Sera and Lorcan stopped to admire the zen garden they’d randomly stumbled upon, right among all the modern skyscrapers. It was things like these that made them fall in love with their latest destination.
They would encounter advanced technology, futuristic settings and completely outlandish individuals one minute…
And come across an old temple just breathing history tucked away in one of the streets right at the heart of the town the next minute.
They both revelled in the moment, enjoying whatever the place would through at them next and appreciate every single discovery they’d made together, no matter how big or small.
Though what Lorcan enjoyed the most was just relaxing in Sera’s company, the quiet moments where they would both unwind from all the exploration, listening to her stories, sharing a bit of his own, bit by bit. It was those simple evenings of ordinary conversations that he’d become so fond of.
They were just about to head to the small hotel they’d been calling home for the last couple of weeks to have another cosy evening resting up after a busy day of sightseeing, when they heard sounds of music from the little square ahead.
“What is that?” Sera turned towards the sea of pink lanterns in the distance. “A market of sorts?”
“I’m not sure,” Lorcan glanced at her, reading the excitement in her face. Their quiet evening chat would have to wait, he realised. “But you know what this means…” He added with a grin.
“That they day’s not over yet!” Sera beamed, already starting to make her way to the lit area. “Let’s go!”
They seemed to have entered a fairy tale, with a sweet scent lingering about the plaza and cherry blossom petals flying through the air.
They made their way through the various lanterns and stalls. Lorcan spotted a woman that seemed like a guide of sorts. He nudged Sera gently, pointing in her direction.
“Hi there,” Sera quickly approached the woman. “Sorry to bother you, but we were wondering what was the occasion for the celebration?”
“It’s the cherry blossom season,” the woman explained. “So we’re throwing our annual Romance Festival.”
Romance Festival. Lorcan’s eyes immediately shot to Sera. He wished he could know what she was thinking. She was looking back at him and smiling, of course, but that was probably just because there was eager to discover what this new event had to offer.
“Looks like you two are in town at the perfect time,” the old woman noted after observing them for a while. “This is a perfect place for a young couple in love like the two of you.”
“Oh no, it’s not like that.” Sera told the woman right away. Lorcan looked towards the ground, nodding distractedly. Of course it wasn’t like that. He decided to focus on the petals at his feet, gently trying to lift them with the tip of his shoe.
The woman leaned towards them. “I’ve been a romance guru for longer than either of you have been on this world. I know what I see.” She said firmly. “In any case, why don’t you two try the some of our delicious sakura tea?”
They left the woman, dunking two cups in the chery blossom drink fountain obediently.
“That was funny, huh?” Sera turned to Lorcan. “Why would she say something like that?”
Lorcan wasn’t sure what Sera expected him to say. That it was hilarious? He didn’t see anything funny about the situation.
“I guess she needs to stay things like that, to get people in a romantic mood,” he said finally, giving a little shrug. “To keep the whole vibe going…”
He looked at Sera, trying to gauge her response. For a split second, she almost looked disappointed, but that look was gone as quickly as it came.
“Sounds about right,” she nodded. “Bottoms up!”
They finished the drink and scoped their environment.
“Everybody seems to be throwing these around,” Sera observed, picking up a handful of the pink petals from the ground. She looked at the palm of her hand, and then back at Lorcan.
“If you can’t beat them, join them, right?” Lorcan encouraged her.
She nodded eagerly, tossing as many of the flowers as possible into the air. The pink rain surrounded them.
The way her face lit up in appreciation of such a small thing, the way she laughed… for a moment, it was as if Lorcan could see the magic through her eyes. He couldn’t stop looking at her.
And then she stopped looking at the petals and looked at him instead. She pulled him into her magical world with her. The whole world had stopped. And in that moment, nothing or no one else mattered to Lorcan more than her.
He pulled her in closer to him, gently, for the fear she might evaporate into thin air and return to that beautiful world she must have come from. One of his hands rested on the back of her precious head, the other wrapped around her waist. He breathed her in with all of his senses.
And then they were one.
He wasn’t sure how much time had passed, or if people were looking. He didn’t care. He almost couldn’t bring himself to separate his lips from hers, because that’s when the real world would creep back. What would she say? Will she tell him he shouldn’t have done it? That they’d both agreed to just settle on friendship for a reason? No, he couldn’t let her say that. He’d fight for her.
“Sera,” he whispered as soon as he finally let go. “I know we said we’d just be friends, and I get it. I can be difficult. Shut people out. Do everything wrong. Say things I don’t mean. And worse, not say the things I really mean. So I’ve got to say this. I can’t just be friends with you, because you’re not just a friend to me. You’re everything. I love you.”
There. It was out. Now she could say what she wanted. At least he got to tell her his part.
She swayed a little in front of him. He wanted to grab on to her to offer her body support, but he resisted the urge – he shouldn’t impose himself more than he already had.
And then she said those four little words. “I love you too.”
“You know, considering this was our first real kiss, not counting that little peck back in Granite Falls, you’ve cut it pretty short!” She added teasingly once she’d recovered a little.
Lorcan breathed out, relieved. “I can fix that.”