FRAGMENTS OF MEMORY


I stared out at the waves, breathing in the salty tang of the air and relishing in the tranquility. A pair of hands looped around my waist and I smiled. It was a smile of contentment, of knowing that I had fulfilled my purpose and reaped the rewards.

"It's nice." Claire said, her head resting against my right shoulder blade.

"Mm-hm." I turned and looked into her heart-shaped face, drinking in the sight of my beautiful wife.

Claire, formerly known as 'Lightning' Farron, had piercing, ice-blue eyes, and pink hair that flowed over her left shoulder. She was dressed simply, a white, sleeveless turtle-neck top zipped only partially, revealing a hint of cleavage that sent my heart fluttering. A short black skirt gave way to long, shapely and pale legs. Her feet were bare.

"Have I told you that you're beautiful?" I asked her.

She giggled, a sound that I had come to appreciate after a year of hearing it. Lightning was all but gone, a facade that had been dropped, a mask that had been removed. All that remained was her combat prowess, and the memories.

"All the time."

"Good."

She squealed as I picked her up, threw her across my shoulder, and began to run towards the water. She pounded my back furiously, yelling for me to put her down, but her tone didn't suit her request, and once I had reached sufficient depth, I threw her into the water, laughing furiously.

She was up immediately, breathing heavily and shaking water from her soaked hair. She glared at me, but I saw the traces of amusement on the face I knew so well.

"You-!" She started angrily.

I grinned, which I knew would only infuriate her further.

"Are you just gonna take that?" I said in mock shock.

She rushed at me, and I braced myself against the impact, planting my submerged feet in the sand.

It didn't prevent Claire from bowling me over, and we both plunged into the water.

I opened my eyes underwater and saw Claire standing above me, waiting for me to come up. I obliged quickly, taking rapid breaths in case she tried to push me under again.

Instead, she dashed around me and ran back to the shore.

"Hey, no fair!" I yelled as I splashed after her.

I followed her to the end of the pier, where she was waiting for me.

I stopped just behind her, and she looked at me for a moment before staring back out at the sea.

"James?" Claire began softly.

I ran a finger through her hair to show I was listening.

"Will it always be like this?" She asked, turning to me.

I peered into her eyes, cupping her cheek with my hand.

"If you want it to be." I told her.

She smiled, and I leant forward, my lips meeting hers.

It started as a simple acknowledgement of the love we shared, but passion ignited, and I pulled her closer, lifting her onto the balls of her feet. I could feel her slight frame, so slender against mine, and breathed in the smell of her, revelling in her presence. I pulled her higher, deepening the kiss, our lips moving in perfect synchrony. A small moan escaped her, and I smiled against her mouth, delighted with the effect I was having on her. Her breasts were pressed against my chest, and that only heightened the lust. I gave in, placing one hand on her backside. I was oblivious to the fact that the beach wasn't empty, that even now people could be watching us.

I arched her back, leaning over her slightly, my tongue colliding with hers as we kissed.

"James." She whispered, pulling away slightly.

"Mm?" I asked, raining feather-light kisses along her neck. She shuddered at the contact.

"I love you." She said, her eyes closed.

I exhaled. It really couldn't get any better than this.

"I love you, too, Claire." I said, and our lips met once more.

"Most people do that in private, you know." A voice called from behind us.

I recognised the voice of the intruder. It was Snow, my brother-in-law, and though I couldn't see him, I guessed that he was standing on the side of the pier, probably accompanied by Serah, his wife, and Claire's sister.

Claire sprang back, but trapped as she was in my tight embrace, only her head moved away from mine. I sighed, a smile playing at the corners of my mouth.

"This was private until you killed the moment, Snow." I said to him, turning to face him.

Claire struggled out of my arms, blushing fiercely and glaring at Snow.

I was unsurprised to see him and Serah both approaching us.

Snow was a large man, towering over me at a gargantuan six-foot-seven. Serah seemed even smaller than usual, almost childlike, next to his burly figure. Like Claire, she had pink hair that was tied in a band on the left side of her head. She looked like a more fragile version of her sister.

"Hey, sis." Snow said, giving Claire a quick hug, then moving to allow Serah to embrace her sister.

"What are you doing here?" I asked Snow, clasping his hand when he offered it to me.

"Just enjoying a little sun." Snow replied flippantly.

"Do you ever take that off?" I asked, indicating the black bandanna he wore over his mess of shoulder length blonde hair.

"Sometimes." He deflected, but I didn't miss the glance in Serah's direction, where the two sisters where conversing animatedly.

"You girls aren't talking about us, I hope." I said.

They both ceased talking immediately and turned to face us. Serah's cheeks were red, and Claire was doing her best to suppress a smile.

"We were just catching up, it's been ages since we've seen each other." Claire said dismissively.

I raised my eyebrows at her. While it was true that Claire was an excellent liar, she had a slight tick which gave her away. Whenever she knew that she wasn't telling the truth – like now – the corner of her left eye would crease, ever so slightly. Unless you were actively looking for it, like I was, you would miss it.

However, I let it slide, intending to force her to divulge her secret later, once we were home.

Snow, however, had no intention of letting the girls off so easily.

"You know how easy it would be to just pick you up and throw you over the edge?" Snow asked them, waving a hand towards the water.

Serah giggled, but Claire held her ground, her eyes narrowing.

"I'd like to see you try." Claire said, motioning for him to attempt it.

Snow recoiled instantly. "Maybe later."

I quickly interrupted before Claire attacked Snow.

"I'm starving." I said. "Who else is hungry?"

Snow grinned like a boy who knows he's in for a treat, and led the way towards the restaurant on the beach.