Dedications: This last chapter of Marble Doll is dedicated to all the wonderful people who reviewed, both registered and anonymous.
Thanks to Chiyon Shi, Zheyne, TheFallenOnes, grapedragon, Kikyo Uchiha, -cide, mamimisan, and Triptic. This chapter is for you.
Chapter 7 – The Return
Axel leaned back in his chair with a sigh. Books and documents laid strewn out on the mahogany desk in his study: books on the court of law, documents of historical cases, and manuscripts of historical legal documents.
Yet, as hard as he tried to immerse himself in the subject of law and order, he could not focus his mind on the words that was laid out in front of him. All he could think of was the smiling face of a blond-haired boy as the two shared their fears under the moonlit night.
Although he had only met the boy a week truly, Axel felt like he could talk freely with Roxas. It hadn't been long after their first meeting that he knew he had fallen in love.
The thoughts brought tears to his eyes as the memory of his love dying in his arms came unbidden to his mind. He absent-mindedly pulled out a light blue handkerchief from his coat pocket and was startled to see the embroidery on the piece of cloth.
Stitched in gold thread were the elegant letters "RTL". Axel traced the letters as he recalled the night that he received the gift. It was the only gift that the boy had given him before his unexpected death. On the night, or early morning, the two of them had confessed their love to each other under the rising sun just before Roxas turned back into a statue.
The man brought the handkerchief up to his face and breathed in the lingering scent of his beloved. Mint, tea, and a hint of cinnamon came to his senses and he smiled at the memory of finding out Roxas loved tea.
With another sigh, this time of melancholy, Axel folded the handkerchief carefully and replaced it in his pocket. He wiped his eyes with his coat sleeve before returning to his studies.
He had no idea that he would meet a most important person that evening.
Somehow, Riku had convinced his friend to attend a gala hosted by the Corby sisters and their Londoner cousins. At six, Riku had arrived promptly with his carriage and the pair went on their way to the party.
"Just exactly how many people are going to be at this party?" asked Axel as the carriage took them out of London town and into the countryside.
"All of London's nobility have been invited. You know perfectly well as I do that Kairi and Naminé are social butterflies," grinned his silver-haired friend.
Axel sighed. "How did I get coerced into attending this thing again?" He looked out at the passing scenery with a frown.
"We can't have you staying in your study the entire time," replied Riku with a soft smile. Axel didn't reply.
"Look, Axel," the teen said, his tone more grim now, "I know you're hurting just as we are, maybe even more. But Roxas wouldn't want you to mourn for him forever and waste your life."
Axel snapped his head around to face the teen and glared. "Why do you think I've been studying for? I'm making something out of my life."
"You're not letting him go," replied Riku softly. "I think you're only using your studies as a way to stop thinking about him. You're not really learning what you're studying."
Axel had no response for that, so he turned his face back toward the passing scenery.
Silence hung over the pair like thick fog for the rest of the journey.
The ball room was already filled with laughter and conversation by the time the two had arrived. The stood at the top of the stairs waiting for their names to be announced before they joined the many aristocrats that had mingled on the floor.
Axel and Riku's seats were placed that the table closest to the table of the hosts. At their table also sat the Danish countess who chatted animatedly with Naminé. Countess Jessica had arrived not a day after Roxas's death and had become rather protective of her younger friend, helping her through the most difficult times of her young life. Lord Leon was also in attendance, having returned from Bristol to town after his father had recovered from his bout of pneumonia. His fiancée, Lady Rinoa of Whitchurch was also in attendance but she was on the floor speaking with many other ladies. Although Axel knew Leon well and had known that the man was a lawyer, his forlorn mood kept him from approaching the battle-scarred man about the bar exam.
Next to Leon sat Sir Cloud and Lady Tifa of Swindon. While Axel didn't know either of the two personally, they spoke amiably to their neighbors, Leon and Lady Aerith of Newmarket respectively. Axel recalled that Lady Aerith had become one of the most prestigious politicians in the England Women's parliament and had apparently managed to convince the King and the House of Lords to reconsider the law for women inheritance amongst the commoners. To that end, the red-haired man admired the brave lady greatly.
His eyes scanned the floor as he stirred his drink with boredom. Zexion and Demyx were dancing with other dances to a waltz played by a chamber orchestra. But as far as Axel was concerned, nothing garnered his melancholic attention.
As joviality continued around him, Axel felt that could not partake in the cheer and company. He still mourned for his lost love and scowled at the laughter that assaulted him from all fronts. He stood up to leave.
Riku grabbed his wrist to stay him but Axel would not be dissuaded. "I'm just going to go to the garden to get some air," he said. Riku nodded with understanding and released the man before watching him leave.
Just as he left, a servant approached Riku and Kairi who sat next to him.
"Milady, your honored guests are here," she reported.
"Finally," the red-haired lady laughed. She stood up with Riku and the pair made their way to the steps.
Axel slowly made his way through the throng of nobles toward the open doors that led to the open garden. He passed through them and took in a deep breath of the cold England air. He felt his spirits lighten and was about to take another step away from the mansion when his ears picked up a name amidst the din of voices.
"Lord Sora Linden of Durham."
The red-haired man turned quickly and reentered the room to see a familiar brown-haired teen standing at the top of the stairs smiling cheerfully at those who paid attention to him.
"And…" Axel's breath caught in his throat. What was with this "and" and why was he letting it affect him?
"Lord Roxas Linden of Durham."
The boy with the name stepped into view and before the red-haired man knew it, he was making his way across the crowded room to reach the bottom of the stairs where everyone who was involved in the incident had gathered.
