Final stretch! :)
My Radiance: Reprise
3 ½ Months Later
I spun around in my chair and it was like looking at someone you hadn't seen years. You could vaguely recognize them, but there was no way it was actually them; they were too tall or too old or too beautiful. That's how it felt when I looked at myself in the mirror before me. Except it couldn't be me, because I looked so…
"Amu you look gorgeous!"
"Ikuto is going to drop dead when he sees you!"
"Everyone probably is!"
I smiled at all their compliments. Rima, Yaya, Utau, and my Mom were all here to help me with my make-up and my dress and keeping my emotions in check. That seemed to be the only thing I was managing not to do very well. I couldn't believe how quickly time had passed, because it felt like only a few nights ago Ikuto surprised me with a proposal, but here we were more than three months later and everything was finally falling into place. My heart had been in a non-stop state of racing and I felt like I would never get my breathing to normalize. I was infinitely happy but god I was more nervous than I had ever thought possible. I gulped and I looked at my reflection, my lips parted and my eyebrows curving in a worried way. In just a few minutes I would be walking down the aisle again, but this time everything was different. I was wholly happy. I didn't feel anything holding me back this time, there were no lingering worries or thoughts in the back of my mind. It was all going to be perfect.
The door cracked open a few moments later, Sanjou peeking her head around the corner, smiling widely when she saw me. "You look beautiful," she complimented and I thanked her. She opened the door a little wider. "It's almost time," she said, and my heart nearly leapt out of my throat. Breathing shallowly, I stood up. I couldn't help my legs from shaking which caused my simple, white, floor length dress to tremble with me.
"Hey, you're gonna be okay," Rima told me, placing a comforting hand on my back. I appreciated her gesture, but now was one of those times when I really could have used Nagi's reassurance. Unfortunately he was already waiting with everyone else outside. I let out a nervous sigh
"I know," I breathed, "Can I just, have a minute to collect myself outside?" I asked, wanting to step out into the hall to see if I could bring my heart rate down just enough to stop shaking. They all nodded and mumbled in agreement, letting me walk past them and out the door.
I turned right, away from where I was going to be walking in a few minutes, and walked until I ended up at the small greenhouse that was attached to the side of the building. I breathed in the thick, heavily scented air. This mixture of flowers and herbs made for a calming aroma. I closed my eyes and took in their scent in silence.
I had hardly been there for a minute when it was broken by the sound of approaching footsteps. I opened my eyes, hoping they would give me a bit more time to ready myself. But when I turned around and saw the person who walked through the door I was unpleasantly surprised.
"Tadase," I looked at him, not understanding why he would come here of all places. I had never gotten around to actually confronting after what he did. At first I had been too angry, and then after a while I decided he was too pathetic to consider talking to about what happened.
He threw his hands up defensively. "Amu before you say anything, I just want to say I'm not here to ruin anything for you, I've already done that enough," he confessed and I raised an eyebrow at him.
"Ya think?" I asked him. He had done well more than enough to try and sabotage my life.
He shook his head. "I know, I know. I was… There are no words for how I acted, and I just came by here to say that I'm genuinely sorry. For everything that I did. The lies, the cheating, that stupid ploy and everything in between," he said with pleading eyes.
"You mean the ploy that almost ruined my life the moment I finally managed to put it back together?" I clarified, reluctant to accept any apology he sent my way. He exhaled my remark, obviously feeling like a fool. I almost ran my fingers through my hair out of habit, but stopped when I remembered how long it had taken for them to get it like this. Instead I clasped my hands together and sighed at him. "Listen Tadase, I guess I do appreciate your earnest apology, but I can't have you in my life anymore. Not after everything, it's too much. I can't forgive you for what you did, and what you tried to do. Not completely," I explained.
"And I understand that entirely. I wasn't expecting you to," he replied. "What I did was naive and something I would never have even thought I could dream of doing. I guess I simply let my emotions get the better, well the worse, of me." I nodded at him in agreement. "Anyways, that's not the only reason I'm here," he went on and this caught my attention slightly. I couldn't imagine what else he would have stopped by for. I cocked my head at him. "I'm leaving. My company, we are building a branch in the US, and they need me there to supervise. I will probably be there for a few years, maybe more, I don't know," he paused. I was surprised. I knew his company had been growing, but I never actually believed they would go this widespread. "The point is, I just wanted to make sure I got the chance to at least attempt to right my wrong before I leave."
