Falling in love with Akko was frighteningly easy. By the count of three, Diana was all in—mind, body, and soul.
That’s just how Akko was: she enraptures people without trying, wins over their affection without wanting. But she also gives and gives and gives and Diana reckoned that’s what made people stay; what made Akko such a beautiful soul, inside and out.
And boy was she having a crisis with all that outer beauty today.
She frowned at her book, realizing that she’s been reading the same line over and over again. She was distracted—disconcertingly so, and she found herself in this state of ‘disconcerted distraction’ quite often these days. Of course, Diana was a smart girl, she knew that at the bottom of it all was a certain Atsuko Kagari.
Her girlfriend—she blushed upon remembering—for all of eleven days by now. It was a bit past five in the afternoon, so that would make it eleven days and six-hours if one wanted to be more precise.
She snapped her book closed, finding it embarrassingly sentimental to be counting down to the hours but at the same time, she smiled. Akko had that effect on her; and while it might have been a little out-of-character, she embraced it nonetheless.
But where was Akko anyway? Diana leaned up from her recliner, noting that the horizon was beginning to grow dark and a chill would soon blanket the beachfront. It was nearly the end of summer break and they were on a (supervised) vacation at the beach. Akko, along with Lotte, Barbara and Amanda have been swimming for what felt like four hours by now. Professor Croix and Professor Ursula were suspiciously missing. The rest of their friends were huddled around a camp, and Constanze was stoking the beginnings of a campfire. Hannah was preparing utensils— she should probably go and help her after fetching Akko. Jasminka, of course, took it upon herself to prepare their food and drinks with the help of Sucy.
Diana paused, narrowing her eyes. That… might not be a very good idea, perhaps she should go help Jasminka instead.
“Hey,” a familiar voice caught her off guard. “I hope you don’t mind me borrowing your shirt. It’s getting a bit chilly.”
The blonde witch glanced towards the woman she’d been looking for, relieved that she wouldn’t have to go and fetch her from the coast, “Akko. I was beginning to worry. It’s unsafe to be swimming after dar—”
Diana choked on her words. Then she felt her blood skyrocket towards her face.
“Diana?” Akko tilted her head in concern.
She probably had an expression that no dignified Cavendish should be caught wearing.
Akko, bless her soul, was fresh from the ocean and—litearlly—dripping wet. Her skin glistened in the afternoon sunset, and her red, unfairly flattering, two-piece swimsuit could be seen through Diana’s white button up shirt. It was damp, sticking to Akko’s skin in a way that made Diana want to send herself to detention. She swallowed, noting that Akko hadn’t bothered buttoning it up properly, and the overall disheveled effect was making her face burn up in a fire that started at the pit of her stomach.
“Everything okay, babe?”
No, everything was most certainly not okay. Since when did Akko call her babe? It was a double-whammy within two minutes for Diana, and soon she was blinking to shake herself out of her stupor. Akko must have noticed the look she was getting, because she smiled sheepishly, suddenly finding the sand interesting and nervously chuckling to her feet.
“Yikes. I thought I’d try the whole term-of-endearment-thing out,” she scratched at the back of her head, trying to gauge Diana’s reaction, “we—we don’t have to do it! If you don’t want! I just thought—”
“No, no I—uh—don’t mind,” Diana finally found her voice, laughing a little at Akko how was twiddling with her thumbs. Granted, she was a fidgety person by nature, but it comforted her to know that they were both a little clueless in navigating their newly-upgraded relationship status.
Akko did what she did best to dispel a kind-of-awkward situation, “would you prefer something from the eighteen-hundreds like ‘My Dearest’?”
Diana raised an eyebrow, “I am not that old fashioned.”
“Or perhaps,” Akko had put on an exaggerated Shakespearean voice, “you’re the cheesy ‘My Love’, type!”
“Akko,” Diana nagged.
She wasn’t going to admit that if Akko called her that it was probably going to work.
But Akko just giggled at her response—soon their fingers were intertwined. Joking around was familiar territory, and the blonde could appreciate that she could at least talk and keep her eyes above Akko’s collarbone.
By the time summer break was over, they were twenty-eight days into dating.
