Chapter 1: The Rings
Kobayashi’s household was filled with merriment on Christmas Eve, a celebration of sorts after the strange play they had thrown earlier. Kobayashi drank, Tohru served, and Elma stuffed her face with as many pastries as she could. Meanwhile, the boys played their games, Lucoa supporting Shouta perhaps a bit too much.
Her cheering was a bit much, but what really bothered her human friend was the fact that her breasts were resting on his head. Needless to say, he lost the match from the distraction. “H-hey! Stop that, you demon!”
“Aww, but Shouta, I’m not a demon…” Lucoa insisted.
“Just… Go somewhere else for now!” he commanded, clearly frustrated.
“Alright, alright. Have fun!” Lucoa walked to the table where Kobayashi sat. “It’s good to get together like this.”
“Heh. I’ll admit, it’s not bad,” Kobayashi replied, clearly far past drunk.
Lucoa’s attention was drawn to Kanna and Saikawa, the former of whom was riding the latter like a horse. She smiled sweetly. “Those two get along pretty well, don’t you think?”
“Yeah. They’re practically inseparable sometimes,” Kobayashi responded before she took another swig.
“You’re right…” An idea formed in Lucoa’s head, prompting her to walk over to the girls. “Hey, Kanna. Mind if I talk to you a bit?”
“Sure,” Kanna replied as flatly as ever. “Hey, Saikawa. Let’s take a break.”
“Oh, umm, sure, Kanna. Whatever you want,” Saikawa said.
Lucoa led Kanna to a corner of the room, unable to hold in her grin. She then leaned down and pulled two rings from her pocket. “So, I’ve noticed you and that girl are pretty close.”
“Yeah,” Kanna agreed. “I like her a lot.”
“Ah. Well, how would you like to be even closer to her?”
Kanna thought for a moment. “You mean like Lady Tohru and Kobayashi? I do!”
“Perfect! Let’s just say I might have a way.”
“Ooooh!” Kanna said. Despite the flat tone, it was hard to miss her excitement.
“You know about marriage, right?” Lucoa smiled as Kanna eagerly nodded. “Well, humans like to use rings to show that they’re married, but there’s more to it.” She opened her palm and revealed the rings. “I brought these here from our world. Their magic will make sure you’ll become even closer, I promise.”
Kanna picked them out of Lucoa’s hands. “How do they work?”
“It’s simple. Each of you places one on your fingers, then you say ‘I do.’ Nothing to it, the rings will do the rest!”
Wonder filled Kanna’s eyes as she pocketed them and hugged Lucoa. “Thank you!”
“No problem! Maybe wait a bit to use them, though. Might not want to cause a scene.”
“Okay.” Kanna ran back to Saikawa.
Eventually, everyone decided to go their separate ways. Kobayashi had passed out from the alcohol, leaving Tohru to send everyone home.
“Lady Tohru, can I spend the night at Saikawa’s house?” Kanna asked.
“Huh? But don’t you want to stay home for Christmas?” Tohru asked in confusion.
“I can make it home early for presents. I want to hang out with Saikawa for a bit longer.”
Meanwhile, Saikawa couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Kanna is gonna spend Christmas Eve… at my house? She practically exploded with emotion.
“Hmm… Alright. But Please make it back tomorrow, okay?” Tohru said.
“Sure. Thanks, Lady Tohru!” Kanna ran out the door with Saikawa, thrilled for what was coming.
A few minutes later, Kobayashi woke up from her alcohol-fueled nap, noticing there were only two people left in the house. “Ouch… Where is everyone?”
“They just left to head to their homes. Apparently, they’re each having their own individual parties, too!” Tohru replied as she washed dishes.
“What about Kanna?”
“She escorted Miss Saikawa home. She’s decided to stay there for a bit, as well.”
“Really? I thought for sure she’d want to spend Christmas Eve with us.”
“That’s what I said! Still, she seemed really excited about it. She said she’d be back in the morning.”
“Alright, I guess. I hope they don’t get into any trouble,” Kobayashi said.
Meanwhile, Kanna and Saikawa reached the latter’s house. After talking to her parents and a quick call to confirm the sleepover with Kobayashi, they headed up to Saikawa’s room “I’m, uh, really glad you decided to spend the night here.”
“Yeah, me too,” Kanna replied. “I remember the first time I came here.”
“Oh, yeah…” Saikawa blushed furiously. It certainly was hard to forget.
“Do you remember what I said?”
“Umm… That you wanted to be closer, right?”
“Yeah. Then you said we could get married. I wanna do it. Let’s get married.”
Saikawa exploded once more. “I mean… Don’t you think we’re a bit young?”
“So? I like you a lot.” Kanna pulled the rings she had received earlier. “Lucoa gave these to me. She said they could make us closer.”
Kanna was on the verge of yet another explosion but steeled herself. Its just pretend, right? Or is she serious? She nervously picked up one of the rings. “So, I just put it on?”
“Yeah. Then I put on mine, and we say ‘I do.’” Kanna waited for a moment. “Go on.”
“Umm… I do.” A bright light engulfed them for a few moments. “Kanna, is this supposed to happen!?”
“I don’t know…” Kanna flatly responded. Saikawa didn’t know whether to take that as a good thing.
They felt a strange sensation as they were pulled towards each other, unable to tell exactly what was happening due to the blinding light.
When it finally cleared, Saikawa panickedly looked around. “Kanna, where are you!?”
“I’m right here.” Kanna’s voice came from her left, but when she turned her head, Saikawa noticed that it was much closer than she expected.
“Whoa, you’re so close…” Saikawa blushed but noticed something strange that kept her from another outburst. He left side felt strange, almost numb.
“Whoa… I guess this is what the rings do…” Kanna commented.
“Wh-what do you mean? What happened?” Saikawa felt her body prop itself up against the bed without her making it do so. “Whoa! What was that?”
Saikawa looked in the mirror and her eyes widened. Kanna was definitely next to her, but not in the way she expected. At first glance, it only looked like one kid was there, but there were two heads placed upon their now shared shoulders.
Saikawa was overwhelmed by the ecstasy, squeeing like she had never squeed before losing consciousness.
Chapter 2: Christmas Surprise
Tohru practically danced around the apartment, still thrilled with the scarf that Kobayashi had given her on the flight they had just returned from. A gift and she rode me? Christmas is amazing! She didn’t care if it was the birthday of a god’s son anymore. This moment made it to where none of that mattered.
Meanwhile, Kobayashi just watched her with a small smile. It was the first Christmas she had spent with someone else in a long time, and she hadn’t realized how good it felt to share that time with someone. To think… This all started with a drunken promise.
Kobayashi was snapped back to reality by the doorbell. “Huh? That’s strange… Who would ring the doorbell this late on Christmas Eve?” she wondered aloud. “Tohru, could you get.that?”
“Of course, Miss Kobayashi!” She bolted to the door with vigor, not even aware of how odd it was that someone was visiting at that time. She opened the door with a huge grin and her eyes shut, still overwhelmed with glee. “Hello!” Once she opened her eyes, however, they quickly widened in shock. “Kanna?”
“Hi, Lady Tohru,” the little dragon flatly replied. Her visit wasn’t the surprising part, however. What was surprising was that she shared a body with a currently unconscious Saikawa. She was only standing thanks to the Saikawa family’s pretending maid, Georgie, who was holding Kanna’s hand in an attempt to help her keep her balance.
“What… happened?” Tohru asked.
“These,” Kanna said, showing Tohru the two rings on her finger. Strangely, the seemed to have both moved to her hand during the transformation, probably due to them both putting their respective rings on their left hands.
“Umm… Miss Kobayashi… You might want to see this…” Tohru nervously called.
Kobayashi walked to the door and quickly showed the same expression Tohru had when she first saw them. “Tohru… Did you do this?”
“What? No, of course not!” Tohru objected. “I don’t think I even could if I wanted to!”
“Then how did it happen?” Kobayashi questioned.
“These,” Kanna replied, raising her hand so Kobayashi could see the rings. Strangely,
“Wait… Rings did this to you?” Kobayashi asked.
“Yeah. Lucoa gave them to me,” Kanna responded.
“Ah…” Kobayashi wasn’t surprised that this sort of stuff didn’t faze her anymore. “Why is Saikawa out cold?”
“She got excited. She does that a lot,” Kanna flatly explained. She wasn’t oblivious to the fact at all.
“Do you know anything about this, Georgie?”
“I know Riko likes her a lot,” Georgie said. “She talks about her all the time, but I’ll admit I thought she was just exaggerating about the weird stuff that happens when Kanna’s around.”
“Did you see it happen?”
“No… I heard a scream and ran to Riko’s room, then I found them like this,” Georgie answered, clearly concerned. “Our parents freaked out a bit… I was hoping you might know what happened.”
“Nope. I’ve never seen these rings before.” Kobayashi turned to Kanna. “Did Lucoa tell you how to reverse it?”
“No. She just told me it would make us closer,” Kanna replied.
“That’s an understatement,” Tohru snarkily added.
Kobayashi thought for a moment. “Well, if putting the rings on helped, what if we took them off.”
Kanna looked somewhat worried. “But I like this. I’m closer to Saikawa.”
Kobayashi knelt down. “You might like it now, but don’t you think you’ll want some personal space now and then?”
“I don’t mind. Please don’t take them off.”
Kobayashi sighed. “I have to, Kanna. You heard what Georgie said. Her parents were pretty upset. Besides, you won’t be able to go to school anymore. Not without everyone looking at you weird.”
Kanna thought to herself, looking about as sad as she could with her normally blank expression. “Fine…”
Kobayashi carefully took off the rings, expecting something magical.
“Umm, Miss Kobayashi… Nothing happened,” Tohru observed. Meanwhile, Kanna’s mouth opened as her mood brightened.
“Uh… Yeah. I can see that,” Kobayashi confirmed.
“So… You can’t do anything?” Georgie gasped.
“I don’t know about that…” Kobayashi reassured. “Lucoa might know. She’s the one who gave Kanna the rings, after all. We should probably wait until tomorrow, though…”
Kobayashi's explanation was interrupted by Saikawa’s groaning as she came to. “What happened?” Saikawa groggily opened her eyes before looking around, finding her head’s leftward movement blocked by something. “Wait, I’m back at Kanna’s house?”
“Riko!” Georgie exclaimed. “Please don’t freak out!”
“Freak out? Why would I…” The numbness in the right side of her body was the first clue, but realizing why she couldn’t turn her head completely to one side made it obvious.
“Hi, Saikawa,” Kanna’s adorable voice said, confirming that the events from before hadn’t been a dream.
Saikawa exploded for what must have been the hundredth time that day, but Georgie kept her from going too far. “Saikawa, please calm down.”
Saikawa took a deep breath. “Right… Sorry, Nae… Err, Georgie,” She corrected herself after noticing her sister was in her maid attire.
Kobayashi groaned, placing the rings on the table. “I guess I should call your parents and ask them what they want to do until tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to this. Kanna, do you and Saikawa want to go to your room?”
“Sure,” Kanna said. “Come on, Saikawa.”
As Kobayashi turned away, Kanna and Saikawa struggled to make it to the bedroom, realizing it wouldn’t be as easy as they thought. Georgie helped them, making sure they wouldn’t fall over.
Meanwhile, Tohru walked to the table and looked at the rings as Kobayashi talked on the phone. I wonder if they still work… An idea popped into her head.
“Alright, I talked to Mister Saikawa,” Kobayashi said. “It looks like they’ll be staying here for the night.”
“So, Miss Kobayashi… It looks kind of fun don’t you think?” Tohru said, holding out one of the rings and wearing the other. “Do you want to…”
“Not happening,” Kobayashi interrupted.
“Aww, but don’t you wanna try it?”
“Tohru… I’ll be honest. I have no idea what’s going on. I was hoping that taking the rings off would work… Even if I wanted to, and I don’t,” Kobayashi emphasized, “I don’t even know if it can be reversed. I hope Lucoa knows what she’s doing…”
Chapter 3: Fixing Things
Christmas morning arrived in the Kobayashi apartment. Every year before since she had moved out, Kobayashi would’ve used the time off to sleep. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. Her well-needed rest was interrupted by a shrill scream that she had the displeasure of having heard on several occasions in the past. “That must be Saikawa…”
She reluctantly wiped the sleep from her eyes as she sat up before rubbing her forehead. “If I knew this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have gotten so drunk…” She stood up and walked to Tohru and Kanna’s room, opening the door.
Saikawa was clearly overwhelmed by ecstasy, obviously not over the fact that she was still sharing a body with her friend. Kanna just looked over at her with a curious expression while Tohru was rolling her eyes.
