|Sephiroth/Hotaru: Carry on Dancing
||[Oct. 13th, 2007|01:34 pm]
Ravings of a Bunny: Usagi Vindaloo's fic/icon/art
Title: Carry on Dancing
Fandom: Sailor Moon/Final Fantasy VII
Pairing/Character: Sephiroth/Sailor Saturn
Rating: PG for pure fluff
Summary: At the birthday celebrations for Neo-Queen Serenity and her daughter, Sephiroth and Hotaru find themselves dancing around each other in more ways than one... (Pamina-verse)
Dedication: lady_pamina, for being the new convert to Hotaru/Sephiroth and creating a new and awesome verse for me to play in. ^^
Disclaimer: Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko Takeuchi. Final Fantasy VII belongs to Square Enix, Nomura Tetsuya, etc. Savage Garden property of Sony (I think?)
A/N: NOT BETA'ED. I really need to start getting my stuff beta'd. >.> This goes to lady_pamina in response to two prompts she gave me:
"Prompt #1: Walking – Hotaru shyly walked into the ballroom and found herself meeting the gaze of a silver-haired prince. She was so taken aback by the intensity of his look that she could only manage to murmur a soft greeting and make a small, demure curtsy.
Prompt #2: Waltz - When Sephiroth looked up to the see the Princess of Saturn descending the steps into the ballroom everything else seemed to fade away, and he found himself humbly asking her for a waltz."
This is also set in HER universe, which differs slightly from mine: Sephiroth appears in Crystal Tokyo, falls in with Hotaru, and... well, basically has to live life in Crystal Tokyo. Hopefully, this is what she had in mind. Sorry for the blatant insertion of my favorite song near the end (see what I'm listening to right now) but I found it set the mood nicely for their final dance. Hope you like it!
Sephiroth had understood going into this that he was going to have to face punishment. Neo Queen Serenity had said as much when pronouncing sentence for his attempts at besieging Crystal Tokyo. Admittedly, Senshi attitudes towards punishment seemed extraordinarily lax in comparison with what he had envisioned, but he still acknowledged that, at any time, the hammer might fall and he would be forced to endure something Not Pleasant as penance for his earlier misbehavior.
Still, as he stood in the middle of the crowded ballroom, stiff and awkward in his new suit while dancers jostled past and cheerful, vapid chatter wafted from everywhere around him, he began to consider the notion that there were some forms of punishment that were too cruel.
Of course, if he'd asked Neo Queen Serenity and her Senshi, he already knew they would deny the notion of this being a special torture created just for him. "Small Lady and Neo Queen Serenity's birthday," they'd say. "A special occasion," they'd say. "The entire castle is invited, you just happen to be included," they'd say, with a slight glare to put their meaning across. He supposed he could have refused bluntly, but the glint in their eye had convinced him that it wasn't really worth arguing about. Besides, he'd decided, at least he could expect some decent conversation from Sailor Saturn, who had also mentioned her intent on going. Unfortunately, she had yet to appear with the other Senshi, and Sephiroth was beginning to have serious second thoughts about the entire venture.
He supposed he should have listened to his gut when it began sending warning signals earlier in the day. He had been hanging around the palace, under usual close guard, not bothering to change for the evening festivities. He hadn't really seen the point, frankly. Unfortunately, this had not gone unnoticed, and before he knew it, King Endymion had descended on him, cooly demanding to know if he really intended on coming to the ball dressed like that.. Sephiroth's equally cool affirmative had done nothing to convince the monarch, and before the silver-haired man had a chance to get his bearings, he had found himself in one of the king's dressing chambers, faced with a wall of neatly hung tuxedos and a fussing tailor ready to alter and stitch at request.
Yes... yes, that was definitely the point where I should have run like the wind, and never looked back.