"When do you leave?" I asked, to fill the silence that followed. In response he pulled out his phone to check the time.
"I should probably leave now if I want to catch my flight," he said. Admittedly I was taken aback by his sudden departure.
"Oh, well. Good luck with your new life, and all that," I told him, deciding that holding a grudge against him would only be a waste of energy.
"Thank you," he said and he held out his hand, seemingly as if to say we were good and a goodbye. I was still hesitant to let him off that easily, but in the end I shook his hand, feeling nothing when our skin made contact. There was no spark.
He released my hand after a moment had passed and then nodded at me once more before taking off down the hall with his face turned to the floor. It didn't surprise me, I'm sure if anyone noticed him here he would not get a warm welcome. Watching him go gave me a sense of freedom, almost catharsis, like everything both good and bad that I had ever experienced with him washed away, leaving me with a clean slate. It was a refreshing feeling.
I waited in the greenhouse for five minutes longer before someone came in to find me. "Amu, it's time!" Yaya walked towards me and I turned to face her. The calm state I had managed to reach quickly flitted out the window and my heart jumped at her words. I took a deep breath and she took me by the hand and lead my to the doors which I would be walking out of that led to the garden where everyone was waiting.
When we got there my dad was waiting expectantly. Upon seeing me, his eyes widened in awe.
"Amu…" he said, walking forward to meet me and then encompassing me in a hug. "You look beautiful."
I blushed lightly. "Thanks," I replied, starting to feel the nervousness really kick in. He took notice and gently moved a stray hair out of my face, tucking it behind my ear.
"You'll be fine," he assured with a warm expression. I swallowed and nodded at him.
"I know, I'm sure this time," I explained.
Now he nodded. "Good," he looked like he was trying to hold back tears and I had to avert my eyes, not wanting to trigger them for me as well. We stood in silence for only a few seconds more before music started playing on the other side of the doors and I inhaled sharply, sending a panicked looked to my dad. He offered his arm and I took it after a short pause. I held on to him tightly, afraid I would fall over or trip if I didn't have someone there to stabilize me. We stood and watched at the tall, rich brown door slowly swung open and my eyes were greeted with an array of colors. The sky was clear above me, vivid blue and the sun shone brightly from within it's depths. The grass was a brilliant shade of green and everything seemed to be highly contrasted like I was walking into a photo. There were red, blue, green, and yellow flowers strung delicately across the white wooden benches where everyone was sitting and along the poles that bordered the area. But it wasn't the bright decorations that capture my gaze, or the rows of people watching me with wide smiles. It was him, standing at the altar, dressed in a dark blue suit that almost matched his hair. He was looking, gaping, at me from across the way, although I could the his mouth twitching upward at the corners which eventually turned into a full out grin. I laughed a little at his ecstaticness, feeling my cheeks flush. My dad started walking and I let him guide me, my eyes not breaking from Ikuto's until we were almost at the front. I quickly glanced at the people sitting in the first row; mostly family and close friends. I scanned through them all and my smile grew when I saw Kukai give me a thumbs up. It was then that my dad released me, giving my arm one last comforting squeeze before he took his seat. There were only a few more steps between Ikuto and I and of course I couldn't even manage that. I made the mistake of not watching where I put my feet and got my heel got up in my dress. My eyes widened in panic as I stumbled forward, not believing how I managed to trip at the worst time possible when absolutely everyone had their eyes on me. I heard a few gasps from behind me, but before I had barely fallen forward, I felt Ikuto grab my hand to steady me as I threw it forward to brace the landing. I stayed frozen like the for a moment and then I looked up at him and he was smirking.
