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It’s the end of the third period and Yerim exits the classroom to change her books. She swiftly avoids the ocean of people walking through the hallways, she has to walk a few turns to reach her locker.

When she gets near and lifts her hand to turn the lock, she sees something strange in the metal door. She moves closer.

It’s a small piece of paper rolled up, smaller that her pinky finger, camouflaged by the hollow sides of the locker handle. It’s tightened by a very thin red string tied in a ribbon knot.

She lets out an “aw,” because she thinks it’s very cute and gets really curious about what it is. She opens the locker first to leave her books inside and then gives her whole attention to the small roll of paper.

Pulling the string very carefully and leaving it on the stacks of her books, she unrolls it.

Just a couple of words are scribbled down.

      I like you.

Yerim smiles immediately, it’s an uncontrollable reaction from the hundreds of butterflies in her stomach.

She just received a confession from a secret someone.

Looking side to side, she tries to catch someone near her, or at least looking at her, for some hint of who could it be. She just watches people busy talking and wandering down the hall.

Yerim looks back at the note, turns it around to see if there’s something more, then checks inside her locker. There’s nothing more, and suddenly she gets happily frustrated because she’s extremely curious about who might be.

Surely the next periods are too boring, and the time seems to pass very slowly, she just wants to leave and think of her secret admirer in peace, try to think out what’s their real identity.

She’s definitely telling her unnies over lunch, maybe Heejin would volunteer to play detective with her and try to make a movie plot about the situation.

The small detail doesn’t leave her mind for a lot of time. It’s not the first time she’s received a confession, but this time it certainly caught a piece of her heart.

-

The next days, Yerim is always expecting something more, maybe a face to face confession, anything, but every day she leaves school in disappointment.

It’s Thursday again, a week after, and she squeals when she sees another small roll of paper pasted in the same place of her locker.

It’s longer than the past one.

      When you smile, you are the most beautiful.

It’s cheesy but Yerim really likes it, she feels her insides are going to combust and she blushes madly.

She hides her face between her palms and squeals really loud in her mind.

Yerim knows she isn’t the prettiest girl out there, she isn’t ugly either, but the small compliment really gets her. It feels amazing to have someone think she’s beautiful.

-

Hyejoo, in the distance, can see the tips of Yerim’s ears turning pink and she laughs when the girl is burying her face in her hands. “Yes,” she whispers in triumph.

She quickly walks away before someone else can notice her staring.

Everybody knows Hyejoo is not a people person, and nobody knows Hyejoo is in reality a hopeless romantic. She just doesn’t show it (doesn’t plan in letting people know either) but she’s seen enough romantic movies hiding in her blankets before going to bed. She doesn’t have the courage to confess just yet, instead decides to leave small details to make Yerim happy for a moment of her day and maybe successfully stealing her heart.

Instead of walking directly to the classroom, she makes a turn at the back of the hall and gives a whole round to it (the hallways are all connected by the numerous classrooms it has), this way she can avoid Yerim in the way.

When she finally reaches the room, she immediately spots Yerim sitting in her usual seat: in the second row at the right side near the windows, with Yeojin as her partner.

Hyejoo is at the row before the last, three seats behind Yerim. Hyejoo gets nervous every time she walks to her seat because she must pass by Yerim’s side and the latter seems to notice her once in a while, offering a grin and acknowledging her presence. Now it’s one of those moments, and Hyejoo gives a tight lipped smile back and just quicks her pace, trying to stop her heart from combusting.

She reaches her seat and is welcomed with a fist bump and a playful smirk from her partner, Hyunjin. She says nothing but Hyejoo can already feel the teasing. Hyunjin is one that knows about Hyejoo’s crush on Yerim; she found out a random day when Hyejoo was distracted thinking about a quote for Yerim in her secret notes and didn’t notice herself scribbling down Yerim’s name on her notebook; by the odds, Hyunjin decided to take a peek on Hyejoo’s notes and saw it.

Though Hyejoo has found Hyunjin knowledge as an advantage, because she often keeps her updated about where she’s seen Yerim and it’s a huge contribution for her stunt of secret notes in Yerim’s locker.

Hyejoo doesn’t like to study, nor doing homework, but doesn’t like going to her empty house either as her parents take a lot of time to return home.

She usually stays in the library after classes, because it’s quiet and most of the time empty, she can plug in her earphones and drown in her own world (it also has free air conditioning, that’s the best perk).

But it also pressures her to complete her homework because the rest of the students surrounding her are doing it.

She just writes the easy ones, goes through some notes, reviews material for future tests. She doesn’t stress over it.

She’s disturbed when another presence makes itself know by a loud thump of a book falling in the chair across her (Hyejoo hears it even though the music is literally blasting into her ears), the chair also letting a screeching sound when the person slides it out. Hyejoo looks up to see who’s apologizing from being noisy.