“Good morning, I guess,” Kobayashi said.
“Miss Kobayashi!” Tohru cheered, her mood doing a complete 180. “Merry Christmas!”
“You too. I see she’s having fun.” Kobayashi motioned to Saikawa.
“Tell me about it. It took forever to get them to fall asleep,” Tohru groaned. “They were bad enough separate.”
“Sounds like someone’s over the rings,” Kobayashi commented.
“What? I mean, I wouldn’t mind being with you, Miss Kobayashi!” Tohru recovered.
“The answer’s still no,” Kobayashi bluntly declined. “Besides, we still need to figure out their situation. I’m going to call Lucoa and see if she can fix this.”
She walked away, leaving the others to their antics. She picked up the phone and groggily called the number to Shouta’s house.
“Hello?” said a familiar voice on the other end.
Shit! I forgot Shouta is Mr. Magatsuchi’s son! Her sleepiness disappeared at the realization. “Oh, hi! Sorry, Mr. Magatsuchi! I, uhh…” She knew she promised Saikawa’s parents that she would try to figure the situation out as soon as possible, but this put her in a difficult spot. Might as well just get it out. “It’s Kobayashi. Sorry to bug you on Christmas, but is there any chance I could speak with Lucoa?”
“Lucoa? What for?”
“It’s a bit of a long story… It might be an emergency, but it’s fine if you want me to call back tomorrow.”
Kobayashi didn’t know how to explain. While she knew Shouta’s family were mages, she had never brought it up to his father, despite him being her boss. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to, but it never came up. That didn’t seem like the best time, either. “Like I said, it’s a long story. Could I please talk to her?”
“Sure, I suppose. Just give me a moment.”
She heard him call out before passing the phone off. After a moment or two, Lucoa’s voice came through. “Hello?”
“Hey, Lucoa. It’s Kobayashi. I have a bit of a problem… Kanna got her hands on some weird rings and said you gave them to her. Do you know anything about this?”
“Oh? Did she use them?” Lucoa asked, answering the question indirectly.
“Um… Yeah. I guess you already know what they do. She and Saikawa are kinda stuck together.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful!”
Kobayashi was startled by her cheery reaction. “Wonderful? Her parents aren’t very happy about it.”
“Don’t worry. I can fix everything. I’ll be over soon!” Lucoa didn’t even wait for a response before hanging up the phone.
Despite the odd reaction, Kobayashi was at least relieved that Lucoa was able to do something.
After about an hour, the doorbell rang. “I’ll get it!” Tohru said.
“No, its fine,” Kobayashi replied. “If it’s Lucoa, I’ll need to talk to her.” She walked to the door and opened it, revealing Lucoa with an enormous smile.
“Hiya, Kobayashi! Where’s our favorite pair?” Lucoa beamed.
Kobayashi blinked a few times, still astonished by Lucoa’s excitement. “They’re over there.” She pointed to Kanna and Saikawa sitting at the table.
Lucoa shuffled over to them. “So, are you enjoying your gift?”
Kanna looked up with the smallest of smiles. “Yeah! I love it!” Saikawa just blushed.
“Glad to hear!” Lucoa trilled.
"That’s great and all, but I was hoping you could turn them back,” Kobayashi interrupted. I took off the rings but that didn’t do anything. Saikawa’s parents wanted her to go home by the end of the day.”
“Turn them back? I can’t do that,” Lucoa replied, her tone suggesting the question was ridiculous, to begin with.
The room went silent, aside from a coo from Kanna. “Wait… You said you could on the phone…” Kobayashi argued.
“I didn’t say that,” Lucoa replied.
“You said you could fix it…”
“Oooooh! No, the effect of the rings is permanent. I can just make it to where the parents are okay with it.” Lucoa smiled proudly.
“Wait…” Saikawa mumbled. “I’m going to be like this… With Kanna… For the rest of my life?” Kobayashi wasn’t even surprised by the explosive squee that followed. Meanwhile, Kanna did the closest thing to cheering that she had ever done.
“Why would you give a child something like that?” Kobayashi raised her hand to her forehead in frustration.
“I thought they’d be cute together,” Lucoa said.
“Even then, this is life changing. How am I going to tell Saikawa’s parents?” Kobayashi fretted.
“You don’t have to,” Lucoa responded. “Like I said, I can fix that much, at least. You know about perception blocking, right?”
“Perception blocking?” Kobayashi repeated, having no idea.
“Oh, that’s something I can do,” Tohru added. “Basically, it lets me hide myself from human eyes! But… How would that help Kanna and her friend?”
“Well, I could use something similar to make everyone think Kanna and Saikawa have always been like this,” Lucoa explained. “It probably wouldn’t be able to confuse dragons, though, and it might be best if you knew, too, Kobayashi.”
“Are you sure that’s the best idea?” Kobayashi asked. “I’m not sure lying to them is a great idea.”
“It wouldn’t be lying. We’d just be hiding the truth!” Lucoa winked. “It’s either that or you tell them that they’ll be like this forever.”
“I guess I don’t have a choice… Wait, hold on. How long is forever?” Kobayashi brought up. “Don’t dragons live longer than humans? Wouldn’t that be a problem later on?”
“I doubt it. Their bodies have pretty much been fused. I’d imagine they’ll live longer than a human, but not quite as long as a dragon,” Lucoa insisted. “They’ll be fine.”
“You should really be more careful. You’re lucky someone else didn’t put on the other ring. Honestly, Kanna is lucky to be stuck with someone she actually gets along with.”
“Lucky? That’s not how the rings work. You don’t just fuse with someone by putting the rings on. You have to say ‘I do’ as well. Without the incantation, they don’t do anything.”
“‘I do?’ Really? Sounds like a marriage.”
“That is one way to put it,” Lucoa chuckled. “What is that thing humans say? Till death do us part?”
Kobayashi sighed. “Just do the perception thing.”
Meanwhile, Tohru gave Kobayashi a wistful gaze before looking at the rings that had been left on the counter the previous night.
Chapter 4: Questions
Several days had passed since the incident, Kanna and Saikawa still literally joined at the hip. They sat at the kotatsu that Tohru had recently won at the market, the dragon maid doing the same. The heat it radiated made the cold season much more pleasant.
Kobayashi entered the apartment after a long day of work, joining them at the table. “I’m here.” Despite having Christmas off, she still had to work a few days after. Luckily, she was free after that. “Done with work this year… Finally…”
“Congrats, Miss Kobayashi,” Tohru greeted, enjoying her prize. “You’re always so busy. I hope you try to take it easy through the rest of the holidays.”
“That’s the plan,” Kobayashi replied. “So, how are you two doing?”
“Oh, we’re fine,” Saikawa replied, raising their torso.
“Yeah,” Kanna concurred. “I like being with Riko.”
Saikawa blushed, definitely not used to Kanna using her first name like that. She had adjusted to her new life fairly well, much to Kobayashi’s surprise. Despite being around her crush every moment of every day, she hadn’t complained even once. In fact, she seemed to even enjoy it, though she had calmed down a bit as well, only letting out the occasional giddy squeal.
“Is that your first name?” Kobayashi asked.
“Yeah. Technically, everyone calls us Saikawa now. You know, since they all think we’re sisters,” Saikawa explained. “We thought it would make more sense that way.”
“At least that makes things easier. No need to explain everything five thousand times,” Kobayashi replied. “I’m still amazed how well the spell worked. Even Kanna’s records were changed.”
“Actually, that took a bit more work,” Tohru added. “I’m glad Lucoa figured it out. I don’t think I could’ve done it.”
“There’s still one thing I don’t get. If Kanna’s now part of the Saikawa family, why is she here?” Kobayashi asked.
“Oh, I’m babysitting!” Tohru declared. “I thought it’d be nice for Kanna to see us every once in a while.”
“Ah, that makes sense,” Kobayashi said. “Are Mr. and Mrs. Saikawa paying you?”
“Paying? I can get paid for babysitting?” Tohru clearly hadn’t even thought of that.
“Yeah, but it's fine. I don’t mind.” Kobayashi settled into the kotatsu, enjoying the heat. “Ah, this is heaven. I’m glad you won this.”
“Yeah, me too,” Tohru happily sighed. “I need to move soon, though. I still have to make some dishes for the new year… I even borrowed the stuff to make mochi and soba.”
“Are you sure? You really don’t have to do all that,” Kobayashi said.
“Of course! It’s a maid’s responsibility to make sure any and all seasonal events are carried out!”
Kobayashi looked behind her, seeing the tools Tohru had mentioned. She smiled, thinking back to how much had changed that year before shuffling around uncomfortably.
“Uh oh, do you need to use the restroom?” Tohru asked.
“Don’t want to get up,” Kobayashi whined. “Tohru, will you do it for me?”
“I mean, I could…” Tohru’s eyes fell on the rings. “We’d just have to use the…”
“No,” Kobayashi interrupted. “It was a joke anyway. I’ll go take care of it.”
Tohru pouted as Kobayashi walked away. “You two are lucky. I wish Miss Kobayashi wanted to be with me like that…”
“I, uh, didn’t exactly ask for this,” Saikawa noted.
“So you don’t like it?” Kanna asked.
“No, that’s not what I meant at all!” Saikawa recovered. “It’s still a little weird, but I don’t mind. Besides, maybe I can do all of the cool stuff you can do now!” She turned her head and saw Kanna looking at her with confusion. “You know, like what you did at the volleyball game! It was kinda scary at first, but you looked like a superhero! It’d be awesome if I could do stuff like that.”
“Oooooh!” Kanna cooed. “Do you want to play dodgeball, then?”
“That’s not exactly what I meant. You said you were a dragon, right? I didn’t really believe you back then, but that convinced me. I won’t lie, I’ve kinda been wishing I could do that too…”
“Well, why don’t we give it a shot?” Tohru chimed in. “I could take you to that field from before. Whaddya say?”
“Yeah!” Kanna softly cheered.
“I… guess we could try…” Saikawa was suddenly having second thoughts. What have I gotten myself into?
Kobayashi walked back into the room to see Tohru forming a portal. “Uhh… What are you doing?”
“Oh, Miss Kobayashi! Saikawa wanted to see what she can do since she’s a dragon now!” Tohru cheerfully replied.
“What? I don’t think that’s how this works,” Kobayashi said.
“What do you mean?” Tohru asked.
“Well, for one, she was a human before. Who’s to say they aren’t both human now?”
“No way! I refuse to believe that a creature as great as a dragon can be brought down to that level!” As usual, Tohru’s pride in her species was incredible.
“Well, even if that’s not the case, they’re probably just half dragon. I have no idea what that means, though…” Kobayashi realized they had never taken the different biologies into account. “I guess maybe just Kanna’s half is dragon? Or maybe they’ve completely combined… We can’t really take them to a doctor to find out, not without them figuring out what Kanna really is… Or was… Wow, this is a lot more confusing than I thought it would be.”
“I still think they’re both dragons,” Tohru obstinately insisted.
“I don’t think it's that simple, Tohru.”
“Well, why don’t we find out? We’ll never know until they try!”
Kobayashi thought for a moment. She didn’t want to risk them getting hurt, but the idea of Saikawa accidentally using some sort of power in public came to mind. The very thought made her shiver. “Alright, but we’ll take it slow, okay? Nothing as extreme as what you usually do.”
“Do you want us to keep it at your level again?” Tohru asked.
Kobayashi sighed, recalling the insulting yet disturbingly accurate portrayal Tohru and Kanna had done the last time they visited the field. “Sure. We’ll figure out where to go from there.”
Chapter 5: Back to the Field
Kobayashi, Tohru, and the joined girls stepped into the portal, emerging in the field. It was just as vast and empty as before, making it the perfect place for a dragon to spread their wings, both literally and figuratively. However, whether or not Kanna and Saikawa were dragons was still up to debate.
At least they’re moving around alright, Kobayashi thought as she watched them walk. It looked incredibly natural, almost as if they had been doing it their entire lives. It was somewhat surprising for them to become so accustomed to the act over the course of just a couple of days, but Kobayashi just chalked it up to an effect from the rings.
“So, uh, what should we do first?” Saikawa nervously asked.
“Hmm… What about a simple jog?” Kobayashi suggested. “That should be a good place to start. Just take it easy; I don’t want you falling.”
“Okay,” Kanna said. “Are you ready, Riko?”
“Yeah…” Saikawa replied, clearly showing the butterflies in her stomach.
“Alright!” Tohru held her arm in the air and dropped it as if she was starting a race. “Go!”
Kanna and Saikawa started to run at an average pace, but it was clear at least Kanna was holding back quite a bit.
“Man, this is boring…” Tohru complained.
