Knocking on Miriam's door, Kiwi cheerfully hums a tune to himself and looks around at the brilliant red trees of Delphi. Saphy opens the door and happily waves him inside.
"Oh Kiwi! What a pleasant surprise, Miriam didn't tell me you'd be coming today!"
Miriam looked over from where she was, noticing them.
"Oh, hey Kiwi."
"Miriam!" Kiwi rushes inside and gives his friend an excitable hug.
She just lets out an amused huff, wrapping her arms around him in return.
They had known each other for quite some time now, and Miriam had since ceased resisting any hugs.
"Its so nice to see you again!" He says in a jovial singing voice. "Its been days!"
"Heh, yeah." She had a small smile on her face. Just a small one, almost shy, but it was there.
Saphy interrupts their reunion with a promising offer. "Kiwi dear, would you care to join us for dinner? I've made stew, Miriam's favorite too. It should be ready in a few minutes."
"Oh wow! That does sound nice!" He looks to Miriam for approval, beaming widely. "What do you think?"
"Mmh. I don't see why not." She shrugged lightly.
There was no way she was going to admit she was very eager to have Kiwi over. She'd rather die before that.
"YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!" Kiwi sang with a single note of pure joy, and gave a little dance of happiness.
Grandma Saphy gave a light chuckle as she looked at the two. "I'll head back into the kitchen to make sure everything's ready, don't get into any trouble now."
Kiwi looks around the room happily as he subconsciously rubs his hands together to warm them up. "Your house is so pretty on the inside! Its been forever since I was here last!"
She let out a small chuckle. "Its only been a few days... hey, um, why are you doing that with your hands? Are you cold?"
"But it felt like forever!" He jokingly sings. "And I guess I'm a little chilly from the walk here, but I'm warming up already!" He gives a light shrug.
"Well, even if you are warming up, it uh... doesn't hurt to warm up quicker." She gestured vaguely to the fireplace.
She was trying to be vague about the fact she wanted to be close to him. She wasn't sure if it was working or not.
Following her lead, he gives her a smile as warm as the fire before them. "Sure thing! It does look nice."
She (tried to) casually plop herself down next to the fireplace, patting the spot next to her.
Kiwi sits next to her happily, and stretches his hands out towards the fire. Their legs touch lightly, and he smiles to himself.
As the minutes pass by, he lowers his hands into his lap. Kiwi hums to the crackling of the fire. It somehow fits musically.
Miriam tried not to look amused by it. Or, Eya forbid, enjoying it. It probably wasn't working.
As Kiwi sways his head gently from side to side, his hat falls off onto Miriam's lap.
"Oh." She grabbed the hat, placing it back on his head. "I think you dropped this." They made eye contact.
"Whoops!" Kiwi said with a light laugh. "Sorry about that!" He holds her gaze and his smile softens with a barely audible content sigh.
She doesn't manage to say anything, just blush ever so slightly and press her mouth into a thin line, quirked up at the edges.
"Ya know, I've been thinking for a while, and uh-"
His words are cut short when Grandma Saphy enters the room.
"Dinner's ready, you two! I hope you brought a good appetite Kiwi, because I made extra."
Miriam sharply pulls away from his gaze, (not very) inconspicuously coughing into the back of her hand.
"Oh wow! Already?" He inhaled deeply and embraced the warm scent. "It smells great!" He leaps to his feet and offers a hand to Miriam.
Miriam doesn't bother being reluctant to take it.
They all sit at the table and eat their stew, Grandma Saphy and Kiwi talking all through it.
"Ya know, Kiwi, Miriam sure talks an awful lot about you! And she said you were the most wonderful singer"
Kiwi perked up at this. "Really? She does? She did?"
Miriam coughs harshly. "Saphy no-"
Grandma Saphy chuckles. "Oh, she's always sour, but whenever I ask about you she seems much less so. Why, I've even see her smile once!"
"Miiirriiaaaaaam! Why didn't you tell me you liked my singing!" The Bard gives her a playful poke.
She smooshes her face into the table, grumbling under her breath.
"Oh, she's just too high and mighty to admit it, aren't you, Miriam?" Saphy speaks directly to Miriam, teasing her. "I guess she wouldn't want me to talk about all her admirings of your character, or what she's mumbled in her sleep."
"MmmMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM" Miriam still has her face shoved into the table.
"Oh c'mon! It can't be that embarrassing!" Kiwi chuckles, and his cheeks gain a slight tint of pink in knowing Miriam thinks he has admirable qualities. "I'm open with how great I think you are!"
"Oh, you're so much fun to tease, dear." She laughs before taking another bite of her stew.
"MMmhhh, I'm really not that good..." She mumbles, face slightly peeking out from under the table.
"Aww, but Miriam! You're the best person I know!" He says in a singsong tune before giving her a shining smile.
"You helped me save the universe itself! And take down that toy factory! Oh! And remember when you danced? You were so good! And then there was-"
Miriam stopped his rambling by placing a finger on his lips. "And I'm gonna stop you there, because if I don't stop this now Grandma is probably going to tease me MORE than she already has."