It’s no other than Choi Yerim, with her bright smile, bowing down and repetitively whispering “sorry” to the people around. Hyejoo’s heart skips a beat when Yerim smiles to her before resuming her settlement. Hyejoo tries to act like she’s ignoring whatever is happening around her but fails miserably when she knows a blush is creeping up her face.

At least Yerim doesn’t notice.

Yerim takes a seat in front of Hyejoo, lays down some books she was carrying and gets her pencil case from her bag before throwing and leaving it in the floor.

Hyejoo stops scribbling. She can’t concentrate.

She looks at her phone, pretends to do something on it but in reality, she’s stopping the music. Which is useless though, they are in the library and there won’t be something for Hyejoo to eavesdrop on; Yerim won’t say anything relevant because she came alone.

That’s also a premise, because Hyejoo has never seen Yerim in the library. Not that she’s not studious, since Yerim is number 8 at the class rank, but Yerim is one of those that does take homework home.

Hyejoo manages to keep doing her math practices, the ones that she has to keep doing the same procedure as a loop. She’s multitasking at writing down numbers and keeping an eye with her peripheral vision on Yerim, who is leaning over her notebook with furrowed brows, periodically bringing the back tip of her pencil to her temple.

There’s a point where Yerim just sits back into the chair, letting out a long sight while looking defeated. She takes a couple of seconds just to flip the pages of her notebook but pursues more her lips. Then she takes her phone from her pocket, typing something, waiting for a minute, just to bury it again in her pocket (Hyejoo feels bad for thinking Yerim looks extremely cute, she’s never seen Yerim mad and now it seems like she’s having a mental breakdown).

Hyejoo has long forgotten what she was doing and now was looking directly at Yerim, she notices Yerim mumbling and moving her lips in a recognizable ’I’m screwed.’

It is now that Hyejoo truly believes she can have a decent and proper conversation with Yerim and maybe offer Yerim any help she needs. It’s the perfect opportunity.

She doubts for a couple of seconds, decides to just do it before she backs off and changes her mind. She takes out her earbuds and messily stuffs them in her pocket before leaning forward.

“You okay?” She whispers.

Yerim immediately rises her gaze. Hyejoo’s breath hitches.

The detail Hyejoo likes the most about Yerim is the bright glint in her eyes when she looks at someone. The same glint is reflecting in her eyes as their eyes meet.

Yerim is so beautiful.

“Actually, no,” Yerim says. Her tone is casual, like they weren’t total strangers (which they aren’t, but this is the very first time they talk). “I missed a physics class and couldn’t take notes for another because I didn’t understand.” That sounded a little awful, considering physics was one of the hardest science subjects and the teacher was very strict. Yerim continues, “Yeojin gave me some notes, but I think I lost them.” She lets out a long sigh.

Hyejoo on the other side, has hit jackpot because she remembers the day Yerim wasn’t in her seat and she actually took notes for the physics class because she was bored and also the day after she completed the homework their teacher left, so basically Hyejoo did understand the topic they were going over.

“Oh,” Hyejoo tries to act like it was a lucky coincidence (which in part was, but Hyejoo was happier inside than she seemed outside), she keeps her poker face but raises her eyebrows to look a little more friendly for Yerim. “I could lend mine to you,” she starts searching for her physics notebook and prays mentally that she hadn’t left it at home. “I would have given them to you earlier if I had known.”

Yes, a side of her lips tugs upward when she finds her notebook. She starts flipping the pages so she can search the topic that Yerim missed.

“Oh my god, are you serious?” Yerim gets too excited, her voice a little too loud for a library. She gets some glances from the other students and smiles awkwardly while raising her shoulders in embarrassment. Yerim then looks directly to Hyejoo, waiting for her.

Hyejoo finally finds the pages and hands the notes to Yerim across the table. Yerim receives them as if they were a treasure. Her bright smile returns to her face, Hyejoo is glad she could help her.

“Oh, how did you know it was this one?” At first Hyejoo doesn’t understand a question, but then thinks a little harder, realizes that in a normal situation where Yerim is not her crush, Hyejoo totally wouldn’t have known which class Yerim skipped. But she knows because she always notices Yerim?!

“Intuition, I-I guess.” She wants to slap herself for stuttering. But Yerim still seems oblivious.

“Anyways, thanks Hyejoo. You’re so sweet.”

Hyejoo thinks maybe she had a heart attack for a second by how good her name sounds rolling off Yerim’s tongue and because Yerim said she was sweet.

“What time are you going, actually? I wouldn’t want to take you time.” Yerim asks her. She’s so cute and attentive, she doesn’t want to take my time- but I’d give her all. Hyejoo was in the verge of faltering.

“You can take it with you and return it to me tomorrow, if you need,” she answers back.

Yerim sucks her breath in a very long gasp, “ohmygod, I really owe you one, Hyejoo.”