But he had stayed, out of some bizarre mix of masochism and reluctant respect of Sailor Saturn's friendship with these... people, and had somehow endured the fussing and tutting of the royal tailor as the smaller man began to create "ze perfect outfit." Luckily, the man had seemed to have some idea of what he was doing... rather than forcing Sephiroth to wear a tuxedo like his king, he had instead thrown together an ensemble with a long black dress coat, reminiscent of his leather trench-coat but with lighter material and fine detailing on the cuffs and edges. Added over a simple white silk shirt and black dress pants, and garnished only with a few choice cufflinks and other accessories, even Sephiroth had to grudgingly admit that the results were... tolerable.
Not that he would ever admit it, of course. And besides... the collar was itching something fierce.
I need to get out of this thing. Hell, I need to get out of *here*.
He took another disdainful look around the Crystal Palace ballroom. It was filled almost to the brim with men, women, and even children, all as formally dressed as he, chattering and laughing with each other as if there was nothing in the world more entertaining. Young couples danced wherever they stood, while older officials stood in corners and guffawed loudly over each other's wittiness. Sephiroth didn't know any of them - the Senshi had not formally arrived yet - and yet, it was so familiar, almost skin crawlingly so. Countless staff functions at ShinRa flashed through his mind... the old feeling of being trapped by either vapid cheer or forced pandering came rushing back, and no matter how much more sincere these people looked, he wanted nothing more than to wash his hands of it and leave as quickly as possible.
"Her Ladyship, Princess Ami Mizuno, Senshi of the Planet Mercury!" A butler announced the entrance of Sailor Mercury in an appropriately hoity-toity voice for the occasion. Footsteps echoed on the large marble staircase behind Sephiroth. It seemed the Senshi were making their appearance at last. Sephiroth considered that a marginal improvement in affairs; at least he could save off the boredom and revulsion by chatting with Hotaru about training and... whatever else she felt like talking about. In the meantime, he turned to the buffet table and busied himself with getting a drink.
He ignored the entry of Sailors Mars through Neptune as he nursed a single glass of champagne, back turned to the staircase. It seemed they were taking their sweet time between arrivals... he supposed it was to let everyone get their "oohs" and "aahs" out of the way, then go back to dancing or talking until the next appearance. Vaguely, he was aware of those around him commenting on Venus's dress, or Jupiter's hair, or some other detail of their formal attire, but he didn't bother to look for himself... he didn't really care how they dressed up, as it was probably the same as every other young woman here. Feminine beauty was utterly wasted on him.
"Her Ladyship, Princess Setsuna Meiou, Senshi of the Planet Pluto!" His glass finally drained, he placed it back on the white silk tablecloth from where he'd grabbed it. As usual, he didn't even feel a buzz; his strange metabolism made it nearly impossible for him to get drunk in the conventional way. A shame, really... he suspected it was the best way to get through parties like this. For a brief moment, he thought nostalgically of the noxious concoction Zack proudly boasted as, "SOLDIER brew". He was certain that its very existence had been illegal, but it had been powerful enough to knock out any rank of SOLDIER, and make even his mind fuzzy and gleeful. He still had no idea how he'd ended up hanging from a light fixture after one particularly rowdy SOLDIER party, and he suspected it was better that way.
"Her Ladyship, Princess Hotaru Tomoe, Senshi of the Planet Saturn!" Sephiroth breathed a sigh of relief. At last, some decent conversation, perhaps even a companion as bored with these events as he was. Drawing himself upright, he turned to look...
... and stopped.
The crowded ballroom seemed to melt away around him, leaving only the white staircase and the splash of jewel-like purple at its top. Hotaru stood at the banister like some princess from a fairy tale, shining against the warm marble tones. Her slender form was clad in a flowing gown of royal purple, panels of pale lilac floating down behind her as a contrast to the well fitted bodice hugging her upper body. The top of her chest was uncovered, serving only to highlight the simple pendant she wore, its purple and gold fittings matching the trim of the two dress straps. Her arms were sheathed in long purple gloves, making her limbs look even more impossibly slender than normal. The effect was capped with a single purple ribbon, tied as a choker around her white neck and trailing down behind her. Her makeup was plain, only the faintest sheen of pink lip-gloss enhancing her natural...
