A/N: This came out much longer than I had anticipated, but there was a certain pace that couldn't be rushed and it turned into another monster. I want to thank everyone who has been following this series. It's been a long journey and I'm very sad to say good bye to it. I'm not sure how everyone is going to react to this, but I hope you enjoy figuring it out as you go along.
Porro is Latin for "forward, further".
Day and Night combine to create the Eclipse of a new era. A new world has begun.
So read the lines that they had been able to translate within the first few months of the recovery efforts of the ancient texts. They had been able to uncover many of things since then, but those two lines always stuck with her somehow. Most thought they applied to Noctis and Stella. She wasn't one of them. Stella was the shining light within Noctis' night. She had never been a creature of the day, but a being of the night. So she does not think that applied to Stella. Others thought that this was the friendship of Noctis and Sol. It suited better, she supposes, but the two men were not the best of friends. They didn't fight nearly as much as they used to and they were close, but nothing so spectacular as to bring about a new world or a new era. So that couldn't have been it either.
Noctis once said told them about that eventful week that he had finally risen to power. Of how his Crystal, the Final Crystal, had died by the end of that journey. Then his new one had arisen within him. He said that he had felt it when each of their Crystals had activated for the first time. That he was personally linked to each of them in such a way had been exciting to hear. He said that the sun had been rising when this happened. The golden rays of the sun began to stretch across the barren land just outside Nihilsomno and he had felt like the words said. Night had fallen and Day was approaching. A new era had begun after that. They had all joined together and set up a new order. It had made sense to her a little. Then there had been the Eclipse that had finally united them fully so that they could banish Etro into slumber. It could have applied then too, but she doesn't feel like a new world had begun.
It must be something yet to come, she thinks. It must be, because she thinks that those words apply to certain people and she has not seen anyone that would fit that. She looks forward to the day that she will, so she would be able to see the results of these hopeful lines. She has a sneaking suspicion she knows what it means already. She just wasn't going to tell anyone for fear of getting anyone's hopes up. The world they had redesigned was coming along, but not quite there yet. There were still many dangers lurking around and plenty of enemies that would love to see the collapse of the Crystal Bearers. There had been battles and there had been rebellions. She is sure that they will rise again and she did not have to have special powers to see that.
Despite what any rumor may say, her gift had never been the telling of the future. True, there had been numerous times that she had seen things as they would turn out, but to her, those things had been obvious. Her gift had always been a keen understanding of how things worked and how things would work out. That and along with protection. Her gifts were not very good when forced to do battle but it was definitely useful to those that could do the actual fighting.
The years had been full of many changes and many new developments. New and exciting things that had often called for the reuniting of the Crystal Bearers. She loves these times when they are all together again. It was always so much fun when they were around each other. Being around the people that had become her family made her feel at home. The feeling was the same no matter where they were, just so long as they were all together. It also gave her chances to see him.
A year after Noctis and Stella got married, she received the announcement that Astra would be marrying Fulgur. The year after that Grando married a lady from his court. Ten months after that, they were back to see Grando's first child. It had not really been a surprise, but she had see the longing in Stella's eyes when she looked at the bubbling baby girl with Grando's eyes. Astra gave birth to a girl five months later. She doesn't think she's ever seen Fulgur look that terrified before. He was usually so good at being detached. So of course he was his daughter's favorite person. There had been other events that the Crystal Bearers had attended together through the years, but she did not always get to see him there. She hasn't seen him in a long time now.
She'd just been a little girl when they had first met. Or still too much of one for him to notice in that way at the time. Not that she had thought of him that way at first either. There had been so many people that had fascinated her equally those early years. There had always been something about him though. Different in a way that had her always keeping an eye out for him, even when she did not feel as she does now. Eventually he had just fascinated her in a way that only someone that you fancied could. It was definitely a kind of hero worship at first. He was older, more knowledgeable, often overlooked but always counted on. Much like she was. Then it had deepened two years ago. That had also been the last time that she saw him.
It was little over five years after Stella's wedding when the announcement finally came. The announcement that she and Noctis were finally expecting their first child. The news quickly spread and became a worldwide phenomenon. Nobody would talk of anything else for the next five months. They even got a letter from Des, asking Vitrum if he wanted to join in a pool they had going on, whether it was a boy or a girl. At her suggestion, Vitrum had placed his money on a boy since the odds were so high against it. It was rumored that the Crystal Bearers were all cursed to only have daughters and not sons. Which she thought was absolutely idiotic. Okay so maybe there only had been girls born to the Crystal Bearers but a curse had nothing to do with it. No matter how baseless though, the rumor never went away. It was talked of frequently on the tabloids with bold, flashy letters to keep it on everyone's minds.
When she found out that because of this, the public began to put a heavy amount of pressure on Stella to give their country a son, she made up her mind that she was going straight to Nihilsomno. The people of Nihilsomno were the most superstitious of people, so naturally they would be the most effected by the threat of a curse. In turn they had begun to almost demand that tests be taken. Most wanted to make sure that it was a son. It made her worry about Stella, someone who she considered an older sister. Right now was not the time to be plaguing her with demands. At this rate, she could very well lose the child from the sheer amount of stress. She wouldn't let that happen. It had taken five long years for Stella to stay pregnant in the first place, who knows how long it would take her again if she lost it.
It was during her trip over that she realized that going to Nihilsomno meant that she would also see him too. She would be seeing him again after not seeing him for so long. Then she had started to get nervous. Being nervous wasn't going to work when it would make it obvious that she had feelings for him. She had seen girls who were like that. Girls that were shameless in their feelings and she wishes she could be more like that. It just wasn't in her to be. Besides, she didn't want him to know. It would be completely mortifying if he found out and told her he could only see her as a baby sister. Even though, she had grown up, but sometimes that simply didn't matter. Sometimes people did not accept that you had grown up no matter how old you got. The other Crystal Bearers still treated her that way, but from them, she didn't mind it. He was the only one that she would mind being treated like that from.
"And who is this lovely thing?" a familiar voice says behind her. Even after so many years, a grin still appears on her face at the sound.
She turns around quickly and is ready to fly into his arms for a hug when she notices the look on his face. It wasn't that his face looked very different. He did look a bit older. No, it was the unfamiliar look in his eyes.
He didn't recognize her.
"Do you have a name, Doll?" Des asks with a charming grin.
She's never seen him grin quite like that before. She doesn't know whether to be happy about this or not. Yes, she had wanted to prove that she was no longer a little girl but she wanted them to know that it was her!
"You should know my name, Des," she manages to say. She grins at him like she always had or hopes at least it looks that way.
"Are we going to play a name game?" he asks with a teasing tone now.
He's never teased her in that way before.
"You don't recognize me, do you?"
No, she can already tell that he didn't and she's not sure what she's going to do.
"Hello Mira," she hears just behind her before she sees Sapien walk by. He's not even looking at her but looking at something in his handheld. But even with half his attention, he still knew it was her.
She immediately feels deflated.
"Hello Sapien," she answers as she looks back at Des.
"Guh... uh... what?" sputters Des as he stares at her wide eyed.
"Here to give Stella some back up are you?" asks Sapien, ignoring the gawking look that Des is giving her, with a warm and welcoming smile on his face.
"Yes," she answers quietly as her heart begins to race and she looks back hesitantly at Des.
Des starts waggling his finger at her, but he can't quite speak yet.
"You've grown up, Mira," says Sapien as he tilts his head to look at her. His glass covered eyes smile at her as his lips curve. "To become very beautiful, like I knew you would."
"Cutie pie!?" Des finally manages to blurt out.
