My True Love Gave
by Katie C.
Livia loved wintertime. From her perch beneath the gazebo, she relished the crisp midday air and the way the snowflakes fluttered to the ground. A small break in the snow clouds allowed for thin rays of sunlight to peek through. The peaceful scene made Livia feel alive.
But the man whose voice interrupted her thoughts made her heart pound with joy. With her thoughts drifting to the beauty of nature in winter, she had stopped listening to the story Heisuke was reading aloud. They always made time each day to spend an hour outside, talking about their day or reading their favorite stories, or trying to outtalk the other with outlandish tales and theories they had heard.
Livia looked forward to that time each day, no matter when it happened.
Usually they huddled close together on these cold days, but today, at Heisuke's insistence, they sat the bench so they could sit shoulder-to-shoulder, in opposite directions yet facing each other. Livia wondered why the deviation from the norm, but being outside had distracted her from asking him.
"Livia, did you hear me?" Heisuke had stopped reading, and turned to look at her with a serious face.
Sighing, she shook her head. "No," she said with a smile. "You know how much I love watching the snow fall."
Heisuke put the book down and rubbed her head with his right hand. "I know. Plus, I did not choose a good subject to read today," he said.
"The migratory patterns of European birds isn't my most favorite subject to listen to, no," she agreed, "but you know I listen to anything you read." She thought about his low and soft voice, and how it lilted when he read subjects of interest to him; how it revealed his deep desire for her when they spoke to each other. If he only knew how much she had always loved his voice . . .
"So you are not interested in learning about the streptopelia turtur."
"Why are you --?" The question died on her lips when she saw the intense look in Heisuke's eyes. She was used to seeing him straight-faced and serious: it was the face he wore every day. She knew how to make him smile, but rarely did he show emotion towards other people. What she saw burning in his deep blue eyes was something she had not seen before. She wanted to look away, but could not.
The butterflies in her stomach fluttered.
"Because we are like the streptopelia turtur, the turtle dove." Heisuke closed the book resting on his lap and stared at her.
Livia gave him a confused look. "We're birds?"
"How long have we known each other?" Heisuke asked instead. Livia noticed a sly smile touching his lips.
She laughed. "A long time, but you know that."
Heisuke stood up and moved around the bench to stand in front of her. "And in that time, how long have we been together?"
Together. Livia grinned as she thought about the last few years and their courtship. Not the whirlwind romance one reads about in books; Heisuke took his time with every aspect of life, including the ways he showed Livia how much she meant to him. She did not mind, however; she was patient - a trait she had learned from him long ago.
"Long enough to know we love each other," she replied after a moment. "Where are you going with this, Hei?"
He folded his arms across his chest and regarded her closely. Livia felt the heat rise in her cheeks. "I love watching the blush spread across your beautiful face."
"You're just saying that because you like making me blush," she said, and wanted to hide her increasingly red face.
Heisuke chuckled. "Yes, that is true. But it is more than that. You are beautiful, inside and out, your failings and virtues make you a perfect kind of woman. I know you better than you know yourself at times."
Livia watched his stoic face upturn into a rare heart-stopping smile. The fluttering inside turned into waves of nervousness.
He crouched down next to her and pulled out a small ring box from his pocket. He took her hand in his, and offered her the box. Before she could utter a word, he spoke. "Livia Sou, you are my life mate. My turtle dove. I would like the world to know this with a marriage ceremony."
Speechless and overjoyed, Livia threw herself into Heisuke's arms. "As if you needed to ask," she said. "I wanted you the moment I realized I liked boys."
"When did you ever 'like' boys?" Heisuke's husky laughter was muffled by her scarf.
"Never. I only always liked you." Laughing, she pulled back and pressed her lips against his. "I love you, Heisuke Takahashi, and I will marry you."
He pulled them both to their feet so he could kiss her properly.
After several moments, Livia pulled away and gave Heisuke a playfully stern look. "But let's keep the 'turtle dove' angle between us, okay? My family will never let you live that one down."
“Deal,” he said and captured her lips once again with his.