The world was quiet this time of night. Everyone had gone to bed.
You'd think with a castle so filled with people as this one still was (not everyone had managed to settle into new villages and towns yet, as the world was still slowly being rebuilt) that there would be at least some sound, even at the wee hours of the morning. If you looked out far enough, over the dark grounds, and out into the woods, you could almost imagine you were the last person anywhere in this part of Cephiro, it was that quiet.
Perhaps that was why Umi had taken to finding Clef at this time of night.
Well, that, and she was trying to do her best to get him to at least get a reasonable amount of sleep on weekends when she stayed overnight. That way he was at least functioning on one good night of sleep every so often.
Umi was the first one to admit that it was more than just a little underhanded, asking him to walk with her at night.
But how else was she to get him out of his office, away from all the academy work, and out of the spiralling thoughts in his head - and everything else distracting him at the moment? Hell, even she needed a little distraction from the present, if she could manage it.
Things were more than a little confusing between them, everything had changed completely, but at the same time, not at all.
Like tonight, they'd found their way to one of the lesser used balconies. The perfect place to look at the stars.
The conversation was quiet and intermittent, but the silence between their words sat comfortably in the lull and she didn't mind. It was nice just being near him. That was all she wanted really. The rest…
She shook her head and looked down at the gardens. The white paths shone brightly in the starlight. She wasn't exactly tired yet (having already slept a few hours before setting out on her quest to send the Guru to his own bed) and the thought of walking along the empty garden paths was always a pleasant one.
Turning towards him as she spoke, Umi's hand brushed against his on the railing, sending a surprising tremor through her body. She caught her breath. Boundaries, she repeated to herself. They'd been put there for a reason, even if only by her own mind in an attempt to keep him from being too startled again.
(Well over seven hundred years old, and a little love confession had rattled him that much?)
Perhaps she laughed a little at the thought, a soft flush creeping into her cheeks as she met his eyes.
Her original request fizzled out on her tongue in that split second two thoughts merged. Walk forgotten she reached out to him, her fingers brushing back a stray hair as she leaned in, asking permission for what she wanted so desperately to do.
Her question was answered by him moving forwards, closing the distance between them. One of her hands tangled in his hair when their lips met with a static shock, but the kiss was over nearly before it had begun.
"I meant to ask you to go on another walk with me," she laughed. "Not if I could kiss you."
Her fingers smoothed what bit of his hair she'd ruffled, as they each took a step back. The rest of her trembled as she tried to calm her pounding heart with slow even breaths, though even that was more than a little difficult, the breathing. But it was doing nothing for the fire in her cheeks, and want she was studiously ignoring.
"Another night," he whispered, looking nearly as flustered as she felt.
Umi nodded. "Yeah, probably a good idea."
Might be best to retire to their own rooms for now, before either of them pushed a bit too far down a path that led to them doing something they might both regret. They both bid one another a good night and a pleasant sleep as they parted in the corridor. Umi made Clef swear he wouldn't go back to work that night, and from the way he'd laughed at the suggestion, she was almost sure there was no chance he'd be able to concentrate, even if he did.