A/N: SORRY THIS THING TOOK SO DAMN LONG, I had some...serious issues to attend to. Anyway, this is the last chapter. Yay for all.
Warnings for fluff. Lots of it.
Disclaimer: If I owned KH, this'd be KHIII. Sora/Antiform would be final boss, and both Riku and Kairi would be playable characters. Rinoa would be in it. Roxas would kick ass. And everything else.
- - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - -
T r i n i t y E n d
-a tribute to unbreakable love-
N o b o d y E n d
-a tribute to loving against all odds-
-You Don't Miss It 'till It's Gone-
"Go on, touch it, hold it, do anything."
Roxas bit his lip nervously and did as he was told, reaching out a gloved hand to clasp the golden hilt of the ceremonial sword. Fortunately for him (and for King Mickey) he only felt the blank coldness of the metal. No darkness. No light either. Roxas seriously doubted that the monarch would attempt a stunt like that ever again, anyway.
"Well?" Naminé asked curiously, peering up at him, hands resting on the library table.
"It's just a sword," he replied, withdrawing his hand and settling his gaze on King Mickey.
The monarch smiled gleefully. "I told ya so. C'mon, let's go, the Court's waiting."
Roxas nodded mutely, following the King out the Library. He slowed his pace until Naminé caught up with him, and they walked in companionable silence down the Colonnade.
"Now, as a knight, you two'll be granted your own RTA's and special access to the Gummi Ship Network, among other things," King Mickey explained as he trotted along in front of them, the crown on his head bouncing. "All the Kingdom asks is that you remain loyal to it at all times, and that you protect Disney Kingdom when it comes under a threat."
Roxas tilted his head backward and stared at the ceiling. Disney Castle was probably all but invincible now, having the protection of four Keyblade Masters. Sure, Sora hated King Mickey, but the brunet hated only King Mickey, so he was still set on guarding Disney Kingdom. The monarch had played his cards right.
"Uhm, King Mickey?" the flaxen-haired girl next to him asked timidly. "Are you sure we can be knighted? I mean, we're Nobodies and everything..."
He stared at Naminé, and then at the King.
"Welp, don't worry about it," he waved a gloved hand dismissively. "You two have done more than enough to be Knighted, and that's it."
"Oh." A pause. "Okay."
They continued walking until they reached the double doors of the Audience Hall, beside which stood two armored guards, who tensed at the sight of their king at once.
"Sorry, but this is where you guys go in," King Mickey said, turning around to face them, expression earnest. "Tradition, the works..."
Naminé nodded hastily. Roxas noticed she had been much more nervous about this whole thing...maybe because they were going to be knighted in front of a very large crowd, and the flaxen-haired Nobody had an aversion for large crowds.
The King spun on his heels and walked on, ceremonial sword on his shoulder.
"Hey, King Mickey!" Roxas yelled, making the mouse stop short. He didn't miss the glare one of the soldiers sent his way for calling the attention of the King so casually. Whatever. "Don't forget the thing we talked about!"
He heard the King laugh, and he saw him nod. He then continued on until he rounded the corner and disappeared.
Naminé turned to him, looking rather clueless. "What was that?"
Roxas just grinned. "You'll see."
"Roxaaaasss," she started to whine, but she was cut off by the very loud, very fake cough of one of the breastplated guards.
The sound of trumpets being blown in perfect harmony echoed from behind the closed doors, and Naminé clutched his black sleeve almost convulsively. He could almost hear the guard who had glared at him smirk at the display.
"Nam..." he said quietly, gently prying her hand from its deathgrip on his sleeve and setting it down properly on his arm, just as Queen Minnie had instructed them to do earlier. This knighting business had to have a lot of practice, he found out. From walking down the audience hall to how to kneel properly --- he and Naminé had gone through a crash course on that only a few hours ago.
"Okay, get ready," the other guard said cheerfully, looking much, much more approachable than his comrade. "Good luck!"
His circulation was almost cut off by the deathgrip in which Naminé's fingers had curled up around his arm. Roxas sighed resignedly and let the girl be.
The guards threw the doors open.
Roxas was momentarily frozen at the sight of so many people crowded in one place; all of them which were staring at him and Naminé right now. Okay. Stage fright attack.
He took a deep breath, and started walking, having to tug more than once to get Naminé moving.