Sephiroth's mind abruptly skittered away from finishing that sentence, but his mind was skittering just about everywhere at the moment, unable to settle on anything even remotely coherent. The sight of his sparring partner so transformed had shocked him into total bewilderment, and it was all he could do not to stand there with a slack jaw and wide open eyes, gazing at her.
She was... she was...
What he once only saw in the heat of battle now became graceful, elegant, made for nights of dancing and quiet laughter. She shone in a way he'd never seen before, as if the dark purple of her gown brought out the white glow of her skin all the better. Her jewels sparkled, but were not so gaudy as to detract attention from their wearer. Simple, tasteful, elegant... all of it, just like her.
Beautiful, his stunned mind confessed before he could repress the feeling. She's beautiful.
She was making her way down the stairs slowly, eyes wandering aimlessly around the ballroom beneath. Her movements were curious, shy almost... as if she was not expecting anyone to notice her. She smiled softly and nodded once or twice as she saw people she knew, but her gaze still kept searching around as she descended the staircase quietly, like a ghost amongst the rude brightness of life. Sephiroth wondered if anyone noticed her... then decided that it didn't matter. He certainly noticed her.
Then suddenly, her wandering gaze met his, and she noticed him.
No, now was the moment where the ballroom melted away. There was nothing in the universe save for him and those wide purple eyes, and the woman they belonged to. She came to an unsteady halt on the stairs, as if running into the wall of his gaze. He realized he was staring, but for once, he didn't give a shit. Besides... she was staring back just as intently. Neither could look away, neither wanted to look away... they just looked at each other, the eye contact unbreakable.
Then an odd thing happened. Hotaru's otherwise pale cheeks began to flush with an unusual pink color, growing in hue until she was almost rosy. Was she... blushing? Why? Because he was staring at her? The very thought made his own cheeks begin to tingle warmly in a way he wasn't familiar with. Ruthlessly, he shoved the feeling down. At the same time, he saw the object of his obsessive stare shake her own head suddenly as if rousing herself from sleep, her face now a delicate shade of red. She began to descend the staircase again, her eyes still on him, but the moment of pure focus fading.
Not that that was entirely a bad thing. At least it allowed something like rational thought to return to him, though he still felt dazed in a way he wasn't used to. Automatically, he moved through the crowd towards her, ready to meet her at the bottom of the stairs, watching her even as he moved.
They met as her foot touched the tiles of the ballroom floor. "Hello, Sephiroth," Hotaru murmured shyly, making a small, demure curtsey.
"My lady," Sephiroth murmured in return, feeling it was only right to use such an epithet in a place like this, with her so obviously a princess. Knowing enough of such functions to know how a gentleman was supposed to behave, he bowed low, horrified at himself for wanting to add a chaste kiss on the top of her hand to finish the motion.
Hotaru blushed again, the pink becoming her complexion. "Please, there's no need for that," she smiled. "I'm glad you came. I wasn't sure if you would in the end."
"I nearly didn't, to be honest," Sephiroth admitted. He was always unfailingly honest with her... although as far as his current feelings went, not even torture would convince him to be forthcoming. Like, for example, the silent addition to his admission: I nearly didn't, to be honest... but I'm glad I did now.
She giggled a little. "I guess it's probably not your thing, is it?" She tilted her head, looking at him with that warm look in her eyes he often saw. "It's very good of you to make the effort."
"No problem," he said uncomfortably, not sure why having her compliment him while wearing that dress made such a difference. He never felt this way when she was commenting on his battle form! Still, he felt he should offer some compliments in kind. "You look... you look..."
