By: Miroir du Symphonie
Pairing: Leon x Cloud
Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Disney and/or Square Enix. I lay no claim to anything but the plot.
A/N: Well, this is just a little snippet that's supposed to fight off the writer's block preventing me from finishing Chapter 22 of Watercolor. Ugh.
Rylynn is the title of a beautiful guitar instrumental by Andy McKee from his album Art of Motion. It's also the song that calmed me enough for this fic while I was battling the Organization in an attempt to write about them. I urge you all to listen to it—it's very calming and great to have in the background while reading or studying or doing something low-key.
There are a lot of implied pairings in this fic, actually, and some hints to past events if you squint. AU, but based very loosely off FFVII's setting and character jobs. (Which would make Axel a Turk. Funny image.) This is mindless fluff: very cutesy and inspiring of warm and fuzzy "D'awwww!" feelings. My beta informs me that she teared up. That's a good sign.
Oh, before I forget—lovenkisses for mai bnitch. Congrats on Level 7 (lawl) and your good school stuffies, muffinfaise!
His toes curl into the grass, loving the warm and slightly funny feeling on his ticklish feet from the growing plants.
The sounds of splashing and laughter can be heard a few trees away—Axel and Reno's competitive cursing and the scolding from their respective partners coupled with Yuffie's bragging over her perfect dives. Riku sits next to his long-lost brother in the shade of another tree. Both look ethereal this day: a subtle happiness glows on the skin of their high cheekbones while silver hair is tossed playfully by the wiles of an adoring wind. Aerith lays in the shade of another tree, her cheek to the earth and Zack's gentle hand resting on her back.
Sora and Kairi frolic playfully in the depths of the small lake—though their actions are not entirely innocent. The brunette's eyes repeatedly rove themselves over the curves of his friend's body in a shabby attempt at subtlety and Kairi's hands shyly wander under the pretense of jesting tickles. All assembled know that a confession is forthcoming. It is simply a matter of time.
Vincent and Tifa enjoy a conversation with their feet dangling at the water's edge—the overly cautious agent having been convinced to discard his daggered boots. Seated beside each other, they make a duo of dangerous beauty: raven locks frame their milk-white faces while apple and wine red eyes glitter with knowledge. Roxas lies beside them, his pale skin soaking up the gentle rays of sun and his lashes gently pillowed on his rosy cheeks.
None of them imagined that the ornery man they'd all come to know and love could own such a paradise. It had belonged to his late wife, he'd explained to them with the glint of old but powerful tears shining unbidden in his clear blue eyes. And indeed, the nearby flowers display finesse with the ghost of a woman's touch. Cid has tried his best to keep them that way.
Shera's memory lives on.
They creep to this place when they all can get away, which hasn't been for more than a year. The oldest blonde has given them all a key, offered in his usual gruff but sincere way—yet it doesn't feel right to be here without him and each other. Sephiroth has his duties as a general to the man that Vincent, the redheads and Zack work for. The teenagers have their studies, Tifa has a bar, Aerith has a flower shop. And he and his lover have med school.
It's been a while, but the mismatched family is together.
His fingers fumble over guitar strings in an effort to produce something passable. Cloud looks beautiful (he would be murdered if the man knew he was using said adjective) like that: blonde hair flutters softly about a gorgeous face and the longer strands tease full pink lips. Azure eyes are fixed on him and he can't help but feel a little self-conscious: the shade of a willow's tears coupled with a small distance allots them the slight seclusion from the group he wants. And damn it, this was supposed to be romantic: the heavy weight of a velvet box in his pocket urges him to get the music right.
But he can't remember the song he's been practicing in secret for weeks.
He's too nervous.
Nervous that the relationship started between two students in a coffee shop hasn't been as all-consuming to the other as it has been to him, worried that his partner isn't ready, worried that the change he wants so badly is frowned upon in polite society—illegal, even—and that they'd have to find another alternative...
...worried that the event of Leon's nightmares would come true: that this move would be the catalyst for the realization that Cloud has been wasting his time.
He tries until blood threatens to spill, and then he gives up with a frustrated sigh.