"Relax, Nam," he muttered under his breath as he tried to keep his face solemn. Naminé had blanched an impossible shade of white, but nevertheless, she kept on walking on the red carpet.
Various people were crowded along their path. Some openly stared; others even craned their necks for a better look. Somewhere in the middle he saw Leon and that ninja girl, together with a pretty brunette woman clad in pink. People were just speechless; they had not expected somebody who was supposed to be dead (i.e, Naminé) to be walking down the Audience Hall looking quite healthy. It was expected, because King Mickey had arranged for their Knighting only the night after they had reunited in the main Courtyard. Sora and Naminé had been advised to stay out of the limelight, until Roxas, Riku and Kairi figured out the right way to tell the world that two supposedly dead people were, well, back from the dead.
The Knighting was perfect; it would announce to the Kingdom that they were back, and the Halloween Dance right after would announce to the rest of the world that.
A few steps on, right before the throne, Roxas couldn't help but break into a grin.
The whole Organization XIII was ranged on either side, according to number, and each and every one of them had a bemused smile on their face. It was like having a black-coated guard of honor.
Next to the Organization were the Princesses of Heart, Cinderella, Aurora and Belle on the right, Alice, Snow White, and Jasmine on the left. Each was wearing their respective outfits, and they were just gazing upon them. Roxas blushed when the princess of Agrabah caught his eye, pointed to Naminé, and winked. King Mickey had informed them in advance of what was to happen.
Standing in front of the throne was King Mickey himself, a small smile on his face as he tapped a finger on the ceremonial sword held in his hands. Queen Minnie stood on the dais behind him, a look of approval on her face.
Roxas unlinked arms with Naminé, and they stood less than a foot from each other. He stole a nervous glance at her, and he felt his hypothetical heart skip a beat. She was smiling magnificently as she caught his eye.
Fire danced on his cheeks as King Mickey spoke. The chattering around the Audience Hall immediately fell quiet.
"My friends, today, we celebrate the courage and the strength of those who serve the realm of Light..."
Roxas choked. Realm of light? What the heck! Nobodies served no realm, as far as he knew!
"...even if they are of twilight." King Mickey hesitated, directing a glance at them. "I have learned that although Nobodies might have no hearts...they have souls, by which they judge, and by which they remember to feel."
Little whispers broke throughout the hall, and Roxas bit his lip.
"I know this," the King held up a hand to silence them, "Because these Nobodies are willing to sacrifice."
He pointed a gloved hand to the double doors. Said double doors burst open to reveal a sheepishly grinning Sora, with a blushing Kairi, their arms linked together. Behind them was a smirking Riku, silver hair shimmering in the Materia light of the Hall.
The Audience Hall fell deathly quiet.
Some of the women, even some of the men swooned. The brunette lady with green eyes and pink jacket was one of them, and a spiky-haired blonde rushed out of nowhere to catch her.
"Roxas and Naminé brought them back," King Mickey continued. "And for that, for their sacrifice, the Kingdom owes them no less than knighthood."
Sora and Riku flanked Kairi as the trio walked up the carpet. Kairi stood behind Roxas and Naminé, while Riku walked to the right. Sora walked slowly to their left, right next to Xemnas. Both Wielders turned to face them, the silver-haired one's expression a smirk, while the brunet's a frown.
The Superior nodded, and King Mickey raised the sword.
Roxas and Naminé knelt simultaneously, touching one knee to the scarlet-carpeted floor. They bowed their heads and cold sweat dripped down Roxas' back. He couldn't help but feel extremely nervous -- after Sora's disastrous Knighting, getting knighted himself kind of lost its appeal.
"By the power vested upon me by this court, I, King Mickey --- "
Roxas closed his eyes and forced back the urge to shiver. His breath sounded abnormally loud in his ears.
" --- with the light drawn by the seven Princesses of Heart --- "
He gasped as light shone through his eyelids, and he clutched at the carpet as what he had been told later was a crown outline of light burst from the floor. Sure, Kairi had told him earlier that it was just for show, but still...
King Mickey brought down the sword's blade flat on his left shoulder.
"I dub thee, Sir Roxas Dalmasca --- " ...and on his right.
He let out an unwilling smile as he heard Naminé gasp from beside him. Opening one eye he stole a glance at the girl; she had snapped her head up and was now staring at King Mickey.