Different, his cynical, reserved, disdainful side whispered, unwilling to offer anything beyond a mere acknowledgment, unwilling to take a risk and show his true feelings.
Beautiful, a quieter, almost buried kernel of honesty murmured gently.
"... very nice," he compromised between the two. It sounded a little lame, but he was very sincere.
Hotaru's lips curved in a sunny smile; obviously even that much meant a lot to her. "Thank you," she placed a hand on her chest. "And you... you look..." she paused in the same way he had. He couldn't believe that it was for the same reasons as his. "... very handsome," she finally settled on, that faint pink color coming back to her cheeks.
"Oh, thank you," Sephiroth looked down at his ensemble. "King Endymion's tailor threw it together for me. Not quite perfect, I'm sure, but..."
"It's very nice," Hotaru said firmly, obviously not willing to be convinced otherwise.
"Right," Sephiroth conceded before trailing off into an awkward silence. His whole original plan of, "stand in a corner with Hotaru and talk about fighting techniques until the party finally finishes," seemed ludicrously inadequate in the face of that dress. How the hell could a piece of fabric change a woman from a companion and friend into... into... well, he wasn't sure what, but not the same thing. What were they supposed to do now? Glancing at her, Sephiroth saw Hotaru was having the same hesitation, clasping her arms behind her and looking down at the ground shyly.
"Would you like to dance?"
Sephiroth wondered for a millisecond who said that, until realizing with a shock that it had been him.
What the hell? He didn't dance! He couldn't dance! How could he, when he'd never attempted it? But he'd made the offer; there was no mistaking the surprise on Hotaru's face. Despite his shock at himself, Sephiroth found himself warming to the idea a little. Sure, he'd always abhorred the idea, but it was something he'd never done, and therefore, it was a challenge. If there was one thing Sephiroth loved, it was surmounting a challenge.
"I didn't know you danced," Hotaru said with delight in her voice as she held out a gloved hand to him.
"I don't," Sephiroth confessed as he took the offered hand and led her out onto the dance floor. "But I'll learn."
And learn he did, with almost obscene rapidness. The first minute was a little awkward, to be sure, as he didn't know the steps and Hotaru wasn't that qualified to teach. But soon, Sephiroth picked up the rhythm, the graceful motion necessary, and before he knew it he was dancing seamlessly as if he'd been doing it all his life. Even Hotaru seemed amazed. It's because it's like fighting, Sephiroth realized in detached surprise. Rhythm, movement, fluidity... it's all required in fighting as well. In a way, sparring isn't a lot different than what we're doing here.
It was true, although the strange feeling he had with Hotaru in his arms and the hyper-awareness of his hand on the small of her back told him that yes, there were SOME differences.
But for the most part, Sephiroth was shocked and relieved to discover that he actually didn't mind dancing all that much... it was even rather fun. Of course, that was due almost entirely to his partner. Hotaru was first patient with his awkward steps, then elated at his new found talent, laughing in joy as they whirled around in time to the music. She was quite a good dancer herself, possessing the same fighter's grace that made him such a natural. They made a striking pair as they waltzed around the ballroom, drawing a few impressed glances from those around them. If that weren't enjoyable enough, it seemed that the dance helped melt away some of the awkward tension between them as they moved. Hotaru's joyful laughter made it easier to talk to her, and soon they were having just the same sort of spirited discussion he had anticipated before seeing her, albeit set in time with their graceful waltzing.
He was just beginning to really get into the spirit of things when the music suddenly died, to be replaced with a cacophony of brassy trumpets.
Blinking, he let his arms fall from around his dance partner, looking at her for an explanation. Hotaru smiled. "Chibi Usa and the King and Queen are here," she whispered before pointing up to the top of the staircase.
