Characters:

Title:  Taking the Plunge

Disclaimer:  Umi and Clef belong to CLAMP.  I just borrowed them for a short story.

Author's notes:  This is my first fan fiction about Magic Knight Rayearth so please bear with me.  Please let me know what you think.  Email me at clef_loves_umi@yahoo.com .  Constructive criticisms are very welcome.  This is a story about Umi and Clef, one of my favorite anime couples.  Actually I still haven't made up my mind regarding who I like to be paired with Umi.  I honestly still can't choose between Clef and Ascot.  So Ascot fans, please don't throw stones at me.  Maybe I'll write a story about Ascot and Umi when I have the time.  +_+X.

            "Only fifteen minutes until the dance!" Hikaru exclaimed gleefully as she put finishing touches on her make-up.

            "Yeah," Umi replied.  "I can't wait to see everyone in their finery."  Especially Clef, Umi added silently.  She felt her face pinken at that thought.  She hurriedly turned back to the full-length mirror and checked her appearance.  She knew she looked special tonight.  Her blue hair, usually left to fall down her back, was in an upsweep with a few tendrils escaping to frame her face.  Her blue eyes were shining in anticipation and her evening dress looked great.  It was a white strapless creation with its full skirt billowing so far out that she felt like a princess.  Hikaru and Fuu likewise looked great, Hikaru in a baby pink halter gown with full skirt, and Fuu in an emerald green sleeveless dress that matched her eyes.  Both of them also had their hair up in a messy bun.

            Umi turned back to her friends and noticed their high color.  She knew they were thinking of the night ahead spent with their loves, Lantis for Hikaru, and Ferio for Fuu.  She sighed.  Where did that leave her?  With Ascot?  She didn't think so.  Though she loved him dearly, she couldn't look at him that way.  With Clef?  Umi sighed once more.  Though she knew Clef cared for her, she knew she didn't have a chance with him.  He saw her as nothing more than a student, as a child, although he was the one who looked like a child.  At first she didn't mind but lately she had begun to develop, well, romantic feelings for him.  Sometimes when she had her late-night talks with him, she would look at him longingly when he was staring somewhere else and find herself wondering how it would be like to be kissed by him.  She would blush and look away.

            "Earth to Umi!  Earth to Umi!!!" Hikaru waved a hand in front of Umi's face.

            Umi shook herself out of her reverie.  She smiled sheepishly.  "Sorry, I kinda spaced out.  Were you trying to tell me something?

            Fuu shoved Umi lightly away from the mirror.  "Yes. Would you mind moving over a bit?  I need to retouch my lipstick."

            Obligingly, Umi stepped away and sat on Hikaru's bed.  Hikaru sat beside her.  She laid a hand on Umi's shoulder.  "Is there something wrong?  You look… I dunno!  All red?"

            So much for being discreet.  She had to get ahold of herself.  Umi shook her head.  "It's nothing.  I guess I'm just nervous about tonight."

            Fuu sat down on her other side.  "Me too.  I wonder what Ferio will think of this dress?"

            Umi turned to Fuu.  "You look great!  Ferio will absolutely die when she sees you in that dress." she assured her.  "You too, Hikaru," she added. 

            Hikaru gave her a once-over.  "Well you look great, like a princess!  I almost feel like an imp next to you!"

Umi gave her a light punch on the shoulder.  "You know that's not true!  You look fabulous!  Wait till Lantis sees you." She smiled wistfully then looked at the clock.  "Look, it's about time we go down to ballroom."

Fuu nodded.  " We don't want to keep them waiting." 

The three magic knights then filed out of the room and descended down the stairs clutching each other's hands.  Music greeted them when they reached the door of the ballroom.  Hikaru hesitated for a moment, and then pushed the door open.  She came in first, followed by Fuu.  Umi came in last.  The girls' entrance did not escape the eyes of the people.  Almost at the same time, Lantis and Ferio appeared by their side whisking Hikaru and Fuu away.  Hikaru had asked Umi to go along with them but Umi declined.  She didn't feel like being a third wheel and she knew Lantis wanted to have Hikaru all to himself.  She honestly didn't mind.  She knew she wouldn't be alone for long for she had made a lot of friends since coming to Cephiro.  Still she felt funny standing there alone.  She closed her eyes briefly and hoped that someone would ask her to dance.