"What is wrong with you?" asks Sapien, looking at Des with a frown.
"I really should be getting along to see Stella," she says because she feels completely mortified. She steps back from the both of them. "I'll see you both later."
The last word almost comes out like a squeak but she is too busy fighting a blush to think about how her voice had almost spiked. She doesn't miss the words that are spoken as she makes her way down the hall.
"That was Mira?" guffaws Des.
"You idiot," reprimands Sapien in his dry voice. "How could you not tell it was her?"
That is all she hears before she's too far away to hear anymore. That was definitely not how she had pictured seeing him again would be like. She's not sure how she's going to look either one of them in the face. Des had been hitting on her and Sapien had walked in on it! All that had been missing was Vires and who knows how that would have turned out. She needed to see Stella and she needed to see her quickly.
"Mira, honey!" cries Stella in delight as she sees her. She's sitting on a large, plush couch within her rooms. "Look at you!"
"Look at you!" she cries back as she takes a look at her older sister. "Stella, you're absolutely beautiful!"
"Absolutely humungous you mean," laments Stella as she sits back. "Come here, sweetie and give me a hug!"
She runs into Stella's arms and buries her face on her shoulder. She almost wants to cry from how worried she's been over her.
"Do not listen to Noctis," says Stella as she pulls away to look at her face. "I am not fragile just because I am a walking incubator."
"Oh but you are fragile," she protests. "We can't let anything happen to you."
"Nothing will happen to me," is the firm reply. "Just because I am as big as a house does not mean I move like one."
Her wine colored eyes look down at Stella's stomach and almost cries again. To know that Noctis and Stella would soon be having a child made her feel so happy inside.
"He just wants to see you safe," she answers. "But you're right. He shouldn't be so protective."
Stella sighs sadly. "He is worried because of what happened the last time."
"Don't think about that. You weren't even in a full term then."
"I had not been able to conceive again until now," answers Stella mournfully.
"This baby is coming and it is going to be healthy," she answers firmly. "I know it will."
"I know it will too," agrees Stella. "It is already like Noctis. Stubborn, strong and straining."
She giggles at the description.
"Does it kick very hard?"
"It makes me wonder if Noctis was this impatient to be born," answers Stella as she smiles down at her belly. Her hands gently run over the surface. "He is more active when he hears his father's voice."
"It's a boy?" she cries excitedly.
"I think so," says Stella with a nod. "I just have to be careful not to say that to Noctis. He is already so afraid it will not like him."
"Fulgur didn't have a problem, neither should Noctis," she chuckles.
Stella giggles too.
"I know he is a boy. I just know it," says Stella as she looks down at her stomach again. "And he is just like Noctis."
"How do you know for sure?" she asks curiously.
"I have always known that our first child would be a son," says Stella. "I have known it like I knew that Noctis was the man I wanted when I first heard his name."
That was better intuition that she had and she knew hers was pretty good.
Stella sighs again sadly. "I pictured them."
"Them? More than one?"
Stella smiles at her. "Noctis said the same thing when I told him. Yes, them."
"Two," Stella answers. Her eyes have that far away look one gets when they're imagining something.
"Then it will be so," she answers firmly. "It has to be."
Stella's eyes focus to smile at her again. "I knew you would understand, Mira. Other than Noctis, you are the only one that would not tell me that I was merely dreaming."
"I'm sorry you're stuck with me," she apologizes. "I'm sure Astra or Procella would be better."
"Oh hush, I am so glad that you are here," says Stella, grabbing hold of her hand. "Besides, you must tell me. It has been so long since I have seen you. Your hair, your eyes! Sweetie you are stunning."
She blushes at the compliment. "Only you would think so."
"I love what you have done with your hair," says Stella, reaching out to feel the length of it. "It has grown so long and looks feathered out a little."
"It was getting heavy," she explains.
"Your eyes have deepened too," Stella says as she leans in to peer into her eyes. "You will stun him for sure."
"Who?" she asks, almost afraid of what Stella will say.
"Why Des of course," answers Stella.
"I have seen Des," she says evenly.
"Oh?" asks Stella with excitement in her eyes.
"He didn't recognize me," she mumbles.
"What do you mean he did not recognize you?" Stella all but squeaks in indignation. "That loveable idiot. Oh honey."
"He did flirt with me," she adds.
"Sapien interrupted," she says and she knows she's turned a shade of red.
"He did not recognize you either?"
"No, Sapien knew it was me right away," she answers.
"What did Des say?"
"He kind of sputtered a bit," she explains and it embarrasses her almost as much as it did when it happened. "Don't get so upset with him, Stella. Please."
There's a knock at the door and she's glad for the distraction. Stella looked as if she had been getting a little too upset about this.
"Stella? Are you all right?" asks Noctis as he comes walking into the room. "Mira?"
She smiles at him as he stands to greet him.
"Hello Noctis!" she cries, excited to see the one person that could calm Stella down.
He smiles a genuine smile at her before looking at his wife.
"What is the matter?"
"I have upset her," she worries.
"No, Mira," sighs Stella as she smiles up at her husband. "I upset very easily these days. My poor Lord has been forced to run in here every now and then to see that I have not hurt myself."
"She has been a fighter," Noctis comments with a teasing smile at Stella. She watches as he walks over to kiss Stella gently on the forehead.
She can feel the tension in Stella subside and marvels at it. It must be so wonderful to be that way with someone.
"Has Mira not turned out to be a stunning lady?" Stella asks Noctis and they both turn to look at her.
"You have grown up to be a pretty woman," agrees Noctis with a kind smile.
Hearing Noctis say this, she can only feel the brotherly affection it was meant to sound like. It was even in the way that he was looking at her. There was only sibling adoration in his red eyes. From him, she doesn't mind to see it or hear it that way. Noctis was a brother and almost a sort of father sometimes, like Stella was an older sister almost mother. She loves them in a similar way. But she does mind it when it is being said along with sputters from Des. How was she going to face Des and Sapien again? She can already feel the blush of mortification just thinking about it.
"You both are too good to me," she says in response.
"Have you see the rest of the guys?" asks Noctis.
Oh dear, did everyone already know?
"I saw Des and Sapien earlier," she replies.
"It has been a long time since they have seen Mira," says Stella.
"When I just turned eighteen," she answers. It was when she had contracted a mysterious fever. They had all assembled to find her a cure. They being Noctis, Stella, Sapien, Des and Vires. Her fever had gotten so high that she had, had to cut her hair to almost around her ears. It was while she was so sick that she realized how deeply she felt about him. Everyone had been there when she had recovered, but Stella and Noctis, along with his brothers had been the ones to find the cure. She is sure that they're all thinking about it now. To them it might have been nothing on their part to save her life, but to her it had meant everything. That they were people that would never act as if she owed them a debt of gratitude made her feel it even more so.
"How old are you now?" asks Noctis with that same brotherly smile.
"Des was right," Noctis says to Stella. "She did grow to be a heartbreaker."
Des had said that? When?
"Des did not recognize her," Stella tells Noctis and she looks irritated and almost embarrassed at the same time.
Noctis' red eyes frown as he looks at Stella in disbelief.
Stella nods at his silent question and they both turn to look at her together.
"That thoughtless idiot," sighs Noctis with a shake of his head, because he knows right away, what must have happened. She can tell that he does not laugh for her sake and she loves him even more for it. "You are going to have to excuse him. You know how he can be."
"I know," she says, because she did. "I had better get back to my rooms. I rushed over to see Stella before I could unpack."
"Oh! You darling," cries Stella. "You did not have to be in that much of a rush. You need your rest after your long journey here. I will see you after you refresh up."
