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Twisted Wonderland x Reader

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“Riddle, hello!”

In his life, there were only two voices that he dreaded of hearing. The first one was his mother’s, and the second was the voice of his inner demons. Both of them were rather manageable now; his mother was pleased to know that he’d flourished in the future she’d set for him, and his demons were quenched by the fact that he’d made her happy. Although, of course, he was a bit far from happy.

Regardless, his life had been going well so far. He had a wife who used to act bratty in her younger days, as expected from the typical rich girl, and a cute daughter who took after his features. Money flowed without a single hitch, and the servants always brought him invitations to various parties every day.

But he never expected your voice to become something that he dreaded, not when he used to listen to it for hours with a content smile on his face.

And yet, here he was, standing in the middle of the sidewalk with dilated eyes. Turning around, he was met by the sight of you waving to him. And with every step you took towards him, Riddle wondered if it wasn’t too late for him to just flee and never looked back.

“Man, you’ve grown a bit taller, huh?” Usually, he’d chop off anyone who dared to mock his height. But now, he could only gape at the sound of your chuckle. “How have you been? You never contacted me anymore.”

It wasn’t his fault, really. After his mother found out about your secret relationship, she demanded him to break up and cut all contacts with you. It was hard to do that when you belonged at the same dorm in Night Raven College, but he’d managed somehow.

And slowly, you began to drift apart. Just like it was meant to be.

“A-ah, yes. I guess I have.” Riddle didn’t know what to say. Should he continue the painful conversation? Should he excuse himself? The latter was tempting, for sure, but he couldn’t deny the flutter on his chest when he heard his name fell from your lips.

How long had it been since you called him by anything other than ‘Prefect Riddle’ again? Just thinking about the title itself felt nostalgic.

A sparkle grabbed his attention. Glancing down, he spotted a ring on your fourth finger – the same way he wore his. The lingering shock on his eyes disappeared and was replaced by melancholy instead.

You caught his stare and smiled woefully.

“We’ve been married for two years now.” That wasn’t what he wanted to hear, but he forced himself to listen anyway. And as if sensing his reluctance, you immediately hid your hand and turned the attention back to him. “How about you, Riddle? Does your wife treat you right?”

Snapping out of his brooding thoughts, Riddle coughed into his fist and nodded. “She’s definitely better now that we have our daughter.”

“Oh? You have a daughter already?” You clapped your hands excitedly, eyes twinkling like the ring on your finger. Riddle wasn’t sure if he liked that expression. Shouldn’t you feel… jealous instead? “Oh, I bet she must be cute like her father!”

“Yeah, she’s quite a sweetheart.” No, your love ended a long time ago. There was no reason why you should be jealous of him, especially when it was obvious that you were happier with your partner.

Happier than your relationship with Riddle.

You put a hand under your chin, assuming a thinking pose. “And… let me guess, she likes tart too?” you quizzed.

“Ah, yes,” he replied, scratching his temple bashfully.

“Oh, man. You just created your carbon copy, Riddle, but it’s in a girl form.” You giggled, and somehow, the sound was more beautiful than the chirping of the birds above you. “I really want to meet her now… Maybe she can have a playdate with my child too!”

For a moment, his heart plummeted to his stomach. So you had a child, too. “I guess she can…”

You didn’t seem to notice the turmoil inside him and put a friendly hand on his shoulder instead. “So, what do you say to a cup of coffee, hm?” you beamed. “It’s okay if you don’t want to.”

Staring at your patient face, Riddle realized that, even after all these years, nothing had changed.

Looking away, he tried to hide his eagerness by forcing himself to shrug nonchalantly. Though, your knowing smile let him know that his attempt was futile.

“Sure, I’d love to.”

His feelings were still as strong as in the past, and there was no denying it.

Chapter Text

“… Riddle.”

Slate grey eyes snapped open, discerning a vast garden with rose bushes that stretched before him. What was he doing here? He could’ve sworn he’d gone to bed earlier. Was this… was this a dream? But… he was wearing his uniform now. Was it morning already? If so, then time must have moved so fast. Faster than he thought was possible, faster than he would’ve liked.

“Riddle.”

He whipped his head towards the speaker, heart beginning to thump against its ribcage. Was that – no. That was impossible. There was no way you’d be here. You’d… you’d left a long time ago, to the place where he couldn’t reach. It simply wasn’t his place, even if he wanted to be with you.

And yet… and yet, you were here. You were standing there, just a few meters away from him, with a smile that rivaled even the prettiest rose. It was a loving smile that you reserved for him, that he hoped was still reserved for him.

But you looked so far, so unreachable despite the short distance between you two.

What were you doing here? You weren’t… you weren’t supposed to be here. You weren’t supposed to meet him. Whatever happened between you was a memory now; a fragment of the past that he’d tried so hard to forget.

And now, you’d managed to unearth it with a simple smile.

“[Name]…?” he whispered so slowly as though fearing that if he said it too quickly, then you’d disappear. It was a forbidden name; his friends knew better than to mention it in front of him.

Riddle might’ve changed for the better, but that didn’t mean the wounds have healed. Time had merely eased the sting, that was all.

Your smile widened while your eyes softened. “Hello, Riddle.”

The greeting sounded heavenly in his ears, and Riddle found himself stepping forward. And yet, you seemed as if you’d moved farther and farther away from him with every step he took.

Why? Why are you avoiding him? Please, just let him touch you for  once .

“My, you sure have grown up so fast.” you mused. Why did you look nostalgic? Could you see the desperation in his eyes? Could you see the pain that contorted his face? Could you see the hand that struggled to hold you?

Could you see  him ?

You looked so ethereal under the sunlight, white dress flowing behind you and hair cascaded down like a glistening river.

Like an  angel .

“A shame that I can’t celebrate your special day with you.”

He didn’t care…! He just… he just wanted to hold you. He just wanted to hug you so tight until there was no space left between you and never let you go.

The fact that you were here was special enough for him. Could you see that?

“But I hope you can see me.”

He saw you. He always saw you, even if he didn’t want to – even if it hurt him. He saw you in every little thing he held, in everyone he met, in every place he visited.

But you didn’t know that, did you?

“Happy birthday, Riddle.”

The sight of your beam stabbed his chest even more.

Don’t look at him so tenderly when his eyes were stinging with upcoming tears.

“You’re the best thing that ever happened in my life.”

He should’ve been the one to say that to you.

“I’m happy to be a part of your life.”

He was happy, too. And he missed you… very much.

Did you miss him?

“I love you.”

Don’t– please, don’t say that. You had no right to come here and say that you love him when he couldn’t even touch you – when his lips were frozen and his throat was tight.

You outstretched a hand, and Riddle reached forward almost desperately. This was it…! He could… he could finally touch you now. He could hug you and confess his feelings to you now. He could convince you to stay with him now.

A moment, that was all he needed.

… But he couldn’t. Because instead of grasping your palm, instead of intertwining your fingers together like he always dreamed, his hand passed through it.

Eyes widened, Riddle stumbled from the unexpected incident and winced at the impact. His knees were scraped, but it was nothing compared to the agony he felt when he saw your figure faded right before his eyes.

Where were you going…?! Riddle mentally shrieked as he quickly crawled towards you, trying to grasp the hem of your dress. You couldn’t just leave him like that! He wanted you… he wanted you to stay.

He ordered you to stay!

So, please he sobbed, hand slowly falling as light particles floated in the air. The remnants of your existence. The remnants of his hope. Stay with him just for a moment, that was all he wanted.

That was all he  wished  for.

“… Riddle!”

A deep voice pulled him into reality. Riddle blinked repeatedly and peered around, noticing his dorm members were standing in front of him with concern and confusion etched on their faces. Slowly, he grasped his head with one hand and looked down.

What was that just now…?

“Are you okay, Riddle?” Trey asked softly, frowning at his absentminded face. “Do you need something?”

“No, I…” Riddle furrowed his brows at the liquid that dripped on to his gloved hand. Was he… was he crying? “… I’m fine. Don’t worry about it.”

Trey slowly withdrew, unsure of his response. “Well, if that’s what you said…” he muttered.

“So,” Cater piped up, trying to lift the situation. “what do you wish for, Riddle?”

What did he wish for? The redhead blinked owlishly and finally discerned a cake with burned candles on the table before him. Ah, that’s right. It was his birthday, wasn’t it? And he’d uncharacteristically zoned out in the middle of the wishing session.

Riddle cleared his throat and opened his mouth. “I wish…”

“You wish…?” Cater drawled, but Riddle couldn’t quite hear him. Instead, his eyes were fixed on a familiar face among the crowd.

Your face.

His chest tightened.

You were hereIt wasn’t… it wasn’t a dream, then. And yet…

“I wish…” You smiled and nodded patiently, urging him to continue. “I wish everyone to be successful and…” The breath hitched on his throat. He couldn’t… he couldn’t do this. He couldn’t speak anymore, or else, he might embarrass himself again.

Or else, his voice might crack.

“… happy.”

“Heh, that’s some noble wish you got there, Rosehearts-senpai.” Somewhere nearby, Ace remarked cheekily. Deuce jabbed him on the side, warning him to read the room, but Riddle was deaf to it all.

How could he notice everything else, when you were here, celebrating his birthday just like everyone else?

“Well, then. It’s time to slice the cake now~!” Cater chirped, already in the process of snapping countless pictures while Trey calmly cut the strawberry tart after chuckling at his enthusiasm.

… And yet, Riddle remained immobile in his chair as he stared at your glowing figure just a few meters away from him.

You smiled, eyes softened as you did in his reverie. You mouthed a few words before you slowly vanished, just like what you did in his reverie.

“Goodbye, Riddle.”

Riddle broke down, hands covering his flushing face.

His friends thought it was tears of joy.

Chapter Text

The signs were almost unnoticeable.

Perhaps, they couldn’t be called ‘signs’ at all.

It wasn’t as if you were trying to attract his attention, really. Riddle just noticed that you became more distracted lately; how your gaze always lingered on the married couples in the streets. He thought nothing about it at first, assuming that you found something interesting from them. Then, he caught your stray glances at the bridal boutiques and jewelry shops, particularly the ring displays. Riddle also once spotted you searching for wedding dresses in your phone, scrolling through the gorgeous gowns with a faintly longing expression.

Riddle always blushed whenever you did that, looking away as if he’d just caught you doing something embarrassing. You didn’t seem to notice, fortunately, but he did see you quickly locking your phone or snapping your head back to him. You might not say it, however, Riddle knew exactly what you wanted.

Marriage.

The thought never failed to elicit an almost desperate wish to hide in the nearest hole. Marriage? Did you really want to marry him? Or did you just like to see wedding stuff? He knew it was stupid to even think about the latter when the signs were obvious enough, but he couldn’t accept the fact that you secretly wanted to be his wife.

What if he couldn’t be a good husband to you? What if you leave him because you couldn’t withstand his mother’s acerbic words any longer? She’d always been the nitpicking one, and Riddle feared that she’d destroy his marriage before it could even start.

But… surely she’d change her mind after she saw just how patient and loving you were as a partner, right? Even if your magic control was average, it didn’t mean you were stupid. And besides, your magic wasn’t the thing that attracted him to you, anyway.

… Yes, he could see just how good of a wife you’d be. And if his mother still didn’t approve of you, then he’d keep his marriage. He was an adult, after all. Her words shouldn’t impact him so much now.

Gripping the velvety red box in his pocket, Riddle hesitantly approached you. He could see you were cooking something in his kitchen, occasionally glancing at the recipe book to confirm the menu. It was truly the picture of domesticity; one that couldn’t be replaced by anything. His cheeks reddened at the thought of you preparing food for him, this time, as his wife.

Sure, it wasn’t the first time you’d done that, but there was always something different when you were married.

“[Name]…?” Riddle called tentatively, peeking into the kitchen.

You turned your head slightly and blinked.

“Oh, hey, Riddle.” you greeted casually, wiping your palms on the apron that hugged your figure. “Sorry, I use your kitchen to experiment again.”

“No, no, it’s okay. I told you to think of this house as yours, didn’t I?”

Or, should he say, ours? He just hoped that you agreed. If not, then, he wouldn’t know what to do. Should he break up? Oh, Great Seven, he prayed something like that didn’t happen.

You shrugged, turning back to the hissing pan. “You’re right.”

