Outside the castle, the Land of Departure was a lush and beautiful world. A world of forest and mountains and endless webs of streams. Of exotic plant life and tiny boisterous sounding creatures, all co-existing in the same ecosystem. The world around the main castle was wild and untouched and completely incorruptible.

And that was where Terra found Aqua eventually, somewhere in the middle of the thick overgrowth of forest and the high, sharp-peaked mountains, where rivers flowed in deep ravines over sprawling pastures of green, green earth.

He discovered her by accident while exploring the land on his own, batting away colorful, glittering insects as he happened upon a clearing that sloped gently into the riverside, sturdy trees framing the area in a loose semi-circle. It was pretty secluded and good distance away from the castle, which is what was so particularly surprising. He never expected Aqua to travel out this far, a near 2 hour walk away.

Most of her skin was bare, Terra noticed first, her skirts and bands and accessories left in a little pile on a nearby rock along with her shoes and stockings and the outer most layer of her shirt. Wading thigh deep in the river, her sparse clothes were dark outlines against her skin, fingertips lightly playing across the surface of the water.

It seemed to shift beneath her hands, like invisible fish jumping up under her palms, a steady thrum of something mystical hanging delicately in the air around her. The water bent and pulled and stretched as something almost solid-looking and for a second, Terra almost forgot that he wasn't really trying to disturb her.

The surface of the river suddenly fell limply and lay flat and still once again and Aqua balled her fists in agitation. Sighing sharply, she dipped her hands in the water and ran her fingers through her hair. On some unconscious level, Terra knew he should have, at the very least, made an attempt to hide himself, instead of standing in the center of the clearing by the water's edge, gawking. But he was much too preoccupied noticing how long Aqua's legs looked without those stockings. How pale and flawless the skin of her back was.

"Terra." Aqua said his name in a breathless exhale, effectively startling them both, her eyes just a little too wide. "You scared me."

"Sorry, I didn't mean to...interrupt." Terra swallowed, willing his eyes higher, somewhere in the space above her eyebrows because it the only thing safe to look at. "What—What are you doing, anyway?"

"Oh, just...practicing." She crossed her arms over her chest and for a second, she looked almost vulnerable. Shifting her weight to the other foot, her eyes turned dubious and maybe even a little suspicious and Terra coughed, finding a patch of grass toward the edge of the forest to redirect his attention to. "How did you find me out here?"

"Oh, uh, chance. I guess." He didn't like how sharp her voice sounded, gesturing towards the trees in a placating manner. "I wasn't following you, if that's what you mean."

"Hm." Aqua's gaze sidled to the side, to her clothes, and she might've shivered, just once, crossing her arms more securely over her chest. Terra was just about to offer to get them for her, but then her eyebrows pulled tight and her mouth became a stern line and though she wasn't looking directly at him, Terra figured he was probably still intruding and she only wanted her privacy.

Terra jerked a thumb back towards the way he came, taking a step in the same direction. "I'm just going leave now, so you can get back to practicing." Walking backwards the whole way.

Aqua blinked and her expression shifted drastically, from mild surprise to lightly apologetic, to a thin smile that made him stop, eventually. "No, that's—It's fine, really, you don't have to leave. I was finishing up anyway."

"So you don't mind if I watch then." Terra slouched to the ground, folding his arms over his knees. Making himself comfortable. Aqua blanched, her mouth falling open just slightly. Her expression was wide open, like that, betraying several emotions at once, mostly surprise and even a little intrigue.

"You want to watch?" She asked slowly as if she hadn't heard him right, arms uncrossing to hang airily at her sides.

"Sure," Terra answered casually, resting his chin at the middle of his folded arms. He dug his heels into the earth and watched her with much more attention than was called for. "Maybe I'll learn something."

Aqua rolled her eyes, if half-heartedly, wading back deeper into the river. Mouth poised as if to say something sarcastic, but she seemed to stop herself. Terra watched intently and Aqua resumed the position she started in when he first happened upon her, fingers just barely touching the surface of the water.

The water shifted again almost instantly, jumping just slightly beneath her hands. Aqua breathed evenly and Terra couldn't help but think she looked elegant standing there, like some kind of deity, bending and pulling the water itself to her will.

Water rose in a near-solid arch, following the movement of her hands, and while it was impressive, it wasn't as fluid as it could've been. It halted, hesitated somewhere inches above the river, then shivered and broke abruptly, like a bubble bursting.

Aqua made a sound like a sharp hiss and Terra frowned, because Aqua kind of looked disappointed with herself and something really needed to be done about that, because it wasn't a look that was particularly right for her. Aqua sighed, and when she glanced over at him finally, she laughed. With her eyebrows drawn together and chewing her lip. "Do you have to stare like that?"

Terra leaned back on his hands, smirking very subtly for Aqua's sake. "I thought you were teaching me."

Aqua brightened, if only very slightly. "Yeah but, you don't have to concentrate quite so...hard."

Kind of hard not to. Terra wanted to say, but the words got lost somewhere between the initial thought and Aqua suggesting something about helping her. "Help you?"

"Yeah, I'll show you how."

