By: Fullmetal Ai

As much as Umi Ryuuzaki had tried, it was nearly impossible to get to sleep. This had been happening many times since she and her two best friends, Hikaru Shidou and Fuu Hououji, had returned to Cephiro, the land of the will. They didn't know how they had gotten to Cephiro that time, or who summoned the three; perhaps this was why she was having such trouble sleeping. Usually in this instance, she would go to Clef and ask for a potion to help her, but she had been doing this for the past week since the three had returned, and she didn't like feeling that she was burdening Clef further than she already was just by being here. Deciding to try and find another way to get to sleep, she slowly crept out of the bed that she shared with Hikaru and Fuu, putting her normal clothing back onto her slender body and walking quietly out of the room, after making sure Hikaru and Fuu were not awoken by her movement.

Once out of the room, Umi couldn't decide where to go. She supposed that she could just start walking and see where it took her, and since there was really no other choice, she began walking, passing by the rooms that each contained one of her friends, sleeping peacefully within them. They had all been restless on the day that they had been summoned back to Cephiro, but after that first night, Hikaru and Fuu had been able to sleep better, whereas Umi had been unsuccessful, no matter how hard she tried. She kept thinking about Cephiro, the state it was in, how people have changed over the year that they had been gone .. Ferio was the prince? Nobody could see that one coming. Fuu seemed happy to see him, even through all of her tears over Princess Emeraude. There seemed to be something going on between Lafarga and Gardina, as well – those two were such an unlikely couple, but then again, nobody was really certain about what exactly was going on. She supposed everyone would find out in due time.

And Ascot .. Ascot's grown, she thought to herself amazedly. He's so tall now, It's almost unbelievable how much he's matured in the year that we've been gone. Out of all the friendly faces she had seen, she was still the most impressed by Ascot. She wasn't able to catch on to what Gardina had said when he was dragged out of hiding by her, but whatever it was had made Ascot's face become beet red, and had led to Gardina nearly suffocating. Umi was so glad to be back in the company of friends at the time, she hadn't thought much on it until now. She was suddenly curious, and wanted to know what Gardina had said that made Ascot blush like that. She could admit, he had grown up to be a handsome young man, and seeing his face all red from what she supposed was embarrassment made him all the more cute; or at least, in her eyes. She didn't know what Hikaru had thought, and Fuu was so caught up in her reunion with Ferio, that Umi didn't think she noticed Ascot was even in the room. However, Umi had noticed. She had definitely noticed.

"OOF!" Umi suddenly breathed out, having bumped into something hard. She looked up, seeing that she had reached somewhat of a dead end, and had been so lost within her thoughts that she bumped into a wall. Umi stepped back a little, rubbing her head.

"Umi?" A gentle male voice called to her from somewhere nearby. Umi turned around, seeing nobody, then turned around again, looking for the source of the voice that seemed somewhat familiar.

"Umi! Are you okay? Are you hurt?" She heard from beside her as she was looking around. She turned around once again, coming chest-to-face with Ascot, who's face was slightly red once again, causing Umi to blush with him, this time.

"I'm fine, I just .. ran into a wall," She stated lamely. Ascot smiled and laughed a little, taking a hold of her hand and bringing it away from her forehead, inspecting further. He gave it a gentle pat, grinning boyishly.

"You'll live, and even if you weren't, we could go wake Fuu up to heal you," Ascot joked. Umi smirked.

"Fuu needs her rest, I wouldn't wake her up just for something as trivial as this." Ascot, who was still unknowingly holding Umi's hand, suddenly pulled his hand away and turned, his face beet red once more.

"I wouldn't either," Ascot added quickly, "Prince Ferio would throw a fit if his lovely Fuu was awoken and it wasn't a serious emergency." Umi laughed at this comment.

"A-ha! I knew something was going on between them! I just knew it!" Ascot laughed and started walking toward his previous place of residence, which was a balcony that looked out over the entire country of Cephiro. Umi walked out onto the balcony, eyes widened in amazement.

"Yeah, the Prince has been really happy since you three returned. Everyone has been happy, for that matter. You three seem to light up this country when you're with us," Ascot said quietly. "Prince Ferio's been kind of depressed since you girls were gone. Everyone could tell that he missed you."

"Or missed Fuu, anyway," Umi breathed, still amazed at the sight of Cephiro under her.

"Well, we didn't know he was in love with Fuu at the time," Ascot grinned, "But at least he's happy now." Ascot then noticed how trance like Umi looked, and realized that this was the first time she had ever seen Cephiro like this.

"You should have seen it when Princess Emeraude was still alive. It was beautiful. Hopefully one day it will be that beautiful again," Ascot said in a whispered tone. Umi nodded, lifting her head to the sky, gazing to the stars thoughtfully.

