Refraction n: the bending of a ray when it passes slantwise from one medium into another in which its speed is different.
"Ah! Welkin! T-the…" I groaned at the sudden awakening and opened my eyes to a very frantic Alicia. Well, at least she looked a lot better today. I smiled and quirked an eyebrow in confusion. What could possibly be troubling her?
"The laundry! You didn't bring it last night!" she whined. I winced in realization. It snowed last night, and I had completely forgotten about the laundry that Alicia left hanging the day before.
So that's what the problem was.
"Welkin! You're so hopeless! Now I have to wash those clothes all over again."
I rubbed my eyes sleepily and glanced at the clock; it was barely five in the morning. Why did she have to wake me up this early for this? "Is that all that's wrong? Okay then." I yawned and lay back down with the intention of going back to sleep. I felt Alicia shake me awake again a moment later.
"I've been so busy lately that all of my clothes were in that last load..." She trailed off with a blush and continued, "I have nothing to wear!"
My eyes snapped open. Alicia didn't have any fresh clothes to wear? Uh oh… Bad thoughts, bad thoughts… I sat up abruptly, the urgency of the situation finally sinking in, and came face to face with my worrisome fiancée. My eyes unconsciously trailed down only to meet her blanket-covered form. I held back a sigh of disappointment.
"I-I'll just lend you some of my clothes to wear, then. That'd be okay with you, right?" She nodded in response. I climbed out of bed and trudged over to my dresser with a red-faced Alicia in tow. I handed her a random shirt and went back to sit on the edge of my – er, our bed. My face instantaneously erupted in flame when Alicia dropped the blanket she was wrapped in and slipped into my shirt. Memories of the other night flashed in my drowsy mind. There was no way I was going to get back to sleep tonight.
I fidgeted while Alicia fumbled with the buttons of my shirt. Her underwear was still visible through the opening of the shirt… I tried to keep my thoughts innocent, but I eventually stopped trying when my tired mind came to the conclusion that I was entitled to have these thoughts about her. We'd be getting married in time, so there wasn't really a problem with this situation. My train of thought was unhinged by Alicia's frustrated growl.
"I keep losing the buttonholes in all this fabric!" Alicia looked up at me and seemed to flush with embarrassment. "Welkin…"
I had no idea what came over me, but I stood up from the bed wordlessly and took the button she was currently holding from her dainty fingers. I did up every single button for her without a thought. I suddenly snapped out of my daze and released the fabric of the shirt. Why did my body just move by itself like that?
"Ah... Sorry, Alicia. I – my body just," I spoke the words in a jumbled mess. Alicia just giggled at me and gave my lips a gentle peck.
"Y-you don't need to apologize… So, thank you, Welkin." Alicia seemed just as embarrassed as me. She slowly moved away from me and left the room, presumably to bake some bread. I felt a big grin spread across my face and felt like the happiest fool in Gallia at that moment.
I changed into some fresh clothes as well and followed Alicia out into the kitchen. I silently stood in the doorway and watched her gather ingredients for her bread dough. I didn't feel like making myself known at the moment because Alicia was in her element. I wanted to see firsthand the happiness that baking brought her. She was so absorbed in her work that she didn't notice me until close to an hour had gone by, the first loaves were put in the oven, and the remaining dough had been portioned for the day.
I resisted the urge to smile when Alicia gasped in surprise at seeing me standing so casually in the doorway. I stood up straight and moved to join her in the kitchen. I had to admit, seeing Alicia in only one of my shirts and her apron was pretty alluring. She seemed to realize what was going through my head and quickly but futilely shielded herself with her arms. Her face seemed to grow increasingly hotter as the minutes passed. I softly lifted her arms away from her body and drank in the new view.
"W-Welkin…" Alicia's eyes kept flitting about the room and never seemed to focus on me. I moved closer and glided my lips over her ear. I could feel her shudder under my touch.