“No worries.” She says casually, trying to act cool. Hyejoo goes back to her own homework, maybe she can get back to multitasking between writing and stealing glances to Yerim for the rest of the afternoon.

-

The next day, Yerim goes to her seat and leaves her physics notebook in her desks, offers her signature bright smile to Hyejoo and thanks her two times. Hyejoo felt like Yerim actually wanted to keep talking to her because she doesn’t step away but then does when the teacher for their class enters the room. The following moments Hyejoo curses her fate and has to endure Hyunjin poking her side, bugging her about her interaction with Yerim.

That afternoon and the following, Yerim starts going to the library at the same time, she smiles to Hyejoo and takes the seat in front of her (even once, Hyejoo had to change her usual seat because it was occupied and although the seat in front of it was free, Yerim still went to the one in front of Hyejoo.

That made Hyejoo think Yerim actually liked Hyejoo’s presence while in the library or for other reasons, or maybe it was just becoming a habit for Yerim, but it was something, a spark of hope).

There’s also one day they finish classes and walk together to the library. It’s a memory Hyejoo likes to replay in her head.

Their talks are still awkward, though Hyejoo is making all the effort to keep the conversation flowing. Hyejoo got to know that Yerim is actually a little shy and not really talkative, in the sense that the most Yerim spends time with someone she’s not close with, the least she has words to say. It’s surprising for Hyejoo that was mostly herself the first talking or asking things to Yerim.

“What were you listening to?” Yerim asks her one day after she’s settled her books and notes in the table, just when Hyejoo is removing her earphones like every other day as another habit when Yerim reaches the spot.

Hyejoo is a little hesitant at first, she doesn’t know if she should lie of tell the truth.

“My ballads playlist for studying.” She goes for truth.

“That’s quite opposite from what you would seem to listen,” Hyejoo has heard that a lot.

“I listen to all kinds of music.” Yerim doesn’t answer to that. “Wanna listen?”

“Okay,” she leans in with a slight smile, like she was waiting for the question.

To that, Hyejoo fishes her airpods from her bag and checks the battery before taking them out, giving one to Yerim.

A sweet acoustic melody resonates in her ear.

That afternoon passes very quickly with the soothing music of Hyejoo’s playlist they listen together.

Hyejoo hasn’t prepared another note for Yerim and catches glimpses of Yerim looking a little disappointed some days when she reaches her locker. It has been around two weeks since the last one.

Sometimes it’s difficult to find the perfect quote for the next note. That has been the biggest problem, because Hyejoo didn’t want it to be too corny like in cringe teenage movies and somewhat short lines didn’t pop in her mind.

Sliding her feet lazily in the corridors, a white paper catches her eye in the mural on the wall at her left side. The monthly class ranks. She immediately spots Yerim’s name in position 5, three ranks up since the last. And just in that moment, and idea pops in her head.

      Congrats for rank 5, though for me you’re always #1.

It’s a little different from the past ones, but Hyejoo knows she’s done more effect by how Yerim stares at it more time that the past ones.

By the time spent in the library, Hyejoo actually has noticed more things with studying indirectly with Yerim.

Yerim puts all her efforts into studying, Hyejoo notices how she really concentrates in doing her homework, scolding herself silently when getting distracted, smiling when she understands or finishes a topic. (Hyejoo even starts thinking Yerim may be a nerd but just doesn’t seem like it. Not in a bad light, because it makes Yerim look smarter than Hyejoo already knew and Hyejoo knows she’s definitely crushing on Yerim harder than before).

Hyejoo feels relieved that Yerim has liked the note.

But totally looks the opposite when she appears in front of Hyejoo at the library. She looks sad, a little angry even, with a frown in her forehead and her lips pursued slightly.

“Hi, Yerim.” Hyejoo greets as Yerim sits down. “Is there something wrong?” She asks in a wary manner.

Yerim doesn’t look at her kindly, it’s more like she glares at Hyejoo. Someone else would have thought Yerim was actually angry with Hyejoo. It just lasts a second, but Hyejoo notices.

“I’m getting notes from someone, like a secret admirer.”

“And... you’re angry at that?”

“No, but...” Yerim groans silently and throws her head back, then sits back. “Look, I’m a very curious person and this mystery annoys me. I want to know who’s this.” Yerim lifts up the small scroll which Hyejoo recognizes very well because she rolled it herself just the night before.

“Maybe they’re too shy,” Hyejoo says.

“Yeah,” Yerim huffs. “They will come out when the time is right, I guess?”

Hyejoo nods in reply, “just have a little more patience.”

It makes Hyejoo heart clench at Yerim being annoyed (indirectly) at her. Though she can do anything, yet. Maybe in a few weeks. Or months. She isn’t sure, but now she doesn’t feel confident enough to just reveal herself to Yerim.

Yerim presses her lips together but her frown still doesn’t disappear. “Anyways, I need to review physics. Can you help me?”

