Author: Akino Ame
Word Count: 932
Summary: Cinderella had never seen anything like it, a stranger so willing to stand by her side and help her, all without thought for herself.
A/N: For prompt Kingdom Hearts, Aqua/Cinderella: Chivalry - Sometimes Prince Charming isn't a prince at all.
The time of knights in shining armor was fading.
The kingdom had been at peace for generations, so the knights had long since retired. Their titles and code of honor remained, but the courageous heroes in armor had all but disappeared. They had become nothing but bedtime stories by the time Cinderella was born, and sometimes when she let herself daydream while working, she could still hear her father’s voice telling her harrowing tales of courage, romance, and chivalry. Tales of days long past, of heroes who no longer existed.
And then a young woman took Cinderella’s hand to help her step down from the stairs.
She told the Duke that Cinderella should try on the glass slipper first, and as Cinderella sat in the chair, she stood by her like an honor guard.
And when she’d been attacked by that monster in the woods, the one called an Unversed, and the Duke ran back for help, she was the one who shielded her with her own body from the attacks.
It was mysterious. She’d appeared from out of nowhere, gracelessly falling from the stairs to delay the Duke long enough for Cinderella to arrive. That appeared to be her only mission—to grant Cinderella’s wish. To ensure that her dream could come true, even more thoroughly than her Fairy Godmother.
There were traits similar between this Aqua and her friend, Terra. Both had been courageous warriors who immediately went to protect Cinderella, but there was a difference too. Terra had become Cinderella’s friend. He had wanted to learn from her. Aqua was a stranger, and she hadn’t even met Cinderella until that moment on the stairs. But she stood by her side to protect her from her stepmother and stepsisters. She ran to her aid to protect her from the Unversed.
She helped her step down from the stairs. She comforted her with the knowledge that her family had succumbed to the darkness long before the Unversed destroyed them.
She was her knight.
There had never been a lady knight in the kingdom, but it was clear that Aqua wasn’t from this kingdom. Maybe the rules were different where she came from.
But there was no doubt about it. Aqua’s courage, her compassion, her fighting prowess—it was everything like the knights of legend. She’d told Cinderella to run to safety while she fought the Unversed, but Cinderella couldn’t help her curiosity. She made sure she was far enough away from the battle that she wouldn’t be hurt, but close enough to watch Aqua fight.
The lady knight struck true with her sword against the creature, battling with steel and magic. As explosions rained down around her, she tumbled out of the way with cartwheels, maintaining the grace she’d forgotten briefly in her quest to delay the Duke. She twirled as she struck, evading attacks and adding speed and power to her own. More than once, Cinderella found herself wondering what it would have been like if she’d danced with Aqua at the ball. It was more beautiful than anything Cinderella had seen in her life.
And when it was over, and it was safe to reveal herself, Cinderella ran over to Aqua’s side. The Duke arrived, stammering apologies for leaving two ladies in danger like that, but Aqua insisted it was better this way, that the Duke hadn’t endangered himself. It was her duty, and her honor, to protect such a wonderful light as the one Cinderella had.
It made Cinderella wonder if maybe she’d made a mistake. But when Aqua saw the doubt on her face, she only smiled and insisted that Cinderella continue to believe in her dreams. That they were too precious to throw away. If she found a new dream, that was fine, but don’t give up on what she had wished for with all her heart.
And without another word, she volunteered to escort them to the castle, to ensure that no other Unversed attacked them along their way.
Never once did she ask anything in return. It would have been easy for the Prince to grant her any reward. She just offered her gratitude for Cinderella’s help to Terra, smiling purely and chastely, mysteriously. She watched from the edge of the fountain and spoke to the Fairy Godmother, apparently perfectly content with Cinderella’s happiness with her Prince.
With Cinderella having come from such a harsh world of jealousy and obscuring shadows, such chivalry was surprising to see.
Cinderella looked back to Aqua, hoping to thank her. But as she turned, a bright light formed in the sky, like a star bursting forth and opening its arms to welcome someone home. Aqua put a hand to her shoulder, summoning a suit of silver armor around herself, and Cinderella gasped in surprise. Hearing this, Aqua turned and offered a wave. She then tossed her sword into the air, turning it into a flying chariot—a strange steed, to be sure, but it seemed to suit Aqua’s otherworldly chivalry. She leapt aboard and bowed slightly to Cinderella and the Prince before flying into the star, disappearing into the night.
Cinderella did not see Aqua again, but she always believed that maybe one day, the knight in shining armor would return. So after the wedding, her first act as Princess was to officially knight Aqua in absentee, waiting for the day she would return.
Because she knew, that no matter where their paths took them, no matter what dreams they had to follow, Aqua would always be Cinderella’s knight, and it was her duty to trust in that.