“You have to walk before you can run,” Kobayashi said.
“But they are running,” Tohru innocently replied.
“Hey girls! Come back!” Kobayashi called out.
Kanna and Saikawa did so, stopping in front of her. “That was easy,” Saikawa commented. “Way easier than usual.”
“Alright. Try a bit harder, then. I just want to make sure you don’t push yourselves too hard,” Kobayashi said.
“Hey, Kanna. Could we go all out?” Saikawa asked. “I want to see what we can do!”
“I’m not so sure that’s a good idea,” Kobayashi concernedly objected.
“It’ll be fine! I’m sure of it!” Tohru cheered.
“Alright, I guess…” Kobayashi was worried, but she knew they weren’t going to get anywhere by just taking it slow.
Kanna and Saikawa readied themselves and flew off like a bullet, something that might’ve been impressive if they hadn’t immediately crashed into the ground. “Whoa!” Saikawa yelled as they tumbled.
“Whoa, are you okay!?” Kobayashi ran after them.
“Yeah…” Saikawa said. “It actually didn’t hurt that much…” Strangely enough, the girls didn’t have a scratch on them despite taking what looked like a serious fall.
“What happened?” Kobayashi asked.
“I didn’t think we’d go that fast. I just got surprised,” Saikawa explained. She looked like an entirely new world had opened up to her.
“See? I told you! Dragons through and through!” Tohru triumphantly declared. “After all, wouldn’t something like that hurt a human?”
“Yeah, I guess… I’m still not convinced, though,” Kobayashi maintained. “Didn’t you say that humans from your world could do stuff like that too?”
“Well, yeah, but they still aren’t as strong as us,” Tohru said. “Wait, I know! I know a perfect way to prove it! Kanna, turn into your real form!”
“Wait, real form?” Saikawa shouted in surprise.
“That’s right! She is a dragon, after all!” Tohru affirmed.
“So... You think I can, too?” Despite her obvious unease with the idea, there was a slight twinkle in Saikawa’s eyes.
“I guess it's worth a shot…” Kobayashi apprehensively muttered.
“So, how do we do that?” Saikawa asked.
“Just think about being bigger,” Kanna cutely explained. “Like this.” She closed her eyes and concentrated hard, Saikawa doing the same.
“Umm… Kanna, nothings happening…” Saikawa commented. “Whoa!” Kanna’s tail popped out from behind them and pair of horns sprouted out of each of their heads, though Saikawa’s took a bit longer. She reached up and felt them, barely able to believe that they were real.
“Yup. Definitely dragons,” Tohru restated.
“They didn’t change completely, though,” Kobayashi argued.
“Well, yeah. I bet they weren’t trying that hard,” Tohru returned.
“But I was,” Kanna chimed in.
“Wait, what?” Tohru said.
“I was trying.” Kanna started to sniffle a bit.
“Kanna, are you okay?” Saikawa said, feeling Kanna’s side of their body shake. “Maybe I just wasn’t trying hard enough! Let’s try again!” They both closed their eyes and concentrated but nothing happened, breaking Kanna’s spirits. “Well, this isn’t terrible, right? Right?” Saikawa turned her head and saw Saikawa start to tear up. “P… Please don’t cry…”
That didn’t stop Kanna. Tears streamed down her face as she realized she had lost a part of her. “I can’t turn back…” She cried for a few moments until she felt Saikawa’s arm wrapped around her, slightly startling her.
“If it helps, I don’t mind,” Saikawa said. “I like you no matter what you look like. Besides, this is how I know you, so it isn’t that bad. And we can do a lot of cool stuff, right? We can do it together, too!”
Kanna sniffled, her tears subsiding. “Yeah…”
“Why don’t you show me what else we can do? There has to be more, right?” Saikawa asked, trying to change the subject in an attempt to cheer her body-mate up.
Kanna raised her arm and sparks started to fly from her fingers. She slightly smiled knowing that she at least hadn’t lost everything. She quickly formed a ball of electricity and shot it into the horizon.
“Whoa! That’s cool!” Saikawa raised her arm and tried doing the same, eventually making a few sparks pop up as well. “I guess it's not as easy as it looks.”
“It’s okay,” Kobayashi said, placing her hand on Saikawa’s head. “You might just need practice.”
Tohru made a portal for them to head back after another hour of experimentation. By the end, Saikawa had managed to make a lightning blast of her own while cheering up Kanna in the process. All that effort was tiring though.
“I’m exhausted,” Saikawa groaned.
“We need to recharge,” Kanna flatly said.
“What do you mean?” Saikawa asked, prompting Kanna to point at a wall socket. “Wait, really?”
Kanna nodded and they walked over, sitting down on the floor. Kanna plugged her tail into the socket, sending a strange though not unpleasant feeling through their body. “Whoa… That feels funny…”
“I have to say, I’m surprised. I didn’t have any idea what to say when Kanna broke down,” Kobayashi said.
“Yeah, me either,” Tohru said as she started doing dishes. “I don’t know if I could handle it… Not being able to become my true form, I mean.”
“Yeah, I bet it's hard. I’m sure they’ll be alright, though,” Kobayashi replied.
“I’ll admit it. They’re good for each other.” Despite that, however, Tohru started to wish she had never heard of those rings. The thought of losing that ability was unthinkable, but something inside her still longed to use them, a doubt that had been weighing on her heart for far too long.
Chapter 6: New Year's Eve
A few days past and New Year’s Eve arrived. Tohru and Kobayashi headed out to the town to enjoy the event, Tohru happily wearing Kobayashi’s old kimono. It didn’t take them long to meet Kanna and Saikawa on the way, both being escorted by Georgie.
“Kobayashi!” Kanna quietly called, her simple expression betraying her excitement. She and Saikawa ran up to Kobayashi, the later probably just to keep them from falling.
“Hi, Kanna. I see you got a kimono,” Kobayashi noticed.
“Yeah. Riko wanted to wear one together,” Kanna said.
“Hey, you came too?” Lucoa asked, joining the scene with Shouta and Elma in tow.
“Yeah, but why is she here!?” Tohru fumed, her anger directed at Elma.
“What’s wrong with that?” Elma protested. “I only came because I heard there was a lot of unusual food to try… Anyway, what happened to them?”
“Yeah… Are they stuck in the same kimono or something?” Shouta added.
“What?” Kobayashi asked.
“Oh, that’s right… Since Elma’s a dragon, she isn’t affected by the perception alteration spell…” Lucoa thought aloud. “I guess Shouta’s immune too since he’s a mage.”
“I guess that makes as much sense as them getting stuck together in the first place,” Kobayashi said.
“What spell? What’s happening?” Georgie asked.
Kobayashi sighed, not prepared for that in the slightest. “Oh boy… I guess we should probably spill the beans. Lucoa gave them a pair of rings that fused them. Georgie, you don’t remember because Lucoa used a spell to make everyone think they’ve always been that way.”
Georgie looked around, surprised that no one else was shocked. “You can’t be serious, right? Magic isn’t real.” She had apparently forgotten completely about the event, a testament to the effectiveness of the spell.
“Yeah,” Saikawa deflectively chuckled. “It’s just a joke!”
“Saikawa, don’t you think it would be better if she knew?” Kobayashi asked. “You wouldn’t have to hide it from everyone.”
“Yeah, I guess…” Saikawa said with uncertainty. “She’s right, sis… Magic did this to us.”
“This is very funny, but I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as magic,” Georgie insisted.
“No, it is! Look at what I can do!” Saikawa generated sparks from her fingertips, putting a terrified look on her sister’s face. “Don’t worry, it’s safe! I’m part dragon now!”
Georgie looked around for confirmation, seeing no sign of disbelief from the others. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves. “I… I guess that explains why you two had so much trouble walking recently…”
“Please don’t tell mom and dad!” Saikawa begged. “We can’t be separated, so I don’t want them to worry.”
“I don’t really understand,” Georgie replied, “but I guess that’s fine. We’ll keep this secret, little miss.”
“Thanks, sis! I mean… Georgie!” Saikawa cheered.
“So, was it an accident or something?” Shouta threw in. “I bet that must make life hard for them.”
“If your curious, I could always show you how they work,” Lucoa teased. “It’s not that hard, really.”
Shouta looked at her with confusion before realizing what she meant. “N-no way, demon!” He looked away defiantly.
“But, but… Shouta baby…”
“It’s incredible…” Kobayashi muttered.
“What is?” Tohru asked.
“I was just thinking of everything that’s happened this year and how much has changed… Even I’ve changed.”
“Is that a bad thing?”
“No. I’m actually happy.” Kobayashi let out the faintest of smiles as she watched Lucoa beg Shouta. “I guess some things never change, though.” She noticed Takia and Fafnir approaching, the later wearing classical clothing like many of the others nearby.
“What’s up, guys?” Takiya said.
“Ooooh! Do you realize how good that looks on you, Fafnir?” Tohru teased.
“Yes, he does,” Takia affirmed, much to Fafnir’s chagrin. The cursed dragon glanced at the joined girls before grunting disapprovingly. “What’s wrong?”
“Their form is disgusting, a dragon merged with a human. I certainly hope whatever curse did it isn’t contagious,” Fafnir bluntly replied.
“Don’t be rude, Faf-kun,” Takiya kindly chided. “They’ve always been like this.”
Fafnir scoffed. “Some sort of perception blocking, too. Despicable.”
“Well, we didn’t have much of a choice. They can’t be separated and it was easier than trying to explain it over and over,” Kobayashi said. “Then again, that’s exactly what we’re doing…”
“Is it contagious or not?” Fafnir restated.
“You don’t have to worry about that,” Lucoa assured. “It only happens when the rings are used.”
“Wait, I’m confused,” Takiya chimed in, having been lost for a while.
“Long story short, Kanna and Saikawa weren’t always like this. A couple of rings did it and now no one remembers because of a spell that Lucoa used,” Kobayashi explained. “I’ll tell you more later.”
“Got it,” Takiya replied.
“Can we go now?” Elma interrupted. “At this rate, they’ll run out of amazake!”
“Shall we?” Kobayashi asked, putting a giddy grin on Tohru’s face as she grabbed onto Kobayashi’s arm.
The motley group enjoyed the rest of the evening with vigor, partaking in everything the town’s festival had to offer. Elma finally had her chance to try the delicious beverage known as amazake, Lucoa even trying some herself despite her rough history with alcohol. Meanwhile, Georgie escorted Kanna and Saikawa through the market stalls so that they could pick out a souvenir or two. Even Fafnir enjoyed himself, even though he consistently denied it.
“Miss Kobayashi, look at my fortune!” Tohru chirped.
“A fortune?” Kobayashi dumbfoundedly looked at the sheet that Tohru handed her. “Great strife… I’ve never even heard of someone getting this before…”
“What does it mean?” Tohru asked.
“You will soon face many hardships and difficult choices,” Kobayashi read. “Be sure you make the right decisions lest they become ones you regret… That’s ominous.” She noticed a worried look on Tohru’s face. “I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s just superstition.”
“Hey, it’s almost time!” a bystander cheered.
“What’s happening, Miss Kobayashi?” Tohru said.
Kobayashi pulled her phone out her pocket and looked at the time. “Wow… The year’s almost over. Time sure flies, huh?”
The crowd began to count down. “Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two!”
Tohru didn’t understand, but something about the moment and the spirit of the crowd was so contagious. She couldn’t resist but join in. “One!”
The crowd cheered to welcome in the new year. “Hey, Tohru,” Kobayashi said. “Happy new year.”
Tohru smiled wide. “Happy new year to you too, Miss Kobayashi!”
Unfortunately, the happy moment was not a sign of things to come. For better or for worse, things were about to change.
Chapter 7: Break
Tohru cheerfully walked down the street on a shopping trip, buying things for that week’s meals. Things had calmed down quite a bit since Kanna had moved out, only coming over every once in a while. In a way, that had made the apartment feel a bit empty, but Tohru didn’t mind. Not as long as Kobayashi was around, that is. On the bright side, it had made things much easier, financially speaking. “What should I make for dinner tonight?” she wondered aloud.
Her absent-minded thoughts were interrupted by a television segment playing behind a window. “Their lifespan is just so short!” said a woman.
“True, but take the house mouse. For example, it only lives for maybe a year to a year and a half,” a man on the program replied.
“Oh, so sad!”
“Not at all! Every living creature has its own perception of time. Applying human standards to them is a mistake.”
Tohru anxiously looked away, the segment only helping to renew the fears she had been trying to push away. How long do you plan on continuing this?
She jolted to attention, recognizing the voice as her own. Time itself froze around her. “Are you… me?”