Earlier that day he had taken the King by the side and asked if he and Naminé could switch surnames. If Naminé let go of the Dalmasca surname it'll be one less thing that made her similar to Kairi, and that was something the flaxen-haired girl would greatly appreciate. King Mickey had agreed, and had their names changed.
" --- and I dub thee", sword on left shoulder, "Lady Naminé," and then tap flat on her right, " --- Hikari."
King Mickey inclined his head, and resheathed the sword. "I now present to you, the two new Knights of Disney Castle!"
To his surprise, the Superior was the first to start clapping. The Organization followed (with a huge smile on Axel's face), and soon, the whole Audience Hall erupted into stunned applause.
Roxas stood up and grinned, turning to face Naminé, who had just stood up as well. She stared at him for a few seconds before smiling widely at the crowd, who was now clapping quite enthusiastically.
"The Dance of Light is traditionally played to celebrate every Knighting," That was Demyx's - what the heck was he doing? - voice echoing through the Hall, he was sure of that. "May we request the new knights to start this dance..."
Music started to play, and all the Materia in the hall dimmed, leaving the focus on them. Roxas blinked, surprised, the flaxen-haired girl did the same, throwing him a bewildered look. He vaguely recognized the music as the orchestrated version of the song Naminé was very fond of singing...
"Well," he cleared his throat nervously as he stepped up to the cerulean-eyed Nobody. "Lady Naminé," he extended a slightly bent arm, "Would you like to dance with me?"
She blushed brightly, but settled her hand lightly on his arm all the same. "Sir Roxas, I'd love to," she softly answered, and together they walked into the middle of the dance floor.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Naminé breathlessly put her right hand on the blonde boy's shoulder, and he took her other hand in his own as music played. She hoped she wouldn't step on his toes or do something equally embarrassing.
She noticed with a gasp that the flute soloist playing was, of all people, Riku. Demyx was the conductor, and Larxene was with the violinists. They had planned this...the silver-haired Wielder was actually a very good flutist, and Naminé had to snap herself back to reality, narrowly missing stumbling over her own feet.
"Don't worry," Roxas whispered suddenly, "I'll catch you if you fall."
She smiled as they continued twirling on the dance floor, and she started to lose herself in his stormy blue eyes...
Never mind if she didn't have a heart. Number Thirteen made up for all that and more. Here was the Nobody so much like her; born without memories of his other self, struggling to find meaning for his existence, confused about what the hell he was doing on this realm. She was dancing in his arms, and that was enough.
The music suddenly took on a faster, more lively beat, and the Melodious' Nocturne's voice filled the Hall once more. "All the knights are welcome to join the Dance of Light---"
Sora and Kairi were the first to come down, with the redhead pulling the brunet spiky-haired boy down onto the dance floor. Soon more and more knights were coming down, and miraculously, all of them started to move in exact precision, turning around and stepping at the same time. It was beautiful to watch, and Naminé was glad when Roxas subconsciously pulled her closer. Finally, after being lost in nothingness for so long, she had found her light.
The piece ended, and fireworks exploded into trails of fiery brilliance across the night sky.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
"Well," Sora mused, stepping through Riku's portal, "That went pretty well. At least King Mickey didn't try to pull any tricks like the last one." He unlaced his hands and blinked, a bit surprised at the fact that Twilight Town was still...sunset. Although it was something like seven in the evening. This World never failed to unnerve him.
"Ah, he knows better than to do that," his best friend said nonchalantly as he closed the portal with a wave of his hand. "Say, Roxas. Don't tell me that's your costume for the Halloween bash..."
The blonde boy grinned. "Fine. I won't tell you that this is my costume."
Riku slapped a hand to his forehead.
Roxas held up his hands defensively. "Hey! We decided that we're going to come as who we are."
Sora stopped in his tracks and looked over his shoulder. "We?"
"He means us, kid," Xigbar's voice floated over to them, and Sora furrowed his eyebrows in surprise. Organization XIII were stepping out of their respective portals, all of whom were dressed in their trademark black coat.
"Can't miss a good party, you know?" Demyx added cheerfully.
"You're all coming?" Sora asked in a strangled voice. "Uh..."
