~*Home at Heart*~

Words had power, after all, and Aqua knew the difference between good bye and…

~*X*~

She stood there, the wind toying with her blue hair, unable to force herself to move. She was utterly still, a statue on the peak of a small hilltop, sitting under a tree and watching the glitter of sunlight off of the nearby lake.

Am I really going to do this? Am I going to leave home for good?

Aqua was young by anyone's standard, a measly ten years of age. However, she was intelligent and infinitely wise in her thoughts, one of the reasons she had been "chosen". She tapped her fingers against her cheek and sighed, running her hand through the soft grass of her home, Lucis Fields.

It's not a permanent thing. I can always come back to visit…but is that a guarantee? I could be so busy training that I never make it back home. Writing isn't the same, either.

Frowning, the girl fell backwards with a groan and slammed a hand over her eyes, sunlight doggedly streaming in to obscure her vision with gold even behind closed lids.

The sound of footsteps stirred her out of her reverie, and she opened one eye slowly as a silhouette blocked out the sun. She blinked up at the newcomer, attempting to drag herself out of her own musings enough to form a coherent sentence.

"Terra," she greeted in a friendly enough tone. She had met the apprentice to Keyblade Master Eraqus yesterday, when she had had a discussion with the old warrior about things that had yet to make complete sense. She liked him and his Master both. They had kind hearts.

"Excuse me."

"Um…yes?"

"Would you mind telling me your name?"

Silence.

"Would you feel better if I told you ours first?"

"…Yeah…"

"My name is Master Eraqus, and this is my apprentice, Terra."

"I'm Aqua."

"Aqua. It's a pleasure to meet you. We've come a long way searching for someone with a heart as pure as yours."

"Me? Pure hearted?"

"One of the most Light filled hearts I have ever encountered."

Then, a weird discussion had ensued about something called Keyblades and worlds and the pathways between them…apparently the elderly gentleman and his young disciple were guardians of peace.

"Aqua," Eraqus told her with a serious expression. He knelt down to her level, holding a large silver key before him. "Take this handle."

She hesitantly reached out and closed her fingers around where he indicated, and she felt something warm and almost billowy flow into her. A small globe of white radiance emitted out from where she gripped the weapon.

All the while, Terra watched with an unreadable expression, his eyes dark.

After, she had been told that the Keyblade had chosen her. If she was willing to come with them, she could learn how to defend the cosmos from various threats, and become a Keyblade Master. Terra hadn't said anything up to that moment, and yet his eyes had locked onto hers and she saw what looked like…loneliness.

Was he really lonely, back at their castle in the Land of Departure? So alien, these words, and yet she found herself captivated by the stories woven by Master Eraqus. She had a chance to become part of a fairy tale—wait, that wasn't right. The Keybearers were very real indeed, and apparently her father knew this, because he was vehemently against her going to "get killed". He had said as much when she had attempted to explain the events of that day to him.

Her mother wanted her to do whatever she wished.

"Aqua?" Terra's voice was low for his age, and his shadowy cobalt gaze was partially covered by his brown hair. He was already muscular, and compared to him, she herself appeared rather scrawny.

"Yes?" She knew what she wanted, but God, didn't she get a few more hours to decide?

(But who was she kidding. She had made her decision the instant Terra had met her eyes.)

"Master…he says we have to go now. Do you want to come with us? If so…" He shrugged, shoulders hunched, and she wished he wasn't so hard to read. "You need to go talk to your parents. Master Eraqus has already explained to them about the Keyblade, but the final choice is yours."

So formal, she thought. Slowly, the girl got to her feet and stared levelly at him. He squirmed a bit, to her amusement. "What do you think?"

"Huh?" His face slackened in surprise. "What do I think about what?"

She turned back to the lake, and she couldn't bear the thought of this being the last time she saw it. She had grown up in these sunny plains near the water; it was where she had gotten her name. "Should I go with you? Do you even want me there?"

"Ah, well, I—" Terra caught himself, cleared his throat, and pivoted away from her so that he was concentrating on the shady tree and not the female. "I think you're a nice person."

"But that doesn't mean you want me to go with you." Aqua stopped talking for a few heartbeats, and she figured he was probably at least two years older than her. "Yes or no? And be honest, okay?" She clasped her hands in front of her and lowered her head.

If he wants me to go, then I'll go. Even if it means leaving my family and Lucis Fields behind.

There was a lengthy pause, and then she started a bit as a hand clapped down—hard—on her shoulder. She ended up staggering and nearly collapsing until a laughing Terra steadied her.

"I'd like you to come," he said, his young face growing serious. "So are you going to tell your parents or not?"

Thankful, Aqua caught him in a hug that had even the athletic boy gasping for air. Releasing him abruptly, she took a deep, steadying breath and started off down the dirt road towards her house. "Thank you, Terra!"

She heard him struggling to fill his suddenly empty lungs. "N-No problem."