That’s not quite right. I am the doubt you’ve held inside. A manifestation of her dragon form appeared behind her, placing its enormous claw on her head. Stop deceiving yourself. I repeat, how long do you plan on continuing this?
“The time we have now… I just want to enjoy it. I just want to be with Miss Kobayashi for as long as possible.”
And how long will that be? You understand, don’t you? She is nothing more than an insignificant human. She will die and you will be left alone.
“No! I won’t let that happen! I’ll find a way for us to be together, I know it!”
How do you plan on that? The rings?
The accusation hit Tohru hard. “I… I…”
Go ahead. Trick her. Or better yet, force her. What do you think would happen if you tried? She would despise and fear you, just like the rest of her kind.
Tohru started to cry, the helplessness of the situation overwhelming her. The words her double said shook her to her very core, dealing more damage than any god’s sword could possibly match. The worst part was that they were her own thoughts, those that she had tried so hard to hold back.
Do not forget. You are no maid. You are a dragon. Her wings and tail appeared without her command. You and I both know she can never truly accept you.
Tohru screamed at the top of her lungs, destroying the scenery around her as if it were made of glass. She tumbled through the newly formed abyss, quickly surrounded by inky darkness that matched the gloom she dreaded so much. Miss Kobayashi, she thought, what do I do?
“Miss, are you alright?”
The unfamiliar voice snapped her out of her living nightmare but she still shook as if she was still in it. In reality, she was. This fear had been looming over her for quite some time. Without even responding to the crowd of concerned onlookers surrounding her, she dropped her groceries and dashed off to the apartment.
Kobayashi was startled by the door flying open, a trembling Tohru standing on the other side. She looked like she had just seen a ghost if not something worse. “Tohru… Are you okay?”
Tohru jumped and wrapped her arms around Kobayashi, crying profusely. “I… I don’t know what to do!”
“What?” Kobayashi blurted.
“I don’t want to lose you!”
“Tohru, what are you talking about? I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
“You don’t get it! You’ll just die like every other human and I’ll never see you again! I can’t take it anymore!” Tohru exclaimed. “I’ve tried to keep it in, I really have! But whenever I think about how much I want to be with you, I remember that you’re just going to disappear! I kept telling myself that there was no way to fix it, but then I saw what those rings can do! I know you don’t want to use them, but please! I’ll do anything! Just so I can be with you longer!”
“Tohru… I…” Kobayashi didn’t know how to respond. Even on her worst days, she had never seen Tohru look so miserable and defeated.
Tohru gasped and let go, realizing what she had just said as she backed away slowly. She wiped away the tears from her eyes and bowed guiltily. “I’m sorry… I… I shouldn’t have said that… It was selfish of me. Just… Forget I said anything.” She opened the door and started to leave. “I… I should probably go get the groceries again… I’ll be back in a bit.”
When she left, the room felt deathly quiet. Kobayashi sat down on the couch and breathed heavily, feeling the weight of Tohru’s stress as if it were her own. “I didn’t know this was hurting you that badly… Why didn’t you tell me?”
Truth be told, Kobayashi knew the answer to that question. The thought of such a permanent and drastic change was still out of the question. Even though Tohru’s misery had proven itself to be contagious, it didn’t change that fact. Tohru knew that I wouldn’t say yes, didn’t she? She still begged, though… I don’t know what to do either…
She pulled her phone out of her pocket and dialed Takiya’s number, letting the phone ring. “Hey, Kobayashi,” his voice said. “What’s up?”
“Hey, uhh… Do you want to get a drink? I kinda need someone to talk to right now,” Kobayashi shakily replied.
“Is everything okay? You don’t sound so good.”
“It’s a long story. I’m not so sure the phone is the best way to talk about it.”
“Hey, I don’t mind. I’ll just let Faf-kun know I’m heading out,” Takiya said. “Same place as always?”
“Yeah… Thanks.” She hung up, her mind riddled with questions that were impossible to answer and doubts she was terrified to address.
Chapter 8: Fears
Kobayashi sat alone at the restaurant table, silently looking at a full glass of beer. She had been left to her thoughts for quite some time thanks to Takiya being late. The time, however, did not help her gather her thoughts in the slightest.
She knew that Tohru was romantically interested in her. That was hard to miss with the constant fawning and desperation for attention. What she didn’t know, however, was Tohru’s fears of living alone. The entire scenario was beyond insane, but not in a way that it didn’t make sense. On the contrary, it made so much sense that Kobayashi was stunned that she hadn’t seen it before.
Despite all that, however, Kobayashi wouldn’t go through it. She couldn’t. The idea of spending every moment of the rest of her life with someone else and never having another moment to herself was terrifying. At the same time, the realization that she would be leaving Tohru alone was also unbearable. What do I do?
“You there? Kobayashi?”
Takiya’s voice snapped her out of her trance and she looked back with empty and worried eyes.
“Whoa, what happened to you?” Takiya sat down at the table. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I… I… I don’t know what’s right anymore…” Kobayashi stuttered back.
“Alright, calm down. Jeez, if I knew you were going to be this bent out of shape, I would’ve told Faf-kun to continue the raid alone. I had no idea it would take so long… I’m so sorry. I’ve never seen you like this. Just start from the beginning. Tell me what’s happening, all of it.”
“Tohru? Did she do something wrong? I know she can be a handful, but there’s no way she did something this bad… Right?”
“No, it’s nothing like that,” Kobayashi clarified. “She told me something.” Takiya stayed silent, letting her sort out her thoughts. “She told me… that I’m going to die.”
“Wait… Die? As in soon?”
“No!” she snapped. “Sorry, I just… I don’t know how to say it. She’s… She’s going to live longer than me. It doesn’t matter if I live to 40 or 100. She’s going to live longer than me no matter what happens.”
“Oh… Because she’s a dragon, right?” Takiya leaned back as he realized the implications. “I still don’t get it, though. This isn’t like you. As far as I can remember, you’ve never been the type of person to worry so much over something that can’t be changed.”
“But…” Kobayashi stopped herself, unsure if telling the truth was the best idea.
“Hmm? So there is a way?”
Kobayashi went silent for a moment before sighing. “Do you remember the rings? The ones Kanna and Saikawa used?”
“Oh yeah… I remember that. You told me they stuck them together right? I didn’t really believe you at first, but I guess I don’t have much of a choice now. I’m guessing that would fix the problem, wouldn’t it,” Takiya said. He gave her a chance to respond but spoke back up when she didn’t say a word. “You don’t want to do it, do you?”
“I… I can’t. Doing something like that; it would be permanent. I wouldn’t be able to work, plus we don’t even know if there’s some sort of side effect. Sure, Kanna and Saikawa are fine for now, but what if something changes?”
“It sounds to me like you’re making excuses.”
“You just said you can’t, but none of those reasons make any sense. There’s no reason you couldn’t work like that. Conjoined twins are a real thing, after all, and they get by just fine form what I understand. As for Kanna and Saikawa, I bet we’d know by now if something was actually wrong.”
Kobayashi nervously chuckled. “I guess I’m just rambling on… Sorry, but I’m probably too drunk to talk about this right now…” She started to stand up before Takiya stopped her in place with his voice alone.
“Are you really, though? I’ve gone out drinking with you countless times and I’ve never seen you like this. By now, you should be going on about maid culture like a mad woman. I wonder… Have you even taken a sip?”
Kobayashi dropped back down to her seat without a word.
“You don’t want to admit it, but you’re considering it, aren’t you?” Takiya continued. He gave her another moment to speak but, once again, nothing came. “Listen… I won’t tell you that you should go through with it. It’s not my place. I will tell you, however, that you might want to think about what you really want. What’s worse? Spending every moment with her or leaving her alone? I know it’s probably a hard choice and one I could never understand… That’s why I’m telling you to think it over. Don’t make this choice just because you think it might be right. Do it only if you know it is.”
Later, Kobayashi returned to the apartment, turning on the lights. “Tohru, I’m home. Tohru?”
Earlier in the afternoon, Tohru had started walking home from her shopping trip, still miserable. The regret she had from confessing weighed heavily on her heart. Why couldn’t I just keep it in…
A thunderous roar snapped her out of her guilt as a tall and menacing figure appeared behind her. She didn’t even need to turn around to know who it was, the pressure of his sheer power overwhelming her. She turned around with terror in her eyes. “Father?”
“You understand why I am here, yes?” he asked. Tohru only looked down as she realized her past had finally caught up with her. “You’re coming home with me. To the place you actually belong.” His blood red cape engulfed the both of them and they disappeared into thin air.
The event didn’t go unnoticed by the various other dragons in the city. In particular, Kanna felt it particularly strongly.
“Kanna… What was that?” Saikawa asked, having felt the force of his overwhelming power thanks to her now half-dragon body.
Kanna only responded with a single word laced with worry. “Tohru…”
Chapter 9: Missing You
The door to Kobayashi’s apartment opened as Kanna and Saikawa entered, Georgie once again accompanying them. “Kobayashi,” Kanna blankly said.
“Kanna? Did Tohru schedule a babysitting session without telling me?” Kobayashi asked, sitting at the kotatsu. It had only been a short while since she had gotten back from her trip to the bar. “She’s not back home from shopping yet, so I guess I can look after you two for a bit.”
Kanna nodded no. “Lady Tohru went home.”
“No, she’s out. She isn’t here.”
Kobayashi didn’t even finish that sentence before Kanna spoke up again. “She went home. To the other world.”
Kobayashi looked at Kanna with a somewhat shocked look, hoping that she had heard her wrong.
“Her father came to take her. He’s the Emperor of Demise.”
The revelation seemed to shock both Saikawa and Georgie but neither said a word, both sensing the rapidly tensing atmosphere.
Kobayashi gasped. “So you mean… she went home…”
Kanna looked down. “Yes… And I don’t think she’ll come back to this world ever again. She can’t refuse the Emperor of Demise.”
“No…” Kobayashi leaned against the back of the couch, staring at nothing in particular. “Tohru’s gone....”
“Umm… Would you like us to leave you alone?” Georgie said.
Kobayashi didn’t reply, her mind still trying to comprehend what she had just heard.
“Come on, girls. We should probably give Miss Kobayashi some space.” Georgie ushered Kanna and Saikawa out of the apartment, leaving Kobayashi there.
The next few days proved to be incredibly strenuous. Without Tohru, she was hopeless. Even the simplest task like making a cup of coffee was difficult. To make matters worse, she struggled to keep her schedule as well, nearly missing work a few times in the process. Her spirit had vanished as well, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the people around her.
“Kobayashi… Did something happen?” Takiya asked.
The question snapped her back to reality. “Oh… Uh… Tohru went home. To the other world.”
“Understood.” Takiya knew better to pry, especially considering what they had talked about before. Part of him wondered if he had only made things worse.
She returned home with takeout, a habit she had picked up since then. “Hey, I’m home!” The call was followed by the returning realization, the silence that came with it haunting her. She looked around the room, noticing the clothes splayed about. The difference was as clear as night and day.
It had been at least a month since Tohru left. Kobayashi had lost count of the days. She had gotten accustomed to being on her own again, but it didn’t feel right. “Have I become the person I was before?” she mumbled. “I thought I had forgotten, but now…”
Her mind was oddly drawn to the first night they had met. A bottle of ironically named alcohol, a giant sword, and a promise that she had nearly not kept… A variety of things she hardly believed had happened anymore. It all seemed like a faraway dream yet so incredibly real at the same time.
All I want is a lot of praise… and maybe… to have you pat my head a little bit.
The memory jolted her to attention, ringing as clear as if Tohru was still in the room.
“Why am I remembering this now?” Kobayashi sighed sadly. “I should’ve shown that I appreciated her more… I know I told her I wasn’t good at it, but I should’ve tried…”
While she had lived alone for many years with no complaints, she now felt something she never had before. It was an ache that wouldn’t go away, one that echoed throughout her soul. Loneliness.
Kanna was struggling as well. Even though she wasn’t living with them at the time, the thought of Tohru being gone forever was painful. She still did well in school, but her teachers noticed her lack of focus. Saikawa noticed it as well, of course.
“Well, good night, little misses,” Georgie said as she closed the door to their room. She had affectionately been calling them that for quite some time.
Meanwhile, Kanna tried to snuggle in the bed, trying to get even closer to Saikawa despite that not being possible.
“Kanna… Is everything alright?” Saikawa asked. Kanna just buried her head in the pillows. “Hey… Everything will turn out fine, okay? I’m sure she’ll come back.”
Kanna doubted that incredibly but it helped a bit. “Thanks, Riko…”
Saikawa smiled slightly, though she still felt terrible. She leaned her head towards her friend’s in an effort to give her some form of comfort, even if it wasn’t much.
