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Heaven in Hiding

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The morning came by too quickly.

The sun was warm on her skin, and that was the first thing that struck Colette as odd. She would always tuck herself deep in her bed covers, as if the night would swallow her up if she wasn't careful. The light would stream from the windows to only stroke her face, eyes blinking blearily after too many dreams of darkness and nothing.

Feeling the sun now was like back on the journey again, everyone's blankets sometimes a little small, a bit frail, and upheaved by the dips in the ground. But she'd feel the earth below and the sun above, and remember what she was traveling for. Along with familiar breathing by her side.

She heard Lloyd to her right, blinked, and turned.

The thick blankets of her bed were tangled about his legs. His mouth was half open in a snore, the locks of his hair falling just over his face. The sun shone against his bare skin, highlighting defined slopes, the soft twitch of his fingers as he sunk deep in his own dreams.

Colette only noticed her own nakedness after seeing his, after feeling the sleepy urge to rush her palms against his sides. The blankets were curled and wrinkled around them, letting the sun expose them both more.

Oh… right, she thought. And the dim but fierce memories of his eyes and the way his mouth had been warm all over her, both of them leaning onto her bed without realizing it. They had just taken a break from their journey when returning to Colette’s home, the sky studded with stars, busy with some unpacking, a small laugh here and there, and then Lloyd had asked her something…

Last night must have been her answer.

Colette stretched, only slightly hiding her lower legs underneath the sheets. There was an ache in her chest, but it didn't hurt. It was more like something sweet, the feeling intensifying as she looked down on Lloyd's face, inviting a hand to stroke his cheek. She traced on finger down to his neck. The way he scrunched his forehead, mumbling more into into the pillow beneath made her smile.

He was smiling too when he held me and kissed me and touched me-

She felt her face heat up, nearly tumbling against Lloyd's bare chest. She was overwhelmed and she never wanted to let go of it. Even as simple as looking at Lloyd burst every wonderful sensation within her ribs.

"Colette? Have you already returned home?" 

Something about hearing her grandmother then made her calm down instead of fluttering to a panic. Still, she kept the sheets around her legs. She saw Lloyd turn, mumbling some more, before he fell deeper into his sleep. Would anyone else hear?

But Lloyd had always been a deep sleeper, and with a smile that felt close to blossoming even further, Colette left the bed. "Coming."

She was dressed properly then, greeting the elderly woman at the door, her bed hidden from view. It was strange, she thought she'd be more nervous when this would happen (and maybe it was selfish, to think something so wonderful could happen to her, of all people, destined to end before anything like it) but she felt as if she held the sun in her chest and that its light was enveloping every part of her in its warmth.

"You came back so late last night, Colette,” Phaidra said, a gentle surprise in her tone. “I didn't even get to welcome you home."

"It's alright. I tried my best not to disturb." Her hands were held before her, her proper clasping hard to break, but maybe the familiarity was comforting, to her and her grandmother. "Did you sleep well?"

The wrinkles around her grandmother's cheeks deepened as she smiled, still holding tightly onto her cane. "I was just about to ask the same thing of you."

A pause. "I slept great!" 

There may have been more her grandmother might have mentioned, about her father preparing breakfast, about the priests still wishing to see her later, and more inquiries such as, "And Lloyd has gone home safely? I need to speak with Dirk one of these days. He'd been missing the boy so much." And Colette would nod and agree, but the sun kept shining within her.

That same sun still showed her way to the bed. She wanted to return soon.

It seemed ages until she finally saw her grandmother walk down the stairs, mentioning how she would help make the tea. Usually this was Colette's task but her return in the evening had been her saving grace. The journey had indeed been tiring, so tiring that all she could do was cling to Lloyd as he laid with her to bed.

Because even when he had asked and wondered, and sometimes paused with a question in his head of ‘would you rather stay, would you rather keep going’ Colette would pull him back to her, swallowing away every doubt until nothing made them stop.

A soft click of the door, and she tread back to her bed, the boy in it still very softly snoring away. He had been quiet the whole time, as if he unconsciously knew their secret.

With a grin, she leaned down and kissed him on the lips, the softness of his mouth sending streams of warmth through her spine. The memory of his heated breaths against her neck, the way he had looked down at her, her eyes adjusted to the dark, hands reaching to rush her fingers through already disheveled hair... She kissed a little deeper. She had taken her sense of touch for granted before - she never wanted to make that mistake again.

"Mm?" Another low mumble from him, thick and bare with confusion. She kept her gaze on him throughout, seeing his eyes open, her reflection in them. Last night she had mostly kept her own shut, letting his hands and mouth tell a story for her, letting her fingers find their way. Still, there would always be sneaking glances, pressed near his hair as he got as close as he could.

She felt Lloyd's hand reach for her cheek, his palm a rush of electricity, keeping her near, wanting her near as they kissed.

But maybe another small surprise left his throat when she pulled back, watching him shiver. "Hey… is it early?"

She giggled, her hair falling past her to tickle his cheeks. "Yeah..I thought I'd have to wake you up more."

Lloyd was smiling, and in that moment there was something so comfortable and so expected and it was all the things she could ever want - all the things denied from a destiny the same boy before her had saved her from.

Another blink. He looked around her room. "Wait, did we…uh… here?" He was still half-asleep. It made her kiss him again, one action Lloyd fell into so easily as he let her. 

"I think we were really tired," Colette said with a smile.

Lloyd scratched the back of his head, then winked. "Huh.. must not have been that tired."

"Hehe, Lloyd!"

"Well, it's true!"

And she wanted to be close again, to experience how he easily pulled laughter from her so that it bubbled wonderfully inside her like the fine wine at the party in Tethe’alla. She had barely taken sips of it, but even then it had rushed through her as the boy in white (but red suited him more) snuck her away from enclosed walls. That laughter spread back then too, as it did when he had kissed her last night, and kept close, kept close.

She hugged him, crawling back on the bed. She brought the covers around them, not needing the sun. It was inside her already.

"Colette, you dork, what are you doing?" Lloyd asked her, and his smile in their enclosed space in the blankets were all she wanted. She kissed him again and again and then his hands found themselves at her waist.

"Why.. are you wearing this anyway..." he whispered, sneaking a swipe of his tongue against her lower lip.

"I had to look okay for when grandmother came to wake me."

"Oh…. " A pause. "Wait, she's here?" True surprise lifted his features, and Colette was enthralled at how he made every expression so cute. "Ah man.. uh, how do we explain this though?"

Colette considered, then lifted the dress from her frame before snuggling near, the blush spreading all around her it made her ache.

"We can tell them," she said matter of factly. Hopefully her grandmother would forgive her earlier fib about Lloyd being at home.

"... Just like that?"

"Yeah!" And she traced her hands up his chest, kissing him again, again, again. "But if you want, we can hide here for a little bit."

Just one more moment before Lloyd chuckled against her, bringing both arms around her. He nuzzled her neck, the warmth so intoxicating.

"Just for a little bit," he said, bringing her down to the bed again. And the rush spread, and the laughter fell, and she would never let go.