A/N: Wow! It's been a while since I wrote something! This takes place a month or so after Flora comes home with the Professor, and the two are still learning little things about each other. It's meant to be fluffier than a pillow, so I hope you enjoy! P.S.: I know the category says "Romance". Think of it as a family romance. The story'll make a LOT more sense if you keep that in mind.
Hershel Layton sat in the foyer of his small, cozy house, in front of the fireplace. It was a chilly December morning, and a Saturday, no less. He was content and cozy with a cup of hot chocolate - he had made some for Flora and himself to go along with breakfast just to free themselves from the usual cup of morning tea. It was a nice morning, and a nice cup of cocoa sounded nice. Hershel closed his eyes and smiled as he took a sip and let the hot liquid slide down his throat. He let out a small sigh and set the mug down on a coaster next to him, bringing his legs up and sitting cross-legged on the sofa, letting his shoes slip off and onto the floor.
"Professor?" Flora said, coming into the room. The man turned around and smiled at the young girl. She had come home with him a good five or six weeks ago, and they had caught on quickly, growing quite fond of each other. The girl's eyed went into a small squint when she smiled because of her high cheekbones, and he found that quite cute about the pre-teen. She was twelve years old, with chestnut hair that was quite soft, in color and to the touch, and hung in a high ponytail in the middle of the back of her head. A curl in the front of her hair completed the cute childish look on the girl, not to mention the peach dress she always wore with her knee-high olive boots. But she wasn't wearing any of that now. She had let her hair down, and it was quite long, the professor had noticed - it reached the middle of her back. She had on a pair of white leggings and a soft brown tank top. Her feet were bare, and made a pitter-pattering sound as she made to sit next to the Professor.
"It's really chilly outside, huh, Professor?" She said in her soft, high-pitched little voice. Hershel nodded. "It is, isn't it? It's nice, though. Not freezing, but it's chilly enough." He put his arm gently around the girl's shoulders, and she giggled, letting him pull her head into his chest, where she snuggled up to him. She already saw the professor as a father figure, and yet, still someone she could just spend some time with, not doing anything. Like right now.
But that was about to change.
Hershel took his index finger and lightly traced her neck, to which she responded with a giggle, and an involuntary swatting away of his hand. He raised an eyebrow, and the faintest of smirks just appeared on the good Professor's face. She's ticklish? He wondered. He chuckled once. This should be fun. He chuckled a few more times, enveloping the girl in his arms and lying down on the sofa, her on top of him. ((A/N: One perverted thought, you guys, and I... I just... I won't even know what to do anymore. Gosh, you guys.)) Flora's elbows rested on either side of the Professor's shoulders, and his arms were around her torso. Flora's head was supported by her hands. The older man smirked. "What?" Flora asked. Her eyes widened slightly, but she composed herself as soon as she did. "Oh, god, what?" Flora asked again, giggling. The professor lifted the back of Flora's shirt just a bit, just enough to trace his finger ever so lightly along the small of her back, in a small circle. He felt her frame shake above him as she giggled. "Nothing." The professor replied simply. Flora let her forearms fall on either side of the man's head, resting her own on his chest. Hershel's head rested on the arm of the sofa, which was actually quite plush. Flora turned over onto her back, fitting her head into the small space between the Professor's chin and his shoulder. The man's arms wrapped more lovingly around her stomach, and she laughed a little louder. "Professor, stop it!" She giggled. He chuckled a few times as well. "At least I learned something else about you today, huh?" He said with a smirk. His fingertips dug gently into her ribs, and she held her stomach, starting what was probably going to be a full-out laughing fit. "Prohofehessohohor! Stohohop ihit!" She said between giggles. The man started laughing a bit more as well. He tickled her still a tiny bit more fiercely, making her laugh that much harder. "H-Hahaha! St-Stop!" The girl cackled. Hershel nuzzled the tip of his nose into her cheek when the opportunity arose, giving his daughter a small, fatherly kiss. He then buried his nose into the crook of her neck, all the while tickling her mercilessly, feeling her thin frame shake violently from the laughter emanating from the girl. "Are you sure?" He asked rhetorically. She could say no all she wanted, he thought. Her answer was obvious.
At this point, the tables began to turn. Flora's writing caused her to roll over, and she was now on her stomach once again. She removed her arms from around her stomach and tried "returning the favor" to the dear Professor. Surprisingly, he responded with laughter. Dangit! The professor thought between a few chuckles. "F-Floraha! St-Stop!" He said, laughing now almost as badly as she was. The girl giggled, feeling him shake a little from his own laughter. She planted a kiss on the man's cheek. just as he had done. He controlled his little fit for a minute, smiling at the girl. Doing what she had just done had caused her to stop tickling him, although she hadn't noticed just yet. He sprang up and wrapped his arms around the young girl, immobilizing her arms by pinning them to her sides. He gave her another kiss on the forehead, laying back down while she got comfortable. Before they knew it, they were cuddling there on the sofa in front of the fire. The two thought about how much fun they were having, and smiled simultaneously. Flora buried her nose into the Professor's neck. "I love you." She whispered. He already knew for a fact she meant it in a father-daughter sort of way, so there was nothing else to be said there. He gave the tip of her nose another little peck.
"I love you too, Flora." He said, his arms still surrounding the girl, the bond between the two warming them both more than any old fireplace ever could.
I hope you guys liked it! My first fic in a while... Wow. I'm sorry I neglected you guys for so long! I've gotten so much praise from you guys on my other stories, and I realize how much I missed you guys! Please let me know what you think! Love you, guys! ~Avianna