________________________________________________________________________

Clef had been talking to Ferio when the Magic Knights made their entrance.  They were having a rather stimulating conversation when suddenly Ferio stopped midsentence.  He was staring at a point beyond Clef's shoulders with his mouth hanging open in wonder.  As if in a trance, he started to walk away from Clef without so much as a word of goodbye.  Puzzled, Clef turned around to look at what held his friend stupefied… and felt his own mouth drop open.  The Magic Knights had arrived and they all looked great, especially his dear precious Umi.

Ahhh Umi, the fire in his heart… the life to his soul.  In all his 745 years, he had never met a girl like her.  Beautiful, spirited, refreshingly innocent, intelligent, kindhearted, loyal… and painfully young.  And much too tall.  Clef shook his head over his train of thoughts and told himself that Umi should not know, ever, the way he felt for her.  It was too complicated.  She was too young for him, and much too tall.  A beautiful girl like her could never want a man like him.

When he first met her, he had been merely annoyed at her for being so loud and rude.  But as he got to know her better, he saw a girl who cared deeply for her friends, and a girl who had a pure heart, no matter what appearances presented.  And thus, he had begun to fall.  At first, he tried to fight the feeling, reasoning that what he felt for her was merely concern.  But as time passed, he couldn't deny any longer that he had fallen in love with her.  All his dreams were filled with her and when she was near, his heart was filled a kind of happiness he could never explain.  Eventually, he had acknowledged that he was a man in love… but he vowed that Umi would never know how he felt and resolved to act normally around her. 

Still he couldn't stop the way Umi made him feel.  The sight of her took his breath away.  Her hair was piled atop her head and she was wearing a white strapless creation that emphasized her long graceful neck and the gentle slope of her shoulders.  She looked like a radiant vision in her dress.  She was gorgeous.  Then he noticed that she was standing alone.  He scanned the room and saw that Hikaru was already dancing with Lantis, and so was Fuu with Ferio.  He glanced back at Umi and saw that she was still standing alone, looking at her surroundings in uncertainty.  She looked so vulnerable, like a lost child that he felt something tug at his heart.  He decided then that he would dance with her and started walking towards her.  Then he stopped short.  Him, dance with Umi?  That had to be the biggest joke he had ever heard.  He was a head shorter than her, coming up only to her chin.  How was he supposed to dance with her?  More importantly, what would Umi think if he asked her to dance?  Would she laugh and tell him to get lost?  Nah, Umi might have her faults but being that cruel isn't one of them.  He glanced back at Umi and saw her looking longingly at the dancing couples.  Then he saw Ascot make his way towards her and he was filled with jealousy.  He squared his shoulders and hurriedly headed to Umi.  He had to take this chance. 

He reached Umi before Ascot did.  When Ascot saw him, he quickly retreated and headed towards Caldina.

"Hello Umi," He greeted her with a warm smile.

Umi turned and found herself looking into Clef's intense blue eyes.  She felt her heartbeat racing.  Clef looked handsome in his evening clothes.  And he looked… well… a bit older.  She forced herself to calm down.  She smiled back.  "Hello Clef.  It's nice to see you here."

For a while, they stood there staring at each other, each of them trying to come up with something witty to say. 

"So do you wanna dance?"  They both blurted out at the same time.

They stared at one another for a moment then laughed lightly.

"I'd love to dance with you, Clef," Umi said shyly, a light pink color dotting her smooth porcelain cheeks.  Clef thought she looked absolutely adorable.

Clef held out his hand, and Umi took it.  He felt little currents of electricity traveling up his arms.  He led her to the center of the dance floor and rested his left hand lightly on her waist.  With his right hand, he held her hand, while she rested her right hand on his shoulder.

