Disclaimer: I don't own any of the content written other than my own original plot. All characters, locations, etc. belong to the property of Squaresoft. (Or SquareEnix, respectively.)
Author's Note: Well, this marks my second work upon my return to . As part of the Advent Calendar Challenge I hope you all enjoy it, it's just a small one-shot that I penned off the top of my head. Read away!
A chill wind whipped through the trees of the port town Termina, bringing with it the ringing voice of a bright eyed young girl. Violet hair tumbled down her back in long spirals as she ran the path that wound towards the town black smith.
"Dario!" She called, the last of the wind biting at her heels as the heavy wooden door fell shut behind her. At 5'6, the Lady of Viper Manor was but a young girl; fifteen and fresh-faced, whose only political concerns were with arranging the perfect floral bouquet to send her General father away with.
"Riddel? What brings ye here on such a chill winter's morn'?"
"Is Dario in the back? I need to see him." She asked excited, her round face flushed pink from the cold of the day.
"Aye, I believe he's training, like always."
With that she tumbled out of the Smithery's back door and spilled out into the side yard, taking with her all of that warm, vibrant effervescence that was most common to young girls. Zippa, the old Scottish wife of Zappa the blacksmith, smiled fondly at the bustling commotion that seems to follow most young people around.
"Aye, that girl, lovely in spirit as she is in appearance. Dinna know what ti make o' the day wit'out her or the boys."
Her husband, the burly Scott who often sat quietly forging in the back of the store, smiled faintly to himself, thinking how pleasant the presence of children made the day and sobered ones spirits. Reflecting on his only son Karsh for a moment, his smile widened, before his hammer struck the malleable metal and sent a clanging noise so loud through the house the walls seemed to shake and the floors vibrate. His goods were a thing of a legend, and he proudly stepped back, ready to fulfill another order.
Outside, Riddel's wine colored eyes searched eagerly for Dario. The ultra-violet hue of her hair danced whimsically around her as she looked all around the yard. From the window a young boy stared, bright blonde hair disheveled youthfully across his forehead as the emerald green of his eyes watched the older girl outside of his window.
He knew who she was; Riddel Viper, an old family friend who also happened to be his older brother's girlfriend. He dropped his softly curved chin into the palms of his hands, blowing at his hair while he looked on at Riddel. His eyes told the story of a little boy whose love lost was to his brother, Dario. At the tender age of eleven, Glenn was often the tag-along of the group of much older kids he hung around with, but Riddel's gentle touch and kind words had always gave him the hope that he harbored deep within his heart that one day, he would prove himself the worthiest of Dragoons there ever were to live, just like his older brother.
He sighed again, with all of the conviction a little boy could muster, torn between his allegiance and fierce loyalty to Dario and his secret crush on the fair maiden Riddel. Against his better judgment, and true to his good intentions, Glenn stood up, ready to go outside and tell his unrequited love that Dario was at the docks, training for the ever-impending possibility of being sea-ward bound in war. At this, Glenn laughed to himself, thinking how ahead of himself Dario was getting. To Glenn, eighteen seemed rather young, and his not-yet fully development mind scoffed at any possibility of war, glory, or death. To the dreamer that Glenn was, Dario was still as much of a child as he was, safe from the horrors of the imposing Porre Nation and the possibility of their invasion. Dario still walked that fine, ever so delicate thin line of child-like teenager and handsomely responsible young adult; to Glenn, Dario had not yet crossed that threshold, although he often feared with each day, he was closer to the army and further from his family.
Shaking these thoughts he walked to the door, his messy blonde hair falling this way and that over the white cloth he tied around his forehead in preparation for his "training," or so his brother would have him believe. Twisting the knob of the door he went to walk outside before he heard the sound of Dario's voice. Leaving just a crack in the door, one beautifully curious green eye shown from the opening and he listened to the sounds of the older voices coming from outside.
"Dario!" He heard Riddel exclaim, and he noted that she looked genuinely happy when she ran into his arms.
Dario had been the portrait of what a strapping young man should be. At nearly 6'3, the older brother was tall as he was handsome, striking in appearance and attractive in his magnetic personality. With a stern nose and wide, handsomely crafted jaw, the blue of his eyes were the last remaining component to complete the ideal gentleman and his even more ideal profile. With short blonde hair the color of his younger brother's, the resemblance between the two siblings was remarkable and yet distinguishable. Dario was a young man, at the cusp of what would be only the beginning of his greatness, both physically and mentally; Glenn was a boy who would take time blossoming into the man he wanted to emulate.
