Charlotte Roselei rarely went out for a drink, and even more rarely did she go by herself. As captain of the Blue Rose Knights she had to maintain an air of dignity and elegance when out in public and it was difficult to maintain such an air in some seedy bar surrounded by drunk, rowdy men. It was especially difficult to do so when Charlotte herself was a notorious lightweight.
But tonight was different. Tonight the stress that she had been trying so hard to ignore had built up to a near breaking point. She needed a night out away from work and away from her fellow Blue Roses Knights; as much as she cared for them, as captain she could never truly let herself relax around them, especially Sol. Adding to her usual work stress was the issue that that woman was on Yami’s team and she appeared to be quite close to him. Of course Vanessa was closer to him than Charlotte was given that she was a member of the Black Bulls, but there was something more about Vanessa that bothered her. After all, there were other women on his team and they were all close to each other, but Vanessa was special for some reason. At first, Charlotte believed that she was only jealous because Vanessa was attractive and strong in a way that she knew Yami liked; for days she thought about all the things she knew about the pink-haired witch (which was admittedly very little) and how she could easily see how someone like Yami would be interested in her. She obsessed over Vanessa’s entrancing purple eyes and soft pink lips, she thought endlessly about her impressive thread magic and how confidently she held herself, how she dressed and acted so freely, so fearlessly.
All of this Charlotte had thought about every day since running into Vanessa at the Star Festival and was still thinking about when she pushed open the door to a nameless bar at the end of the street. She sat at the far end of bar in a dark corner where it would be harder for someone to spot her and ordered something light. A few sips and she could already feel her face warming up.
What if Yami saw me like this? Drinking all alone in this filthy tavern. I’d never live that down.
The beautiful blonde woman buried her face in her hands at the thought, somehow more
stressed than she had been before. She decided that she would leave as soon as she finished her drink and paid her tab. As she lifted the half empty glass to her lips, she heard a familiar bright and airy laugh behind her.
Charlotte turned around on her stool and saw the face of the woman who had occupied her mind so much these past few days. Vanessa had clearly been there for a while, a few empty bottles that had yet to be bussed were gathered around her like a wall of green glass. What she had been laughing about Charlotte could only guess, as Vanessa also appeared to be alone. She must have felt Charlotte staring because she turned her head slightly and met her gaze.
Vanessa’s smile drooped for just moment before she caught herself. She waved and called loud enough for the other patrons to hear, “Hello, beautiful briar maiden! Care to join me?”
Charlotte quickly turned back around and tried to hide her face again before anyone saw. She felt an arm drape across her shoulders and looked up in horror to see Vanessa’s face dangerously close to hers.
“Please, just leave me alone. I’m on my way out,” Charlotte answered staring at the floor.
“Aw, come on. You can’t stick around for one more drink?”
“I can’t be seen drinking with a member of the Black Bulls, especially in a place like this!”
“I hate to break this to you, but you kind of already have.”
It was true. Most of the other people in the bar had been watching this little scene unfold without even bothering to hide their stares and derisive smiles. Charlotte’s face was now aflame with embarrassment rather than the alcohol, her throat was too tight to speak. This was all Vanessa’s fault and now there was no way out. Charlotte prayed that this was some horrible nightmare that should wake up from any moment, but strong scent of alcohol from Vanessa’s breath told her that it was all too real.
“C’mon, I’ll get a bottle to go. I think we should talk,” Vanessa said flagging the bartender.
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Vanessa and Charlotte walked together in the dark, mostly empty streets in total silence, save for the sound of the wine rocking around in the bottle Vanessa was holding. They finally found a secluded bench near the river where they sat down together.
“What do you want from me, Black Bull?”
“You can call me Vanessa.”
“Don’t be so familiar with me, I’m a captain you know.”
“Jeez, do you ever relax? Isn’t that why you came out tonight?”
“Please, you don’t know anything about me.”
“I know you like Yami.”
Charlotte was too surprised to speak for a moment. She turned away and looked farther down the water way. “That’s insane. How could ever l have feelings for someone like that? I’ll admit he’s strong, but he’s far too crass and brutish for my liking.”
“Whatever you say, Captain.” Vanessa paused for a moment to open the wine and take sip before she said, “I like him too, y’know.”
Charlotte felt a knot form in her stomach. She had suspected as much but hearing her say it out loud was a different story. “Well, he’s all yours. I have no interest in him.”
Vanessa laughed, “You’re a terrible liar, you know that?” She offered the bottle to Charlotte who hesitated for a moment, then relented and took a small sip. Vanessa looked back at the river and hummed a little to herself.“You know, I’m actually originally from the Forest of Witches and the women there almost never fight over men,” she waited for Charlotte to respond but was met with silence, so she continued, “most witches hate men and they think women are the superior gender, a lot like you and your team actually.” Charlotte remained silent waiting for Vanessa to get to her point. “And while I’m not sure I agree with all that, there is a certain bond that we share in an environment like that. The women there uplift each other and always look out for one another. They really love each other, even the witches that don’t get along still love each other in some way and I think that that is something truly beautiful.”
“What exactly are getting at, Black Bull?”
“I’m saying that I think that despite our feelings for Yami, we should still love each other like that. It’s crazy that two beautiful strong women like us should be so petty over a crush. I mean, you remember the Star Festival? We were both acting so ridiculous. You think so too, right?”
“What makes you think that?”
“Isn’t that why you founded the Blue Rose Knights? As a team where strong women could love and support each other?”
“Well, I admit that that is true, but I think ‘love’ might be a strong word.”
“Don’t tell that to your subordinate, the one who calls you ‘sis’ all the time.”
“You mean Sol,” Charlotte thought for a moment, “I suppose I do love her and the rest of my team, but I at least know them and I don’t know you.”
“You could know me, if you wanted too,” Vanessa’s voice softened as she said this and turned to smile at Charlotte. Charlotte noticed the moon behind her, not quite full but large and bright, shining on Vanessa’s hair making it glow in way that seemed almost divine. She felt her face heat up again and knew it wasn’t the wine. She took another, larger swig from the bottle. She tried to say something in response, but the drink had begun to take effect. She felt her energy drain out of her and her eyes suddenly felt very heavy; all she managed was, “know…you?” before she began to lean forward.
Vanessa watched as Charlotte’s eyes began to close and her face draw nearer. For a moment, Vanessa thought she might have gotten through to her much faster than she’d expected, until Charlotte’s forehead landed on Vanessa’s shoulder and Vanessa realized that she was fast asleep.
“Well, I’ll take that for now. Let’s get you home.” Vanessa stood up and gently supported Charlotte’s waist and wrapped her arm across her shoulders. “But we’re not done yet. I still have a lot more to teach you about women loving women, Captain.”