Warnings: Mentions of sex.
Pairings: 1896, mentions of 5986, 27K, LamPin, pretty much every het pairing out there.
Summary: Haru considered her friend. Yes, it was definitely Chrome-chan, even if she was 10 years older. But it was a little shocking to see her ram her trident into Hibari-san's stomach as if she did it every day.
Chapter One: I Love Him, I Love Him Not
Present Time: Haru
At nineteen, Dokuro Chrome is beautiful—heartbreakingly so because she doesn’t even realize it. Doesn’t see the way men’s glances are drawn to her, doesn’t see the way women stare in envy, doesn’t see the way she stands out quietly in a crowd.
Maybe it’s because she’s so used to being unseen, so used to making herself disappear.
Still, it’s a little odd for someone who’s a trained observer and an illusionist with an eye for detail to miss something so obvious.
Haru muses on all of this as she sits across from said girl, curiously observing Chrome observing everyone else, even as she sets placemats, puts down plates, arranges forks and spoons, and carefully lays a napkin in front of each seat at the table. Haru would be doing all that herself if Chrome hadn’t insisted on being useful. Chrome always insists on being useful, needs to be needed, doesn’t ever want to be left behind or thrown away—please, please, please let me help you (please keep me)—her eyes begged, so how could Haru say no?
She possibly should’ve said no—stupid Gokudera started yelling about how useless she was being. And feeding Chrome’s addiction was probably a bad thing, but honestly, who turns away a chance to sit and relax on a hot summer day?
In any case, this gave her the perfect opportunity to question her friend—“Hey, Chrome-chan, has anyone asked you out yet?”
In hindsight, she probably shouldn’t have asked that just as Chrome was setting down the last plate. Now instead of getting an answer, she has to get a broom and sweep up the broken shards while waving away Chrome’s near-hysterical apologies.
Oh, well, she thinks to herself. There’s plenty of time to find somebody nice for her.
If there’s anything Haru loves to do (besides make costumes, eat cake, annoy Gokudera, and learn how to become a proper mafia wife—TsunaTsunaTsuna), it’s to play matchmaker. And every good matchmaker knows that there isn’t anything more attractive to boys than a girl who doesn’t know she’s beautiful.
Every boy wants to be the first one to make a girl feel beautiful—to be the first one to make a girl feel like a woman.
Well, every boy except Gokudera. Haru wrinkles her nose as the Storm Guardian takes one look at the broom in her hand and bluntly says, “Only an idiot would break a plate before we’ve even eaten.”
Of course, the only thing to do is smack him over the head with the broom, especially since Chrome was right behind her and heard everything and is now on the verge of tears once more. Haru feels bad about the broom-smacking, because a lady shouldn’t use cleaning supplies as weapons (that’s what guns are for, a dark corner of her mind thinks quietly, the corner which wishes she weren’t so weak, which whispers that she could always take up Reborn’s offer to teach her a few tricks), but not about the bump she puts on Gokudera’s head.
Sometimes Haru thinks Gokudera’s only goal in life is to make her feel the farthest possible thing from womanly.
So she sticks her tongue out at him and closes the kitchen door in his face, right after she ushers Chrome into the room.
“Hahi! Haru hates that insensitive man!” she yells, loud enough to be heard through the wooden door, then presses her ear against it to listen for the sounds of his angry footsteps stalking away (music to her ears, she thinks, even as she remembers a wavering hand hovering over black and white keys, almost but never quite touching them).
She turns around to face an amused Nana, a chuckling Hana, a smirking Bianchi, a sighing Kyoko, a giggling I-Pin, and a trembling Chrome.
Beautiful, beautiful Chrome, whose anxiety causes her violet eye to widen, her pink lips to part slightly, and her body to fold into a posture that just begs to be protected.
Oh, how boys will bend themselves backward to be the one to protect her.
But Haru knows, and Kyoko knows, and every woman/girl in the room knows that Chrome can damn well protect herself. Even Chrome knows it, although she won’t admit it.
Haru looks around the room, surrounded by her own personal sisterhood, and she can’t resist smiling mischievously.
“I think Chrome-chan has a boyfriend,” she gleefully announces to the room.
If anything, this causes Chrome to tremble harder.
“N-no! I don’t!” she gasps.
The inhabitants of the room throw back their heads and laugh, except for Haru, who’s pouting. “Well, that’s no fun at all. I was hoping for some juicy details here, you know.” She sighs, then gives Chrome a pointed look. “You have to promise Haru that you will tell her first when someone asks you out—and when you actually say yes.”
Chrome has recovered enough to shake her head in the negative. “I don’t think that’s going to happen, Haru-san.”
“Why not?” Hana asks. “You have somebody else you want to tell first?”
“No. Just—I don’t think anyone will ask me, and I don’t think I’ll say yes, even if they do ask.” Besides, I don’t have to tell Mukuro-sama anything—he just knows, Chrome thinks.
