I'm back! After a long, long, long break from ToS, I decided to give it another go. You've already read the summary, so I won't waste any more time with this.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, kids. NOTHING!

Running a whetstone over his blade again, Kratos reveled in the screech it produced, feeling his eardrums jar against the noise. Being in Luin again made him- dare he say it? - Happy. Perhaps not giddy, laughable, warm-belly happy, but there was a fine fire licking at the bottom of his heart.

Anna was off visiting a cousin of hers, and he was alone with Noishe, who was howling against the scratchy metal-on-stone noises. Kratos ignored him for thoughts of his Anna. His. Only his, if Kratos had his way.

Setting aside the blade and stone, Kratos leaned back and rested in the grass, surveying the sky above with little interest, picking out creatures of myth in the candyfloss clouds and smiling idly at Noishe, who edged away in turn. For good reason, Kratos decided, to find him smiling must be odd. "Hum." A mammoth sigh edged out of his lips and Kratos rolled over and lolled his head against the ground, counting the miniscule fibers on each blade of grass.

"One… two… three…" He lazed, wondering mildly if it might have been easier to go with Anna wherever she'd gone. "Eight… nine…" But she had said she didn't need him to follow her everywhere. "Twelve… fifteen…" Did she consider him a nuisance?

Fibers were forgotten and Kratos sat up uneasily. A nuisance. She couldn't find him as such, could she? It was Anna. Anna loved him. He most certainly was not a nuisance.

And yet, that solitary voice of doubt in his spiked, auburn head spoke the opposite you do trail her around mercilessly It reminded I'm sure it gets aggravating.

Kratos generally ignored voices in his head. They spoke nonsense and made him twitchy, but this one spoke sense, however harsh it was. He had been overprotective since their engagement.

Engagement.

Now he was on his feet. "Martel!" he said loudly. "I've got to get that ring."

Another family member of Anna's was crafting said ring of engagement. Tom Lexi-something-or-other. He was an uncle.

"I'll have it ready in two days, m'lad."

That's what he'd said. It was two days now, and Kratos, for the life of him, could not be late for this appointment under any circumstance.

Nor could Anna see him. If she did, then his whole plan would be ruined. It would be a surprise, a momentous occasion.

The chimes above the door jingled merrily as Kratos entered the jeweler's store, blinking in momentary blindness as the light from the window was reflected back into his eyes by the numerous diamonds and other precious stones.

"I thought you weren't comin'!" Kratos redirected his attention to the front desk and took in Tom's appearance. Dozens of missing teeth, a crooked nose that had been broken at least twice, bright white, frazzled hair and dirty clothes. It was a miracle anyone so plain could make such beautiful pieces of art.

"I'm here now." Kratos replied calmly. "I trust you have it?" He held out a hand hopefully.

Old Tom might have been a crotchety old man to some, but he knew a case of nerves when he saw one. After all, he got all the hopeful young men in his shop.

"Yeh'll do fine. Little Annie didn't shut up 'bout you the momen' ye left the house yesta'day." He revealed with a wink. "Right a-fluster, wonderin' if ye were ever gonn' pop 'er a certain question fer real like."

Kratos felt his neck and face heat up and looked determinedly at the wall behind Tom, counting out the stitches in the weaved wallpaper. "The-" he cleared his throat, "The ring, please?"

"Right'choo are, m'lad!" Tom dug through his pockets and withdrew a tiny, pretty ring, petite enough to fit snugly on Anna's lithe, thin finger. "Ye're sure ye don' want nothin' fancy-like, boy?" He gestured to the stones, which were just that: Shined and handsome, but completely average chips from a completely average pebble.

"I'm sure." Kratos said gently, taking it and weighing the gold in his hand, tracing the miniscule hearts etched into the metal. The fondness Tom felt toward his niece resonated from the object, and Kratos suddenly felt that the faster it was upon her digits, the better. It felt far too personal to spend any amount of time in his pocket.