"Let's try to not break anything before the ceremony even starts," he whispered as he slowly helped me straighten up. I swallowed and let out a nervous laugh and went to stand in front of him. I heard a couple people shouting in cheers after he had caught me and I took another deep breath in an attempt to calm my fast beating heart. When the music gradually faded out, the chatter that had been going on in the crowd dispersed. It was then that the minister cleared his throat, opening the small book he had in his hands, and began reading. The whole time he read my eyes never left Ikuto's and it felt like I couldn't have stopped smiling even if I wanted to.
Minutes felt like they had passed in seconds as the rings were brought up to us. I stared at them incredulously. They were both a brilliant silver and the small gems embedded in them glimmered in the afternoon sunlight.
"The groom may now place his ring on the brides fourth finger," the officiant said, gesturing to to the both of us. Ikuto carefully picked up the one designated for me and took my left hand in his. He looked like he was trying to suppress a smirk.
"You're shaking," he said quietly, delicately sliding the ring onto my finger. I stared at him without saying anything and I held my breath to try and calm myself. I was hoping he wouldn't notice that.
When Ikuto had dropped my hand and his, the officiant spoke again. "Now the bride my place her ring on the grooms fourth finger." I knew trying to steady my trembling fingers would be impossible as I reached out to take his ring. I finally let out my breath when I had managed to pick it up without dropping it. I turned my attention to Ikuto, who was patiently waiting for me to grab his hand. I reached down and took it, raising it up in front of me. I exhaled triumphantly when I successfully managed to slide the ring onto his finger. I looked up at him and he was smiling at me again, which of course made me smile, too I let his hand drop back to his side and the officiant nodded, looking back to his book.
"At this time I ask you, Ikuto Tsukiyomi, and you, Amu Hinamori, to face each other and take each others hands," he said, and we did so, Ikuto reaching out first to take my hands in his. While we looked at one another he continued to speak. "Ikuto, do you take Amu to be your one true love and your wife, to cherish her love and her friendship and love her today, tomorrow, and forever, to be with her and faithful during good times and bad, to laugh with her and cry with her, and honor her as long as you both shall live?" he turned to Ikuto as he asked this. Never looking away from me, Ikuto spoke. "I do," he answered confidently and without delay. I felt like an idiot as noticed tears starting to well up in my eyes and I tried to blink them away. Ikuto noticed, giving my hands a comforting squeeze, and I thought it almost seemed like he was holding back a few tears as well.
Now the officiant turned to me."Amu, do you take Ikuto to be your one true love and your husband, to cherish his love and his friendship and love him today, tomorrow, and forever, to be with him and faithful during good times and bad, to laugh with him and cry with him, and honor him as long as you both shall live?" Ikuto looked at me expectantly and I took a deep breath and then let it out. "I do," I nodded slightly, my smile quickly widening when I realized what words had come out of my mouth. Ikuto grasped my hands more tightly in response, incapable of smiling anymore than he was now.
The minister closed his book with a small thud and cleared his throat more. "And with this being promised, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride-" and before he had barely gotten the last word out of his mouth, Ikuto grasped my face in his hands and kissed me. I was, as always, both surprised and unsurprised by his sudden kiss, but a moment later I wrapped my arms around him and kissed him back, both of us having trouble not smiling the whole time because this actually happened. I heard everyone cheering in crowd, but it felt like we were the only two people there as clung tightly to him. I never wanted the moment to end, but all too soon he pulled away, his face remaining just inches from mine. We were both taking in the moment as much as we could. He sighed and I could see the adoration in his eyes as he looked into mine, caressing my face with his thumb.
"I love you," he said over the animate cheers.
"I love you, too," I replied with certainty, my voice not faltering. He responded by kissing me again. Not as long as the first one, but still just as affectionate. When he broke the kiss this time, the tears I had been holding back finally spilled over and he laughed as I hastily tried to wipe them away. He wrapped his arms around me in a tight embrace and I had never felt so safe and secure and right in my whole life.
When I had mostly managed to stop crying -which was hard when half of your friends and family were as well- I had a group gathered around me as I went to toss the bouquet. I particularly had my eyes on Utau, Rima, and Yaya, wondering who would catch it and who I wanted to catch it most. I turned around so my back was to them and counted down from three.