Kairi tilted her hear thoughtfully as she brushed off the hem of her dress. "Don't worry. After Roxas and Naminé duked it out in the quad, Nam never bothered to chain anybody's memories down. Took some time, but the Academy finally accepted that Organiztion XIII really did exist. They even gave them teaching jobs."
"Huh?" he managed to choke out. "Roxas and Naminé...fought?"
Kairi blinked, and patted him comfortingly on the back. "Oh, some things happened while you were berserk and all...you'll know soon enough."
"They...got accepted?" he pressed on, bewildered. "Shut up and stop laughing at me, guys."
"Whatever," Riku waved a hand dismissively, eyes sparkling with amusement. "What about you, Naminé? Is that what you're wearing?"
The flaxen-haired girl blushed. "Yeah," she replied softly, unconsciously straightening the straps of her white sundress. "I'm crafting my Keyblades again later."
"You look great," the siver-haired Wielder complimented, making Naminé blush even redder.
"Sora, nice getup," Roxas said loudly, putting a possesive arm around the memory witch's shoulders and throwing Riku a Look. "Who did it?"
He smiled a little; he didn't plan on changing his clothes from the Knighting. He had on a longsleeved, high-collared white shirt embroidered with a crown on the breast, white trousers, and tan boots. The coolest part was the snow-white cloak, which was fastened at the neck with a silver key brooch. His mythril (Rinoa had told him so) crown necklace dangled around his neck. "This is actually the traditional Knight outfit of Disney Castle, and he (for Sora swore never to say the King's name unless absolutely needed) gave Riku and I one. It also makes a good Halloween costume."
The blonde Nobody then threw another glare at Riku before speaking, "Then why aren't you in the knight thing?"
The silver-haired Wielder shrugged. "Duh. Kairi's dressed as a princess, therefore, Sora's her one and only knight. I don't want to ruin the pairing, Rox. Besides..." he bared his teeth, revealing elongated canines, "Vampires get more girls."
Roxas rolled his eyes. "Perv."
"Am not," Riku smirked. "You're just jealous that I can look so good."
"I am not!"
"Are we going to go to the party now?" Naminé cut in testily, and Kairi quietly laughed at the scandalized looks on both boys' faces.
Sora suddenly realized something that made his heart rate increase a hundredfold. He tugged at his cloak nervously, feeling his face go pale. "Uh. Guys. Have you told people that Naminé and I are back?"
Kairi laughed nervously while exchanging glances with everyone else. Riku hid a smirk, while Axel put his hands on his hips and sighed. "Pssh, don't bother. Just waltz in there and let them see for themselves."
"Come on, come on, let's go!" Larxene exclaimed, walking on ahead around the corner that hid Twilight Station Heights from view, Axel in tow. Cheers could be heard, but as all the Organization members came into view, the cheers died down. Probably the crowd was shocked that all the infamous Thirteenth order came.
"I don't like this..." Sora said nervously once more, running a hand through his spiky hair. "What if someone passes out again?"
"Someone is going to pass out again," Roxas reminded him. "You and Naminé are supposed to be dead, remember?"
Behind them, Riku growled. "Oh cut it and just go! I want to get there before it ends, you know!" And without warning, he took both Kairi and Naminé's hands and dragged them into the party. Of course, Sora and Roxas had no choice to follow (and wring Riku's neck later).
Station Heights looked amazing. Multicolored Materia were strung around the streetlamps of the Height's railing. Tables were clustered around the edge of the wide plaza. There was a stage in front of the entrance to the station, and a dance floor had been cleared in front of it. Off to the side was a buffet table and a makeshift bar. The decorations were done in shades of royal blue and ebony black.
My favorite colors, Sora thought, biting his lip as all the people in the dance swung their heads in synchronized motion towards them. If it wasn't so serious it would've been funny.
Selphie, as head of the dance committee (as Sora had figured), was stationed at the entrance, clipboard in her hands and pen in her fingers. Said pen dropped and rolled away into the cobbled floor at the same time as the brunette's jaw dropped.
"Okay, Selphie," Riku said boredly, not taking notice of any of their reactions, "Sign us in." He turned to face them, and counted them off. "Riku Alcaia, Roxas and Kairi Dalmasca, then Sora and Naminé Hikari."
The jade-eyed brunette passed out.
"Told you so," Roxas said cheerily, picking up the pen and signing in himself.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
"While you're at it, get me a tequila, will you?"
