One’s past is something that can’t be changed. Whatever had happened to a person would affect their whole life, changing them to be a better person or worse. And Claire wasn’t an exception. After the accident that turned her life upside down and the downfall of the Rieveldt family (believed to be) caused by her, she was never the same person. It took her years to finally find a genuine smile, not the one that was forced. But she was never at peace with herself.
For the longest time, Claire had believed that a person like her didn’t deserve happiness. Her whole life was dedicated to repay the man who had taken her in when she had nowhere to go, and decided to continue to do so until who knows when, perhaps for the rest of her life. Even receiving kindness from the people she was close with and the sisterly-love showered by Millium, she still felt undeserved.
But lately, there was one man who little by little changed that perspective. A man, younger than her, around the same age as her brother had he been alive right now. He deluged her in the most comforting, loving tenderness that she had been avoiding for ten years now. At first, Claire was reluctant to receive it, again with her reasonings that she didn’t deserve to be happy. He, Rean, never stopped showing his love whenever the opportunity presented itself. It came to a realization that she couldn’t lie to herself and avoid it. Everytime that sweet, warm feeling filled her heart, she didn’t want it to disappear. So whenever Rean wanted to show his affection, be it by kissing or hugging her, Claire never really rejected his advances.
Just like how his lips softly brushed hers at the moment, it felt like all of her senses only wanted to focus on him. She heard a faint sound of the neighbors’ door opening because they were at the entrance of her apartment room, but it didn’t really matter now. The way how he shyly kissed her was calming, and it was nice how their hands subconsciously found each other to interlock.
They kept things mostly professional between the two, even when they’re alone, so every sign of affection always seemed new. Not that they didn’t enjoy it, but it was just unexpected that the day came when Claire would actually experience what it meant to love and be loved again.
She loved how his face turned red after they parted, even though he was the one initiating it. An unintentional giggle that she let out only embarrassed Rean more. “I’ve noticed this for a while now,” she said to him. “But you seem to be experienced with women, Rean. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have had a relationship before.” Knowing how popular he is with girls, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if he actually was in one, even secretly. After all, the girls of Class VII are quite beautiful, and they are around his age.
“Not at all.” He lightly scratched his cheek, feeling more bashful. “It’s not like I’m doing it intentionally. It’s kind of childish to say this, but everything we do is new for me.”
It was a surprise, even to Claire. But the delighted feelings that grew in her heart after hearing that couldn’t stop from showing through her soft giggle.
“You, on the other hand, look calm as usual, Claire.” He added. It was faint, but there was a tint of disappointment in his voice.
His words weren’t the truth. She actually felt embarrassed as well. Her heart was racing nervously whenever they were together, maybe the same as or even more than his. The Icy Maiden, as they called her, wasn’t just for a show. One of the reasons for the name was her calm demeanor at any situation, but perhaps moments like this weren't the best of times to show that side to him.
“I’m not,” she chuckled lightly. Her face was red like his, if not more. “I’m actually really nervous right now.” Her words might not be too convincing right now with the way she responded, but it was the truth.
“To be honest, I really don’t want to leave now.” He looked away, smiling reluctantly as he said it. It was a school night and dinner time had passed. They wouldn’t meet today if it wasn’t for Claire’s free day before her departure to the Eastern Erebonia tomorrow. They barely had enough time to meet each other.
In the same case, Claire didn’t want him to leave yet too. Their time together was brief and they wouldn’t meet for another few weeks. “It’s already late. Unless you want to stay for a couple more minutes?” She asked teasingly knowing well it couldn’t happen. Well, she did have a little hope it would. “Sorry, I’m just tea–”
“Is that an invitation?” His sudden question caught her off guard with how serious he looked, his purple eyes stared deeply. “Can I stay for a little longer?”
While that would be a bad idea for them, as minutes could turn to hours and hours could turn into a night, she could hardly resist such a question. Ah, she really had resigned herself to this feeling. Getting even more closer to him only changed her, probably for the better. “...If you want.”
“...Alright.” Rean’s expression softened to a smile. “I’ll take you up on the offer then.”