“Of course,” Hyejoo answers with a gentle smile.

It’s going to be the fourth note for Yerim. Hyejoo sleeps late that night.

(She has already planned it but decided to finish the last physics homework because she knew Yerim would need help with it the next day.

She had to stay up until past midnight, and immediately worked on another note for Yerim. The usual– a small piece of paper with a tiny heart on the outside and rolled up with a thin red string.

      You shine so bright like the sun itself.

It says this time).

The lack of sleep makes her memory blurry, because next morning she totally forgets about leaving the note in Yerim’s locker. Instead, she’s returning for lunch time into the classroom and she remembers when she walks beside the lockers. She groans in frustration; now she has to find another time to paste the note while Yerim is not around.

When classes finish, they walk together to the library. Then sometimes they walk out together around sunset. Hyejoo decides the moment will be when both at them are at the library: she just has to manage to get out for a couple of minutes to leave the note and return, like anything had happened.

“I’m going to the bathroom real quick,” she whispers and grabs her phone from her pocket to leave it at the table, that way Yerim can continue listening to her instrumental playlist. Yerim replies with a smile and a nod before returning her gaze to her notebook. She looks very concentrated, she won’t notice.

Hyejoo rushes out.

-

Yerim is using all her brain cells to analyze the strange statements for philosophy. Her fingers spins and turns the pen in her hand, but in a certain move it slips and makes a whole journey: it rolls from the desk, bounces in her lap and twirls again on her shin, landing far away in the floor at opposite side of the table.

She almost laughs at the absurdness of it and sits up from peeking her head under the table, there’s no Hyejoo that she can ask to pass it back to her.

Sliding the chair back as silently as possible (she can’t bear the glances from the other students by how noisy she is every time in the library, so now she became more careful), Yerim stands up and strides to the other side of the table, squatting down to reach her pen near Hyejoo’s chair legs.

Something else catches her attention.

-

Hyejoo is glad that by now only a few students remain in the school, the ones from the student council, some clubs and others like her that doesn’t want to return home so early.

The hallways are empty, and she walks quickly to Yerim’s locker. Before reaching it, she gives a round to the corridor and also peaks the sides to make sure no one is near, she keeps the attention in her hearing too.

She fishes out her phone and the mess of earphones in her pocket, then searches at the bottom of it. It’s not in that side, so she switches to the other.

Where’s the note?

Hyejoo halts her movements in confusion. She goes back to the first pocket, but there’s nothing. She doesn’t usually put things in her jacket’s, but she searches on them too. Nothing. She starts scrambling back and forth in her pockets, making sure it isn’t in the deep end.

In her trance, she doesn’t notice another girl getting closer.

“Looking for this?” A voice makes her jump. An arm is extended from behind her and in hand, the small scroll that she was searching for is propped up between fingers. Except she recognizes very well the owner of that hand.

Choi Yerim.

Hyejoo freezes.

A couple of seconds later, she turns around abruptly and she confirms that indeed Yerim is in front of her with an eyebrow crooked up.

“Y-Yerim, I-“

Yerim chuckles. “I’ve known for a while, actually.”

Hyejoo is a second away from crumbling into the floor, she wants to dig a hole and bury herself in it.

“How?” She manages to stutter out.

“Your handwriting is quite unique, Hyejoo.” Hyejoo looks at her in confusion. “You lent me your physics notebooks a few weeks ago.”

Oh.

Hyejoo groans out. “This is so embarrassing.” she shrinks in her shoulders and leans her forehead in the lockers, wanting to disappear. Yerim has known for weeks now.

It’s not an option to run away now, it would she more shameful. So she waits out for Yerim to say something.

“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want. But at least invite me on a date?”

Hyejoo perks up and feels like she almost cracks her neck at how fast she turns her head.

“What?” She looks at Yerim, dumbfounded. “Are you serious? I mean,” Hyejoo is confused, “would you like to?”

Am I dreaming or are Yerim’s cheeks really tainting pink?

“Yes, Hyejoo. I’d really like to.”

-

That weekend, they have a pleasant date.

Yerim leaves a kiss in her cheek and Hyejoo can’t contain her smile for a few days.

-

Their next date, they stay until late after going to a night market.

Hyejoo walks Yerim to her house.

And lets herself be kissed in front of Yerim’s door.

 

 

Yerim has never met someone like Hyejoo.

That kind of girls who give a badass aura, but in reality they are softies inside.

Yerim knows Hyejoo is that kind of girl by the tiny details in her actions, which she got to notice by pure coincidence.

Like the way she would quietly pick up something a person nearby has dropped (though it was an act of courtesy, Yerim has caught Hyejoo doing that countless times.

And most of those, Hyejoo wouldn’t even mind being thanked for, just left the things in their original place very secretly).