"Oh, Miriam! You danced? Were you two dancing together?" She gives a thanking wink to Kiwi, who sheepishly shifts his hat in response and looks at the edge of the table.
"UUUUGGHhHHH, yes, fine, we were dancing together, can we please drop this now-"
Kiwi begins to feel slightly warm and he adjusts the collar of his capelet.
"That does sound very nice, was it a slow dance perhaps?" She chuckles as she can sense Miriam getting tenser, so she knows she'll drop the teasing soon.
She coughed. "What- No- It was- Just dancing-"
"If you say so, sweetie." She eats the rest of her stew, and right as she places her spoon back in the bowl, a light pattering of rain can be heard outside. Kiwi looks up from his bowl, and looks out the window. "Oh gosh, its raining! I guess I should probably get going before it gets any worse."
"Thank you both so much for your hospitality!" He sings with a grateful tone.
"W-Wait, Kiwi." Miriam starts.
"Hm? He pauses as he's about to stand up, and tilts his head ever so slightly.
"Do you, um. Maybe wanna. Stay over. For the night."
She looked pointedly at Saphy. "Don't you say a word."
"Oh, that's a wonderful ide- Fine, fine, your old Grandmother will just go and make some tea then."
"Oh wow! That sounds like a wonderful idea!" He gives a jovial smile, then with a realization, he leaps up with a burst of excitement. "It can be a slumber party!" He exclaims with joy, and gives Miriam a tight hug. But since he's standing and she's still sitting her head is against his chest.
Miriam inhales sharply. "Yeah." She tried not to focus on the fact she could hear his breathing and heartbeat and oh Eya's sweet chords she actually liked this a lot-
Kiwi continues hugging her, as he doesn't want to be the first to let go. "So what should we do? We can sing songs, we can play board games if you have any! Oh! We could maybe try dancing too!" He smiles warmly and hugs her a little tighter.
She doesn't manage to get out a verbal reply, just kind of nods against his chest.
They stay there for a while. Kiwi hugged her often and Miriam hardly declined, but never had they hung on so long. He thought it felt pleasant, and he could feel butterflies stirring inside him.
They feel at peace, just wrapped in each other's arms and holding the other close.
Kiwi had just closed his eyes and rested his head on Miriam's when Grandma Saphy had entered the room again. "Alright you two, I put the kettle on the stove, have you two been up to anyth-Oh, I see you have been!" She chuckles lightly, invigorated with new information to tease her granddaughter with when Kiwi leaves the next morning.
"-" Miriam, despite not really wanting to, quickly pulls away from the embrace. Ugh, she missed it already...
Kiwi's face was brightened with a slight tinge of pink. He removed his hat and held it to his chest. "Sorry about that, Miss Saphy."
"I just hope I wasn't interrupting anything." She gives a lighthearted laugh.
Its now pitch black outside and the rain is falling harder, the drops of rain relentlessly pounding against the walls outside.
"It's a good thing you stayed with us, the weather got bad quickly!"
Kiwi resumed his cheerful composure easily, and his blush faded from his visage. "So I was thinking that since I was staying the night, we could make it like a slumber party! We could sing and play games, and- and yeah!" He nearly added dancing to the list, but he didn't want to embarrass Miriam any more than he had.
Miriam nodded slightly.
Grandma Saphy agreed, and so she searched for games to play while Kiwi entertained Miriam with a song he learned from a bird on the way there.
When his last melodious notes drifted off, he looked to Miriam to see what she thought. "Do you have any song requests?"
"Hm-" She didn't get to answer, as a bright flash followed by a loud crack of thunder rang throughout the house.
She wasn't able to stop the yelp that escaped her lips. Or stop the way she jolted at the sound.
Kiwi jumped, and let out an-- "Eep!"
The startling flash and rumbling sound triggered memories of their battle with Audrey. He instinctively wrapped his arms around himself and winced.
Saphy walks back into the room.
"Sorry you two, I couldn't find any board games."
"That's alright Miss Saphy! I guess it'll be better if we head to bed now!" Kiwi pipes up, giving a nervous smile.
"Yeah, we should probably head to bed." Miriam agreed. She hated the fact she was on edge from some stupid lightning.
"If you two insist then, sorry I couldn't find anything, Kiwi."
"No worries Ma'am! It's always good to get some beauty rest!" He adds a faint harmonious tone to his words. It was more to make himself feel better than anything.
"Well, we've got a spare bedroom upstairs, do you need help finding it? Its right to the left of the staircase.
"I've got it!" Kiwi Chirped, then flinched as another bolt lit up the sky for a moment. "Really, I do!" And with that he hopped up the stairs to the hopeful comfort of a warm bed.
Miriam shuffled up the stairs as well. She would've said goodnight to Saphy normally, but... honestly? She was scared. And she hated it. Still.
Everyone was upstairs and in their own beds as the rain showed no signs of stopping. Kiwi was a nervous wreck, huddled in a ball under his blankets and hugging his pillow for much needed comfort. Miriam wasn't able to sleep, either. She kept shooting nervous glances out the window each time the storm lashed out.
