New World. I lived with eight very different people under one roof. I even built a house. They're all memories I'll never forget. But this summer," Claus paused, a charming smile spread across his face. "There was something about this summer that brought me closer to everyone. And in turn it brought everyone else closer together as well." Everyone smiled and nodded. "This summer made me realize how lucky I am to have the people in my life that I do. And I just wanted to say how grateful I am to have all of you in my life." He raised his glass. "So here's to the summer. The summer that brought us together. The summer that made us a family. The summer that mended all of us into a family. Here's to the mending summer."

Smiles spread across the company as they two raised their cups. "To the mending summer." They toasted then drank deeply, savoring all of the Claus's kind words.

At length as dinner ended, everyone seemed to spread out in conversation. Lavie, who liked her nights quiet and relaxed, decided to take a little time to herself and sit on the porch. However, when she snuck out the front door, she was surprised to see that Tatiana had beaten her to it.

Tatiana turned around and their eyes met. "Too many people for you too?"

"Just at night." Lavie replied, she sat down beside her. "It's almost my bedtime."

"That's right, you're the early bird." Tatiana replied. She smiled. "I was hoping you'd come out here."


"Yeah." Tatiana replied. She then reached into her small satchel lying beside her and pulled out the brand new tool set that Lavie had wanted so long ago. "It's for you." Tatiana said as she handed Lavie the thin leather casing that held the heavy tools.

"For me?" Lavie exclaimed in surprise. "Tatiana I can't take this."

"Consider it a housewarming present."

"I don't know what to say."

Tatiana laughed. "'Thank you' would be nice."

Lavie smiled. "Thanks."

"We're friends right?" Tatiana stated. "I wanted to get you a present to show that."

"You don't have to buy me over." Lavie replied softly.

"I know, but I had the money. I just wanted to."

"Well, thank you." Said Lavie, looking over at her. "Thank you very much."

"You're welcome." Tatiana replied. She looked back at Lavie. "I heard you told him."

Lavie looked away, embarrassed. "Yeah. How'd you know?"

Tatiana smiled, but in a sad way. "It's obvious."

"Oh." Lavie replied. She looked over in concern at Tatiana. "Tatiana…are you going to be okay?"

"Yeah." Tatiana replied. "I'll be fine. Don't worry about me. And don't feel bad. You can't help who you love. I know that most of all. You deserve Claus. And he deserves you. I'll be fine. Of course it's going to take time, but in the end I'll survive."

"Okay." Lavie replied. "You're welcome in our house anytime."

"Thanks." Tatiana replied. "Actually, you two moving out inspired Alis and I to move out too. So when our house is finished, you and Claus are welcome there as well."

"Thanks." Lavie smiled. "And if you need help we'll always be here."

"Okay." Tatiana replied. "Thanks."

"You're welcome." Lavie replied.

"I should be heading back inside. The others might wonder." Tatiana said as she got to her feet. "You coming too?"

"I think I'll stay awhile longer." Lavie replied.


"Thanks again for the tools." Lavie said.

Tatiana smiled and nodded, then disappeared behind the door.

When Lavie returned to the festivities she found everyone cleaning up. It was well into the night by now, far past a decent bedtime.

They each said their goodbyes with friendly embraces, but when it came to Alvis's turn, both Claus and Lavie knelt together to face her.

"We want you to stay with us tonight Al." Claus said.

"If you don't mind that is. We had Dunya bring your things over for you." Lavie added with a smile. "We've got a surprise for you."

She gave an innocent grin. "A present!" She giggled with delight. "Sure, I'll stay!"

"Alright then," Dunya said. "come on everyone, we've got our own house to get back to. Night Al." Dunya smiled at both Claus and Lavie, for she knew what was in stock for the child. "I'm sure you'll love the surprise. We'll see you soon then?" Dunya asked.

"Of course." Claus and Lavie said simultaneously.

"Okay then." Dunya smiled. And with that Dunya shooed out the others and softly shut the door behind them.

Alvis's eyes shot back and fourth from Claus to Lavie, eagerly anticipating the surprise. "What is it?"

Both Claus and Lavie smiled at one another, and then looked at Alvis.

"Alright." Claus rolled his eyes teasingly at her.

"We've got to go upstairs for it." Lavie added. "So come on."

"Okay!" Alvis squeezed between the two and latched onto their hands.

"Can you make it up?" Claus murmured to Lavie.

Lavie smiled and nodded.

Slowly but surely they went up the stairs, each with a grin growing wider with each step.

When they reached the top, Alvis was led into the narrow hallway that led to the bedrooms.

"Close your eyes." Claus whispered.

Reluctantly, she did, and felt herself led to the right.