They started swaying to the music, neither one saying a word for a while.  Clef felt as though he was in heaven, with Umi so close to him.  She smelled so clean and fresh; like flowers in full bloom that all he wanted was to bury his head in her hair.  He looked up at her and saw that she was watching him with a warm look in her eyes.  Suddenly, a thought made him laugh a little.

"What's so funny?" Umi asked.

"It's just that I can't believe I'm dancing with you.  You're the tallest magic knight you know!  And we must look so stupid together.  People must be laughing at us." Clef replied with a trace of laughter in his voice.

Umi wasn't fooled by the laughter.  She knew how sensitive Clef was about his height.  "I haven't thought of that…"

Clef stiffened in her arms.

"…But if they are laughing, let them be.  The important thing is that we're having a good time."

Clef's gaze softened.  His arm tightened slightly around Umi's waist.  The action wasn't missed and Umi felt shivers coursing through her spine. Unconsciously she let out a contented sigh.  In response, Clef dropped her hand and wrapped both his arms around her waist.  Umi let her arms circle Clef's neck.

 They danced that way for quite a while, staring into each other's eyes as they did.  Clef's eyes were intense as he stared at Umi while Umi's eyes were shining softly. 

Around them, the dance floor was abuzz with speculations about the blue-haired knight and the child-like magician who were dancing so closely and staring at each other with such adoring look in their eyes.

            Hikaru was lost in her own world with Lantis, wrapped in his arms, when she felt a tap on her shoulder.

            Hikaru turned and saw Fuu with Ferio.  She smiled and said, "What's up Fuu?  Hi Ferio!"

            Fuu just pointed to her left with her lips.  Hikaru looked at where Fuu pointed and her eyes widened in surprise.  In the middle of the dance floor, she saw Umi dancing with Clef.  They were quite a sight.  They were dancing so close and they were staring into each other's eyes intensely.  Clef was a head shorter than Umi and the view of them dancing was supposed to look funny.  But somehow, the two of them together looked just right, as if they belonged to each other, as if they were meant for each other. 

            Hikaru turned to Fuu and saw that her friend was smiling sheepishly.  She leaned towards Hikaru and said in a low voice that neither Lantis nor Ferio could hear.  "Hikaru, it seems that we had been too occupied with our respective love lives that we failed to notice that our friend Umi has fallen in love too."

            Hikaru nodded in understanding.  Now she knew why Umi was so keyed-up before the dance tonight.  She was nervous and excited at the same time about seeing Clef.

Hikaru never really thought of Clef as boyfriend material.  He had always seemed so mature and more of a father-like figure for her.  She never really considered that a man like him would fall in love.  But she guessed any man would have to be crazy not to fall in love with Umi.  Umi was beautiful, kind-hearted and smart.  She may come off as selfish at times but Hikaru knew that beyond that façade was a very sweet person who cared for her loved-ones very much. 

"We'll talk to Umi later, ok?" Fuu said.

"Yup," Hikaru agreed.  "She has to fess up."

"Ok.  See you later then," Fuu said then glided away in Ferio's arms.

"What was that all about?" Lantis asked Hikaru in curiosity.

Hikaru smiled.  "It's a secret for now but I doubt it will remain that way for long.  But for now, let's continue dancing."

Lantis happily obliged and pulled Hikaru into his arms once again.

Clef and Umi were dancing for quite some time already when the music changed from a slow number to a fast one. 

"I've been hogging you all night.  Perhaps you'd like to dance with someone else?" Clef said, hoping she would say no and that she wanted to stay with him.

"No!" Umi shouted, and Clef looked surprised.  She blushed when she realized how vehement she sounded.  She groaned inwardly.  Clef must be thinking that she was as clingy as a vine.  So she said pointedly, "Nobody's asked me to dance except for you, in case you haven't noticed."

Clef was pleased that Umi does not seem ready to let him go yet.  He was smiling inwardly but strived to keep a straight face.  "Would you like to take a break then?  I could get us something to drink," Clef asked.