Also, when someone spilled something (which was mostly Jiwoo, a senior student in Hyejoo’s social circle), Hyejoo would be the first to bring tissues instead of laughing and made sure everything was clean afterwards.

At that time, Yerim wouldn’t say Hyejoo was her crush, but she definitely had interest in getting to know her.

And it was pure luck when she found out Hyejoo was her secret admirer.

-

“Come on, Yeojin. Can’t you make me company in the library?”

“Nope,” Yeojin shakes her head. “The library sucks and it’s gonna be boring because I don’t do homework, Yerim.” She sticks out her tongue and continues stuffing food in her mouth.

Yerim huffs in annoyance and whines, “at least tell me you took notes for the physics class I told you.”

“You’re lucky I’m that kind of good friend,” Yeojin states and scrambles in her almost empty bag. The takes out a couple papers with very crumpled edges that she ignores before Yeojin yells in her face.

Yerim leaves her chopsticks in her plate before taking the papers with both hands and bowing jokingly at Yeojin.

She leaves them on top of her bag, and they continue eating in the noisy cafeteria.

-

It’s the first time after months (almost a year) that Yerim is going to the library.

Her recent grades were decreasing, and she had noticed how distracted she gets in her room because of the new Switch console her parents decided to gift her. So she decided that the library would be a good place to avoid distractions.

When she pushes open the glass door, a deafening silence welcomes her.

She eyes the huge space with desks and chairs that was between the entrance and the rows of bookshelves at the back. She recognizes a few people that were known by their brains, some others that she saw passing by the corridors and also noticed Hyejoo, one of her classmates, at the right side of the room, sitting at one edge of a large table.

She decides the seat in front of Hyejoo would be ideal because it had a ceiling lamp just above and it would provide good light.

(That was her excuse. Yerim tried to convince herself that she didn’t chose the seat because Hyejoo was across it, but only tried. In the back of her head, she knew that in a way or another, she would definitely get to know Hyejoo at some moment).

Unfortunately, when she reaches her seat, she loses balance and results in her physics book sliding down, bumping in the plastic seat and the chair’s metal legs scrape against the floor when she brings it out.

A blush of embarrassment creeps in her face, she quickly apologizes to the people around.

Yerim shoots a brief glance at Hyejoo, who clearly noticed her, but continues in her own things.

She sets out the books and notebooks as silently as possible and makes sure her chair isn’t scrapping against the floor again, also decides to start with physics which was the subject she was more overdue with. Trying to find the crinkled sheets of paper of Yeojin’s notes, she freezes when she doesn’t find them.

She immediately tries to recall the moment when Yeojin gave her the notes, when she left them in her bag, but doesn’t remember actually putting them inside her bag. They must have flown away while she was eating.

“You okay?” she hears Hyejoo’s low and raspy voice.

Yerim was right. The spot had good lightning and Hyejoo looked very pretty in front of her. Yerim goes in autopilot, rambling on and on about the physics’ notes, her heart bounces more excitedly than usual when Hyejoo cooly offers her notebook to Yerim.

It’s open just at the lesson Yerim has missed a week ago. “Oh, how did you know it was this one?”

“Intuition, I-I guess.” Hyejoo stutters. Cute.

-

That night, she’s passing the last notes from Hyejoo’s physics notebook to hers, and something clicks in her mind.

The handwriting seems so familiar.

Yerim shakes her head, avoiding getting distracted and continuing writing down the last formulas to finish the lesson’s practice afterwards. That way, she can evaluate how well she understood by comparing her answers with Hyejoo’s.

She flips a page and she notices.

Yerim saw that same handwriting in the notes she’s been receiving in her locker.

Scrambling her desk to find both scrolls she has received, she opens them and slides them in different positions across the notebook.

The hangul characters are the same, even the tone of blue ink and the red thin pen for the small heart outside.

Hyejoo.

In the middle of literature class, Yerim’s mind wanders off. It has been happening quite frequently after the date with Hyejoo last weekend.

(She totally knows it has been the best date she has ever had, and she honestly told Hyejoo that afternoon.

Even though most of the time they spent it in a cozy cafe that Hyejoo picked because it was somewhere between each of their houses and they wouldn’t have trouble with the distance.

Their conversations had a natural flow and it was very comfortable to both as they had talked quite a lot before after all their study sessions in the library.

Then they strolled around a park nearby, Hyejoo snapped some pictures of Yerim and the latter also took a few of Hyejoo, that now were saved in her own phone; Hyejoo doesn’t have a clue Yerim has stared at them quite a bit since then.

Even though Hyejoo’s house was definitely at the opposite direction, she offers Yerim to make her company to her house and they do, after Hyejoo literally begging her by showing her once-in-a-lifetime puppy face.

Of course, Yerim couldn’t say no to that, and she finds herself enjoying the bus ride and the walk back home. In repetitive occasions she finds herself wanting to hold Hyejoo’s hand in hers instead of her fingers freezing in the chilly weather, but she knows it’s too early for that.