"Don't be embarrassed. You're so beautiful," I whispered into her ear tenderly. I didn't know what was taking hold of everything I did, but with results like these, I wasn't about to stop it any time soon. I trailed my lips down to her neck and reveled in satisfaction at the sharp gasp she let out. I planted a quick kiss there before I pulled away to take in the effect I had on her.
I couldn't help the smug grin that came when Alicia desperately pulled me back for a long kiss. This kiss wasn't just one of those innocent pecks we'd been sharing lately either. Our lips met hungrily and only broke away for seconds at a time for air. I tightened my hold on her, determined not to let her go. She seemed to share my sentiments and refused to loosen her hold on me as well.
The chime of the timer broke us apart in a flash. How long had we been at that? One look at the clock told me that it was nearly seven in the morning now. Time always seemed to fly by like that whenever we were together. The bread was out in moments and before I knew it, Alicia was shooing me out of the kitchen.
"I need to be able to actually concentrate on breakfast. I don't want to burn it, you know?"
I tentatively complied with her request and sat at the table with Hans for what felt like forever. The plump porcavian even seemed to give me all-knowing looks every now and then. I patted his head absentmindedly while we waited for our meal. Finally, Alicia appeared in the doorway with a smile more vibrant than normal
"Breakfast is ready!" Alicia brought out several plates full of food and started giving everyone their servings. My stomach growled at the sight of fresh food on my plate. I gave Alicia a speedy "Thanks," and dug in. It was delicious as usual.
I gathered my bag and coat after I had eaten my fill because I had classes to attend today. I was reluctant to go, but the fact that Alicia would be waiting for me when I came back was all I needed to propel myself to the door. Alicia met me at the door before I could go and gave me a hug and a chaste kiss. She smiled up at me with the slightest hint of a blush.
"I'll be sure to make lunch for you today. I promise."
I felt a wave of warmth sweep over me before settling in my chest. I returned her smile and headed out the door. She knew just how to make me fall even more in love with her every day.
The morning was an immense blur in my memory, but I had still somehow managed to take good enough notes during the lectures. I scanned the points that the professor had emphasized on the way home for lunch. I needed to make sure I was ready for the finals in a little over a month. My mind did a double take at the thought; Alicia's exam was around the same time as mine. I became so lost in thought that I didn't realize that I was just standing outside the door of our home. I shook everything from my mind and just entered the house as the only thing that mattered to me right now was lunch with Alicia. And, true to her word, she did have lunch ready.
As expected, the rest of the day once again went by in a flash. I noticed that I only seemed completely aware of the moments I shared with Alicia. When I entered the house once again, I was greeted by the sight of Alicia studiously preparing for her exam. I felt some part of me soften at her determination and tiptoed past her. Dinner lay on our modest dining table in all of its glory and beckoned me not to let it go to waste. I heeded its request and ate in deliberate silence, so I wouldn't disturb Alicia in the next room.
I set a portion of dinner aside for her and washed the rest of the dishes. Afterward, I went to our room to study as well. Hours passed as I stared at my hasty writing, and I diligently studied all of my notes until I felt my eyelids begin to droop. A lazy glimpse of the clock told me that it was close to eleven o'clock. I stretched and let out a weary yawn before I stripped out of my day clothes.
At that moment, Alicia entered the room with a sleepy yawn of her own. I tried not to smile at her embarrassment and instead carried on with my task of changing into comfortable clothing for the night. I handed Alicia a nightshirt while I was at it and climbed into bed. I made sure to leave some room for her to climb in next to me. As soon as she was changed, she wordlessly joined me and curled into my side. I absently wrapped an arm around her and played with her hair.
"Why don't we have our wedding when you pass your exam?"
"Isn't that a little soon? We haven't really planned any of it yet…" I wasn't going to let that excuse deter me.
"We could have our friends help plan it."
"But aren't most of them in Bruhl repairing your – um, I mean our house?" I almost thought I could see her face flush in the darkness. I rolled onto my side to face her.
