"Aqua!"

The young woman was caught off-guard by the excited voice of a boy calling her name. She turned her head sharply over her shoulder, looking away from the water lilies that lazily floated on the tranquil waters of a small pond that she had spent the last few hours by herself, enjoying her own company.

"Aqua!"

The voice seemed to bounce off the rocky slopes and formations that jutted up in the Mountain Path of the Land of Departure. Peering out into the distance, Aqua's sapphire eyes spotted the shape of a young teenage boy sprinting towards her. Catching the familiar golden sight of the boy's lightly tousled, spiked hair from afar, Aqua smiled.

"Ven!"

As his briskly moving feet skid to a halt upon by Aqua's side, Ventus, rosy-cheeked and breathing heavily from his run, let a relieved and breathless cry escape through his lips.

"Phew!"

Aqua laughed. "Looks like someone lost his steam running through the Mountain Path."

Ven threw an annoyed yet friendly scowl at Aqua's amused face. "Hey! It was a long run, ok?"

"Whatever you say," Aqua replied, still laughing softly at her friend. "So, Ven, what's up? Did something happen back in the castle? Now is usually the time where you have your lessons with Master Eraqus."

"That's what I've come to tell you about Aqua!" Ven said eagerly. "The Master ended my lessons early today so that I could deliver you the exciting news!"

"What? What is it?" asked Aqua.

"It's Terra!" said Ven. "He's back from his trip!"

Aqua's eyes widened. The mention of that familiar, wonderful, earthy name sent rays of joy radiating from her chest that spread all throughout the rest of her body. Her heart now pounding in excitement, Aqua jumped up from where she had been sitting on the ground and, after taking only a quick moment to grab a fistful of the long skirt of her teal blue muslin dress and free up some space for her feet, Aqua raced towards the castle that she and Ven called home.

"Hey!" Ven shouted as Aqua sped past him.

It had been almost half a year since Aqua had last seen Terra. Desiring to travel throughout the Realm of Light and see the other worlds in it, Terra convinced Eraqus, the most esteemed and respected master of a great and powerful weapon called the Keyblade in the Land of Departure, to let him spend a few months on a trip across the Realm of Light as long as it would help him make progress in his learning to become a full-fledged Keyblade master. Once Eraqus had given his consent, Terra went off and left to see the worlds that lay beyond the Land of Departure.

Seeing Terra depart from home to travel the worlds and being away from him was not easy for Aqua to endure. When Terra made the decision to leave the Land of Departure, Aqua, understanding his desire to attain knowledge of the worlds and only wanting him to be happy, did not stop him from following what his heart wanted. But for the sake of his happiness, she knew that letting him go to travel the worlds meant not having his presence or him by her side , and this Aqua did not hide from Terra when he broke the news to her.

"I'll miss you…a lot!" she told him that evening.

"I will miss you too, Aqua," Terra told her in return. "But don't worry – I will be thinking of you and Ven while I am on my travels. And, as long as you and I carry the good luck wayfinder charms that you made us, know that even though I'll be far away, the bond of our hearts will keep us together, and we'll find our way back to one another. You said it yourself when you first gave me my charm: nothing can ever truly drive us apart because of our unbreakable connection!"

His words made Aqua smile, for she knew that Terra was right – the bonds of the heart never failed to keep people together through thick and thin. Keeping Terra's words in her mind, she tried to be strong on the day he finally left, knowing that they'd always be with each other even if they'd be worlds apart. Following Terra's departure, for every day after he left, up to today, Aqua never stopped to take a moment to peer up into the skies above, hoping she'd catch a glimpse of Terra riding his Keyblade Glider returning home. And now, Aqua knew that she'd never have to wait another day for Terra to come home.

The bond and relationship that Aqua and Terra shared was a very special one. She and Terra had been together since childhood; they grew up together, played together, learned together; one of them was always by the other's side. They told their secrets and dreams to one another, and they held each other in confidence. They were like brother and sister to one another as much as each other's best, dearest friend. And, like their geographical namesakes, like earth and water, Terra and Aqua were also each other's complement and foil. While Terra was daring and headstrong, Aqua was modest and reserved. If Terra completed his tasks with a bit of sloppiness here and there, Aqua would complete the very same tasks with neatness and care. Aqua was a nightingale, Terra was a morning bird. I She was the yin to his yang, the blue to his orange, the light to his darkness.

Growing up, Eraqus would frequently have Aqua and Terra show off and demonstrate the skills and knowledge they had attained under his instruction to visiting colleagues and companions of his who came from other worlds or lived below at the foot of the mountains with the rest of the Land of Departure's populace. And every time those visitors did come, it was always evident to them that there was something very strong, deep, and compatible that existed between Eraqus' two oldest students. As such, there soon emerged rife talk among Eraqus' guests that it was therefore appropriate and logical that Terra and Aqua be given to one another as each other's partners for life once they had completed their studies. Naturally, from the onset, Aqua always expected nothing more about her relationship with Terra. In Aqua's young mind, Terra was just someone who was kind to her, gave her joy, and who made her smile and laugh, and she was content knowing that this was how she felt about him. He was, like Ven, her "weird brother." But, it was only much later when both she and Terra had entered into their teenage years that their kindred friendship and sibling-like relationship evolved into something more profound. The age of innocent fun and games between the two of them was now behind her. Before Aqua knew it, she began to notice a chemistry and intimacy so deep and powerful between her and her fellow pupil, and an affection from Terra towards her that was stronger and more profound than she had experienced in her past with him.

