Remembrances and Realizations
by tomoyo-sama
reenkyut@mataray.ph

*disclaimer: I do not own any of the Grandia 2 characters




"Hey Elena!!! Where you goiní?"

She stopped in her tracks and shouted back, "Iím just going to go for a walk! Thatís okay, isnít it? Do we have another show for tonight?"

The foreman scratched his head before hollering, "Nope! But we spend the night here before we set out tomorrow! Donít go too far that we canít find you, alright?"

Before we leave...she nodded slowly before continuing on her way. It was crazy. At first she didnít even WANT to go here...and now she doesnít want to leave. Not just yet. Even if she knew...



"Our next stop is..." the foreman looked at the map he was holding. "Oh yeah. The Island of Garlan. We havenít been there before."

"What?!" Elena stood up suddenly, unaware that her face has become flushed. "W-Why are we going there?"

Everyone looked at her strangely. "Why would we NOT go there?" a member of their group asked confusedly. "Didnít we agree that we would visit every part of the world?"

"Yeah," another member piped up. "Besides, wouldnít it look weird if we visited every place except this one? It would look like we hate that place or something."

Elena was taking deep breaths, trying to calm herself. Although, she didnít quite understand why she was so flustered.
You liar! she said to herself. You know perfectly why...stop! I have to stop this! "Youíre right," she said softly. "Youíre all right. Donít mind me, it-itís nothing."



They have been on the island for two days now. When they first arrived, she told herself not to expect, but she did anyway. In the end, she had been disappointed. Yet, she knew of course...knew that he wouldnít be here at all.

She sighed. Why is she feeling like this? Why is she thinking about all these things now? It had been two years already, and still he hasnít appeared. At least, not to her. She didnít know about the others. She doubted he would be so cruel as to show himself to the others except to her.

Elena paused in her step and looked around. She realized she was in front of a house whose door and windows had been boarded up. His house... Then, hearing someone coming up behind her, she turned around.

It was Gatta. "Hey, Elena," he greeted.

She smiled, a smile, which Gatta noticed, that didnít quite reach her eyes. "Hello Gatta," she said.

He walked up to stand next to her. "You were really good back there...I mean with your show. You have a really beautiful voice."

"Thank you."

They stood there, staring at the house for a long time. Finally Gatta spoke up. "I guess up to now, nobody knows where he is, huh."

"No," she said quietly.

Another period of silence reigned.

"Ió" she cleared her throat. "And I was just about to ask you if he..."

"No," he answered, sensing her question. They fell into silence again until he asked, "Do you think heís...?"

"...Dead?" Elena finished. She shuddered involuntarily. She sure hoped he isnít! A faint smile touched her lips. "No...I hope not and I donít think so. Donít you think Ryudoís too stubborn to die just now?"

He smiled at that. "Yeah, youíre right. And besides...he promised me he would return. And Ryudo is never the one to break his promises. I still have to beat him, you know?"

She tried to hide her grin behind her hand. "Oh, I doubt you would. I bet heíd still win."

Gatta laughed. "Thatís not fair! Youíre not giving me any credit at all! But of course, I shouldíve expected youíd side with him anyway."

She blushed at that. "Oh no, itís not like that! I mean, Ryudoís really good. I mean, I donít mean to say that youíre not, of course youíre good too, andó"

"Whoa, calm down!" He chuckled. "I know what youíre trying to say. I donít mind at all. It Ďs because you love him, right?"

Elena opened her mouth as if to say something, and then closed it. She looked away as tears started to form in her eyes.

"Hey, I didnít mean to make you sad," Gatta said softly. "Iím sorry, Elena."

She waved her hand, "No, no, itís okay. Itís not you. Itís justó" a tear rolled down her cheek, and then another. "Youíre right...I love him," she whispered. "But he doesnít even know...I mean, well I havenít told him or anything..."

"Iím sure he knows," he said in a soft voice. "You donít need to tell him, because it can be seen through your actions."

