Alright, you guys. This is it. I can't thank you all enough for supporting me all these 60 weeks and for making Moments the most-reviewed SAO story! Thank you so much!
Disclaimer: I do not own Sword Art Online.
Please enjoy the final chapter!
Chapter 60. Moments
It was fairly early in the morning when Asuna awoke, flipping open her cell phone to check if she had received any messages from Kazuto. He had not told her much about their plans for today, having been sure to keep very secretive about them, which naturally only served to make her more curious.
However, there were no new messages from her boyfriend yet, and she quickly rolled out of bed to get herself ready.
Her computer screen flickered as a familiar face came into view. "Mama!"
"Ah, Yui-chan! Good morning!" She smiled back at her daughter as she combed through her hair. "Is Papa awake yet?"
"Hold on! Let me check." Yui flitted away, momentarily disappearing as she switched to find Kazuto's server and appear on his computer instead. A few minutes later, she reappeared to Asuna. "He's just waking up, Mama! I went over and said good morning to him really loudly and he kind of fell out of bed a little." She giggled, and even Asuna herself needed to suppress a chuckle.
"He's a goofball." She smiled to Yui.
"But he said to tell you he'd be over as soon as he can!"
"Perhaps at this rate, I should be the one going to pick him up." Ausna mused.
She had just finished brushing through her chestnut hair, adjusting her knee-length skirt and blouse in front of her mirror. It was a more formal outfit than something she would have normally worn on a date, but Kazuto had told her to dress up a bit.
"Wow, Mama!" Yui exclaimed, clapping her hands a little in delight. "You look really pretty! Where are you and Papa going today?"
"He still hasn't told me."
"Well, wherever it is, I hope you have fun!"
"Thank you, Yui-chan! I'm sure we will."
If Asuna had known she would have enough time, she would have logged onto the game to spend some time with her daughter, as she did on many other Sunday mornings, but today she simply did not want to miss Kazuto's arrival.
Therefore, instead of going online, Asuna walked over to the computer and kissed her fingertips. Yui reflected the gesture before they both put their hands to their respective sides of the screen. "I love you, Yui-chan!"
"Love you, Mama! Let's play some more when you come home!"
"It's a promise!" Asuna nodded.
With one final wave to Yui, Asuna headed down the stairs and into the kitchen to prepare herself something to eat. She was thankful that her parents were not yet awake, for if they asked her where she was headed today, they probably would pester her if she told them she did not know.
As soon as she had finished eating her toast and brushing her teeth, Asuna slid into her new winter coat and boots before seeing herself out.
It was slightly cold that morning, but there was no wind, and the warm sunlight greatly assisted in keeping the outside world welcoming. She walked slowly down the frost-covered yard to the sidewalk and sat down on the bench there. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes. I wonder what Kirito-kun's got in mind today...
She listened to the snow birds chirping and the subdued rush of passing cars as they went by. Not long afterward, she heard a quick beep and reopened her eyes. A familiar car was parked before her, and Kazuto quickly emerged to greet his girlfriend.
"Morning, Asuna!" He seemed much more energetic than usual, which only made Asuna more curious about where it was he would be taking her.
"Good morning, Kirito-kun!" She stood as he reached her and wrapped her arms around his shoulders before lightly kissing his cheek. When she pulled away, she gave a wave to his aunt who still sat in the car, waving back with a smile. Asuna perked up as she looked to Kazuto again. "Where are we going where you'd need Midori-san to drive us?" She wondered.
"Sorry. That's for me to know and you to find out." He smirked.
"Oh, you..." She pouted briefly before the excitement overpowered her again. "Alright, fine. Let's just go!" Grabbing his hand, she led him back to the car, and Kazuto barely managed to stop her in time so that he could open her door for her.
As Asuna buckled herself in, she leaned forward a little with a mischievous spark in her eyes. "Midori-san! Can you tell me where we're going?"
The older woman gave her a hopeless smile as she started to drive. "Sorry, Asuna-san. I've been sworn into secrecy."
Kazuto grinned smugly. Asuna stuck her tongue out at him.
"Okay, I understand." She sighed in defeat as she sat back again.
