Author's Note: This story is my first foray into the Tales of Symphonia fandom and is an exercise in trying to write Kratos and Anna. It's also a prequel to a longer story using the oft-used premise of "what if Anna had survived?" but takes it from the perspective of the two adults as they find each other again and deal with the pain and loss of 14 years of separation. Many thanks goes to Tonga and the past few days having very animated discussions over private message!
He allows himself to unseal those feelings once a year. He never makes the effort to track the date on a calendar, he wasn't even sure when it happened according to that method of timekeeping anyhow. But he knows.
He rolled over in bed and reached for her, shock coursing through him when he realized that she's not there and hasn't been for 13 years. An eye cracks open and he stared at the empty spot next to him and he remembers. His hand curled into a fist and he drove it into the mattress, frustrated with himself that he forgot once more. They'd only been together a few precious years, not even one percent of his life. But it was long enough that if he didn't take care to lock his feelings away, he would turn and expect to hear her laughter and teasing, to have a child's chubby arms lock around his leg and beg for a ride on his back.
He closed his eyes and, for this one night, allows the tears to come. One, then two slip over his cheek and splash onto the pristine white sheets. He took a deep breath after the second and steeled his emotions once more before pushing himself up. It's not like he needed that much sleep to begin with.
She allows herself to unseal those feelings once a year. Not long after her rescue, she asked the dwarf who saved her to track the date on a calendar. He obliged, and since then she was always aware of the anniversary. But, she had a feeling that even if she didn't use that particular method of timekeeping that she would know.
She rolled over in bed and grabbed the extra pillow, hugging it close to her as she gives into her tears. She buried her face in the pillow, muffling her sobs so that her son wouldn't hear and worry. Even after 13 years, the pain hadn't gone away. She thought at one point that she would be able to move on with her life. She had been courted by the father of her son's best friend, but she couldn't bring herself to return his feelings except in friendship. After all, she was still married, and she was still passionately in love with her husband.
It would always happen at the most unexpected moments. She would hear the door open and turn, expecting to see him staring at her with a slight, bemused smile. Even after they had been together several years, he acted like he had no idea how to handle her and that fact never failed to amuse her.
After a few minutes of crying, she pushed herself up and rubbed at her eyes. There would be no sleep for her tonight.
The door to his quarters slid quietly open and he saw Yuan standing on the other side. His eyebrow raised.
His friend slightly inclined his head. "It's that night, isn't it?"
"Yes," came the curt reply as he strode by the half-elf and Kratos Aurion headed for the stars.
"Mom?" Lloyd's sleepy voice floated down from the loft where he slept. "You okay?"
It took a moment, but she was fairly sure she sounded normal. "Go back to sleep, Lloyd. I'm just stepping outside for a bit," she said and Anna Irving headed for the stars.
Lloyd sat up in bed and watched her go out. Then, frustrated, he flopped back down. He hated this day of the year.
The portal flared brightly as he passed through, then he was suddenly over Sylvarant. He simply floated there, hungry eyes taking in the landscape where he had last seen his family. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to grieve, the loneliness all but consuming him.
She had snagged a shawl off the back of the chair and was bundled into it now. She hugged herself tightly as she stared at the stars, wondering if he was up there somewhere.
He let himself remember the feel of her in his arms, how she smelled and tasted. The little noises that she made when he trailed his lips down her neck. His amusement whenever she tried to tug his clothes off then throw her hands up as she grumbled over angelic tailoring. How she would gaze down at him, eyes blazing as she seized control from him and showed him how much she loved him.
He never had anyone love him as much as she did.
She let herself remember the feel of him in her arms, of his long hair tickling her skin as he nibbled on her neck. How his eyes lost focus as they came together and the look of sheer wonder on his face every single time as he stared down at her. How he always buried his face into the crook of her neck and held her so tightly that she wondered if he thought she would be ripped away from him. How, despite his remote exterior, she would catch him staring at her in the middle of the crowd with such a hungry look in his eyes that she wanted to drag him into the first empty room they could find.
She never had anyone love her as much as he did.
She was dead. There was nothing he could do about that.
He wasn't dead. But, if what she figured had happened was true, then there was nothing she could do about his disappearance.
A pinpoint of light flared and Yuan was suddenly beside him. "Mithos is asking for you," he murmured. "You better get moving."
Kratos took a deep breath, then gave a bitter laugh. "He knows too, doesn't he?"
"Of course. I highly doubt even he would dismiss this night."
"Well, then. Time for my annual lecture on how I shouldn't waste my time mourning inferior beings." With one last, longing look at Sylvarant, Kratos followed Yuan back to Welgaia.
The door opened and Lloyd stepped out. "Mom? Think you should come in."
Anna dragged in several breaths, then scrubbed at her eyes for a moment before smiling at Lloyd. "I'm fine. It's not that cold out."
"It's not that ..." Lloyd shuffled nervously, then pulled her into a hug. "It's okay, Mom. I miss him too."
"I know." She returned the embrace, holding onto what was left of her family. "Thank you. Come on. I'll fix us pancakes for breakfast." With one last, longing look at the stars, Anna walked arm in arm with Lloyd back into the house.
It was one year until Colette Brunel would accept the Oracle.
Then everything would change.