Riddle looked down, biting his lower lip nervously. “Um, [Name]…?”

“Yeah?”

“Will you…” he gulped, squeezing the jewel box unconsciously. “Will you marry me?”

You dropped the spatula and stiffly turned around, eyes dilated. They grew when Riddle slowly lowered himself on one knee and opened the small case, revealing the ring you’d been staring at during one of your dates.

“I, uh…” Riddle sputtered, glancing everywhere but your gaping face. “I know that I can be unnecessarily strict, and I know that my mom will still criticize you and all. But, just this once, I want to do something freely. And that means, I…” He licked his dry lips and hesitantly looked up. “I want to make you happy… as your husband. That is, if you accept me.”

You slowly bowed your head and pursed your lips, cheeks growing warm from his heartfelt gaze. After a moment of silence that increased his heart rate in each passing second, you nodded.

“Yeah…” you murmured diffidently yet resolutely, tears stinging your eyes. “Yeah, I would love to.”

Riddle smiled and raised to his full stature. Gently, he slipped the ring into your ring finger and admired the way the diamond glinted under the light.

“It’s… beautiful.” you sighed, inspecting the silver jewel around your digit. You peered at his eyes and smiled, a tear trickled down your warm cheek. “Thank you.”

The redhead smiled back, one hand reaching forward. But before he could stroke your cheek, he sniffed.

“[Name], do you smell something burning?” he inquired, frowning slightly.

Your eyes instantly widened. “The steak…!”

Riddle chuckled as he watched you hurriedly turned off the stove and lamented the overcooked meat. Sighing blissfully, he cocked his head and caressed your head with tender eyes.

Thank you, too, [Name]. I promise I’ll try hard to make you happy.

… I love you, forever and ever.

Chapter Text

You’d always known that Riddle’s mother was austere from his confession after the Overblot incident, but to personally met her was a different experience entirely. You could already see her disapproving frown from far away, the way she eyed you up and down judgmentally, and the way her arms crossed with her chin raised slightly.

She disliked you, and it showed.

“Mother, this is [Name] [Last Name], my… girlfriend.”

You knew Riddle had always been hesitant to introduce you to her, fearing that she’d disapprove of your relationship. No matter how much Riddle had changed from a rule-obsessed tyrant to a strict leader, it didn’t change the fact that he was still living with his mother at the end of the day. And that meant she still had a considerable influence on him; being the person who could easily force him to break up with you.

You just hoped Riddle loved you enough to maintain this relationship despite her demand. You knew it was selfish of you to wish for that, but… was it really wrong? Was it wrong to want to be with the boy you loved? Was it wrong to hope that you could change her mind someday, somehow? Was it wrong to want to prove that you were nothing like what she’d thought?

“Girlfriend, huh…?” she drawled, distaste dripping from her tongue. “What makes you think you’re suitable enough for my son?”

You glanced around, trying to search for an appropriate response. You admitted that although that question was expected, it still caught you off guard. After all, what kind of answer that wouldn’t make you seem arrogant yet satisfactory? “Well, I–”

“Show me your magic.” she demanded, unceremoniously cutting you mid-sentence. “I want to see how well you control it.”

Oh, no.

“I…” you sputtered, eyes wide and chest hammering. What were you gonna do now? Should you just come clean? But it’d worsen the situation, wouldn’t it? Then again, lying wouldn’t make everything better, anyway.

Who would’ve thought that the question you dreaded the most came so fast?

You peered towards Riddle, but you discovered that he already stiffened as if the question was directed to him. “Unfortunately, I… don’t have any magic, Mrs. Rosehearts.”

“You’re magic-less?” she repeated like she couldn’t believe what she heard, head tilted slightly.

You flinched and looked down, gripping your skirt unconsciously. “Y-yes, I am.”

In the end, something like this was bound to happen, anyway.

“Then, how high are your grades?” she quizzed. “Do you rank high in your classes?”

“I… happen to have an above average grade in Magical History, Ma’am.”

Remembering the dates and names of some famous yet unknown wizards was quite a headache, but at least, it was a bit better than memorizing the complicated ingredients of various potions.

Mrs. Rosehearts’ scowl deepened, and you knew that your reply had reinforced her opinion on you.

Just History?“ she asked incredulously. "And above average?”

You fell silent, because what else could you say? It was the only accomplishment you had ever since you woke up in Twisted Wonderland. Well, aside from handling the Overblot boys, that is. And even then, you wouldn’t survive without the trio.

“Mother,” Sensing the growing tension, Riddle immediately stepped in. He stood before you, acting as some sort of a barrier between you and her. “I can assure you that [Name] is a kind girl despite her grades. She helped me a lot, and she even kept some of the rowdy freshmen in line–”

“Kindness is nothing if she’s stupid, Riddle.”

You unwittingly flinched, further burying your head into your chest. You knew that you weren’t the smartest student, and you knew that there were still many things you didn’t know about the school and the world. But to hear such remark – and from your boyfriend’s mother nonetheless – still stung, anyway.

“Mother, please don’t mock her.” Riddle sighed, shoulders drooping slightly as if already helpless to the situation. And honestly, you couldn’t blame him for feeling that way. Even you didn’t know what you should do to change her view, or prove that you were more than just an ordinary, dumb girl.

“I wasn’t mocking her; I was just saying the truth.” Mrs. Rosehearts squinted, daring him to oppose her again. “A girl like her can only bring shame to our family, and most of all, she can only bring you down. Just look at her.”

You looked away diffidently when they turned towards you, hands clasped over your groin.

“What kind of things can you be proud of from her? Not only she’s an average student, but she’s magic-less too.” she remarked scathingly, unrestrainedly. “Imagine what would happen if you marry such a girl. She wouldn’t be able to teach her kids anything about magic, let alone knowing the basic. She’s hopeless, Riddle.”

Riddle blushed slightly at the scenario. “Mother, we’re still–”

“I don’t care.” She shook her head stubbornly, hands placed firmly on her hips. “I want you to stop seeing her, or I’ll ask the headmaster to separate you. Your choice.”

Mrs. Rosehearts took a step back and slammed the front door shut, not even allowing you two to enter. An awkward silence hung between you and Riddle before he sighed, peering at you apologetically.

“Sorry, [Name]. She… can be rather stubborn sometimes.” he murmured, not really knowing how to comfort you.

The damage was already done, anyway.

“It’s okay…” you finally responded after staring blankly at the door for who knows how long. “She’s… she’s right, though.”

Riddle slowly frowned and turned to you.

“What do you mean?” When you didn’t reply quickly, he asked again. This time, his voice rose slightly bordering on… desperation. “[Name], you… you can’t possibly believe her, right? You know you’re more than that, right?”

You gave him a strained smile. “Riddle, can you please accompany me back to my dorm? I… I don’t think she wants me to be here.”

Riddle regarded you silently, slate grey eyes observing the hidden sadness within your downcast ones. Sighing, he enveloped you in a tight embrace and pushed your head to his shoulder.

“I’m sorry.” he whispered, despite it not being his fault that he had such an unforgiving mother. “I really am sorry.”

You stayed silent, choosing to bury your face on the crook of his neck. He smelled nice, as always. It calmed you down on days where you were tormented by Crowley’s vagueness and your predicament. You often expressed your happiness for having a boyfriend who regularly took care of himself, but you didn’t think he realized the depth of your statement.

How his smell sometimes reminded you of home; your new home. How you sometimes wondered what would happen if you returned to your world and, thus, unable to smell him anymore. How he smelled like safety and peace after a long day of fulfilling your duties as both a student and a friend.

He just knew that you liked his smell, and that was okay.

Because it was the only thing that anchored you to the reality when most people rejected you for your lack of magic; something that happened beyond your abilities, and something that you didn’t think was necessary to survive.

Still…

“It’s okay.”

… I’m sorry for not being able to make your mother proud; for not being able to make you proud.

“It’s not your fault.”

Sorry… for being such a stupid girlfriend who believed that everything could be solved with a simple conversation; who forced you to meet her when you weren’t ready to.

“So please, don’t apologize.”

Sorry for… everything.

Chapter Text

Riddle wasn’t happy with the arrangement, you could tell that much from his somber frown and downcast eyes. You weren’t really excited, either, but there was only so much you could do to convince your stern parents. For some reason, they thought you were fit for him and decided to arrange a marriage with his family as soon as possible.

Of course, you needed to prove yourself to the Rosehearts first, mainly to the mother so you wouldn’t end up tarnishing their reputations with your ‘pathetic’ magic. Judging by how passive the men were, it was blatant that Mrs. Rosehearts was a dominant figure in the household. And it seemed that age didn’t mellow her attitude, if anything, it hardened her even more.

Honestly, you couldn’t say that you didn’t understand Riddle’s pain. Both of your parents were perfectionists, and although your mother was somewhat softer, they strived to push you to your ‘best’. Indeed, their efforts proved to be fruitful; you could control your magic at such a tender age, learned the basic and advanced lessons, and manners. Playtime was scarce and only when they felt you truly earned it, for example: getting a high score in tests. If not, they’d force you to try again until you gained the ‘right’ grades.

But just because you understood his pain, didn’t mean he liked you. For him, you were merely a stranger who was bound to be his wife anytime soon. He didn’t know you beyond your name, family, and magical skills.

And you accepted it.

You accepted that Riddle only did this to satisfy his mother. You accepted that he might never love you. And you accepted that he never really wanted to marry you, as painful as it was to admit it.

Had the situations were different, you would’ve picked another man instead. But, of course, it was impossible to get everything you wanted in life. You could only hope he wasn’t as strict as your families were, and if not, you wished children would mellow him somewhat.

“Hello, Riddle. We meet again.” you said amicably, trying to remain cheerful despite his lackluster response. You sat before him in the garden, two porcelain cups sitting below you. The smoke swirled from the hot tea and disappeared into the air, resembling the stupid questions you dispelled in your brain for the sake of finding the right topic to talk about. “So, uh, how was school?”

“It was good.” he mumbled.

Yeah, of course, it was good. In school, he could meet his friends and forgot about his parents momentarily. And, of course, you. You wondered if they knew about the engagement, and whether it was appropriate to ask that to him. As far as you knew, it was a delicate subject between you two.

Still, it didn’t hurt to try, right? If he got angry at you, then at least you knew to never ask again.

“… Do your friends know about, you know, us?”

The way you worded the question made it seem as if your relationship was forbidden and not something your families had agreed upon. And it seemed he thought the same way – at least, internally – because his face soon turned sour and the grip on the handle tightened slightly.

No.”

As expected, you smiled bitterly. You hadn’t told your friends, either. You didn’t think you could, because how would they react later? How would they react that your marriage was set by your parents? How would they react that you were still controlled by them even after you reached adulthood? You knew you shouldn’t care too much about people’s opinions, but knowing they were free to do anything they wanted and you weren’t was just… unfair.

“I see…” you simpered, fumbling with the hem of your dress. “I haven’t, either.”

Riddle said nothing, again, as expected. He merely twirled the teaspoon in his cup almost absentmindedly, as if being with you was the most boring activity he’d ever done.

… And painful.

Because being with you only reminded him of the inevitable future, wasn’t it? Because regardless of how nice you were, how polite you were, you simply weren’t the girl he wanted to marry. Maybe not now, or maybe never. And you, too, felt the same way.

But what could you do to change this predicament? You both were basically powerless against your families, no matter how powerful your magic skills were compared to theirs. It was probably fate that told you to remain under their control forever, because they’d always find a flaw in your proof of independence. Anything to let them have the upper hand in your life.

As irritating and painful as it was to admit it, that was your destiny of being born into [Last Name] family.

So there was nothing you could do but to make the best of it, wasn’t it? You’d be together, possibly forever because divorce would tarnish your reputations, and spending it in repulsion would only exhaust you both in the end.

… Yes, if only it was that easy. Still, you had to try. Mending the situation was the least you could do to regain some semblance of freedom, and as his future wife and mother of his children.

Swallowing your fear of his response, you slowly reached forward to grasp his hand that was playing with the teaspoon. Riddle gasped and immediately dropped the spoon, body stiffening at the abrupt gesture.

“Riddle…” you murmured, trying to coax him out of his stupor. “Riddle, can you listen to me? Please?”