"Ascot, why did you decide to grow taller?" Umi asked, her curiosity finally getting the best of her. "You could have stayed tiny for as long as you wanted, you didn't have to will yourself to grow up like this .. and if you hadn't done it before, why now?" Ascot blushed a bright red and looked back to Cephiro below him.

".. It was for a girl. A beautiful, wonderful girl who taught me to be myself, make my own rules, and stand up for those I care about," He said quietly. Ascot was too afraid to flat out tell Umi what he really felt at the moment, so this explanation would have to suffice. Umi looked to Ascot and cocked her head to the side curiously.

"A girl? Well, that's something," Umi said with a small giggle, then smiled brightly. "You're going to make some lucky girl a wonderful husband someday, Ascot, That's for sure. You've shown that you're dedicated, just by willing yourself to grow up like this .." Ascot smiled and chuckled.

"I suppose .. but in truth, there is only one girl who I think I would like to marry. I don't think I have the courage to tell her about what I'm feeling just yet, though."

"Well .. I really haven't found the right guy, so .. I haven't been on dates, or had a boyfriend, no first kiss .." Umi laughed a little. "People think it's funny, how I'm so pretty, yet I have little to no experience with guys." Ascot blinked. Either Umi had low self-esteem, or she was very naive.

"Well .. I guess we're in the same boat then .." Ascot finally said after a moment of awkward silence. Umi laughed.

"Guess so."

"But Umi .." Ascot suddenly said, almost forcefully, turning to her and trying to look her in the eye. Umi looked to a madly blushing Ascot, a little surprised at the sudden amount of force in his tone.

"Umi, you .. you tell me that I would make a good husband to a lucky girl .." Ascot said, trying not to stammer. Umi nodded, becoming even more curious by the second.

"Do .. Do you .. think .. that .. that the lucky girl could be .. could be .." Ascot stuttered, trying to remain calm. Umi took a step toward him, ever the more curious.

"Could be ..?" Umi said, helping him along as best as she could.

"C-Could be .. Could be .. you?" Ascot finished finally, shutting his eyes tightly, expecting a harsh answer, expecting a statement of rejection. Umi stopped for a moment, eyes widening slightly, looking to Ascot in awe.

"I .. I don't know yet, Ascot. I mean .. I .. I like you, but .. I'm not exactly sure if it's that way yet .." Ascot opened one eye and sighed. It wasn't a yes, but it wasn't a no, either. He still had a chance.

"I'll just .. leave you alone for a while .." Ascot said, beginning to walk back towards his room, but froze when a slender hand grasped his wrist.

"No .. Ascot, stay here. We both can't sleep, right ..? If that's the case, we could use each other's company," Umi said gently. Ascot swallowed, then turned around, walking back to the balcony, Umi's hand still grasping his diaphysis. She let go only when he was beside her.

"It's beautiful tonight, Ascot .." Umi said quietly, a smile on her face. Ascot nodded and smiled.

"Yes .. it is."


Author's Note: Hello, everyone! This is my first time writing a Rayearth fanfiction, and I must say, It's wonderful to be writing one, finally! Anyway, let me introduce myself real quick. My pen name on this here wonderful website is Fullmetal Ai, but ya'll can call me Ai, or Rika. Either of the two will do just fine and dandy! n.n I am a romance writer, which means I make a pairing out of anything. XD I even made a pairing out of a Rock and a Tree once, and also, a love triangle with a Rock, a Tree, and some Seaweed. If you think I'm crazy, you are not mistaken. Anyway, this first fanfiction being an Ascot/Umi fanfiction is actually quite unusual, as Ascot and Umi are my second favorite coupling. To be honest, I worship Ferio and Fuu more than any other Rayearth couple, so I was under the impression that when I finally got into writing Rayearth fanfiction, my first would be a Ferio/Fuu. Yes, I did add some Ferio/Fuu into this Ascot/Umi, but the fact remains at that; it was an Ascot/Umi. Anyway, enough rambling about that. I would like to clear up a few minor details in this fanfiction.

First – Is the name Gardina or Caldina? Well, I have seen (and heard) it both ways. Since this fanfiction is based on the manga, I used Gardina. Had it been based on the anime, it would probably have been Caldina.

Second – Ahh, yes. I'm an anatomy student. Sometimes I will use anatomy terms as different words for different parts of the body. In this fanfiction, I used the term Diaphysis as another word for 'wrist.' The Diaphysis is basically the shaft, or the long part of a long bone. Since I understand that there are people here who probably have no idea what i'm talking about when I say 'diaphysis,' I thought I should explain it a little.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed my fanfiction, and I'll try to make my author's notes a little shorter next time! Thank you for reading! n.n