Sure enough, the royal family had arrived, the butler still in the middle of a long list of honorifics and titles for them. Neo Queen Serenity and King Endymion were in their usual outfits, albeit with a little extra trim here and there, but the young princess had traded her white court gown for a pink one that matched her hair. She bounced in the manner mastered only by the young, waving enthusiastically at other children in the crowd as she descended the stairs, only formality preventing her from taking them two at a time. Her parents followed at a more sedate pace, the mother holding back and letting her daughter shine on what was, in truth, her birthday as well.
Sephiroth saw all this, and yet he couldn't help but be annoyed that their arrival had interrupted the dancing. He refused to analyze that thought closely, as he Did Not Dance and would normally take great pleasure in it being interrupted. Still, he politely watched the monarchs descend, painfully aware of the presence by his side, her slender form almost touching his. He stole the occasional glance at her, and seeing her smile at her oldest friend and her two lieges made it easier to join the applause.
Once the royals stepped onto the dance floor, it was like a tidal wave suddenly swept through the ballroom. Everyone rushed to meet them, ready to make their greetings, make their bows and curtseys, curry favor with those in power. The dance floor suddenly became jam-packed with jostling people, making it impossible to dance, or even breathe for the most part.
Sephiroth looked at Hotaru. "Shall we go get some air?" he said with a quirk of his lips.
Hotaru returned his smile. "That would be wonderful."
In contrast with the crowded ballroom, the attached balcony was almost deserted, despite it being a balmy evening. Sephiroth's keen hearing could pick up a few giggles from the shadowed alcoves - and, even fainter, a few moans and rustles of clothing as well - but for the most part, they were alone. Above, the stars twinkled faintly, and the moon was full, as if to celebrate the birth of its patron Senshi. Hotaru leaned on the railing, inhaling the cool night air. In the moonlight, she seemed to almost shimmer. Sephiroth had to firmly shake himself to get rid of the odd feelings that inspired.
"It's a beautiful evening," she commented, looking up at the stars.
"Yes," he agreed, leaning next to her on the railing. "Are you sure you would not prefer to talk with your friends, though? I didn't mean to distract you from them..."
Hotaru shook her head with a smile. "No, Chibi-Usa will be busy with all the children. It'll be ages before she'll be free to chat. The same goes for Neo Queen Serenity." She shrugged. "Besides, I don't... really like crowds, anyway. I like peace and quiet..." Her smile grew soft. "Thank you for bringing me out here for that."
"You're welcome," Sephiroth replied, hating himself for the small jolt of pleasure her gratitude caused him. What the hell was WRONG with him? Maybe that champagne was affecting him more than he thought...
Inside the ballroom, the music started up again, its strains drifting out to the balcony. Hotaru glanced at Sephiroth almost... hopefully?... before turning back and looking at the stars.
Before he knew what he was doing, his hand was outstretched to her. "My lady," Sephiroth murmured, willing to be the perfect gallant gentleman, just this once, "may I have this dance?"
Her lips twitched once, bemusedly, before easing into a soft smile. "You may," she giggled before placing her hand in his.
It was somehow even better out here, dancing beneath the stars, with no one to bump into, no one to see them. Sephiroth and Hotaru deftly moved in time with the music, whirling around in circles, growing more artistically daring with each passing minute. Hotaru's full skirts floated out like a cloud as she spun, and Sephiroth's feet moved with increasing dexterity and speed as he moved her deftly from one step to the other. There were no words this time, and there didn't need to be; Hotaru was laughing, and despite himself, Sephiroth could not resist smiling.
Eventually, the strains of the waltz faded away, followed by applause from within the ballroom. The music shifted into a completely different beat and tone, a song Sephiroth had never heard before. Whatever it was, it wasn't classical... but it was very slow, almost too slow to properly dance to. He glanced at Hotaru in question.
She shrugged. "It's a song from the twentieth century," she explained. "Chibi Usa spent a lot of time back then, and came back with a taste for some of the pop music from then... this was one of her favorite bands, I think. Some Australian group that became popular in Japan. What were they called again? ... something like Savage Garden, or Ferocious Lawn, or something." She shrugged again. "I didn't keep up with much music back then."