Hesitantly, he gulped and looked into your eyes. Heavy blush decorated his pale cheeks, but you decided to ignore it. You could tease him later.

“Riddle,” you began, inhaling deeply. “I know that we can’t change our situation, let alone our engagement. But I’m hoping that we could, at least, be friendly towards each other.”

“Isn’t that what we always do?” he mumbled, pouting slightly.

You shook your head.

“No, we’re just being… civil all this time.” you sighed. “You don’t have to love me now, or never, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. It’s… hard to accept, but since we’re going to spend our lives together very soon, I’m hoping we wouldn’t be so awkward.”

“O-of course, I’m not forcing you!” you tittered. “We can start things slow, and let it happen naturally. Just… just think of me as one of your classmates.”

Riddle sighed and averted his gaze from your pleading one, gloved hand slackening within your grasp.

“… You just don’t want them to get angry, do you?” he asked softly, face weary.

“I can’t say that I want it to happen.” you murmured, releasing your grip on his hand languidly. “I know that we getting along makes it feel as if they’re winning, but it’s the most beneficial result for us. At least, in my opinion.”

You sighed. “Hatred is just tiring, you know?”

There was a lull in the conversation, and that was okay. The most important thing was that you’d told him what you thought about this situation and how to fix it. The rest was up to him whether he’d agree with your offer or not.

“… I don’t hate you.” he whispered. “I never hate you. I just… I just don’t know how to act. Everything is too sudden for me.”

You nodded, half relieved and half hopeful with his response.

“I understand, that’s why I said we can start things slow.” You opened your palm, smiling reassuringly. “So what do you say, Riddle?”

The redhead eyed your amiable face before falling to your hand. Gulping, he shakily rested his palm atop yours and nodded shyly.

“Yeah, let’s.”

Chapter Text

Trey couldn’t say that he didn’t expect this to happen.

It wasn’t the strange rules that people had a problem with, but Riddle tended to demand the students to obey them all regardless of the time and their situations. Trey was a bit bothered by it too sometimes, but it wasn’t as though he could order Riddle to change everything he’d come to know in his life. He hoped the students would learn to tolerate his demands for the sake of avoiding his infamous wrath and punishment.

Riddle wasn’t a bad guy. He was just… very passionate about the order, that was all.

However, Trey didn’t expect the dispute to happen so early in the morning.

“Shut up! Nobody cares about your weird rules, Riddle! They’re just doing it because they’re scared of you!”

The tiny, bashful blush that usually decorated your cheeks now filled your entire face. It wasn’t as dark as the one that colored Riddle’s visage, but Trey could discern the slow rising in your voice. Around you, the students had gathered and whispered to each other. Nobody tried to break the fight in fear of being caught in the disaster, though. However, some of them did agree with your resentful statements.

“[N-Name]-chan, please calm down for a sec, will you?” Cater tried to dissolve the heated atmosphere, but you quickly shrugged his hand off of your shoulder.

“No, Cater-senpai. This guy needs to learn the difference between a leader and a dictator,” you mumbled.

Riddle gritted his teeth in response. “Are you saying that I’m a dictator? Is that it?!” he seethed, hands clenched tightly on his sides. Trey was certain that his knuckles had turned white if he wasn’t wearing gloves. “How dare you…! Off with your head!

You choked slightly at the abrupt sensation of metal clasping your neck and slowly touched the golden edge. Once you ascertained that it was indeed the infamous collar, you snapped your head towards him and snarled.

“See?! This is why you’re a dictator! You’re always punishing those who speak up against you, even if they’re right!” you yelled, pointing an accusing finger towards him. “Admit it, Riddle. You’re just afraid of being wrong!”

“[Name], that’s enough.” Trey finally intervened, gently pushing you away before you could storm forward and slap Riddle in a fit. “Please go to your room and calm yourself down.”

You reeled back in disbelief.

“What the-? Is that a time-out?” you asked incredulously, looking at your boyfriend with a frown. “Don’t tell me… you’re defending that guy, even though you knew that he’s wrong.”

“I’m not defending anyone, [Name],” he explained calmly. “It’s my job as a vice dorm leader to bring peace to the dorm.”

“Peace? Peace, you say…? This dorm won’t be peaceful until he changes his way!” you stomped the grass in a barely concealed frustration. “Goddammit, Trey. I thought you’re supposed to be the mature one here!”

“[Name], please. Don’t make me have to use force on you.”

As if something struck you, you fell silent. The crowd watched with bated breath your next words, while Riddle smirked at you. His face was steadily losing its intensity, Trey noted, while yours turned emotionless.

“… Fine. If that’s what you want, I’ll leave.” you muttered, squinting at the bespectacled boy. The telltale sign of tiredness in his otherwise firm expression would’ve brought you pity, but today, you just could care less. “I hope you both are happy in your ridiculous little world.”

You left after shooting your boyfriend a dirty look, sullenly walking through the small path the crowd had cleared for you. Trey sighed, taking off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose.

How did it get to this…?

Chapter Text

“Ace! I’m gonna go home tomorrow!”

The boy had never seen you this cheerful, this happy. Although being with him and the others wasn’t a complete pain, they’d be a fool to not notice the melancholy that run underneath your smile. They’d be a fool to not notice the way you stared distantly sometimes, wondering if there was even a way for you to return someday. Ace had tried to cheer you up – well, more like distracting you – but he wasn’t too good with emotions himself.

Especially now that he realized he had feelings for you.

How long had they been there? Was it when he met you on the main road on the first day of school? Was it when he saw you in the opening ceremony? Or was it when he began to spend more time with you, causing and solving ruckus?

“Go home…?” he inquired, cocking his head.

He had his suspicion, of course, but he wanted to know if it was incorrect. Or, rather, hoped it was incorrect. What would happen to their little group if you left? Grim would be sad to hear about this; to wake up, and realize that the bed you used to share was empty save for him. He could puff up his chest and proclaim that he didn’t need you, but everyone knew he’d be lost without you. Deuce, too, would be dejected.

And him… what about him? How would Ace fare now that he wouldn’t be able to meet you again? How would he deal with these feelings all alone?

“Yes! Go home to my world. The headmaster told me that he finally found a way.” you gushed, clenching your hands in a restrained joy. “Ah, I’m so happy! After being stuck here for months, I finally got to meet my family again. I really miss the food in there…”

That’s right. You had a family, didn’t you? They must be worried for sure…

“… Oh, that’s great, then.”

You blinked in confusion at his uncharacteristically sullen tone. “Eh, what’s with that voice? Aren’t you happy for me?”

Oh, he was happy, alright. He just… didn’t know what kind of expression he should show you. It wasn’t as if he could smile and cheer for you while his stomach was churning at the thought of accompanying you to the mirror.

“Yeah, ‘course I’m happy. I’m just…” he murmured as he looked away from your glimmering eyes and rubbed his nape. “not feeling really well today.”

“Eh…? So even Ace Trappola can get sick, huh?” you giggled. “And here I thought teenage boys are indestructible.”

Just because his body was pretty strong, didn’t mean his heart was the same.

But you didn’t know that, did you?

You were always so oblivious, almost like the female version of Deuce. It was troublesome to wait for you to notice all the hints he’d dropped, and yet, Ace never thought about changing his tactics.

Maybe you’d realize someday, somehow. Maybe you could be the awesome couple he’d always dreamed of. Maybe you could be his for a little while.

If only those maybes came true…

He truly had the worst luck, didn’t he? Falling for a girl who wouldn’t, who couldn’t love him. Falling for a girl who would be leaving soon. Falling for a girl who would never return once she crossed the boundaries between the two worlds.

“Have you told the others?”

You shook your head. “Nope, I saw you and thought I should inform you first.”

How sweet of you, Ace repressed a bitter smile and bowed his head, for thinking about him first.

He wondered if the thought of him pervaded your mind as you did to his, or if you’d continue to think about him once you reached home.

“Well,” he slowly raised his head, chest beginning to thump at your final tone. “I should be packing up now. Wouldn’t want to be late to the ceremony tomorrow~” 

The breath hitched on his throat. No

“Wait!”

You halted on your tracks and turned around, head cocked quizzically. “Yes…?”

I like you. “I’m gonna go, too.”

“I thought you’re supposed to be painting the roses?”

Just for this once…

“Nah, I’m sure Riddle won’t mind if I’m gone for a bit.”

… let me spend more time with you. Alone, with nobody to disturb us. Like I always want to. Like  lovers  do .

“You’re so cheeky, Ace.” You beamed, closing your eyes gleefully. “But okay! Just don’t complain when he chops your head later.”

The sight of you smiling under the afternoon sun with the breeze caressing your hair hit him harder than it should be. Blinking away the tears that stung his eyes, he coughed and pouted. “Of course not.”

Any punishment is  worth  it as long as I can see you for the last time.

… I love you, [Name]. Thank you for being my friend. I hope you won’t forget about us, especially me, because I’ll remember you.

Always .

Chapter Text

“I’m tired, Deuce.”

Deuce snapped his head towards you and blinked owlishly, confused about the sudden statement. Despite the sun that shone merrily above you, your profile was glum. Dark. Tired. He could see the shadows under your eyelids, your downcast lips that seemed almost natural, and your eyes that gazed at something far; something missing. Specks of dust littered your wrinkly uniform, and had he didn’t accompany you since the first day, he would’ve thought you were a pauper instead.

An outsider who didn’t fit with the prestigious image of Night Raven College.

An alien.

But, as much as it hurt to admit it, he was right. You were poor, ignorant, and alone. Despite your friendship with them, despite Grim’s status your roommate, it didn’t change the fact that you were still lonely here.

If the longing glances towards the Mirror Chamber wasn’t enough indication, then he didn’t know what else.

Deuce knew he would’ve felt the same way, maybe not even as calm as you did, and that was made it even more painful.

Because there was nothing he could do to heal that loneliness, not as long as you were still here.

“I know I don’t have the right to say this, considering you, Ace, and Grim are the one who usually handle the fights while I stand on the sideline. But I’m just–” You paused, blinking away the tears that glazed your eyes. “I’m just… tired, you know? I’m not fit in this world, and it shows.”

Deuce kept quiet, earnestly listening to your confession. Although it came as a surprise for him, he was glad that you trusted him enough to vent to.

If only there was something he could say to you…

But he couldn’t deny the truth, could he? No matter how many times he reassured you that you’d be okay in this school, that he and the others would protect you, the reality remained unchanged.

You were magic-less, and only because of them you were still able to survive until now. Without them, you would have–

“… I just want to go home.”

Deuce’s hands twitched on his knees before they gripped his pants slowly.

Don’t say that.

“I don’t want to live here anymore.”

I know. Just… please bear with it for a little while, okay? At least, until I…

“I want to meet my family and friends.”

We are your friends, and we can be your family too if you want.

You smiled bitterly.

“But that’s impossible, isn’t it? Crowley doesn’t seem like he wants to return me to my world.” You sighed shakily, toying with the hem of your skirt. “I wonder why he’s adamant on keeping a weak girl like me here. It’s not like I’ve contributed much to this school other than chaos and bad grades.”

“That’s… that’s not true!” You slowly raised your head and met his fierce yet pleading look. “You’re strong! You just… you just have different skills, that’s all.”

You blinked owlishly before chuckling, and he would’ve laughed too had it didn’t sound so… skeptical.

“You don’t have to lie, Deuce.” you simpered.

But I’m not lying. Why can’t you see that?

“We all know that I’m just a burden to you guys.”

No, don’t say that. Please. You worth more than just a burden. Please, stop putting down yourself. Please.

“Maybe the only reason why I’m still here is because of Grim. We’re considered as one student, after all. And if I go home, then…” You looked skyward, and the strained smile slowly disappeared. “… he won’t be able to continue his study. But if I stay, then…”

Sighing wearily, you shook your head.

“… Never mind.” you mumbled. “Sorry for dumping my problems on you, Deuce. You probably have something better to do than listening to my complaints.”

Deuce watched you raise from the bench and swiveled towards the direction of Ramshackle dorm. Gritting his teeth, he stood up and grabbed your wrist.

You turned your head slightly, surprised at the abrupt contact. “Deuce, what–?”

He wordlessly pulled you into his embrace and buried his face on the crook of your neck. Your eyes widened, feeling Deuce tightened his hold around you as if wanting to cherish the proximity; as if this would be his first and last hug with you.

