Disclaimer: I do not own Aria or it's preceding (and maybe not too well known?) manga called "Aqua", I don't own the anime, and I don't own any of the characters. Kozue Amano is responsible for their creation.
I. One Life, One Meeting
The very first time he met and talked to her there was no logical reason for it. He could have hired any other undine that day, but chose her because he couldn't stop thinking: how the hell does a girl grow her hair like that? So he paid her, listened to her talk and stared at her hair, figuring he'd never see a girl with "sideburns" that long again.
To be sure, the decision led to a lifetime of friendship, interesting situations and much happiness.
...But really, it had made absolutely no sense.
When anyone is with Akari, happiness isn't just happiness anymore. The definition of the word is removed from the dictionary and thrown it out, rewritten to define smorgasbord of other things with herself included. And because she seemed to define an almost non-human sort of joy, Akatsuki despised her and treasured her for it, even when they were just friends.
He's the strong, talented Akatsuki-san, Salamander of Ukijima. That people think he's full of hot air for his boasting is irrelevant; he has an important job and he knows it. After maintaining the weather for a full day he usually thought about how Alicia might be smiling because of the steady temperature and the lovely breezes that follow. But lately, all he can think about is Momiko and that stupid smile she wears no matter what type of weather there is. It gets to be that every day he goes to work he thinks of her first, and how she's probably happy even when he screws up the atmosphere with the occasional mistake.
To her friends, she was "Akari-chan" or "Akari".
To others, she was simply "Undine-san".
Later she would be known as "Aquamarine-san", or "Aquamarine-sama", much to Akatsuki's amusement.
To her trainee and other young undines she was "Akari-senpai."
And to Akatsuki and Akatsuki only, she was most always "Momiko." She often insisted she was not, but never once got angry at him and tell him to stop. For this he felt a certain distinction from the rest.
After all, she was his Momiko.
She's shorter than him, smaller than him and quite slender, almost like a porcelain doll ready to break. Nevermind that she knows how to row far better than him, and that it takes a quick mind as well as strength to be an undine. Every time he sees her out on the water alone it puts him on edge, so he watches her carefully for any sign of struggle, his stomach knotting whenever she crosses the channels.
One day on the open water of the harbor a large ferry takes a wrong turn and heads straight for her. With a single flick of the wrist, she carries her boat to safety in a flurry of flowing hair and determined eyes, and doesn't even flinch. As he watches the whole thing happen from the shore, gelato in-hand quite forgotten and mouth gaping, he's never been happier to be proven wrong.
Momiko: Akatsuki's nickname for Akari. It basically means "pigtails" or "sideburns".
Salamander: The title of a person who maintains Aqua's weather from the floating islands. Also, if you have not read the manga "Aqua", you should. It's very good, and some of the vignette material comes from/will be coming from it.
I wrote the chapter titles and overall title in Italian as a nod to the elements of Italian culture in the series. I'm pretty sure I've got the title right, but if I don't please tell me.
Other than that, I hope you enjoy these! There will be more chapters coming in the near future, as I have pre-written some of these. Comments/critiques are most welcome!