Final Fantasy VII

Mistletoe, Marriage, and Tradition

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The characters are not mine, and this random fluff is! It takes place in my Twilight and Dawn universe, shortly after A Simple Mission in Triplicate, so the gang's on Earth. It was Lisa's idea, and this is her Christmas gift fic. Hope you like, Lisa!

Zack leaned back, grinning as he admired his work. The house was a piece of Christmas art, if he did say so himself! The garlands and boughs of holly were around every door, along with red and white lights. A lighted, silver tinsel garland was draped on the mantle. Nails had been pounded into the stone, and stockings were hung decoratively above the roaring fire. And of course, the mistletoe had been placed above his head.

"Well," he chirped, "how does it look?"

Footsteps came up behind him as Aerith wrapped her arms around his waist. "It looks every bit as good as the houses on the Christmas movies," she smiled. "Though I'm not sure what Sephiroth thinks of it."

Zack smirked, reaching to set his hands on her arms. "Aww, he'll get used to it," he said, gently rubbing up and down her soft skin.

"Maybe," Aerith mused, relaxing against his back. "But I don't think he'll ever like mistletoe."

Now Zack snickered. "Man, poor him and Cloud," he said. "Figures they'd end up not watching where they were going and stumble right under it."

Aerith smiled in amusement at the memory. "And when you finally said why you were laughing, they both gave you such dirty looks," she said, mock reproach in her tone.

Zack looked over his shoulder, faking a wounded look in his eyes. "Aww, you thought it was pretty funny too," he said. "You're the one who told them it was 'tradition.'"

She smirked in mischief. "And you added that they would bring bad luck if they didn't."

"Of course, Cloud promptly said 'Screw tradition,'" Zack grinned.

"'And bad luck,' Sephiroth added." Aerith smiled.

"And they both walked off!" Zack began to turn around to face Aerith. "Guess that European idea of friends kissing each other won't catch on here." He smirked again.

Aerith smiled, bringing her arms up around her beloved's neck. "But we don't have any qualms about it, do we?"

Zack leaned down, kissing her softly yet passionately. "Nope," he said, when he had pulled away again, "can't say that we do." He glanced up at the plastic plant overhead. "And that suits me just fine."

Aerith ran her hand down Zack's cheek. "'Twas the night before Christmas,'" she quoted, "'and all through the house . . .'"

"'Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse!'" Zack continued. His hand strayed up to Aerith's hair, toying with the side locks left out of her braid.

"Oh?" Now her look was filled with mock affront. "Am I a mouse?"

"Hmm. . . ." Zack played with the lock of hair as he pretended to think. "If you are, then I'm the cat who caught you," he decided with a smile.

"But the cat is always supposed to be outwitted by the mouse," Aerith pointed out, reaching to brush the stubborn piece of hair out of Zack's eyes.

"That never made sense to me," Zack mused, "but if you're the mouse, then it's not so bad."

"A cat and mouse in a relationship?" Aerith smiled, standing on tiptoe to kiss Zack. "Goodness, whatever is the world coming to?"

Zack pulled her close. "Hey, this is one twist that isn't so bad," he smiled too. "'Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!'" He felt along the wall with one hand, switching off the main lights and leaving them with only the soft twinkles of the multi-color and white Christmas bulbs.

Aerith kissed him firmly before leaning back to study him---his unruly black hair, his smile, his deep lavender eyes, through which she had seen the sky. . . . There were still flecks of mako green now and then, but mostly they had faded. His and her love for each other, however, had only increased.

"Do you still like Earth holidays?" she asked.

Zack grinned. "Of course!" he said. "Better and better."

"I wonder," she said, "if you're even more enthusiastic than Marlene and Denzel." The children's response to the new celebrations, especially Christmas, had been very positive. But Zack's seemed almost to outweigh them both. He had been like a kid as he had spruced up their home with the decor. Aerith was amused, though not surprised.

"Could be!" Zack chirped. "I was thinking of playing Santa on Christmas Eve."

"I don't think Cloud or Sephiroth or Angeal will be willing to play your elves," Aerith said.

"Probably not, but that doesn't mean I won't ask!" A mischievous smirk played on his features. "And I know where I can find a Mrs. Claus."

"Oh?" Aerith blinked innocent green eyes at him. "Where's that?"

Zack gave her a mock wounded look. "Aww, you will, won't you, Aerith?" he protested.

"I could," she said slowly, and then held up her left hand as she pretended to study it. "But I'm not a Mrs."

Zack followed her gaze. "Is that a hint?"

"I wouldn't say that," Aerith said. "But it has been ten years, you know. Maybe it's about time." She slipped her arm around his waist again. "Unless you still don't want to be tied down."

To ever leave Aerith would be unthinkable. Since being restored to Earth, he knew she had been concerned, even if only a bit, that he would resume his flirting ways. But he had barely thought about it. He was not the same young kid that he had once been, and he did not ever want to give the impression now that he was not taken. He only wanted to flirt with her.

"Being with you isn't being tied down!" he asserted. He pulled her closer, feeling her heart beat. Sometimes it still seemed almost impossible to comprehend, that they were alive again. That sort of thing did not happen. Yet for them, and other loved ones, it had.

"Then . . . ?" She looked up at him.

He gazed down at her. "Is that what you really want?"

She smiled, brushing that stubborn piece of hair away again. "Only if you're ready," she replied.

"Hey, it's been ten years, like you said," he answered. "How much more ready can I get?"

But she just shook her head. "You're not ready yet." She could tell.

Zack looked away. He wanted to be ready. And shouldn't he, after all this time? He and Aerith had been given that precious second chance, and it should not be wasted. He had thought about marriage sometimes, how he would propose, what would change afterwards, if anything. He was not afraid of change. Look at all the great changes they had come through in the last months! And he did want to marry Aerith.

But he could not force a feeling of readiness, even trying to rationalize all of the above.

Gently Aerith placed a hand on the side of his face, turning him back to look at her. She leaned in, placing a soft kiss on his lips.

"It's alright," she whispered.

Zack smiled, bringing her closer as he returned it. "I will be ready," he said. "Soon."

She snuggled against his strong chest. "I know." Then she poked him. "You'd better be! I already waited for you for five years, you know."

Zack smirked. "I won't be dying again!" he said.

"Of course you won't." She looked up at him, mischief in her eyes. "I'm almost tempted to propose myself."

Zack regarded her in mock horror. "What about tradition?" he exclaimed.

Aerith pretended to think about it. Then she adopted her best Cloud impression. "Screw tradition," she said simply.