Title: The Garden

Genre: Romance/Fantasy

Rating: M

Disclaimer: I no own

Summary: His father had three months to buy him back from Master Riku. For now Sora was stuck in an enchanted palace with a cursed Beast. – RiSo

A BIG thank you to my awesome Beta: Hydromaniac-Mermaidella


IVX: CAN SET THEM FREE


Riku was pouting. His arms were folded across his small chest, and his thin eyebrows were furrowed angrily for all to see. He was not happy.

He was seated on top of a traveling trunk, surrounded by suitcases which littered the foyer. The servants were doing last minute rounds to make sure that nothing was left behind. Some of them, such as Pence and Olette, had left earlier that day with the horses strapped securely to the back of a small truck. They had needed the extra time, because the animals would have to be taken out to graze and such every few hours.

The little prince held the white chocolate rose tightly in his little fist, having thrown a fit when Kairi had tried to pack it in his own case.

Sora was gone.

The teenager had left the day before. Riku had latched onto him with all of his might, and was slightly surprised when he realized that Sora had been holding him just as tightly. The only reason as to why the prince had let go was because of what had been whispered to him.

"This isn't goodbye. We'll see each other again. We promised."

They had promised with a kiss.

The eight year old sighed sadly, staring down at the candy in his small hands.

"Smile little one," Selphie gave him a kind look as she approached him, "You'll get to see your parents again. Letters and brief visits are never enough for any child. And we both know how much you've missed your mother."

Everything that she had said was the truth. Still, it didn't help with the feeling of emptiness in his heart.

"I want Sora." He frowned. Angry tears formed in his eyes, but he refused to allow any of them to fall. He had never felt so much hatred towards another being as he did at that moment toward Maleficent.

"Sora is living his life," Roxas's voice cut in, as sharp as a razor. Some things in Riku's life would never change, and this was one of them. In a way he was glad that the head of servants was his usual no-nonsense self, "Just as you told him to do."

"Must you be so harsh?" Axel's voice echoed from behind the blond. "Babycakes here," He motioned towards the child in the room, "is hurt. Just because you're emotions are nonexistent doesn't mean that everyone's are."

The Master looked around the manor. This had been a summer home his family would sometimes escape to back when he was a child. Only, he still was the same age as he had been then. Nothing in his life seemed to have changed at all.

One by one the servants grabbed their belongings and headed towards the cars which Hayner had moved to the front of the house the night before. Naminé was the last to step out of the house, a hand holding firmly onto her godson's.

She stared into the darkened house, noticing how the cold was already beginning to seep into every corner. With a nostalgic smile, she closed the door behind her.


12 Years Later


"Sora! Where's that newest shipment located?" The female voice was loud in the semi-busy bookstore. School was about to start soon, and children were scurrying to pick up what they needed. Some were even just now purchasing what was supposed to have been their summer reading.

Twenty-eight year old Sora Azure chuckled to himself as he helped a young woman reach a hardbound book that was on the top shelf. He smiled kindly at her before politely excusing himself and heading into the backroom.

His boss, Yuffie, was thirty-two years old and seven months pregnant with her first child. She also tended to be a bit eccentric and sometimes flew off into hormonal tantrums when something was not done the way she wanted it.

"It's on the shelf Yuf," the blue eyed man stated, pointing at the box directly in his boss's line of vision.

His life had been a quiet one for the last several years. His father owned the town's pub, turning it into a more familial establishment during the day, but once night fell no children were allowed. There were two separate apartments above the pub where both father and son resided. However, instead of Sora working alongside his father, he had decided to take the job offered to him in the town's only bookstore.

There hadn't been many ups or downs in his life. When he had first left the manor he floundered for a few months, trying to readjust to a world where there were people everywhere. Where there were noises and actual society. It felt odd to fall back into such a normal lifestyle, what was even more strange was how much those three months locked away in the manor had changed him.

Sometimes, during quiet moments, he would feel someone's eyes on him. Other times, the more serious ones, he could still feel the warm blood on his hands and the heaviness of a dragon's heart in his palms.

Although some good came out of the bad memories, Sora began writing a series of novels based loosely on his time in the manor. Albeit the adventures of Micky, Donald, and Goofy were more quirky and aimed towards a more kid-friendly audience, they still held the underlying darkness which Sora had felt all those years ago.

He had already written four books, and was working on his fifth one, deciding that he would stop once he reached seven books. He doubted he had much more story to tell after the seventh one was published.

"Are you going to the carnival tonight?" Yuffie asked as the two separated the newest order. From their spot in the back room they could hear Yuffie's husband, Leon, at the register talking to some teenage boys about their latest action adventure novels.