Kazuto's hand inched over the empty space between them to entwine her fingers with his own.
"You'll find out soon enough." He promised.
She let out another little sigh before she relented. "Alright, I won't ask anymore."
However, the way he keep tightening his grip on her hand expressed just how excited he was about their destination as she was.
She looked out the window as they passed the familiar flower shop, trying to see if she could guess where they were headed.
However, when the car finally stopped moving, they were in front of a large white building Asuna had only seen in passing before; now that she was in front of it, she realized she had never stopped to see what it was.
As Kazuto got out of the car and opened her door for her, Asuna stepped outside again and got a better look at the building. It was a church, and although she knew it was rude of her, she could not help but quirk an eyebrow in confusion.
"Kirito-kun? What exactly will we be doing here?"
"You'll see." He swiftly rolled down his sleeve to check his wrist watch. "Ah, we're just on time. Follow me!" He grabbed her hand before leading her up the steps and entering the humble building.
One of the first things Asuna noticed about the church was the bustling handful of people moving about inside. She instantly wondered why it was so busy for such a traditionally quiet place, but then her eye caught on a large white sign standing off to one side. Asuna grew even more puzzled as she read it aloud: "'Rehearsal'?"
She opened her mouth again to stop her boyfriend and ask exactly what was going on, but before she could do so, he stopped walking. Kazuto turned around to face her, took both of her hands in his, and gazed eagerly into her eyes.
"Okay." He said in a voice that suggested he was trying to suppress his excitement. "I'm sure you can guess what this is by now, so... what do you think?"
"What do I...?" Still puzzled, she glanced around again. It seemed awfully festive for the lobby of a church, plus the amount of people rushing about, the signs... Asuna's eyes widened. "Oh..."
Kazuto's smile spread as he saw her reaction. She blinked rapidly at him, her lips curving upward, her words lost to her in her enthrallment. "Oh... Kirito-kun, i-is this...?"
"That's right." He squeezed her hands tighter. "A mock wedding. The original couple had to cancel last minute, but the preparations for the rehearsal were already in order. They needed to find a couple to fill in so..." He trailed off before continuing in a softer voice. "What do you think?"
"I thought so."
"Oh, yes, yes, yes! Oh gosh..." Asuna bounced up and down as she shook his hands vigorously. "Oh my gosh! W-Where do we go? What do we do?"
"Calm down." He chuckled, even though he had been jumping with her a second ago. "The team will help you out." Kazuto kissed her hands briefly before he nudged her toward a pair of women, he himself heading in the opposite direction. Asuna looked toward the women who were smiling amusedly at her before looking back to Kazuto, suddenly feeling nervous. "Don't worry." He soothed. "It's just a rehearsal, okay?" He then lowered his voice but made sure she could still hear him. "And it's not even for our own wedding. But still, it couldn't hurt to take some notes, right?"
That comment had Asuna's face light up again.
"R-Right! We should take notes! I-I'll s-see you in a little while then." She waved quickly to him, giddy and anxious at the same time before she followed after the two women.
Asuna swallowed hard as she observed her reflection in the mirror.
She had been asked to change her attire, and although she had declined the offer of an actual wedding gown, the one she wore instead still provided for the same effect.
Naturally, although not a real wedding dress, it was pure white, like freshly-fallen snow, but it lacked a train or veil; Asuna wanted to save the true feeling of wearing a wedding dress for the real occasion, but that did not prevent this from feeling just as real.
Her hair was left down, flowing in a golden stream behind her, which accented the tiny golden necklace at her collar. She brushed her nail over the little button and watched as it opened up to reveal the message she read to herself every day:
I love you, always and forevermore.
Once the women she had gone with had finished adjusting her dress and fixing her hair up a bit, they led her to the doors of the main church hall.
Asuna had been briefed on what she had to do, but still, she could not stop herself from trembling. All I have to do is walk! That's it! Just w-walk down the aisle to him and... She swallowed again, her heart pounding wildly as she bit her lip.
A man waved to her for her cue, and a minute later, the doors before her opened up.