They find themselves standing in Yerim’s doorstep, already regretting that their date as concluded so fast. Neither of them are good for goodbyes, but Yerim gets a momentarily confidence to balance in tip toes and thank Hyejoo with a quick peck in her cheek that makes Hyejoo go stiff and blush madly, though Yerim’s cheeks also paint a little pink).

The memory loops and loops in her mind and she can’t help the goofy smile that grows in her face.

The only thing that gets her out of her fantasy is the dampened sound of her phone that buzzed with a notification.

      [hye]: you free saturday night?

Yerim types her answer immediately.

      : i am

The message gets read, but Hyejoo doesn’t answer.

      : why?

This time she receives it, but doesn’t read it. Yerim waits for a few seconds, but still doesn’t get a reply. She shrugs it off, maybe she can ask Hyejoo about it after class.

Meanwhile, Hyejoo slips out the classroom so silently even the teacher doesn’t notice.

-

The last class finally ends as the bell rings loudly through all the hallways, Yerim packs her things up, ready to go to the library.

Yeojin rushes beside her, eager to reach her home but doesn’t forget to say goodbye to Yerim.

She looks back to Hyejoo’s seat, but the classroom is empty by now. Hyejoo must have left already.

Yerim weaves through the crowds of students that are leaving and getting things from their lockers.

She goes to her own, and she spots a familiar sight.

Hyejoo has left her another note.

      Saturday, 6pm at Myeongdong?

Yerim smiles as she strides a little too quickly to reach to library and say yes to Hyejoo.

The narrow street is bustling with waves of people that went out at night. There were line of lights illuminating the path and the stalls of different sellers which were mostly food.

“Hey there,” Yerim greets when she’s walked to Hyejoo near enough for the latter to hear.

Hyejoo has a dark gray long coat over a pink sweater, light blue jeans and a pair of converse. It’s a similar to Yerim’s fashion, except she has a black hoodie with a cherry print and a brown coat.

When Hyejoo sees Yerim, she breaks into a smile, a lovingly gaze directed to Yerim. It’s been a common sight for Yerim the last days; a look full of gentleness and adoration.

“So what’s in for today?” Yerim gazes the endless street filled with people.

“I know a good restaurant that serves ox bone noodle soup,” Hyejoo suggests. “Would you like that?”

“Anywhere it’s okay, but yeah. That sounds perfect.”

They stare for a while, absorbed into each other. Yerim’s the first to start blushing under Hyejoo’s intense stare and cuts the moment in shyness.

“We can go there first and then have some street food?” Yerim says, avoiding Hyejoo’s eyes.

Hyejoo nods and turns around to start leading the way. “Let’s go.”

The entrance is more spacious but as they walk further into the night market, they start getting swarmed by people.

Hyejoo walks with familiar steps to the small restaurant she recommended. Yerim grasps on her arm when she almost losses sight of Hyejoo as a group of people get between them. The action makes Hyejoo turn her head to make sure Yerim was okay and could see Yerim focusing with eyes a little wide. Yerim’s gaze softens when Hyejoo slides down her hand to interlace her fingers together and pulls her closer.

Hyejoo’s steady grasp also avoided Yerim to fly away in her thoughts and keep her feet in the floor.

Yerim gets to feel the warmness in Hyejoo’s hand in contrast to her cold fingers and the sweat in their palms but she couldn’t care more about it, their hands slotted perfectly together like puzzle pieces. She stops herself before she can have more cheesy thoughts.

They reach the restaurant in a couple minutes, they get a table at the left side of the place and beside a wall. Hyejoo is quick to ask for some hot tea and the menus for them.

Hyejoo’s the one who ticks their orders, calls the waiter and makes sure the table is clean by the time they finish (Yerim definitely puts mental checks to Hyejoo’s traits as girlfriend by how good she takes care of Yerim). Also argues with Yerim when she states she’s going to be paying, but in the end they split the bill because Yerim said so and Hyejoo didn’t want to answer back to her sweet crush.

Still, she manages to pay some of the food they get in the streets they randomly walk into; they get an order of tteokbokki and some fish stripes, a pack of caramel popcorn and mochi balls as dessert.

At some moment, they were comfortably linking arms already, Yerim was ecstatic (inside, she still wouldn’t expose herself to Hyejoo) when she got to feed Hyejoo some tteokbokki and mochi; it made her feel all tingly, and Hyejoo looked very cute with her blushing cheeks.

Yerim also likes and appreciates Hyejoo’s gestures towards her, like pulling her closer when it’s too crowded, being attentive of the surroundings and making sure Yerim doesn’t trip and fall (Hyejoo has said “be careful,” at least five times) and when Hyejoo gets tissues out of nowhere when Yerim smears some sauce in her cheeks.

