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K-I-S-S-I-N-G

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The tracking spell brushed across Umi's skin like fingertips, leaving goosebumps in its wake. Sometimes she thought he must have done it on purpose. No one else's spells felt quite like that, but, then again, she didn't easily recognise anyone else's spells as easily as she did Clef's.

Turning the page of her book, Umi settled further back into her perch, halfway up her favourite taiya tree, and waited.

"I should have known," Clef said, as he walked into the garden room.

"You could just look for me like a normal person," Umi called, not trying to even hide the laughter in her voice, as she leaned over to look down at him.

"Wouldn't be able to find you as quickly," he said, shucking off his outer robes at the base of the tree.

Umi tucked a bookmark between the pages of her book and set it into a gap in the branches a bit further up the tree trunk. "Why'd you wanna find me quickly?"

"I have another meeting this afternoon." Clef grabbed the lowest limbs and hoisted himself into the branches. Umi frequently teased him about being too old to climb trees, but he wasn't too bad.

"I'm not going for you," she said.

Because she was studying politics and international relations at university, Clef had thought it beneficial to drag her along to some of his meetings during her visits. He'd claimed that it was good experience, beneficial knowledge, and a number of other plausible reasons, but really, she just assumed he was finding excuses to spend more time with her.

"You sure? It does involve trade agreements."

She choked back a laugh. The last trade meeting she'd attended ended in a very loud argument, where she declared she wasn't being paid enough to put up with any of them. By which she meant she wasn't being paid at all, and wouldn't be attending any more meetings without compensation of some description.

"Just because you're terrible with money doesn't mean I'm a better choice," Umi teased.

"I'm not terrible with money." Clef's head appeared near her hip.

"No, you just don't know how much anything costs."

"Yet they keep making me attend these meetings." He sighed dramatically, not quite managing to lose his smile as he climbed onto the branch Umi was sitting on.

Umi leaned forwards, hands steadying herself on the branch and wriggled at him with a grin. "Want me to tell them all the reasons why that's a terrible idea?"

"Tempting." Clef laughed, bending to kiss her.

"That wasn't a no," Umi said, her lips a hair's breadth away from his as she spoke.

He smiled, bright and content. "Not this week."

She scooted closer, gripping the branch tightly between her legs as she pressed her mouth to his, and tangled a hand in his hair, around his coronet. They were a bit far up for her to go pushing it off his head, even if she did prefer it out of the way.

Clef's knees bumped hers as he moved. One hand brushing against her thigh before pressing against the branch behind her for balance, while the other slipped behind her neck. His fingers tightened their grip as Umi pulled a soft moan from him with her teeth against his lower lip.

When she pulled back, his face was softly flushed, and both of them were breathing a bit hard.

"How long until you need to leave for this meeting, anyway?"

"Oh, at least ten more minutes," he answered, then kissed her again.