They weren’t the only ones affected by Tohru’s disappearance. Locoa silently hoped for a happy ending during the nights as she watched over Shouta. Even Elma had begun to wonder if things were better when Tohru was still around. Additionally, many of the people from the market wondered where that bundle of sunshine had run off to. Kobayashi couldn’t bear to tell them, largely because she was hoping for a miracle herself.
One night, Kobayashi decided to wash the dishes in Tohru’s place. She would’ve left them like she had every night before, but the pile had been growing steadily for quite some time. Unfortunately, the activity didn’t take her mind away from her troubles. In fact, it only made them worse.
“I was taking her for granted all this time, wasn’t I? And now… Now I might never see her again…”
A shine on the counter caught her eye, prompting her to lift up a takeout box she had placed there during the first few days of the absence. There sat the rings that Lucoa had given Kanna. Kobayashi placed the box back down with a sigh, covering them up once more. It was too painful to look at them now.
She returned to the kotatsu and sat underneath its blankets, the torturous feelings surrounding her more than ever before. Eventually, the stress took its toll and she fell asleep, exhausted beyond reason.
Chapter 10: Comfort
A certain comment left on this story a while back may or may not have inspired this chapter... Ever since then, this scene has sorta been brewing in my head. I don't want to do chapters in past events often but I really wanted to get this one out. Enjoy!
Kanna and Riko got ready for school, having gotten used to their new routine. Things like getting dressed and brushing teeth becoming mundane even if Riko was still a bit nervous throughout it all. Sharing a body with her crush made it awkward, to say the least. Still, she had learned how to work through it fairly quickly. That was largely because she had to, though.
“Kanna… Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Kanna replied. Anyone else would’ve believed her due to her permanent poker face. Riko, however, knew her too well. She was still broken-hearted over Tohru’s disappearance.
“If you want to talk about it… I’m here…”
Riko wanted so badly to help her but didn’t know how. Kanna didn’t seem to ever want to talk about it, shutting down every time. With no new ideas on how to handle the situation popping up, she just dropped it for the time being.
Before long, they were at school. Several classes went by and Riko noticed the same behavior that Kanna had been exhibiting. Normally, she was the most active member in class, something Riko had gladly joined in on. Recently, though, she had become withdrawn, sometimes not even listening.
The teachers had noticed as well, of course, one of them walking up to the girls that day. “Hey, Saikawa… Is everything okay? You’re not usually this quiet,” she noted, looking directly at Kanna.
Kanna didn’t respond, her face shifting only slightly. Riko decided to speak for her. “She’s okay… She’s just a bit stressed right now. A… Um… A friend of hers moved away and she’s taking it pretty hard.”
“I see… Well, I’d still like you to participate if you can,” the teacher replied. “I don’t want you falling behind.”
“It’s okay,” Riko assured. “I’m paying attention for her.”
The teacher sighed but nodded. “Alright. I hope you feel better soon.” The sentiment, as nice as it was, didn’t help. Kanna remained that way for the rest of the day.
When they got home, Riko had a short talk with her parents. They had grown worried too, missing the unusual but undeniable energy Kanna had once brought to their home. After, Riko and Kanna quickly made their way to their room.
Over the past few weeks, Riko had gotten used to picking what they did after school. Kanna didn’t seem to want to share any input on it, unfortunately. That left Riko in a tough position. She didn’t want to just decide by herself but Kanna’s current mood wouldn’t allow anything else. She sat there for a while before finally deciding it was time to tackle the problem head-on.
“Kanna…” She hesitated, knowing it was a shaky topic. Still, seeing Kanna that miserably was breaking Riko down as well. “Please… Talk to me… You keep saying you’re okay but you’re not… I know it’s hard but please. I’m here for you. Whatever it is, just tell me.”
Kanna started shaking more as a few tears fell from her eyes. “I… I miss Lady Tohru… and Kobayashi…” Riko expected that much. They hadn’t visited her in a while since Tohru wasn’t there anymore. Still, she didn’t expect what came next. “I miss mom and dad…”
“Mom and dad?”
“Mhm… They banished me to this world… All I wanted was for them to talk to me… And now, Tohru’s dad has taken her away… I feel like everyone’s leaving me behind…”
Riko was shocked. She knew that Kanna was stressed but she didn’t realize it was this bad. “Kanna… I’m so sorry…” She leaned her head against Kanna’s in an attempt to comfort her. “If it helps… I’ll never leave you…”
“I mean… Well… It’s not like I can… But… No. Even if I could. I promise I’ll never leave you. Even if someone comes up with a way to separate us, I won’t take it. I mean… Not unless you want to…”
“Really?” Kanna was pleasantly surprised by the hypothetical gesture. “Even if there was a way?”
“Nope. As long as you want it, we’ll be stuck together forever. That way, no matter what happens, no matter who comes and goes… You’ll at least always have me, so… Could you please go back to your cheerful self? I miss it… I miss you.”
“Okay,” Kanna replied. “Thank you.”
“Don’t worry about it… Besides, I like this. Always being with you is pretty…”
Riko was cut off when Kanna pulled her face towards hers, meeting her in a kiss. Riko’s eyes flew open for a moment or two before she awkwardly pulled away. “K-K-Kanna,” she exclaimed with a blush, completely bewildered. “What was that for?”
“I love you, Riko.” While her tone was as flat as ever, there was an unmatched joy in it.
“But… But…” Riko didn’t know whether to be confused or ecstatic, shaking from a mix of the two.
“Isn’t that how humans show that they love each other?” Kanna asked.
“Well, yeah… I just… Didn’t… expect it…”
“Little misses?” What neither of them had realized was that Georgie had opened the door to their room mere moments before. Coincidently, it was just in time to see what had just happened.
Riko’s face turned into a bright shade of red. “Sis! It isn’t what it looks like, I swear!”
Georgie just put her finger over her mouth and silently closed the door. “Don’t worry… I know, remember? You two were separate not long ago and even then you showed signs of that. Still… Maybe you shouldn’t kiss…”
“Why not?” Kanna asked. “Isn’t that how humans show that they love each other?” Riko’s faced reddened even more.
“Well, yes, but there’s a few reasons you shouldn’t… First off, everyone thinks you’re sisters, remember? Sisters aren’t supposed to kiss each other like that. Second, you’re still children.”
“Y-yeah… She’s right,” Riko shakily added. “It’s not like I didn’t like it or anything! It’s just… not the best idea…”
“Okay. I’m sorry,” Kanna said.
“Don’t worry. I’m more happy you two still get along so well,” Georgie replied. “Also, I see that you’re feeling better, Miss Kanna.”
“Mhm. It’s all thanks to Riko. No matter what happens, I’ll be fine now. I know she’ll always be with me.”
“I’m happy to hear that. Now, are you two ready for dinner? It’s ready for you.”
“Yeah!” They both cheered, though one was a bit louder than the other. Riko and Kanna darted off to the kitchen, any sign of miscoordination long gone. They made sure to keep it to a human pace, though, of course.
Meanwhile, Georgie could only let out a content smile as she watched them. “Looks like you found the one you were waiting for, Riko,” she thought aloud. “To think… Not that long ago, you only cared about yourself. You’ve grown so much.”
Chapter 11: Faith
Kobayashi’s apartment was deathly quiet as she slept at the kotatsu. Normally, Tohru would’ve woken her up by then, but that wasn’t possible anymore. Luckily, it was the weekend. She would’ve had the chance to at least try relaxing a bit. She would’ve, that is, if not for a banging sound on her door.
She groggily woke up as the banging continued, wishing for a few more hours. Her sleepiness faded when she heard the voice on the other side, however. “Miss Kobayashi! It’s me! Tohru!”
Kobayashi slowly put on her glasses, the words still registering. After a moment, she gasped. “Tohru…?” With no hesitation, she jumped up and stumbled to the door, her mind moving so fast that her legs couldn’t keep up. She frantically opened the door and saw something that would’ve terrified most people. In fact, that very sight had shocked her quite some time ago. At this moment, however, it was the best thing she had seen in far too long. She stared at the head of a green dragon, once again wondering if this was just a dream.
“I’m home, Miss Kobayashi!” Tohru giddily said. “Wait, what am I thinking? I can’t go inside like this!” She transformed into the form that Kobayashi had grown so used to, standing on the balcony with a giggle.
“But… That can’t be right…” Kobayashi said.
“You left us for good… Is this even real?” The sense of deja vu was too strong. It felt more like a memory playing through Kobayashi’s mind than something that was really happening.
“Yes! I’m back! I promise!” Tohru insisted. “I’ll never leave again!”
Kobayashi looked away with uncertainty. Despite wanting it so badly, she felt it was too good to be true. She was never one to believe in far-fetched scenarios.
“Miss Kobayashi… This is home.”
Maybe I should just go along with it… Kobayashi returned Tohru’s smile with one of her own. “Okay… Then…”
Unfortunately, she didn’t have a chance to finish that statement. Behind them, an otherworldly vortex was forming in the sky. The horizon was covered in dark clouds as the vortex grew in size, buffeting Kobayashi and Tohru with violent winds. When the gale subsided, it left behind a menacing figure that Tohru knew all too well.
Kobayashi, on the other hand, had never seen him before in her life. His very presence demanded respect in a way she didn’t know was possible. He spoke only one word, but it was enough to create a crushing tension. “Tohru.”
“Father…” Tohru said with a trembling voice. Kobayashi only looked at the terrifying force, one made even more frightening but the things she had heard.
“Why did you leave against my wishes?” her father asked.
“Because… Because I belong with Miss Kobayashi! Please, you have…”
“My answer is final, child. You have caused enough chaos already. Do not think I’m not aware of that young dragon’s disgraceful actions. That is a direct result of your interference. Have you forgotten that we are not allowed to interfere with this world?”
“That… That wasn’t me! Lucoa… Umm… Quetzalcoatl did that!”
“What of it? Quetzalcoatl came to this world because of your actions. The young Kamui was drawn to you as well. Now there is a situation that cannot be undone! Are you aware that her parents have disowned her entirely? Once they learned of her fate, her temporary exile was made permanent. She will never see them again.”
“But… That can’t be…” Tohru solemnly said.
“Do you see now the consequences of your actions? That young dragon’s life is now ruined.”
Kobayashi couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She had never heard someone jump to conclusions so quickly. “Hey.”
Within the span of a second, a minuscule bolt of energy flew from the dragon king’s finger, grazing her face and shattering her glasses. Tohru turned around in shock with a terrified gasp. “Are you alright!?”
Tohru’s father gazed upon the now trembling Kobayashi with a stern and menacing glare. “Choose your next words carefully, human. I will not hesitate to eliminate you.”
Memories flooded through Kobayashi's mind, from the good to the bad to the difficult to the mundane. It was as if her life was flashing before her eyes, but one thing stood out. Tohru. Every one of the moments that truly mattered had her in them. Despite the fear, she rose to her feet, even willing to put her life on the line so she could speak her mind.
“Go on, human. Say what you will.”
“I… I don’t think it’s fair to blame her for what happened. Maybe it did happen because she came here, but that doesn’t mean she did it. Besides, Kanna is happy. So is Saikawa. Isn’t that what matters?”
“What a foolish notion!” Tohru’s father scoffed. “Do you know what may happen now? Dragons have started coming to this world and more will surely follow unless we take immediate action.”
“Then let them come!” Kobayashi said. “Every dragon I’ve met so far has found a place here. A place they call home.”
“You are naive if you believe that dragons could truly exist with humans. Such a thing is impossible.”
“You’re wrong. Tohru and I have been living together for months now.”
“My daughter is but one of us! There will be more and many will be far less accepting!”
“I don’t care! That isn’t her fault! Why do you keep blaming her for stuff she had nothing to do with!? That’s not something a father should do!” Kobayashi argued.
“Why do argue so vehemently? You don’t expect me to believe that you actually care for her, do you?”
“Of course I do! Ever since we met… I’ve learned so much about her. She’s bright and cheerful… Everyone in town loves her. And to top it all off, she’s a wonderful maid! I can’t imagine a life without her! Please… Please don’t take her away…”
“A human like you could never understand the state of our worlds. What you want is none of my concern.”
“Then what about what Tohru wants!?” Kobayashi screamed. “She’s become independent! She can do so much on her own now! So what if you’re her father!? Why can’t you just have some faith in her!?”
Tohru was taken aback by how passionately Kobayashi was defending her. She had never seen her argue so ardently while sober. In a way, it was somewhat scary, but it also filled her eyes with hope.
“So… You’re content with leaving her behind in death. How cruel. Even I can see how much my daughter cares for you, even if it is a childish whim. Are you truly content with doing such a terrible thing?” Tohru’s father questioned. “Or do you intend to use the rings?”