Roxas rolled his eyes. "Sora, get your own. And can't even drink, it's not legal."
The brunet pouted and cupped his chin in his palm. "Unfair, I'm already seventeen!" he said loudly, earning him a smack upside the head courtesy of Kairi, who told him off for even thinking of getting drunk and everything.
He laughed and waved a hand dismissively, threading his way through the tables and stopping by their own, where Naminé was engaged in a game of spot-the-guy-who's-dressed-as-a-moogle with Demyx and Axel. Larxene was off somewhere, probably talking to other professors. Luxord, Vexen and Xigbar were on another bet involving what looked like a shotglass and a bottle of whiskey nicked from the bar. Lexaeus' chair was empty, probably at the buffet table and criticizing the food. Xaldin and Saïx were deep in conversation, with the blue-haired berserker occasionally making the table shake dangerously whenever he pounded his fist in it to make a point. Marluxia and Zexion were chatting animatedly as Roxas came up to them, just in time to see somebody dressed in a kimono tap number Six on the shoulder and drag him off to the dance floor. Marluxia just stared after him and shook his head bemusedly.
"Zexy seems to be popular today," he commented, smiling. "That's the fourth time our conversation's been interrupted."
Less than three seconds later Marluxia was the one being dragged off.
Roxas grinned to himself, before walking around the table to the flaxen-haired girl and placing a gloved hand on her bare shoulder. "Hey, want some punch?"
"I want some!" Axel piped up, smirking.
"I was asking Naminé," he rolled his eyes, before sighing resignedly and sticking out his tongue at his best friend. "Fine. What do you want?"
The pyro blinked, amazed at how Roxas had conceded. "Uh, just get me punch. With a liberal dose of rum," he nodded to himself. "Yeah."
"Me too!" Demyx chimed in.
Roxas slapped a hand to his forehead.
"Eh. I'll add in a glass of sparkling water, thank you," Naminé said quietly, a smile playing on her lips.
He smiled, and walked off in the direction of the mini-bar, wondering how on earth he's going to balance three glasses at once. The smile on his face widened into a grin when he saw Riku on one of the stools, talking with the bartender. Who happened to be Rinoa.
"Well, Riku, score with the ladies," he said, getting onto the stool next to the platinum-haired Wielder.
Riku laughed, and Rinoa threw him a bemused look. "I wish."
Roxas turned to the ebony-haired woman and tapped his fingers on the bar, staring at the glasses on the rack behind her. "Have any ginger ale?"
She smiled, and brought out one from under the bar. "Thought you'd never ask."
He took a swig, and set it down with a contented sigh. Riku swirled his own champagne in his fluted glass, alternating a stare between it and Rinoa. "So," Riku started. "I take it that you two know each other?"
Roxas nodded. "Yeah. She ran a bar here in Twilight Town."
"How'd you like it? The dance?" Rinoa asked dreamily. "7th Heaven is the caterer, and it's been a lot of work."
Riku coughed fakely into his glass, and sniggered.
"So fine, I used my powers to set everything up last night," the sorceress added resignedly, shooting Riku a glare. "But still! It's so hard to think of decorations and everything...I even gave up on my cos --- ."
Roxas whirled around so fast he almost fell off the stool, and his glass of ginger ale toppled over and fell behind the counter. Rinoa bent down to pick it up. A ridiculously large shuriken had just lodged itself right behind where he was sitting, so close that Roxas had felt the air ripple when it landed. Riku burst into laughter.
A petite girl with cropped black hair and equally black eyes bounced through the now-back-to-normal crowd, laughing. Hm. She was the girl from the Knighting earlier. "Grand Ninja Yuffie here!" She picked the shuriken up easily, and peered at the two of them.
"Let me guess," Riku said mockingly, pretending to be in deep thought. "You're dressed...as a ninja?"
Riku ducked to avoid the shuriken being swung at him, still laughing as he did.
Yuffie pouted and turned to Roxas. "Ah...I presume you're Roxas? You guys disappeared so quickly after the Dance of Light, we had to ask the King where you went. Where's Sora and the others? We wanna make sure he's really alive and everything..." she continued on, rambling.
He nodded nervously, stealing a glance at the very sharp edge of the shuriken dangling much too close for his comfort. "Y-yeah..."