Terra made a face, uncertain and at the same time, almost curious. He'd never cared much for magic and he couldn't help but think he probably wouldn't be that much help as he reluctantly agreed, shucking off his shoes because it was mildly humid outside anyway and the river didn't look half bad.

Just as he was removing his accessories and his shirt and outer clothing, Aqua half turned away, maybe blushing, he noticed with a grin, feeling just a tiny nudge of ego telling him that it was completely okay to call that moment cute if he wanted to. And he did, storing that little bit of information away somewhere safe, where it would resurface some day in the future when some form of teasing was in order.

The water was shockingly cold, Terra realized once he undressed and set his clothes aside and he grimaced, easing himself down in small intervals. His toes disturbing the great beds of silt at the bottom as he sloshed carefully towards the middle. Aqua offered him her hand and Terra reached out, still doubtful but willing to humor her, and Aqua wrapped her fingers around his, her own hand slender and small in comparison.

"So, what now?" Terra nearly shivered, the water lapping lazily at hip level.

"We have to do it at the same time, so, we have to be touching...in some way."

Terra blinked and his eyebrows raised just a fraction and Aqua cleared her throat to ease the tension, moving as if to release his fingers and instead sliding her hand under his so his palm covered the back and she could lace their fingers together.

Pleasantly bemused, Terra shrugged, smile already forming on his lips. A little wickedly, even. "If you say so."

Aqua stood with her back to him, though not without a careful amount of space between them. Something she had done purposely, Terra assumed. She brought their joined hands to the very surface of the water like she had done before and from this angle, Terra could admire the delicate bend of her neck and the bead of water slowly running down between her shoulder blades.

From this angle, he could admire her girlishly small ears and the hair that hung damply around them and the soft curve of her jaw. He wasn't sure exactly how long he was staring, but the steady thrum of heavy magic pulsed briefly between where their skin was touching—their hands—and his concentration was broken by an almost electric-like sensation coursing up his arm.

The water rose immediately, as solid as ice, forming a perfect shivering sphere beneath their hands, and Aqua laughed suddenly as if startled by disbelief, bouncing giddily on her feet.

"It worked!" She cheered and her fingers tightened around Terra's just slightly, more than enough to notice, and he might've said something like, "So it did." before he shifted his foot forward just a bit and with very little effort, bending enough at the waist that he could lightly brush his lips across her neck. Feeling the soft, wet hairs behind her ear tickle his nose.

Aqua jumped, her shoulder nearly banging the underside of his chin and she looked up at him, surprised, a little nervous maybe if Terra was reading her face right. She blinked wordlessly and the little sphere of water trembled and burst, now that neither of them were concentrating any longer.

Terra slipped his free arm around her waist, hand resting casually on her hip and Aqua might've said something like, "What--", all the while failing to notice that when she angled her head like that, it made it entirely too easy. Too easy to just tighten his arm around her and dip down, catching her mouth in a soft kiss.

Aqua inhaled sharply, though she didn't pull away, curiously enough. She kissed back, if only very slightly, the gentle press of her lips was careful and questioning and slow, which was fine. Because even though the water was still freezing, her hands were warm as they came in between them and rested almost timidly on his abdomen, fingertips searching, feeling.

All caution and hesitation dwindled away eventually though, and Aqua let him part her lips with his own, arm coming up and her fingers feeling along his jaw and his neck, sliding into his hair. And it felt entirely too good, just like this, the both of them together, her fingers sliding through his hair and his tongue slipping between their lips, all of it combined pushing it into something much deeper.

Aqua might have moaned right then, and it was a soft sound, almost unnoticeable as Terra held her hips with both hands, and he might have pressed them together right then, pulling her hips firmly against his. With a little added friction that made them both groan.

"Terra..." Aqua's voice was hot in his ear, and he barely noticed this, his mouth busy somewhere halfway down her neck, hands busy halfway down her back. She nudged him lightly away, with some reluctance, and Terra pulled back, licking his lips in something like disappointment. Even though he was fully aware of why they had to stop, it didn't mean he really wanted to. Because there they were, in the middle of the forest, undressed and waist-deep in the river, with no one anywhere around to interrupt. And when he thought about it, it really wasn't such a great idea.

An unfathomably great fantasy though.

"We should get back soon." Aqua tongued her top lip and Terra wondered briefly if she was tasting him as she glanced up at the little window of sky in the canopy. It was bright blue and sometime way past noon, according to the sun. "It's going to get dark."

Terra hummed in agreement, his hands still on her hips, feeling the thin material of her black shorts and contemplating how easy it would be to get rid of them. Aqua broke that train of thought though, bringing herself to him again and pressing their lips together in something soft and much more innocent. Smiling against his mouth.

"Come on," She grabbed his hand and curled her fingers around his as she lead them both out of the water, back towards land and their clothing and decency, where they dressed in comfortable silence and Terra didn't bother to pretend that he wasn't watching her the whole time.

And as they left, trekking back through the dense forest—Aqua smiling and squeezing his fingers because it was their own little secret—Terra looked back and memorized the way to return to clearing, figuring that they would come back to this spot sometime in future.

Hopefully sometime soon.

--

If you can't tell already, Aqua is my absolute favorite. Just saying.

And lawl, she totally manipulated him there. Damn those wily girls, always tricking the boys into getting half nekkid. :3