Author's Note:

I hope this story doesn't seem too out of character…but I did kind of wonder how Kenshin may have proposed, or vice versa, and so I decided I would write a fluffy little one-shot on it. I hope it isn't too terrible.

And I'm not sure how proposals were even made back then…but I do know that in Japan modernly it isn't the get-down-on-one-knee-and-ask-"Will-you-marry-me-thing?". I dunno. Here's to hoping this story went well…

Enjoy. And please review if you can!

Xxxxxxxx

A wind stirred.

It was rich with the aroma of coming snow, of a fast-approaching winter.

It came and brushed back her raven-black bangs, like a spirit's weak, but affectionate touch. The world became clearer to her blue eyes in that one brief moment, until they fell gently back into place. She stopped, soaked in a deep breath of frost-laced air, and watched as the snow began to softly tumble from an ashen bank of clouds. She held out her hands as if she meant to catch all of the falling flakes, but instead let them drift gently onto her upturned palms until they turned to water and drizzled onto the snow-swaddled ground at her feet like cold tears.

The world gradually was swallowed by the light flurry, as if the storm had breathed white life into the land. The chill was mild, as slow as the feather-soft beat of her heart. She took another step,

She closed her light-sapphire eyes as a chill settled into her bones, caused her to shiver and stumble backwards a bit. It was only when she realized she was alone that the warmth seeped from her skin, the way it had always been with her weak-willed heart.

But then he showed up, and her heartbeat changed completely. Wholly. Truly. At last there was a flutter of thawed, tepid hope within her, something that kept her warm on the inside and out. She brought her hands down to her sides, let them drop as slow as the swirl of snowflakes. She felt a sudden ache inside her, a fear. Now that everyone else was leaving her, would he choose to leave her too?

Everyone else already has, she thought with bittersweet sadness, images of her father playing across her mind again.

She shivered again, and this time fell back completely…only to find safety in the arms of a stranger. Or so she thought until she saw his familiar azure eyes, his wild red hair, and his concerned face.

"Ken…shin…?" The question escaped her parted lips slowly, his name painful and heavy on her tongue as she dreamed of him leaving her alone again. Flustered, and caught up in the moment, she reached one hand up to his face, the side away from his scar. But she stopped midway, surprised by her sudden actions. "Oh, sorry about that. This snow's…got me a bit unbalanced." She smiled nervously, her cheeks abruptly alight with fire, and tinged pink like an evening cloud's silhouette. With this support of his arms she managed to get back on her own two feet again.

"Kaoru-dono shouldn't be out in such snow," he murmured, softly, but still loud enough to be heard with the slight whistle of wind. But he smiled, his own cheeks scantly flushed. "The storm's probably only going to get worse."

Kamiya shuffled away a bit, her expression still pained by thoughts of losing him. The one she had in such a short time come to love so largely. Being alone again also made her heart feel like it had been thrown into a torrent, its edges sliced by sorrowful waters. Those rapids rose slowly the more she moved away from him, as if he was the one keeping her head above the raging ripples.

But he came closer as she moved away, now deeply apprehensive of her condition. "Are you okay?" She halted, and as she did so, he reached a hand towards her shoulder, as if he could tell she was about to collapse once again.

But the scattered pieces of her heart were things he would be unable to catch. Unless he were to stay…pick them up slowly with her…

Kamiya turned to him quietly, the edges of her eyes about to burst into a gentle fall tears. She could no longer contain the words that burdened her so, and very suddenly she sputtered, "I don't want to lose you, too." As a newfound courage crawled into her spirit, she walked to him slowly, and embraced him, leaning her head against his chest not only for warmth, but for comfort. She needed him near, to keep her from crumbling like the pathway of snow beneath her feet. "Please don't leave me. I'm afraid of being alone. When you're not around…that fear…it takes me…Please, just don't leave." The tears slipped slowly from her eyes, some drifting onto the ground and some onto him.

Kenshin's own heart threatened to tatter further as she leaned against him for support, the rusted sound of his heart fraying as her tears were released alongside her admittance of heartbreak. He reached out, put his arms around her, and held her close. Tighter. He held her so that it would feel to her as though he would never let go, and deep down, he did not want to.

Is it too painful for you to be really, truly happy? Even when you're with me? Does it burden you knowing the world has had its back to you for so long? These questions were a windstorm in Kamiya's head as she felt his arms tightly grip her, keeping her close and preventing her fall. "I don't want your heart to hurt anymore than it already does," she blurted. Her chest ached with the words, as if they weighed down the thing that beat so strongly inside. "I want to heal it, but if you must heal somewhere away from me then…I can let you go but I…If you left I think I'd fall apart because you're the only thing that's been keeping me whole all of this time."

"Kaoru-dono…" It was all he could manage to say, as she spoke with such praise for him – him, the once lonely rurouni who figured he'd never have a place to go once he left the only home he had ever had. Kenshin always had thought that that was how he would have to live the rest of his life – unloved entirely by all he met along his travels. And now, here before him, he was able to hold onto something at last. Something that would hold him up as much as he would her. Something that had actually learned to love him, with every fractured piece of her heart. "This one," he whispered, "is not going anywhere without you. As long as he lives. And as long as she lives." Though it hurt him inwardly to do so, he parted from her so he could catch her gaze and hold onto it as he asked, "If Kaoru-dono doesn't mind, will you allow him to stay with you always?"

Kenshin's eyes glistened as the words rolled off his tongue with a new ease, and he held out his hand to her, her eyes lessening in tears. If she took his hand, that would mean…forever. He smiled, slightly, one that was a rarity for him, but completely genuine. He meant every proposal he had just made.

Kamiya's eyes widened in whole-hearted shock as she gradually wrapped her mind around all his words, his apparent plans for their future. Together. Her heart swum out from the deep waters it had waded into as her thoughts lost their darkness, and stepped into the dryer shores of light. She looked to his outstretched hand with caution, hoping there was no misunderstanding in what he had just asked of her. "Do you mean…that you want me to be your…?"

His smile grew a little. "Kindred spirit." His hand did not waver in its offer to her. He wasn't about to let her give up on him just yet.

The tears turned into a euphoric flow of emotion, and she slowly slid her hand comfortably into his own. "I…accept. I want to always be with you. By your side…always." Her heart pounded and her head raced with much clearer, softer images than those of before. Kamiya was also especially happy to see that this decision was as much his as it was her own, maybe even more so. If this was another chance to heal a wound on his heart, she would take it. She would make her life's devotion solely his, if only it would be enough to make him at ease…at…home.

"Ken-san has chosen not I, not Tomoe-san, but you."

The words lingered in her head a short while, and then stopped when she felt Kenshin's fingers enclose her own, safe and warm. The acceptance that neither of them had to be alone anymore.

They would be with each other, keep each other from falling apart…together…

They would hold each other up.

Always.