Riddel, much smaller and daintier than her Dragoonian Knight, fit perfectly against the strong outline of his broad chest and impressive arms as he embraced her in an intimate hug. The two of them together stood at the precipice of beauty, strength, and power, as each were respectively their own people; Riddel, a Lady of the General of the Acacian Dragoons, and Dario, a prospective knight who would soon serve as Acacian Dragoon himself. Her slender body and soft, feminine curves balanced Dario's intimidating exterior well, and together, the two would see great success.
Glenn watched curiously from inside the house as a young child would. In the eyes of a little boy someone even as young as Dario was God. Dario, who wielded great power and commanded greater respect, was the man Glenn wanted to be when he grew up. His admiration knew no bounds, and he stared on, dazzled by his older brother's strength and kindness.
Although it shamed part of Glenn to eavesdrop on his brother's conversation, he was but a child, enamored and intrigued by the seemingly glamorous lives of the older children in town.
"Riddel, to what do I owe this great pleasure?" Dario asked, a handsome smile soaring across his broad face and exposing the gleaming whites of his sharp canines. The ruby red of his beloved's eyes looked up at him affectionately, a smile in her eyes as she answered him.
"You know my father is leaving today for the nation of Porre." Dario's thickly groomed brows became stern at the mention of their enemy nation, and he nodded gravely down at Riddel. "And you know he may not return for some time." Again Dario nodded. "Well I want to send him with a farewell memento, to always think of me when he is away."
At this Dario smiled, resting his hands on her shoulders as he said,
"Well then I think that is a wonderful idea. What did you have in mind?" Riddel looked to Dario brightly, barely containing her excitement.
"Bellflowers!" She finally revealed, giddy and girly as she squealed beneath his large hands.
"Bellflowers?" Dario's voice was skeptical, and at this Riddel frowned, disheartened by his lack of reaction. Pushing at his chest lightly with her hand she scowled up at him, and Dario smiled inwardly at how pretty she looked even when she was cross with him.
"Why do you look so disproving? They are your very favorite flower, and I thought because you liked them so much, father was sure to love them just as much. I thought it was a nice gesture." At this Dario could not help but laugh lightly under his breath, the blue in his eyes twinkling. "Why do you laugh at me, Dario? It is not funny."
Riddel continued, her lips in a pout as her hair tumbled over her shoulders. Dario gently touched a lock of her hair, letting it drip between his fingers as he played with it affectionately.
"Why are you so pretty even when you are angriest with me?" Riddel rolled her eyes at him, her lashes fluttering as she felt Dario nuzzle his nose into her neck. At this display, Glenn very forcefully smacked his hand over his eyes, peeking sparsely between his fingers before shutting his eyes tight again. He hated when they were so affectionate and he often thought grown-ups were particularly difficult to figure out.
"I'm not angry, I'm disappointed. I thought for sure you would have been happy." Again he laughed that, charming, chivalrous, gentleman's laugh that made the girls swoon and Riddel melt.
"I am happy."
"Then why do you laugh?" She asked seriously, putting distance between them as she pushed him back with her hands on his chest.
"Because; my dear Riddel, it is too cold for Bellflowers to bloom." Her pretty features twisted in genuine disappointment, and Dario smiled down at her fondly. "Come now, I'm sure we can arrange another bouquet for your father. After all, any gift from you is a gift to be treasured."
Glenn had disappeared from the door when Riddel looked up at Dario and shook her head no.
"But I have seen bellflowers in this season. It is not yet winter and only just a little cold."
"I'm telling you, Riddel, it is too cold. Come with me to the florist and I'll help you-"
"Well then I am going to find some." Dario's hands slid off of her shoulders and he stood in front of her looking incredulous. When his Lady set her mind to something she did not often let it lay to rest.
"Find some where? Stop being so unreasonable, you're not twelve, you're fifteen."
"Well, I will look anyway. And I will start with the graveyard."
"Riddel, it is not wise to go there. It is not a place for the living and if you have no business with the dead I would not disturb this terrain." Termina's graveyard was a place for the spirits of the otherworld to rest peacefully, and its people did not take the trespassing over dead bodies lightly.