Both she and Noctis smile at her before Noctis stands to walk her to the door. It gives her a moment to tell him what she knew he needed to hear.
"You don't have to worry about Stella, Noctis," she whispers to him so that Stella does not hear.
"To lose the child is one thing, but to lose Stella…"
"You won't lose either," she promises him.
He manages a wane smile but she can tell that he's taken a little bit of comfort at her words. She pats him on the shoulder before she walks through the door. It's a relief to tell him that. She knows he more than Stella is aware of the things being said and he gets the brunt of the pressure. Having a child should be a happy event, not something to cause needless worry. It shouldn't matter whether it was a boy or a girl. Either one would be a blessing to two people who wanted children as much as they did. The nerve of people. How dar…
"Omph!" the breath gets knocked out of her as she collides with another body. Two hands grab hold of her shoulders to steady her.
"So sorry, Mira," says Sapien. "Didn't see you."
She already knew why he hadn't. The reason was lying on the carpet at their feet.
"I should have been paying attention too," she says as she watches him kneel down to pick up his ever present handheld. "Are you on your way to see Noctis?"
"Yes, have you seen him?"
"He's with Stella."
"Oh," he says with a knowing sigh. Then he looks down at her. "Where are you off to in such a huff?"
"To my rooms," she says. "I have to unpack."
"Mind if I walk you to your rooms?"
"Of course not," she says, but inside she wants to refuse. All she can think about is him catching Des trying to make a pass at her and she knew what was going to come next.
They begin to walk when his handheld beeps, signaling an incoming message. There is never a time that he does not get a message on that thing. So it surprises her when he pushes the ignore button and puts it into his pocket. The silence that follows is even more painful than if he had started teasing her. Maybe he was waiting for the right leeway.
"You don't have to hold back, you know," she says to try and get it out of him sooner. The sooner it was done with, the sooner she could put it behind her.
"Hold what back?" he asks curiously.
"I know you're going to tease me about what happened with Des."
"Oh that," he responds with that same dry voice that he always used. "I might be saving that for a rainy day."
Of course he would. Sapien was never a big teaser, but he did have his moments and he wouldn't pass this moment.
"That will be one for the books," he comments with a smirk, but he isn't looking at her when he says it. "Dummy never did learn to stop and think before speaking."
But it was what everyone loved about him. His brash statements that were completely inappropriate.
"I didn't mean to surprise him so badly," she says in a small voice.
"He shouldn't have been surprised to begin with," he replies and she can't tell whether he's annoyed or amused.
They reach her doors at last. As much as she should have enjoyed her time with Sapien, she's too mortified to.
"I'm sure you'll get used to it," he says looking down at her with a smile.
"Get used to it?" she asks.
"If Des didn't recognize you, I'm sure Sol won't either," he explains and she can't tell if he's teasing her or not.
What if Sol didn't recognize her either? Sol and Des were the worst flirts she had ever met. Des was at least endearing, Sol would be…
"You don't like the idea?" he asks, breaking her out of her panic. It sounds like more of a statement rather than a question. He's looking at her the same way he had before. Not brotherly and not romantically. Just looking at her, carefully.
"I like Sol very much," she says and then she hesitates because she doesn't remember what she was going to say after that.
"He isn't all that bad," he replies. She's sure he thinks he's being helpful.
She looks up at him skeptically. Which makes him laugh softly in response.
"There you are, Mira," he says smiling.
"What do you mean?"
"You haven't given me that look in a long time," he tells her.
"Open skepticism when there is no convincing you," he answers with a smile. "I thought the look was gone forever."
The statement makes her blink her eyes dumbly as she tries to figure out what he means.
"It's good to know that not all of you has changed," he says with that same smile.
"But I have changed," she says and she tries her best not to make it sound like a whine.
"Not where it matters," he says and he gives her that careful look again. "You're older now. I'm going to have to get to know you all over again."
She doesn't know how to respond to that. She wonders if she did change on the inside too.
"Well, I've seen you to your room," he says, reaching into his pocket to bring out his handheld. She's stunned to realize that he had silenced the thing during their walk. She watches as he pauses to read a few messages quickly. "Noct's had enough time with Stella. There are things that I need to talk to him about."
She nods at him. Sapien was always the busiest of the three.
"I'll see you later, Mira," he says with another smile.
"Bye, Sapien," she says, slowly. She watches as he starts to go back the way they had just come.
"And don't worry about Des," he says, pausing to look at her over his shoulder. "I'm sure he'll come around."
Was everyone helping her get with Des? How embarrassing. She rushes into her rooms and leans against the door once it has closed. This was definitely not how she had seen things happening.
She doesn't see anyone else until it's time for dinner. There's a knock at her door and she rushes over in hopes that it's Des, but isn't disappointed when she finds Vires standing on the other side of the door. His kind brotherly face beams proudly down at her as he virtually lifts her into a bear hug in greeting. He apologizes for not welcoming her sooner, but he'd been busy outside the city all day. They talk all the way down to the hall and she temporarily forgets to be nervous. That is, until they reach the doors leaning into dinner.
"What's the matter, Little One?" asks Vires.
"Just being silly," she says, shaking her head at herself.
"You were never the silly sort," he replies, looking at her.
"You didn't talk to anyone did you?" she asks hesitantly.
He has a genuinely clueless look on his face that puts her at ease. At least he didn't know yet. "Oh, nothing," she rushes out. "Let's get to dinner."
He gives her another worried look before giving her arm a comforting squeeze. It does make her feel better and she smiles appreciatively at him. He pushes the door open for her and she walks into the room.
She's not sure if she's saved or not when she realizes that Des and Sapien are not at dinner. One of the messages he had ignored while he was walking with her had been a request for his presence somewhere and Des had gone with him. Noctis hadn't been sure how long they were going to take but they would definitely not be coming back in time for dinner. She does enjoy the evening after that. She and Stella do most of the talking while Noctis and Vires mostly listen. It had been a pleasant meal that made her feel comfortable in a way that she hadn't felt comfortable in a long time. Back home, most nights she had to eat alone because her schedule and Vitrum's schedule were so conflicting. He had even less time now that he had begun to pursue a mysterious lady. Mysterious because he refused to tell her who it was. It wouldn't be long before he told her he was going to be married. She's already mentally prepared herself for that.
Dinner passes and she spends the rest of her evening with Stella, while Noctis has to see to a few things. She's grateful when Stella doesn't mention boys at all or asks. Instead she insists that Stella show her the nursery and the gifts that they had already gotten as congratulations. To say that they had received a lot of gifts would have been understating it. They had needed a separate room just to house all the well wishes they had received from around the world. Not just from other kingdoms, but from the public. It made her sad and a little bit angry that they had all gotten her things that were pink. The child hasn't even been born yet. They could have settled for more neutral tones. Strangely, Stella doesn't seem to mind this. She's already had the gifts separated by color in each part of the room and seemed thankful for all of them.
"It doesn't really matter about what colors are in the nursery, Mira," Stella tells her.
"Why?" she thinks Noctis may not want pink in his son's room.
"I don't plan on using it that much at first and by the time we do, he wouldn't be able to fit anything anyway," answers Stella.
"Where will the baby go then?"
"He's going to be with us, in our room," answers Stella. "These rooms are too far away and I don't want to ever miss his cries."
That makes her smile. Stella was too nurturing to ever be kept from her child. Noctis was fiercely protective and suspicious so he wouldn't have wanted their child out of his sight either.
"What are you going to do with all the baby girl stuff?"
Stella merely smiles a secret smile before saying, "I am going to save it."