Kiwi peeked his head out from under the covers when he thought he'd suffocate under the thick blankets.
"C'mon Kiwi, everything's okay!" He silently encouraged himself.
Another bolt of lightning, followed by a deep thunderous rumble, shattered the dark silence outside. With a frightened leap, Kiwi fell out of bed and landed on a pillow.
Nearly on the verge of tears, he ran out the guest room's door and went to Miriam's. He was going to knock, but a harsh bolt of lighting that reminded him of Audrey's sword made him think otherwise.
He opened the door with shaky hands, and stepped inside.
"Miriam?" He squeaked. "Do you think I can.. uhm... maybe stay the night in here? If you don't mind, that is."
Miriam looked over at him from where she was on the bed, arms wrapped around herself. "Sure." She answered rather quickly.
Kiwi sat next to her, comforted by her presence. "Thanks, Miriam!" He gave a small strained smile, showing his gratefulness.
Miriam slowly wrapped an arm around him. "Anytime-" Another flash of lightning and a crash of thunder rung throughout the house.
"Eep!" Kiwi jolted at the storm's sudden outburst, and wrapped both his arms around Miriam's shoulders, hugging her tight.
Miriam jumped a bit too, wrapping her arms around Kiwi's torso.
Kiwi snuggled his forehead in Miriam's hair, inhaling her sweet scent. He noted that she smelled faintly of herbs, probably ones she had worked with in the garden.
Kiwi removes his head from Miriam's. "So, what keeps you awake? I mean, are you scared of thunder... too?" He awkwardly removes one of his arms from around her to adjust his hat before he realizes he isn't wearing it. He takes it off at night.
Miriam averts her gaze slightly. "...Yeah..."
"I wasn't, well, always so unsettled around it. Its... really more since we saved the world." In embarrassment, he bites his bottom lip. The hand that adjusted his hat now lay clenched in a fist upon his lap.
Miriam shifts slightly. "Yeah, uh... getting hit with a lightning sword hurts a lot more than it looks like." She huffs, managing to fight off the urge to absentmindedly rub at the scar on her back.
He continues. "I know that since.. we've saved the world and all... everything should be alright. But its not. You're the bravest person I know, Miriam!" He brings his free hand to caress her cheek without thinking.
"And, even then, you're still... well... afraid." His cheeks flush pink, and even in the dark its slightly visible.
Miriam feels her cheeks heat up as well, and then just sort of... subconsciously nuzzles into his hand.
Kiwi smiles as he feels Miriam softly rest her head in his hand.
"I guess its okay to be afraid sometimes." He quietly muses. "As long as we're together. Right?" He looks into her eyes with a gaze as soft as velvet, and he leans a little closer.
She gives a small smile. "Yeah."
With one arm around Miriam's shoulders, and the other caressing her cheek, Kiwi brings himself forward until their foreheads are touching. He continues looking in her eyes and smiles serenely. "Yeah."
Their caring embrace is broken by a jarring dyad of thunder and lightning.
Kiwi let out another squeal of fear.
Frightened, Kiwi removes his hand from Miriam's cheek and connects it with his other hand around her back with in a single fluid motion. He leans into her, with a decent amount of force, trying to get them as close as possible for comfort.
Miriam wraps her arms tightly around Kiwi in response, her head shifting down to rest on his chest. She can hear his slightly quickened heartbeat, already starting to slow down from the comfort. She pauses for a while to just... listen.
Kiwi's breathing slows down, his nerves are calmed. Every time the sky outside lashes out, the two just hold onto each other tighter, comforted by the other's embrace.
"Ya know, Miriam..." The bard let out a musical chuckle, fully at ease. "Lately I've just been wanting to say.. thank you." His hands unclasp themselves. One hand moves to the back of Miriam's head and the other moves under her arm to rest itself around her waist. "Thank you for sticking with me when we saved the world. Thank you for believing in me, even when I had lost all hope. Thank you for being there for me, all this time."
Miriam's breathing stutters for a moment. She manages to croak out a "You're welcome.", unable to respond further.
Feeling tired, the Bard rests his remaining weight on Miriam, causing them both to teeter over. Mildly embarrassed at having knocked them both over, he blushes profusely, using his arms to lift his torso up from hers, just a little.
Stammering slightly, he manages to form an audible sentence. "So sorry about that, I should really be more careful."
Miriam subconsciously snuggles into him. "Mmh. Its fine."
Removing his arms from the bed to gently embrace Miriam, he cuddles closer to her. "Thank you." He whispers softly in her ear.
Miriam gives a small noise of acknowledgement, too involved in the embrace to string together a coherent sentence.
Tiredly, Kiwi murmurs into her ear. "I love you." He wasn't certain if he wanted to add 'as a friend', so he left it as is before resting his head next to hers.
Miriam sleepily murmured back. "Love you, too."
The two drifted off to sleep as they continued to hold each other in a warm embrace for the rest of the night. They were still afraid of the thunderous weather outside, but they were together, and that was all that mattered to them.