The main hall of the church was breathtaking: a tall, arching ceiling hovered over rows and rows of vacant seats. Large, stained-glass windows provided a kaleidoscope of colors as the sun's rays shown through them, dyeing the marble floors in rainbows.
All of this was momentarily appreciated in Asuna's peripheral vision, but her gaze was directly focused ahead of her.
He was standing at the altar, dressed in a formal black suit, his hair slightly slicked back, hands folded patiently before him as he waited.
The second those doors opened, Asuna knew he had been looking at her as well, and despite her own adoration for him, she had to suppress a slight chuckle when she saw his jaw drop. She smiled at him from across the room, her nervousness suddenly dissipating as though a curse had been lifted upon meeting his eyes.
Realizing she had yet to move, Asuna daintily stepped forward in her white shoes with small heels, making sure to take care in her motions.
She let her imagination run free; her father walked beside her, the seats were filled with her friends and family, the big organ in the corner of the room was playing out a beautiful song...
But even so, her eyes were still focused solely on Kazuto.
She walked slowly, carefully, longing to draw it out and savor this moment for as long as possible. Every step took her closer to him, and with every step she could see more and more of the emotions in his onyx gaze: wonder, astonishment, love...
At long last, Asuna stepped up to the altar, and Kazuto finally closed his gaping jaw, blinking several times in an attempt to convince himself he was not dreaming. The pinks and purples of the stained-glass shimmered off her white dress, the sunshine highlighting her silky, chestnut hair brightly, the heart-shaped locket telling silently of all the memories it had seen her through alongside him.
But even more beautiful than all of that was her perfect smile, the pink tint of a blush on her cheeks, the sparkle in those hazel eyes...
The priest beside them was speaking, but their ears hardly heard, for their eyes were far too engaged with one another's for any other sense to matter.
There was only one line that broke Kazuto from his reverie, and he lifted a small velvet box before him. Inside was a silver ring provided for the rehearsal, but he imagined this was the real one, acting precisely as he planned to on the day of their actual wedding, whenever that might have been.
Coyly, Asuna lifted her left hand and Kazuto took it gingerly. He slid the jewelry onto her middle finger; he refused to put anything but his ring on her ring finger.
Asuna's smile at that moment was perfect, which was truly saying something, considering she was always perfect in anything and everything she did. But somehow, in that instant, she was even more perfect.
The priest spoke the fated words, and even though it was only a rehearsal, Kazuto and Asuna had never been known to give partial effort in anything they did.
She rested her hands on his shoulders as he wrapped his arms around her back.
The kiss was magical, similar to and yet unlike any kiss they had shared before. In a way, it felt almost like a combination of every previous kiss, only with more fervent passion.
The world could have stopped for all the knew, because in that moment, nothing else mattered.
For once, they managed to pull away feeling completely satisfied; of course, neither would have minded making the kiss longer, but there had simply been something about it that let them both know it was finished. It felt right, naturally perfect.
They stepped back from one another, gazes still locked and lips still smiling, even as the people began to move up to them and thank them for their work. Asuna returned the prop ring, but other than that, she and Kazuto were told to keep the suit and dress as a token of thanks for their assistance in the rehearsal.
When the elated butterflies had finally died down enough, Kazuto chuckled.
"So..." He grinned. "Do you wanna keep the dress on?"
Asuna still felt an indescribable bubbling within her stomach, and it was clear from the expression on her face that she was still on cloud nine about the entire ordeal.
"You know, I'm really very tempted," she admitted. "But I want to take you somewhere next, so..."
She walked hand-in-hand back down the aisle with him toward the doors again. Kazuto nodded as he let her go change back into the clothing she had arrived him, and he left to do the same. One of the women folded the dress and suit neatly into boxes before placing them into a bag.
Once she had finished changing, Asuna saw Kazuto waiting in the church lobby for her; if not for the bag in his hand, she would have thought the entire event just now was a dream.
It felt so natural to see him in his usual clothes again and she was drawn to him, taking his free hand with one of hers.
The people in the church thanked them yet again as they left.
Once outside again, Kazuto and Asuna shared a look. It was clear there was so much they wanted to say about the experience, and yet there was nothing that needed to be said.