A few more tears fell while she vainly struggled to stop. He continued, "Knowing Ryudo...he wasnít able to ignore you, I bet. I bet he loves you back."

Elena burst out crying.

Gatta was shocked. "Now I really made you cry! Geez, I really need to watch what Iím saying." He led her away so they could sit down, Elena still sobbing uncontrollably. He put an arm around her, patting her shoulder to somehow comfort her. He was getting distraught himself. "Iím really sorry this time. Okay, Iím shutting up now..."

She managed to stop sobbing, but tears were still running down her face. "Itís okay!" She wiped her eyes with the back of her hands, looking very much like a child. "Youíre right again, you know. I know that he loves me too."

"You mean heís told you?"

"Not in so many words, but..." she paused. Then the words came tumbling forward, almost too fast for him to understand. "I mean, itís like what you said, I can see it in his actions tooóI guessed I loved him even before but I was too naÔve to notice it, I thought I had too concentrate on my mission and that I shouldnít bother myself with trivial matters such as that and then when we fought against his brother Melfice and he was possessed by the Horns of Valmarówhen he raised his sword to strike me I didnít even flinch because I trusted him so much and even if he was going to do it anyway, if I had to die right there and then I was thinking that it was okay because it was HIM who was going to kill me anyway, but he was able to control himself and he didnít kill me and that made me love him so much more that the thought of him being possessed completely by the horns pushed me right over the edge that I asked Milleniaó"

"Millenia?"

"She...she was the Wings of Valmar." Elena tried to slow down. "She used to be the wings. She was the one who possessed me."

"I see," he murmured.

"Thatís where the problem comes in...I mean, Millenia wasnít really problem although I did think she was a headache but..." Her speech began to pick up speed again. "Evenóeven though I thought she was evil incarnate I didnít care because all I wanted to do was to save Ryudo, and Milleniaówell she knows exactly how I feel about everything and everyone and especially about Ryudo but she didnít care much because she was feeling the same way..." Gatta inhaled sharply at this. "Yes, she loves him tooóthatís why she helped me save him when she could have devoured the horns in him and destroyed his soul in the process, and I didnít understand at first why she did that because it never even occurred to me that she could love anyone..."

Gatta sat silently, analyzing everything she had said so far. She gave a little hiccup before continuing. "And...you see, Ryudo wasnít with me all the time, he spent a lot of time with Millenia tooóthose were the times when sheíd take over me and I wasnít aware whenever that would happen because Iíd just feel like I was asleep and I would just know that she took over when sheíd go away because they would tell me, and even though she was generally evil she eventually began to change and it was largely because of Ryudo because he was kind to her, because Ryudoís just like that even when heíd pretend that youíre a pain in the neck heíd still be concerned about you and heówell he..."

"He...what?" he pressed gently.

"He...loves her too," Elena whispered.

"WHAT?!"

"No, wait, thereís something you donít understand!" she said quickly. "You donít know Millenia at all, you only know me. Sheís good, Gatta. She really is changed."

"But...but...Ryudo falling in love with two women at the same time?" Gatta was stumped. He didnít know his friend was capable of doing that!

Elena toyed the ribbons in her hair. "Itís not like me to be selfish...but this isnít something that I can share with, if you know what I mean." He nodded at that. "Me and Millenia...well, we canít exactly share Ryudo, you know..." The image was so hilarious and horrifying at the same time that she couldnít help giggling.

He joined in with her laughter. "That would be pretty ridiculous," he said while chuckling.

"Itís just that..." Her face became serious again. "When the world started to fall apart...and Zera told us the truthóthat Granas was dead...I felt like falling apart too, because everything that I believed in and everything that I worked for was for nothing at all. I felt like giving up, like curling into a ball and forgetting everything...but then I realized...when it all comes down to it...I realized that Ryudo was what I did haveóhe was all that I had." She looked up at him. "And I realized that I still believed in something...I believed in him."

