She was smiling brightly, the cream colored dress held about her thin frame with straps that twined around her slender neck. Her hair that once only barely reached her chin now tumbled around her shoulders, the ash blond locks lightly curled to convey the formality of the occasion. She wore high heels now, her legs teasing all as the woman walked passed.
The person she was moving to meet looked rather dashing in his charcoal suit, his eyes peering down at her as she neared. Those perfect lips of his curved into a smirk, his arms folding across his chest as his gaze feigned critical examination. His sandy brown hair was still in the same cut it was the day they met; the man having quite the taste for his choice of styling.
Why, Miss Ashley Graham, His deep voice made her heart race slightly, her face flushing though she was sure he wouldn t notice. You look marvelous.
He reached for her hand knowingly, almost mocking as he leaned down. His lips hovered in the air over her smooth knuckles, his eyes staring up at her with a mischievous spark. After a moment, he leaned back up, releasing her from his grip.
Mr. Leon S. Kennedy, She giggled, the same hand he held moments before moving to cover her mouth politely, You could fool almost anyone with that gentlemen s act of yours. He laughed in response, his eyes - the very same ones that held in cool regard only years before - warmed. "Thank you for coming, it means a lot."
They reached for each at the same time, her hand connecting with his shoulder, his coming to rest on her hip as their other hands met in the air. And then they were twirling.
"I didn't know you could dance," He chuckled lowly, gliding through the crowd of people as if they weren't there. Ashley blushed furiously, her lip curling into a pouting face.
"I could say the same to you! I am the President's daughter after all. It's required!" She huffed in a single breath, her face reddening even further under his critical gaze. She was so busy explaining herself that she failed to notice that Leon had danced them out onto a balcony so they really were the only ones around. The thick red curtains allowed complete and total isolation from the party goers. The guards paid no mind; they knew who he was, after all.
Ashley relaxed against the bench immediately when Leon released her to close the door, shucking off the five inch pink heels she was wearing and sighing in relief when her feet returned to their normal arch. Green eyes closing against the gentle breeze, she had almost forgotten Leon was even there with her, it was so serene. It surprised her when a suit coat fell over her bare shoulders, her dance partner finding purchase in the seat next to her.
He was beautiful, leaning over with his forearms resting on his knees, the light of the full moon reflected in his gaze.
"That's very unladylike, to take your shoes off in the middle of a party." Leon flashed the same smirk, reaching for her hand once more. His grip was firm yet affectionate, the pad of his thumb tracing circles against the top of her hand. They stayed like that for an unmeasurable amount of time, staring across the pale landscape, lost in their own thoughts.
"Leon, listen," She spoke up finally, watching his head turn towards her from the corner of her eye. "I don't think we ever discussed what we are." Her heart throbbed at those words, her breath catching in her throat as her teeth caught the delicate flesh of her lower lip. A low sigh came from the man next to her, his face turning away again. Her already pale skin was like milk under the light of the orb above, the glittering blush on her cheeks making her look like a goddess as the wind tousled her once neat hair.
"That will just complicate things.."
"They can't be complicated any further." She countered, pressing him on, her grip tightening on his hand almost out of nervousness. "I owe you a lot. You saved my life countless times. We were trapped together in that hellhole for however long it was. Can you blame me?" Again he sighed, placing his other hand atop their connected ones. It took him a moment to gather his thoughts, a slight smile playing across his lips.
"Yes, I can." Ashley turned towards him, about to protest, when his hand moved to rest against the side of her face. Instead of words, a low gasp escaped her lips, a cloud moving in front of the moon blocking her dark red face. "Don't talk anymore." Leon muttered lowly, inching closer to her quivering form.
Her breath came and went in short gasps, the breeze gusting slightly and tossing her hair around their faces. Her nostrils filled with the scent of him, an earthly natural smell. It was intoxicating. Just as his mouth touched hers, her body reacted. Her free hand was wrapping around his neck, her heart beat rapid in her chest. The woman's mind was no longer in her skull, but was amongst the stars high above. Her lips parted slightly and her heart nearly stopped when she felt the tip of his tongue glide over the gap between them tauntingly, his head tilting only a fraction. Only when Leon pulled away - a bit too soon for Ashley's liking - did she gather coherent thought once again. Leon's eyes were like fire when the cloud over the moon had cleared, the look of utter serious he always wore now plastered across his visage.
The man's mind was reeling, his lips tasting of the cake she had eaten before he had arrived - strawberry shortcake. The flavor of it clung to her perfect lips like a perfume, Leon leaning in to have just another taste. His hand slid down to rest against her neck, his rough fingers feather light with their pressure as they curled around her flesh. She had tilted her head back for him, her lips still remaining in the same parted state as they were when they first kissed. His teeth nibbled lightly at her plush lower lip, making Ashley gasp yet again. When he pulled away for a second time, the same expression remained - it betrayed nothing of his inner turmoil.
"I guess that answers my question?" She laughed breathlessly as he pulled her across his chest, freeing her hand, only to wrap his strong arms around her so she was clamped securely to his chest. His heartbeat was low and steady, like a melody to soothe the frantic pace of her own. His hand moved to touch her hair, the apple scent of it caught in the breeze. She shifted slightly and he allowed her to pull back, leaving only one arm wrapped around her small shoulders as she leaned against him.
The silence was comfortable, the breeze dying down to a lulling dance of air around them that was neither bitter nor warm. Leon hadn't realized how much time had gone by until he saw that Ashley was sleeping against him, her left hand clutching her own shoulder while her right was holding a fist full of his dress shirt. Smiling at the scene, he carefully stood and lifted her to his arms. Thankfully, she was slender enough that he could hold her with just one arm for a brief moment to open the door.
The party had already defused, the hall now empty save for a few people sent to pick up what little mess there was. It seemed so large without people in it, the ball room did, the black and white floor no longer reflective once the chandelier had been dimmed. The enchantment was gone and not even the drapes on the walls or the festive decorations could alter the suddenly plain room; though it was still grandeur, it had lost its fairy tale appeal. Stopping one of them, he told them of Ashley's shoes on the balcony to which they promptly left to gather them.
Leon had escorted Ashley to her room many times before so he needed no guidance, popping the door open with a slight nudge of his polished dress shoe. The room was no longer the same girlie pink room he had glimpsed before, but one of an older woman. The pink bedspread had been replaced by a deep red one, the pillows to match. The walls were no longer decorated with pop culture posters, only a picture of her and her family. Turning his attention from the decor, he moved to the bed and placed her gently down upon it. Holding up her legs, he pulled the blanket free from under her body and cast it over her. He smiled down at Ashley's sleeping form as she snuggled against the pillows, sighing lightly as her mouth moved with dream speech. Brushing her hair back from her forehead, he kissed her there gently before ghosting from the room.
"Happy birthday, Ashley."