Umi smiled at him.  "That would be ok.  I am kind of thirsty and I could use a drink of water."

So Clef let go of her and took her hand in his.  He twined his fingers with her and led her to some chairs at the edge of the dance floor. 

She sat down on one of the chairs while Clef hurried off to get the drinks he promised.  Her gaze followed his retreating back, a soft smile playing on her lips. 

Suddenly, she found herself wedged between her two best friends.  She started up in surprise.  Then she greeted them with a bright smile, "Hi guys.  What's up?" she asked cheerfully.

Hikaru looked at her with a mock scowl on her adorable face.  "What is going on between you and Clef?" she asked in stern voice.

Umi willed herself not to blush but could feel herself blushing anyway.  "Nothing.  We were just… dancing," she replied lamely.

"Yeah right," Hikaru said with an unladylike snort.

Fuu was looking at her with a thoughtful expression on her face.  "Fess up, it's written plainly on both your faces that you're in love with each other."

Umi's blush deepened.  Was she that obvious?  Was her feelings written so clearly on her face that's why Clef wanted to be rid of her company?  "I don't know what you're talking about.  Clef and I were just dancing," she replied firmly.

Hikaru nudged her on the ribs.  "C'mon, don't be shy.  We're your best friends.  You can tell us how you feel about Clef."

Umi sat silent for a while, contemplating whether to tell her friends how she felt about Clef.  She slumped back in her chair and decided to tell them at least part of the truth.  They were her best friends after all.  "Ok, I admit, I kinda like Clef.  He's been so nice to me and…" her voice trailed off.

Hkaru grinned knowingly.  "Kinda like?" she asked wriggling her eyebrows comically.       

Umi threw her hands up in mock surrender.  "Ok, I give up.  I do like him… a lot.  I think I may even… love him.  Now are you guys satisfied?"  She scowled at her two best friends.

"Very," Fuu replied.  She looked thoughtful for a moment then asked, "Are you guys like an item already?"

Umi looked incredulous.  "Are you crazy!  As if Clef would ever look at me that way.  He only sees me as a kid."

Hikaru rolled her eyes in exasperation.  "Are you blind, Umi?  Haven't you noticed the way Clef was looking at you tonight?  He looked as though he wanted to gobble you up… in a positive way," she added hastily.

So they have noticed it too.  She thought she had been imagining things.  "So," Umi started hesitantly, "Should I go for it?"

Hikaru and Fuu nodded vigorously.  "Definitely," they both said.

Still Umi looked worried.  "Tell me honestly, do you guys think we look funny together?" she asked.

"No way!" Hikaru exclaimed.  "You look so adorable together."

"Yes," Fuu agreed.  "You'll make one of the cutest couples I know."

Umi smiled radiantly.  "Thanks guys for… you know the kind words.  I really appreciate it.  If only Clef would hurry back.  He promised to get me a glass of water."

As if on cue, Clef suddenly appeared in front of the girls.  He greeted the girls good evening.  He handed a glass of water to Umi and looked apologetically at Hikaru and Fuu.  "Sorry, I didn't bring you anything."

"It's okay," Fuu said.  She stood up followed by Hikaru.  "We have to go.  We promised Ferio and Lantis we wouldn't be gone long."  The two girls started walking away.  "See you later," Fuu called over her shoulder.

"Bye Clef, Umi!" Hikaru called out.  She winked at Umi before following Fuu into the crowd.

Clef sat down beside Umi and glanced at her at the corner of his eyes.  She was sipping daintily at her drink and her cheeks were pink. 

"Is there something wrong?  You look flushed." Clef asked Umi with concern in his eyes.

Umi shook her head.  "It's the heat.  Haven't you noticed how stuffy it is in here?"

Clef nodded.  "Would you like to go to the garden?"

Umi's eyes brightened.  "Sure!  I'd love to."