“I’m sorry I can’t do much as your friend, and I’m sorry I can’t heal your loneliness.” His whisper tickled your neck, but you were too shocked to notice. “But I just want you to know that I really care about you. So, please, don’t hide your sadness. Because…”

Deuce gulped, the confession gnawed on the tip of his tongue.

“… you’re very precious to me, and I don’t want to see my friend bears the burden alone.”

Your eyes softened at his earnest statements, and slowly, you returned his hug.

“Deuce…” you murmured, feeling the tears pricking your eyes. But this time, you didn’t try to repress them anymore. “… thank you.”

Until I see you off later, let me cherish my time with you.

Thank you for coming to my life, [Name].

I love you.

Chapter Text

“Leona-san, are you really not gonna attend [Name]’s wedding?”

Somehow, the question managed to drive the knife in the lion’s chest deeper than he expected. It wasn’t because of the silent expectation in Ruggie’s tone, or the fact that he might disappoint you for his absence. For all he knew, you might’ve invited him out of politeness.

As much as he wanted to believe that you did it because you wanted to shove your marriage in his face, he couldn’t. Because he knew you weren’t petty. And because he knew that you considered him as your precious friend, despite his less than pleasant treatment towards you.

friend. Not the husband he should’ve been, or the ex he could’ve been. Just a friend, because he purposefully trapped himself in that title to avoid further pain.

Because he couldn’t accept the fact that someone had truly loved him for who he was, regardless of his position as the second prince.

Clicking his tongue exasperatingly, Leona rolled to his side. “Of course not. How many times are you gonna ask me that? Should I plaster it on your forehead instead so you’ll remember?”

“Geez, it’s not like that, Leona-san.” Ruggie huffed. “You know that she’s expecting you to come, right?”

“Well, I still don’t want to come.” the lion grumbled stubbornly.

Rubbing his forehead in frustration, Ruggie finally exhaled a resigned sigh. “Fine, then. Whatever you say…”

The door clicked shut, and for a moment, a thick silence permeated the room. Peeking out from his pillow, Leona slowly grabbed the black and pink invitation from the table and reread it for the umpteenth time.

Lilia Vanrouge and [Name] Vanrouge.

Tch, that Draconia’s mother hen finally got married, huh? Leona frowned as he unconsciously gripped the paper, leaving a crumpled mess in his palm.

“You’re annoying me. Go away.”

“Don’t you have anything better to do than disturbing people’s sleep?”

“I don’t need your useless worry. So what if I failed a class? It doesn’t concern you, anyway.”

Sighing, he put the invitation back to its place and closed his eyes. If only he could rewind the time… if only he didn’t say it…

“Is that it? Is that why you’ve been bothering me lately? Because you ‘like’ me?” Leona smirked, eyeing your bashful expression. “Heh, can’t say that I’m surprised, though. But I can’t be bothered to humor other people’s silly crush, so, no. I won’t be your boyfriend or whatever.”

Shock and hurt flashed in your eyes before you looked down disappointedly. “Yeah, I know you’d rejected me. But at least… at least give me a chance, will you? I promise this’ll be worth it.”

“That’s what they say before they break up.” Leona’s pessimistic murmur poured more salt to the wound. “In the end, they regret their decision.”

… Would you still want to date him? Would you marry him instead?

“I see…” you whispered dejectedly. “Well, I hope you find someone who’s worthy of your time, then.”

Leona wouldn’t say that he didn’t sense your sadness, but he chose to ignore it instead.

Had he looked up, though, he’d definitely see the tears that glistened your tender eyes.

Had he looked up, though, he’d definitely see the dirty glance Lilia sent to him when he spotted you running from his usual napping spot.

But, as always, Leona couldn’t be bothered to notice those ‘silly’ things.

“Ah, damn it. Just go to sleep already.” he huffed to himself once ten minutes had passed without him being unable to fall as quickly as he used to. He couldn’t even close his eyes without imagining your beaming face, clad in a pure white dress that illuminated your tearful eyes and a bouquet in your dainty hands.

Blissful tears, not the hurt tears he’d caused you that time.

And then, you’d clasp Lilia’s hands – not Leona’s – and utter the vow that would bind your lives forever.

You and Lilia. Not you and Leona.

I’m really insufferable, aren’t I? The lion sighed to himself before drifting into a fitful sleep.

Chapter Text

Everything started with hints, images of what would happen if you kept liking Leona. From small things, such as his appearance and lifestyle. He wasn’t a smelly or sweaty person, like the typical teenagers, but he was messy. He’d never worn his blazer, fully buttoned his shirt, or even folded his clothes. His laundry was always scattered on the floor, the allure of the bed was too strong for his languid self. Ruggie often grumbled and complained, despite the hefty payments he received regularly, wishing Leona was a bit tidier. Neater. It was obvious that his habits wasted Ruggie’s time more than necessary. Ruggie, whose schedule was never really free.

But you both knew he’d asked too much from Leona. He was simply apathetic, both to himself and others. Of course, he was selfish, like all people in this world. He’d tried to hamper, or ambush, Malleus so he couldn’t join the Magift game. He always ordered Ruggie to do things he could easily do himself, like buying food. And he often put the burden of handling Cheka to other people whenever he visited him in school. Indeed, Leona was also compliant to the queen, more than the king himself, but it didn’t mean he liked to do it.

It wasn’t rare for him to demand you to do things too, but only on a smaller scale, like sleeping on your lap. And yet, he often protected you from harassers too. You knew he’d never really slept. His ears would occasionally twitch, catching the tiniest sounds your human ears couldn’t. He could sense people’s presence around him, and he knew who stared at him, namely Rook. He’d once remarked that Leona’s senses were sharper whenever you were around, warier. And Leona, annoyed by his rambling, had dragged you to another place.

It was an ordinary observation from a hunter, but it always echoed in your head. And you thought that maybe, it was the reason why you liked Leona.

Maybe, you only wanted a protector.

You weren’t weak. It took a strong mind to survive in Twisted Wonderland, a world where magic was necessary to guarantee your life, if not your happiness. But you wouldn’t pretend that you were strong physically, because you weren’t. You didn’t have a muscular body like Jack, could run fast like Deuce, or think quickly like Ace. You were the most ordinary person in your group, as plain as a whiteboard. A face among many. You couldn’t even compare to your pet monster.

And with your ordinariness, came a barrage of weaknesses. You often got bad grades in magical subjects and history, either due to Grim’s antics or your inability to remember all the information about Twisted Wonderland. You even tended to forget the names of your classmates, except those who were close with you.

But, oddly enough, Leona frequently helped you. Sometimes with offhand advice, or sudden assistance. During a particularly good mood, he’d share with you his favorite food, Menchi Katsu. You wouldn’t pretend that you weren’t touched by the gestures, because you were.

And maybe, that was what drove you into him rather than away from him.

Affection, attention, and adoration.

And because you knew that it couldn’t cover his flaws, you’d begun to fall, deeper and deeper, lower and lower, into that trap. A common yet undeniable trap. Harmless yet harmful.

Hoping your partner could change.

And in your case, wishing he could grow by giving him a child.

“Luz wants to play with you.”

You’d even named her Luz, which meant ‘light’, in hopes she’d become the beacon of light in his dark life. A reminder that there was still someone who loved him despite being a prince, the second son, in case your love wasn’t enough.

And yet…

“Tell her to play with Cheka.” he grunted, voice heavy from sleepiness.

… Leona still hadn’t changed.

You scowled, putting both hands on your hips. “You’ve been locking yourself up in your room for a week now. It’s time for you to get up! Your child misses her father.”

Instead, you were the one who changed.

Leona clucked and turned, covering his ear with a pillow. He never fought back, never talked back, even when your anger was already bubbling over the lid. His upbringing had shaped him into a man who respected women, and his personality had forbidden him from wasting too much energy on useless activities. One of them was arguing.

But you wouldn’t be doing this if he just woke up for once, to play with his daughter as any normal father would. You understood that he disliked meeting his brother, or other people. But at least, he could spend some time with his little family, with you – the person who was also shunned for marrying Leona. Although the Royal Family had welcomed you heartily, face radiant and smile relieved as if you were a savior, it wouldn’t stop the servants from talking about you behind your back.

You hoped Leona realized it, that he wasn’t alone in his misery, instead of sulking in his room.

For someone who hated being compared to Malleus, they both were similar in one aspect.

You gritted your teeth and stormed towards Leona, noticing he tried to avoid the conversation. Again.

“Leona!” you hissed, snatching the pillow from his grasp and threw it against the wall. “For God’s sake, wake up! Your daughter needs you!”

“You’re so noisy.” Leona groaned, irritation crept to his voice. Nothing good ever came from waking up the sleeping lion, but it’d been a week since you last met him properly. It was ironic, how you always slept beside him yet rarely saw him. “Isn’t it time for her to study? Why does she even want to play?”

“Because she wants to meet you, of course!” you exclaimed, exasperated at having to repeat yourself. “She’s been whining at me for a long time now. Why can’t you sacrifice your time for a little?!”

“Last time I checked, it wasn’t me who wanted a child.”

You froze.

Leona peeked through one eye, summer green iris glowing in the dim room. “It was you who wanted a child. So, shouldn’t it be your responsibility?”

You didn’t answer. You couldn’t. You only stared at Leona who turned nonchalantly, as if he hadn’t just said that he didn’t want Luz. That you bothered him. That this was all your fault for being too hopeful, too loving, and too naïve.

Your eyes stung, your throat clogged, but you didn’t cry because Luz peeked from the slightly opened doors.

Because you needed to be strong in front of your daughter.

“Mama?”

You turned to her and mustered a strained smile. “Yes?”

“Can you… play with me?”

You went silent, glancing at Leona who was sleeping. Or pretending to. He couldn’t sleep if there were too many disturbances, and you were one of those. Apparently.

“Yes, of course.”

You pushed Luz out, forcing yourself not to see her longing glance towards Leona. He wanted you to leave, to stop bothering him, so you obeyed.

You brought Luz to a place far from your room, to the garden, where pink carnations bloomed underneath the sun. You hoped this scenery could brighten the atmosphere, but…

“Mama, does Papa hate me?”

Your breath hitched. You hated this conversation, where your daughter asked you things you didn’t want to answer. That you couldn’t answer. And you hated this moment, where your daughter stared at you with tentative curiosity. Scared yet desperate.

So, you smiled. Again.

Because a smile could heal everything, even the deepest wound.

“Of course not.” you lied.

Luz bowed.

“But I heard you fighting earlier.” she murmured.

You could’ve sworn your heart paused, and for the first time, you were afraid. Afraid that your hard work would be ruined, afraid that her innocence would disappear, and afraid that you couldn’t get that image of a perfect family, even if it was only for her.

“That’s not… we didn’t…” You trailed off, staring down at Luz. How similar she was to Leona, with a pair of slit summer green eyes, brown skin, furry ears, and a long tail. Too similar, until you couldn’t bear to look at her any longer.

You sighed.

“We didn’t fight.” you lied. Again. Because that was the only thing you could do, really. “We only have some disagreements, that’s all.”

Luz bowed. Again. Still skeptical, but said nothing. She only hugged you, burying her face in your chest.

And you hugged her back, burying your face in her hair. A single tear fell, but you hoped she didn’t notice.

***

You didn’t sleep with Leona that night, and the next nights, choosing to rest in another room. You didn’t tell anyone about your problem, but almost everyone could sense the tension between you and him now. Farena tried to dispel the awkwardness during mealtimes, chatting merrily and praising Luz’s accomplishments. And although you felt that motherly pride, you weren’t in the mood to talk. So, you replied when necessary and occasionally nodded. The queen and your mother-in-law also tried to comfort you and promised they’d talk to Leona, but you politely declined.

Truly, you appreciated their efforts, but this was your business. They had their own problems to deal with, both personal and the kingdom, so you didn’t want to burden them more than a simple consolation.

And, one day, a miracle happened.

You caught Leona playing with Luz and Cheka in the playroom.

You were stunned and quickly hid behind the door, not wanting to miss this golden opportunity. Leona’s ears twitched, somehow aware of your presence despite your attempt at silence, but he kept playing with them. Awkwardly. A smile tugged on your lips, the first in so long.