"Okay, you ready?" Lavie asked.

"Uh huh!"

"Alright, open." Claus replied.

Alvis opened her eyes and found herself standing in a small room. Their extra room. A small mattress was placed against the wall covered with soft white linens and atop the linens was Alvis's cozy stuffed yak.

"Al," Lavie said softly, "this is your room. We want you to stay with us…to live."

"We know it's not much but in time you'll make it your own." Claus added. "That is if you want to stay with us."

Tears glistened in Alvis's eyes. "Of course I want to stay!" She hugged their knees. "Of course!"

Both Claus and Lavie were overjoyed to see Alvis so excited, but even more so at the fact that they would become a family in this well wrought house.

She then hopped into the bed, clutching her yak beneath her round dimpled chin. "Goodnight then!" She said, blowing out the candle, placed conveniently at her bedside

Claus and Lavie, still standing in the doorway smiled happily at her. "Goodnight Al." They murmured and closed the door behind them.

"Come on." Claus murmured as he took Lavie's hand in his and tugged her away from the door.

"I'm just so happy she's here." Lavie smiled, the faint glimmer of tears illuminating her gray eyes.

"Me too." Claus smiled.

Together they went down to the end of the hall to Lavie's room. Claus was hesitant at first, he didn't want to make her uncomfortable if she didn't want him in her room again. Last night's events were a completely different circumstance. But his mattress was donated to Al for the night so it made sense to sleep beside Lavie again, but he would be happy to sleep on the floor if she willed it. Lavie, as if sensing his nervous feelings smiled and rubbed her thumb along the smoothness of his knuckles, and coaxed him in.

"It's okay." She murmured, opening the door.

Claus smiled and let her lead him inside. "I'm sorry." He said softly. "Sometimes I don't know what to do."

"Don't be. I'm shy sometimes too, you know." Lavie replied, closing the door behind them.

Claus blushed. "We haven't even told anyone else yet." He said, his cheeks growing rosy.

"I know." Lavie replied. "But we'll figure it out as we go. We always have." She smiled, gently brushing her white hand against the wispy strands of his hair. "But we love each other, and that's all that matters. Right?" She kissed the soft apple of his rosy cheek.

"Mm." Claus agreed smiling over at her.

"And the others, we can tell them when we're ready." Lavie went on putting her arms around his neck, letting her resting her head against him. "There's no rush."

Claus smiled and put his arms about her, resting his cheek against her hair. It seemed Lavie could always make his doubts melt away. "I don't think they'll be too surprised."

Lavie chuckled. "Me neither. Some of them know already." She sighed. "What you said tonight, you know, about the summer?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"It was really beautiful, Claus."

"You're beautiful, Lavie."

"Claus." Lavie drew closer. "Do you love me?"

"Very much." He murmured.

He held her awhile and at length she drew away, her hands slipping from his neck to rest along the thin fabric of his collar. He watched as she hesitantly pushed aside the thin fabric from his neck and softly kissed his collarbone.

Her gray eyes then met his cool blue ones. It was a simple gesture, but he could see the slight apprehension she held behind them. She didn't want to push him to do something he wasn't ready for, just like he didn't want to push her.

"Claus if you don't want to-" He cut her off by kissing her soundly.

At length he drew away. She smiled up at him, then gingerly unbuttoned the top two buttons of his coverall. She kissed the soft skin beneath. "Are you scared?" She whispered, resting her head against him.

"A little." Claus replied.

"Me too." She replied, as if trying to comfort him. She felt Claus hold her closer.

But it seemed they both knew they were ready. They had known each other their whole lives and although their love was newly acknowledged, it had always been there.

And when Lavie drew away Claus, easing away all of her fears as well as leaving all his behind, took her face in his gentle hands and kissed her soundly.

Of course Lavie was the first to wake in the morning with Claus's bare arms flung about her. She nestled closer in the cool morning air to him as she recalled his thoughtful words last night. She'd never been called beautiful before.

She blushed as she ran her hand down the smooth skin of his back, exploring his newly exposed skin. She felt the small folds of his ribs beneath his lean muscles and the gentle rise and fall of his breathing.

She continued to blush as she recalled the previous night's events. The way they'd kissed and nuzzled, timid hands exploring bare skin, the way he'd held her close afterward.

Claus groaned softly beside her, stretching his arms around her. And she was surprised to meet the sleepy gaze of his clear blue eyes. He gently nuzzled her nose while his hands shyly roamed her back.

"You're up early." Lavie whispered.

He closed his eyes, but without the intention to sleep. "Not too early."

She smiled and lightly ruffled his hair. "Too early for you, sleepyhead."