She'd gone back to her rooms shortly after that. The events of the day were starting to wear her out. She just hoped that she'll be able to sleep because her mind began to replay the entire day over and over again now that she was alone. That first night, she had fallen asleep thinking about Des' stunned surprise, Stella's happiness, Noctis' worry, Vires' kindness and Sapien's words.
Whatever thing Sapien and Des had, had to oversee had been longer than they had anticipated. They didn't come back that night and they didn't come back the following day either. Noctis received word that they probably would be away for a week. A week without seeing him. She'd gone two years without seeing him, maybe a week wouldn't be so bad. Seven days were a small portion to the almost seven hundred and thirty that she hadn't. But at least at home, she had other things to keep her preoccupied. She had her duties that kept her busy, but with her being in Nihilsomno with only Stella for real company, the hours seemed like days and a day seemed like a year. Noctis didn't have the time to spend with her and Vires tried his best but he was busy with his duties too. So besides the occasional favor that Stella had asked of her, she had a lot of time to think over that first day. She should have been more witty. She should have taken the opportunity to be more attractive in the short amount of time that he had been there. Instead she had just… done nothing.
The week had finally finished and she had been all but ready to fly at them once they returned. She tried not to show just how excited she was. Tried not to show just how much she had been counting down the hours until it would be the day he would return.
"There you are!" she hears cried from somewhere near the entrance. She had been outside in the garden, putting together a bouquet to cheer up Stella, since she had worn herself out earlier in the morning with her duties as Queen. The sound of the voice almost causes her to drop the flowers she had already been holding. "Oh hey there now. Didn't mean to startle you."
"Des, you're back!" she cries, despite herself.
"It really is you, Cutie pie," Des marvels as he stands close to take a long look at her. The hesitation and surprise were gone from his face and she was so happy to see his usual mischievous grin instead.
"Tried to tell you," she says almost shyly.
"I thought you were being coy," Des says with a hearty laugh. "I've been waiting this whole long week to get here fast enough to tell you how much of a dolt I was."
"You don't have to," she answers quickly. "I already know you're a dolt."
"HA!" Des cries out in a laugh. "I'm going to have to call you something else now cause 'Cutie Pie' isn't going to cut it."
"Well, while you think about it, can you help me pick some flowers for Stella?" she asks, turning around to continue her search.
"Wouldn't know a thing about flowers, honey," Des responds with a shrug. "How about I keep a watch for any unsavory men ready to snatch you away?"
"You'd be one of them," growls Vires within the doorway.
She fights the laugh as Des sputters. While they spend the next few minutes insulting each other, she picks the rest of the flowers for Stella. When they are still fighting, she grabs Vires' arm and starts to lead him away from Des.
"Hey!" Des protests as he walks on the other side of her. "How come he gets to have you on his arm?"
"So I don't smack you over the head with it," growls Vires.
"Take your best shot Grumpy Pants!" challenges Des.
She tightens her hold on Vires' suddenly tense arm and the three of them start to walk back inside.
"Don't you even feel guilty?" asks Vires.
"For what?" asks Des.
"Leaving Sapien to hurry back," answers Vires.
"What?" she asks looking at Des. He'd left Sapien to hurry and see her?
"Sapien said I could come back on time," Des says in defense. "I didn't abandon him or anything."
"If there was still work to be done, you should have stayed with him," says Vires.
"The work was done," says Des.
"Then why didn't he come back with you?" she asks curiously.
"Can't understand the brainiac sometimes," Des says with a shrug. "Stell's gonna pop any day now and we all have to be here to make sure Noct doesn't blow up the city in his panic when she does."
Stella appreciated the flowers. The look that brightened up her face when she saw them had Mira vowing she would bring her flowers every day that she could not go outside herself, until the child was born. The next two days, went by quicker than the previous week. She spent her time with Stella until the afternoons when Stella began to take her nap. Stella who had never taken naps before she was pregnant was exasperated that she needed them now. She had Mira giggling behind her hand as she grumbled about being confined and forced to waste time sleeping.
During Stella's afternoon naps, Des would keep her company. Today he had convinced her to walk around the city with him instead of staying within the castle walls. The idea of being outside with Des had her so excited it didn't really take much convincing. She had even made sure to dress up a little in a nice summer dress so that she could enjoy the soft summer breeze as they walked.
"Gorgeous pie, doesn't sound very good does it?" Des had asked when he took a look at her.
She'd answered with a laugh and a shake of her head.
Walking the streets of Nihilsomno, you could feel the life within the city. It was hard to describe. The city had a vibe to it that just energized you. People seemed to walk tirelessly through the streets and there was a never ending supply of sights for you to focus on. During all her visits here, she still doesn't think she's seen all of it and she knows that she never will. Even in the areas that she had been before, there was always something new to be seen. It was a city of endless fascination and she always looked forward to coming here.
Des bought them ice cream and nearly dropped his second scoop a second later. He had her in fits as he tried to save it from falling to the floor. She almost dropped her own when he gave a shout of triumph when he managed to save it from toppling to the ground. Looking at him, she smiled at how he had never changed. How even as old as he was, he was still a kid at heart. She' never really felt like a kid before. Even when she had been little, she'd never gotten a chance to be carefree like Des always was. It was probably why she loved being with him so much. He brought out the kid in her that she hadn't had a chance to be when she had been just a kid. They were making their way into the main square when Des' phone started to ring.
"Yep?" Des says as he puts the phone to his ear. "Oh! Sorry man! Plain forgot. Huh? I'm with a gorgeous woman. I'm sorry. We'll be right there!" He closes the phone with a sheepish grin.
"We have to go back now?" she asks.
"Sapien's going to have my hide," Des mutters with a scratch of his head.
"Sapien?" she asks in surprise. "He's here?"
"Hm? Yeah, Sapien's been here since yesterday morning."
"He wasn't at dinner."
"Couldn't make it for some reason," answers Des. He puts his arm around her shoulders to lead her back towards the castle. "Sometimes I think he's married to his computers."
Sapien had been back since yesterday morning. It didn't surprise her that she hadn't seen him. He was sometimes busier than Noctis, but he had never been too busy to at least say hello or come to eat with them. It makes her worry about what was going on. It hurt too. She wouldn't deny that to herself. It hurt that not only did nobody think to mention his return to the city, but it also hurt that she hadn't seen him for a complete day. The castle wasn't that big. She is sure she would have run into him.
Des doesn't take his arm away from her shoulders and she doesn't mind that he has it there anyway. He makes an effort to make her laugh as they walk back to the castle as a way of apologizing for cutting their outing short. It doesn't take much. He's always been able to make her laugh. They're already walking through the main entrance of the castle and his arm is still around her shoulders.
"I really do need to give you a new name, Cutie Pie," says Des as he watches her laugh.
"What are you thinking right now?"
"Heartbreaker," Des answers.
"Why?" she asks with a frown.
"Because you break my heart every time you laugh like that," Des answers, before bumping his forehead against hers with a grin.
She laughs at how ridiculous he sounds and swings a fist at his arm.
"Ouch! You got some arms there," Des cries, feigning serious injury. "Oh hey, Sapien!"
She turns her laughing eyes to where Des is facing to see Sapien watching them quietly from the top of the staircase.
"Should have known you were with Mira," says Sapien as he makes his way down to the foray to join them. "When you said gorgeous woman."
"You should have! What other gorgeous woman would there be?" cries Des as he grins at her.
"If you'd said you were with Mira, I wouldn't have told you to get your lazy behind back here so fast," Sapien says dryly before turning to look at her. "I'm sorry, Mira."
"I don't want to keep anyone from what they're supposed to be doing," she says to reassure him that she didn't mind.
