Disclaimer: I don't own Trinity Blood. I wish I did, though.

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Memories in the Rain

Ion scowled, looking up at the dark sky overhead; a flash of lightning cracked across the sky, illuminating the world in blinding white. As the light faded away, thunder rumbled overhead as the rain fell down upon him and his companion. "Perfect timing," he muttered.

"I didn't know you hated the rain, Ion."

"I don't hate it. I'd just prefer for it not to rain right now."

On his back, Esther laughed softly and rested her cheek against the back of his neck, closing her eyes. Her arms were wrapped loosely around Ion's neck as she rode piggyback; had anyone been out in the rain, they wouldn't have recognized the young queen of Albion, carried by a young man and completely drenched. "Ah, now I see."

"You're laughing at me."

"You brought it on yourself."

Ion snorted and rolled his eyes, pausing to shift so Esther settled more comfortably against him; despite being now seventeen and only a few months shy of her eighteenth birthday, the small woman was still light enough for Ion to carry with ease. This might have also had something to do with the growth spurt and development his body had gone through only two years ago. Now, instead of looking like a young boy, the blonde-haired Methuselah more resembled a young man.

The city street was cold, wet, and deserted; which suited them both just fine. Had anyone witnessed their passing, they might have fainted from the shock of seeing a young woman so intimately snug with a young man.

Well, it wasn't Ion's fault that Esther had gone and twisted her ankle. Oh, no. He'd told her to watch out for puddles, but had she listened? Nope. She'd run through a puddle that turned out to be much deeper than she'd originally thought and fallen. Now, since she could barely walk on her own, Ion carried her.

Oh, yes. Fate enjoyed tempting Ion Fortuna.

Ion's scowl deepened, if that was even possible, as his train of thought crashed down this particular direction. Esther's breathing was soft and even, leading him to believe that despite the rain and cold and thunder and lightning, she'd fallen asleep.

Since she seemed to be asleep, this left him alone with his thoughts. And the very distracting revelation that, do to her position, her breasts were nestled quite comfortably against his back.

Ion walked faster.

His relationship with Esther had always been a smooth one; they were good friends, with unspoken attraction and just a hint of sexual attraction to go along with it. It had been maddening at times, but it had been enough.

That had all changed on the night of her sixteenth birthday.

Looking back, Ion couldn't recall the events that had led up to those final hours in the dark. At first he'd believed one or both of them had been drunk, but both had been sober. The only thing—ironically—that he clearly recalled was, after it had been done, burying his face into her hair and murmuring, "Happy Birthday."

And Esther had laughed, gently tracing his sweat-soaked back with her small fingers. Fingers, he'd learned, that could hone in on their target with deadly accuracy and efficiency.

After that night, they'd both decided it would be best to avoid each other for awhile—even though, if he was brutally honest with himself, Ion knew the time apart had driven him nearly mad. Esther had seemed to reflect his opinion, for when they had finally met again a few months later, she had made quick work of leading him into her bedroom and in one kiss told him just what she wanted.

Just what he needed, but he wasn't about to tell her that.

Ion tilted his head back to look up once again at the clouds. Things had progressed quickly from there; now it was very rare for Ion to visit Esther—or vice versa—without ending up sleeping in the same bed.

But… despite this, their friendship had still remained practically untouched. Esther was still there to offer a kind word when she felt he needed it, Ion still scoffed and shot down her ideas only because he knew (and she did too, he could tell) that doing so would make her more determined succeed and prove him wrong.

And there were the unspoken moments in the dark, asleep side-by-side, when she'd reach out and gently twine her fingers with his, or he'd pull her closer and stroke her hair.

Ion was beginning to get a headache. He narrowed his eyes against the rain and sighed.

"You're thinking again."

Esther's voice was soft, drowsy—Ion didn't even jump in surprise. "How did you know that?"

"I can tell." She lifted her head, sliding her hands back to grip his shoulders. Her hair fell dark red and completely soaked along her shoulders and neck, but her eyes were clear. "What are you thinking about?"

"Nothing special. You can go back to sleep. We're almost back at the palace; just a little further and we'll be at the gates."

A soft "Oh" escaped Esther, but she didn't rest her head down and sleep again; she was curious now. "Was it really that embarrassing?"

"What?"

"What you were thinking about. Usually you tell me unless it's something you're embarrassed about." Lifting her hand, she gently traced the back of his left ear.