Claus laughed. He opened his eyes again. "Not quite." He was happy to wake with Lavie still there beside him. He gently stroked the wispy strands of red hair from her pretty face, and smiled as he recalled the past night's events. "I love you, Lavie." He murmured.

She kissed him softly. "I love you too, Sleepyhead."

He smiled and pulled her closer, shutting his eyes again.

"Claus." Lavie murmured, blushing at their physical closeness as it kindled a warmth between the two despite the cool morning air. "Dunya brought us some biscuits last night for breakfast if you're hungry."

Claus groaned again and entwined his sun kissed fingers in her pale ones.

"That's not an answer." Lavie replied with a laugh. "Come on sleepyhead. Al's probably waiting for us." She said as she started to get up.

"Stay." He said trying to pull her back, but Lavie was already up and beginning to get dressed. Being as sluggish as he was in the mornings, Lavie had already finished before Claus was even up. She looked and smiled to see Claus still curled up in the blankets, the sun illuminating the naked skin of his back and torso.

"Sleepyhead." She said, kneeling beside him and kissing his temple. "Time to get up." She kissed his cheek. "Wake up."

He slowly opened his eyes again. "So much better than the sheet metal." He murmured.

Lavie laughed and got back to her feet. She looked away when Claus got up, knowing that they were both still slightly shy of their bodies. At length she finally looked back and found Claus beginning to button the top of his coverall.

"Wait." Lavie stopped him, trying to break the shyness between them. She smiled and slowly went to him and buttoned it for him.

Claus blushed as she did so. He was then reminded of his parents, the way his mother would button his father's coat in the winter before he went out on a mission. How she'd smooth his collar at the end kiss him goodbye and wish him a safe journey. His father and mother had a happy marriage, he knew the same awaited him and Lavie when they were ready.

She finally buttoned the top two buttons, ironically the two she'd undone the night before, and smoothed out the fabric of his coverall.

Claus smiled and thanked her, kissing her gently and taking her up in his arms. At length they drew away and she took his hand taking him out of her room and down the hall.

"Let's see if Al's up." She said with a smile.

They tiptoed down to Alvis's room, and found it empty. So in search of her they descended the stairs together, gingerly for Lavie's sake. They found the kitchen and garage empty.

"She must be outside." Said Claus. "Can you make it?"

Lavie rolled her eyes lightheartedly. "I just got up! My leg's fine, it's pretty much healed by now." She pulled him towards the door. "It hasn't been a mending summer just for you, you know. I've done my fair share of mending too. We all have. Mine's just been a little more obvious than others." She laughed, referring to her leg.

Claus laughed. "You have done your fair share of mending."

They went outside and the instant they rounded the corner of the house to look towards the orchard, Lavie stopped abruptly.

"What?" Claus said, startled by her sudden halt.

"Shh! Look." She whispered and pointed towards the stream.

They could see in the distance the beginnings of fall as the leaves in the orchard began to tinge orange and gold. The summer was ending, they were on the edge of fall now.

Claus followed her hand and saw Alvis playing in the stream. Still clad in her thin white nightgown with her white-blonde hair hung loosely about her, she seemed ethereal amongst the intense green of the earth and blue of the sky and water.

"Look at her." Lavie said softly. "We started this whole journey with her, and here we all are at the very end. We're a family."

Claus looked over at her and saw her eyes glaze over with tears. "Lavie." He said, putting his arms around her. She was always the tough one, but now more than ever Claus knew how caring she was inside.

"This is how it's always going to be now isn't it Claus." She said, doing her best to conceal her sobs.

"Yeah, no more death, no more poverty, no more wars. Just you, me and Al, the three of us. We'll always be together." Claus said, holding her close.

"Oh Claus." Lavie murmured, then openly sobbed against him.

Claus did his best to comfort her. He hadn't see her weep so hard since they'd found their fathers inside EXILE.

"Lavie," He said soothingly, drawing away from her, "don't cry." He said, kissing away her tears.

Lavie smiled, then shook her head. "I'm sorry." She said. "I'm just so happy."

Claus smiled at her, grazing his hand against her smooth cheek. "Me too." He replied. "I love you, Lavie." Claus said. "I'm glad it's you with me in the end, just the way we started." He said.

She smiled and kissed him softly. "I love you too, Claus." She smiled. "And thank you."

"For what?"

"For everything."

Claus smiled lovingly at her, ruffling her hair. "You're welcome. You're always welcome."

"Claus! Lavie!" Alvis cried from afar. "Look at all the fish in the river! Come on!" She called as she jumped about in the river.

"We're coming!" Lavie replied wiping away her tears.

"Well," Said Claus with a grin, taking her hand in his. "Let's go."

The End.