You didn’t remember the last time you smiled genuinely. Was it when Luz was born? You didn’t know. You were delighted, of course. And although Leona had tried to conceal it, not wanting to look weak in front of so many people, you could see his face softened slightly, like snow melting in spring. And when he held Luz for the first time, with the tenderness of a fierce lion, you fell for him again. For your new family. For life.

However, it didn’t take long for Leona to fall into the same old routine. Sleeping for hours in his room, only going out to eat and when ordered. Sometimes, he’d accompany you to stroll in quiet places where he’d sleep in your lap like he used to do in school. But it was very rare, even you could count it with two hands. He always reasoned that the castle had provided enough food and entertainment. There was no need to go out, and if you wanted to spend time with him, you were always welcomed to sleep in his embrace.

That wasn’t what you wanted, and he knew. He just wasn’t bothered by it.

For a long time, you’d been accompanying Luz all alone, weariness dulled your eyes. Being a princess, and a magicless one at that, was hard, but being a mother was harder. You were beginning to run out of excuses to explain Leona’s absence in her life, who although seemed near, felt distant, like the stars.

Except the stars were destined to be unreachable, but he could. He just didn’t want to.

But maybe, miracles did exist. You couldn’t reach the stars, but you could reach people’s hearts.

That afternoon, Leona invited you to have a picnic in the garden. Invited, not being invited to. Flowers bloomed in your chest, but you forced yourself to stay nonchalant. Just because he took the initiative today, didn’t mean you could immediately feel hopeful for him. He’d disappointed you million times before. He deserved to get a cold treatment from you, at least.

A red and white checkered carpet spread beneath the shade of a tree. Silver plates containing various desserts – red velvet, caramel flan, croissant, and broken glass jelly pudding – were arranged neatly. Three plates of sirloin steak with fried potatoes and sweet corns balanced out the sweets that gleamed underneath the sunlight. Although you liked to eat them, you had to admit it was a bit too much. And why were there three plates if he only wanted to be with you? Unless, he wanted to–

“Sorry.”

You whipped your head towards him. You could with one hand the number of times he’d blushed, and you always cherished them. And now he apologized to you? With flushing cheeks too? The corner of your lips twitched. You really wanted to tease him, but you knew this wasn’t the right time. It took a lot of effort to reveal his heart, to shed his stoic façade, and you feared he’d withdraw if you said anything. This was a once-in-a-lifetime moment, and you couldn’t afford to miss it.

Leona looked away from shame, and maybe regret too, yet his voice was still husky. You didn’t realize just how much you missed hearing it until now. His voice that remained flat when he asked – well, ordered – you to stay in the bed with him during mornings, or during passionate nights. “… I shouldn’t have said that.”

Your mind pulled you back to that day, where you felt most hurt with his actions – with him. You gripped your dress, waiting for his next word.

“Sorry,” he repeated, as if he could heal the scar in your heart. Seeing him there, standing in front of you with head bowed, almost made you think he wasn’t Leona.

But he was Leona, your cold and stubborn husband. Your loyal and protective husband. There was nobody who could frustrate yet endear you, although this felt like a dream. Too good to be true.

“Leona,” you murmured, but you knew his ears picked it up. He was always a perceptive one, after all. “are you doing this because the queen and your mother told you to? Because you’re scared of their punishment?”

He tensed up. The wind breezed past you before he sighed, and that was when you noticed the exhaustion that hung under his eyes. Had he been unable to sleep lately? Was it because of you?

“Half of it, yeah.”

So it was true, then. You looked down and frowned sadly, squeezing your dress.

“Still, I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t want to.” He plopped down beside you, giving you one of the plates. “And I won’t force you to forgive me now. Just… let me do this, for once. Great Seven knows just how much you want to have a picnic under the sun.”

You hesitantly took the plate from his gloved hand. Leona wouldn’t feed you; he wasn’t the type to do those cheesy gestures. But the way he prepared the picnic and apologized to you despite sacrificing half of his pride showed the depth of his feelings.

After all, his love was like water. Calm yet deep. Subtle yet meaningful.

“Leona,” you whispered, staring down at the food that was undoubtedly his favorite. You were certain he’d specifically instructed the head chef not to give any vegetable to the meats. He was childish like that.

Another thing that made you fall for him, that made you stay despite his blatant flaws.

“Promise me that you won’t do that again.”

Because it hurt.

He took a deep breath.

“I’ll try. I don’t want to hear my sister’s lecture again.” he grumbled. “She can be rather scary when she does that.”

You smiled faintly. “You deserve it, you know.”

Leona huffed, yet the tiny smile on his face said otherwise. The atmosphere felt cool, peaceful, even with the sun shining brightly above you. And, for the first time, your chest felt light as a feather. This happiness tasted sweeter than marital bliss, or honeymoon passion, and you prayed this feeling wouldn’t be as fragile as those joys.

So, you scooted towards him and rested your head on his shoulder. Leona stiffened slightly, surprised by your impromptu affection after being cut off from it for a week, before wrapping an arm to pull you closer.

“Papa? Mama?”

You both turned to the speaker. Luz stood in the cobblestone path, bordered with hyacinth flowers – red, purple, and blue. Her cheeks were dusted in pink, and it reminded you of Leona earlier. But that knowledge didn’t hurt you anymore.

Because you knew today was a new day, a new beginning.

“Can I join you two?” she asked shyly, peeking through her long eyelashes.

Leona only shrugged and lifted his other hand. Luz beamed and quickly slipped into his embrace, face as bright as the sun. Your heart soared when he offered her the last plate. He really knew she’d come, huh?

Well, at least, you all could eat together like a true family now. And that was more than you could ask for.


Pink carnation: Motherly love

Red hyacinth: Playtime

Purple hyacinth: Asking for forgiveness or deep regret

Blue hyacinth: Sincerity

Chapter Text

It was times like these where you were reminded of how different Ruggie was compared to other boys. He was the skinniest guy in Savanaclaw, possibly even the shortest among them. His palm was larger than the arm, and the uniform hung on his figure like a coat. Not to mention, he was always busy running from one place to another, never really had a full rest except for sleeping at night. Even the lunch break was spent with him buying food for Leona, simply because the latter was too lazy to do so.

Sure, Leona still paid him and all, but you were worried about Ruggie’s well-being. Did he get tired from rushing constantly? Did he ever feel like… quitting sometimes? Even you, the new magic-less student, struggled with your perpetual tasks given by the ever-so-kind headmaster.

“What’s wrong? You’ve been staring at my hand a lot these days.” he remarked after you grabbed his hand to inspect it like you often did. “Shishishi…! If you want to hold hands, then just say so! No need to observe it first.”

You looked up and frowned sadly. Despite his meager appearance and miserable background, he was still able to smile so brightly. You wondered how would he look if he was born in a… better family. Would he be as tall as Leona, or even Jack?

Slowly, you reached out to stroke his cheek and smiled wistfully. You wanted to… you wanted to protect that smile. You wanted to make him happy. You wanted to support him even if the rest of the world turned its back on him.

But the question was how…? How could you help him?

“Ruggie…” you murmured hesitantly. “Is there… is there anything you want?”

He blinked repeatedly, puzzled by your sudden question. “Why? I want lots of money, of course.” he snickered, head still propped on your palm. “Why did you ask?”

You slowly shook your head. Money, huh…? You wouldn’t say you hadn’t expected such an answer, but it wasn’t as if you were rich, either. There was no way you could give him a briefcase of money when you were struggling financially yourself. “No reason. Just… curious, that’s all.”

“Man, does hanging out with Grim make you even weirder?” he joked. “Just kidding. Don’t look so glum, will you?”

Your lips stretched unnaturally from his unique magic, and yet, you found yourself smiling anyway.

“There! That’s what I want to see.” he grinned. “Well, I’m gonna head to my dorm now. See ya!”

Mussing your hair, he scampered to the mirror chamber. The night slowly engulfed his retreating figure until it was merely a dot in the field. Sighing, you swiveled and pushed the doors open. Despite him joking about asking his payment for walking you home every day, he never truly went through with his words. Instead, he only wanted one thing from you: your smile. It was as if the sight of your radiant visage alone was more than enough reward for him.

And you wanted to pay him more. You wanted to give him more than just your expression.

“Hey, what’s with that long face?” Grim inquired abruptly. As usual, he was busy stuffing his mouth with food in the lounge room. “Did you break up with that sandwich thief or something?”

“No, of course no–” You paused and slowly squinted. “Grim, are those… my donuts?”

Grim paused eating as well. “… Nope.” he replied innocently, before swallowing the last donut. Your donuts. The donuts you bought with your own money.

Eye twitching, you deliberately approached him with a tight-lipped smile. Grim squeaked and proceeded to hide behind the couch, trying to save himself from your wrath. But before you could strangle his small neck – playfully, of course, you could never abuse animals – you halted on your tracks.

… Didn’t Ruggie like donuts too?

You clucked. Just as you were about to relieve your exasperation, an idea had to pop up in your brain.

“Grim, you’re lucky for today. But next time–” Grim squealed when you made a slicing motion on your neck, body trembling pathetically. Giving him one last frigid look, you left the dorm and headed towards Sam’s shop. Maybe there were still some donuts left, if not, then you didn’t know where else to look.

You could always visit the Monstro Lounge, but you weren’t sure if they were still open now. And besides, you didn’t want to deal with Floyd’s ‘affection attack’.

And you should’ve known better than to doubt Sam because the second you stepped into the shop, he immediately asked if you were craving something. And because you didn’t have much money left in your pocket, you decided to buy a box of donuts instead. There were always times to spoil yourself, anyway, even if it was rare. You also made sure to glare at Grim again and hide the box for safety measures.

The next day, during lunch break, you told your friends to go ahead because you wanted to visit Ruggie first. Ace, being the mean guy he was, instantly teased you for being clingy with that shit-eating grin. Irritated by his uncalled-for comment, you smacked his head and proceeded to the schoolyard where you asked Ruggie to wait on. And, as expected, he was already there.

“Ruggie!” you grinned, bounding up towards him. “Thanks for coming. I know it was sudden.”

Shishishi, no problem. I’ve got some time before I get the food for Leona-san. So,” he cocked his head, trying to peek at the box behind you. “what are you holding in there?”

You shifted a little and averted your gaze from his curious one. Would he even like your gift? It was small, and it certainly wasn’t enough to fatten him immediately. But… there was no harm in trying, right?

“I… uh, well…” You promptly shoved the box into his chest and tittered. “Sorry, I can’t buy more for you.”

Ruggie slowly looked down and inspected the box, almost in disbelief. His lips quirked into a surprised yet giddy smile once he ascertained that it was truly his favorite food. “Man, thanks a bunch! Didn’t expect to get this today.” he beamed. “What’s the occasion, anyway? Not that I’m complaining.”

“I… I’ve noticed some… differences between you and other Savanaclaw boys and… I want to help you… somehow.” you murmured bashfully. “I want to make you happy like you always do to me. I hope the donuts will suffice… for now.”

He blinked repeatedly.

“Aw… that’s so touching~” he giggled. “Any present from my girlfriend will be enough, especially if it’s donuts. Come here, I want to share my hard work with you.”

Your face brightened as you happily plopped down beside him. A blush dusted your cheeks when he poked your lips with a strawberry glazed donut.

“Open wide~” he chirped and cheered once you shyly complied. “That’s my girl~!”

Wiping the glaze from your lip, you sighed blissfully. You might not be able to change his past, but at least, you could change the present. His present life with you.

And that was the biggest gift you could ever give him and yourself.

Chapter Text

It was rare for Ruggie to feel jealous. Envious? Yes, he had. A long time ago, when he was still a little, still hopeful, still innocent. When he still didn’t understand why his parents left him, why his father never came home anymore, why his mother never appeared. He was envious of the rich people, of the lucky ones. Those who had money and family. Those who could buy anything without having to save for weeks if months. Those who walked past with their soft, sturdy, and expensive clothes.

But living with his grandmother had taught him the meaning of life, that joy was often found in the small things, in the forgettable and underestimated things. With his grandmother, Ruggie learned that happiness was giggles, donuts, and job offerings. And with his grandmother, he learned that happiness was sometimes how to bake cakes, how to make her puff in pride, and how to make the poor children around him beam.

