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石の上にも三年 (Three years on a rock)

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With a nervous sigh Agemaki sat down in front of the table he had prepared. There were some pastries that, despite his best effort in preparing them, looked rather crumbled and misformed. He even had gotten hold of a box from a rare shipment of cocoa that he had spent what felt like half his salary on. Not that money had been the issue, really, not with the date being what it was: Three years ago, he had first set foot into this world of spirits and gods and… her.

 

“Oi, Agemaki, what’s this?” Zakuro asked as she strode into the room, gesturing at the table and all its splendor. “Are we getting company?”

 

In fact, it was the very opposite: Thanks to Kushimatsu and the others having been not only understanding but in part also rather insistent on leaving him and Zakuro alone to celebrate. Which had been an obvious option in hindsight, sure, but he had at first thought to make this a celebration for all of them. “Actually, this is only for us. I mean…,” he scratched his head. “The others are busy so it’s just the two of us.” Which technically made this kind of a romantic date which shouldn’t have been embarrassing since he and Zakuro had kissed and they were basically a couple. Basically, being the keyword.

 

The look she gave him was almost skeptical. “All of this? Why?”

 

Of course, she would not have the very day of their first meeting in mind and maybe it had been a stupid idea after all. “I brought some cocoa.” He blurted out and could have slapped himself the very moment he had spoken.

 

“Cocoa?” Zakuro cocked her head slightly.

 

“You know… it’s a thing to drink. You put hot water over it and… drink it.” Great, once again he had proven to her what an idiot he was at times. It was just that he still got all these warm and fuzzy feelings when she was so close to him, even if she standing was at least an arm-length away and focused on the food.

 

She grabbed one of the cups. “I was just thinking of tea so we might as well?” She grabbed the second cup and the fuzziness grew stronger. From the very instant they had met, he had felt all jittery inside but what at first had been sheer terror now was… whatever this was. No, he knew exactly what it was.

 

“It’s not exactly tea but I hope you will like it?” He pointed to the porcelain box containing the dark powder.

 

And there it was, this smile that only Zakuro had. “It cannot be worse than the milk you had me drink back then.” He blinked and her smile grew into a grin. “You think I forgot?”

 

Better not to mention that the vendor had advised him to drink the cocoa with at least some milk, he decided. “I’m still sorry for that,” he muttered but she did not seem displeased.

 

“You don’t have to. It’s been three years already.” The way she looked at him was almost as if – “You think I forgot that, too?” She reached into the folds of her yukata and held a small charm towards him. “I wanted to give you this later but… here. You have it.”

 

“Thank you, Zakuro. I will treasure it.”