Roxas laughed and greeted his friends as Axel continued to push through the crowd. His eyes were slightly saddened by the absence of his love but widened with recognition upon laying them on the handsome face of the Lord of Dover. Axel embraced the boy tightly and caught the boy by surprise with a passionate kiss.
The red-haired man could feel the boy melt under the kiss as he responded eagerly to the passion that Axel was placing in the kiss. The longing and love exchanged between the two reunited lovers and soft laughter met their ears as their friends smiled at the scene.
"I was beginning to lose hope," said Axel with a frown. Roxas laughed.
"So I heard from Riku. I've missed you so."
Axel released the boy from his embrace and knelt down. "Roxas, will you marry me?"
The teen's eyes widened with surprise and both he and Axel looked at Sora. "That is, if you would permit it," the man added.
Sora laughed. "It is your life, dear brother. I am no keeper of yours."
Roxas smiled happily and the two lovers faced one another again. "Yes!" he exclaimed before latching himself onto kneeling red-haired man. Around them, their friends applauded and cheered at the reunion of two lovers brought together by strange fate. And as the two shared another kiss, Axel knew that Roxas was the one for him.
"So how did you come back?" asked Axel as the two lovers basked in the afterglow of their lovemaking. The younger man traced circles upon the defined chest of the older man before laying his head upon the warm body.
"I guess I could be freed only with a kiss," smiled Roxas.
"Though Sora killing Xemnas might've sealed the deal, right?" grinned Axel.
The spiky-haired head bobbed up and down as the teen nodded.
"Where did you end up when you came back?"
"Haxby," said his lover softly. Axel frowned slightly and hugged the teen's head, running a hand through the soft hair.
"There was no one left at that place though," continued the young man. "Maybe they were all conjured up by Xemnas."
"I wouldn't doubt it," muttered Axel.
"I was lucky that the village was still there. A friendly farmer gave me a ride to York since he was also headed in that direct as well. He was rather surprised when I came out of the Haxby manor, said that that place had been deserted for nearly a year." Roxas laughed softly.
"I returned to York and somehow managed to bump into Sir Ansem," Roxas lifted his head. "You know him, right?"
"Yes. He was my mentor for the bar exam," grinned Axel.
"He knew about my predicament and was more shocked than I was when he saw me. I think his heart nearly stopped when he saw me," laughed Roxas.
Axel laughed with his love. "I hope Lord Cid was with him."
"Of course. I doubt Lord Cid would let his uncle out of his sight when they're not in Oxford. He nearly spouted out a string of profanities that would've made even you blush, my dear." Roxas looked up at Axel's face with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
"I'm not that obscene," argued Axel. His lover only smiled at that response.
Axel huffed. "Continuing on?"
Roxas chortled softly. "Sir Ansem and Lord Cid helped me obtain a passage to Linden Court, and my brother was equally as shocked to see me. He knew that I was eager to leave for town but managed to convince me to stay awhile while we set up a surprise for you."
"So that's why Riku was so insistent that I went to that party," smiled the red-haired man.
"So a fortnight later, the party was held and the rest is, as they say, history." Roxas moved upward and shared a brief kiss with the taller man.
"I wonder how my parents are going to take the news that their only son is going to wed another man," said Axel softly as Roxas nestled his head into the crook of his lover's neck.
"I'm sure they'll understand," muttered Roxas as he closed his eyes and breathed deeply.
Axel smiled and pulled Roxas closer to him. "I'm sure you're right."
Four months later, the church bells tolled as a pair of newlyweds exited the church amidst confetti, cheers, applauses, and friends and families. Next to Axel's own aging parents stood Sora and Riku, each wearing their own wedding bands that they had exchanged only a month prior. The two grooms rushed down the steps of the cathedral and stopped in front of their white carriage to wave at the crowd.
Axel scanned the faces of the wedding attendees and smiled at the happy faces of his friends and his parents, who had finally accepted his decision to wed another man. He and Roxas shared a quick kiss before he followed the younger man onto the carriage that would bear them away toward Liverpool where they would board a ship to Ireland to spend their honeymoon.
"My lord Axel, do you regret your decision?" grinned Roxas in jest.
"I found my true love, what is there to regret about?" replied Axel as he brought Roxas's hand up to kiss it.
"Oh, so I'm the girl in this relationship, eh?" Roxas raised an eyebrow.
"You are shorter," replied Axel with a grin.
"We shall see who is better in bed tonight, my dear," replied the younger man with a sly smirk.
"I look forward to the challenge, my love."
The two shared another kiss as the carriage continued on its merry way on the dirt path northward.
In the years to come, the two would have a wonderful story to share with their heirs. Although the children might eventually believe that such a thing could not have actually happened, the people who helped Roxas during his time of hardship would know that regardless of other people's beliefs, the story did happen.
And that's all that matters.
Disclaimer: Kingdom Hearts does not belong to me. No suing, please.
A/N: Thus ends Marble Doll. I must admit that I really enjoyed writing this one, especially since there aren't a lot of fanfics anywhere that have English/Victorian settings. Maybe I'll end up exploiting that more often. Haha. Thanks for all the reviews and support. I will be returning to focus my time more on The Intrigues of Sora Kazano and other fanfics now. I hope you will read my other works too. Till then, this is Tsukisamu Sayako, signing off.
To Reviewers of Chapter 6:
Triptic: I know I was mean. But they got a happy ending! Besides, there's always gotta be some ups and downs to a relationship. I will admit that death is a bit too down though, haha.
TheFallenOne: I was hoping that it was sad enough, hehe. Anyways, thanks for waiting and hope you enjoyed the last chapter
Kikyo Uchiha: Hooray. Much thanks for your support.