Disclaimer: All characters belong to Square-Enix and Tri-Ace, except for Morgan. She's mine.
By: So Devious
Hana-Mi in Hai Lan was one of the most beautiful things Lenneth had ever witnessed, second only to the Weeping Lily Meadow. The sun had long since set, and with the help of the stars and paper lanterns, the soft pink petals seemed to almost glow against the night sky.
The goddess couldn't help but smile as children excitedly ran from their mothers, and as young lovers held each other close as they admired the lovely flowers.
"Platina?" A masculine voice rang out from behind her, as a pair of strong arms made their way around her waist. "Are you enjoying the festival so far?"
Lenneth turned to face Lucian, swallowing her pride once more for the sake of the young man's feelings. "You know that isn't my name." The young goddess smiled, trying to hide her frustration with the young warrior. That girl had died long ago, why couldn't he just accept that?
"You'll always be my Platina." Lucian held her close, his cheek pressed against her thick silver hair. Lenneth rolled her eyes and pulled away from his embrace. "Anyway, I was looking for you because I wanted to know if you wanted to watch the fireworks with me."
"Of course. I plan on watching it with all of you-"
"No! I mean…no. What I meant was, if you'd watch them with me. Alone."
Though the gesture was sweet, Lenneth wasn't so sure she wanted to take him up on his offer. After all the months of him calling her by that damn dead girl's name, she wasn't sure she wanted to take him up on anyoffer.
"Lucian…I'd love to, but…I already promised the girls that I'd watch with them." she lied.
"But, I thought-"
"I'm sorry Lucian, but I should probably go find them." Before awaiting a response, the goddess hurried off, leaving Lucian in the crowd of children, parents, and lovers.
"I don't know what I'm going to do about that boy." Lenneth sighed, her fingers pressed against her temple in an attempt to stop the on-coming headache. She weaved through the crowd of people, who were mostly beginning to settle down for the festivals finale.
However, before she could get to far away from her former love, the young goddess smacked right into a muscular chest, the impact cushioned only by his thick summer kimono. Though she stumbled, Lenneth raised her head, ready to apologize, before…
""Well, well. What have we here?" the deep, familiar voice murmured playfully. Lenneth backed away slowly, her cold blue eyes focused on the face of the man she had come to despise so many months ago.
"What are you doing here, necromancer?" Lenneth asked, incredulous. Lezard simply chuckled and adjusted his glasses.
"The same thing you're doing, I would imagine." he explained. "Simply enjoying the age-old tradition of Hana-Mi."
Lenneth scoffed. The mere thought of Lezard doing anything that didn't involve dark magic was almost laughable.
"Why do I get the feeling that the cherry blossoms aren't the only reason you're here?" she asked, eyeing him wearily.
"Very clever, my dear. I was also looking for a dear friend of mine. We'd promised each other that we would watch the fireworks together at midnight." the sorcerer seemed distracted, looking every which way. Probably looking for his 'friend', Lenneth thought, shocked at the slight bitterness she was feeling.
"Why is everyone so interested in watching the fireworks together?" Lezard smirked, his violet eyes sparkling merrily.
"It's actually quite simple," the young man looked up at the night sky, looking as though he were remembering a fond memory. "People come here every year to watch the cherry blossoms bloom in the spring, but most people stay for the legend behind them. It's been said for centuries that if you sit under the cherry blossom trees with someone you love, at midnight, the gods will tie your lives together forever." he turned his attention back to Lenneth. "It's quite romantic, really. I'm surprised you didn't know that."
Lenneth rolled her eyes. She wasn't much on dumb superstitions, unless she saw it for herself. "It's probably just some fairytale you mortals made up."
Lezard shrugged. "You don't have to believe if you don't want. Either way, it's just nice to spend moments like these with the people you care about." the sorcerer cocked an eyebrow. "Speaking of which, where is your knight in shining armor. Louis, was it?"
"It's Lucian. And I don't have to explain anything to you, necromancer."
"Am I sensing a lover's quarrel?" Lezard joked, chuckling as Lenneth crossed her arms stubbornly. "In any case, I must get going. I'll be sure to tell my friend that you give your best regards."
"Don't bother!" Lenneth spat, and she turned away, furious that the sorcerer had gotten under her skin.
"The nerve. Harassing me, asking inappropriate questions, and then rubbing his precious friend in my face. As though I care!" The goddess had wandered around the festival in an angry haze for what seemed like hours. Her feet were beginning to hurt, and, subconsciously, she would have liked nothing more than to sit down, far away from Lucian, Lezard, and, well, everyone.
The goddess sighed, helpless. She was the new ruler of Asgard, for goodness sake. She shouldn't have to make excuses and run from human males. But then again, what else was there to keep her occupied? Going over boring paperwork and playing Mommy Dearest to the pitiful creatures? It almost made her wish she were still in the times before Ragnarok, when she was simply a battle maiden, fighting off evil. Or maybe even put back to sleep. That sounds good right about now.
Lenneth noticed that the sounds of the festival had faded into a dull, distant murmur, and the lights no longer seemed so bright. It was then that she took in her surroundings.
The cherry orchard, the section that was not laced with lights. The massive trees, and their flowers, stood out against the night sky, casting dark shadows on the ground, right where the young goddess was standing. The night's cool breeze blew through the leaves, creating a calming rustling sound overhead. At some point or another, she had made her way to the top of a small hill, and the festival below was simply a dim ball of light and excitement in the distance.