"Three, two, one!" I exclaimed, tossing the bouquet behind me. The moment it left my hands I spun around to see who would catch it first. As I turned I beamed happily when I saw it fall into Utau's hands. I expected her to blush and panic, but instead she raised an eyebrow at it and looked up at me.
"You're a little late on that one," she said. I looked at her, confused by her words. She rolled her eyes. "Kukai beat you to it," she spoke again. I continued to glare at her, not understand what she was trying to say. I saw her mutter something under her breath and then she held her hand up and that's when I got it. She had a ring on her finger and I realized that Kukai has already purposed to her. My mouth dropped in shock.
"Really?!" I asked in disbelief. She nodded like it was no big deal, but I could still see a small simper on her face. Kukai came up from behind her, draping an arm around her shoulders, sending me a thumbs up in confirmation. "Congrats!" I said to her, not believing that in a few months time I would be at yet another wedding. I watched as Utau, having no need for a bouquet, tossed it in the air again and this time it fell into the arms of Yaya, whose eyes went wide and she squealed loudly before throwing it up again, clearly having no interest in thinking of marriage any time soon, which I felt was to be expected of her. I wondered if it would ever land somewhere permanently when it plopped into Rima's arms. She looked taken aback and quickly looked at Yaya and glared at her. Yaya shook her head apologetically and Rima sighed at her. I smiled, wishing good luck to her and Nagi in my thoughts, seeing them together and happy would be nice. I saw Nagi shoot her a small grin to which she started blushing furiously and I laughed. And I smiled, which seemed to be something I couldn't stop doing today.
As the day grew older and the sky became dimmer, people settled down and I knew this day, no matter how perfect of a day it was, was going to come to an end. I was standing under the shade of a tree, watching the sunset. It was nice to have a few moments alone, to really take in all of today's events because there wasn't a minute I ever wanted to forget. Just as the sun was almost set beyond the horizon, I heard footsteps in the grass behind me and turned around and was unsurprised to see Ikuto walking towards me.
"Hey," I greeted him with a small smile that he returned to me.
"You look like you're glowing," he commented. I tilted my head at him. I hadn't realized my smile had been so radiant. Noticing my confused look, he pointed behind me towards the horizon. "The sun. From behind you, it made you look like you were glowing," he explained, stopping a few feet in front of me.
"I see," I nodded. Even then, I still felt like I was glowing, with or without the sun.
He crossed the short distance between us, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me close. "Well, you still look pretty radiant to me even without the sun," he said, reading my thoughts and I laughed lightly at that. "What?" he asked, questioning my laughter and I shook my head.
"It's nothing," I replied.
"Tsk, keeping secrets already and we haven't even been married for 24 hours," he teased and I rolled my eyes at him.
"Jeez, I was just thinking I felt all glowy, too," I said, not being able to come up with something more intellectual. He chuckled at the word 'glowy' as I suspected he would.
"So, how does it feel to me Mrs. Tsukiyomi?" he suddenly asked. I stared at him, watching as he waited for a response. I shook my head from side to side like I was pondering my thoughts.
"Hm… Good," I answered with a small smile, "really good."
He nodded with a grin. "That's what I was hoping,' he said, leaning down and kissing me lightly. When he pulled back, he only looked at me, like nothing else mattered. Like the skies could fall but he wouldn't care, because they were finally here, together.
"Come on, our ride is here," he said after a while, ending our embrace. Then instead, he offered me his hand, and I took it without hesitation.
And as I walked with Ikuto, hand in hand, I had never felt my radiance shine more brightly.
I can't believe it's finished wow! Three years later, many ups and downs and do overs and frustration and there is one, well, two things that have really kept me going. One being that Ikuto and Amu's love is one of the greatest things to ever bless this earth. And two, you guys. I honestly don't think I would have ever finished this if it wasn't for you, all of you. The praise and the criticism. Every bit of it helped to get me here. Thank you for sticking around for as long as you have, and warms my heart how long some of you have stuck with this story, despite my many month hiatus'. I love you guys so much, and I hope I see you around. I most likely won't be publishing any more amuto stories, as I tend to neglect writing them as soon as I should, unless I get an unfightable urge, and if I do I will keep it a one shot!
Thank you again for being the best fans and readers :)