"Well, I know for a fact that Largo and Eleanor are still here in Randgriz."
"Rosie's still here, too."
"So, let's ask them if they want to help plan the wedding. I heard that the repairs on the house are almost done anyway."
"We'll be able to move in right after the wedding then!" I couldn't help but smile at Alicia's newfound excitement. I pulled her against my chest and kissed her forehead.
"That's the spirit."
After that fateful conversation, the rest of the month seemed to pass with agonizing slowness, but it was all worth it. The members of the now disbanded Squad Seven seemed thrilled at the thought of helping us plan our wedding. As a result, the remaining repairs to our house were made with surprising haste. It seemed like everyone wanted to take some part in planning the wedding. Everyone from the challenge-loving Vyse to the pacifist Susie was involved in the planning. Only occasionally would they pull either Alicia or me aside for things like fittings or just to ask our opinions about different flowers or arrangements.
When the week of my finals arrived, I had nothing to worry about. On the contrary, I had something to look forward to: our wedding. Thankfully, the exams weren't as hard as I had anticipated. I arrived home that day feeling almost as confident as I did when I had proposed to Alicia the first time. All that remained were my results, Alicia's exam, and the wedding that everyone had planned to be right after it.
While I sat comfortably with Alicia on the bed that night, I was suddenly reminded of my best friend Faldio who didn't have the chance to take his exams or be my best man at our ceremony. Thoughts of my younger sister Isara flitted through my mind as well. The war had taken some of the most important people in my life away, but being with Alicia… I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Guilt occasionally ate at me for being able to find such happiness, but whenever we were together, everything just disappeared.
Alicia glanced up at me curiously. "Is something wrong, Welkin?"
I pulled the love of my life closer and sighed, "Yeah, but… I'm sure it'll pass with time."
Alicia seemed to understand what I was referring to and accepted it with a thoughtful kiss. "Just remember that I won't be going anywhere."
I nodded in agreement and smiled down at her. "I wouldn't let you anyway."
I stared at the books in front of me intently. There was a lot to keep in mind when opening a bakery; there was the business aspect and the cooking aspect of doing such a thing. I was confident in my kitchen mannerisms, but I felt that I didn't fully understand what owning an actual business entailed. I let out a weary sigh and shut the book I had been scanning until just a moment ago because this was harder and more complicated than I initially thought.
Hans nudged my bare knee and reminded me of my current state of dress. I had been wearing one of Welkin's shirts all day long. The events related to this particular shirt sent chills up my spine in remembrance. Welkin had been so… forward this morning because of it. I felt the heat blossom throughout my body and the goose bumps tingle on my skin when I remembered just how passionate he had looked when our bodies had seemingly melded together. I could've sworn my body was about ready to die from the sheer happiness; I slapped my cheeks to bring myself back to the world of the living. Hans was staring at me expectantly, as if willing me to put everything away and follow him.
I gathered my books and stacked them all neatly in the corner, an insistent Hans prodding at my heels every couple of steps of the way. As soon as the books were out of my hands, he guided me to the kitchen where my meal was already portioned and covered. I glanced around the kitchen in search of the rest of the dishes only to realize that they had been washed and put away. I scratched my head in bewilderment because I didn't remember Welkin walking through the door. He must've slipped in and done everything silently while I was engrossed in the reading material. As soon as my suspicions were all put to rest, Hans pushed me back toward my meal.
"Thank you," I whispered and ate my food. Both Welkin and Hans were concerned about me, which made me smile. We were like a little family… No, we were family. Hans seemed to understand what was going through my mind and let out a content grunt.
I finished up in a matter of minutes, and I washed the rest of the dishes. As soon as my last chores were taken care of, I followed Hans's command to get some sleep. He insisted on pushing me down the hall to the bedroom. As soon as I was at the door, Hans stuck his nose up in the air with a satisfied "Moink!" and turned back the way we came. I giggled at his thoughtful behavior and opened the door with a yawn. The sight before me was quite unexpected, though, and I knew my face was on fire as a result.