The carnival was one thrown once a year. It was to celebrate the Prince's birthday. Some years Sora would attend and have fun, others he would lock himself away in his home and turn in early that night.

It wasn't as if he hadn't tried to live his life to the fullest. There had been two other romances in his life. One was a young woman who had worked as a barmaid at the pub, that relationship had lasted barely a year before they had broken it off. She was married now and expecting a child, Sora wished her nothing but the best in life.

The second had been to a man who had only been traveling through town on business. He had been a part of a larger group there to build a railroad just on the outskirts of town so that it would be easier for people to travel. That relationship had lasted nearly three years, but once the project had completed both he and Sora went their separate ways.

Sometimes Sora would cry bitter tears of anger at his situation. Thoughts of running away and becoming someone else, and finding someone else to love, would enter his mind. Until a small voice in his head would remind him that if he were to leave this town Riku would not know how to find him. He sometimes felt ridiculous about that silly promise they had made all those years ago, how naïve and hopeful they both had been. Here he was, at twenty-eight, and a nobody in the general public. And here Riku was, just turning twenty and the next in line for the throne.

During their years apart they had only shared a dream once. It was after the prince's fourteenth birthday. It had been an accident. The brunette had found himself in the garden, watching the fish when the sound of a pubescent exclamation shook him from his quiet thoughts.

Riku was so young, acne marks on his face, and his hair slightly oily. It was obviously an awkward stage in his life, but it made the older man's heart warm at the sight. Sora had been twenty-two and fully entering adulthood. Their conversation had been sporadic. The prince seemingly had a lot to talk about, excitement causing his body to buzz. And the blue eyed man had listened patiently, inputting his opinion when the moment called for it. They sat there for hours until Sora's alarm went off, waking him up abruptly. They hadn't spoken in any way since.

Yuffie's large brown eyes were on him. They were warm and pleading, showing that she worried about him. He was twenty-eight, single, good-looking, and smart. She knew that there was something, or perhaps someone, who had such a hold over the man that it oftentimes left him an outcast, no matter how open and friendly people were towards him.

"I may make an appearance," He answered after a few moments of silence, the usual smile he wore pasted onto his face.


They closed the bookstore early that evening, so that everyone could have enough time to go home, relax a bit, and then go out to the carnival. Rumor had it that Prince Riku was to make an appearance that night, not that Sora believed it. That rumor had been passed around every year.

The man yawned as he made his way up to his apartment. Below him he could hear the pub's patrons already beginning to celebrate this national holiday.

Shaking his head to himself, he entered his home, only to be greeted by a large warm body of coarse fur and wet tongue.

"Hey Pluto," He laughed as the dog managed to lick his chin. "How was your day?"

The dog was one thing that Sora would never regret or get angry at. Pluto was a large mutt of an animal, a cross between a terrier and a retriever. He had a purple tongue, and short dirty blond colored fur.

Sora petted his dog happily, showering the animal with affection.

"How about we go for a walk before dinner huh?" He asked in a cooing voice, a tone he would never use around other people if he could help it.

Pluto yipped, running in circles around his owner as Sora retrieved the leash to hook onto the harness he placed over the dogs' medium sized body.

He then quickly changed into street clothes before taking the dog out for their usual evening walk.

As the two passed various shops and people, Pluto would stop every once in a while for a quick sniff or to greet a person he was fond of. In the dog's case it was almost everyone he knew. But Sora didn't mind, he loved the simple moments he had the luxury of living.

They carried on as they normally would; they took whatever path Pluto chose. Many dog manuals always wrote never to let a dog take over the walk, but Sora didn't care. Pluto was kept inside the house nearly all day, sleeping or eating. His walks were something special to him, and the owner saw no need to be strict about it.

They walked passed the candy shop, stopping as children commented on how cute the dog was, and asked to pet him. Sora stood patiently while Pluto relished in the attention he was receiving. The man kept an eye on the animal, because sometimes he would become too excited and would decide that then was a perfect time to pounce on someone to lick their face.

After their long walk was over, they went back to the apartment afterwards, Sora dropped Pluto off before he made his way into the heart of town once more.

The carnival was already beginning. Music wafted throughout the air and the smell of food made even the fullest of people hungry.

Children ran past him, in a hurry to ride the Ferris wheel.

Several live bands preformed on stage, and the overall joyful atmosphere put Sora in a cheerful mood. He participated in some of the carnival games, and even socialized with a few people that he knew.

Rumors were still spreading that the prince was to make his appearance after midnight. That was when the real party was to begin.

Usually these lies were squashed before the carnival even started. To still hear them caused the man to become slightly suspicious.

Around ten in the evening, most of the children had gone home and it was only the adults milling around. Sora too walked away from the carnival, lost in his own mind. He allowed his feet to take him wherever they wished, not paying any mind as to what was going on around him.

