A/N: This site needs to get itself a "fluff" genre tag. "Humour" doesn't quite convey the fluffy fluffiness of this piece of cotton candy. ('Sides, it's more light-hearted than hilarious.)
This was somewhat written because I liked the idea of kid!version Aqua and Terra having a gender war, but mostly written because, after a lot of bad days, there needed to be some cute, meaningless fun.
To anyone having a bad day, I hope I could at the least help you feel a bit better.
"Keep moving, you two. Don't let the enemy get close. Not that far, Aqua, you're leaving yourself open. Good, good. Don't stumble when you dodge and— Block, Terra, block! You can't always win by brute strength."
From under his helmet Terra gave a look that said 'I'm trying' though it changed back to concentration when Aqua seized the chance to hit his shoulder.
The two children sparred on the lawn as Eraqus watched, correcting and complimenting as need be. He'd finally given in to the pleads of letting them duel, making them armour and wooden Keyblades. The armour was rather flimsy and the Keyblades nothing special, but the children adored the equipment that was theirs. They'd even risked splinters to messily scratch their names into the Keyblade handles. Eraqus wasn't sure which child had first devised the idea, although it didn't matter since the other had probably copied afterwards.
He masked a sigh by instructing Terra to watch his posture.
When the children had first arrived, wide-eyed and excited, they had gotten along well. Surprisingly well, actually. He'd expected orphans taken to a castle where they'd train to fight would be more hesitant. Instead, Aqua made it a goal to introduce herself to every member of the servant staff and Terra set to exploring every single hallway and memorizing the way. They loved their new rooms, they loved training, hard as the sessions were, and— for this, he smiled— they loved the man they respectfully called Master.
On the lawn, Aqua decided to show off and went into a pirouetting swing. Terra, as he was told, blocked the attack. They both stumbled from the abruptly stopped force.
"Well done," said Eraqus.
For the first few years everything had been fine. Terra and Aqua followed his instructions with eager determination, asking to be shown the best way to do this and the quickest way to do that. When they weren't training they took turns asking questions about the Keyblades. "What are they made of?" "Do we get to pick how they look?" "What are the other worlds like?" "When can we see them?" "Are there any stories of famous Keyblade Masters you can tell us?" It seemed the only time they did act their young age was when they played games pretending to be heroes that saved days and "wrote" wrongs, which in their childish naïveté they assumed to mean being given certificates or rewards and this is what heroism all amounted to.
Then came the day the both of them made a sudden observation.
They were two different genders.
And that, to a child, meant they were born enemies.
Aqua bit down on her lip— because her trick hadn't worked, as far as Eraqus guessed— as icy crystals began to form in the air around her.
"Aqua, no magic."
A bit of friendly competition could be handled, even encouraged. Eraqus himself remembered trying to best his peers as a boy. But this... This he had no comparison for.
The disputes started small, almost to be called "innocent". A few challenging stares whenever they were in close proximity, a few taunts on the "battlefield", a few unwritten scores kept. Soon Terra was stealing Aqua's possessions and hiding them in the hallways somewhere while Aqua bragged about how much more proficient she was at magic casting and therefore what a better student she was. Then they started to avoid each other, and when they did need to be in the same room they refused to even look or speak to one another.
Aqua managed to halt her spell and returned to fighting Terra fairly. The two ducked and dodged for some time before they both moved in to strike. Both Keyblades thunked loudly as they locked together.
The worst of the disputes happened a few days prior. The previous quiet had been replaced by screaming— lots of screaming— and a nearby maid saw Terra dash out of his room and down the hall, yelling all the while for help. Then she saw the smoke.
After being told by a panicked Terra that "Aqua is burning down my room!" (a very odd but very true statement), Eraqus rushed upstairs to find the girl standing in the middle of the destruction. She'd managed to put out the fire, but half the room was either burnt or singed while the other half was encased in melting ice.
Aqua's only response to Eraqus' look was to smile a bit too wide.
