AN: I wrote this a while back on a prompt for the Layton FW meme on LJ, and just realized that I never quite got around to posting it here. So…take it, please! :D I don't own Layton. Thanks, all! Much love!
All Planned Out
Luke looked in the mirror for the twentieth time in the last several minutes and once again adjusted his tie. He looked away, paused, then glanced back at the mirror and smoothed his hair down.
Thirty seconds later, he looked again and tugged at his jacket to eradicate a few of those pesky imaginary wrinkles.
Oh, he was being silly and he knew it, but tonight was important, and he wanted to look good for it. Or at the very least, he would have liked to look more confident than he felt. That was only one of the reasons why he was so dressed up tonight.
But finally, he decided that he was satisfied with his appearance. He glanced down at the dresser, where a little white box was sitting, eagerly waiting for its big moment. And what a moment it was going to be. At least, that's what Luke was hoping for. If things went well, then this was going to be the best night of his life.
And also Flora's, or so he hoped.
He had it all planned out. Dinner, a walk along the river in the moonlight, and then dancing at a local place he knew of. It would be a fun, sweet night out. And…
He glanced down at the dresser. There was a small white box sitting there, innocent as could be. Within that box was a certain piece of jewelry, a ring of the utmost importance that was a symbol of something very, very wonderful.
Giving himself one final look in the mirror, it was time to go. He had a big date tonight, one that could potentially change his life. Luke grinned at his reflection.
She looked beautiful.
Well, Flora had always been pretty, and she had grown into a lovely young woman, but tonight, given the circumstances, and wearing that dress? That gauzy, pale pink dress that fit her so well and somehow managed to be tantalizing while still perfectly ladylike?
Flora actually had to snap her fingers in front of his eyes a few times to break the commune of his wide-eyed, slack-jawed stare.
"S-sorry," he said apologetically at her questioning look, sheepishly rubbing at the back of his neck. "I know that gentlemen aren't supposed to stare, but…you look so pretty, I just couldn't help it!"
Flora's expression went from confused to smiling at his words, and she blushed so prettily. "Thank you. You look very handsome yourself, Luke."
He unconsciously tugged at his dark blue jacket and smiled in response. He had opted to forgo his usual light blue in favor of something more adult. Now the question was regarding what Flora's "father" would think of this…
As if the thought had summoned the man, Professor Layton appeared in the doorway behind her, chuckling. "Flora, a lady should—"
"Wait inside and let you get the door," she intoned automatically with the air of one who has heard such a lecture many times before. "I know, Professor, but I was just too excited to wait."
"Good heavens, my boy," Layton took an appraising glance at his former apprentice.
Luke grinned. "I look like an adult, don't I?"
"…I wasn't going to say it," Layton admitted, earning a laugh from both the young adults. "All right, I won't keep you two."
It had been such a relief to have the Professor's approval and blessing when the two of them had started growing closer and eventually started seeing each other. Oh, they doubted that he would have probably never said anything, even if he didn't approve, but the fact that he seemed genuinely pleased with the match was a great boon to them both. Of course, he insisted on Luke being a gentleman and having her home at the appropriate hours and all of those seemingly old-fashioned sentiments of courtship.
The Professor waved them off with a smile as the two left in search of their night on the town. Luke had come into possession of an automobile upon the completion of his apprenticeship, and he cheerfully held the door open for Flora before hurrying around to take his place in the driver's seat.
Flora smiled at him. "You said you had quite an evening planned for us, Luke. Dare I ask what you've got up your sleeve?"
"First things first: dinner," he said.
"Glad to see that your priorities are in order, as always," she teased, sitting back against the seat. "I should remember not to get in between you and your dinner."
"That is probably wise. Oh, and before I forget…" he reached a hand in front of her nose, wiggled his fingers, and—
--a rose appeared, seemingly from nowhere, before her eyes.
Flora looked appropriately surprised; Luke had always held a bit of fascination for sleight of hand and little magic tricks, but this was the first time he had ever shown this particular little display for Flora, and she was delighted to accept the flower, especially when he added that it was a beautiful flower for a beautiful lady.