"Yuff, stop clowning around," a voice said, and Roxas broke his gaze at the shuriken just in time to see a tall, tanned and freakin' handsome (which made Roxas stop for a moment and glare enviously) man shoulder his way through the crowd, scar across the bridge of his nose and necklace dangling on his white shirt. A gunblade hung from his hip, sparkling in the Materia-light.
"Squall!" Yuffie whined, but retreated slightly all the same, letting the man press a chaste kiss to her forehead.
Roxas raised an eyebrow, and Squall threw him a Look to rival his own.
Jeez, the guy was scary.
"It's Leon, Yuffie," he sighed exasperatedly. "How many times do I have to tell you?"
Roxas blinked, realizing that Rinoa was taking way too much time to pick up his glass from behind the counter. He knelt on the stool and bent over, peering behind the bar and into the top of her head. "Hey, need some help?"
"Nah," Rinoa said softly, standing up and setting the glass on the counter, freezing at the sight of Leon smiling with his arm around Yuffie's small shoulders. "Oh."
Leon blinked. And blinked some more.
Riku moved the stool where he was sitting on a to a safer place about a foot away, taking his champagne glass with him. He regarded the whole scene with an apprehensive look in his eyes.
Roxas scrambled to the silver-haired Wielder's side, seeing that he was in a very awkward place, sandwiched between Rinoa and Leon.
They stared at each other.
"Getting drunk so early?" Another voice asked bemusedly, and the brunette in pink appeared behind Leon, a smile curving her lips upward. It quickly faded at the sight of Rinoa.
The ebony-haired sorceress' mouth twitched. "Aerith..." She then turned to Leon and Yuffie, and the man's hand tightened involuntarily on the ninja's shoulder. "You...you and her..." she stammered, fingers white on the countertop.
"Rinny, it's --- " Yuffie started fearfully.
"I...never thought..." Rinoa cut her off, tears shimmering in her eyes. Roxas was reminded, disturbingly, of Sora. "Squall..."
The brunet looked away, hazel eyes shadowed by strands of hair. "Rinoa..."
The girl's fingers suddenly curled up into fists on the countertop, and shimmering three-feet-long white wings sprouted out of her back, spraying feathers of pure sorceress power everywhere. The party hushed into a bewildered quiet as the students and professors turned to look at Rinoa, whose eyes had swirled into an amber color.
And for the first time since Roxas could remember, night fell on Twilight Town.
Rinoa seemed to catch herself, and an unconvincing smile worked itself onto her face. She waved her hands in front of her, wings folding themselves onto her back. "Eh! No worries!" she said loudly, pointing up into the night sky. "Just some Illusion I made, it's just an illusion! The wings are for show! Yeah!"
Roxas raised an eyebrow when he caught her eye, and Rinoa sighed.
"Fine!" She threw up her hands in frustration. "I'm Sorceress Rinoa Heartilly, Level Eight Black and White Mage!"
Then a voice rose out from somewhere around the Sora's table. "Cool!" Hayner said loudly, before Ollete jabbed him in the ribs.
And with Hayner's proclamation, the tension loosened, and the party started once again, the students laughing and stealing glances at a surprised Rinoa. Apparently, they didn't take a sorceress seriously.
"We thought you were dead," Yuffie said bluntly, running a slim finger across her shuriken's edge.
"Well. You thought wrong," Rinoa snapped, amber eyes accusing as she stepped out from behind the bar. She bit her lip, not meeting Leon's eye as she shouldered past the all of them, heading into the direction of the stage.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Sora popped the last piece of paopu into his mouth and turned his chair slightly in the direction of the makeshift stage. Rinoa was sitting on a bar stool in front, a microphone stand in front of her. The lights dimmed, and the Materia near the stage activated all at the same time.
"Enjoying the dance?" She asked, and was answered by a chorus of cheers.
"Eh, Sora?" Pence tapped his shoulder, and Sora leant back. "Is she really a sorceress?"
"As in honest-to-goodness Worlds History sorceress? Sorceress War sorceress?"
Sora smiled bemusedly as the photographer swiped at the nearest glass of water and downed it without a breath, still looking shaky even after he did.