From what he'd gathered later on, Aqua had stormed into Terra's room, demanding he return her book he'd stolen and hid. He told her to leave because he so happened to be studying at the time, which lead her to believe that was the stolen book. This lead to a short scuffle wherein they both tried to grab the book from the other. When Terra yanked it from Aqua's hands, holding it highly and proudly above her, she decided to retaliate by setting the book on fire. It was about then the screaming started.
This story came from the mouths of both children, with quite a few changes as they tried to push all the blame onto the other. Later that evening, Eraqus decided that they could spar. As he told the children the next morning while they were cleaning Terra's room, "If you are going to fight, you may as well learn while doing so."
And now the two of them were standing before him, fake Keyblades stubbornly locked together. Neither one was yielding, presumably convinced he or she could knock the other's blade away and win. When Aqua pushed, Terra pushed harder.
From Eraqus' viewpoint he watched them both shove back and forth a few more times. When that plan failed, he saw them, he assumed, talking. More battlefield taunts, perhaps? Yes, that must have been it, because he saw Aqua's mouth tighten even as she responded to some remark Terra had made. Maybe a bit of teasing would make one drop their weapon. Eraqus was close on that thought. He watched Terra lean forward, face a picture of smugness, and whisper something to Aqua. The girl's expression turned to an oft not used one of anger and, with a grunt and a swing, she knocked Terra's toy Keyblade aside and raised hers high.
The thunk! from Aqua's weapon on Terra's helmet was loud enough to startle a few nearby birds from their roosts. Eraqus couldn't hide his sigh this time and walked over to one still angry fighter with a fierce grip on a wooden handle, one holding his head and saying a lot of "ow"s.
When he reached them, he asked "Now, Aqua, was it absolutely necessary that after a disarm you had to attack Terra's head?"
Aqua stood as tall and straight as possible and said, "He deserved it, Master. He made fun of my name."
Terra ripped his helmet off. "Only because she made fun of mine first!"
"No, I didn't!"
"Yes she did, Master! She said my name sounded like a girl's name!"
"Only because you said my name sounded stupid!"
If he didn't do something soon there would be a lot of yelling on the lawn, and probably a few punches to the armour. Eraqus thought only long enough for the children to keep the accusations to the name calling, so by the time they looked at him to decide which one was right he'd made a rather different decision.
"We won't worry about that for now," he told them. "Put your weapons down for a moment, I need to tell you something."
The children looked mildly surprised but did as he ordered. Keyblades were set very carefully on the grass, along with the helmets— Aqua shook recently chopped hair after taking off hers— and they stared up at the master. That mild surprise turned into awe when Eraqus kneeled before them and summoned his Keyblade. A real Keyblade! Their eyes went so huge as it appeared from nowhere that he could practically see it reflected back in their pupils. But they both knew the rules: they weren't to touch the Keyblades until they were deemed ready. Both held their hands behind their backs obediently.
Eraqus questioned, "You both know what this item is for, don't you?"
They nodded nervously.
A short shared glance before Aqua cleared her throat and said, "Keyblades are used to protect the other worlds."
"And?" prompted Eraqus, turning to Terra.
"And to fight with only when we need to protect something," said the boy.
Eraqus smiled. "Very good. But I'm starting to think you don't realize how much importance these Keys hold. You are both wonderful students, I know, but lately you've started to lose sight of your real purpose here."
The children looked appropriately shamed at this.
"I need the both of you to listen with all your hearts. What I am about to tell you is very important and should never be forgotten. Do you understand?"
Two vehement nods were his answer.
"At the moment, I'm sure this must all seem like a game. That's what I thought when I was your age. The world seems such a safe place, it couldn't possibly need you to protect it. But there is a darkness out there, and it is very dangerous and very real. It will try to steal away everything in this world you love, simply because it is there, and once it's done it will devour more worlds and more until nothing else remains. Unless you find the strength to stop it."
The young soldiers stared at him, arms stiff with the itch of fear but also, he could tell, a growing fortitude.
"Within your heart and every world is a light that can banish away this darkness and keep it as safe as you see now. That is what the Keyblade is for. It is not a weapon but an aide. If you ever do need to fight, you use it for protecting the light, not to control the darkness.