She was blushing even deeper when she gave him a look. "The Professor really did teach you well, didn't he? You're always so charming, Luke."
"I try," Luke thought of his plan for the evening and of the precious little box currently tucked away…in…his…
Luke's hands tightened on the steering wheel of his car. "Flora…do you mind if we run back to my apartment for a moment?" he said, managing a smile. In reality, he had never felt like a bigger fool.
"That's fine," she said. "Is everything all right?"
"Oh, it's fine," he said, managing a weak laugh. "I just forgot something. That's all." Oh, it was the truth, all right. He had forgotten something. He just had neglected to mention what it was that he had forgotten and how overwhelmingly important it was.
How in the world had he managed to forget the ring?
"Luke, you don't have to apologize anymore," Flora said, her tone growing a bit exasperated. "How many times have we had to go back because I've forgotten something? It isn't anything to be so upset over."
"I know, but I still feel silly," he admitted.
She shook her head. "You don't have to be so proud, Luke," Flora said, putting her chin in her hand and regarding him with a small smile. "I have seen you at your best, and I have seen you at your worst. I don't understand why you are so defensive about those moments when I see you at your average, like when you forget things. It isn't the end of the world."
His expression was definitely sheepish as he looked down at the table. "I know, and I'm sorry. I just feel…well, silly."
"I understand," she said. "By the way…Luke, what did you forget? It must have been something very important."
He couldn't have asked for a better opening in a better setting, in this sweet restaurant surrounded by candlelight and wine glasses and soft music and hushed voices, and he was smart enough to see the opportunity, and to take it. "Actually, Flora," he said as he slid one hand off the table and down towards his pocket, where he had stowed the tiny white box, "it is something extremely important."
His face must have said a great deal, because her smile faded. "Luke? Is everything all right?" she asked, reaching across the table to touch his other hand. "You look…"
Luke swallowed hard and thought back over all the times he had rehearsed this in front of the mirror. "Flora, there's something I wanted to—"
He was interrupted by a loud sound: a female voice letting out an indignant squawk.
Their attention, along with the attention of every single patron in the restaurant, was drawn to a table near the door, where a young woman in a dark green dress had jumped to her feet, one hand holding a white clutch over her heart. She screeched something at her male companion before slapping him across the face and storming away, the man trailing behind her, reaching towards her and calling out platitudes.
Flora blinked. "My goodness, what a display! She certainly seemed upset. I wonder what happened…Luke? Are you all right?"
He was white as a sheet. The words had been on his lips when that noise had startled him, and he was fighting to get his heart to stop attempting to escape from his ribcage and stay where it was supposed to be. "I'm f-fine," he managed after a moment, taking a couple of deep breaths to calm himself. Once he felt steady again, he looked Flora squarely in the eye once again and resumed what he was trying to say. "Flora, I need to ask you—"
It appeared to be Sudden Loud Noise Night at the restaurant, because Luke was interrupted again. This time the cry was male, and this time it was right beside them.
Namely, a waiter. His foot caught on an upturned corner of the carpet, and he was sent pitching forward. As was the laden tray in his hand. And all the food on that tray went flying…
Right onto their table.
And, by default, onto them.
There was the crash of impact and a loud breaking sound as plates shattered against the table and floor. Both Luke and Flora instinctively jumped to their feet, each letting out a little cry as they did so. Luke looked down to see a large, cheese-covered piece of broccoli fall from the hem of his splattered coat to the floor at his feet.
Flora looked very nearly ready to burst into tears as she watched globs of potato and rivers of dark brown gravy run in trails down the ruined pink gauze of her dress. To compound it, a piece of what looked like parsley had caught in the curl of her bangs, and bounced whenever she moved her head.
It would have been adorable if her eyes weren't growing red with tears, and if it hadn't just destroyed what was supposed to be the most important moment of both their lives.