Gatta stared back at her. He fell silent, not knowing what to say. She reached out and patted is hand, as if she read what was on his mind. "Itís okay. You donít have to say anything. I...thank you. Thank you so much, Gatta, for listening."

He smiled. "Anything to help you, Elena."

"You did," she assured him. She took a deep breath. "If you donít mind, though...Iíd like to be alone now."

He stood up. "Sure. Iím just here, alright? You can approach me anytime." Then he walked off, thinking, boy, when that Ryudo comes home, heís gonna HAVE it...


****
Elena walked around blindly, not really looking where she was going. Talking to Gatta helped, she must admit to herself. Although she took this walk in the first place to supposedly forget her problems, even if for a moment. She stopped when she realized her feet had taken her to the cemetery.

She knelt by the nearest one, touching the sword embedded in the earth. Melfice. She looked at the others. Reena, the one Ryudo called grandfather, the little girl who adored Melfice...Ryudo suffered even more than she had. She had been mistaken when she thought he didnít understand why she was mourning the death of her friends, right after he took her away from the Garmia Tower.

"You...You cold, unfeeling brute!"

He had the gall to correct her back then. "Itís Geohound. Cold, unfeeling Geohound," he said with that smirk on his face that she knew now to be a cover up of what he really feels. It was later when she would know that he tried vainly to save the others too, but had failed.

She glanced at Melficeís grave again. Melfice...that place...she tried to remember that place she saw in Ryudoís mind...

Suddenly she knew where she wanted to be.


****
She found it...the Plateau of Memories. This was where we fought Melfice, she thought. The place had changed so much. It was full of grass again, with flowers scattered here and there. A light breeze blew by, making everything dance.

Elena took off her shoes and sat down on the soft grass. Seeing the flowers sway with the wind made her want to dance too. But then, what she was good at, she suddenly remembered with a giggle, was singing.

And so she sang.

****

Ryudo was planning to give her the scare of her life...and instead got the shock of his own. God, she started singing!

Her voice...he always thought her voice was the voice of an angel. She was an angel. He remembered the first time he heard her sing. He sort of snuck up on her too. Then something made him stop. Her voice or her song, he really didnít know. Maybe both. Hearing her sing made him feel...funny. It made him remember all sorts of things he really didnít want to remember back then...and made him feel all sorts of feelings he wanted to do nothing with.

His sudden arrival on the island caused uproar. Everybody was so happy to see him, and he was surprised that the one whom he suspected would be overly happy to see him was greeting him with a scowl instead.

"RYUDO!!!" Gatta growled. He walked to Ryudo and grabbed the front of his shirt. "Iíve half a mind to beat you up right now in order to knock some sense into that empty head of yours!"

"Hey, watch it with the insults, airhead," Ryudo said, prying off his hands easily. "And remember, saying that youíll do something is different from actually doing it. Because, buddy, you canít beat me up."

"I can if I make up my mind to!" Gatta said angrily before stalking off.

"H-hey wait! Can you even clue me in for a second on why youíre so furious with me?" Ryudo stood there, looking confused.

"For making Elena cry, you IDIOT!"

"Look, man," Gatta later said, after he had explained everything. "I donít know much about that Millenia chick..."

"Yeah, you donít," Ryudo said, crossing his arms.

"Okay, okay, I donít know anything about her at all...but I do know Elena and how she feels. Just think about it, man. Think about it real hard, thatís all Iím gonna say to you."

"And Iím gonna say to you, that you should keep your nose out of MY business and you really should train harder because youíre still not gonna beat me. Where did she go?"

"I donít know. If you listen to your heart, itíll tell you where."

And then he knew.

Elenaís singing tugged him back to the present. He could get lost listening to her sing. He could get lost in her, he realized, and he couldnít care less. Damn... Why is he thinking like this? Like some half-pervert, mindless idiot that he really wasnít...

This...angel, who still hasnít realized that she had company already, suddenly reached up and pulled the ribbons from her hair, freeing it from its bond and making it billow in the wind. With her hair down and the moon bathing her in its light, she looked utterly beautiful.