"I finally got a new nickname for her, Sapien," says Des. "Heartbreaker!"
Sapien doesn't laugh but he does smile as he looks down at her. "That sounds like a keeper," he agrees. "Especially when she laughs like she was just now."
"That's what I said!" cries Des as he tightens his arm around her shoulder to bring her face closer to his.
"Well since you did come back, I need you to do what you were supposed to do this morning," Sapien says giving Des a knowing look.
"Heh," Des responds, looking guilty this time. "Yes, going right now." He takes his arm from off her shoulders. "Dear Heartbreaker, I'll be seeing you later." He makes a show of pressing his hand to his heart for her before making his way down the hall.
She watches Des as he makes his way down the hall, as carefree as he always was and can't help the smile that comes to her lips as she does. It's more like a laughing smile because she can't help laughing too. She watches Des until he turns the corner before turning to look at Sapien with her smile that was more of a laugh. He's watching her again. Watching her in that way that he had taken to looking at her. It's neither intense or longing, just observing, carefully. She thinks its the same way he'd study the workings of his handheld or computer.
"Welcome home," she says, still retaining the smile on her face.
He smiles at her in response. "Thank you."
"Don't let me keep you," she says. "I know you're busy too."
"Where are you off to?" he asks.
"Oh, um, I haven't made my daily bouquet for Stella yet," she answers. "I think I'll go to the garden."
She smiles at him again before stepping away to make her way towards the garden and is surprised when she hears him follow her outside.
"What sort of flowers have you been taking to her?" he asks, walking beside her.
"Anything cheerful," she answers. "But not Lavender."
"That was going to be my next question," he smiles.
She looks up at him in surprise. "You know about flowers?"
"Not really," he says with a shake of his head. "But I know that Lavender is not good for pregnant or nursing mothers."
"How would you know that?"
He holds up his handheld. "I did all kinds of research about what not to give a pregnant woman."
She laughs in response. Of course that would be how he knew. She feels stupid for even asking. They continue walking until they reach an area of the garden that she hadn't picked from yet.
"It's a shame about that because Stella had lavenders planted all over the garden and now she won't be able to see them because of the baby," he says. "Noctis wanted to have them all pulled and I think Stella almost hit him over the head."
It makes the funniest mental picture and she laughs.
"But I think it was more the pregnancy hormones than Stella," he reasons dryly.
He says it so dryly that it makes her laugh again.
"They're my favorite thing to look at when I come here," she admits when she's gotten control of her laughter. "We don't have any back home." She spies a few white daisies and makes her way towards them. "These are so pretty. I wonder what other colors I can find to go with them," she says absently to herself.
Bending down, she plucks three before pursing her lips as she looks around for something that would go with them. She stops short when she realizes that Sapien isn't standing over her anymore. Confused and a little hurt at his sudden departure, she has to blink her eyes a few times to refocus herself. She lets out a sigh before standing straight and turning around. Only to see three brightly colored daisies of Fushia, Hot Pink and Blush.
"Maybe something bright?" he asks, lowering them so they're not so close to her face. His eyebrows furrow as she gapes at him in surprise. "You don't like them?"
He'd completely misread her look of surprise for dislike.
"No!" she cries as he's about to drop them. "No, they're lovely." She reaches over and takes them from him quickly.
"You don't have to spare my feelings," he says. "I was just trying to be helpful."
Sapien was always helpful. It was the reason Noctis and Stella always went to him first if they needed something. So it shouldn't have surprised her that he was going to try to be helpful here. It was like a natural reflex for him.
"You just caught me off guard, that's all," she says, putting her arm out to stare at how well the colors worked together. "Des never helped me. He just watched."
He nods but doesn't say anything.
"Where did you find them? I think we need a couple more," she says.
He points to a spot just behind her. She smiles in thanks before making her way over to it and finishes making Stella's bouquet.
It turned out to be Stella's favorite of the bouquets she had made her. Which made her smile before telling her that it had been a joint effort between Sapien and herself. Stella had looked shocked while Noctis smirked before shaking his head. Neither Des or Sapien made it to dinner that night, but that didn't sadden her at all. It gave her a chance to spend the evening with Stella, Noctis and Vires.
At about two in the morning, there was a frantic knocking at her door. She'd known as soon as she heard it, what it meant. But it didn't stop her from jumping out of her bed and making a mad dash to open the door.
"I'm sorry to wake you, Mira," Sapien says.
"Stella's gone into labor?" she asks, even though she can already guess.
"Can I have a minute to get my robe?" she asks, embarrassed that she didn't think to put it on before opening the door.
"Of course," he replies but it doesn't look like he's even noticed her state of undress.
She leaves the door open a crack and runs to grab her robe. Throwing it over her shoulders quickly, she ties it loosely in her haste to get back to the door.
"I'm ready," she says, walking out into the hall.
He nods at her before rushing to lead her to where Stella had been taken.
Stella's labor lasted a full twenty four hours. During which, nobody got any sleep and nobody even thought to leave the spot they'd been in when they'd first gotten there. She's not sure how the three brothers got through that time. She didn't see them. They waited in the room next door while she and the rest of the midwives bustled around Stella. Sometimes she heard Des say something really loud and she didn't even have to hear the words to know that she would have laughed at them. It helps to remind her that they were all there and that helped her as the hours wore on. There had been periods where the experienced midwives would step out to get a breather but she stayed dutifully by Stella's side. Even Noctis was told to take a breather when Stella would have a rest between contractions. She loved watching them together. They had the kind of love that always made you feel teary eyed and happy. It was only when they were together that they felt complete and you could see it. She watched the agony on Noctis' face as Stella tried to remember breathing when the pain struck her. When the bed started to shake from his anxiety, he was told to walk outside and see his friends. Thankfully, Noctis did see reason and would leave until he was calm enough to return.
It was very early in the morning when finally, Stella began to give birth. She remembers Noctis whispering in Stella's ear as she gathered all her strength to push. There hadn't been anything for her to do but watch as everything seemed to happen at once. Stella gave a cry of relief, Noctis' hand still grasped within hers as she fell back onto the propped up pillows behind her. She couldn't see the baby but the midwives were working quickly. Then she heard it. The cries of a healthy baby and all the women began to shout all at once.
"A son! A son!"
Her eyes stayed on the couple on the bed. Noctis didn't seem to hear as he pressed his forehead against Stella's whispering words only for her. He leans forward to kiss her brow before turning his head to look at his son for the first time. The baby's already been wrapped in clean linens and was handed to the King of Nihilsomno.
"Keep your hand behind his neck," advises one of the midwives before she starts to clean up.
Noctis and Stella both stare at their son as if they'd never seen anything more precious in the entire world.
"Stella, he's perfect," says Noctis and he kisses her on the lips in gratitude.
She laughs as any proud mother would as she runs her finger gently along her son's little cheek.
"My dark prince," she says softly to him. She turns to smile again at Noctis and they both beam at each other.
It looks like they're glowing together as they look at each other before turning their attention back to their son. She almost feels like an invader for witnessing such a private moment when Stella turns to look at her.
"Mira! What are you doing standing over there? Come here," says Stella. "You don't have to stay away."
She approaches them to stand on the other side of Stella and stares at the new prince.
"Oh Stella," she breathes as she can feel the tears in her own eyes. "He's perfect."
Vibrant blue eyes stare back at her curiously before looking back at his parents. His small hand clutches onto Noctis' finger as he stares at each of them in turn.
"Noct, he has your hair!" cries Des from the doorway. "I'd notice those spikes anywhere."
She looks up to see Noctis' three brothers standing together, hovering in the doorway.