"Well, this song is a slow one, and dedicated to all those who'll be there for each other 'till the end!" Rinoa said cheerfully into the mike, and Sora raised an eyebrow. The sorceress was as bipolar as he was...he raised his eyes and scanned the crowd for Leon and the others. The Radiant Garden Committee had seated themselves somewhere near the entrance, with Leon brooding and Yuffie frowning. Aerith was talking with Selphie, probably about the floral arrangements used.
"When you walk away, you don't hear me say..."
He blinked, heart skipping a beat at the familiar lines of song. The spotlight on the ebony-haired sorceress dimmed, and mood lighting illuminated the dance floor. Couples walked shyly to the middle of the plaza and started swaying to the music.
He turned to Kairi, who had just swallowed her piece of paopu fruit. She set her own fork down and smiled wistfully, tilting her head.
Roxas and Naminé brushed past their seats, with the blond spiky-haired Nobody blushing furiously. Naminé smiled at them before pulling number Thirteen farther down into the dance floor.
"Uhm," Sora said nervously, speaking to his paper napkin rather than to the Princess of Heart next to him, "Will you dance with me, Kairi?"
"Simple and clean is the way that you're making me feel tonight...
She stood up and took his hand in her warm one, pulling him to his feet. "Come on, lazy bum."
"It's hard to let go."
- - - - - - - - - - - -
"You know," Sora whispered into her ear as he pressed her closer to his chest, "This song has some pretty bad memories..."
Kairi closed her eyes and leant into him, breathing in his scent of paopu and ocean. She reclasped her hands behind his neck and sighed, knowing that it would take a long time for Sora to return to his normal self, after all that had happened. "Ah, that's all in the past now, Sora," she whispered back.
They had been simply swaying to the music for the better part of the song, content to be in each other's arms once again. If one could just pick a moment of time to freeze and keep forever, this would be it, Kairi decided.
"I know, but sometimes..." he sighed, and Kairi felt a shiver run down her back at the feeling of his breath, "It's just so hard to forget."
She pulled back slightly so that she could stare right into his sky-blue eyes. The boy blushed fire, and Kairi giggled. "You don't have to forget. You just have to learn from it. And I'll always be right here beside you...you know that, don't you?"
He bowed his head so that their foreheads were touching. "Yeah...Kairi?"
"Hmmm?" she managed to say, because she was becoming intoxicated with his scent so much that all she wanted was to kiss the living daylights out of him.
"Promise me something..."
Sora smiled slightly, and ran a hand through her hair. "That you'll never forget me, whatever happens."
Kairi blinked. What did he mean...? Surely he wasn't planning on going off to some godforsaken place once again for an impossible mission?
But it was inevitable, she realized. Someone up there had chosen Sora as a Keyblade Master and had granted him great power and even greater responsibility. She had to let him be, in the end.
But, she decided as she gazed into his hopeful pools of sky blue, she won't let Sora go without a fight.
"Well, I'll promise, on one condition."
Sora's eyes widened a fraction of an inch. "What's that?" he asked, a hint of nervousness tinging his voice as he did. His arms subconsciously wrapped themselves tighter around her small frame.
"That you'll never forget me," she said with a smile. Sora tilted his head forwards in a nod, and his eyes once again shone with the light Kairi had extinguished long ago. She could feel his breath on her lips and his gaze on her own, and she clasped her hands tighter and pulled him closer.
"Regardless of warnings the future doesn't scare me at all..."
"I promise," they said at the same time, and sealed the pact with a kiss.
"Nothing's like before."
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
"Stop laughing, Nam," Roxas growled good-naturedly, pulling her along the tables to their own. The flaxen-haired girl was giggling uncontrollably, in a way disturbingly reminiscent of a patient in an asylum.
"Fine," she murmured before calming down, but her lips were still curved into a smile. Roxas smiled unwillingly as he scanned the venue for their table. Demyx was waving a hand energetically, signalling where they were.
"There you are, number Thirteen, Naminé," the Superior greeted, and gestured for them to sit down.
Roxas stared curiously at Xemnas, wondering why the Superior had them all called back to their table. Although he had a vague feeling he knew what it was, and if his hunch was right, it did not bode well for the realm of light.
"So," the silver-haired Nobody laced his gloved hands together in front of him, elbows on the blue linen of the table. "Everything in the realm of light has been restored...but it's not over yet. On the contrary, we're back at square one in our Kingdom Hearts business."