Diana would always remember the eleventh day as the beginning of the end—at least, the end of her upstanding reputation and dignity as a model student of Luna Nova and heir apparent of the Cavendish Aristocracy. Sure, she was being overly dramatic about it, but she really did have a reputation to uphold and she would much rather turn into a tree than be caught ogling Akko in school; in public. Hannah had unfortunately seen the moment her jaw went slack; that moment when Akko showed up wearing her damp, white shirt on top of a swimsuit. Needless to say, the teasing was merciless.
Of course, just because it was merciless doesn’t mean it wasn’t manageable. At least it was Hannah. It could have been much worse—it could have been Amanda.
“I think you need to cut yourself some slack, Diana.”
The blonde in question looked up from her notes, the corner of the pages growing worn from her habit of worrying at them.
Hannah was sitting across her at the table in the common area. Her arms were crossed and she looked a bit… exasperated?
“You’re fidgeting with your notebook, and pulling your ‘overthinking’ face. Judging by the way your ears have turned red—”
“—it’s probably about Akko.”
Diana was expressionless for a moment, debating on whether or not she should disclose her inner turmoil to her friend, and—she sighed. Hannah was literally the only person she could talk to about it. She looked at her hands, feeling a blush creep on her cheeks while she admitted, “I feel quite… unbecoming.”
Hannah nodded, leaning forward on her elbows and motioning for Diana to continue.
“Akko has been increasingly distracting as of late.”
“You’re going to have to be more specific,” Hannah snickered, “Akko is distracting for everyone.”
Diana smiled; she wasn’t wrong. Then she sighed, and if Hannah looked hard enough she would have noticed the pleading look on the blonde’s face when she said, “but my case is—ah—a bit different from everyone, or so I hope.”
“Is this about her looking extra-hot at the beach? Because that’s totally understandable.”
Hannah was kidding. She was teasing her to put her at ease, Diana knew this, except, well, this time there was no indignant huffing or crossing of the arms. Instead, she sighed, chewing at her lip in distress.
“Oh, no.” Hannah stared. “It actually is?”
The thought of saying yes was a little mortifying, so Diana just glared.
Picking up on her friend’s cue, Hannah stared back, as confused as Diana was bashful, “you do know that’s perfectly normal right?”
“You’re dating,” Hannah gestured with both hands to emphasize her point. “You’re supposed to find her attractive.”
“I’ve always known she was beautiful—”
“No, no, that’s not what we’re talking about. You’re head over heels, we get it, but you two aren’t exactly kids anymore. You’re nineteen; that makes Akko about eighteen, yes? I’m talking about the kind of attraction related to physical intimacy, and—oh my god? Are you okay?”
The words ‘physical intimacy’ and a certain image of Akko at the beach had elicited a rather strong reaction in her. Aside from the obvious and undeniable flush of her cheeks, there was a knot doubling in on itself at her stomach, and by Jennifer, she didn’t know what to expect but she felt kind of… angry?
Her fists balled in frustration and, “she’s going to be the death of me.”
Hannah physically backed away.
“I mean—by the Nine—have you seen her? Like seen her? In the most mundane of situations? Perhaps when she is tying her hair, or chewing on her lip while she works on her essays.” Diana ran a shaky hand through her hair, fighting for composure, “she doesn’t even try. It’s everything I can do to restrain myself from—I honestly don’t even know what. And I have no right to come forward to Akko in relation to these… feelings. They are utterly my responsibility.”
“Oh my god,” Hannah shook her head in disbelief, “you are… major league repressed, Diana.”
They’ve kissed before, of course.
Akko lips were soft and sweet, and Diana could feel her entire being melt into every kiss they had ever shared. That part of her—her soft, loving gaze, the pads of her finger tips ghosting gently across Akko’s cheek—that was reserved only for the woman she loved.
And, of course, for places of respectable privacy.
Akko liked to sneak behind bookshelves for a peck on the lips, and Diana didn’t mind; but she was also more modest when it came to public displays of affection. Kisses on the cheek from ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’ already left her flustered, and blatant displays of flirting and of bashfulness did not contribute to the reputation that a student of her caliber had to uphold.
This isn’t to say that she was ashamed of Akko. Definitely not. They held hands in public, and Diana was never one to mince words when asked about her relationship. Yes, they were dating, exclusively—Akko was very much taken.
Hers. For a good thirty-three days, if her count was correct.
But of course it is.
