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A Blushing Rose

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It’s three days before the ball. And really, Hilda should be out shopping with someone like Marianne, or Lysithea, or heck, even Leonie .

Instead, she finds herself in her room with Claude of all people, who’d insisted to try putting make-up on her at least once. She had...absolutely no idea why he was so adamant about this—she never saw him wear make-up, let alone even hint that he had an interest in it.

But there’s no harm in letting him try, right? Well, she hopes, anyway. Besides, how could she deny an opportunity to spend time with him?

Before she knows it, she’s already got all the make-up out, scattered across her bed. Claude takes a seat in front of her, scanning over the items to see what he’s working with.

“Just make sure you don’t overapply anything, okay? I am not stepping outside if I look like a clown.”

Claude chuckles, grabbing the blush, and oh, he definitely shouldn’t be starting with that . It takes everything in her to stop him, but she manages...just barely. Best not to stress him on his first time, right? “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine. Make-up is mostly just putting pretty powders on your face, right? I can do that.”

Hilda’s jaw drops, and she can see him hold back another laugh as he gently lifts her chin back up. “For the sake of our friendship, I’m going to pretend I didn’t just hear you say that. There’s way more to make-up than just powders, you know! There’s lipstick, mascara, and if that wasn’t enough, you need to make sure your outfit always matches for the occasion!”

She pauses for a moment to take a deep breath, but within that pause, he starts on applying one of the powders—the blush, luckily concealing what natural pink rose to her cheeks with him so close. “...Really, it’s hard work, Claude.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt it. But you know,” he pauses, putting down the blush and moving to grab the mascara, instead. “I feel like I’ve only seen you work harder at this lately, for once. Trying to catch someone’s eye?”

Yeah, you, Hilda thinks, and those annoying butterflies fly up into her stomach. So maaaybe there was a reason why she was more lenient to letting him try putting make-up on her. I mean, the perfect excuse to spend some time alone with your crush? Who’d refuse that?

“No, nothing like that,” she lies, gaze falling down to her bed.

“Oh, wait, no—I need you to look up, Hilda. I’m doing the mascara next.”

The rosy girl gives a little huff, tilting her chin up a bit. Gosh, it’s already hard to not just stare at him like this. Why’d he have to go and be so handsome?!

His hand trails up a bit, gently brushing through her eyelashes with the spoolie. Despite her best efforts, her gaze ends up flicking down to meet his eyes more than a few times and ugh, she’s probably so obvious . She wants to say she hopes he doesn’t notice, but… Oh, who is she kidding? It’s Claude . Of course he noticed.

“So,” he’s quick to finish, already pulling his hands away to reach for something else. “You’ve been pretty quiet about the ball, even with it fast approaching. What happened to all the spirit you had last month, huh?”

“I’m saving all my energy for the ball, obviously! I can’t go getting all tired before I even find my way to the dance floor.”

“Dancing, right…” Claude pauses, clearly pondering something as he grabbed the lipstick, taking off the cap. “Oh, hey, that reminds me. You’ve got a date to the ball already, yeah?”

“Huh?” Why is he asking about that, of all things? “Uh, no, not yet. He hasn’t approached me. But I’ve got time.”

Claude presses the lipstick against her lips, gently guiding it along. “...Wait, so let me get this straight. You, Hilda Valentine Goneril, the girl practically every guy in this monastery trips over himself just to talk to...don’t have a date to the biggest dance of the year.”

With her mouth occupied by the lipstick, a pause falls between them before she can speak again. Soon, he pulls his hand away, giving her the opening. “It’s not like I don’t have anybody in mind! But it’s just so much hard work to ask someone out. I’ll wait until he approaches me about it.”

With that, she rubbed her lips together, making sure the lipstick spread evenly. Is it just her, or...was he staring down at them?

Just a bit, he leans in, and Hilda feels her heart skip a beat. “You can’t always have someone else do the hard part when it comes to this stuff, Hilda. If you don’t make a move soon, who knows if you’ll even have a date at all?”

“I…” She grows quiet, tentative. It’s not like her to feel shy, but this is Claude . Claude, who sent butterflies rushing to her stomach with but one of his handsome smiles. Claude, who charmed her from the moment they met, and who she’d spent the entirety of last month trying to finally catch the eye of.

Claude...who kept doing his best to hide the way his gaze traveled to her lips. That’s right. It’s not like her to feel shy around someone. So why doesn’t she take a chance here? Hilda moves a tentative hand up to cup his cheek, rubbing her thumb against his skin and drawing him closer.

“Well, then, Claude...what do you say? Will you be my date to the ball?”

Just like that, he closes the distance between them with a gentle, sweet kiss. All the tension leaves her with the sigh she gives out through her nose, returning the kiss with a fluttering heart. He tastes faintly like that Almyran tea he had her try recently; it’s so distinctly him, and it makes the moment set in all the more.

Only once they part does he speak again, a fond smile at his lips. “I wondered when you were going to approach me about this. Yes, Hilda. Only if you’ll be mine.”

For the second time today, Hilda’s jaw drops, and this time, he doesn’t hold back his laughter. “H-huh?! Wait a minute, Claude—you knew ?!”

“Why do you think I wanted to do your make-up so badly? You look gorgeous, by the way.”

He pulls back a bit, grabbing a hand mirror and holding it up to her. It’s nowhere near as good as it looks when she does it, of course, but hey. It’s better than she did when she started out. “You did pretty good for your first time.”

“Oh? Then would it trouble my fair lady if I were to practice on her again sometime soon?”

His voice drips with amusement, and it brings out just the reaction he was hoping for. Hilda rolls her eyes, pressing another kiss to his lips. “I don’t think I’d mind that at all.”