Roxas cheered slightly. Bingo. That was what he was thinking. Axel grinned at the prospect, and surprisingly, similar smiles had made their way onto every Organization member's face, including those who were not so sober anymore.
Xemnas paused, and caught the arm of a Rinoa passing by. The ebony-haired sorceress eyed them curiously, before putting her hands on her hips and smiling. "Hmm?"
"We need a favor," Xemnas started.
"As long as it's the right kind, sure."
Larxene choked on the cocktail she was sipping, and threw Rinoa an indignant look. The sorceress laughed and gestured for Xemnas to go on.
"Anyway. We need you to call Maleficent back from the darkness. Since Sora's Antiform is gone, we need somebody else to control the Heartless and send them after the Wielder, forcing him to slay the creatures and release hearts."
Roxas nodded, surprising himself. For once, Xemnas' plans actually seemed possible to work.
"Hell no," Rinoa growled immediately, gripping the back of the Superior's chair, an undescribable expression on her face. He remembered her encounter with that Leon guy earlier, and he shuddered involuntarily. "Bring back that witch? No way."
"Hello?" she continued, cutting him off. "You've got a sorceress here? Powers drawn from darkness? Ring a bell?"
Roxas was grateful the party was awfully noisy, so that the only ones who could really hear the conversation were those who were around the table.
Xemnas stared at her. "You're willing to help us?"
Rinoa shook her head, and smiled, an are-you-an-idiot smile. "No...People like me don't do favors. I do barter."
"Well, what do you want in exchange?"
The ebony-haired sorceress looked around, bent slightly, and lowered her voice as she explained her terms. All of them listened carefully, and more than one of them made a noise of objection as she did. However, when she had finished, all they could do was stare blankly at Rinoa. Axel let out a low whistle.
"You drive a hard bargain, sorceress," Xemnas finally said slowly, leaning forward on the table.
"Take it, or leave it, Xemnas," she said cheerfully, straightening up. The shadow of a predatory scowl flashed across her face when the Organization started to discuss whether they should accept her terms or not.
"Well, it's only --- "
"Sure, it may be only that, but who knows what might happen --- "
"Compared to what we're asking, that's just peanuts. And not very good ones at that."
"Ew, peanuts?" Naminé cringed, leaning away from Demyx. "Why peanuts?"
It was Roxas himself who ended the discussion. "Do we have any other choice? Or have you guys another plan?"
Nods of general assent.
Nod. Thirteen nods.
"It's settled then!" Rinoa cried happily, clapping her hands. "Consider it done! Now, any of you want drinks?"
Amidst the chorus of various choices of drinks and tonics, Naminé turned to Roxas, a curious expression on her face. She tilted her head thoughtfully, clutching at the paper napkin on the table she had been folding into a crane while she was listening to Rinoa. "Roxas?"
"Why are we doing this?"
Roxas smiled, and took the paper crane from her hands, fingering the lines and creases absentmindedly before setting it down on the table. "Because we're supposed to be the bad guys, Nam, and we have a reputation to live up to..."
A small breeze picked up, and blew the crane a tad too close to the candles clustered in the middle of the table, making it burst into flame. In an instant, the crane was just a pile of curled-up, blackened paper, still smoldering.
Naminé giggled once more.
- - - end - - -
Finally. Finished and whatever. WITH A CLIFFIE. Y'know, like KHI. Ooooh, how I wish this was a real game.
I'll take a breather first (maybe a week or so. Depends on how many reviews I get. If I get fifty-plus then hell yeah I'll upload it at once), then the sequel shall be posted. Yay.
For those who don't know, Rinoa is Squall's love interest in FFVIII.
Sequel is entitled Soaring On Broken Wings. And here's a teaser of the first chapter:
"I didn't do it!" Sora shrieked, swiping at the edge of his eyes.
"Then who did, Sora?" Leon asked tonelessly.
He shook his head desperately before whirling around on his heels and vaulting out the window, heeding the shouts of "Don't let him get away!" behind him.
Oh God, why did he trust Kairi in the first place?
D'awww, thanks for the support, guys! Thanks to everyone who reviewed. Even those who just read. S' okay. As long as you guys are happy.
Read, review, flame if you want.
This is numina-naminé, now finally, finally going into hibernation. Rawr.