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Maple Tree

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“You’re late.”

Kazuha sheepishly smiled as he reached the top of the hill, waving in silent greeting to the young man who sat before him.

Despite being in such a casual position, sitting leaned against the tree with both legs outstretched and his large, intricately decorated hat abandoned to the grass beside him, Scaramouche had a presence that demanded respect. His expression and tone were almost regal, despite the only other one there for him to “command” being the lone samurai standing before him. Kazuha was not unfamiliar with this attitude of his, but it was no less jarring to witness after the two of them had been apart for so long.

“I apologize,” Kazuha replied with a small bow. “Some other matters had occupied my time, but at least I now have more of it to spend at your side.”

Scaramouche simply replied with an uninterested “Hmph.”, wordlessly maneuvering to make room beside him.

Kazuha sat, leaning against the wide tree just as the harbinger was doing. He hummed as he tilted his head back to look up into the tree’s extensive network of branches, tipped with maple leaves of golden amber and fiery red. The sun was just starting to dip below the horizon, decorating the sky with similar colors. It was an almost perfect view; the truly perfect sight was that which sat beside him.

“I see this tree has grown substantially since last we met beneath it.” Kazuha said, before adding with an almost devilish smile, “Unfortunately, it seems the same cannot be said for you.”

Had it come from anybody else, such a statement – clearly meant to be a jab at Scaramouche’s height (or lack thereof) – would not have gone without swift and severe punishment. Instead, however, he simply retorted, “At least I’ve learned the meaning of punctuality – a concept you clearly have yet to grasp.”

Kazuha laughed (his laugh was light and airy – the kind of laugh that made Scaramouche’s heart flutter despite the fact that he was supposed to be annoyed with him, and he hated that), “I suppose a wanderer’s soul fails to take notice of the passage of time, but wouldn’t you agree the evening is much prettier than afternoon, anyway? It paints the loveliest of pictures, and I know just the tune to accompany it.”

The samurai pulled from his pocket a leaf whistle, and the song he played with it was just as light and gentle as the instrument from which it was made. It was a high, tinny sort of noise, but played in such a way that it brought comfort to the irritable harbinger, and he figured he could probably let a little tardiness go.

This song was familiar to Scaramouche, though he hadn’t heard it in quite some time. Perhaps it was on an autumn day just like this one, beneath a tree just as vibrant and full of life as the one they were currently sitting under; he couldn’t remember – at the time, it was hardly notable or important enough for him to remember.

Scaramouche relaxed against the tree, his head leaning to fall against Kazuha’s shoulder as he continued to play. This was the sort of memory he wanted to keep. As time passed, the two of them seemed to be able to meet less and less, so he cherished what little time they did spend together, just as he cherished the correspondences he occasionally received from Kazuha (even despite Tartaglia’s constant prying about the “love letters” he was constantly on the lookout for when at sea.).

Even after the song had ended, and the pair were once more pitched into silence, they sat like this. All that could be heard was the soft breeze rustling the maple leaves – and on some not-quite-so-distant shore, the sound of waves on the beach. Perhaps they had chosen this as their designated meeting spot for the sounds, or perhaps the view that was provided from that hill beneath the maple tree.

It was a convenient spot, anyway, void of other people for quite a distance. That was why Scaramouche liked it, at least.

A gentle hand on his head drew his attention back to Kazuha, who now sat with his eyes closed and his own head leaned against the tree. The sky was darkening substantially by now, with the cover of the night sky slowly taking the place of the sun. By all accounts, it was truly peaceful, and there was no doubt in either Scaramouche nor Kazuha’s mind that it would be a long while before they would share another moment like this.

That said, they both hoped this moment would never end.