They stood up and Clef took Umi's hand and led her out to the courtyard.  They stopped when they reached the fountain at the center.  Umi sat at the edge of the fountain while Clef stood in front of her.  Umi had to smile.  For once, Clef was looking down at her and she was looking up into his eyes.  But her smile disappeared when she felt the evening breeze picking up, making her shiver.

"Are you cold?" Clef asked.

"No," Umi replied, which was a blatant lie for the goose bumps on her arms were impossible not to notice. 

Clef just looked at Umi for a long moment then silently removed his evening jacket.  He draped it over her slender shoulders, his hand brushing her skin in the briefest of contacts.  Umi shivered again, though this time, not because of the cold.

"Better?" Clef asked.

Umi nodded.  "Yes, thank you very much," she replied with a dazzling smile.

Clef sat down next to Umi and except for the splashing of the water from the fountain, all were silent.  But it was not an uncomfortable type of silence, but a silence defined by a kind of contentment in sharing each other's company.  They sat there looking at the stars for a while, each of them lost in their own thoughts.  Clef was in an inner predicament, about whether to make a move on Umi or not.  He sneaked a glance at her and again his breath caught on his throat.  She was leaning back with her hands propped on her sides and her head was tilted upwards as she looked at the night sky, seemingly lost in her own thoughts.  She looked so beautiful, so angelic, and he knew that with every moment he spent with her, he was fighting a losing battle.  While he had been getting Umi her drink, he had time to gain control of his raging emotions.  He scolded himself for getting caught up in a moment of temporary insanity and vowed to act like the respectable teacher that he is to Umi and put some distance between them.  She was too young for him for Pete's sake and he couldn't possibly get involved with her.  But when he came back and she smiled at him, he knew he was lost.  He knew it was impossible to stay away from her.  The night had awakened in him secret desires and feelings he never knew he possessed.  He had to make her his, or else he'll go crazy.  Just the thought of relinquishing her to any other man was enough to drive him nuts.  But what about Umi?  How will she react if he told her how he felt?  What if she didn't feel the same way?  Clef decided to test the waters.  Slowly he brought his hand to rest over hers.  She turned to him with startled eyes but she didn't pull her hand away.  In fact, she even twined her fingers with him and turned to look up at the stars again.  Clef cheered inwardly at the gesture.  Could it mean that she felt the same way about him?  He didn't dare hope but he moved closer to her until their shoulders were almost touching.

As for Umi, she was thinking about her conversation with her friends at the ballroom earlier.  Could it be possible that Clef returned her feelings?  Her friends seemed to think so and she took hope in that.  She knew Clef was shy about this type of things so she wondered if she was supposed to make the first move?  And if she did get around to making the first move, was she supposed to tell him she loved him then kiss him or the other way around?  She then concluded that matters of the heart were so confusing and decided to just sit back and wait for whatever may happen.  And anyway, what is meant to be will happen.

Umi felt Clef lay his hand above her own and her heart fluttered inside her chest.  She looked at him questioningly but the warm look in his eyes answered her unspoken question.  She then twined their fingers together and looked back at the stars as her heart beat raced in anticipation.  She felt him move closer and she shivered again.

Suddenly she spoke up.  "Clef, when I go back to Tokyo, would you miss me?" she asked.

What type of a question was that?  Didn't she feel how important she was to him?  "Yes, I will miss you… a lot more than you'll ever know." Clef replied quietly.

"I'm glad.  Because I would have missed you too."

"Truly?"

"Truly," Umi assured him with a slightly sad smile.

"Umi," Clef called out softly.

Liquid blue eyes turned to look at him.  "Hmmm?"

"When you're already in Tokyo, would you even think about coming back here, even for a few visits?" Clef asked, looking at her searchingly.

Umi nodded.  "Of course.  I have friends here and I love the people here.  I could even stay here forever…" Umi flushed when she realized the extent of what she had said.

Clef smiled softly at her.  "I too wish that you could stay here forever."

