Akko was depressed.
Sure, she still smiled and joked with her friends as normal, but Diana knew better. Akko, the wondrous embodiment of everything good about magic, had stopped talking about Shiny Chariot. Diana couldn’t remember the last time Akko had talked her friends’ ears off about her goal to be a performer, and for the girl to have stopped bragging about her lifelong dream could only mean that something had drastically changed her perspective on magic. Diana didn’t want to consider the possibility of Akko giving up on her dream, but it was a worst case scenario that haunted her.
Not to say Akko wasn’t taking magic seriously, no, of course not. Akko had, if anything, started getting much better grades and wholeheartedly focusing on studying with Diana in the library after classes every day. So, at the very least, Akko wasn’t planning on giving up on magic, which was a relief.
Still, Diana missed the exuberance with which Akko talked about her idol, the joy that lit up her face as she pantomimed the tricks that enthralled her since she was a child. Instead, that expression had recently been replaced with a more melancholic one, as Akko stared off into the distance. Sometimes she would even be looking at Diana, which was embarrassing. Diana knew it was most likely just because she happened to be where Akko was looking at, but she couldn’t help but feel self-conscious.
The second-most irritating thing about this matter (the first being that she missed Akko’s lovely expression whenever she talked about her dream) was that none of her friends seemed to be taking it seriously. Even Lotte and Sucy had just given her wry grins and said something along the lines of “Akko’s just growing up.” As if by growing up Akko would lose her natural exuberance toward life and magic. It seemed they at least knew what was wrong, but were quite keen on not telling her, to Diana’s frustration.
So, it appears it fell to her to figure out what was worrying Akko, and if possible, help her with it. It was her role as top student of the school and Akko’s best friend. It was why she found herself where she was, in front of the red team’s room, about to ask a favor from the mushroom devil herself. Diana took a deep breath, mentally preparing herself for the malevolent force she was about to pay tribute to, before she knocking twice.
“Come in, Akko.”
Akko bounced across the threshold of the blue team’s room as Diana closed the door behind her. Diana had invited her to a cup of tea after class, and she was excited to spend more time with her cru-
Friend. Her totally platonic friend who absolutely did not think about Akko in the same fluttery, obsessive way Akko thought about her.
Biting her lip, Akko caught sight of two tea cups already laid out on the small table in front of her. She took a seat and was about to drink from hers when she heard Diana give a small “ahem.”
“Oh, oops. It’s probably rude to start before you even sat down, huh?” Akko set the teacup down and scratched the back of her head.
“Ah, no, it’s just…” Diana fidgeted, which was...weird. Akko had never seen her be so nervous. “Before you choose a cup, I want to show you something.”
Diana took a breath, then straightened up and took something out of her pocket. She placed it on the table, and Akko immediately recognized the vial as Sucy’s. A label on it read “Truth Serum.”
“Um, Diana, what…”
“I have poured its contents in one of our cups, Akko.” Diana sat down, suddenly completely composed as she looked Akko in the eye. “Now, I want you to choose which tea cup to drink from, knowing that.”
Akko could only stare, eyes flicking back from Diana’s stoic expression and the two cups in front of her. Was it a prank? No, Diana never played pranks. And that vial was definitely Sucy’s, and it would be exactly like Sucy to have a secret stash of truth serums for blackmailing or pranking purposes. But why would Diana, of all people, ever decide to do this? Akko wracked her brain, but she couldn’t think of a good reason. Is it a new studying tactic? Was she in trouble? If someone had told Akko that morning that Diana, her best friend and cru-
Her best friend and totally platonic target of totally platonic thoughts.
...had spiked a cup of tea in a Russian Roulette-style truth serum standoff, she would have laughed in their face.
And yet, here she was.
“The tea is going to get cold, Akko.” Diana’s voice was smooth, and Akko bit back a whimper as she broke eye contact. Stars, why was Diana so attractive, even when she had orchestrated a bizarre SAW game with Sucy? Actually, Akko was really enjoying the confidence Diana was exuding right now, her hands folded underneath her chin and a small smile on her face as she looked down at Akko. It was incredibly hot.