She gazed at Akko from two tables away. The topic was antivenom-type potions; she had already read up on it two weeks ago and could afford a few moments of distraction. And she was very much distracted. Those lovely red eyes, and smooth, brown hair was calling out to her, and the moment she noticed Akko’s forwardly short skirt she almost felt affronted. Not by Akko—but by the flare of unprocessed emotions that had thrown a party in her head. She felt a little infuriated at their refusal to co-exist with the level of decorum she had imposed on herself. This was going to drive her crazy, and she really, really wished she was just ‘Diana’ and not ‘Diana Cavendish of a thousand expectations to fulfil’.
Apparently, she was distracted for more than just ‘a few moments’ and the period had flown by.
‘I want to sneak behind a bookshelf and give you more than just a peck on the lips’, is what Diana wanted to say, but of course she’d settle for, “hello.”
Akko looked amused, “hello?”
Diana blinked. “Hi?”
Akko was laughing, and the sound brought a smile to Diana’s lips. She felt fingers thread with her own, “you’re being… weirder than usual.”
“I dislike the implication that I’m usually weird.”
“Right,” Akko stuck out her tongue, “would you feel better if I used the word ‘peculiar’? No, no, maybe ‘inscrutable’. You like big words and I can’t seem to figure out what you’re thinking. ‘Acting strange’ actually works, but I think strange is too simple a word for your liking so—”
“Akko,” Diana rolled her eyes.
“So what is going on,” Akko pouted, “underneath all that soft, poofy, obscurely colored hair?”
“‘Obscure’ was a good one, although I’m quite reluctant to use it as a descriptor for my hair.”
“That segue would have worked!” Akko raised her index finger, “if I wasn’t too curious about what’s gotten into you. You’re spacing out. You know you can talk to me, right?”
Diana hummed, leaning into Akko’s personal space when she noticed that the rest of the students had filed out of the room. Was this a respectable level of privacy? Diana blushed when she realized that it was. She wanted to—to—
“Diana?” Akko softly rubbed at Diana’s forearm, her earlier teasing replaced with a tinge of concern.
She wanted to wipe that worried frown away.
So she inched in closer, cupping Akko’s cheek and pressing her lips softly against the brunette’s. She felt Akko relax, hands coming up to rest on Diana’s shoulders.
When she pulled back—a mere few centimeters—Akko’s eyes had fluttered open charmingly, and Diana felt overwhelmed by everything she had fought to keep back. She inhaled, and didn’t notice the way her hands grabbed at the back of Akko’s clothing and—
They were kissing again. Or, as it was, Diana was kissing Akko. With much more conviction than she had ever done before. Her head tilted sideways, and a tremor traveled down her spine when she felt Akko’s lips part a little. There was a sound from the back of her throat, and she noticed that Akko’s hand was threaded through her hair. Before she could even register what she was doing, she had taken Akko’s lower lip in-between her teeth and oh-so-gently-nibbled, before pulling away and running her tongue along to soothe the area.
Akko had made an undignified squeak—
Realization hit Diana like a brick to the face, and in less than a second Akko was pushed a good arms-length away.
She looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Bright, red, blinking eyes were dazed and confused, and oh my lord, her lip was a little swollen, but the sound she made didn’t sound like it was comfortable so—
“I—I apologize,” Diana stammered, her heart beating a thousand by the minute and she thought she might burst a blood vessel, “I didn’t mean to be so—” she pulled back her hands, and honestly Akko looked completely floored, “I respect you!” she promised, “and your boundaries. I shouldn’t have pushed, I—I—”
“Diana, calm down—” Akko held up her palms to placate her erratic girlfriend but it wasn’t working.
“That was utterly reprehensible of me, I should have at least asked and I—”
In a fit of too many emotions at once to name, she blinked, then turned on her heel, storming out of the classroom, cursing herself, Bellatrix, her god-forsaken button-up shirt, and fine, maybe it was reasonable to curse the length of Akko’s skirt this one time.
Diana fell into distress; Akko probably thought she was utterly impudent.
“Holy shit,” Akko had her hands in her hair in bewilderment, “she was so cute.”
“And she just stormed off?” Hannah tried not snicker.
“Yeah! Like. She literally pushed me a total arms’ length away and began telling me about how much she respected me—”
“That sounds just like her,” Barbara nodded.
“—and honestly? I was so… swooning? Doesn’t every girl just want to be respected?”