They walked out to the parking lot where Midori had been waiting for them. As they got into the car she asked no questions, only smiled; this reminded Kazuto just how grateful he was to her for always giving him his space and privacy.
As he took his seat, Asuna leaned up to Midori to murmur something into his ear.
"Sure! I'll take you there." She agreed.
Kazuto gave his girlfriend a puzzled look, but she put her index finger to her lips. "You'll find out soon enough." She winked.
He rolled his eyes playfully. "Fine, fine."
He was hardly surprised a few minutes later when the car stopped near the sidewalk in town right outside a very familiar flower shop.
They both thanked Midori before she drove off. Asuna waved until the car was out of sight. She then turned to Kazuto.
"Come on. Let's go to the roof!"
They bowed to the woman behind the counter as they entered. Before they went to the staircase in the corner of the room, Kazuto ended up purchasing a small bundle of white flowers before he followed Asuna up.
They were met with the cool air once more as they stepped out onto the roof, the sky bright blue as the sun showed directly above them. It was yet another reminder that spring was on its way, a time for blossoming, a time for new beginnings.
Kazuto led her to the railing lined with presently-empty flower pots as they overlooked the town below.
"I can't wait to come back during the springtime." Asuna sighed, leaning onto him.
"We can come here every day for lunch if you'd like."
"What about school?"
"We can play hooky."
"You're such a rebel." She chuckled.
Then, Asuna turned to him again, directing her full attention into his eyes. "Kirito-kun... I really had a wonderful time today. It was amazing..." She was almost hesitant to talk about it, as though fearing if she did, it would have turned out to only be a dream after all.
But the smile he gave her in return proved to her it had been wonderfully real.
"It was amazing." He agreed before leaning down to kiss her forehead. "You were amazing. You always are, always were, always will be." Her cheeks ran pink again as he pulled out the white flowers he had just purchased, brushing his fingers through her soft hair as he tucked them behind her ears.
"They're orange blossoms..." She whispered.
"Have you been studying the language of flowers?" She giggled.
He shuffled his feet a bit. "They... mean eternal love, right?"
Asuna hugged him tightly. "That's right." She then leaned back to look playfully up at him. "Eternal love and marriage."
It was his turn to blush.
"O-Oh, really? Is that so..."He cleared his throat. "Then I... guess that's appropriate."
Asuna giggled again as she hugged him heartily. Kazuto returned the embrace warmly.
He absently looked over her shoulder to the street below, once again taking note of the store across the street from the flower shop.
The past several times they had visited this place, he had observed the new store that had opened up; it was a jewelry store. Kazuto had dropped by several times on his own to observe the stock, and immediately found what he had been searching for.
He had asked the older man at the counter to keep that ring on hold for him, and he had agreed to keep it until Kazuto could pay it off.
Presently, Kazuto let a smile grace his lips. It'll take some time, but we'll get there...
The couple pulled apart, and Asuna reached up to her ear to remove one of the orange blossoms, tucking it behind his ear.
A gentle breeze blew past them, a warm wind that carried the promise of spring along on the air.
Kazuto gazed down at the woman he loved, the woman he would someday marry. The affection she gazed back at him with told him Asuna was thinking the very same, that she would gladly and with all her heart accept his hand whenever that time came.
They had only known each other for a few years, and yet it was almost equivalent to a lifetime.
Kazuto leaned down to kiss her, and Asuna closed her eyes, returning it with everything she had.
"I love you, Asuna."
"I love you, Kazuto-kun."
He hugged her tightly and she did the same, smiling as she buried her face into his shoulder.
The white flowers in their hair bobbed in the warm breeze as they pulled apart, taking one another's hands again.
Together, they began to walk, down the path to another day, down the path to their future, treasuring every memory they shared in their pasts, and welcoming all of the moments to come.
A/N: I cannot thank you enough for reading through till the very end! Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading Moments, my most successful work in all my years of Fanfiction!
If you'd like, you can read The Miracle Of Loving You as a continuation to this story. I edited it so that it could be read as a continuation to Moments. It is more serious, but I think you will enjoy it!
Again, thank you all so very much! Let's enjoy the second season of SAO together!