The owner was at their table immediately, promising restitution. Somewhat dazed, Luke alternated between trying to reassure the alarmed man and attempting to calm Flora, who asked to leave. She wanted to go home. It took a little while, but finally they managed to disentangle themselves from the owner and other concerned parties and make it out onto the sidewalk.
Luke stood there for a moment before he slipped his blazer off and hung it around Flora's shoulders, not really caring if the mess got on the inside of the jacket. It was already more or less ruined, barring a miracle. What were a few more stains, really?
She accepted with a sniffle and stayed still as he brushed a few remaining particles of food out of her hair. "Thank you…"
"Are you all right?" he asked, letting his fingers linger against her forehead for a few seconds longer than was probably proper, but she made no comment or protest about it.
"I'm f-fine," she mumbled. "Maybe we should go h-home…"
"No, no…" he said, running a hand through his hair (and grimacing when his fingers encountered a stray dollop of what felt like gravy there). "Here, let's just…we can go for a walk, maybe?" He managed a smile. "I just don't want to relinquish your company so soon…"
That seemed to charm her, and she nodded after a moment. "All right. It's a nice enough night. Just a little walk," she agreed, slipping her arms through the sleeves of his jacket.
Luke smiled in spite of everything and offered her his arm. "I am upset about this, though," he admitted as they started walking. "I had a nice evening planned and everything…"
"Oh?" she said. "What else were you planning?"
"Well, I actually had planned a walk after dinner, but I was thinking that we could go down to the riverfront," he said. "And then there's this nice little dance hall not too far from here, actually. I thought I'd take you there."
"I remember when we were younger and I tried to teach you to dance," Flora said, a definite note of fondness in her voice. "You could barely move without tripping over your own feet!" She laughed at the memory and patted his arm. "I'm glad you improved!"
"I'm glad you were patient enough to keep teaching me, no matter how awful I was," he replied. "Ah, well. Dinner might have turned into a disaster, but at least it's a pleasant evening out, right?"
"…so, Luke, what were you trying to say to me over dinner?" Flora asked, tugging gently on his arm. "Before everything went loopy, I mean?"
"Well, Flora…" he smiled. One of his hands slid down to take hold of hers while his other hand moved to his pocket. "What I wanted to ask was…"
A drop of water chose that moment to land on Luke's cheek. For a moment, he thought that it was merely water dripping off a building or tree, but when several more followed suit, he realized that when he had called it a lovely evening, he had spoken a bit too soon.
There was a pattering noise around then, soft at first but ever increasing in volume and frequency as it started to rain.
Flora let out a little noise that sounded for all the world like a sob as she started jogging towards the first lit building she could see. Luke followed quickly, quietly cursing under his breath.
The rain picked up quickly, and by the time they both ducked into the open building, it was pouring in buckets and they were both completely soaked.
Luke looked around, and realized that they had somehow made it to the dance hall he'd had in mind before everything had gone so completely out of control.
And everyone in the place was staring at them.
Flora looked out the window into the night, where the rain was falling in torrents and let out another of those sob-like noises. "This has been the worst night of my life!" she said, probably a bit louder than she meant to.
A young woman in an apron approached, a couple of towels in her hands. "Excuse me, miss, but would this help?"
"Y-yes, thank you," Flora said, accepting the proffered towels with the best smile she could muster up. She turned back to Luke, her face reddened with anger. "As soon as this rain stops, Luke, I want you to take me home."
Luke could only stand there and stare as she made a futile attempt to dry her hair and brush some of the mess from her ruined dress and his jacket. Even worse, the others in the hall were starting to whisper.
"This has been a horrible night!" she said, still attacking the hem of her dress with the towel.
Before Luke even realized that he was speaking, the words were tearing out of him in a rush that he could not stop. "I'm sorry, Flora! I'm so sorry!"
He burst out suddenly enough that she jumped and dropped the towel. She stared at him with wide, stunned eyes. As did everyone else in the hall.