"I have seen the bellflower bloom there before. I only want to check, Dario." Dario sighed, frustrated with his girlfriend's persistence.
"Sometimes you are too stubborn." She smiled playfully before she answered.
"Well then I learn it from you." And with that she darted from the gated yard, down the path towards Main Street where she would eventually find her way to the graveyard.
Dario sighed and thought to himself that Riddel certainly swept in a storm wherever she went, but upon reflection, it was what he loved most about her.
With the sword in his hand Dario practiced hard against the straw doll replicated to look like a Porre Officer. Only 20 minutes had gone by before Riddel returned. He sheathed his sword, his chest rising and falling attractively, and he looked upon his love.
"I see you return empty handed."
"There were none to be found. The grave keeper bid me well wishes in my search but said he had not seen any bellflowers for several weeks now." She walked solemnly over to Dario, who snaked his arm around her shoulders and held her close.
"The gravel there at this time is too dead to grow flowers, Riddel." She sulked for a moment, her head resting against the comforting chest of Dario, before she looked up at him. He recognized the same conviction in her eyes that he trained with, and prepared for another elaborate plan.
"Then I will check the shores of Termina, by the docks." To Dario's chagrin she left and returned, empty-handed once more. This time he stood panting from labor, his face even more appealing as it huffed and puffed under physical endurance. He wished she would not get her hopes up so blindly.
"Riddel, it is too sandy to grow bellflowers on the shore. Give up this fool's errand and come to the florist's with me already." She was adamant, however; beautifully adamant and headstrong, and she left to check once more at the florists.
He continued dealing blows to the straw doll, his confidence growing with each strike. Upon her final return sweat dripped from Dario's forehead. He approached her in only his undershirt, wiping a well-toned forearm against his forehead.
"I checked the florist's… she had none." Dario's face was kind and sorry for her loss. He put a hand on her back and rubbed it gently.
"I told you, Riddel… it is too cold for bellflowers." She nodded, resigned to the fact that her boyfriend was right, and sighed a deep sigh.
"I have to return home soon, father will be leaving."
"Then let me take you to get a bouquet. It may not be the one you want, but it will be just as nice." She smiled faintly. Although Dario seemed at times capable of anything, there were some things he could not do, like pick her a bellflower at the start of winter.
Pulling his sweater over his torso, he put his arm around her and readied to leave for the florist's, when suddenly, Glenn came running out of their house, yelling wildly for "Lady Riddel."
Turning around Riddel's eyes fell on Dario's little brother first, and on the small bouquet of flowers in his hand second.
"Wait! Lady Riddel! Dario! Hold on!" Huffing and puffing he anxiously held out a bouquet of beautiful paper flowers, cut perfectly into the shape of the legendary bellflower and tied primly with trailing, curling silken ribbon. The petals blossomed with iridescent glitter and caught the sun so magnificently one would believe they held the real thing.
Riddel's eyes went wide; her fingers gingerly touched her lips and for a moment, she simply stared. Dario looked down on his brother with brimming affection and thought; he will make a fine man one day.
"These are for you, Riddel." She stepped away from Dario towards Glenn and smiled that beautiful, breathtaking smile Glenn had been so transfixed by. Her eyes were honest and kind, and he felt in his heart she did not patronize or indulge him, but truly appreciated his makeshift gift. "It is never too cold for bellflowers."
With her hands in the crook of her lap she leaned forward and said,
"Thank you, Glenn. I will never forget this kindness." She left him with a single kiss on his cheek, and very soon Glenn's smile was overtaken by his crimson blush.
Riddel walked away with Dario, smelling the paper petals in her hand as though they were real, and looked up at Dario with a glint in her eyes.
He quirked his eyebrow as if to ask her what she wanted to say, and she responded to his question by saying,
"It is never too cold for bellflowers..." Dario only laughed, and thought to himself, he still had so much to learn from his little brother.
Author's Note: Well, this turned out pretty well I guess. There are a lot of things I wonder if I should have done differently, and sometimes I feel like I failed in accurately capturing the brother-brother relationship, but it is what it is for now. Not too bad, not too great, it sits somewhere in the middle. Let me know what you think by kindly leaving a review for me, it would be most appreciated. Thanks!