Yerim has never fell in love with someone in just one night, but she’s just an inch away from that if Hyejoo continues being so good to her.

Continuing their arbitrary stroll through the streets, they discard the empty containers in a trash bin nearby and they end up in the entrance where they met up but from a different direction.

“Let me walk you home?” Hyejoo asks her.

This time Yerim decides not to argue and accepts; Hyejoo leads them enthusiastically to the subway station underground that is beside the night market’s main avenue.

The subway ride is a little packed, Yerim is glad of the lack of contact with strangers when Hyejoo wraps an arm protectively around Yerim’s shoulders and with the other, she holds a handle. They are in the middle of a cart, Yerim’s back leaning against a wall.

Yerim also really likes the fact that Hyejoo is a little taller than her, and now has the sight of Hyejoo’s neck a few inches from her face. She can also smell the light scent of body wash; she gains confidence to lean in and nuzzle her nose between Hyejoo’s neck and jaw. Hyejoo gulps down visibly but doesn’t push Yerim away. Instead, her grip tightens and by now, they’re basically hugging each other.

The warmness almost threatens to overcome Yerim’s senses.

It’s disappointing for both when Yerim’s stop finally arrives and they have to pull away. Still, Yerim keeps their hands intertwined the whole way. They exit the subway station and pass by the bus stop they got off last week (and that Yerim takes every day).

They are both a little tired and sleepy from having eaten so much back in Myeongdong, so they’re now surrounded in a comfortable silence.

There are still people around that come and go, probably to the subway station or their homes.

Yerim wonders if they look like a couple, holding hands while strolling in the sidewalk. At the thought, she turns to look at Hyejoo, and their eyes meet. Hyejoo offers a gentle smile, understanding the silence.

Yerim likes the sparkles in Hyejoo’s eyes. She feels like the night lights really suit Hyejoo; in a strange way she seems so bright looking at Yerim like that.

(Maybe that’s what love is, the way Hyejoo looks at Yerim.

But Yerim still isn’t totally sure about it).

Even if Yerim walks a little slower to enjoy Hyejoo’s presence for a little while, they reach Yerim’s place in a couple minutes. They stop in front of the gate.

Yerim hums, not knowing what to say now.

“I guess I’ll see you on Monday?” Hyejoo interjects.

“Yeah,” Yerim says, but their hands don’t leave.

I don’t want to let go.

They drown in each other’s eyes in an unbreakable gaze, not even time ticks away.

It is Yerim’s grip that goes loose, but she raises her hands and loops them around Hyejoo’s neck. Hyejoo is ready to wrap her own arms around Yerim’s frame to envelop her in a hug, but the look in Yerim’s eyes is different and they don’t divert. Their faces are less than an inch away. One of Yerim’s hands sets in the back if Hyejoo’s head, with her fingers threaded in her hair; the sensation makes Hyejoo tremble.

Yerim has to raise in tip toes to lean in more until their lips are almost grazing each other. For a moment, she can’t move anymore. Hyejoo’s warm breath hits her lips.

They meet in a light kiss that only last a few seconds, yet they don’t pull apart for much and their mouths part just enough to join in a deeper kiss. Sparkles seep in their bones and their blood rush to every part of their body. Yerim’s butterflies don’t stop, instead they become more and more furious with each swipe of lips against lips and her knees almost give away when a hint of Hyejoo’s tongue caresses her lower lip.

Hyejoo is the one that allows herself to break the kiss after a minute, knowing they will have a harder time letting go the more they kiss.

Yerim has barely opened eyes, her lips are swollen and her cheeks have a shade of pink on them. She takes some time to slowly sweep into herself again.

“Yerim?”

Yerim raises her eyebrows at the call, still dazed.

Hyejoo also has a blush in her cheeks and neck, she keeps her hands on Yerim’s hips.

Hyejoo bends her head to a side, signaling Yerim’s house.

“Yeah,” Yerim blinks quickly and slowly retracts her arms, but their hands still find each other. “Yeah. Uhm. T-Text me when you reach home?”

“I will, Yerim.” Hyejoo squeezes her hand, and lets go. “Goodnight.”

It’s weird to not feel Hyejoo’s warmness against her palm, it has been only seconds and she already misses Hyejoo.

“Goodnight.”

Yerim finally opens her gate and walks to her porch, giving a last look to Hyejoo before closing the door behind her.

Hyejoo keeps standing until Yerim is finally inside her house, she tumbles a little when there’s no more sight of Yerim and leans back to the wall.

She smiles widely.

And she’s fallen in love.

-

When Yerim reaches school, she walks to her locker to swap some books and finds a note in there.

      You take my breath away.

They just needed three months of getting to know each other more after Yerim found Hyejoo leaving notes in her locker and they’ve been dating for almost a year now since then.

They’re now in their senior year, and Hyejoo doesn’t think a better way to finish high school.