"I guess the festival wasn't so bad. I had a good time, most of the time." Lenneth said to no one in particular as she sat down in the lush grass. She absent-mindedly fingered the soft silk of the purple kimono Nanami was kind enough to make for her.
"I'm glad you think so." The voice made Lenneth's blood run cold. He couldn't have possibly…
She turned around slowly and confirmed her fear. Standing not far behind her was Lezard, in the flesh. He smiled, almost sweetly. The goddess arose quickly. It was hard to glare menacingly at someone when they're standing and you aren't.
"No need to get up on my account. Morgan and I were just passing through." Lenneth turned a weary eye to the young woman standing alongside the necromancer. A small framed, chubby faced young woman wrapped into a short rose kimono. Her mousy brown hair was a long wavy mess, and pulled up into what looked poorly done chignon with wooden chopsticks. Her big blue eyes and gave Lenneth the same look the goddess was giving her; a look that screamed Just who the hell is she?
"I take it this is your friend?" Lenneth asked, although the answer was painfully obvious, what with the way Morgan was holding Lezard's hand, as though if she let go around the goddess, he'd make a break for it. He probably would. Lenneth thought smugly, forcing back a smirk.
"Yes, actually. This is Morgan. She and I have been close friends for ages." He stared down at the young girl as thought she were a younger sister. Morgan's full lips smiled politely, albeit a tad bit forced. "Morgan, this is Lenneth. Also a dear friend."
"If you could call what we share a 'friendship'." the goddess retorted defensively. "More like a cat and mouse game, if anything." Lezard chuckled and adjusted his glasses.
"I won't take the time to argue with you, my beloved." Lenneth got a slight kick out of the way Morgan visibly tensed the second the word escaped his lips. "The fireworks will be starting soon."
"Lezard! Can we sit down, my feet are starting hurt!" Morgan whined. Her voice was almost like an alarm. You didn't want to hear it, but you really couldn't ignore it.
"Certainly, my dear. I don't suppose you'd want to join us, Valkyrie?" he asked, looking slightly hopeful.
Before she had the chance to answer, Morgan jumped in. "I'm sure she wouldn't want to. She's probably already watching with someone-"
"Actually, I'm more than certain my party wouldn't miss me. Lezard, I'd love to join you." Morgan's eyes narrowed dangerously at her, but it served the little whelp right. Like hell she'd speak for Lenneth Valkyrie, let alone say what she would or would not do.
Midnight didn't seem to come quick enough, the few minutes sat in an uncomfortable silence as Lezard tried to make conversation with the two women. The issue wasn't finding something to talk about rather than as soon a one young lady started, the other would stop completely, refusing to grace the other with any sort of response and ultimately being left out completely. Needless to say, this attempt at lightening the tension was a short-lived failure.
Fortunately, the uncomfortable silence didn't last long, as the light of the festival below dimmed considerably, plunging the valley below into darkness. Lenneth didn't know what to expect, never having seen a light show before, but she was caught off-guard by the stream of light that shot into the sky with a loud whistle, and then exploded in a burst of noise and color. The goddess stared with childlike admiration as several more followed all sorts of different colors and shapes. The whole experience gave her a light feeling in her chest. Perhaps if all mortals took the time to watch these things and get the feeling she was getting, there would be less conflict, making her job a bit easier.
"Are you enjoying them so far, my dear?" Lezard asked his lips close to her ear. Lenneth stifled a shudder, and turned to face him. He regained his distance from her a smiled sincerely. She simply gazed at his face, noting features she hadn't noticed before, such as his smile.
"Yes, I am." She answered slowly, tearing her eyes away from him, though she really didn't want to.
"I'm glad. Thank you for sharing this with us." Us. The word alone caused Lenneth's mood to drop slightly, and questions began to fill her head. What did she care if Lezard was going to spend the finale with this girl, alone? Why was she even concerned that Morgan was even around?
The goddess' breath caught in her throat as she felt the necromancer's larger hand cover hers. She turned to face him and their eyes locked, but only momentarily before she pulled her hand away and focused on the fireworks.
Which can actually be quite hard when a handsome young man is staring at you.
"Where did you disappear to?" Lucian asked when the party had returned to Valhalla at nearly two in the morning. Her body was feeling strange, and had been ever since she had left Lezard and that annoying little shrew, Morgan, atop the hill earlier that evening, and the further they got to home, the worse she felt.
"Not now, Lucian. I don't feel well."
"No, right now! I asked Nanami and the others and none of them knew where you were, not even Freya. So where were you?" The goddess' head began to ache, progressing from a dull throbbing to a furious pain. She placed one hand to her temple and the other to the nearest wall as she felt her ability to maintain balance quickly slip away from her. "Platina? Valkyrie? Are you alright?!" Lucian's voice became a garbled mess to the goddess, as she slowly sank to the ground and gradually lose consciousness.
A/N: Started off kinda slow, but hopefully it picked up at the end. Love a good cliffie. Anyway, this story was inspired by the well-known, or at least should be well known, picture of Lezard, Lenneth, and the rest of the Einharjar watching the fireworks. This is just the prologue, and chapter one should be up not too long from now. Until then, read and review.
Ps. Don't like Morgan? Good, you're not supposed to. She only appears a few times through out the story, but only because I need an antagonist.