And with you, Ruggie learned how to love, how to trust, and how to take care of someone who wasn’t his grandmother or the children. Your status as the castle gardener also helped him be more at ease around you. Ruggie was an opportunist, but he wasn’t so impolite as to flirt with a noblewoman. Truly, he was raised better than that!

But, of course, Ruggie wasn’t made out of pure greed or egoism. He was a living being who felt, who experienced many sentiments. And that meant he, too, could feel envious. Jealous. Something he’d never expected to feel. He believed you wouldn’t betray him, but it didn’t stop the fire from forming in his chest, lit by your radiant face. Ruggie squinted, secretly glaring at your interaction with a nobleman. He wanted to separate you both, to pull you into his embrace and mark you in front of that noble. But he knew you wouldn’t like it, and your anger wasn’t something he wanted… or planned to.

He only wanted you to stop talking to that man, to stop giving him your beautiful smile and laugh. Was that too much to ask for?

Ruggie sighed. There was no use in moping now. He had a job to do, and he was sure that nobleman wouldn’t hinder you from your duty for too long. He was being friendly to you. No need to think about how this was probably the fifth time Ruggie caught you chatting with him.

Yes, that guy was just being friendly to you, and you were just indulging him due to your lower status.

“You’re late.”

In his daze, Ruggie didn’t realize that he’d arrived in Leona’s room. The lion was lounging in the bed, as usual, it was almost nostalgic. His daughter, Princess Luz, curled up on his stomach like a kitten. It was odd to see him being all affectionate, but a joint lecture and threat from both his mother and sister-in-law were quite potent. Ruggie had snickered when he returned to his room grunting and grumbling.

“O-oh, yeah, I am.”

Leona raised a brow, scanning him from head to toe. “What happened to you? Some snotty nobles giving you a hard time?”

“Well,” The hyena scratched his head and went to put the menchi katsu sandwich on the nightstand. Leona was lucky he’d memorized the composition until he could safely reiterate it to the head chef. “I guess you could say that…”

“It’s about [Name], isn’t it?”

Ruggie froze.

“H-how did you know?”

Leona snorted, a gloved hand caressing his daughter’s hair. “You think I’m stupid? She’s all you think about these days.”

“Well, she is my girlfriend, Leona-san.” Ruggie tried to redirect the conversation from his main concern.

His master rolled his eyes.

“You’re only jealous because she keeps talking with that fancy bastard.”

Ruggie bristled. Leave it to Leona to ruin his joy.

“You couldn’t be anymore obvious.” the older man scoffed. “If it bothers you so much, why don’t you whisk her away?”

“I can’t do that! That’s rude…”

“Rude, you say?” Leona sneered. “Well, keep sulking, then. Maybe [Name] will finally realize it, although I highly doubt it. Just don’t be lazy now.”

It was very ironic, and hypocritical, but Ruggie was just glad that he didn’t dwell on the matter anyway. He didn’t want Leona to name the feeling he tried so hard to repress for the sake of efficiency and reward, let alone being a relationship therapist. This was his problem, and luckily, Leona didn’t bother to press on any further. He didn’t really care, anyway, if not slightly amused by his trouble. He was sadistic like that.

***

You spoke with that nobleman – Claude, that was his name – again. This time, you were the one who greeted him first. Ruggie almost couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw you approaching him in the garden, instead of your own boyfriend. You didn’t wear a dress or jewelry like those noblewomen, but your expression shone brighter than gold and diamonds. Under the moonlight, you beamed with the innocence of a child, and Ruggie was reminded of why he fell for you in the first place.

… If only you didn’t talk with another man.

Ruggie hid behind a pillar, trying to eavesdrop on your conversation. He’d been itching to know what had… attracted you to Claude, but a list of demands from Leona always hindered him. If not, then he’d forget what he wanted to do. And now, Leona had given him some much-needed break when his wife forced him to dance with her, and Ruggie would be damned if he let this golden opportunity pass.

But Claude somehow noticed his presence, and he already waved at him, smiling as if he wasn’t chatting with someone’s lover. Ruggie stiffened, and he contemplated escaping until you spun and called him.

There goes his plan.

Sighing, Ruggie stepped out of his hiding spot and approached you with ears half drooping. How did that guy sense him? Ruggie prided himself in his stealth skills, having helped Leona hurting people before the Magift Competition. Had he been too jittery? His palms were clammy, but it shouldn’t be enough to reveal his location.

Ruggie feigned a smile and bowed, every action leaving a bitter taste on his mouth. Like eating rotten things or something. Claude didn’t mock him, or sneer at his status, only nodding amiably. And yet, Ruggie felt he was the same as the others; greedy, selfish, and a thief–

“… Ruggie?”

He gasped. Your face was mere centimeters away from his. From this proximity, he could see lines of worry in your forehead. And although he would’ve been flustered during normal days, he couldn’t deny the warmth that spread in his chest at your palpable concern.

“Are you okay?” you asked.

Ruggie inhaled through his mouth and nodded slowly. Looking up, he realized that Claude had returned to the castle, his navy blue cloak billowing behind him. “… Yeah, I’m fine.”

Then, he grinned, inspecting your appearance as if you were wearing a gown like the rest of the women inside.

“You look beautiful tonight.”

Your eyes widened, and you huffed.

“Your flattery won’t work on me, mister.”

And yet, the faint blush on your cheeks said otherwise. Ruggie snickered.

“But, seriously,” You frowned again, and he found himself already missing the infectious warmth of your face. “are you okay? You look troubled or something.”

Nothing got past you, huh?

He sighed.

“I’m fine, [Name]. I was just–” Jealous. He shook his head. “Worried, yeah.”

“But why? Nobody hurts me, though.” You stared at him, and Ruggie was beginning to worry that you might’ve found something you shouldn’t have known.

So, he spun you towards the castle and pushed you inside, chirping something about free snacks and drinks. He ignored your sigh, but he couldn’t ignore your whisper.

“That guy from earlier is my mom’s old friend. He’s the one who offered me a job here.”

You fumbled with the cuff of your shirt, gazing somewhat dazedly at the guests that flocked in the ballroom. In the furthest corner, Ruggie spied Leona and his wife supervised their daughter playing with Cheka. He was seconds away from falling asleep upright, supported only by the princess’s shoulder, but he forced himself to stay awake for the sake of his daughter. That alone was the biggest sacrifice Ruggie had ever seen from him. He would’ve smiled at the sight, had Leona didn’t spot him and smirked that implied he knew something, or spelled trouble.

“He wanted to know how I’ve been holding up here, so you shouldn’t be jealous, Ruggie.”

The hyena whipped his head towards you so fast it almost gave you whiplash.

“E-eh, what makes you think I’m jealous, [Name]?” he tittered, glancing around nervously.

Rolling your eyes, you scoffed. “His Highness Leona told me. He said that you’ve been sulking like crazy lately, and besides, Sir Claude knew you were eavesdropping on us.”

“I did not…!”

“Yes, you did. His Highness wouldn’t lie to me.”

“[Name]…” Ruggie sighed, and he wasn’t sure whether he should scold Leona for ratting him out or lecturing you. “You know that Leona-san isn’t exactly the most reliable person, right?”

“I think he’s too tired to lie to me.” you retorted, crossing your arms defiantly. “And even if he did lie, your face says it all.”

Ruggie tittered, scratching his nape bashfully. “You caught me, huh?”

You stared at him for another minute before shaking your head disapprovingly. “Honestly, do you think I want to cheat on you?”

“It’s more like I was suspicious of him…” he muttered, an ominous veil fell over his eyes despite the twinkling chandeliers. He sighed, the shadows disappeared like a puff of smoke when he turned to you. “You’re special to me. You know that, right? I don’t want to lose you to some rich men.”

“If I was so materialistic, then I wouldn’t have accepted your confession, Ruggie. I’m not that shallow.” you muttered, trying to ignore the persistent thumping of your heart. Ruggie had always been elusive, jumping from one question about his true feelings to another like a rabbit. Showering you in affection and gifts came as natural as him gravitating to you in a room of pretty women, so to hear him confessing about how special you were to him really did wonders to your chest. You looked away, not trusting yourself to maintain simple eye contact with his sincerity, with his eyes that seemed droopier than usual. Instead, you intertwined your fingers with his; a silent reciprocation, and gratitude, to his statement. “Besides, I don’t like Sir Claude that way. He’s too old for me, anyway.”

“Shishishi. So I was right, then! You like boys around your age!”

You rolled your eyes. “Whatever.”

He wasn’t wrong, though.

But for good measure, you pulled him by his collar and pecked the corner of his lips. You snickered at the warmth that burst to his whole face like a popped balloon, a rose that you cradled with much care as you did with the others at the garden.

“I love you, my silly hyena.”

Chapter Text

Jade had been approaching you a lot lately.

Sometimes he cast you a smile or a nod, and sometimes he conversed with you. You didn’t understand the reason behind his sudden interest in you, or why he always seemed to appear whenever you were alone. You never liked him for obvious reasons; he was shady or, at least, enigmatic. Nobody knew what he was thinking behind that courteous smile, or whether he really liked you or was just being a pain in the neck.

Because it looked like he had a tendency to annoy you whenever you were thinking about your world or how to handle the trio before and after they wreaked another havoc. You’d assumed he was being friendly, for some unknown reasons. But after repeated attempts, you eventually concluded that he just liked to disturb your concentration.

Why? You didn’t know. Perhaps he was fond of your irritated expression whenever he patted your shoulder suddenly. Honestly, you wouldn’t be surprised if it was true. After all, Jade was the calmer version of Floyd.

Regardless, you wanted to stop this before it spiraled out of control. You refused to deal with another pest beyond your one-brain-cell trio, and although he’d been disturbingly amiable to you, you knew he was planning something. There was no way he’d approach you with just the intention of ‘befriending’ you. He wasn’t Kalim or, heck, Trey.

“What do you want, Leech?” you hissed, frowning up to him before he could pat your shoulder again. You were reading a book under the tree when you noticed a shadow loomed over you. And your suspicion was proven true once you turned your head and spotted his polite veneer above you.

Jade blinked owlishly, his gloved hand lifted slightly before it clasped with the other over his crotch. “Oh, my. That’s quite an intense greeting.” he remarked. “Is that how the people from your world greet each other?”

“Only to the people we detest,” you retorted. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to pick up the hint… or decided to ignore it instead. Knowing him, you’d definitely choose the latter.

He cocked his head. “Is that so? Then, I suppose I should feel flattered.”

Your frown deepened in confusion. Did you hear that right…? Flattered? Should he feel offended instead?

“What do you mean?”

“For you to detest me, it must’ve meant that I’ve been on your mind, no?” Your eyes widened a little while a glint of mischief flashed in his. This guy… “After all, you won’t often think about the people you don’t care about.”

You clucked and looked away, not wanting to see his knowing stare any longer. It was true that you often thought about him, well, not necessarily him. As much as you hated to admit it, his behavior had been bothering you. So it was only natural for you to ponder over it, right?

“Why are you always annoying me?” You opted to change the subject instead, get to the main problem at hand before you could fall further into his goad.

“Hm…? What makes you think so? I’m simply interested in you, is all.”

… Was that a good thing? No, of course not. Nothing good would come from someone as dubious as him.

You scowled, crossing your arms over your chest. “I know that you like to disturb me whenever I’m thinking hard about something.” you retorted. “You’re nothing more than a sadistic prick like your twin. You just choose to hide it, instead.”

“Pardon me if I seem mean to you. I assure you it’s none of my intention.” He bowed his head apologetically, although you knew that he didn’t feel regret at all. It was such a blatantly fake apology it almost made you cringe. “It’s just that… I can’t resist such a cute look on your face. So lost in your thoughts, and oblivious to your surroundings. I don’t want anyone to disturb you–”

“– So you decided to do it yourself.” you snarled. “Go away, Jade. I don’t want to have anything to do with you.”

“Such a harsh word. You truly wound me, [Name].” He put a hand over his chest, feigning a hurt expression. “I simply came here to invite you to have a nice dinner in Monstro Lounge. I know that you’re exhausted from dealing with those first years, so I took the liberty to arrange a few things.”

“How nice of you.” Despite your sarcastic remark, you had to admit that the prospect of free dinner was appealing. It’d be free, right? You hoped so. You didn’t have much money, anyway–

No, wait. You weren’t supposed to think about accepting his offer! For all you knew, he might be tricking you to taste poisonous food instead. It was rather farfetched, but who knows what he thought.

