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Happily Ever After

Title: Happily Ever After
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts
Disclaimer: No ownership implied, no profit gained. This is a fanwork.
Characters/Pairings: Aerith, Ansem
Rating: AA
Summary: Aerith reads over Ansem's reports, the words blurring...
Notes: -

Aerith could hear the buzz of the bare florescent bulbs above her as she tried to focus on the words she was reading and not on the noise. Either she had the humming in the back of Cid's shop or the crackling fire and constant traffic in the front.

Concentration was becoming more and more... Pointless.

Tossing the papers down beside her, Aerith leaned back in the fraying easy-chair, ignoring where the stuffing was poking through as she closed her eyes.

"Read me a story?" Aerith asked as she ran up to the lord of the castle, her ponytail bouncing against her back. "Please?"

"I'm working on something very important right now," Ansem replied, glancing up at the girl for a second before going back to the book he was pouring over. "Can't you ask your brother to read to you?"

Aerith shook her head. "Nope. He doesn't do all the voices like you do."

"Aren't you a little old for a story like that?" Ansem inquired. "You're eleven now, right?"

"Twelve," Aerith retorted as she crossed her arms and stood her ground. "So?"

Smiling as she saw Ansem reaching to mark his page, Aerith thrust the book she was holding forward.

"Beauty and the Beast?" Ansem took the book and looked at the cover. "I should have guessed. Yuffie likes hearing princess stories, but you..."

"Because she's just a normal girl who gets to have an adventure and become a princess!" Aerith admitted. "And..."

"Is that what you want?" Ansem pushed his chair back and stood, holding out his hand to Aerith to lead her over to the sunlit staircase.

"I like to dream," Aerith admitted as she grabbed Ansem's hand. "Who wouldn't want to be the lady of a castle like this?"

"Well," Ansem said as they sat, "when you're old enough to be a princess, let me know if you'd like to be mine."

Giggling, Aerith sat down beside Ansem, not letting go of his hand until he opened the book and started to read.

Between the story and Ansem's voice, Aerith let herself get lost, leaning against the lord of the castle until he announced that in the end, everyone lived happily ever after.

"How old do I have to be before I can be a princess?" Aerith asked as Ansem stood, looking up into his orange eyes and frowning. "Fourteen? Eighteen?"

"You'll know when you're old enough," Ansem replied as he leaned down over the still sitting girl, softly kissing her forehead before turning and making his way down the stairs.

"Okay!" Aerith smiled, staying where she was for a minute until Ansem had gone back to his desk and his book. And then she grabbed her own book from the step beside her and ran off to the other end of the library to look for a book on being a princess.

With a soft gasp, Aerith sat upright, blinking for a few seconds at the unfamiliar surroundings. But the buzz of the bare florescent bulb above her was enough to jolt her memory. Cid's. Safe.

But her dream - she hadn't even thought about that particular incident in years! Glancing down at the papers she'd tossed to the floor, she left them where they were and stood.

Somewhere... Her apartment was in Second District but she had lived with Cid for quite awhile. Perhaps...

And it was there, wedged on a bookshelf built from bricks and boards between two volumes on engine repair, her copy of Beauty and the Beast.

"Princess lessons," Aerith murmured to herself, twirling around once as she clutched the book to her chest.

Yes, if only...

For a moment she imagined a happily ever after.


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Disclaimer: I don't own it, I'm just playing with it. All titles and characters belong to their respective creators and companies.