“But surely you also wanted her to—”
“O—Of course!” Akko cut Hannah off, blushing a little bit at the thought of what she wanted. Of course she wanted it! Diana was gorgeous, and while Akko loved her for everything that she was—not just the porcelain looks and sapphire eyes—was it wrong for her to appreciate the more… physical aspects of their relationship?
“Well, it’s been eating her up for a while now—”
“It was?!” Akko and Barbara asked in matching incredulity.
“You both didn’t see it coming?”
“Well,” Akko shrugged, “I know she’s a big softie, but when it came to stuff like that she’s just all ‘Cavendish’ and dignified and her darned reputation, you know!”
Barbara shot her a soft smile, “do you at least know that she loves you more than she cares about all those?”
“She does,” Hannah supplied, “just in case you’re stupid enough to think otherwise.”
She never doubted Diana. And while that in itself was enough for Akko, hearing the blonde’s two closest friends affirm something that was a bit of an insecurity on her part made her heart flutter, to say the least.
“But she isn’t here,” Hannah snapped her out of her musings.
Akko sighed, that much was obvious the moment they opened the door for her. But where on earth would she storm off to? The library? Unlikely, granted that it was such an obvious choice.
She blinked. The observatory?
Diana cursed, and was honestly at a total loss regarding what to feel. Seeing Akko was always a wonderful thing, but after the amount of stupidity she had exhibited, she just wanted to phase into the observatory’s wall and hide for another hour or two. Perhaps pull off a Chariot and make it ten years. Interestingly enough, there might just be a spell for that.
“You can’t pull something like that and then storm out on me,” Akko had her arms crossed, but to the blonde’s relief there didn’t seem to be any trace of, she didn’t know, unbridled rage or unmitigated fury.
“That was completely obtuse of me,” the blonde sighed.
“You know so many synonyms for ‘stupid’, I’m a bit concerned,” Akko was walking towards her. Her hands were opened; inviting. Their fingers brushed and Diana was feeling better just being able to hold her again.
When put into perspective, the entire debacle she had suffered through was laughable. Hannah was on point. She was painfully repressed, glaringly self-conscious. But whenever Akko held her, looked at her, she was just Diana—exactly how she wanted to be.
“You make me feel things I’m ill-equipped to handle,” she admitted, breathing in slowly while Akko’s hands travelled from her palms, up her arms, to her shoulders before clasping together around her neck. The sensation was electrifying.
“I love you.” Diana blurted out.
Akko blushed prettily, but she snickered, “and you can’t handle that?”
“N—No, I just—” Diana sighed, learning against the brunette’s forehead, “am coming to terms with the many different ways to express it.”
“You’re kinda silly,” Akko chuckled, “for someone so smart.”
For once, Diana wasn’t going to argue against that.
“I love you.”
Diana closed her eyes, memorizing the sound of Akko’s voice and the words she had just spoken.
“So why don’t you—” Akko’s voice was suddenly a purr. Taking a page from Diana’s book, she had leaned in for a kiss, and Diana felt her knees go weak when she felt a tongue dart out tease against her lips, “—pick up where you left off?”
“I appreciate that you respect my boundaries,” Akko whispered against her lips, massaging the back of Diana’s head, “except they’re a little farther back than where you thought they were.”
One by one, with the aid of Akko’s clear consent, the gears started clicking in Diana’s head. This is okay, she growled into her next kiss, stepping forward until Akko was against a wall, this is perfectly okay, she tilted her head, urgently meeting Akko’s opened lips. With a thrill, she felt her own tongue against Akko’s, and the sensation it gave was—overwhelming.
When she pulled back to breath, she was flushed and heaving. Akko wasn’t one to take a break, though. Her lips settled on Diana’s pulse, and the audible sigh she released only encouraged the brunette continue kissing, leaving a trail upwards, to her jaw, to cheek, to her earlobe.
“I couldn’t stop thinking of you in my shirt, from that beach trip,” Diana shamelessly admitted.
“It might have been on purpose.”
“Atsuko,” Diana warned. Her hands were trailing up Akko’s sides, bunching up the cloth of her uniform and sliding over smooth, bare skin.
With deceivingly large puppy dog eyes, Akko implored,
Of course, there was a limit to whatever boundaries were crossed that afternoon. And if one wanted to be precise, it took thirty-three days and four hours for Diana to finally make out with Akko.