“Of course. I’m not entirely heartless, you know?” Giving you one last bland smile, Jade swiveled towards the school buildings. “Well, I shall see you tonight, then.”

“Eh, wait!” you shouted before he could walk away from you. “What makes you think I accepted your invitation?!”

Jade cocked his head, simpering. “Don’t you want to? It’s free food, after all. What kind of a person would reject such a tempting offer?”

The insult hitched on your throat along with your breath. Damn it, he caught you on that one.

“Please ensure that you wear nice clothes. If you don’t have one, then feel free to visit Azul.” he chuckled. “If you’re prepared to pay what you owe, that is…”

Chapter Text

Vil was always busy.

You knew that much. You tried to support him with texts, words, and affections. You tried to be understanding when he canceled yet another date because something came up in his work. And you tried to be patient when the media released yet another rumor about him dating a celebrity or an actress.

Truly, you did.

But as much as you tried to hide it, you could feel tired too. You could get sad, disappointed, or unwanted, sometimes all of them. And during those times, you yearned to bask in his warmth, to smell his comforting scent, and to hear soothing words.

You wanted him to look at you, with his own two eyes, not through the glossy magazines. You wanted him to talk to you, with his own two lips, not through interviews. And you wanted him to hold you, with his own two arms, not through the films or advertisements. Even when he had some free time, he remained the perfect picture of beauty and elegance, further elongating the distance between you two.

And Rook noticed it all.

Of course, he would. He was Rook, after all. When had something ever miss his keen eyes?

But his daily report about you wouldn’t make Vil any less busy. He couldn’t help his schedule, just as he couldn’t the incidents that happened in his work. Every time he heard about the report, he’d nod, sometimes sigh, and you thought maybe you were being clingy. Maybe you should take great care in hiding your feelings. Maybe you should learn to be more independent instead.

So, you reassured him that yes, you were okay. No, he didn’t need to make a reservation in that expensive restaurant to replace all the lost dates if he was still busy. You could wait. You were used to it, anyway. And you’d always be here when he returned, waiting with open arms and a smile on your lips.

He could leave now. You’d be okay. You had Rook here, after all.

And left he was, after you gave him a tentative kiss in fear of ruining his impeccable makeup, his robe swaying behind him like a queen cape. And stayed Rook was, observing like a disapproving audience, with his arms crossed over his chest.

“Mademoiselle, forgive me for saying this, but you’re being too harsh on yourself.”

You smiled bitterly, because what else could you do?

“I know.” you whispered, too soft to be audible, but you didn’t doubt he heard it. “But that’s okay, as long as he flourishes.” You turned to him, to this man who had no business in your relationship yet still willing to look out for you regardless, extending a friendly hand. “Could you accompany me to Sam’s shop, Rook? I’m in the mood for some ice cream.”

Rook glanced from your weary face to your outstretched hand, before sighing.

Oui.” He clasped his hand on yours; a hand that was too big, too hidden, yet strangely… “If it makes you happier.”

Warm.

It was so warm. When was the last time you felt this kind of warmth? Vil’s palm always had this certain coolness and smoothness from the number of moisturizers he wore. Suddenly, you wondered how Rook’s hand would feel underneath his glove. Would it still be warm? Cool? Smooth? Or was it callous? But before your mind could travel down that dangerous hole, you immediately shook your head.

“Nothing beats an ice cream on a sunny day, you know?”

And before you knew it, you found yourself smiling genuinely for the first time. Just because you got to buy ice cream with Rook.

Was it normal?

Was it normal to feel this way?

You glanced at Rook who was licking his vanilla ice cream, and less than a second later, he caught your wandering eyes and beamed.

“Would you like to buy more, Mademoiselle?”

You gasped softly, despite knowing about his sharp senses, and looked down to your melting ice cream.

“N-no, I’m fine. Thank you for the offer, though.” you murmured bashfully, face warming at being caught red-handed.

Rook chuckled, and you felt yourself growing hotter.

“You’re quite an adorable one, you know that, Mademoiselle?”

What was that supposed to mean? You bowed your head, gripping the cone unconsciously. Did that mean he like you or something? Oh, what were you thinking? Of course, he liked you! That was why he supported your relationship with Vil, because you passed the test. Otherwise, Rook wouldn’t be so nice to you.

Nice…

Right, of course. He was just being nice, and he liked you as a friend. He’d never have any feelings for–

You snapped out of your thoughts and shook your head again, eyes shut tightly. No, bad brain! Rook wouldn’t be so low as to fall for his own friend’s girlfriend, anyway, and you wouldn’t be so low as to fall for him despite your relationship. It’d only complicate things even further, and more hearts would be broken. And besides, you only saw Rook platonically. Though, you wouldn’t deny that anyone would be lucky to have him.

How could they not? He was attentive, kind, and–

“Mademoiselle, are you alright?”

You looked up to his furrowed eyebrows, to his hunter green eyes, and his slightly curled lips. Worried, he was worried about you. Obviously. If he knew what kind of thoughts that were running on your head, he’d be concerned too. And uncomfortable. You hated making people feel uncomfortable, so…

“Yeah, don’t worry about it.” You mustered a strained smile and offered a pathetic thumbs-up.

Because you were pathetic, and you strained yourself in a seemingly one-sided relationship.

Rook slowly withdrew, still frowning. But there was something else in there, too. Thoughtfulness. What was he thinking? You supposed you’d never know. It was hard enough to predict his actions, let alone his brain.

And yet, no matter how hard you tried to dispel those intrusive thoughts, they kept appearing. More intense, more frequent. In return, you tried to be more casual, more amicable, more secretive. Yet, even that wasn’t enough.

Because…

“Mademoiselle.”

This was Rook you were talking about.

“Yes?”

“Forgive me for saying this, but you should think hard about your feelings.”

Your smile vanished, and that was when you realized he was holding your hand that was clutching his robe away from him. What were you doing again? Oh, right. Something, or someone, had caught his eyes, and you instinctively grabbed him.

Like you didn’t want him to leave you or something, when he had the right to do that whenever and wherever.

“I-I’m sorry.” you said, and yet, you didn’t pull away from his hold. You didn’t want to. You wanted to bask in this warmth, because when else would you get a chance to? “I really am… sorry.”

Rook slowly released your hand, and you watched it fall limply to your side.

“The heart is a delicate matter, I understand. I simply wish to help.”

Help, you smiled bitterly and bowed, of course. He’d always been the helpful type, after all. How could you be so dumb? Just a week ago you convinced yourself that Rook would never stoop so low as to fall for his friend’s girlfriend, and now, you kind of wished he would.

Then again, he wasn’t you. He wasn’t the one who fell for his best friend’s friend. He wasn’t a fool like you.

“I’m so sorry.” you said, again, because you didn’t know what else to say. How to erase the discomfort he must’ve felt at being a replacement, a figure to fill your loneliness. Because the one you needed the most wasn’t here right now.

Rook sighed and frowned disapprovingly, like that time when everything was still okay, when your feelings weren’t threatening to boil over.

“You’re being too harsh on yourself again, Mademoiselle.” he chided, as if he cared about you. Like a friend cared about each other. “You can’t help your feelings, so don’t beat yourself up too much over it.”

You clutched your hand, the one where he held earlier, trying to conserve what little warmth left in there.

“If… I have thought hard about my feelings, would you…?”

The wind blew past you, carrying over unspoken wishes and regrets.

“… Forgive me, Mademoiselle.”

There was a pat on your hand, too quick to be comforting and too unfeeling to be warm, before it disappeared like a ghost from the past. His purple robe fluttered away, reminding you of Vil’s departure.

“So, I was right.”

Chapter Text

Vil knew you.

He didn’t know how or why it was possible, to begin with, considering that aside from being his fan, you were basically a stranger. And yet, he felt this pull towards you. The longing to touch your face, to hug your body as tight as he could, and to bury his face on the crook of your neck. Not much had changed from you, even your smile was still the same as always; bright, wide, and hopeful.

It was just that… your eyes didn’t hold those affectionate gleams anymore.

Of course, he was a stranger, after all.

Someone who you saw frequently in the city and TV, but unable to meet for many reasons. Someone who you’d read about his profile, but unable to know the true him.

And someone who used to be your lover, but was now a mere idol for you.

“Hello, Mr. Vil. Is it okay if I ask for your autograph?”

Of course, you could. He’d give everything for you, because he knew just how hardworking and patient you were. It was only natural for you to receive payments for all the efforts you’d done; for tolerating his attitude for so long.

But it’d be weird to say that, wouldn’t it?

Because, again, he was just an idol for you. Not an acquaintance, a friend, or even a… boyfriend.

Just someone you admired, and would probably be forgotten for someone better, either another celebrity or a civilian.

Someone who… could make you happy in a way that he couldn’t. Someone who could spend more time with you and not have to worry about conflicting schedules. And, most of all, someone who would never make you cry.

“What… do you mean ‘break up’?”

“Sure.”

“Exactly what I said.” he retorted, a subtle frown contorted his flawless features. “You’re becoming clingier, [Name].”

Vil silently gritted his teeth when his fingers grazed against your smooth ones to take the notebook. The fingers that he used to intertwine, that he used to rub lotion on, that he used to quietly admire for their perfectly imperfect form.

“But I–” you paused and inclined your head as if losing the courage to look at him. Vil squinted, wondering if he just saw your eyes glistening. “I just want to spend more time with you.”

He flipped the cover open and slowly frowned, hands unconsciously squeezing the book. Your writing was still the same, gracing the front page with your name.

“[Name], you know I’m busy.” Vil couldn’t believe that he had to state the obvious to you. He thought you’d already known the consequences of dating him, aside from his overbearing nature. “I can’t be with you every day, but you kept asking anyway.”

Clicking the pen, Vil slowly wrote his signature on the bottom of the page. He wanted to savor this transient moment as long as he could, even if it meant enduring the fervent cries of his fans and flickering cameras.

“I know, but–”

A faint smile graced his stoic face as he added a couple of tiny hearts around his autograph. He hoped that you’d realize just how much he favored you out of all his fans.

“Enough with the buts!” he snapped. “I don’t want to hear them again. Rook, bring her back to her dorm.”

“Here.” He ensured to touch your hands again, slowly dragging his own against your skin. However, you didn’t seem to notice the weirdly intimate gesture and merely beamed up to him.

“Oui, Roi du Poison.”

“Thank you so much!” you chirped, the corners of your eyes crinkled delightfully.

You looked back to him as Rook ushered you out of the room, eyes watery and filled with forced resignation. With one last whisper, you turned your face forward and closed the door behind you.

Vil touched the tips of your hair as you swiveled and skipped away, giving the chance for another person to replace your rightful spot in front of – no, beside him. He wished he could’ve said anything instead of staring at your vanishing figure in the crowd. Anything to let you know that he still remembered you, even if you didn’t; even if you secretly hated him.

“I’m sorry…”

“… I’m sorry.” he whispered, listening to the sound of his overeager fans drowning his soft apology. Sorry for what, though? For not giving you a chance to explain yourself? For shutting you out so fast? For not knowing that it’d be the last time he saw you in the school before you returned to your world?

He didn’t know, he sighed as he signed other papers and pictures of himself. Maybe it was all of them, maybe he just wanted to make things right this time, maybe he just… missed you.

Vil didn’t know anymore, but he did know that if you two ever crossed paths again, he’d try to approach you. Even if he only became your friend this time around, at least, you were still with him.

At least, he’d know that you accepted him again.

“I love you.”

Chapter Text

You knew about Rook’s tendency to observe people or things that interested him. You knew what you signed up for the moment you confessed to him. And you knew that his habit would never change regardless of his relationship status. 

It was just that… sometimes you wished he wasn’t so blatant with his observation. You wished he didn’t overtly admire someone whenever you went out. You tried to tolerate it, thinking that it’d be unfair to forbid him from doing something that he clearly loved, but your patience could only go so far. Especially when you caught him searching for something or rather, someone, during your first accidental meeting in a week.

“Are you… okay, Rook?” you inquired hesitantly as you watched him glancing around the botanical garden. “Do you lose something, perhaps?”