~*X*~

"So you see, Mom, Dad…" Aqua made herself meet each of their eyes. "I want to be a Keyblade Master. I want to study under Master Eraqus."

Her mother looked very similar to her daughter, except that her hair was a far lighter shade of blue that was almost gray. Her father was a stern faced man with dark teal locks that were cut short, just above his ears.

"You know I'm with you whatever you do," her mom promised with a smile just for her.

Her father still looked angry, she could tell because of his narrowed gaze. Regardless, he turned his glare onto Eraqus instead. "Will you keep her safe?"

"The lives of my apprentices come before mine."

"And what is she learning, again?"

"Combat skills and healing, amongst other things. It takes years of training to become a Keyblade Master." Eraqus looked patient and calm, as if he had gone through this before. She supposed that he had done this with Terra's folks also.

Aqua nervously exchanged a glance with Terra, and he simply lifted one shoulder before letting it fall, arms crossed.

"What if she wants to come home?" Her father demanded.

"I will take her back immediately." It was hard not to trust Master Eraqus. The battle-scarred gentleman had a wise, benevolent atmosphere about him and he carried himself proudly, without crossing over into arrogance. Like some kind of mystical samurai, from ancient legend, complete with a long robe.

"And she won't get hurt?"

Here, the Keyblade Master dipped his head. "Sir, as a Keyblade Apprentice, she will get into plenty of fights along the way, either during practice bouts or with actual opponents. However, I can guarantee her safety in the matter, for I will keep a close eye on her."

"What do you think she will excel at?" asked her mother curiously, her loving gaze moving to her daughter's.

Eraqus looked at Aqua with a smile. "I believe she will be a spectacular spellcaster."

Me? Magic?

She was leaving home—leaving home to try new things. To get a life of her own. She would have left home eventually anyway, and she was being offered something that was incredibly rare. Keyblade Master Aqua. Could that really be her someday…?

At last, her father exhaled sharply. "Aqua," he addressed his daughter now, his scowl lessening considerably. "Go show them what you're made of, just remember that you can—"

Aqua dove at him, embracing her dad in relief. She quickly did the same to her mom, then she turned to Eraqus and performed a perfect replica of a bow that Terra had done earlier. "I am honored to train with you, Master Eraqus."

"It is a pleasure to have you," he replied with a prudent grin. "Sir, Madam, thank you and we will be leaving now. Aqua, Terra and I will be outside. Come as soon as you are ready." With that he beckoned to his student and the two left the house.

"Mom…Dad…" Aqua sighed, rubbing at her hair, readjusting the strap of the bag on her shoulders.

"I know you'll make us proud, honey. Show everyone what you're made of, and remember we will always love you." Her mother kissed her on the cheek before hugging her close, and she was horrified to feel a tear or two.

"D-Don't cry," she begged. "I-I'm sorry for leaving you!"

Her dad shook his head. "Don't apologize, it's just…This will be a dangerous life, from what I've heard." He glowered at the door as if he wished he could make someone spontaneously combust. "Take care of yourself and come home whenever you want."

"I-I will." The ten year old felt as if there was an open chasm ahead of her, and she had to jump the gap. She had no idea how deep or how far it was, or what the penalty of failure could possibly be. It made her frightened, and her heart constricted into a painful knot in her chest. She blinked several times to clear her vision, taking a few steps towards the door.

"Good bye, Aqua! Good luck!" Her mother called.

Two words stopped her in her tracks. The girl hurriedly composed herself and rotated slowly to face her parents, her shrewd azure eyes brighter than usual. "No, not good bye!"

At their puzzled expressions, she went on. "Not good bye," she repeated quietly. "Good bye means we'll never see each other again. That's the wrong thing to say. We will see one another again! I promise!" She put on a very real smile, fighting back tears of her own. Being strong started now. "See you later!"

With that, she acknowledged their goodbyes with a wave, sprinting out the house and accepting Terra's offered hand, taking the appearance of the motorcycle-like hovering vehicle in stride.

She didn't know what the future held. She wasn't a seer, or some kind of magician. She still didn't know how deep the drop was, or how long the leap. All she knew was, if she fell, her family would rescue her before she hit the bottom.

That was more than enough.

Keyblade Apprentice Aqua wrapped her arms around Terra's waist as he leaned over his craft, narrowing her eyes against the gleam of Light as the pathways opened themselves wide.

"Go!" She urged, still smiling as a tear—happy or sad, she knew not—trailed down her face.

The Keyblade Riders lifted off and were gone, leaving not a trace behind.

~*X*~

Author's Note: Happy Birthday, sunflowerb! I hope you have a great one, and I hope you enjoyed this story! For any wondering, the theme for this story I was given was "moving". Fits a real life situation.

Again, I reiterate: Happy Birthday! You reader people should go wish her a happy birthday too! =D

(Lucis Fields, my name for Aqua's home-world, is derived from the Latin word "Lux Lucis", which means "light".)