Saying that they fell in love quickly must be an understatement. In fact, nobody believed how opposite they were (just like night and day) but how the blended so well.

Their social circle also expanded as Yerim went up to Hyejoo’s table at lunch time and between that mix and match, Hyunjin and Heejin started dating too.

(Hyejoo had gladly teased Hyunjin in her pre-dating stage with Heejin, it was a good payback and it was funny to see not only Hyunjin but also Heejin, blushing from Hyejoo’s innuendos.

Hyejoo also wasn’t bothered with the teasing anymore. Instead, she interlaced her fingers with Yerim’s and left a loud kiss in her cheek to show her affection, making the other girls scowl in disgust and a hint of jealousy).

They weren’t going to the library anymore, instead they hang out at Hyejoo’s empty house, mostly because they secretly want privacy from everyone else and a safe space to be more intimate.

Today was one of those days; Yerim slotted herself between Hyejoo’s legs, leaning her back against Hyejoo’s front and Hyejoo sat with the foot of the bed as support. The fluffy dark gray carpet also padded the floor and made them comfortable enough to sit there for hours.

Hyejoo recites flashcards Yerim has made for the next chemistry test, though Yerim seems to have more interest in Hyejoo’s nails and fingers she was playing with.

She feels a light hit in her head.

“Are you listening?”

She turns her head and their faces are just inches away. Hyejoo is unaffected but opposite from her, Yerim is blushing madly and she can’t stop her heart bouncing right in her throat. Yerim curses internally at how much effect Hyejoo causes in her and even though they had plenty of kisses before, everytime feels like the first.

“No,” she replies, very aware that Hyejoo is going to huff in her face and speak louder so Yerim can concentrate because Hyejoo is more disciplined in focusing when studying. Another thing she really liked about Hyejoo; she managed to keep Yerim down in earth and away from her daydreaming.

Instead of reprimanding her, Yerim she can literally see the hearts in Hyejoo’s eyes, how she’s looking at Yerim with such tenderness and love. Yerim doesn’t know if hers reflect the same, but she’s certain she feels the same inside.

Soft lips finally land against her own; in her mind the fireworks burst and explode just like every other time, in a different sequence but with the same intensity. Hyejoo’s kisses are sweet, slow and passionate; Yerim doesn’t know if Hyejoo really knows the whole effect they cause in her.

Hyejoo pulls apart earlier than Yerim’s liking.

“Are you going to focus now?”

“No,” Yerim says with a cheeky smile.

Hyejoo is looking at her with barely opened eyes, Yerim puts her lower lip between teeth at how hot Hyejoo looks like that.

“Oh,” Hyejoo suddenly perks up, “I wanted to give you something.”

Hyejoo forgets and sets the flashcards aside. Yerim holds back a whine when Hyejoo is slipping off from her position to stand up and walk to her desk. She returns with something in her hand that Yerim can’t make up what is it, and gladly Hyejoo returns back as how they were sitting before.

Hyejoo embraces Yerim by her waist, obliging her to look forward, rests her chin in Yerim’s shoulder. She raises her arm to show what’s on her hand.

A little scroll, just like the past ones Yerim had received until now.

Yerim holds it, firstly unsure because usually Hyejoo doesn’t like being present when Yerim opens it (Yerim tried several times, but Hyejoo would whine about it or run away).

“Go ahead,” Hyejoo states.

Yerim doesn’t hesitate; she pulls the thin string and opens the small roll of paper.

There’s nothing written on it, just a red heart drawn in the middle of the piece of paper.

     

Before Yerim can ask anything, Hyejoo speaks.

“I’ll stop with the notes now,” she starts with that, Yerim panics for a moment but lets Hyejoo continue. “Instead of writing them, I want to start expressing how I feel,” a pause, “how I feel about you.”

“You’ve been my girlfriend for almost a year, but it’s always on my mind that I’ve never told you-“

Hyejoo holds Yerim’s arm to turn her around. Hyejoo’s eyes shimmer brightly, there’s so much confidence in her stare but at the same time, it’s vulnerable.

“I love you, Yerim. So much.”

The words echo around Yerim’s ears and mind, she stays quiet for a moment and then tears fill her eyes in an unstoppable cry.

She jumps in place to sling her arms around Hyejoo’s neck, her grip almost choking Hyejoo but neither of them minded.

Hyejoo returns the hug with the same intensity, her arms around Yerim’s waist, their bodies so close together as if they could fuse into one.

“Gosh, Hyejoo,” Yerim says while pulling away just to pull in again but this time locking their lips in a kiss that makes their teeth crash (a little bruising), but they drown together in their own world.

It’s fulfilling, it makes them feel like they’re flying between clouds, and through their bodies rushes a sensation of pure bliss along with the passion that they write with the dance of their lips, it’s nothing similar to what they’ve felt before.

It makes Yerim realize she is now sure of one thing.

“I love you too, Hyejoo.”