Happy Valentine's Day! One of my 3 contributions to this day of love. The others are a Harvest Moon fluff and a Bionicle fluff.
I've never written for PL before, so be nice. I ship Layton/Claire (it's the only PL pairing I support besides Luke/Flora) because it's awesome. This is kind of how I imagine Layton would have been in university while he was dating Claire. He was so shy in the 3rd game during the scene where he gave Claire the watch...d'awww. |3
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading! Please review; constructive criticism is always appreciated.
*I don't own anything, sadly*

Hershel Layton sat up in bed groggily and looked at the clock. It was seven in the morning. He had an hour until class.

Grumbling to himself, he dragged himself out of bed and headed for the bathroom to take a shower. One of the perks of living on campus was that he didn't have to get up early and take a bus across London to get to an eight o'clock class. Still, Layton had never really been a morning person unless there was tea involved.

Which there sadly wasn't. Not today.

He showered quickly and changed into plaid slacks and a white dress shirt, settling his favourite red flat cap over his brown hair. Grabbing a piece of bread as he tugged on his boots, the student tried to open the door without falling over and quickly failed. Sighing, he got up, adjusted himself, grabbed his sweater, and walked out the door. A gentleman always looks presentable, he reminded himself, heading for the stairs.

It was only half past seven, according to his watch, but he was in a hurry today. Someone was waiting for him—someone very close to him.

"Hershel!"

Layton turned to see Claire, his girlfriend of exactly two months today, was waving as she walked quickly towards him across the campus. He smiled. She was so beautiful, in an understated way. Her light brown hair blew in the breeze. Eyes behind oval glasses seemed to laugh all the time. Her outfit complimented her eyes, Layton noticed. Claire was good at puzzle solving too-the puzzle of fashion being one of her fortes.

Layton knew that nothing in this world was perfect, but all the same, Claire came close.

"Good morning," he said pleasantly. "A bit chilly this morning."

"It's February," she teased. "This is mild." They walked along one of the pathways to the campus in a comfortable silence, her hand firmly but gently clasped in his.

After a short while, Layton couldn't take it anymore. He had to ask. "Claire, um...would you—oh, bother."

Claire's lips twitched in a small smile. She had an idea of what he was asking, but she would let him say it. "Go on, Hershel," she said.

"Would you like to, um, meet me at the Singing Kettle later?" The Kettle was Claire's favourite tea shop in all of London. Layton preferred Anna's Afternoon Tea, but he wanted Claire to be the one to choose.

Her eyebrow rose slightly. "Of course," she said. "I'd be delighted."

Relieved, Layton let out a breath he hadn't realised he was holding. They made plans and exchanged a quick kiss before parting for class. Layton had Doctor Shrader today, his favourite professor at Gressenheller University, but even Shrader's class seemed to drag on and on. The more Layton looked at the clock, the slower it seemed to go. Finally, the sixty-something professor dismissed the class, and Layton was one of the first to leave. He wanted to get to the Kettle first—a gentleman was never late, after all.

He needn't have worried. He got to the tea shop with about half an hour to spare. The puzzle lover took a seat near the window—which he knew Claire loved, one of her hobbies was people-watching—and made sure for the fiftieth time since he'd left his room that morning that his package was still in his pocket. Assured that it was, he resumed waiting, glancing out the window every five seconds. Layton was nervous. He was never nervous.

After what seemed like an eternity, he finally spotted her familiar white jacket coming down the street, and he relaxed slightly. She would like it. He knew she would.

The small bell above she shop's door tinkled as she entered. Glancing around, it wasn't long before she spotted him and came over. "Hello, Hershel," she said with a smile. "Have you been waiting long?"

"No," he lied. "Just got here, actually."

"What can I get you two lovelies, then?" an elderly waitress asked.

They ordered a pot of Sugar Smoke, Claire taking pity on Layton and not ordering the very-sweet Oasis Berry. As the waitress left, casting glances over her shoulder at them, Claire leaned forward. "So?" she asked expectantly.

Layton played innocent. "Yes?"

"Was there any special reason you asked me to come here?" she asked, also playing the innocent card.