"Ah," Sephiroth responded. "How do you dance to it? I... don't know the steps. And it doesn't sound like a waltz."
Hotaru laughed. "There aren't any steps. If I remember, the usual 'dance' involves wrapping your arms around each other, standing in place, and swaying back and forth in time with the music." She blushed. "Well, more or less."
Oh. One of those sorts of dances. Sephiroth had never seen the point of them before - had always watched in bemusement during ShinRa parties as everyone coupled off and clung to each other on the dance floor - but now, the idea of dancing with Hotaru that way seemed almost... terrifying. He had no idea why... nothing should be frightening about swaying back and forth, pressed against her closely, feeling her... his brain skittered away from that thought desperately.
Still. to back off at this point would look strange. "We can give it a try," he made a valiant effort to sound noncommittal and disinterested. Again, Hotaru shot him a bemused look, before graciously nodding and stepping forward...
...straight into his arms.
Sephiroth's eyes widened a little at the sudden closeness of his dancing partner. Waltzing was one thing, what with holding her at a comfortable arm's length from him and focusing on the steps. But now... now her arms were wrapping around his waist loosely, and there was barely an inch between them. Looking down at her like this, with her face so near and upturned to his, Sephiroth felt a tumult of emotions and urges... none of them defined, but all of them alarming.
Somehow, he retained the presence of mind to places his own hands on her waist, in the classic pose of the awkward high school slow dance. He marveled at how slender her waist felt, how he could probably encompass it entirely in both hands... then her hands left his waist and trailed up to rest comfortably on his back, and he felt like he was about to jump out of his skin.
A secret part of him mused that having his skin intact would probably be much... nicer in the near future.
Somehow, they began to move in time with the music, still graceful despite their mutual awkwardness. But now the silence between them was loaded with something Sephiroth didn't dare name. Hotaru was quiet... smiling, but no longer laughing, and the way she was looking up at him made something in his gut twist. Under the moonlight, he could see that that faint pink blush was staining her cheeks again. It made her look...
Stop thinking about it, Sephiroth told himself firmly. You don't care about stuff like that.
But something within him was rejecting that notion, and he found himself holding her closer, wanting more of that strange tension her body instilled in him. She seemed to notice, and share his feelings, as she relaxed slowly, letting her body mould itself to his. He could feel the outline of her body beneath her dress - the fabric was silken and thin - and for some reason, that thought made him almost tremble. She was so close...
Her lips were curved almost serenely, and yet... her eyes were wide, and for a moment Sephiroth swore he could see his confusion mirrored there. He didn't understand what he was feeling, or what she was doing to him... and it looked like she was being similarly affected. On impulse, he let his own hands run up her back, trying to soothe her, ease her mind if not his own... and then his fingers moved past the bodice of the gown and touched the bare flesh of her back.
Hotaru shuddered slightly at the contact, her color deepening, and Sephiroth froze, unprepared for the pure shock of sensation that ran through him. He moved his hand away quickly, shoving the strange feeling away, but for just an instant, he had the vision of Hotaru's body pressed even closer against his, the silk of her dress cast aside like bedsheets, the two of them moving together in a far different kind of rhythm that had little to do with dancing or sparring...
He shoved the image away ruthlessly, burying it in his subconscious and locking it away, denying it ever existed in the first place. He didn't... it wasn't like that.
And yet... in the moonlight, with the stars shining above, there was something... she was still so close, purple eyes wide and fathomless, the soft sheen of gloss on her lips shimmering in the faint light, as if taunting him to bend down and...
And what? Sephiroth asked himself in almost hysteria. What the hell would I do? I don't know!
But even if his conscious mind didn't know, something within him did, and he found himself beginning to lean down slowly, intent on closing the distance between him and those soft, moist lips...
"What are you two up to?"