Umi's eyes widened over his admission.  She felt her heart skip a beat.  Clef rose and stood in front of her.  He took her face into his hands and Umi found herself staring at the most intense blue eyes she had ever seen. "I love you, Umi," Clef said quietly, while gazing at her with the full intensity of his feelings unmasked. 

Umi felt a single tear slide down her cheeks, a tear of relief, relief that the one she loved so much returned her feelings with equal, if not greater, passion.  "I love you too, Clef," she replied tremulously.

Clef's eyes turned darker.  Slowly, he bent his head and touched his lips with hers.  Instinctively, Umi's hands circled Clef's neck, her fingers running through his silky lavender hair.  Clef's hand rubbed Umi's cheek while his other arm wrapped possessively around her waist.  Before long, their kisses became more passionate, kissing with all the pent-up passion and longing they hid for quite some time.  Umi felt as though she was melting, with Clef's lips so wonderfully soft and warm against her own. 

Clef broke the contact and was arrogantly pleased that Umi was taking some time to recover.  She was still trembling and she had a bemused expression on her beautiful face.  His smile disappeared however when he realized that his knees were likewise shaking and his heartbeat was still racing.  He had been just as affected by the kiss as she had been.  Kissing Umi had been a dream come true, only, the reality is even better than his dreams.  Her lips were much softer and luscious and her response had been more ardent.  He looked at her saw that her lips were swollen red from his kisses.  Unable to resist, he kissed her again, this time much more demandingly.  When he broke the contact, he pulled her into his arms and hugged her tight.  She hugged him back, pressing her head closely to his chest. 

"Umi, my dear sweet Umi," Clef whispered soothingly into her hair.  "I meant what I said.  I do love you… with all my heart."

Umi listened to Clef's heartbeat and all her earlier doubts disappeared.  She knew he loved her.  And with that knowledge came joy and a feeling of security.  She looked up at him and saw that he was staring at her with unhidden love in his eyes.  Happiness washed over her.  "I love you too Clef, and I always will," she vowed.

They stayed wrapped in each other's arms for a while savoring their closeness for a little more time.

Voices coming from the palace woke them from the pleasurable haze and reluctantly they drew apart.  Umi stood up and took Clef's hand.  Hand in hand, they walked back to the palace, greeting friends they ran into on their way.  Clef escorted Umi to her room and when they reached her door, they stood there for a while, unsure of what to do.  Suddenly, Clef touched Umi's cheek and kissed her lightly on the lips.

When they drew apart, Clef said in a husky voice, "Goodnight Umi.  Sweet dreams."

Umi nodded and touched Clef's cheek.  "You too, Clef."

They hugged briefly then Umi went inside the door.  Once inside, she leaned back against the door, and sighed contentedly.  A knock came from the other side.  She opened the door, peered outside, and found herself looking into Clef's smiling eyes. 

"Oh hi!  Was there something else you wanted?" Umi asked coyly.

Clef nodded.  "Yeah, I forgot to tell you something."

"What is it?"

"I love you," Clef said.

Umi smiled radiantly at him.  "I love you too," she replied.

The couple shared one last brief kiss before finally separating for the night.

Umi went over to her dresser and smiled at her reflection.  Things will surely change after tonight.  Oh she knew Clef and her will have their trials as couple but she knew in her heart things will turn out right.  Umi smiled.  Yes, things will definitely turn out right.

Author's end notes:

  1. So what did you think about it?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Send them at  clef_loves_umi@yahoo.com
  2. I made Clef a little taller so that he and Umi wouldn't look that funny dancing together ^_^X
  3. I also made Clef more romantic.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if he were actually a lady's man like that?  Sigh….
  4. As for Umi I gave her a more subdued personality befitting the romantic atmosphere in the air.
  5. Lastly, in the scene by the fountain when they were kissing, the reason Umi's head came only up to Clef's chest was because Umi was sitting down and Clef was standing in front of her.  No, Clef did not suddenly grow up.
  6. Please bear with this story.  It's my first MKR fanfic so I hope you won't be too hard on me. 
  7. Thanks for reading my story. (bows)… *_*X.