Ryudoís breath got caught in his throat. Did he say she was an angel? She is a goddess...if he didnít know any better, heíd think she already knew he was here and was doing this to him on purpose.

Wait a minute...What do I think sheís doing to me? Ryudo asked himself, looking and feeling truly confused.

Making me falling in love with her all over again?

She stopped as abruptly as she started singing. A mischievous grin formed slowly on his face as he got an idea.

"Is that all?" he drawled, saying the exact words he said when they first met, after he first heard her sing.

She whipped around, her eyes going wide in surprise. They went even wider when she saw who was there. "Ryudo..." she whispered his name.

His grin faded when she faced him. He realized for the hundredth time that night how truly beautiful she is. "Elena." He said her name simply, while something exploded in his heart.

The wind blew by between them, playing with her lengthy locks. He resisted the urge to run his fingers through them. She took a step, tentatively, towards him. "Youíre here," she said. It was part statement, part hundreds of questions: Why are you here? Where have you been?

He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, scratching his head. "The last time I checked, yeah," he quipped.

A ghost of a smile appeared on her lips, which quickly changed into a big one. She ran to him and threw her arms around his neck. "Youíre here! Youíre really here!" she cried.

He hugged her back fiercely, burying his face in her incredibly soft hair. Time seemed to stop as they stood there, embracing each other.

Finally Elena pulled back and looked at him, staring into his eyes. He looked back, feeling as though she could see through his very soul. She slowly unwound her arms from about his neck and untangled his fingers in her hair. Then she turned around, went back to the spot where she was sitting and sat down again.

"Why did it have to come to this...? I did everything I could...Why canít we be together?"

Why canít we be together?


She tried to fight back the tears as the question played again and again in her mind. The question she asked then, and the question she was still asking now. At first she thought it was because of Zera...but now, after everything thatís happened, they still canít be together.

Why?

What the...there she goes again with her moods. Ryudo stood there, thinking. This was a new one, though. He didnít quite know how to handle this...so he decided to play along and sat down next to her.

They sat there, gazing up at the moon. Elena was thinking just how to tell him everythingóshe looked sideways at him and found him smiling.

"What are you smiling about?" she asked curiously, her mind going off track. His smiles always did that to her.

His smile turned into one of those grins she loved so much. "Oh, itís nothing," he said, his tone of voice teasing. "I was just remembering the most difficult job that I received as a Geohound. It was when a father of the church hired me to escort a certain songstress to some place. And when I met her, little miss priss told me she could take care of herself, thank you very much."

"Oh, shut up!" she giggled.

"This Miss I-Can-Take-Care-of-Myself couldnít even react properly when enemies practically ambushed her. I had to save her from them before she practically gets killed!"

"I can take care of myself!" she said, sticking her nose in the air. "I can even sleep on rocky ground, remember?" she continued, joking.

"Yeah right, but you learned that when you were with me," he replied with a smirk.

"Well, you told me to sleep outside!"

"Because, you didnít want to sleep in the same tent with me!"

She blushed furiously, then quickly changed the topic. "As if I wasnít enough, Roan joined our party too...when Millenia was controlling me."

"Yeah, I didnít want any brats around, but Millenia hung onto him." He grinned. "I told him, one squeak from him and heíd find himself in Lollipop Lane."

Laughter bubbled up inside her. "If you only knew back then that he was the prince of Cyrum!"

He laughed aloud. "Oh man! They wouldíve had me flogged!" He shook his head. "Man, that really got me...Roan being a prince. He hid that fact well, huh?"

"No...I think we were just ignorant. I should have suspected something when he had such nice table manners like me, while you ate like a pig," she said with a giggle, lying on her back.

"Hey!" he said indignantly, pretending to be hurt. "If I ate like a pig, then Mareg ate like a what?"