"As a matter of fact, yes," he said, digging into his pocket and pulling out a small, nicely-wrapped package. In truth, he'd gotten the man at the store to wrap it for him—he was an expert puzzler, but he was terrible with wrapping things. And a gentleman is never afraid to ask for help if he needs it. Besides, he didn't want her gift to look sloppy. He placed it on the table and slid it shyly towards Claire. "Happy Valentine's Day, Claire," he said, a light blush blossoming on his cheeks.

Blushing too, Claire reached for it. "Oh, Hershel, thank you!"

"You don't even know what it is yet."

"Well, I'm sure I'll love it."

I hope so, he thought nervously as she delicately unwrapped the pale pink paper. Inside was a small box, inside which was...

"Oh, Hershel," she breathed, holding up the necklace. "It's beautiful."

Layton breathed a small sigh of relief. "I'm glad you like it," he said shyly. It was a rather simple piece of jewellery: a delicate gold chain with a small crystal pendant. "Claire comes from the Latin 'Clara,' for clear," he explained, indicating the crystal. "I know you're not one much for jewellery, but I saw it and thought of you..."

She silenced him by leaning across the table and placing a kiss on his lips. "I love it," she told him. "Thank you."

He smiled and stood up, walking behind her to help her put it on. "You're welcome. Happy Valentine's Day."

"I haven't given you your gift yet, though," she said, a twinkle in her eyes.

He raised both eyebrows. "Oh?"

"Sit down." He obliged, confused. Opening her briefcase, she handed him a small package—a great deal larger than the one he'd given her, he noted. Wondering what it was, he reached towards it and she nodded. He carefully pulled the paper off and gasped.

It was an antique teapot—the very same one he'd commented on the first time he'd been to her home! "C-Claire, I can't accept this!" he stuttered. "It's a family heirloom, you said!"

Claire placed a hand over his. "Oh, Hershel. No one in my family uses it. They said they'd be glad to let you have it. Make sure you use it, okay?"

Layton smiled at her. "Thank you," he said honestly. He leaned across the table and gave her a kiss.

"Ahem."


The two of them jumped slightly at the noise. The waitress was back, their tea in her hands and a knowing smile on her face. "Your tea is ready," said simply.


Ten years later, that same Hershel Layton was in his kitchen, looking through his cupboards for something when his charge Flora Reinhold walked in. "Oh, hello Professor," she said pleasantly. "Looking for something?"

"Yes, Flora. You haven't seen a white teapot, have you? There are some small blue flowers on it and the handle is shaped like—"

"A heart? Yes, I've seen it. It's in the china cabinet," she replied, pointing. "I moved it because it looked very old and I didn't want it to accidentally get broken. Oh, by the way, Luke's here. He said he had something for you."

"He did?" That was odd. "Tell him to come in, then."

Layton started looking through his china cabinet, trying to disturb as little as possible. There it was: the family heirloom that Claire had given him so long ago. He took it out once every year, on Valentine's Day, and only brewed one kind of tea in it: Oasis Berry. While he found it far too sweet, it was Claire's favourite tea, and he felt like she was with him when he did this.

His self-proclaimed apprentice, Luke, walked into the kitchen. "Hello, Professor!" he said happily. "Happy Valentine's Day!" He handed Layton a crudely wrapped package with a smile.

Returning the smile, Layton accepted the package and opened it. It was a book: Dr. Andrew Schrader's Favourite Puzzles, Volume 2. Layton was surprised. He hadn't known that Andrew had written another puzzle anthology. "Thank you, Luke," Layton said, placing it on the table. "I will definitely enjoy this."

Luke nodded, then noticed the teapot. "Oh, what a lovely teapot! Are you making tea, Professor?"

"Yes, Oasis Berry. Would you call Flora in, please? We can have some together." As Luke nodded and went to get Layton's ward, the professor sat down in his chair and gazed fondly, but sadly, at the teapot.

Ten years, Claire, he thought. I wonder...how would things be different if you were alive today?

He touched the rim of his hat, smiled, and stood to make the tea he'd promised his young friends.


P.S. Luke giving Layton a gift at the end is not subtle Layton/Luke. When you're a kid, you give Valentine's gifts to everyone-classmates, teachers, parents, Girl Guides, etc. Because Layton is very important to Luke, he gave him a present. (Like I said, I support Luke/Flora and Layton/Claire. I do like slash, but not Layton/Luke.)
That said, thanks once again for reading! Please tell me what you think by use of that little button down there. Thanks, and Happy V-Day!