"Someday you will be able to wield these tools with that light." There was an interruption as Terra told Aqua he would be the one to achieve this goal first, for which Eraqus told him this wasn't a competition. Terra hung his head and apologized to his master. "When that time comes, I need you to remember this: Remember these days of your childhood and how much they mean to you, all the people you hold dear, and how silly this rivalry is, for you will laugh later. As diverse as the worlds are, the others that live there have similar memories. Protect those, not for yourselves, but for the ones that cannot."
He watched the children's faces. They stared back loyally. He relaxed and gave a soft smile. "This will all make much more sense when you're older," he said, standing up and returning his Keyblade to the nether. "For today, I only need you to do one thing."
He could swear Aqua and Terra managed to stand even straighter than before, they were so expectant.
"Aqua, I need you to formally apologize for harming Terra."
Aqua made a face not unlike eating bad food. She looked to Terra— him absolutely complacent, of course— to Eraqus and back to Terra again. She sucked in her breath, then said, "I'm sorry for attacking you." She didn't exactly look happy while saying this but at least she was sincere.
"Now, Terra, you apologize to Aqua."
"What? What for?"
"For quite a number of things. Go on."
Terra made eye contact with Aqua— now it was her turn to be pleased with the situation— for only a second before turning his eyes to the ground. He mumbled a "Sorry" to the grass.
For this Aqua stuck her tongue out at him, Terra returning the action. To Eraqus this seemed like a shared insult but then both children grinned and he realized that there were some things than only made sense to a child.
Eraqus told them, "Lessons are concluded. Go off and play."
There were mixed thank yous and yes masters from the children before they ran off, taking the wooden Keyblades with them. Most days after their lessons were over, Eraqus would return to the castle and many of the other errands that needed tending, or to simply relax, but today he was suddenly curious as to what exactly the children did after their training.
So, unknown to them, he stayed where he was and watched their games of pretend from a distance. He could see the two of them deciding on roles. Across the lawn he heard Aqua: "Okay, so you have to be the hero while I get to be the villain." This made Eraqus listen more intently. "Deal?"
They shook gloved hands and took up positions.
Like just minutes before, they ran at each other, Keyblades clashing in the middle. Unlike before, however, they threw themselves even more into the attack, because this was not just a bout of training. This was a battle, the final proof as to whether good was really stronger than evil. Their techniques and movements weren't exactly outstanding, if Eraqus was to be honest, but their passion more than made up for that. They fought as if their lives depended on the game.
After roughly six minutes of the pretend battle, Aqua clearly made a swing that left herself open and Terra jabbed his Keyblade an inch away from her side. Aqua reeled back like he'd sliced through her armour.
It was then Eraqus realized why she'd wanted to be the 'villain'— they were the ones that had the chance to make dying speeches.
"Oh, you've finished me," she said as she dropped a bit too gracefully to the ground. Terra stayed standing. "My life won't last much longer. This is the end, the end of it all! If only I'd seen the error of my ways sooner, I could have saved myself!" She coughed and groaned. "At least, in my last moments, I can look upon you and know what a good, true hero you are and how lowly I am in comparison. You have shown me my mistakes."
Terra said, "Shut up and die already."
Aqua gave him a good punch to the kneecap before, with one last groan, she collapsed and her eyes closed.
Eraqus couldn't help but chuckle to himself.
Only a few seconds later Terra nudged her with his foot and Aqua revived herself to take up the Keyblade. She stood, head raised high, as Terra kneeled in front of her, holding his hand to his heart.
"For your heroic deeds," Aqua announced in a deep voice, "and for protecting our world from evil, I now dub you—" She set the blade of the wooden toy on his shoulder. "—Keyblade Master Terra. You may now rise." Terra did so with a huge smile, as if he really had been named Keyblade Master. "As of now it is your duty to journey forth with other Keyblade wielders and to stop any other evil from taking over the worlds."
As they talked of what the rest of these worlds could be like and what they could do there, Eraqus walked away. Even if the children still had petty arguments from time to time, even if they still held to the concept that girls were better than boys and vice versa for a few years yet, he knew that they would grow into steadfast and amazing Keyblade wielders.
The pride he felt for them could not possibly lie.