In a totally platonic friend way, of course.
“Uh, um…” Akko needed to pick a cup. She could just leave, but then she wouldn’t know why Diana had gone through so much trouble. Also, the idea of spending time with Diana while she couldn’t lie to her was appealing. Maybe she could ask her embarrassing Shiny Chariot trivia questions, or ask about what she’d like for her birthday, or if she had a crush on anyone.
For completely, absolutely platoni-
“I can always choose for you, if you want.”
“Huh?” Akko looked up, her thoughts still on a tangent. Diana was looking at her with such affection and warmth that Akko felt like combusting. Scratch that, maybe she actually was. The room felt hotter, and Akko’s throat was dry as she tried to swallow. She needed something to drink.
Thankfully there was tea right in front of her. Akko picked up her cup and guzzled down the tea. Okay, good, now she could think a bit more clearly and-
Diana’s eyebrow quirked up. Oh. Oh no. The truth serum. How could she forget about that?!
(Akko knew, of course, that it was because Diana being very pretty always distracted her.)
“Well, I will say I didn’t expect that.” Was that good? Was that bad? Diana raised her own cup and took a sip of tea herself, while Akko stared at her in horror.
A moment passed. Diana looked at Akko, and Akko looked at Diana. Had Akko picked correctly? She hadn’t noticed anything odd about the tea, and Sucy’s potions were infamously fast-acting and effective, but…
“I’m worried about you.” Diana’s soft voice snapped Akko out of her thoughts. Oh. So did this mean…? “You never talk about Shiny Chariot anymore. Even if I asked, you always said you were okay, but I can’t believe that. I find myself looking at you, constantly thinking about you, because I never want to see you as downtrodden as that night I found you.” Diana sighed as a slight blush found its way to her cheeks. “I want to protect your smile, Akko. I miss how happy you looked before.”
“Huh?! Wait so this whole truth serum trap was just because you were worried!?” Akko had sprung out of her seat, trying to process everything Diana had said.
Diana looked away, far less composed than before. Her cheeks turned a cute shade of pink. “Er, yes.”
Akko smiled at her. Out of all her friends, Diana being the one to do something so drastic for her was unexpected, but at the same time, doing something so ridiculous and overcomplicated just because she was worried was so much like Diana. It was sweet, in a clumsy, dorky way, and Akko’s heart swooned.
“Stars, Diana, I love you so much.”
Wow Diana’s blush was so bright. Was it that embarrassing? After all Akko had actually been afraid she had been far too obvious with her feelings.
Her feelings...that she had just said out loud, to Diana.
“Wa-wait!” Akko held out her hands and looked away, feeling her face combust. “Tha-that was just um, the truth potion, I mean it just made me say things you know? Wait, you drank the spiked tea. Unless…”
Akko took a second to think, if both she and Diana had been affected by the truth serum, that could only mean one thing. “Aha! You spiked both cups, didn’t you?”
Akko made the mistake of looking up, and swallowed as she saw Diana stand up, her expression completely unreadable as she took a step forward.
“So, what you’re saying is, that because you drank the truth serum, you told me you love me?”
Akko broke eye contact as she stepped back. “Y-yeah! I mean, it just totally slipped out without me thinking about it, you know? Didn’t mean anythi-eek!” Her back hit the bookshelf behind her, and Diana dashed forward and caught a book that had almost fallen on her. Wow, okay, this was not a good position for her heart. She felt her pulse pound wildly as Diana loomed over her, suddenly a lot taller than her.
Oh. Diana was looking at her, and her eyes were so beautiful, such a bright blue.
A shiver went down her spine. “H-hey Diana…”
Diana’s face flushed as she stood over Akko, only a few centimeters away. Akko’s eyes flickered down to Diana’s soft lips, and she saw them open in a soft gasp. Diana stepped back quickly, and suddenly it was too cold and Diana was too far away. It took all of Akko’s willpower to not step forward toward Diana just to be close to her again.