Pulling out a pouch of gald, Kratos laid a very generous amount on the table, flashed a smile at Tom, and walked out before the old man could argue.

He was in a good mood, staring down at the stones, flickering happily in the light. Anna had requested them, indirectly of course, on their way back from Hima.

Flashback

Familiar arms wrapped along Kratos' neck for what seemed like the tenth time in only five minutes and Anna nuzzled her face into his chest happily as they sat in the shade, enjoying a short break from walking. Warm gray eyes blinked three times up at him and she pecked him on the lips briefly, nestled quite comfortable on Kratos' lap.

"What is your favorite stone, Anna?" Kratos asked casually, fiddling with a strand of her hair, twisting it to and fro, avoiding her questioning gaze.

Anna sat up a bit and Kratos grunted neither in pain nor displeasure as she shifted against him. "Favorite stone? Well, I dunno, Kratos." She smiled coyly. "Why?"

He focused on the ground and didn't reply as she planted a slow kiss on the corner of his mouth, though she felt his muscles tighten and smiled into the contact. "Tell me, please?" She wheedled.

"Nothing in particular, Anna." Kratos said lightly, running his hand fully through her brown locks now, teasing the snags out gently. "Just an innocent question."

"Rocks." Anna brought her next kiss further along his lips and smiled again. "They're very under-rated. Did you know they're very pretty in their own way?" Another kiss. "You just have to know how to look." She pulled away and Kratos sighed inaudibly in disappointment, and then looked at the stone she held in her palm. A dusty little pebble.

"See what I mean?" She said happily. "Look at how the light hits it. It looks so pretty."

Of course, Kratos wasn't looking at the rock. He was much more interested in the vision of loveliness that was straddling him at the moment, outlined by sunlight. "Beautiful." He said appreciatively.

"I knew you had it in you!" She leaned down to offer up another kiss but stopped halfway, piecing together what Kratos had been looking at. "Oh, you're hopeless!" She exclaimed, though the grin hadn't yet left her face.

"Anna!" Kratos sat up as she darted away after Noishe. "Anna, wait!" He looked down at the ridiculous pebble she'd been holding up and booted it away. Damn thing.

"You are hopeless, Kratos Aurion!" Anna sang back.

Giving Noishe a look of resignation, Kratos set off after his lovely companion.

End Flashback

Kratos looked up the street and frowned, returning the ring to his pocket and looking at the town entrance. Was that smoke?

A blast echoed through Luin and Kratos cursed viciously, lunging to the right to avoid a potentially deadly blast of fire that sped by. "Dammit, Kvar…" He hissed, slipping into the shadows. "Why now?"

He studied the leagues of swordsmen flooding in to raid and ransack the city. At least thirty, with twenty magicians.

Not for long.

Hissing an incantation, Kratos murmured "Thunder Blade." And watched in satisfaction as the bolt of electricity jolted heavily into the earth and the stench of fried flesh wafted up the road. As long as Anna was nearby, he was going to stop the Desians as quickly as possible.

As soon as the attack has landed, however, the troops scattered, seeking the perpetrator by busting in doors, attacking the innocent city-dwellers and setting fire to all things flammable.

His hand clenched over the ring in his pocket and Kratos hung his head bitterly. By the time he got around to asking for Anna's hand, she'd have gone off with someone else. Would she do that? This wasn't the time; Kratos couldn't afford to be sidetracked.

"Kratos!"

His head shot up immediately and what he saw made his head spin. Some bastard was dragging Anna down the street roughly by the arm while she screamed furiously, kicking at his legs and clawing his arms desperately. "Kratos!" She wailed again.

"Who's that?" Her captor sneered. "Yer man? Bet 'e's dead anyway. Yer better off wif me as it is, Luv." He leaned down toward her and let out a roar of pain and anger when Anna head butted him viciously. "You little whelp!" he hissed, twisting Anna's arm.