Perhaps he was in love with her, Aqua thought, but she was not entirely sure if that was truly so. It certainly seemed like it, but even still, it was hard for Aqua to tell. Her only guide to romance were the countless array of love poems, songs, and stories, fairy tales of noble, chivalrous men saving their ladyloves, and other literatures of romance and passion that she grew up with and was utterly enthralled by. They all contained the romance between a lover and their beloved – but how they expressed their sentiments before their relationship was a mystery to Aqua that not even her stories, poems, and songs revealed. Still Aqua didn't deny the possibility that Terra probably fancied her, and she had to admit that she herself was attracted to many qualities that Terra possessed: he was brave, honest, chivalrous, kind, confident, trustworthy, caring, loyal, determined, and devoted to his loved ones, and not to mention, very handsome in looks and heart.

But there was one quality in particular that Aqua loved deeply about Terra (and Ven!) and was immensely grateful towards him for: that even though she was a girl, she had just as much agency and potential to become a skilled master of the Keyblade and use it to fight and defend her home, the worlds of the Light, and its people from the villainous Darkness and those who aligned with it. It was a noble, revered position and discipline that was highly respected and much desired by many of the Land of Departure's boys and men, but to say that the world's girls and women were attracted to such a discipline was not quite so. Aqua, however, was an exception.

"Wouldn't she prefer pursuing a more peaceful and graceful discipline and position occupied by girls like her to being a Keyblade Master?"

These were along the words that Aqua frequently heard spoken by the members of the Land of Departure's highborn or noble residents whenever they came to visit Eraqus. True, Aqua did not mind partaking in the customary activities that girls and women in the Land of Departure and in the Realm of Light in general. But her life seldom revolved around such activities. For as long as she could remember, it was the life and ways of a Keyblade wielder that she knew, and consequently desired to pursue for herself.

Just as she grew up enthralled and captivated by stories of romance, so did Aqua with stories of Keyblade wielders. The Keyblade wielder life was one of great respect, honor, esteem, responsibility, integrity, and other virtues that Aqua found herself attracted to. They were seen as heroes in the Realm of Light – both within her stories and in real life. There were two Keyblade Masters who Master Eraqus would tell her about in many stories that Aqua admired and yearned to be like – both of them female. Their names were Invi and Ava. Both of them were greatly and widely admired by scores of men, women, and children alike for their actions, and heroic deeds, and the goodness and light in their hearts as they served the Realm of Light with the Keyblade. It was because of these women that inspired Aqua to be a Keyblade wielder, even if it was uncommon and unorthodox for a girl like her to do so. But her decision to pursue becoming a Keyblade Master came at a bit of a cost. Aqua knew that some would scoff or laugh at her for her desire to become a Keyblade Master one day – and some indeed did. Despite her choice of pursuing a dream unorthodox for a girl like her, Aqua nevertheless was well endowed with many other graces and gifts that many other ladies like her lacked. She had read the books of literature, philosophy, and magic. She knew poetry by heart, had studied legends, historical narratives and timelines, the sciences, the arts and accomplishments, and was acquainted with the sayings and maxims of men, mages, sages, heroes, masters, and kings. She was intimately familiar with magic spells and how to use them, the nature of the heart, of the worlds and realms, of the Light and its goodness, and of the Darkness and its wickedness. She was intelligent, knowledgeable, wise, and refined, pleasant and polite, well read and well bred.

When she finally made her way back to the castle grounds, Aqua wasted no time in scanning for the sight of Terra.

Where is he?

"Hey! Wait!" hollered Ven from afar.

"Ven," Aqua began to ask him, "Did you see him?"

"Yeah, I did," he replied.

"Where did you see him?"

"He's at the front, in the castle gates. The Master should be there too."

Aqua took off again, leaving Ven to protest once more and calling to her to give him a chance to catch up with her.


A/N: Hi there! Just some important bits of info that I want you to be aware of. First, this is a completely alternate universe of Kingdom Hearts that has a Victorian Era setting (With some element of steampunk? We'll see). Two, for the sake of this story, any of the connections that certain characters have with each other, (i.e. Ventus-Roxas and Terra-Xemnas) do not exist, and these characters will be treated as completely different characters unrelated to each other. However, Roxas is still Sora's Nobody. Three, everyone lives in the same time period: Terra, Aqua, and Ven all live in the time period in which Sora is 15 years old. Any other important info I'm not telling you know but that later comes up, I'll let you know. I hope you enjoy this story and feel free to rate and review!

-gt²