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She keeps me warm

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A girl like Maria Campbell certainly didn’t fit in with Stuarts, Ascarts, and Hunts, some of the richest and most powerful families in the country. How she had landed in the Student Council with them, she had no idea—how she had become friends with them, she understood even less. What she did know was that among such good and high-class friends, she had to do her best to be worthy. Heck, she had to work hard to even be worthy of attending this academy.

(And to be worthy of the companionship of one more person… but when Maria thought too hard about Katarina Claes, she blushed. Notwithstanding this, she thought about Katarina every day, practically every hour. …she blushed a lot.)

So she spent plenty of time practicing her light magic. She truly wanted with all her heart to become a powerful light mage. But making her light magic behave and do what she wanted could sometimes be quite difficult.

Take today. She had decided to see if she could give her light beams physical essence, and had been at work at it for hours. “Come on,” she muttered, clenching her fists as if her magic were yet another muscle. “Come on…”

She had formed a light beam in front of her, and it was currently boring a laser into the earth. But when she reached out and touched it, it only singed her finger. It still had no tangible form.

In her dreams, she had a sword made of light, like a knight. Ah, and she would hold the sword up to Katarina, and tell her, “My sword is yours, only yours”, and Katarina would finally accept her devotion.

Not that she couldn’t fight with her light already. Just… a sword would be nice.

“Come on,” she said. She thrust her hands out at the light beam. But with a brief flare, the beam vanished.

Maria sank to her knees. She put her hands on the ground to prevent herself from crumbling. How long had she been working out here? Somehow, without the light beam here, everything seemed so cold…

She tipped forward. Her cheek touched the ground; it was warm where her beam had hit it. Someone was calling her name. “Maria-san! Maria-san!”

Ah. It was Katarina.

Even as she passed out, Maria felt a brief flutter of happiness.


 

She woke up disoriented. There was a blanket over her, a mattress under, and someone cuddled up beside her. Who… but she was trying to fool herself into innocence. She knew that smell. Katarina.

Katarina, who from what Maria could feel, was only wearing a shift.

“Katarina-sama,” she said. Her voice came out as a croak. So uncool. What would Katarina think of her? “Why…”

“You nearly killed yourself!”

What?

“How could you work so hard? Even if you’re the protagonist, there still have to be some limits. How can you defeat villains and win your love if you make yourself sick from overworking? Maria-san, you need to be more careful!”

Katarina did call Maria the protagonist sometimes, and she did think Maria had some sort of talent for making people fall in love with her, which was not true. So that part of Katarina’s monologue made sense. But Maria was pretty sure she hadn’t overworked herself. Even if she had, she didn’t exactly feel tired. Mostly she felt cold. Even under all the blankets and with Katarina’s warm body pressed against her, she felt cold.

“You drained your core with using too much light magic,” Katarina said. “That’s what the doctor said. Maria-san, I play more harem games than RPGs, but even I know you have to watch your MP.”

The one thing that was clear was that Katarina was worried about her. “I’m sorry,” Maria croaked. “I’m sorry.”

“…did I scare you? I’m sorry, I forgot I have a villain’s voice! I’m not angry, Maria-san, you just need to be careful.”

“I didn’t think you were angry. But I didn’t mean to make you worry about me. You’ve already done so much.”

Katarina laughed softly. “You’re so good, Maria-san. But don’t worry about me.”

“No, don’t…” This was going to become a vicious circle very quick. Maria sighed. “It’s all right.”

She shifted in bed, and became aware that Katarina’s boobs were pressing against her back. They were very soft, but Maria didn’t want to… well, maybe she could move her legs. But when she moved her thighs, they were pressing against Katarina’s thighs, and if she moved her lower legs, she almost ended up playing footsie. Oh dear. Oh dear. Her breath quickened.

"Maria, is something wrong? You're getting all red. Though... you were all pale before, so I guess that's a good thing."

Maria swallowed, and even that small movement seemed to vibrate back through Katarina’s body. “Katarina-sama, why are you in bed with me?”

“You’re too cold, so someone has to keep you warm. It’s the least I can do.”

“Oh.”

Arguing wouldn’t help, Maria knew. Katarina was too kind, and she would always think her assistance was so little compared to what it really was. These were the reasons Maria loved her. “I love you.”

Oops, she’d said it out loud.

Katarina squeezed Maria’s waist. “Aah… I love you too, Maria.”

Maria had never been able to tell whether Katarina meant her “I love you”s in a romantic way or not. Common sense said it was meant to be platonic, but Maria always wanted to think otherwise. And here Katarina was in bed with her, arms around her body, chest pressed to back and legs entwined. Maria let go.

She leaned her head back and kissed Katarina on the cheek. Katarina giggled nervously, and again, the movement vibrated through Maria’s body. She laughed too, breathily, and kissed Katarina’s giggling lips.

She could feel Katarina gasping, drawing breath out of Maria’s own mouth. Turning, she hugged Katarina reassuringly. “I love you.”

“…I’ve really messed everything up.”

“What?” Maria frowned. “How have you messed anything up?”

“You’re in love with me! Why… how…”

Maria wilted. She started to pull away from Katarina. “Is that really so bad?”

“No!” Katarina pulled her back. “I just… shouldn’t you be in love with Gerald? Or, or Keith, or Nico or… well, shouldn’t you?”

“I love you,” Maria said. “I’ve said it before, haven’t I?”

Katarina stared at her. Those bright, sharp eyes. “…I guess so.”

Maria smiled. She snuggled up against Katarina again. Warmth filled her, and slowly she fell back asleep. And Katarina, although she was a little flabbergasted, held her, and slowly began to think some things through.