“I…” Kobayashi stuttered.
“Miss Kobayashi doesn’t want to. I’ll admit that I wanted to… But I’ll respect her wishes.”
“Tohru…” Kobayashi murmured. Tohru only returned the comment with a smile.
The dragon king’s expression was just as stern as ever but there was also a sign of something else. Neither Tohru nor Kobayashi could tell what it was, though. “I will not approve. Not of a human who has not even the lifespan to make such a choice worthwhile. Tohru… My foolish daughter… Do what you will.” He levitated upwards, turning away as he passed into a newly forming vortex. Before long, the sky was once again clear.
Kobayashi took a deep breath to calm her nerves, having just faced death face on. She only had a moment to do so before Tohru tackled her to the ground, however. “What… What are you doing?”
“What should I give you?” Tohru tearily asked. “Everything? I don’t mind… I’ll give you everything.”
“I don’t need that much. All I want… Is for you to stay you.”
“Wow… This place is a disaster…” Tohru observed, looking at the mess Kobayashi’s apartment had become.
“Yeah… I couldn’t find the energy to do anything about it,” Kobayashi admitted.
“Tch. You really are hopeless without me,” Tohru teased. “Don’t worry! Your one and only maid will get this cleaned up in no time at all!”
“Don’t destroy anything.”
Tohru sheepishly laughed. “Right. I promise.”
With that, Kobayashi sat at the kotatsu as Tohru got to work. She cheerfully picked up all of the dirty clothes, gathering them into a hamper before attending to the trash from Kobayashi’s many takeout runs. Eventually, she spotted something familiar under a box.
“Hey,” Tohru started, “what do you want me to do with these?”
“Huh?” Kobayashi looked over to see the rings in Tohru’s hands. “Oh… Those.”
“If you want, I could try returning them to Lucoa.”
“No, that’s probably not the best idea. Who knows who’d she try to make use them next.”
“Yeah… I guess you have a point,” Tohru replied. Kobayashi could see the disappointment in her eyes.
“I think I’ll look after them for a bit. Just to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands.”
“Okay.” Tohru walked over and placed the rings on the kotatsu before walking back to the kitchen. She resumed her work and, true to her word, made all of the boxes vanish in barely any time at all. It wasn’t long before she had started on the dishes. About midway through, however, she stopped. “Miss Kobayashi… Thank you.”
“For standing up for me. The things you said to my father… They made me really happy.”
“I only told him the truth.”
“So… You really think about me like that?”
“Well, yeah,” Kobayashi said. “I meant everything I said.
“You never say anything like that to me… Do you really think we can make this work? We’re so different.”
“We’ve made it work so far. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with being different. Life would be boring if everyone was the same.”
“I guess you’re right… That’s why you’re so special to me!” Tohru smiled, but it was clearly melancholic in nature.
Kobayashi sighed. “Tohru… Did you… Did you miss me when you were gone?”
“Of course! Why do you think I came back?” Tohru ardently replied. “I couldn’t bear being apart from you. It was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced. The thought of never seeing you again… It was unbearable.”
“And…” Kobayashi started, debating whether she should bring up what was on her mind. “What will you do when I’m gone?”
Tohru took a moment to respond. “I don’t know. I try not to think about it if I’m being honest. I just want to make the time we’re together precious. That’s all that matters to me now.”
The room fell silent for a minute before Tohru resumed her task. Kobayashi thought to herself for some time, uncertainty welling up. “Hey, Tohru… Could you come over here for a second?”
“Huh? Oh, sure.” Tohru walked over to the kotatsu, a bit confused about what was happening. “Is there something you’d like me to do?”
Kobayashi braced herself with a deep breath as she handed one of the rings to Tohru while putting the other one on herself. “Here. Go ahead and put it on.”
“Miss Kobayashi… Are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“Well… I mean…” Kobayashi looked at Tohru to find an expecting expression looking back. “Jeez, you know this stuff is hard for me…”
Tohru sadly sighed. “Thank you, but… I don’t need this. After everything you’ve done for me… It would be selfish to ask you to do it now.” She placed the ring back on the table and started to walk away.
“Tohru, wait!” Kobayashi shouted, stopping her in her tracks. “Listen… When you were gone… I had time to think. It’s pretty much all I could do. I never realized how much you really meant to me… I missed you too. A lot.”
“You don’t need to worry about that. I’m not going anywhere ever again. I promise.”
“And what about me?”
“I’m going to die eventually. I’ll leave you all alone.”
Tohru silently gasped. “I know, but even then… I’ll have the memories of the time we had together. I’ll be okay.”
“Will you really? Before you disappeared, you broke down in front of me. Then you ran away from your dad even though he was that strong! You can’t really expect me to believe you’ll be okay!”
“Please…” Tohru replied, her voice shaking. “Please don’t do this… I don’t want to make you do something you regret…”
“What if you don’t like it? What if you get tired of always having me around? What if…”
“Tohru,” Kobayashi interrupted. “What do you really want?”
Tohru’s eyes started to well with tears. “I want us to be together. I just… I know you don’t love me as much as I love you.”
“Listen… Even though I can’t say that I do… When I told your dad that I couldn’t imagine a life without you, I meant it. If it means using the rings, I’m fine with it.”
“Are you sure you won’t regret it?”
“I mean… I can’t promise that. I’ll probably get mad or annoyed now and then… But the more I think about it, the more okay I am with it. Tohru… I’m not just doing it for you. I’m doing it because… Well… I think I want to.”
“Miss Kobayashi… What did I ever do to deserve you?”
"You were yourself. Now…” Kobayashi said. “How do these things work?”
“I do,” Tohru quickly replied as she shakily placed the ring on.
“You need to say ‘I do.’”
“Oh yeah… Wow, you remembered that?”
“Yes. Ever since Lucoa told us, I couldn’t get it out of my mind,” Tohru explained. “We both have to say it so… I do.” Kobayashi went silent. “If you changed your mind, that’s fine.”
“No. I just… It’s a pretty big choice to make. I just want to make sure I’m ready.”
“It’s fine. I’ll wait as long as you need me to.” Tohru raised her right hand to her left, clearly about to take the ring off.
“I do,” Kobayashi hastily said. Tohru looked at her with shock before showing the widest smile she had ever worn as they were surrounded by a bright light.
Well… No turning back now, Kobayashi thought. I’m glad I did it, though. Who knows… If I didn’t do it now, I might never have tried again.
There's a chapter I've written that depicts an alternate series of events branching off from the near end of this chapter. It's not canon to the main series but, if you're interested, you can check it out here: https://archiveofourown.org/works/16472060/chapters/38575910
Chapter 13: Changes
The light created by the rings’ magic faded, leaving Kobayashi looking at where Tohru was standing mere moments ago. Right away, she noticed the sounds of tears coming from her right. She turned her head to see Tohru’s with what would’ve been a blank expression if not for the fact that she was crying.
“Tohru, are you okay?”
“Miss Kobayashi… Is… Is this real?” Tohru asked.
“Is this real? Or am I imagining it?”
“It’s real… At least… I think it is. Are you okay?”
A shaky smile started to form on Tohru’s face. “I’m… I’m more than okay. You’ve given me more than I could ever hope for.”
Kobayashi let out a small smile. “Don’t mention it.”
“How can I not? Now I don’t have to outlive you!”
“Yeah… Oh… Shoot, I forgot. Lucoa said something about Kanna and Saikawa living for less time than a dragon, didn’t…”
“I don’t care,” Tohru interrupted. “I already knew what I’d be giving up. I know I won’t live as long as I would’ve and I know I probably won’t ever be able to become my dragon form again… But I don’t mind. I get to be with you.” She wrapped her arm around their shared body. “I love you, Miss Kobayashi… I love you so much…”
“Really, you don’t have to be so sappy…”
“I’m sorry… I can’t help it… I’m so happy right now… You have no idea…”
“I’m sure I can imagine. Now, let’s try to get up, alright?” Kobayashi tried to stand but Tohru didn’t.
“If it’s okay… Can we just stay like this… At least for a while?” Tohru asked. “I… I want a moment to take this in…”
Kobayashi let out a faint smile. “Sure. I guess it wouldn’t hurt.”
While they sat there in silence, Kobayashi started to notice that she felt different. For one, the aches she had gotten used to, especially the ones in her lower back, were completely gone. Not only that, she felt entirely rejuvenated, almost as if she had been returned to her teenage self. In fact, it was even better than that. She felt more alive than ever before, a sensation that was no doubt born from the dragon blood that now flowed through her veins.
Then came the biggest revelation, one that she wasn’t disappointed with in the slightest. Her pains weren’t the only things that had been remedied by the fusion. A look down proved that the thing she had been so self-conscious about for so many years had also been affected. She wasn’t sure if it was a miracle or a matter of genetic dominance but there on her chest were Tohru’s massive breasts, the same ones she had been jealous of for quite some time. In a way, this made it even more surprising that her back felt completely fine.
Still, even with all of the great things that had come with the transformation, there was one that trumped them all. When she said she was able to imagine how happy Tohru was, she was lying. It was impossible to gauge. Tohru’s brilliant happiness shone like a thousand suns, their body shaking from unbridled joy. That removed any doubts she had before. This felt right.
Once a few minutes had passed, the shaking calmed and Kobayashi decided to speak up again. “So… Are you ready?”
“Y-yes… I am.”
Tohru let go of Kobayashi’s side before she started to stand. Kobayashi stood as well, of course, though their combined efforts made them a little wobbly. They stumbled a bit before even attempting to take their first step.
“Whoa there… Alright… This might take some practice,” Kobayashi said.
Sure enough, practice proved to be necessary. After a few short minutes, however, they were walking around the apartment fairly well. It certainly wouldn’t have looked natural but at least they weren’t risking a fall with each step.
“It isn’t that hard once you get the hang of it!” Tohru declared.
“Don’t get too confident,” Kobayashi replied. “Something tells me this isn’t going to be something we can do right off the bat.”
“Maybe not, but if we’re together, I don’t think there’s anything we can’t do.”
“I don’t know about that… This is going to make like a lot more difficult for a while. You won’t really be able to be my maid anymore, for one.”
“Why not? I can still do things for you.”
“How?” Kobayashi asked. “In case you’ve forgotten, we only have one arm each.”
“Simple! With magic!” Tohru raised her finger into the air as if it were the most obvious thing of all time.
“I… I’d rather not. I don’t want you destroying anything as a result.”
“Then… how am I going to do all of my maid duties?”
“I guess I’ll just have to help.”
“But, Miss Kobayashi…”
Kobayashi cut her off. “Don’t worry about it. Like I said, this won’t be easy. We’ll have to change a lot about how we live… Shoot!”
“What is it?”
“I have to go to work tomorrow! How am I going to explain this!?”
“You could just have Lucoa do the same thing to everyone’s memories that she did for Kanna and Saikawa,” Tohru suggested.
“I… I didn’t think of that. Still, though… My boss is a mage, remember? Lucoa won’t be able to change his memories. I’m still going to have to explain it to him…”
“Oh yeah, Mr. Magatsuchi… Shota’s dad, right? I’m sure he’ll understand if you tell him.”
“Not if I can’t work. I can’t really code with only one arm, after all…
“I can fix that. I could make a spell to give you control of my arm for a while.”
“You can do that?”
“Of course!” Tohru cheerfully assured. “If it’s for you, I don’t mind giving up my arm! I wouldn’t mind giving you my entire body if you asked!”
“I’m not asking you to do that.” Kobayashi sighed. “This is going to change a lot more than I realized, isn’t it?”
“You don’t… regret it, do you?” There was a hint of worry in Tohru’s voice.
“No, I don’t. It just means I’ll need to adapt. I did that when you moved in and when Kanna showed up. This might be a little different but it won’t be impossible.”
Tohru once again wrapped her arm around their body. “I don't think I’ll ever be able to thank you enough for what you’ve given me… Even though this is going to be difficult, you’re still so nice.”
Kobayashi smiled. “Tohru, I don’t mind. Really. I wanted this too. I’m willing to do whatever I can to make this work. Even though I don’t feel the same way you do about us, I really do care. And… Who knows? Maybe that’ll change. I might start to feel that way over time.”
“Do you think?”
“It’s possible. I mean, if someone told me I’d have a dragon as a maid, I would’ve never believed them. My life has already changed so much because of you… And I’m grateful for that. Still… I don’t want you to think of yourself as my maid anymore. You’re my friend, Tohru. One that I would never give up.”
Tohru again started to tear up. “Thank you… Those words mean so much…”
“Hey, don’t start crying on me again. We still need to call Lucoa, remember?”