"Come in guys," says Noctis.
Des rushes over to Noctis' side of the bed while Sapien and Vires walk over to the side she is standing on. Des shamelessly starts to coo and make baby noises as the other two quietly watch beside her. Noctis' son stares at Des, blinking as if he doesn't understand what Des thinks he's doing. He still has Noctis' finger in his grasp as he turns his head to look at the other two.
"He even has your facial expressions," comments Sapien with a smirk. "I've seen that look before."
Vires chuckles in a low rumble while Des laughs.
The little thing yawns and blue eyes blink lazily as he looks up at his mother. He smiles at her before closing his eyes and falls asleep.
"Already a mama's boy," whispers Des as he stares at him.
"I think it's safe to say that everyone should get some sleep," says Sapien, looking at the worn looks on both parents' faces. "We'll leave you guys alone now."
Noctis gently gets up and lays his son inside the little crib beside the bed.
"What are you going to name him, Noct?" asks Des.
"I, I have no idea," Noctis answers softly.
"I know," says Stella with a tired smile. "But the rest of you will have to wait until tomorrow."
Des almost makes a cry of protest before Vires slaps a hand over his mouth from waking the baby.
"Come on," orders Sapien as he jerks his thumb towards the door at Des and Vires.
"Good night, Stella," she says as she leans in to kiss Stella on the cheek.
"Thank you so much, Mira," Stella sighs.
She looks at them one more time before she follows behind the guys. Sapien closes the door behind them quietly while Des yawns loudly. It looks like he can't even keep his eyes open now that the excitement has died down.
"Need someone to walk you to your rooms, Mira?" asks Des, even though he's in no condition to do so himself.
She smiles at him gratefully. "Yes."
"Let's go," Des says as he makes his way over to the door.
"You're not going to make it up two flights of stairs," says Vires with a roll of his eyes.
"I can walk Mira to her room," protests Des as he lets out another yawn.
"Sapien, you walk Mira to her rooms," says Vires, pushing Des in the other direction.
She wants to laugh but finds she's too tired to do even that. Seeing Des makes her realize how exhausted she is too. She watches Des and Vires before Sapien nudges her with his hand on her back to get her walking. When she does start moving she feels sluggish.
"Do you need me to carry you?" he asks with concern.
"No, that's all right," she says with a weak shake of her head. "But could I lean on you?"
"Of course," he says, offering her his arm to cling to. "You were really helpful in there."
"Not really," she says. "I didn't know what I was doing half the time."
"But you were there and willing to help."
"It's the least I can do for them," she says because it's true. It was the very least she could do and she was honored that they had been willing to share such a pivotal moment with her. She knows it's a moment that she will never forget. Sapien doesn't say anything else as they start to make their way up the stairs. "You're not going to go to sleep, are you."
"Maybe after I get a few things done," he answers, but she knows better.
"You're really helpful too, you know."
"It's the least I can do for them," he replies, using her own words.
"But you're always helpful," she says. "What about you? Who helps you?"
He's saved from replying when she stumbles on a step. He catches her before hooking an arm behind her knees and around her back, easily lifting her to his chest and carrying her the rest of the way. She doesn't even have the strength to grab his neck to help. All she can manage is a loose grasp of one side of his collar.
"I feel like a child right now," she mumbles unhappily.
She can hear the amusement in his voice.
"Carrying me like I fell asleep in front of the TV."
He chuckles and she can hear the vibrations of it where her ear is pressed against his chest.
"But you're not a child anymore," he states.
"Yet I always feel like one," she sighs drowsily. "I don't think I'll ever be a woman to any of you."
"Des knows that you are," he counters.
When they reach her rooms, he carries her inside and into the bedroom.
"Heartbreaker," she murmurs with a roll of her eyes. The light of the sun has begun to peak through her drawn curtains and she wishes she could stay awake as he carries her over to her bed. "Who's heart have I broken to deserve that title?"
He pulls back the covers before carefully placing her on the mattress. The sheets are cold and she shivers before she feels him gently place the comforter over her. She doesn't even have the strength to say good night as she closes her eyes. Right before sleep claims her completely she could have sworn she had heard him whisper something but she was already too far gone to hear what he says.
When she finally woke up, it was early evening. Most of the other Crystal Bearers had already arrived to join in the celebration. The castle was alive with the many guests that had come to fill its halls and she knows who was responsible for arranging everything. After making sure to talk with Vitrum, she had rushed to check on Stella and the baby. She found both of them surrounded by Militis, Tonitrus, Grando, Procella and Sol. Astra and Fulgur were on their way, she was told. It was so good to see all of them and they looked just as happy to see her too. It was like having a family reunion.
"You've bloomed into a very beautiful woman, Mira," Sol tells her later, when she's in the gardens to gather another bouquet for Stella.
"Thank you, Sol," she says, almost afraid to look him in the eye.
"Forgive me for being blunt my dear, Mira," Sol apologizes and she can hear the hesitation in his voice. "But I feel I must since I care about you a great deal like a little sister."
Never has that phrase ever felt as comforting as it did coming from Sol's lips.
"What is it?" she asks, finally able to peer up into his face.
"Which one of them are you in love with?" asks Sol. There is no mocking behind the question but it does make her still.
"Why do you ask me that?" she asks and she's afraid he's going to tell her how obvious she's been.
"Those Nihil men seem to ensnare the Crystal Bearer women," he explains. "And you have gotten closer to them than the other two ever could."
Other two meaning Astra and Procella. Both who have had feelings towards at least one of the four Nihil men. So it wasn't that she was obvious. That was a big relief.
"You're asking me because you want to warn me off them?" she asks curiously.
"It depends on which one you've set your heart on," Sol answers.
She frowns at him in confusion. All three of them would be wonderful husbands.
He smiles patiently at her. "If it was Sapien then I am relieved," says Sol.
"What difference does it make?" she asks.
Sol smiles at her patiently again. "My dear Mira, only a man who absolutely adores everything you've become will do."
She knows all three adored her so she still doesn't see the difference.
"I would have to dissuade you from marrying someone like Des."
"Only because you dislike him so much," she retorts.
"No, because he isn't what you need," Sol says with too much conviction. "He isn't a good choice for you."
She looks down at the flowers in front of her as she thinks this over.
"Told the others that I had to keep an eye on you," Des says behind them.
She and Sol turn around to see him watching them with an eyebrow quirked.
"If you're here to save Mira from getting her virtue tainted, you're looking at the wrong man," retorts Sol.
"Just knew you wouldn't be able to resist," says Des with a knowing grin. "I didn't recognize her either when she came."
"You didn't?" mocks Sol. "Sometimes you really do surprise me with your density, Bobble head."
Des merely shrugs in reply. "Honest mistake," he says. "Noct says he needs to see you, Sunshine."
"Then I shall have to leave you, Mira," says Sol as he smiles down at her.
She nods at him because she's not sure what else to say.
"Looks like you're done gathering your flowers, Heartbreaker," says Des with a grin, as he sits down on the grass across from her.
"Des, why am I really a heartbreaker?" she asks seriously. "And don't says because of my smile either."
"Why the serious question?" Des jokes.
"It's just… well its one thing to be cute but to be a heartbreaker.? Like I'm some sort of maneater," she tries to explain.
"Maneater!" Des laughs. He tilts his head as he grins at her. "Okay, I see you're serious and despite what people think about me, I can be serious too. You've always been one of the few that can see that."
She smiles as she nods at him. He takes a breathe as he thinks over what to say.
"Well, you break my heart because you've grown up. You're not that little girl anymore and I can't play with you like I always loved to," Des answers. "That little girl who's face lit up and demanded a hug is all gone now. Gone and never coming back."