"Likeóa pig bigger than you!" They both laughed. Elena smiled fondly at the memory of Mareg. Mareg, who once during dinner tried to analyze the relationship between her and Ryudo until finally deducing that theirs was a parent-child relationship. She never knew if he was serious or just joking at the time.

"Oh!" She sat back up. "Do you remember the time when we first met Mareg?"

"Like hell I do!" Ryudo lied down, placing his hands behind his head. "I was having one of those rare sleeps... you know, the wonderful, deep, dreamless ones? Then I hear this...this HUGE...whatever... coming towards us that I just had to wake up."

She looked at him. ĎWhen he mentioned your brotherís name, Iíve never seen you look so...tense."

He nodded. "Yeah. Hearing Melficeís name back then was like bringing the nightmares back."

"When Mareg joined us...you knew that his goal was to kill Melfice, right?"

"I know. Back then I wasnít sure what I was going to do when I finally find Melfice...just that I wanted to find him. I figured Mareg would be pretty useful, especially with that SMELL thing he has..."

She chuckled, hugging her knees to her chest. "At first I didnít understand what SMELL he was talking about...you know, when he charged at us and he said it was because of your SMELLóI thought he was going to say you smelled like someone who hadnít taken a bath in years!"

"Hey, when did you get so good at...insulting people?" Ryudo shook his head in wonder.

"Itís not insulting! Itís called...teasing. And I caught it from a certain Geohound," she added, poking him in the stomach.

"Ow! But you know what? Mareg was one of those people who had, like, infinite patience, donít you think? I mean, my constant griping and moaning doesnít bother him at all, unlike Skye whoíd rap me on the head, or unlike you whoíd get mad and scold meójust kidding, just kidding! I mean, basically he got along well with everybody. Even if his way with words drove me nuts."

"Yes," she agreed. "He really helped Tio realize that she had a heart."

"Yeah, but Tio following him around, calling him ĎMasterí was pretty funny..."

"And you were so rude to Tio then! Imagine, telling her to go build a birdhouse!"

"Itís not like that! I was just thinking, we finally got rid of Roan and then Tio tags along..."

They both fell silent. Ryudo sighed deeply. "And then...well, until the end...Mareg really considered us his Ďfamilyí... IóI never thoughtóI still canít quite believe up to now that he actually sacrificed himself to save us."

Elenaís eyes started to fill up again. "I know," she said in a small voice, hugging her knees tighter. "When we performed at their village...I visited his grave and cried there for a long time. But thinking about his death...actually makes my life more worth living...I meanó"

"I know," Ryudo said.

They fell into silence again. Elena wiped her tears away and said, "Well, Tio wasnít so bad now, was she?"

He glanced at her and smiled a small smile. "I misjudged her. I underestimated her too. Before, I only thought of her as simply...well, a robot, you know? But she was different. I think she understood the matters of the heart even more than I do."

Speaking of the matters of the heart...Why does that topic always come around? She had almost forgotten her resolve to tell Ryudo what she feels. And they were having such a wonderful time reminiscing...She opened her mouth to speak but he beat her to it again.

"Elena," he said.

"Yes?" she whispered.

He gazed at the moon hanging brightly above them. "Do you remember that one time...when Valmarís Moon was still there, and you said you hated it...because it was always there, wherever you look?" he asked softly.

She turned her gaze to the moon herself. "You threw a stone into the water to make it disappear," she recalled. Her heart warmed at the memory.

"I made it disappear then...but only momentarily. But look at the sky now, Elena. Itís not there anymore. Because I did make it disappear. So you donít have to be sad anymore. I...I never want to see you sad, Elena."

She looked at him, and saw his blue eyes swirling with emotion. Suddenly she canít stand it anymore. "Ryudo," she said, facing him. "I want to tell you something. I should have told you this a long time ago."