“Akko, I need to be honest with you. There was never a truth serum.”
Akko blinked, and Diana looked away nervously. “There...wasn’t?”
“No, I just asked Sucy for one of her empty vials to label myself.” Diana glanced at her, before looking away again. “A-and anyway, if you were affected by a truth serum, that would mean you were telling the truth when you said…”
Right. Truth serum, it was even in the name. Chalk another one up for Akko’s inability to think clearly under pressure.
“B-but, wait, then why did you tell me all that? About worrying about me and whatever?”
“Ah, that was…” Diana hesitated, apparently embarrassed in a different way. “I was hoping that pretending I had taken the potion and being honest about my motivations would inspire you to be honest as well. It seems it worked a bit too well?” Diana glanced at Akko, threading her fingers through her platinum blonde hair.
That was so not fair, Diana was way too adorable when she looked embarrassed like that. “Cute.”
The red filling Diana’s face intensified, even reaching her ears now. Wow, Akko was really on a roll with embarrassing herself wasn’t she? She placed both hands over her face and collapsed to the floor, hoping that it was enchanted to swallow up anyone who was absolutely dying of shame.
“A-Akko, I-“ Akko interrupted her crush with a loud groan.
“Stop. I know already that you’re out of my league. I’m sorry about making things weird between us, just when we finally became friends.” Akko sighed, and then uncovered her face. She needed to make sure Diana took her seriously, at least for just a bit. “Diana, I wanted to catch up to you as a witch, and be someone you can be proud of. I mean, I still want to perform and make people happy, but I wasn’t worrying about becoming a better witch to be like Shiny Chariot anymore because…” Akko swallowed, locking onto Diana’s gaze and mustering as much sincerity as she could. “Because I wanted to be a better witch for you.”
The room grew silent, Akko’s emotions hanging in the air between them. This was it, this was when Diana would say there’s no point, or she never thought of Akko that way, or any number of ways Diana would break her heart. Still, Akko hoped that maybe they could still stay together. Even if she was rejected, she didn’t want to lose Diana.
“Huh?” Akko blinked at the scolding tone Diana had taken.
“Don’t just look at me like that with...with that sad expression like you already know my answer. I don’t know what you’re thinking, Akko. After all we’ve been through, do you really think-“ Diana took a deep breath, crossing her arms and breaking eye contact. “Do you really think I wouldn’t feel the same way?”
Diana blushed, and as she sighed, she held out her hand to help Akko up. “I’m saying that I love you too, Akko.”
Akko’s heart was about to explode from sheer joy. Diana loved her back? Diana, the perfect, beautiful witch, who was her best friend and rival, loved her back? Without even thinking she jumped up and hugged her.
“A-Akko!” Diana’s voice was strained but happy, and she circled her arms around even the other girl even as Akko crushed her more fiercely in a hug.
“You’re not lying, are you?” Akko pulled back a bit to look at Diana. She tried to blink back tears, but Diana reached up and held her cheek to wipe them away anyway.
“I could always ask Sucy for an actual truth serum, if that would convince you.” They giggled at that, leaning in on each other. Diana’s voice took on an irreverent tone as she whispered. “I love you Akko, truly. You are already a witch I would love to be with, for the Nines’ sake you brought magic back to the world. How could I not be proud of you?”
It was too much, Akko’s heart was going to burst from how much affection Diana was giving her right now. She needed to make sure Diana would stop saying such sweet things before her heart exploded, and obviously there was only one solution to that.
“Diana.” Akko leaned forward until their noses were barely touching. “Can I kiss you?”
Diana bit her lip, eyes flicking down and then back to Akko’s. “Go ahead.”
Akko smiled and kissed her girlfriend in the warm glow of the sunset, happy to have taken another step towards her new dream.