"I would have but you looked so confused when we said hello," she says.
"We both know that you can't do that anymore," Des answers. "It's not fitting for the lady that you've grown up to be. Grown up too fast if you ask me. Now you're smart enough to know better than me."
"You're saying I'm not fun anymore," she says, but she doesn't feel offended by it.
"It's just different," Des says. "You're not going to huddle with me and plan sneaky things with anymore."
No, she supposes she wouldn't. Maybe she had changed on the inside too.
"Have I hurt you, Mira?" Des asks with a worried frown on his face.
"No, not at all," she says with a shake of her head. "But I do think you're an idiot if you think I'll ever be too big to demand a hug from you."
"Ha!" he slaps his knee. "Let's get those flowers to Stell before they start to wilt in this heat." He jumps to his feet and offers a hand down to her.
She smiles gratefully at him and takes his hand.
"You know," says Des as they walk back into the castle. "I'm glad you asked me that. I feel loads better telling you."
"Yeah, didn't know how much that was bothering me until now," Des says with a sigh of relief.
"I feel better too, Des," she says and its not a lie. She would be lying if she said she hadn't felt comfortable after what happened when he had first seen her. To see him looking at her as more than a little sister made her feel weird and uneasy. Of course, his easy dismissal had helped and she had been glad when he'd started to act more like he always had with her. But when he had dubbed her a heart breaker, she'd felt that uncomfortable feeling all over again despite covering over it.
"All you gals are heartbreakers anyway," says Des. "Whether you're young, old, big or small. We men are useless to your charms."
"And you love us all," she teases.
"You betcha, honey," grins Des with a roguish wink. "Don't know what I'd do without cha, pretty girls. I love ya, I do."
She laughs all the way back inside.
Nihilsomno rejoiced with the birth of it's new son. Prince Lunae Lux Caelum was a national treasure as far as anyone was concerned. She doesn't think there will ever be another baby that would be as closely watched as he would be. The people were eager for any morsel of information they could get about him. Everybody outside the castle was all ablaze with celebration regarding the news. But within the walls of the castle, you wouldn't have ever known a more peaceful and happy scene. It was quiet and joyful and completely unaware of the goings on of the world outside. She saw Stella as often as she could, but she knew that this was a time for the family. This was the time for just Stella and Noctis and their new son, Lunae, to be together. It had made her smile when Stella had told her that Lunae Lux meant, 'Moonlight.' Moonlight Heaven. It fit right into her theory, but she kept those thoughts to herself in case she was getting ahead of herself.
Vitrum had not stayed for long and that meant that it was nearly time for her to return home as well. He came only long enough to give his personal congratulations and catching up with everyone else, before rushing back to his lady. She was about to gain another sister. She already knew this and Vitrum was beside himself with hurry to introduce them to each other now. Yet, instead of becoming excited, like she normally would have, the idea of losing her brother caused a pain. An intense pain that magnified when she thought of how grown up Vitrum had become. How he had easily been able to prove himself a man to everyone and she had only shown herself to still be a whiny child to the one that mattered.
Her airship was not due to leave until the early evening so that she could sleep for the entire journey. It gave her time to sit in her favorite place, under a tree looking out to the lavender garden that Stella had lovingly planted but could not enjoy. She had already said her good byes to everyone so they didn't have to see her off. So it was just a matter of waiting. Des had hugged her as enthusiastically as he had before, making her giggle. She had seen everyone except him. He'd been busy since the moment Lux was born. Making official announcements, making arrangements for the inevitable crowd of visitors, making sure that Noctis would not be kept from his family longer than was necessary and just about everything else.
Always helpful. Always dependable. Always unattainable. The man didn't even have time to sleep. So he wouldn't have the time to realize she loved him and he definitely wouldn't have time to deal with it. She can picture it now. Her completely humiliating herself with a forward outburst of emotion, telling him that she'd loved him ever since he had saved her two years ago. She knew that he's been the one mainly responsible for figuring out the cure. She had always had a special place in her heart for him anyway. His reaction to all this would be to smile at her kindly, tap her head like he used to and then tell her that he loved her too. Only it wouldn't be the love she was talking about. It would be that other kind that she wanted from everyone else but him.
She sighs to herself as she accepts this. It would be better not to tell him. She would only embarrass herself and him in the process. It would be better to go on like they were instead of an uncomfortable tension that would have him avoiding her so as not to hurt her feelings. She just needs to accept that it was not going to happen. In an hour she would be leaving Nihilsomno and it would be another two years before another event would take place and she would see him again. Maybe then she would be able to see him without feeling the way she did now. She already knows she won't be able to ever see him without feeling this way, but she was going to try for his sake. He didn't need the burden of her feelings along with everything else he had to deal with.
"I thought I might find you here."
She opens her wine colored eyes to look up at him before a smile automatically reaches her lips.
"I had to see my favorite place before I left," she says, looking out to the lavender blossoms as they gently swayed with the summer breeze.
He nods but he doesn't turn to look at the flowers.
"I've come to tell you that a thunderstorm is expected in Nihilsomno, so your flight has been bumped up," he says. "It'll be leaving in thirty minutes."
"Oh!" she startles in surprise. He offers her a hand and she takes it gratefully. "Thank you."
"Des couldn't make it to escort you so you'll have to suffer my presence instead," he says in apology.
She stops to look at him with a surprised scowl. Suffer his presence?
He blinks down at her and hesitates. "I could arrange things so that he could," he offers, taking out his handheld.
"No," she says as she puts her hand over the screen. "I'd rather you took me actually."
He stops to stare at her with that look on his face before he nods and puts his handheld back into his pocket. She follows him out of the gardens and into the car that he has waiting for them. They sit on opposite sides of the backseat and she has never felt a larger gap sitting like this before. It's like a deep chasm between them. Which was absolutely fitting to how they were in real life.
"You've been busy," she says in order to break the silence.
"A little," he answers with a shrug.
"More than just a little," she teases. "I doubt you've slept at all these past few days."
"I've never been much of a sleeper," he shrugs.
"Do you ever?"
"When I can."
"You're going to turn older before your time," she chides.
"It's already past my time," he says.
"You never have time, even for that," she points out.
"That's true," he agrees.
"I wish you would make time," she says, sad for his sake.
At the tone of her voice, he turns to look at her. "Make time for what?"
"Something other than working."
He fixes that look on her again before he replies. "It keeps me from thinking about things that I shouldn't," he answers as he looks away and out towards the approaching airfield.
It's a loaded statement but she doesn't understand what it means. She wishes that she did, but it's not something that she can ask him.
"Maybe you should think about those things," she suggests. "They might be important."
"What if I think about them too much as it is?" he asks, still staring out the window.
"Then they are definitely important."
"They don't think of me as much as I think of them," he answers vaguely.
That statement loses her again. It's another loaded statement that she's not in a position to ask him about. It's hard for her to imagine what things could keep Sapien's mind distracted. He always seemed so focused on whatever it was that he was doing. Nothing really seemed to phase him.
The car comes to a stop beside her airship and he opens the door to help her out.
"I need to do that," she says finally.
"What?" he asks, looking down at her curiously.
"Have no time to think about the things that I shouldn't," she answers and she can't look at him in the face when she says it.
"Do you think about things that you shouldn't?" he asks quietly.
"Yes," she says sadly. "But they have no time to think of me."
It's her own loaded statement and it's the closest she will ever get to telling him.
They stand together awkwardly as the engines of her airship roar to life. "Take care of yourself, Sapien."
He smiles warmly at her in that familiar way that usually puts her heart at ease. Only this time it breaks her heart.
