Title: The Frog Prince
Fandom: Final Fantasy VII
Prompt: 081: How?
Word Count: 850
Summary: He often had to remind himself that she'd lived her life trapped within Midgar
Author's Notes: I find it funny that I am usually more of a CloudxTifa fan, but while all of those stories are usually bittersweet bordering on angst, this is one actually quite cheerful bordering on fluff :D
"I heard that in the forests here, there are monsters that can turn you into frogs."
Her voice always seemed to carry a brief moment when it sounded out of place, always seemed to contradict whatever he was feeling. Wise when he was unsure, cheerful when he was upset, and so naive when he was shrewd.
She was staring wide-eyed into the distance, and he had to remind himself (as he so often did) that she'd lived all of her live trapped within Midgar, unable to see open plains or blue skies. In those moments, whatever part of him was still capable of compassion wanted nothing more than to abandon the entire mission and show her the world--how unfair for someone who has the ability to actually speak with the planet to live a life where she has never seen it.
And the Gongaga Plains were far more impressive than any they had seen so far--thanks to Shinra there was hardly an area left on the Eastern Continent that didn't have land where the grass was thin and dying (if there was even grass left at all), and the mountains there were nothing but harsh rocks and threatening shadows. Even the beaches were grey and dirty. And while Costa del Sol could certainly boast attractive beaches, that was about all they had; the land between the shore and the hills suffered under the heat.
But the Gongaga area was still green and blue. Something in his mind told him it had to do with a failed reactor, but he couldn't place what had failed about it--or even how he knew that at all.
"Well? Are there?" She looked up at him impatiently, though the wonder hadn't left her eyes.
"Frogs?" You've heard that before somehow, haven't you? "I don't know about that."
"Yuffie told me so, but I don't know if she was telling the truth or just trying to scare me."
He let out a small laugh. "Well, she does like to wander around in the forests waiting to ambush people. I guess she'd probably get to know what to watch out for."
"Hmm...Well, frogs couldn't be too bad, right? Those people at Costa del Sol told us there were monsters that would turn you to stone. I'd rather be a frog."
"Well I know the thing about turning us to stone is true." How do you know that?
"Oh right...you bought those Softs."
"Yeah. But we've got you so we don't really need them." He smiled at her, slightly embarrassed by the forwardness of his compliment. But it did seem like the further they got from Midgar, the more in tune she was with the Planet; the more able to ask it for help. He'd been surprised when they met and she could heal without Materia, but even by the time they got to the Western Continent she'd figured out how to cure them when they were poisoned, or silenced, or anything else they'd encountered so far.
She grinned in response. "You remembered!"
"Kind of hard to forget..." He scratched the back of his head. Was his memory that unreliable?
"But what if I get turned into a frog?"
"I'll ask Tifa. She said she had to learn about all those things when she was working as a guide."
Her face fell a little, and it occurred to him that she hadn't actually been looking for a real answer--much less one involving one of the other girls. Even if your answer was honest--Tifa would know the answer.
"How 'bout I just make sure that doesn't happen?" He tried to counter, and her eyes seemed to perk back up.
"There's a story about a Prince who gets turned into a Frog, you know."
"Yeah. I learned it when I was little. But he gets changed back."
She clasped her hands behind her and raised herself up so they were almost eye level, a slightly mischievous glint staring back at him. He must have just looked confused, because after a moment she dropped back down, bringing one of her hands to her mouth and looking down.
"Well, how does it happen?"
"Well...it's embarrassing, now."
"Just now?" Well you did look at her a little funny then. "Hey tell me, I promise I won't laugh."
"Okay, but you better not..." She raised her eyes back to his. "He has all of these wizards come and try to fix him, but...the only thing that works, and that finally gets him to turn back...is a kiss from the Princess." She stared expectantly for a second before turning away again.
You better answer fast! She's gonna walk away soon.
He found the words just as she started to move. "A kiss from a Princess? Well, since Yuffie claims she actually is a Princess, I think I'd rather just rely on you."
She looked towards him again beaming before resuming her fascination with the unending stretch of grasses and trees ahead of them; both of them let the double meaning of his words simply fade into the breeze.