Kratos stood up furiously and pulled a thin knife from his boot, twirling it around his hands. There was no way to cast a spell to kill the bastard, so he'd make with what he had.

Flipping the knife over, Kratos leaned his entire body into it and gracefully threw it through the air, watching as it arced perfectly and came to a stop in the desian's temple. "Anna." He walked out of the shadows, but staggered back into the darkness when she tackled him in an embrace.

"Oh my G- I thought you were dead!" Anna sobbed into his chest. "All I saw was fire and Desians… I thought…" She hiccupped roughly. "I thought they had you."

Kratos looked down at her fondly and stroked the cocoa-brown tresses gently, crooning words of comfort in her ear. "We have to leave." He said softly, cupping Anna's face in his hands. "Before reinforcements come."

"But… Luin… Kratos, everyone will di—" He laid a finger on her lips to silence the argument. "They won't die, Anna. The militia will stop the Desians soon." He led her toward the city gate. "You'll be no use to anyone dead." Kratos added softly and they slipped into the outer edges of Luin. The Desians were hurrying to the inner areas, leaving their path clear.

"Kratos, my whole family is in this city! I can't leave!" Anna pulled fruitlessly at him. "We have to fight!"

"Anna…"

"My family!" Anna finally wailed, unwisely loud.

"Listen to me!" Kratos pressed her against the wall of a nearby building. "Your family would never want you to die when you could live, Anna." His lips were mere millimeters away from her ear and, with his body flush against hers; Kratos felt a shiver course through Anna's body. "We will only make it worse by staying. Do you understand?" She nodded and he pulled away.

"Let's go, then."

They escaped through the gate and fled, running with Noishe for hours until Luin was a pinprick in the distance. As Kratos had hoped, the smoke had stopped rising by now. "They know we're gone." He explained to Anna, watching the Desian troops, a line of ants, file away from the city and toward the Ranch.

Anna nodded quietly and merely snuggled closer to him, sniffling softly.

"Why are you crying?" Kratos asked incredulously. "Luin is fine."

"No," Anna mumbled miserably. "Not that… I just…" She heaved a heavy sob. "I wanted to have at least one day to be normal again. I w-wanted to h-have tea with Sarah like I used to… and-and visit Uncle Tom and Aunt Wendy…" She couldn't continue, but Kratos could understand what she meant and simply held her.

It could have been minutes or hours that passed, Kratos wasn't sure, but he was feeling very damp after the amount of crying Anna had done on his shirt. "Anna?" He asked hesitantly.

"Mmf?" She responded from the wrinkled depths of his shirt.

"I… this probably isn't the best time…" Kratos looked at his feet bleakly. "Nevermind."

She looked up and smiled. "No, tell me. What's up, Kratos?" She pulled away as saw his hand lingering in his pocket. A bright gleam of anticipation settled in her eyes. "What? Tell me, tell me!"

Kratos watched Anna closely but found his face was heating up nervously. "I have… a proposition for you that may make you feel normal again… if only for a second." He chewed hesitantly on his lower lip and swallowed through a tight throat.

Months of planning. Ring-making. Talking. Even a Desian attack had led up to this moment, and for one terrible moment, Kratos thought he was going to mess it up.

Then his sense kicked in and the Seraph sunk onto one knee before Anna, who was now gaping shamelessly.

"Anna Irving…" he began formally, then faltered. "Anna, will you… marry me?" He finished timidly, producing the finely crafted ring. He watched her face change from emotion to emotion and she opened and closed her mouth.

"Yes…"

It was the sweetest word Kratos had ever heard and, slipping the ring onto her finger, he felt like a balloon had inflated inside his chest. She was crying again, but this time out of happiness and Kratos laid his lips upon her's softly, smiling into the kiss. "I'm glad." He murmured.

Ah, I do love my fluff.

This is my first ToS piece in a LONG time, so I do hope I still have the characters down-pat. Well, Kratos and Anna, at least.