But she is absolutely certain nothing of the sort will ever happen, so it’s a moot point.
But everyone else in the room watches her, and they know it’s not.
“You’ll say yes,” Bianchi says with conviction. “Someday someone will come along and they’ll sweep you off your feet, and you won’t have a choice but to let them.”
Chrome looks doubtful still, but shrugs and says she promises Haru anyway if it ever (never) happens.
Kyoko laughs. “I think you’re missing the point of girl talk. It’s supposed to be fun, Chrome-chan, not torture.”
“Yeah!” Haru seconds. “Like a game! Don’t you remember putting a dishtowel on your head and pretending you were a bride getting married?”
Haru watches closely as Chrome shakes her head yet again. “No—I always liked playing house instead, but there was never a husband, just me and my baby.”
Chrome has that look in her eye, that very wistful, longing look that just tugs at Haru’s heart.
“I wouldn’t mind never being a wife if it meant I could be a mother,” the illusionist says, and she speaks in present tense, makes it painfully, poignantly clear that her wish for a child has not yet been crushed.
Even though it was also clear that the chances of such a wish ever being fulfilled were as solid as dandelion seeds blowing through the winds.
So Haru smiles and hugs her suddenly, says, “Who says you can’t be both? I bet you’d be a great wife and a wonderful mom. The best mom in the world!”
“Really?” Chrome asks, all shyness and hope and doubt.
“Really,” Haru says, and she thinks that Chrome’s future husband better know how lucky he is to get someone as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.
Future Time: Chrome
Sometimes, as her husband lies sleeping beside her, Chrome wonders what it says about her that she married the first man who made her feel beautiful. And dangerous. And wanted.
Not necessarily loved—just wanted. The first man who ever made her feel loved was Boss, and she couldn’t very well marry him when he was married to Kyoko. Besides, the way she loved him was the way one loved a leader, not a lover.
But sometimes she finds herself wondering why she didn’t marry the first man who ever made her feel strong, who made her feel needed. And then she stops, because marrying Mukuro-sama would’ve been like marrying herself. It would’ve meant marrying her own reflection, would’ve meant disappearing, because if she married somebody so like herself, let the “two become one flesh,” as the saying went, just like the two souls were already one spirit, what was to stop the part of her who wasn’t like Mukuro-sama (all the parts that loved and laughed and forgave, the parts of her who could be more than what she was) from vanishing?
Then she wonders why she didn’t marry one of the men who first made her feel like she belonged somewhere—but Ken and Chikusa were more like her brothers than anything else, so how could she marry them?
Who else had there been?
There was the first man who had ever taken the time to teach her—but Lambo had been a bad teacher of Italian overall, not to mention far too young for her, and besides, he had I-Pin.
The first man who had ever rescued her (after Mukuro-sama, that is)—but Ryohei-san’s personality was far too different from hers, and even if he could stop the Varia, there was no stopping Hana when she made up her mind.
The first man who had ever made her feel delicate—poor Gokudera-san had been stuck with first-aid duty, winced along with her as he bandaged her wounds, but even as he did so she noticed how his eyes strayed to Haru. They’d filled with envy and concern and something else as he watched her expertly wind a bandage around Yamamoto’s arm, though not a trace of that something-else was in his voice when he yelled at her to hurry up, since all of the Guardians had to get back to the battlefield (but not Haru, oh, no, he’d never send Haru to the battlefield, not even when she learned to use a long-range rifle like an expert sniper, not even when she wore a concealed semi-automatic like some women wore pearls). But she hadn’t wanted someone who made her feel delicate all the time, and Gokudera hadn’t wanted someone who wouldn’t yell back at him, so theirs was a romance that never was.
The first man who had ever made her feel vibrant, full of energy—she remembers fondly a dark-haired boy who taught her how to waltz in the middle of a ballroom with a crystal chandelier and windows that afforded a glimpse of the Italian moon, who laughed away her apologies for stepped-upon feet and clammy hands. Thinking of it, she might have married him if he had wanted to marry her, but marriage would always have been a paltry fourth to swordsmanship, baseball, and friendship in Yamamoto Takeshi’s book. And besides, even if he’d made her feel like dancing, he’d never actually set her pulse racing—and in Kyoko’s gentle words, “sometimes the spark just wasn’t there.”
The first man who had ever made her feel pretty, who had ever made her blush—but Dino-san had made a lot of women blush, and his gaze alone could make a girl feel pretty, so she’d chalked her reaction up to champagne and giddiness over the first compliment paid to her looks (“pretty” was worlds away from “cute”). Besides, there was that conversation she’d overheard shortly afterwards—“Come on! I just told her the truth!” “Herbivores should keep their idiotic comments to themselves.” “…you’re just jealous ‘cuz I got to tell her she was pretty first, aren’t y—oof!”—that made her think that maybe Dino-san shouldn’t have complimented her, shouldn’t have gotten himself into trouble on her behalf.