As if scalded, Sephiroth and Hotaru dropped their hands and pulled apart from each other violently, both jumping almost three feet back. Behind them, Minako was standing with hands on hips, her golden hair a little disheveled. Her face was a little flushed with alcohol, but her eyes were keen as they flickered from one blushing partner to the other, and her smile was anything but drunk. Sephiroth wasn't sure whether to thank her for interrupting, or hit her instead.
"Oh, we're, uh, just dancing," Hotaru sputtered, unusually caught off guard. Her face was almost beet red. "Sephiroth, he, I, um... it was crowded in there, so we came out here to get some air. It's cooler and quieter out here."
"Ah," Minako nodded with all the sage wisdom she possessed. "I understand." Her lips quirked up. "I didn't mean to interrupt... I just came out to get some air myself... I had a bit too much of the punch." As if to prove it, she giggled.
"No, you weren't interrupting," Sephiroth heard himself saying, pleased that he sounded more calm than he felt. "We were just... having trouble with some of the music." Hotaru glanced at him, first in confusion, then amusement. "I can't say I like this 'Ferocious Lawn' as much as the classical music from before."
"Aww, but that music's boring!" Minako whined. "I love pop music and stuff, it reminds me of when I was a teenager..."
"A long, long time ago," Sephiroth couldn't resist the barb. Hotaru stifled a giggle.
"Hey, none of that, mister. And if you don't like dancing to it, that means you're just not doing it right." Minako winked then, and Sephiroth felt uncomfortable again.
Hotaru also seemed a little nettled. "It... it's not that much fun to dance to if..." Hotaru trailed off, glancing at Sephiroth.
"...if you're not a couple," Sephiroth finished, feeling a little better putting a reason to his discomfort, even though the words felt oddly bitter in his mouth.
"Exactly," Hotaru looked relieved as well, albeit with a faint trace of... something. "It's kind of awkward when you're just friends."
"...uh huh," Minako replied flatly, clearly not buying it for a second. She shrugged. "Well, if you insist. Come on, why don't you two come back inside? Chibi-Usa will be asking for you by now. And besides, it's getting cool out." She threw a mock glare at Sephiroth. "Shame on you for not offering Hotaru your coat!"
Why oh WHY did that now sound so tempting? "You're right. I hope she'll forgive me," he turned and mock bowed to her, putting on more of the old teasing banter between them... in the hopes that it could rid the air of that odd tension that had arisen between them. If he just pretended that he wasn't affected in the least...
It seemed to work. Hotaru smiled and giggled. "You're forgiven, kind sir. But for your penance, you can escort me into the ballroom."
That didn't seem so bad. "Certainly."
Minako rolled her eyes, mumbled something that sounded like, "kids!" and turned to go back inside, leaving them alone again.
Sephiroth turned to Hotaru, smiling softly. The strange spell had broken, for better and for worse, and he wasn't about to allow it to change things between them. "Shall we go, then?" he extended his arm to her.
She smiled in return, obviously sharing his feelings. "All right" Placing her arm in his, she allowed him to guide her into the ballroom, the laughter and light washing over them as they made their re-entance.
This isn't so bad, Sephiroth decided, the worry and confusion draining out of him at last. Whatever that was back there was just some momentary insanity, or something. What I know for sure is that she's my friend, and a good companion, and that I enjoy spending time with her.
That's more than enough for me.
And if his arm tingled pleasantly where she touched him... well, he could just ignore that.
A/N: Wow, that was harder than I thought. I think the problem is that I always see their attraction being very sexual as well as emotional, and yet I also see Sephiroth as being totally oblivious to his own sexuality (ie that he's asexual until he meets Hotaru, and he doesn't believe he HAS a sexuality). Which means I have to somehow write him as attracted to Hotaru without having him REALIZE he's attracted to Hotaru. >.> Stupid lug. Wish he'd just throw her down and smex her up and be done with it. ;-)