A small jolt shot down Ion's spine at the touch, and he fought back the instinctive urge to stiffen, though his eyes widened a little. "It was nothing special," he repeated.

"Mm."

Darn her. "I was just thinking… you're going to be eighteen soon."

"Yes. What about that?"

She was still tracing the back of his left ear, sending even more jolts down his spine and bouncing around his chest and stomach; Ion tried to ignore the heat rising in his blood. "Well… when you're eighteen, won't you be considered old enough to marry?"

"Yes, Mary mentioned it. Why? Does that bother you?"

Ion shrugged, causing Esther to lose her one-handed grip on his shoulder; her arm snaked around his neck to keep her from falling. He paused to let her scramble back into place, no longer minding the rain as it pounded down on them. "What would you think if I told you that it does?" he asked, taking a chance.

"I'd say that's kind of foolish." But Esther couldn't resist smiling. "Just because I'll be old enough to marry when I'm eighteen doesn't mean I'll be willing to get married. Eighteen's still pretty young, you know."

"Yeah." A wave of relief poured through Ion. "I guess so."

Silence fell, in which Ion focused on walking without slipping and Esther continued her fascination with his ear; she was driving him crazy and she didn't even seem to realize it.

"Ion?"

"Yeah?" He exhaled heavily and prayed she wouldn't notice.

"Why does it bother you? Me being old enough to marry?"

She'd always asked difficult questions. "Well…" Ion swallowed. Hard. "You know you're my friend, Esther."

"Yes. And you're my friend, too."

"Right. And, as your friend… I like you."

"I like you too."

"Thanks. But it bothers me because…"

"Because?"

Ion's throat suddenly seemed to have clogged; he could barely breathe, how the hell was he still walking when it felt like he couldn't draw a breath? Why did it feel so damn hot when it was still cold and raining?

"Because…" Ion was doing an awful lot of praying. "Well, you see… I might… like you as more than a friend," he stuttered, and winced inwardly.

Ah, Ion Fortuna… that had been a masterpiece of eloquence…

Esther's fingers, which had still been tracing his left ear, stilled abruptly. She was on his back, so he didn't see her eyes widen in shock; nor did he see her smile widen to a full-blown grin.

Safe to say, Esther would never think of rain the same way ever again.

"Well, that's good," she murmured. "Because you see… I might like you as more than a friend, too."

Ion nearly fell that time; he managed to keep his balance, but he felt as though his heart would burst out of his chest.

Okay, so it wasn't really the confession that was so often dramatized in books and movies. But it worked for them.

Silence fell again, but this silence was comfortable as Ion walked steadily now, trying to force the feeling of Esther's fingers stroking the back of his ear out of his mind. They'd be back at the palace soon enough…

… And then Esther's hand was gone, and her lips gently brushed the back of his left ear. Ion froze. "Esther?" His voice was almost a squeak.

"I always noticed that you were pretty sensitive back here… I was just wondering if that's normal for you." And she kissed the spot again.

Oh, Lord. Ion had received a jolt before, but now he felt like he was on fire. And it seemed Esther had no intention of stopping…

"You brought this on yourself," he rasped. Thank God for dark, deserted alleys in the rain.

Esther's squeal of surprise immediately transformed into a moan as Ion kissed her, his tongue diving deep into her mouth to tangle with hers. Somewhere in the space of a millisecond he'd gotten her off his back and against the wall of the alley, holding her up slightly so no weight rested on her injured ankle. She gasped for breath as he pressed his lips to her throat. "Ion, we're by the palace gates," she whispered weakly, though her body betrayed her as her fingers ran through his hair.

"I told you, you brought this on yourself." Her legs weakened to jelly as his other hand slid beneath her shirt and stroked her stomach, and he nipped lightly at her ear.

She closed her eyes, but her mind still whirled even as she pushed off his jacket. "Someone might see or hear," she protested weakly, wanting this more than anything despite her protests, whimpering a little when his tongue touched her skin and his hand found her breast.

Never mind the rain and the lightning and the thunder.

Ion laughed, pulling back to look down at her. "You're thinking again," he teased. And with one kiss, he wiped her mind clean.

They would never think of rain the same way ever again.

The End

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The closet I will ever get to lemon. Yeah.

Updates might slow down on Before the Dawn, as I am currently experiencing some computer problems. Sorry!

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