And…well, that was pretty much almost all the men she knew. There were also the Varia—but no. Basil-san…? Fuuta-kun…? Irie-san…? She cared for them, loved them all, but only as her family. She didn’t love them, not like that, and Bianchi-san said that love was everything, and Chrome would never marry for the sake of anything besides love (not like her mother, no, never like her mother, who married for greed and spite and anger and all the things that left Chrome broken-bleeding-dying-on-the-floor).
So really, I shouldn’t have gotten married at all, Chrome idly decides as she listens to the quiet breathing beside her.
For a while she was certain she never would, never could—not when her heart, mind, body, everything belonged to Mukuro-sama.
And always, there was that conversation in the Sawadas’ kitchen, on that idyllic summer day, encircled by women and girls who loved her and wanted the best for her, friends who’d chatted, advised, and gossiped as they cooked. And she remembers promises—promises to tell them who asks her out, promises to let them know who she says yes to, promises to let them pick her clothes for the first date, promises to let them know about the first kiss, first touch, first time (she blushed then, she chuckles now as she remembers), promises to let them be her bridesmaids, promises to marry only somebody who loves her, whom she loves back, whom she’d let be the father of her children.
She remembers, too, the absolute ache she felt surrounded by all that love, all the while so certain she’d never get to fulfill any of those promises. So certain the mumbled dream of motherhood—anything, I’d do anything for a baby, for someone to love, she won’t even have to love me back, I’ll keep her safe, love her forevereverever—which she’d never revealed to anyone else (and she only ever said it aloud that once, said that she wanted to be a mother to the girls she considered part of her family, said it to people who she knew wouldn’t laugh)—so certain that the dream would stay just that. A dream.
But, still. It’s the promises she remembers first, before the absolutely certain doubts. (How can doubts be certain? It oughtn’t make sense, but it does.)
Promise to make sure he loves you first.
It should’ve been impossible to find somebody who loved her. How could somebody love her when she wasn’t even sure if she loved herself?
Promise to make sure you love him back.
It should’ve been impossible to find enough room in her heart to love anyone outside her family—which is why she married a member of the Vongola, she supposes.
Promise to make sure he’ll be a good father for your children.
It should’ve been impossible to find anyone who’d be willing to let her have his children. She hadn’t even been sure if she could get pregnant.
It should’ve been impossible, yet here she was, and she’d only ever broken those very first two promises, and that was only because her husband hadn’t actually asked her out, so she couldn’t actually say yes in response.
Hibari Kyoya had never been much for words, after all.
She turns now, looks at him in perfect silence because he hates to be waken. She eases herself down, makes herself comfortable, and smiles as his arm snakes out, lightning-fast, and tightens itself around her waist.
She married the first man who ever made her feel wanted, desirable—and she remembers wearing a strapless violet dress, remembers the feel of her hair brushing her bare shoulders and exposed back, remembers the flash of diamonds at her throat, remembers how none of that made her feel particularly sexy until she’d met his gaze. She’d felt the first stirring of attraction during that electric exchange, when he’d narrowed his eyes and really looked at her. Looked at her with a kind of hunger she’d never seen before, looked at her like he was going to push her to the wall and take her then and there, looked at her like they were the only ones in the room and she was the only woman in the world.
She married the first man who ever made her feel dangerous, powerful—and she remembers the utter joy she’d felt when he’d challenged her—her, not Mukuro-sama—to fight him to the death. She remembers how he never stopped to look back when they were on missions, how he was never surprised when she appeared uninjured at his side after finishing her end of things. She remembers his quiet approval the day she held a trident at his throat, her hands steady and her lone eye clear. She remembers the odd vulnerability in his eyes the first time they made love, how uncertain he’d looked for a moment just after he entered her—I could shatter him right here and now, she thought then. She remembers how heady that felt, to have power over him, to know she could bring him to his knees if she wanted, to know she could crush his heart in her hands. She remembers, too, how wary he had been when she’d done neither, when she’d only quietly surrendered—and that was how she’d found out that love scared him more than anything else.
She married the first man who ever made her feel beautiful, made her feel like a woman—he never actually tells her so, just shows it in his eyes and with his hands and through his actions. God, she feels so beautiful around him.
Endnote: Hi, everybody! This is just me, CrazyAce, trying my hand at writing 1896, because I adore this couple and it needs more love! And this is chapter one of my very first foray into the world of KHR fanficdom! Hope it wasn’t too awful. ;)
On a more serious note, I wish to clarify that Chrome’s section is in no way a criticism of any other of Chrome’s pairings—it’s just an explanation of why my version of her “settled” on Hibari. And it was also a useful way to introduce most of the pairings that feature in this story. :D
So yeah, hoped you enjoyed it! :)