Tohru sniffled, replacing the tears with an enormous smile. “Right!”
Chapter 14: Telling Lucoa
Kobayashi dialed the Magatsuchi residence, finally ready to ask Lucoa for help. The phone rang for a few moments until a familiar ex-goddess answered. “Hello, this is the Magatsuchi residence. Lucoa speaking.” Lucoa spoke in a more formal tone than Kobayashi was used to, not that it surprised her. The house did belong to a company’s boss, after all.
Kobayashi let out a sigh of relief, glad that she didn’t have to talk to her boss even if only to ask for her again. She had no clue if he was aware of why she called the last time. If he was, the call could’ve easily become extremely awkward. “Hey, Lucoa. It’s Kobayashi.”
“Kobayashi? What’s up?” Lucoa’s tone and cadence returned to its usual nonchalant style.
“Uh, well… I might need your help again.”
“It’s about the rings…” Kobayashi sheepishly admitted. “I used them with Tohru…”
Kobayashi could practically hear Lucoa’s happy gasp from the other end. “You did!? That’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you!”
“Thanks, I guess.”
“I imagine Tohru must be thrilled.”
“You could say that,” Kobayashi replied, still feeling Tohru’s giddy trembling. “Anyway, about why I’m calling… Do you think you can do the memory thing again?”
“The perception blocking? Sure! Just give me a bit and I’ll be right over!” Lucoa hung up.
“Alright,” Kobayashi said, “she’ll be here soon. Is there something you want to do until then?”
“Well, uh… I do still need to finish the dishes,” Tohru replied.
Kobayashi sighed, remembering her promise to help with the chores. “I guess you’re right…”
“We don’t have to do it now!” Tohru abruptly declared, clearly not wanting to force her.
“No, it’s fine. I might as well get used to it now. Can we stand up?”
“Sure,” Tohru said, helping her do so.
They walked over to the sink and Tohru grabbed one of the plates. “Oh, um… You might need to wash it…”
“Right…” Kobayashi picked up the sponge and started, sighing after a few minutes. It had been a long while since she had to do chores herself.
“I’m sorry, Miss Kobayashi… I wish I could do this for you…” Tohru regretfully commented.
“Don’t worry about it,” Kobayashi replied, stopping her work when she remembered something. “Hold on… You can use a spell to give me your arm, right?”
“Yes… But that would just make you do more… I don’t want that.”
“That’s… not exactly what I was getting at. I’m saying you could take my arm.”
“What!? I could never!” Tohru vehemently objected.
“Tohru, its fine. You said you’d give me yours when I was working, right? It’s only fair.”
“Tohru… Nevermind. To be honest… I was kinda being selfish by saying that,” Kobayashi confessed, resuming the task. “I was just hoping to get out of the work.” She hadn’t felt terribly guilty about it before but something about their current situation changed things.
“I… I’m not good at stuff like this. I’ll admit I shoved the work on you a bit more than I should have. Sorry about that. From now on, I’ll make sure to help.”
“Actually… If you really want me to, I’ll do it,” Tohru offered. “I know you can get pretty tired after work… It must be stressful. I wouldn’t mind giving you a break now and then.”
“Are… Are you sure? You don’t have to.”
“Yeah. I’ll only do it if you want me to, though.”
“I think I’m good for now,” Kobayashi replied. “I should really get used to working together. This’ll help.”
“Okay. Just let me know if you change your mind!”
It took a while to finish the dishes, largely due to Kobayashi’s recent inexperience. Still, even though Tohru offered a few more times, Kobayashi refused to give up her arm. In a way, she somewhat enjoyed doing such a simple task with her. She wondered if it had to do with her body’s newfound endurance and energy.
Once they finished, as if on cue, the doorbell rang. “Wow, perfect timing,” Kobayashi said. “That must be Lucoa.”
Sure enough, when they opened the door, Lucoa was there. Her usual smile grew even wider when she saw that Kobayashi had been telling the truth. “You did use them!”
“Well, yeah,” Kobayashi replied. “I wasn’t lying. Anyway, do you want to sit down?”
“Sure!” Lucoa beamed. She walked over and sat at one of the table’s chairs, Kobayashi and Tohru quickly following suit. “So, how do you feel?”
“Absolutely wonderful,” Tohru answered. “I still can’t believe this is actually happening… It feels too good to be true…”
“What about you, Kobayashi?” Lucoa asked.
“I… Well… I don’t really know, to be honest,” Kobayashi said. “Still sinking in for me, too.”
“Miss… Miss Kobayashi? You don’t regret it, do you?” Tohru worriedly questioned.
“No, it’s not that… It’s just… I think I’m starting to realize how big this is. There’s so much I didn’t think about. Will I age more slowly? I’ll outlive everyone I know, if so… People will probably notice that,” Kobayashi rambled. “What will I do then? Will I have to go to your world? Can I even do that? Your dad already hates me…”
Tohru suddenly felt guilty. “I’m sorry, Miss Kobayashi…”
“No, don’t apologize… I agreed to it, after all. I’m sure we’ll figure it out. We don’t really have a choice now, right?” Kobayashi noted. “We can’t change what’s already happened. For now, let’s just worry about what we need to do know. About that, actually… Lucoa, I have a question.”
“Yeah?” Lucoa said.
“Is there any chance you could make it strong enough to where my boss… Uh, Mr. Magatsuchi won’t be able to tell, either?”
“Sorry, but no,” Lucoa said. “He’s a much stronger mage than he looks. Even though I’m an ex-goddess, there’s only so much I can do.”
Kobayashi sighed with disappointment. “It figures… Oh well. It might be better that way, anyway. I’d still like you to use it on us, though, just to make things less awkward. But maybe leave Takiya out of it… Saikawa and her sister too. I’d hate having to explain it more than I need to.”
“Sure thing!” Lucoa chirped. “You ready? It’ll take a few minutes.”
“Well, uh… I do have one more question,” Kobayashi responded. “Did you… Did you plan for this to happen? For me and Tohru to wear the rings?”
“Not really, if I’m being honest,” Lucoa admitted. “I won’t lie, I did want it to happen. You two really are cute together. I had a feeling you wouldn’t do it, though, what with your aversion to magic. I didn’t give them to Kanna as a way to try to make you do it. I did it so she wouldn’t have to go through the same worries that Tohru was feeling.”
“I guess that makes sense… Well, Tohru, are you ready?” Kobayashi asked.
“Yeah, but… Lucoa… I just want to say thank you,” Tohru quietly said. “Without you, this could’ve never happened. I really am very grateful.”
Lucoa chuckled. “It’s nothing, really. So, ready now?”
“Mhm. Yeah, I am,” Tohru confirmed.
For the next few minutes, Lucoa crafted the complex spell that would adjust the memories of anyone who saw them. Afterword, she went on her way, leaving Kobayashi and Tohru in the apartment alone.
“So, it’s getting kinda late,” Kobayashi noticed. “Do you want to go to sleep?”
“Sure,” Tohru responded. “If you want.”
“I mean… I’m not too tired… I guess that might be because I’m half dragon, now. Still, I think we could both use some rest. This day’s been kinda stressful in general.”
“Yeah, it has… Still… This is the best day I’ve had in a long time. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Kobayashi smiled. “Alright, let’s get some rest. We’ve got to go to work tomorrow.”
Chapter 15: A New Life
Tohru was the first to wake up the next morning, breathing slowly and calmly despite a fear looming over her. She took inventory, making note of the fact that she was in Kobayashi’s room. That in itself wasn’t especially strange. She had slept in there several times in the past despite having a room of her own after they moved to the new apartment. That was especially true after Kanna moved out. Still, in this case, it was a good sign, one thing that made her hopeful.
She then realized that couldn’t move the right side of her body. As much of a relief that was, potentially dispelling her worries, she had to be sure. She reached up to her neck and tried to trace along her shoulder. When she felt another neck instead, she shook a bit and smiled. Finally, she turned her head and saw Kobayashi’s next to her. She took a few deep breaths, relieved that the events of yesterday weren’t just a dream.
With a last exhale, she spoke. “Miss Kobayashi… We need to get up.”
Kobayashi arose groggily, sitting up. “Wha…?” She tried to rub the sleep out of her eyes with her hands only to find the left one wouldn’t respond. She had a small moment of panic before she realized what was happening.
“Miss Kobayashi! Are you okay!?” Tohru exclaimed.
“Yeah, I’m fine… Sorry. I guess I just forgot what happened yesterday.”
“Oh… Well… How do you feel?” Tohru asked, the sneaking suspicion that she regretted it returning.
“Good, actually,” Kobayashi replied. “For the first time in a long time, my back isn’t hurting at all. I actually feel pretty great.”
“No, I mean… About… this… Us…”
“What do you mean?”
“Are you… still okay with being together?”
Kobayashi let out a faint chuckle, glad that Tohru was still trying to be so considerate. “We talked about this, remember? I’m still okay with it.” She did a quick stretch, Tohru getting the gist and helping. “No matter what happens, I promise, I won’t let myself regret this. Okay?”
“Okay,” Tohru said, still slightly uncertain.
“Now, let’s get up and get ready. We have to go to work, remember?”
They stood up and walked to Kobayashi’s closet, quickly making her realize something. While she wasn’t complaining about the new assets on her chest, they certainly raised a problem that Tohru had faced in the past as well. “I… I don’t think any of my outfits will fit…”
“Oh… Yeah, they might not work anymore.” Tohru giggled. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be,” Kobayashi quickly replied. “This part I don’t mind at all. Still, we’ll need to figure out something… Can’t exactly wear my old clothes.”
“Maybe we could try scales,” Tohru suggested.
“What? You mean like your maid outfit?”
“Yeah! I can make all sorts of clothes!”
“Are you sure it’ll work?” Kobayashi asked.
“Of course!” Tohru concentrated, their clothes fading away. The fact startled Kobayashi a bit, not expecting to be nude even if it was only for a short moment. New clothes quickly started forming around them, however. While they weren’t exactly the same and they were better fitting, the outfit looked much like the ones Kobayashi typically wore to work.
“Wow… I guess… it did work…” Kobayashi marveled. “Still, I wish you would’ve told me that you were going to do that first.”
“Sorry… I couldn’t help it,” Tohru chirped. “I’m happy that I can still do something to help.”
“It’s fine. Next time, though, please ask first.” Normally, Kobayashi would’ve been somewhat disapproving of the use of magic for something like that. In this case, though, it was more of a necessity. Besides, she realized she was going to have to get used to a little magic here and there to make her new life manageable.
After getting dressed, they made their way to the kitchen and worked together to make a simple breakfast. Then they walked to the bathroom, Kobayashi picking up her toothbrush. “Oh, uh… Could you help a bit? Just put some toothpaste for me.” Tohru did and Kobayashi got to work. Once she was done, she nearly put it down before she realized something. “Oh… You probably need it too, huh?”
“What?” Tohru didn’t seem to understand the question. “I’ll be fine, remember? Dragons don’t need to brush their teeth like that.”
“But…” Kobayashi hesitated, not wanting to make Tohru uncomfortable. While she had managed to avoid the subject when the issue of clothes had been brought up, however, this was a bit different. “You aren’t just a dragon anymore, remember? I doubt you can turn into your dragon form…”
“Oh… Right… I forgot about that…”
That made it Kobayashi’s turn to ask. “Are you okay?”
“Yes. It’s just something I need to get used to. There’s just… one problem… I don’t have one. A toothbrush, I mean.”
“Of course you don’t…” Kobayashi sighed, thinking for a moment before coming up with something a bit awkward. “Uh… Do you want to use mine?”
Tohru’s eyes lit up ever so slightly. “Are you sure?”
“Well, I mean… It’s not like we really have to worry much about germs, right? We already share a body. It’s weird, sure, but it makes sense.”
Tohru held out her hand. “A… Alright.” She took the brush from Kobayashi’s hands and, after Kobayashi helped add some toothpaste, took care of her teeth. She did so a bit awkwardly, though, not used to using her left hand so prominently. She took a bit of joy out of it, though, sharing something so intimate even if it was innocent and simple.
Kobayashi couldn’t help but smile, noticing the joy even though Tohru was trying to hide it. I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand her. Still… I can’t say that’s a bad thing. That’s one of the reasons I like having her around, after all.
Once Tohru was done and they got the rest of the morning routine out of the way, they approached the front door. “Are you ready?” Kobayashi asked.
Chapter 16: Back to Work
Kobayashi walked into the office to find a warm welcome waiting for her. Everyone said hello as if it was an ordinary day and nothing was different. “Good morning, Kobayashi!” one of her coworkers happily greeted. “Ready for another day of work?”