"Elena, you dó"

"Shh..." she moved closer, placing a finger on his lips to silence him. The warmth from that one finger quickly spread to Ryudoís whole body. "Please donít stop me. You may already know what Iím going to say, but I want to you to hear it." She took a deep breath. "I love you, Ryudo. I love you with my whole being. I loved you even before I knew I was already loving you. When Zera said that Granas was dead, and that we had no one to believe in, we didnít have anybody...he was very wrong. Because I believe in someone, and thatís you. And I realized...I did have someone...and thatís you, Ryudo..."

He was frozen in his place. She could certainly understand that he was probably shocked from all the crazy things she was saying. It was different in his case. He just simply couldnít believe that he was hearing all these wonderful things, the things that he had longed to hear from her.

Elena could feel herself turning red from head to toe in embarrassment. She had said her piece, what now? She dreaded what would happen next. Better make a run for it...she started to leave.

"Wait." He caught her hand. She stopped, her head bowed down. "Where are you going?"

"I have to get away," she said to the ground.

He cocked his head to one side. "From me?"

"No, not really..."

"Why?"

She sighed. It was so like him to make things hard for her. "Because I already said everything thatís in my heart...and I have nothing more to say."

"Well, did it even occur to you that I might have something to say?"

She looked at him in surprise. He looked really serious. She let herself be pulled down to sit next to him again, but kept her gaze on the ground.

He studied her for a moment. Refusing to look at him, blushing prettily. He doesnít think she knows just how beautiful she is. He leaned closer to make sure she was listening. "Elena, do you know where Iíve been these past two years?"

She shook her head, steadfastly looking at the ground.

"I went to bury the Granasaber."

Her head snapped up. Oh...so thatís what he was doing all this time. Now she understood why heíd been gone for so long.

"The task of hiding it took me only a year. When I was done...I didnít want to go back. Because I knew that I had to make a choiceóbetween you and Millenia. So I spent another year wandering around, doing some serious soul-searching.

"It took me longer to get to you because I went to Lilligue City first to see Millenia."


****
Millenia was sitting at her desk, checking the drawings of the children which they had done earlier. Sensing that someone was in the room, she looked up and saw Ryudo.

She smiled. "Ryudo!" She walked over to him, gave him a quick hug, and stepped back. "Hey, how have you been doing?"

"Hey Millenia, did you miss me?" Ryudo asked, grinning, although he was secretly surprised that she didnít pounce on him like he thought she would.

"Of course I did, silly!" A child ran up to them, tugging at Milleniaís skirt. "Miss Millenia, Miss Millenia!"

She bent down to come face to face with the boy. "Yes, Cedric?"

Cedric held out a bouquet of flowers. "I want to give them to you, Miss Millenia, because theyíre as pretty as you are!"

She blushed, "Oh, thatís so sweet of you, Cedric!" She took the flowers and smelled them. "Iíll be sure to put them in the vase at my desk."

"Iíll put them there for you, Miss Millenia!" The boy grabbed the flowers from her and took off.

"Oh...my...god..." Ryudo stood there, staring unbelievingly. "You really are...a teacher!"

She swatted him on the arm. "Whatís so hard to believe? I know I wasnít exactly teacher material in the first place, but things change, you know!"

"Yeah, they sure do." He looked at her. "Youíve changed a lot, Millenia."

"Yes, I have." She looked at the children playing outside. "You know, when I was waiting for you to come back, Iíve done a lot of thinking. About you, about myself. About Elena. Well, the situation that the three of us are in. Maybe it would surprise you to hear me say this...no, scratch that, I bet youíd be really surprised." She looked at him then. "You belong to Elena, Ryudo."

He took a step back. Whoa. Millenia was certainly doing a good job of surprising him. What would be next?

She looked at the children again. "Miss Millenia, come and play with us!" a girl called out. She waved at them, and they ran off again. She turned to face him, smiling softly. "But donít think that this means I didnít love you. I swear I did. When I was inside of Elena, I knew everything that she feels and thinks. I was very jealous of her because sheís so good and kind, and she always puts others before herself, something that I didnít understand before...and because she has you. Sheís always had you, right from the start.