Welkin was in the middle of undressing, probably to get ready for bed. He didn't seem to mind my stare and instead handed me a nightshirt to change into as well. I uttered a small word of thanks and changed. By the time I was done putting the shirt on, Welkin had already settled into bed. I climbed in next to him and let out a content sigh. A moment had passed before he wrapped an arm around me. I resisted the urge to laugh when he started playing with my hair. The tingling feeling from his hands in my hair tickled!
"Why don't we have our wedding when you pass your exam?" I jolted at the sound of his voice. It took a second to register his proposition. My exam was coming up pretty soon and so were his finals.
"Isn't that a little soon? We haven't really planned any of it yet…" I knew that my weak argument wasn't going to sway him. This was Welkin, after all.
"We could have our friends help plan it." I considered it but recalled that everyone had scattered to help repair the damage inflicted by the recent war. If I remembered correctly, everyone's first goal was to repair the Gunther residence in Bruhl.
"But aren't most of them in Bruhl repairing your –" I cut off in midsentence to correct myself, "um, I mean our house?"
"Well, I know for a fact that Largo and Eleanor are still here in Randgriz."
"Rosie's still here, too."
"So, let's ask them if they want to help plan the wedding. I heard that the repairs on the house are almost done anyway." I felt a tingle of excitement at Welkin's suggestion.
"We'll be able to move in right after the wedding then!" Welkin pulled me closer against his chest and planted a gentle kiss on my forehead.
"That's the spirit," he cheered quietly before we drifted to sleep.
Time had flown by faster than the birds that glided southward through Randgriz's skies, and the next thing I was aware of was the constant thrusting of various fabrics in my face. I could hear Edy and Rosie bickering over which fabric suited me best and the quiet, firm opinion of Marina in the distance. Susie bent over at my right and gave me an apologetic look. I waved her concern away and defiantly stood up, which caught the attention of everyone else. I put my hands on my hips and put on the most serious face I could muster at the moment.
"Doesn't the bride in question get a chance to consider all the fabrics equally?" I asked seriously but couldn't help breaking out into a big smile. All of the tension that had built up between everyone seemed to disappear, and even Rosie and Edy were calming down enough for me to judge the diverse cloths they held.
Eventually, everyone including myself unanimously decided on a beautiful, silky fabric, and the dress fitting went off pretty much without a hitch. Well, that excluded the couple times the seamstress accidentally poked me with needles whenever I jumped at someone's question. They were all awfully nosy about my relationship with Welkin, I noted warily.
When I got home that night, the house was still. Even Hans was fast asleep in his makeshift bed in the corner. I checked the house to make sure it was still in order. There were only a couple dishes that were out of place and several misplaced vegetable peelings. Welkin must've cooked for himself while I was out. I was about to whip something up to eat, but a note caught my attention. There was a quickly sketched butterfly on the corner of it.
"Check the counter to your right," I read aloud. I quirked an eyebrow at its odd request and shrugged. I followed its directions anyway and saw a wrapped plate of food.
"Oh, Welkin," I murmured and carefully placed the note in the cupboard for safekeeping. I took the food thankfully and savored the taste of it. This was Welkin's unique taste, after all.
I tidied up once I was finished and wordlessly went to join my fiancé in the bedroom. I almost thought he was already asleep, but when I slid under the covers next to him, his sturdy arms wrapped around me before my head could touch my pillow. I settled into his side and realized just how well our bodies fit together. It was like we were incomplete if we weren't together.
"I love you," I mumbled drowsily into his chest. When I first realized that it wasn't embarrassing to admit such a thing to him anymore, I was delighted, and right now wasn't any different. His arms tightened around me in response.
"I love you, too."