"You take care of yourself too, Heartbreaker," he says but it lacks the teasing tone that should have come with it.
She smiles to keep the tears from being too obvious before turning around and boarding her airship. She doesn't stop and she doesn't turn around. It's not until the ship is in the air and she's on her way back home does she allow one tear to slide down her cheek.
"I feel like a child right now," she mumbles unhappily.
"Carrying me like I fell asleep in front of the TV."
He chuckles and she can hear the vibrations of it where her ear is pressed against his chest. It was comforting. His scent was comforting too. A completely male scent that made her feel safe.
"But you're not a child anymore," he says.
"Yet I always feel like one," she sighs. "I don't think I'll ever be a woman to any of you." Especially to you.
"Des knows that you are," he counters.
When they reach her rooms, he carries her inside and into the bedroom.
"Heartbreaker," she sighs with a roll of her eyes. "Who's heart have I broken to deserve that title?"
He pulls back the covers before carefully placing her on the mattress. The sheets are cold and she shivers as she feels him gently place the comforter over her. She doesn't even have the strength to say good night as she closes her eyes.
Gentle hands brush her hair away from her face and the weight of his stare go unnoticed as he speaks below a whisper. "You've broken mine."
Her eyes fly open as she jolts to sit upright. Her heart races in her ears, filling the silence of the room. She can see the morning rays of the sun make their way into the windows and she knows that she is almost home. Home when she wanted to be so far away from it right now.
You've broken mine. His voice is an echoing whisper in her ear.
That is what he had whispered when she had been too tired to hear. She had broken his heart? How? Did he think? That was why he always brought Des up. He thought, that she was in love with Des? Of course he would think that. Of course everyone would too. Des brought out a side of her that even she didn't know was there, but it was not because she loved him like that. She had never loved Des in that way. Her heart feels like it'll beat right out of her chest. The captain announces their descent and she rushes out of bed to prepare herself.
The ship does not land fast enough. She's not even sure where she is going in such a hurry. All she knows is that Sapien was wrong. He had misread everything. She needed to tell him and she had no way to tell him. It was all she could do to not ask the Captain to turn back around, but that wouldn't have been fitting. She couldn't even pick up the phone and call either. It wasn't a conversation that could be spoken over the phone anyway. By the time she reached her home, she was a little bit frantic. Her plan had simply been to go to her rooms and pace until she could find something else to occupy her mind. She was on her way to do just that when Vitrum stopped her.
"There you are, Mira!" he calls, running over to embrace her.
She half heartedly returns his embrace, but she is glad to see her brother.
"You're never going to believe this!" he says as he takes her hand and leads her outside. "It doesn't make any sense."
"What is it? What's going on?"
"A ship from Nihilsomno came," he says as he walks quickly towards their gardens. "It must have come right after I left to see Lux. They left this morning."
"Why did they come?" she asks, barely able to keep up with her brother's longer strides.
"See!" Vitrums shouts, finally stopping at the corner of the large hedge to the outskirts of their gardens.
She peaks around the tall bush. Only to have her hand fly to her mouth as she gasps. Hundreds of lavender blossoms in full bloom lay planted before her. It looks exactly like the one in Nihilsomno.
"Why would they fly all these over here?" asks Vitrum with a shake of his head. "Did you order them?"
"No," she says weakly as she shakes her head. "I didn't order them."
"I thought maybe they were a gift from Stella for helping her," suggests Vitrum.
No, they were definitely not from Stella. Stella didn't even know that she loved lavender flowers so much. Stella didn't know how much she loved sitting among the purple blossoms, inhaling the soothing aroma of their fragrance and staring at them thoughtfully. There was only one person who knew that.
"Huh?" she says blinking numbly at her brother.
"I said there was a note that came with it," says Vitrum, handing her an envelope. "It has your name on it and its sealed so I haven't looked at it."
She clasps the sealed envelope with shaking hands as she reads her name in a distinctly masculine handwriting.
"Are you all right?" Vitrum asks her with a worried look on his face.
"I'm, I'm just surprised," she answers looking at the envelope in her hands. "Vitrum can you give me a moment? I think I'd like to rest here for a bit before going to unpack."
"If you're sure you're okay," he says.
"I'm fine," she says slowly walking closer to the flowers. "I just need a moment alone."
"I'll be my study," he says, giving her another worried look before disappearing behind the tall bush.
She clutches at her heart as she makes for the middle of the flowers and nearly stumbles to sit down among them. It couldn't have been, could it? Who else would know? She's too afraid to hope, but there is no other person that she could think of that would do this. No other person that would know to do this. That only left... she looks down at the envelope in her hands and finds them shaking again. She cracks the sealing wax and slowly slides out the card.
Hoping this might have you think of me at least half as much as I'll think of you.
"Half as much as I'll think of you," she repeats in a whisper. "Half?"
They don't think of me as much as I think of them.
Pressing the note to her chest, she stares down at the lavender blossoms before her. They'd been meticulously arranged. Like there had been specific instruction on how they were to be planted. Even that, could only have been him. She doesn't know how long she sits there. All she can think about is how she would ever be good enough to deserve a man like Sapien. Someone so focused and intent, had placed all his focus and intent on her. How could he have thought she didn't think of him too?
She didn't have the chance to call him after she returned home. The thunderstorm that he had warned her about had severely damaged certain parts of the city and she had no doubts that he was knee deep in whatever was happening to fix it. He wouldn't have had a chance to speak to her and his phone had probably already been ringing off the hook. After that, one thing happened after another. She had grown anxious about telling him, impatient to clear things between them so that he knew. So that he didn't give up on her. It was a month after she had returned home that she received the first package. The package had arrived one afternoon from a place she hadn't recognized. It hadn't been signed but she already knew who had sent it. As she sat in her lavender garden, she thought about what this meant but found she couldn't come to a good conclusion. So she decided to wait and see what else he would do.
Two weeks later another package arrived from somewhere else. This time it had come from Solis. When she had opened it she had been a mixture of tears and laughter. Inside, was a small box of the candies she'd loved while they had been there years ago. This had finally allowed the thought to hit her. That while Sapien still thought she was in love with Des, he wasn't going to give her up without a fight. It made her heart flutter as she realized that he was trying to make her fall in love with him. She doesn't think she moved for a good hour from shock before she made herself snap out of it and carry on.
It was in that moment that her previous urgency had diminished. It wasn't the time to be hasty and rush. She wouldn't demand any more of his time than he could give and rushing now would only keep him from the things he needed to do. This didn't change that, but that didn't mean it would never change. She saw that then. Even within the words of the first card, they weren't the urgent pleadings of an impatient lover. No, they were the words from a man that was going to wait and so she would wait. Waiting would be different for her now. Now she knew who was waiting for her too.
Days pass and turn into months. How quickly months turn into a year. Her brother was finally engaged to be married. Their kingdom had just finished a very successful harvest. Which brought hope to an equally successful trading season. She'd been busy during this time. Taking him as an example and keeping her mind occupied on the things that needed to be done instead of being idle and unproductive. Now she had wedding arrangements to help plan with her soon to be sister in law. There were so many things that she needed to help with.
It is when she is in the middle of tending to her horses that an urgent message is delivered from Nihilsomno. She smiles a secret smile when she hears that Stella is pregnant with her second child. It makes those hopeful words come back to her.
Day and Night combine to create the Eclipse of a new era. A new world has begun.
Night had already been born in the form of Lunae. She had no doubts now that Day was on it's way and once it arrived, it would signal the dawn of a new era. Then the new world would begin.
End Notes: It's finished! -bawls-