But Luke wasn't done. "This was supposed to be such an amazing night and I had everything planned out for you and I wanted it to be special. We were supposed to have dinner and go for a walk and go dancing and it was supposed to be just wonderful so that I could do the one thing I really wanted to do for you tonight…"
Both of the damp towels were now on the ground at Flora's feet, and she was simply staring at him, her jaw hanging open.
"And now you're upset, and I'm miserable because I wanted this to be a night that both of us would remember for the rest of our lives," he kept going as his hand dipped into his pocket and tugged the precious little box out; he was to the point where he barely even knew what he was doing anymore as he waved the box towards her. "And now I'm too afraid to ask you to marry me because I'm afraid that the ring will decide to burst into flames or something! It would just complete the evening, wouldn't it?"
You could have heard a pin drop on a pillow in that dance hall.
After a moment, it all rushed back to him, and he realized what he had said and that the ring was in his hand and Flora had seen it and he had just—"…oh my god, what did I just say?" he took a stumbling step backwards and put his hand over his mouth, turning away from her.
Flora stared at him; she felt entirely incapable of doing anything else. "Luke…" she said after a moment. "You were going to…I mean, that's a…"
He didn't seem to hear her. He was walking away from her towards a table a few feet away. He leaned a hand on it, keeping his other hand pressed firmly over his eyes. And he was muttering to himself. "Stupid…I'm such an idiot…I wouldn't say yes to me…"
"Luke?" Flora's hand touched his shoulder, coaxing him to turn around and face her.
He was sure he looked to be in quite a state, his clothes soaked and his hair a wet mess. And his expression was also fairly pitiable, he was sure of that. "Y-yes?"
To his amazement, she was smiling. "Luke, get down on one knee."
It took a few seconds for him to realize what she meant, and he let out an "Oh!" as he awkwardly lowered himself to one knee.
"Good," she said, holding her hands out to him. "Hands?"
Again, he obeyed, feeling incredibly awkward about all of this. Wasn't he the one who was supposed to be proposing here?
"Good. Now, Luke…" she took a deep breath. "I think that there was something you wanted to ask me?" The only word that could possibly describe her expression at that moment was hopeful.
And every eye in the place was still on them. In fact, a few of the other couples had found chairs to stand on for a better view of the scene unfolding by the main door.
"R-right…" Luke said, feeling his face redden. He tightened his hold on her hands ever so slightly and took a deep breath. "Flora Reinhold…I love you. I love you more than anything or anyone in the world." He glanced up at her smile, and his mind went void of words. "…lord help me, I practiced this so many times…"
"Keep going!" she said eagerly.
Luke bit his lip. "…I may have learned from Professor Layton, but the fact is that I'm an idiot. You know that I'm an idiot. But I'm an idiot who would love the chance to devote his life to keeping that smile on your face. So, Flora…"
The entire place was practically leaning forward, hanging on his every word.
"…will you marry me?"
Flora stood silently for a moment, her face practically glowing. "Luke…" she sighed. "…if that ring is not on my finger within the next three seconds, I might have to slap you."
He stared at her.
She laughed. "I'm saying yes!"
Now the entire place was filled with cheers and laughter and applause, but they could have been invisible for all Luke cared. He was too busy fumbling to get the ring out of the box and onto Flora's waiting finger.
Somehow, he had pictured this all as being a lot more romantic. He certainly had not anticipated the proposal happening when they were both wearing ruined clothing, covered in food stains and water marks from when they had first had a tray dumped on their heads, and then gotten caught in a sudden cloudburst. And he really had not planned on having a small meltdown in front of a crowd before finally getting the chance to ask her.
But…she said yes.
And that made it all right with him.
"…and that is how your father proposed to me," Flora said cheerfully.
Across the table, Alexander was looking at her, wide-eyed, over his glass of milk. "…Papa does a lot of silly things, doesn't he?" the boy said in his infinite five-year-old wisdom.
"Oh, believe me, he does," Flora laughed, hearing a deliberate cough from the next room. "He does."