I couldn't remember many times I had seen Welkin as happy as he was when he got home that day. If I remembered correctly, today was the day the results were posted... My eyes widened in realization. "You passed!"
Welkin's grin only grew at my exclamation. I rushed into his arms and stood there for a good minute. I was completely unsure about what to do next, and he seemed uncertain as well. We stood together like that for an immeasurable amount of time until he pulled away. Before I could protest, his lips were on mine and all complaints I had immediately died on my tongue.
"Alicia," Welkin started slowly and carefully brushed the hair out of my face. "Be sure to do your best."
I nodded and rested my forehead on his shoulder. "Why wouldn't I?" I asked teasingly.
Welkin laughed. "That's right. I forgot who I was talking to for a moment." I felt him pull the ribbon of my headscarf loose. "I know you'll do your best. That's one of Alicia Melchiott's defining features, after all."
I pulled away and jokingly made a face. "That'll be Alicia Gunther in a couple days' time, I'll have you know!"
Welkin's face seemed to turn red at my words, and I felt heat bloom on my face as well. It was all true, though; we'd be joined in matrimony in a number of days that I could count on my fingers. I was snapped out of my trance by the sound of whistling and the sight of Welkin waltzing away with my headscarf. He shot me a playful smirk over his shoulder and bolted into our room.
"Welkin!" I ran after him and saw him sitting innocently on the bed. I tapped my foot impatiently and waited for him to give my accessory back. He shook his head and crossed his arms.
"You're going to have to get it yourself." I decided to play along and tackled him on the bed. In a matter of minutes, pushes and shoves somehow turned into kisses and feather light touches, and everything after that passed in a series of hot flashes.
It all moved so quickly, but it didn't look like Welkin and I were ready to slow down anytime soon anyway. Before either of us was aware of anything, we had already passed the point of no return. Articles of clothing flew off in various directions one by one, as we rolled and tumbled all over the bed. Welkin loomed over me with glazed eyes, and I was sure I couldn't keep my hands off his suddenly bare chest. He made a point to kiss every inch of my skin he could and was sure to pay attention to all of my sensitive spots, namely my ears and neck.
When my head rolled to the side in pleasure with yet another moan, I briefly registered that my beloved headscarf was dangling harmlessly on the door handle. I wanted to smile and laugh at Welkin's cleverness, but he distracted me and brought my attention back to him with a trail of kisses down my neck and my collarbone.
Soon, most of our barriers were shed and we presented each other with the most exotic sights we had ever seen. I don't think I had ever seen Welkin give the most interesting specimen in existence the look he gave me at that moment. I no longer cared that Welkin could see the entirety of my body and actually enjoyed every second of it.
In that instant, I decided that I would give him everything he ever wanted if I could, and the look in his eyes told me that the feeling was completely mutual. We exchanged desperate caresses and were steadily approaching the final wall that stood between us. With a set of swift motions on Welkin's part, we were rapidly plunged into a state of absolute bliss that neither of us had ever experienced before. Through all the intense sensations we shared with one another, I had never wanted anything to last forever as much as that one moment.
A/N: Ooh, it's hot in here. Someone get a fan or something! Anyway, the aftermath of this and the wedding are going to be in the next chapter. I really didn't mean to take this long in getting the chapter out. I didn't have an actual computer of my own to use all through July, and the original chapter four got lost with a good amount of my data. Plus, I've become sidetracked by the VC anime. It made it hard for me to write my fluff with all of its DORAMA! (Anyone else peeved at anime Faldio? He shot Alicia from behind in the chest with his sidearm. His sidearm! I mean what the hell?)
I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read this story so far and even review it. Everyone has helped with their different suggestions and praise. I really feel like I've been able to grow as an author because of the people who were kind enough to point things out, ask questions, encourage me, and even just give me the satisfaction that there are people reading my work. So once again, thank you!
By the way, do you guys think it's time to up the rating? (I'm going to raise it anyway, but I want to know if it's a premature decision or not…)