"Out of practice?"
No. It's just you. "I'm sorry, Cloud."
Cloud cocks his head to the side and the endearing move reminds Leon of Yuffie's pet chocobo. "What are you apologizing for?"
The aging guitar is set to one side and aching digits come to rest on Cloud's cheek. The blonde leans into the touch, eyes fluttering shut, and when he reopens them a small box is being cradled between slightly red fingers. Cloud's breath catches and a pink flush spreads across the bridge of Leon's nose. "I—I forgot the song I wrote for you."
The blonde stands at a quiet request, and it takes little energy to move into proper position. He is the epitome of apprehension, nerves frayed to the wire and ring box quivering within his unsteady grasp. Reno, passing nearby on his way to the house, can't help but glance over at the traditional sight and immediately runs back to summon the cavalry.
" Leon's proposing, yo!"
There is a trample of feet.
Sora and Kairi kneel like puppies at the forefront of the group, breathless from their mad dash up to the house to summon a now-watching Cid. Zack sees the blinding sparkle in Aerith's eyes and can't help but get nervous, exchanging spooked glances with Reno who holds an avidly staring Tifa.
Roxas' happiness for his brother is palpable and he grasps Axel's hand that bit tighter, deciding to wait until later to deliver his threats. Yuffie's bouncing would put a pogo stick to shame, and Vincent is slightly disturbed by how high the girl is going.
Sephiroth's eyes are the only ones who hold a string of sadness. Riku slips his hand into his sibling's and squeezes once before letting go.
Leon tries not to take note of the staring crowd and forcefully directs the sum of his attentions on Cloud—who stares down at him with disbelief written in those cerulean depths. A deep breath does wonders for his frazzled state, and when he finally speaks there is a note of strength to rival any guitar.
"Cloud...we've been dating for four years. I don't think I've ever been happier—"
"Really? Because it doesn't show," Yuffie quips from within the throng. A swift and painful kick from Tifa shuts her up at once.
"—than during the time I've spent with you. I...I doubt I would have had the motivation to keep going after Ellone's death if not for you."
In Leon's mind, Sis's phantom sits among their friends, right up in front with Sora. Her short cinnamon hair fans aloft on the breeze as she beckons him to keep talking.
He never could disobey her.
"I adore everything about you, like how easily you get distracted when we sit up to study or how lovely you are when you're sleeping. How cute you are when you're begging me to—"
Axel lets out an exaggerated cough.
"—cook for you," Leon continues, mentally crucifying the redhead, "and how much you love Yuffie's chocobo yet try so hard to hide it."
There are two perfect circles of red on Cloud's cheeks, and the brunette can't tell if that's a good sign or not. Still, he goes on. "I love how gentle you are with the children we practice with in class and how fierce you are when you're angry. Cloud...I don't think I could go another day without the world knowing you're mine."
The box's hinges creak with an ominous sound and then there is diamond: presented alongside his soul to the shocked blonde. The assembled coo at the sight of the rock, their anticipation heightened to dangerous levels.
He takes the plunge.
"I'm in love with you, Cloud Strife. And you'll make my life complete if you'll do me the honor of marrying me."
His lover stands on unsteady feet—swaying slightly like the willow they are below. Leon's given name escapes the blonde's parted lips, and his eyes are overly bright—brimming with tears. Suspense is stabbing at the brunette's heart, anointing the wounds with lemon juice to amplify the pain and growing fear of rejection. The family is silent, holding their breaths. Even the wind seems to have died.
And then finally, Cloud smiles. Small, yet beautiful.
Relief threatens to drown him and his hands shake as he plucks the ring from its slot, introducing it to its new and rightful home. Sora's exuberant yell snaps the assembled from their anxious stupor and the group erupts into laughter and cartwheels. Leon's knees ache as he stands, finally, and he can't stop his hand from shaking as he tenderly tucks a strand of errant hair behind the blonde's ear. Cloud's eyes close and a tear escapes as Leon pulls him into an embrace.
Later, when night has fallen and his lover struggles to stay awake, Leon tries again.
And plays perfectly.