It wasn't until he snapped out of his thoughts that he realized he could no longer hear the music, it was just a faint hum being carried by the warm breeze.

Blue eyes took in his surroundings before he froze. The manor's gates stood before him, looking as menacing as they had all those years ago.

Cautiously, he gently pushed a gate open. He jumped back slightly at the sound of it creaking loudly. Still, it did not prevent him from wandering further inside.

The grounds were overgrown, no one had come back to maintain it once they had left. The ivy which had crawled up the face of the manor had bloomed into beautiful red roses, washing over everything within a ten foot radius of the house with their fragrance.

Sora continued to walk a familiar path that he had not been on in years. He was surprised that he remembered it. Perhaps it was his heart that memorized it.

He had difficultly breathing as the stone archway came into view. It looked more crumbled than he remembered, but still in decent enough shape to walk under. The stone pathway was nearly entirely covered by grass, and the fountain was full of cracks, weeds peeking their way through them.

Still, even in the dim light of the night, it felt as if he were back in his old home.

Gingerly taking a seat at the edge of it, he peered down into the empty fountain. Perhaps if he pretended hard enough, he could hear the babbling of water and see the koi fish lazily swimming to and fro.

Somewhere nearby an owl hooted.

There was no point in coming here. It had been twelve years, there was nothing for him here. Maybe he was being ridiculous in thinking that Riku was his true love. Maybe he had been Sora's true love at the time. The man had read somewhere that everyone had exactly two chances at true love. Riku had probably been his first, which meant that there was still another out there for him.

Even so, it didn't explain the longing which he forever felt, no matter who he was physically with at the time. There was that chance that the prince had forgotten about their promise. Sora wouldn't blame him. After all, the other had to relive an entire life.

Maybe it was time for Sora to move on. Settle down, have children, and be content with the fact that his life could be worse.

The sound of dried grass crunching beneath feet caused the man to snap out of his stupor. He vaguely wondered if it were just a stray dog or another creature just passing by. This was neither wolf nor bear territory, so the possibility of it being a large predator was slim to none.

It could have been a couple of teenagers. Young lovers were known for sneaking onto the manor's grounds during the night. Legend had told that being intimate on the property promised that the couple was going to be together forever.

The so called legend always made Sora snort. It was hardly over a decade ago when people spoke of a demon-like beast that had resided in the manor and ate hearts. How quickly things changed.

The footsteps continued toward him. If it were a young couple then they were going to be sorely disappointed to find out that they were not alone.

Footsteps padded softly on the grass covered stones. They were coming straight to the fountain.

Sora sat facing the archway, poised with a sarcastic remark ready at the tip of his tongue. The quirk was quickly swallowed as his blood ran cold at the sight before him.

"Axel said he had seen you leaving the carnival before I had gotten a chance to arrive. I figured you would be here." His voice was a bit deeper than it had been when he was eighteen. He was even taller than he once was. His hair was still so fine a blond that it appeared silver, but it was kept in a shorter style. Everything about him looked proper and perfectly placed. He oozed of royalty.

Yet, his green eyes were the same as they were in both Sora's memories and in his dreams.

"Speechless? I understand." Riku smiled warmly, "I would be too if a handsome man were to suddenly approach me."

It was then that the twenty-eight year old found his voice, "You've gotten cocky over the years."

The prince chuckled, "Unfortunately that happens when one is forced to partake in socializing with snobs who fall over their feet to be on their good side. I can afford to be cocky."

His every step was precise, almost catlike. Sora was glad that at least that hadn't changed.

"Have you been well?" The prince asked, stopping a few feet before the other. His green eyes drank in the sight of him, tracing every detail.

The brunette nodded, "As well as I could be. How have you been?"

"Good."

The silence between them was overwhelming. Sora fought the urge to leap up and run away from the other. This was a moment which he had dreamed of for so long, and now that it was here happening, he was at a loss as to what he should do.

"I've missed you." Sora admitted.

"I love you." Riku stated.

Their words collided as they spoke at once, and they smiled sheepishly at each other.

The brunette man stood, noticing that the other was still taller than him, despite it all. "Why don't we—"

His words were cut off by soft lips colliding against his own in a fierce kiss. Soon they found themselves fumbling about on the ground, passion overriding thought.

To Sora this felt like the beginning of their happily ever after.


FIN


MLL: I had honestly debated on ending it with them never seeing each other again. Luckily, I'm a sucker for happy endings. I feel accomplished for being able to finish this fic, it's been such a long journey. Thank you all for sticking by it while it took me way too long to complete. I appreciate you.

Please review, flames are always welcome.