“But it’s my birthday,” Magilou whined, her bottom lip pushed out in an exaggerated pout.
“And how old are you, exactly?” Velvet asked, rolling her eyes.
Magilou straightened up, lifting an eyebrow beneath her blonde hair. “Like, probably 17.”
“Uh huh,” Velvet mumbled, unconvinced. “And last year you were?”
“Oh, that’s easy! 17.”
Velvet pressed her palm again her forehead, sighing. “Okay, fine. What do you want?”
“Aha, I never thought you’d ask! Well, for starters, I—”
Velvet already regretted asking. She turned to Eleanor, who was helping them prepare dinner. They had landed in Titania for the night, and at Magilou’s insistence they were going to attempt to bake a cake. Agreeing was the only way to get her to shut up.
“Why, exactly, haven’t we thrown her into the ocean yet?”
Eleanor stopped cracking eggs to give Velvet a disapproving look. “Because that would be rude, and Magilou is a valuable member of our team.”
Velvet groaned, and Magilou let her jaw fall open in feigned hurt. “Oh, come on, you know you love me.” She flashed a toothy smile in their direction before turning towards the door. “Anyway, I’m gonna go bother Dyle until he tells me what he got me for my birthday.”
Eleanor shook her head. “Magilou, you didn’t tell him it was your birthday.”
“I know!” She slipped out of the door and into the hall, leaving Velvet and Eleanor alone in the kitchen.
“Honestly,” Velvet said, “she is just too much.”
Eleanor sighed, turning back towards the bowl in front of her. She had made plenty of cakes when she was younger, but it had been years since she’d felt the need to bake. She bit her lower lip as she looked between the ingredients, unsure what to do next.
“Here,” Velvet said, coming up behind her and taking the wooden spoon in her hand. “Let me take over. I baked cakes all the time for Laphi when we were young.”
Eleanor opened her mouth to protest, considering Velvet’s lack of taste, but she complied and moved aside. Velvet took one look at the arrangement of ingredients Eleanor had laid out and shook her head, rummaging through the kitchen’s pantry in search of a few more items.
Eleanor stayed quiet, watching Velvet work. She looked most peaceful when she was cooking, but Eleanor didn’t dare tell her that. She would hate for the rigidness to return to her shoulders at the idea she was turning soft.
She watched Velvet work quietly until Velvet lifted the batter with a spoon, wiping the edge of it to collect some on her fingertip. Mindlessly, she stuck the finger into her mouth to taste it, and Eleanor watched as her face fell at the realization that she couldn’t. Velvet scowled at the batter, her fingers suddenly tense.
“Let me,” Eleanor said, stepping towards her. “I can taste it.”
Velvet sighed, collecting more batter from the spoon on a different finger and raising it towards Eleanor’s mouth without hesitation. Eleanor stopped, glancing at Velvet to see if she was joking or not.
“Oh, come on,” Velvet said. “Just lick it off my finger, I don’t care.”
Eleanor felt the blush rising in her cheeks, however much she tried to suppress it. She swallowed and closed her eyes. Velvet’s fingertip pushed against her lips and she parted them, letting the other woman’s finger slip inside. She raised her tongue to the finger slowly, licking its length to collect all the chocolatey mix.
Velvet pulled her finger out slowly, and Eleanor opened her eyes, blushing wildly. “It’s good,” she said. “Really good, actually.”
Velvet smirked at Eleanor’s blushed face. It wasn’t her initial intention to have Eleanor lick the batter off her finger, but somewhere in between it was almost sensual. She didn’t mind it so much, as she thought maybe Eleanor wouldn’t take it that way, but it seemed she did.
Velvet turned back to the mix and began pouring it into the pan. She felt a blush of her own developing, and let her hair fall over her shoulder to hide it. “Thanks,” she said. “I hope you like it when it’s done.”
“I’m sure I will,” Eleanor said, her tone upbeat as she brushed off the moment. Velvet put the cake in the oven and turned, nearly colliding with Eleanor as she did. Eleanor stumbled backwards and Velvet instinctually moved to catch her, but when the back of Eleanor’s knees hit a chair they both ended up falling. Somehow, Eleanor caught herself against the table, but Velvet’s body kept falling forward. Both women’s eyes were wide open as Velvet fell against her and their lips met.
They were too shocked to pull away. Eleanor was trapped against the table and between Velvet’s hands, which were splayed on the table on either side of her. Velvet pulled back slowly, both women unblinking. Their lips came apart slowly, and they resumed breathing. Both of their faces were flushed. Neither could find the words.
A loud crash at the door startled them both. Velvet jumped back several feet, both of their heads snapping to the doorway. Magilou stood just inside the door, her jaw hanging open. A broken cup was scattered at her feet, and a pool of water was in the midst of the ruin.
“Oh my god,” she whispered, looking between the two women.
Eleanor held up her hands in defense, speaking quickly. “Magilou, it’s not—“
“Excuse me for a moment,” Magilou said, slowly stepping backwards into the hall and shutting the door behind her.
Velvet and Eleanor looked at each other, pure horror on their faces. “Oh, no,” Velvet whispered.
They heard Magilou’s footsteps take off as she sprinted down the hallway, yelling at the top of her lungs. “Velvet and Eleanor are making out in the kitchen!”
Velvet and Eleanor both bolted for the door. Velvet threw it open, yelling after her Magilou. “You’d better keep running,” she screamed, “because when I catch you, you’re dead!”
Both women ran down the hallway towards where Magilou’s retreating figure was turning a corner. They could hear Rokurou yelling excitedly from the other room.
“Shit, the kitchen? I’ll be right back!”
He ran through the corner at the same time the girls got there. Velvet pushed him against the wall as she tore into the next room, where Magilou was already begging for apology. Eleanor stopped where he hit the wall and reeled back her arm, slapping him across the face. He groaned, rubbing his cheek with his hand. “I deserved that,” he mumbled. Eleanor kept running after the other women.
She entered the room to find Magilou holding Laphicet in front of her like a shield between her and Velvet, whose demon claw was pulsing with her anger.
Eleanor sighed, placing her fingers on her temples as though fighting off an impending headache. “Honestly,” she whispered, “can’t we just have one normal day?”