“Oh, uh… Yeah. Definitely ready.” Kobayashi’s response was slightly shaky as she was unable to shake the fear that Lucoa’s spell had gone wrong somehow. She started walking away when a question from that same coworker sent a shiver down her spine.
“Hey, um… Is there something different about you two?”
Tohru didn’t say anything, looking to Kobayashi to answer. “What? Uh… What do you mean?”
“Hmm… I just can’t put my finger on it… Did one of you get a haircut? No, that isn’t it…”
“A haircut?” Tohru started. “Why would I need…”
“I really don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kobayashi said with a nervous laugh, interrupting Tohru in the process. “Sorry.”
“That’s alright. It must just be my imagination. Good luck today!”
Both Tohru and Kobayashi let out a sigh of relief in a comically synchronous fashion. “You too,” the latter returned. As she walked away, she thought to herself. Huh… I guess Lucoa’s spell really did work. She sat down on her desk, relieved. That only lasted a moment, however.
“Hey, Kobayashi,” Takiya said, focusing on his computer. “Mind helping me with a…” His words slowed to a halt when he turned his head and saw them.
“Shit, I forgot,” Kobayashi quietly said. “I told Lucoa to leave him out of it…” She held her finger over her mouth and whispered to him. “Don’t freak out. I’ll tell you about it later.”
Takiya stifled a chuckle. “No need. I think I get the picture. The rings, right?”
“Y-yeah,” Tohru muttered. “How’d you know?”
“Kobayashi and I talked about it a while back.”
“Wait… You talked to her about using the rings?” Her eyes started to burn with flames of undying rage, questionable thoughts and jumped-to conclusions appearing in her mind.
“Tohru,” Kobayashi said with a disappointed tone. “Whatever you’re thinking, it didn’t happen.”
Tohru grunted in defeat and looked towards the window, not wanting to see the person she mistakenly saw as a rival in love. Kobayashi could only groan.
“Looks like some things never change,” Takiya noted with amusement. “Oh well, it looks like everything turnout out for the best in the end.” He looked around, noticing that nobody was alarmed. No one, that is, except for a certain dark-haired dragon. The sight of utter shock on her face made him hold back another laugh. “Looks like you had Lucoa’s help too, huh? No one seems to be any the wiser.” He kept his voice down, trying to keep it under wraps for Kobayashi’s sake.
“Mhm. She’s a real lifesaver,” Kobayashi replied. “Though, to be honest, it’s kinda her fault we’re even in this mess, to begin with…”
“Mess? I can’t tell if you’re complaining or being grateful,” Takiya said jokingly.
“Miss… Miss Kobayashi?” Tohru’s voice wavered with concern.
“What?” Kobayashi asked, taking a moment to realize what was wrong. “Oh, right… Sorry. I’m not complaining, I promise. Just getting used to it still, that’s all. Its gonna be awkward for a while so bear with me, okay?”
Tohru showed a smile. “Of course.”
“So… Are you two going to be able to work like that?” Takiya tried his best to be tactful with his question.
“Actually, Tohru had an idea for that,” Kobayashi replied. “You do, right, Tohru?”
“Oh, right!” Tohru closed her eyes and focused commanding the magical energies she possessed.
The sensation was a bit of a strange one for Kobayashi. She had never used magic before so the tingling that came with the use of it was incredibly foreign. As odd as it was, though, it was somewhat pleasant and almost exhilarating. Uncertain as to when the spell would take effect, Kobayashi tried moving Tohru’s hand. At first, nothing happened. After a moment, however, it twitched. It wasn’t long before it started responding to her, acting as if it was her own hand.
“How’s that? It worked, right?” Tohru asked.
“Yeah… It worked,” Kobayashi replied. “Thanks, Tohru. I’ll pay you back somehow, I promise.”
“You already have, though! If anything, I’m paying you back.”
Takiya smiled, not being able to help but overhear them. “You two really work well together, you know that? You know… I’ve got a few questions I’d like to ask but I know this probably isn’t the best place, so how about we get some drinks tonight? On me.”
“What!? No, that is not happening!” Tohru objected. “I refuse to drink with a stultus like…”
Kobayashi interrupted her. “Actually… That doesn’t sound half bad. I could use the stress relief and we should probably get the questions out of the way.” She turned her head. “Could we, Tohru?”
“W-well… I mean… Do you really want to?” Tohru asked.
“If it’s alright. This last month or so has been really stressful. Now that we’re together, though, I don’t just want to make these choices on my own.”
Tohru thought for a moment. “Alright… I suppose we can.”
“I’ll be coming to,” Elma interjected, having walked over from her computer. “I have some questions of my own.” She shot Tohru one of the most intense death glares that Kobayashi had ever seen.
Tohru responded with an equally scornful look of her own. If she had control of her arm, the formation of claws in preparation might’ve accompanied it.
“Whoa, whoa, hold on you two,” Kobayashi stammered, following up with a whisper. “Let’s not do anything hasty, okay? Especially not while we’re here.”
“I didn’t intend to,” Elma replied. “I simply don’t like what I see here. I can only wonder how much more Tohru can interfere in this world…”
“Okay, okay. We’ll talk about this after work, alright?” Kobayashi insisted. “For now, let’s just put it aside. I’d rather not deal with our boss right now.”
At that moment, as if on cue, another one of their co-workers walked up to the group. “Uh… Miss Kobayashi? Mr. Magatsuchi wants to see you. I’m not really sure why. He wouldn’t say. He just said to come get you as soon as possible.”
Kobayashi groaned. “Of course… Speak of the devil…”
“Well, then… I guess I’ll leave you to that…” Elma slowly backed away.
“Actually, he wanted to see you too, Miss Joui,” the man continued. “And Mister Takiya.”
“Me too?” Takiya asked. The man just nodded.
“Fantastic… There’s no way this can go well,” Kobay ashi muttered.
Chapter 17: Mr. Magatsuchi
From this point on, I'll be using some events from the manga. If you're holding off on the second season of the anime (which I doubt will come but eh) I'd recommend not reading any further. Otherwise, its very possible that you'll be spoiled.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The elevator ride to the top of Jigokumeguri System Engineering Inc.’s build was an awkward one, to say the least. Being called to the executive director’s office out of seemingly nowhere was rarely a good surprise for an ordinary worker. For Elma and Takiya, the trip was one of worry, both concerned if they had done something wrong. The latter was much calmer than the former, though.
“So… Um… Mr. Magatsuchi… What is he like?” Elma timidly asked.
Kobayashi returned her question with another. “Hold on… You haven’t met?”
“No… I didn’t have any reason to. Someone else handled my interview so I never really had a chance until now.”
“Well…” Takiya let out a nervous chuckle in response. “As long as you don’t get on his bad side, everything’s fine.”
“But I didn’t do anything wrong!” Elma exclaimed before that certainty quickly faded away. “I mean… I don’t think I did…”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine. Maybe he wants to reward us for all our hard work,” Takiya said. “Besides, he’s Shota’s father, right? Whatever it is, it won’t be too bad.”
Kobayashi interjected with a statement laced with worry. “Actually… Something tells me it might be pretty bad after all.” The fact that they had been called on the very first day she and Tohru arrived there in their new form was incredibly suspicious, especially knowing what she did. “He’s supposedly a mage, after all… And if he’s a mage…”
Elma’s trembling intensified. “D-do you think he knows that I’m a dragon?”
“Probably, but that’s not exactly what I’m getting at,” Kobayashi replied. “What worries me is that he already knows about me and Tohru… and what he’ll do about it.”
“But that has nothing to do with us!” Elma objected. “Why are we getting dragged into your mess! You’re the ones who are messing with the balance between worlds!”
“You’ve meddled in this world too, Elma,” Tohru snarkily threw in.
Elma took a breath, readying herself for the counterargument she was going to throw back. The only problem was that she couldn’t think of one. Defeated, she crossed her arms and looked away.
“Everyone, relax. I’m sure that whatever it is, it’ll all work out in the end,” Takiya assured.
“I sure hope so,” Kobayashi said.
They entered the office to find Mr. Magatsuchi standing there in a suit befitting his position. His wide smile was both welcoming and imposing in an unsettling way. “Ah, there you are. Thank you for coming so quickly.”
Something about his tone, while definitely making him sound impressive, concerned Kobayashi. She couldn’t help but shake the nagging feeling that something terrible was about to happen. “Um… Mr. Magatsuchi… If I may ask… Why did you call us here? Is it… about me and Tohru?”
“That is one of the reasons, yes,” he replied, trailing off somewhat. “First, though, I thought I should formally introduce myself to the people who have been looking over Shota for me. You’ve been quite helpful, especially after he accidentally summoned a god.”
Kobayashi didn’t know how to handle the situation. He didn’t seem particularly displeased with them but it was hard to tell. She decided to go along with the topic, hoping to avoid a far more dangerous one or at least appease him so as to not lose her job. “R-right. It’s nothing. I’m happy to help.”
“Additionally, Mister Takiya, Miss Kobayashi, I should also thank you for all of your hard work,” he added.
Elma looked between them, a bit concerned. “M-me too, right?”
Mr. Magatsuchi smirked. “Don’t worry. I’m well aware of your situation, Miss Joui. That is what you go by now, isn’t it? Or perhaps I should call you the ‘Saint of the Sea.’”
Elma gulped. It had been quite some time since she had heard that title. Long in the past, she had been revered as such by a group of humans she had watched over in the world she came from. “I… I suppose you may call me that if you wish… I am your employee, after all.”
“I believe Miss Joui will do. After all, we wouldn't want these secrets getting out, now, would we?”
“Wait… Hold on…” Among the people in the room, Kobayashi noticed that one stood out slightly. “What about Takiya? He’s not… Well…”
“He knows, doesn’t he?” Mr. Magatsuchi returned. “Unless I’m mistaken, he’s currently living with a dragon himself.”
Takiya was surprised but not enough to lose his composure. “How do you know all of this? Besides being Shota’s father, I mean.”
“I know many spells. Clairvoyance is only one of them. Anyway, I wanted to let you all know that I’ll continue to accommodate these strange circumstances so long as nothing goes wrong,” Mr. Magatsuchi said. “I also wanted you to be aware of that.”
“So… You aren’t going to fire me?” Elma asked.
“Miss Joei, while it is true that you don’t perform quite as well as many of our other programmers, your improvement over such a short time has been outstanding. Continue improving and we’ll have no problems.”
She nodded, still shaking a bit but relieved that the worst didn’t come to pass.
“Now, Miss Joui and Mister Takiya, you may leave. I have some things to discuss with Miss Kobayashi and her friend, things that would best be discussed in private.”
“Wait…” Elma grew concerned again. This time, however, it was more out of worry for Kobayashi. “You aren’t going to fire her… Kobayashi, I mean… Are you? This wasn’t her fault! It was probably Tohru!”
“Hey!” Tohru yelled. “She chose to do it!”
“I highly doubt that!” Elma argued.
“Enough.” While Mr. Magatsuchi’s voice didn’t raise much in volume, the weight it carried was tremendous. Whether that was due to his position, the possible use of magic, or perhaps a combination of both, however, was unclear. “I can assure you, if all goes well, I have no plans of firing anyone today. If you two argue like this on a regular basis, however… I can change that.”
Both Tohru and Elma let out a small squeak. Elma didn’t want to lose her job and Tohru certainly didn’t want to make Kobayashi lose hers so the quarrel ended immediately. Kobayashi could only sigh, wondering if things were only going to go downhill from there.
“Now, may I speak with Miss Kobayashi and her friend alone?” Mr. Magatsuchi asked.
“Y-yes, sir.” Elma bowed apologetically before she and Takiya left the room.
The room fell deathly silent for a few moments as Kobayashi waited for whatever ‘discussion’ was coming. Mr. Magatsuchi closing his eyes, likely using magic to make sure that the others weren’t listening through the door. Once satisfied, he opened them and spoke.
“Before we begin, I have to admit that I may have fibbed slightly. I said that this would be a private discussion… While that is true, one other party will be joining us. He was quite insistent on speaking to you… In fact, he is the reason I had you come to my office today.”
“He?” Kobayashi hesitantly asked.
A dark red spot appeared in midair, spiraling into a humanoid shape. It didn’t take long before they had completely revealed themselves, his form taking that of one both Kobayashi and Tohru hoped they wouldn’t see again any time soon.
Tohru started shaking violently. “F… Father…”
So... It's very likely I'll need to give Kobayashi a first name in the possibly near future since the manga hasn't. I was hoping to avoid it but it looks like I'll need to so you can help me decide! I've picked out a list of names that might work. Go ahead and vote on the ones you think fit best! https://www.strawpoll.me/16354017