"You may not be aware, Ryudo, but Elena has changed you in so many ways. She helped you become a better man. I have to admit that my becoming a teacher was largely because of Elenaís influence in me. Being with these children changed me a lot. I may be their teacher, but in turn they have taught me so much too. Now Iím learning to do what Elena has always done...thinking of others before myself.

"I loved you because you always treated me differently, like I was a real human being. I thank you so much for that. But now, both you and I know who you really love."

"Millenia..."

"Iím dedicating my life to the children Iíve come to love so much. This is where Iím happiest." She started pushing him out the door. "Go to her, Ryudo, before itís too late!"

"But Ió"

She snarled, "Look, smart guy, you know exactly who I am, and doing this is, like, the ultimate generous act for me, so GO!!!"

He grinned, giving her the thumbs-up sign. "Now thatís more like the Millenia I know!"

She grinned in return. "I havenít completely lost my mind yet. Go now, you idiot!"

He turned to go. "Oh, wait!" she cried out. Ryudo stopped. "Yeah?"

"If you donít mind...can I keep Skye with me?"

Ryudo smiled widely. "Sure. Knowing Skye, heís grown very fond of you too. Take good care of him for me, Millenia!"

And he left.


****
"It took me even longer to get to you because your group was always hopping from one place to another... so I had to follow you guys around for a few weeks before I finally caught up with you here."

"You did?" she said, finally looking at him.

"I sure did." He smiled, making her heart flutter.

"What are you saying?" she whispered, unknowingly leaning closer to him so their faces were only inches apart.

"You know what this means, princess. Iím sorry if your prince took so long to get to you." He traced her cheek with one finger, making her shiver inwardly. "Iíve always tried to tell you how I felt before, but I always end up saying it wrong. And you somehow always managed to get away before I could say it. Itís my turn now. Iím not gonna let you go this time." He cupped her face with his hands and looked into her eyes. "I love you, Elena."

With that, he crushed his lips against hers in a searing kiss. A kiss that seemed to seal the words they had spoken to one another, full of promise of the things to come. A kiss that was gentle, yet possessive at the same time. All thoughts fled from her mind and the world ceased to exist. She tilted her head back, wrapped her arms around his neck, and responded with everything she had, deepening the kiss.

They parted, both of them breathing heavily. Ryudo shook his head to make his mind work again. "Damn," he said, gasping. "Where did you learn to kiss like that?"

He looked at her and smirked when he saw that she was as affected with their kiss as he was. But damn... she certainly knew how to kiss, he had to admit. He grinned happily.

"IóI donít know..." she said, tilting her head to one side, still looking a little dazed.

He ran his fingers through her hair, his arms encircling her waist to pull her against him. "Has anybody told you how beautiful you are?" he whispered in her ear.

She closed her eyes, leaning her head against his shoulder, feeling more content than she had ever been in her life. How she yearned for this feeling...of being loved completely by the very person she loved. It was pure bliss. She whispered a silent thanks to Millenia, from the bottom of her heart. "Hmm...not really," she responded to his question, cuddling closer.

"Well, you are." He buried his face in the crook of her neck, tightening his hold on her waist. "You are very beautiful, both inside and out. As beautiful as a goddess." He truly meant what he said. She is beautiful, he realized, not only because she really is beautiful, but most importantly, what makes her beautiful to his eyes is because he loves her.

She blushed at the words. No one had actually told her before that she was beautiful. Even she had thought of herself as somewhat plain. She sighed happily. Loving someone with all your heart must make you beautiful, she thought.

He lifted his head to look at her face. Seeing her blush, he said, "You know, you become even prettier when you blush like that."

She pulled away. "Where did you learn to say charming things like that?" she asked, trying to look serious.

He gave her a boyish grin. "Oh, Iíve been taking lessons from Skye."

She laughed then, a laugh of pure happiness. They fell back, holding each other close as if they never intend to let each other go, looking at the moon once more. This time, the moon seemed to shine approvingly down at them.