Non! I’m looking for Roi du Léon. I heard that he often rests here.” he mused. “I want to observe him in his usual spot, but it seems that he has chosen to sleep somewhere else. It almost feels like… he’s trying hard to get.” he chuckled, a gleam of excitement flashed in his eagle eyes. “If that’s the case, then, I would love to pursue him even further…”

You didn’t always know the meaning of his nicknames, but you got the feeling that you knew who he was talking about. After all, there was only one person who frequented this place…

“Ah, you mean Leona?”

He nodded and peered towards you. “Do you know where he is, mon chéri?”

You did, but… would it be worth it? It’d been so long since you last met your boyfriend. You were either busy working on homework or dealing with the trio, and he was either busy ‘hunting’ or tending to Vil.

You could always lie, but Rook was perceptive. And that was proven true when he cocked his head and smiled somewhat quizzically.

“Hm…? You look hesitant, mon chéri.” he remarked, squinting slightly. “Could it be that you don’t know where he is? Or you know and think about lying instead?

Your eyes bulged a little.

“N-no, of course not! I mean…” He wasn’t wrong about the latter, but you couldn’t just tell him that, could you? The only reaction your brain conjured up was him chuckling at your poor attempt and set out to search for Leona himself – and you didn’t want it. You didn’t want him to leave you so soon, not when you were finally able to get him now.

For someone who loved hunting, he sure was an elusive prey himself.

“‘I mean’…?” he pressed on patiently, amusedly.

“I mean, I was just… wondering if you’d like to stay with me for a little longer…” you murmured, fumbling your hands nervously. “It’s been days since we met each other, don’t you think? N-not that I’m being possessive or something! I just… miss you, is all.”

“Of course I can! What kind of a lover am I if I neglect my own girlfriend?” He peeled one eye open once he sensed your morose silence. “But, ah… you don’t seem very satisfied with my answer, mon chéri. Is there something else on your mind that’s been bothering you lately? I’m all ears.”

Should you tell him the truth? This could be your only chance. If he refused to consider it, then… you supposed you had no choice.

“Well, Rook. Could you… could you maybe try to pay less attention to people? I-I mean, I won’t mind it if I’m not around. But when we’re going out, it feels like you’re not appreciating me.”

Rook blinked owlishly before a smirk curved his lips. “My, my. Are you perhaps jealous of the people I observe, mon chéri?”

Were you jealous? You didn’t know. You just wanted him to look at you for once. You knew his feelings towards his ‘preys’ were merely fascination and admiration for the beauty, but it still stung. Sometimes, you wondered if he only accepted your confession out of pity or something, or if he considered you as a fling instead. It was hard not to think badly of him when he continued being unreadable.

“I’m not.” you said with surprising firmness. Pursing your lips, you willed yourself to look at him in the eye. “I’m not jealous of them, because I know that you’d never purposefully try to make me jealous.”

Honestly, you weren’t even sure of your own statement. But you wanted to believe in him – believe that he wasn’t petty enough to deliberately provoke you with a childish game.

“Oh, to hear such conviction from your lover… très bien!” he exclaimed. “I can’t allow the fair lady to become disappointed in me, therefore, I shall do my best to live up to your expectations.”

You smiled up to him, relieved to know that he took your suggestion… jubilantly. “Thank you, Rook. I know I can count on you.”

“Of course! Now, where would you like to go?” he inquired, putting both hands on his waist. “Today, I will devote myself to my beloved, so please don’t hold back if you have anything you’d like to do.”

***

素直になる: to be honest, being honest

Chapter Text

Rook knew you were different, and not just because you came from another world.

It was the subtle things, like the way you occasionally stared at your friends with darkness in your eyes, the way you often reached out to touch your friends, and the way you unconsciously licked your lips, seemingly wetting your lips, but he knew better.

After all, Rook had observed enough to know that you had a predatory look on your face.

But your friends didn’t realize, poor little preys they were. And you always caught yourself too, because you soon withdrew or turned away once the shadow dissipated. Why you did that, he had no idea. You were as human as he was, as human as your friends were, as human as you could be.

Then again, humans didn’t stare at other humans hungrily, nor did they have the urge to jump on others and devour them.

And Rook wouldn’t be Rook if he didn’t satisfy his curiosity by approaching you directly, shamelessly, bluntly.

“Mademoiselle, what are you?”

You startled, and for a split second, you reminded him of a mouse. Your squeak, your dilated eyes, and your trembling body. You must’ve been deep in thought before he decided to interrupt you. He’d know, because usually, you were more cautious than this.

The kind of caution a predator had to prevent itself from being preyed upon.

“W-what? What do you mean?” you stammered, and Rook thought it was funny how you played dumb to his question.

Of course, you both knew what he was talking about. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be so nervous.

… Well, unless he came off too strong again. Then again, Rook had never been good at noticing that.

“You know what I mean.” He plopped down beside you, hunter green eyes still fixated on you. It was cute, you were cute, how you desperately tried to maintain eye contact without giving away your anxiety. Rook had to commend you for your attempts at bravery, even if it meant trying to deceive him. He, a hunter, an observer, a scientist. “You’re not really human, are you?”

“I-I…”

You licked your dry lips. Ah, this must be another quirk of yours. Not the predatory kind, of course. Still, Rook found himself watching your tongue and, subsequently, your wet lips. A fleeting wish crossed his mind; a desire so shocking it had his eyes bulged slightly. But, luckily, you didn’t notice, too absorbed in the jumbled thoughts that swarmed your brain. His level stare didn’t help you, either.

Regardless, Rook wasn’t one to shy away from the unknown, from the surprising. If someday you were close enough with each other, he wouldn’t mind getting a taste of your lips. Already, he wondered what it’d feel like, whether it’d be thrilling or romantic. Slow as his sentimental self preferred, or heated as his adventurous side preferred.

“Yes?” he drawled, relishing in your quiet struggle. It was amusing, how you slowly unraveled right before him. He could watch this forever and still wouldn’t get bored.

How could he, when he was just seconds away from having the answer? He could feel it in the air, in his body, in his eyes. The anticipation that throbbed his heart, that warmed his blood, that sweated his palms. Unconsciously, Rook leaned forward until his eyes were mere centimeters away from your temple, trying to dig the truth out faster. What kind of secret were you hiding in your gaze, in your lick, in your touch? And would he get hurt?

Rook wasn’t weak, or suicidal. But even then, he didn’t mind sacrificing himself for beauty, to experience the wonder of this world, of the world beyond his, of your world. Anything that you revealed would surely be marvelous, he knew it. There was nothing in people that wasn’t pretty or noteworthy. Even a stray glance was fascinating to him.

“O-of course, I am human! I eat ordinary food, don’t I?”

Rook smiled. He was always smiling. It creeped people out, he remembered some students said, including Vil and Epel. It was a bit harsh, and unnecessarily so, but it was the truth.

He always smiled, as if he knew something you didn’t.

Because he knew something you didn’t.

“But you always puke it out, don’t you?”

You flinched, as though his words had slapped you on the face. And it had, and it hurt. It hurt worse than a swipe of a kagune, or a quinque.

Because it was the truth, and the truth always stung worse than any sharp weapon. It left an invisible scar that you couldn’t quite heal, a nasty imprint that you couldn’t quite conceal.

“I just…” You stammered, and you hated yourself for it. You’d faced stronger enemies before, scarier and taller. And yet, this human, this ordinary man who wasn’t so ordinary had nearly rendered you speechless due to his straightforward nature. Why? You didn’t know. Maybe because you wanted this unexpected journey to another place, to another world stranger than yours, to be your salvation. Maybe you wanted a second chance to redeem yourself, to turn a new leaf.

But how could you wish for that, when you were born a monster? A monster that only knew how to eat and kill. A monster that could only examine him hungrily, trying to determine which part would satisfy you the most, instead of responding to him A monster in human clothing.

“I just can’t eat much, okay?” The response came out weaker than you expected, than you hoped. Once again, you berated yourself for failing to excuse yourself. You couldn’t help it. His eyes were just too scary, too penetrating, too knowing. He was strong, he had magic, and he was odd, but it wasn’t what unnerved you the most.

It was his eyes. Always eyes. Because with eyes, everyone could know what you were, who you were. With your eyes, you’d nearly gotten yourself killed more times than you wanted to admit, more than you cared to admit.

You couldn’t help what you were born to, just as you couldn’t help his fascination towards you.

And to think you finally had that peace…

You could kill him, you could devour him until there was nothing left. But you couldn’t, God, you didn’t want to. And a small part of yourself knew he wanted it, knew he wanted to confirm his suspicion.

This man wouldn’t mind getting hurt as long as he discovered what you were on the inside.

And you couldn’t have that…

… Could you?

Rook simpered. When would he stop smiling? “Because that’s not your diet.”

You gripped your skirt. This guy was too persistent, and too observant for his own good.

“Just what do you want from me?”

You could feel the blood simmered and bubbled beneath your skin, itching to attack him, to defend yourself.

And when his grin widened, you knew it was exactly what he intended.

“I’m just curious, that’s all.” He shrugged nonchalantly, as though it’d make you feel less wary of him. “It’s not every day that I’d get to see a creature from another world.”

A creature…

Of course, that was what you were. A strange creature, if not, then a monster. A demon. A cannibal.

“Just leave me alone, okay?!”

“Don’t you feel hungry?”

You stiffened. Rook took this as a cue to continue.

“I know you’re hungry. That’s why you’ve been eyeing your friends, right?” Slowly, he unbuttoned the first few buttons of his uniform and slid his sleeve down, relishing in your gaping expression. “Go ahead. Take a bite out of me, if you want. Just don’t get too loud, or else other people might start suspecting you too.”

Your eyes flashed red, but you managed to control yourself. Before you jumped on him, before he got a chance to see your inhuman eyes. You shook your head.

“I can’t! I don’t want to.”

“Why not?”

“Because…” You bit your bottom lip. How could you explain it to him? How could you explain your inner struggle in a simple sentence? “Because I don’t want to hurt you, or anyone else for that matter.”

“Aw, how sweet.” he cooed, but it didn’t sound mocking. It was a sincere compliment, strangely enough. “The lengths you’ve gone through to ensure that you didn’t harm anyone… Such a big heart you have there, Mademoiselle.”

Your cheeks warmed. Dammit, now wasn’t the right time to feel flustered.

“But it’ll be a shame for you to die before you could fully bloom, won’t it? So, I insist for you to eat me.” He pushed his pale shoulder towards you, urging you to bite it. “Go ahead, you have my permission. I’m sure you won’t get overboard.”

You glanced at his skin, at the food he literally offered to you, and licked your lips. “W-what makes you so sure about that?”

“Those who wish no harm upon others won’t purposefully hurt them.” he smiled, and it was reassuring this time. “You have a good self-control, Mademoiselle.”

This guy was suicidal, that was for sure. But how could you complain when you finally had your first, real food here? A squirrel could only do so much.

Rook slowly closed his eyes, wincing when he felt your teeth sink into his skin. He’d be lying if he said that he wasn’t nervous, but he trusted you. Truly, he did. You chose to torture yourself by fasting for so long. Didn’t it deserve a compliment? A reward for your effort? That, and because he couldn’t have you die before he knew just what you were, who you were. You were a good person, and it’d be a shame to lose someone like that so soon.

And besides, he couldn’t lie that this position felt intimate to him. The way you sat on his lap. The way he cocked his head despite you biting his shoulder. The way he gripped your blazer. The way you both closed your eyes; one in gratification and the other in mild pain, and, deep down, pleasure. And the way you hugged him tightly yet delicately, one hand on his nape and the other on his back, as if afraid of hurting him too much. It was a strange feeling, being treated like glass. Briefly, he wondered how strong you were before he grunted. A moan tickled his throat, but he swallowed it to avoid your discomfort.

Blood flowed down from the bite wound, but you quickly licked it. Oh, it seemed that you only drank his blood. Were you a vampire, perhaps? A vampire who could withstand the sun? Or maybe you were restraining yourself yet again? Rook couldn’t hide the frown from appearing.

You slowly withdrew, dragging your teeth down as if savoring the smoothness of his skin. Rook shivered, but still enjoyed yet another bizarre experience that you’d bestowed upon him. He felt himself growing weaker, so he rested his head on the crook of your neck. The clashing smells of your shampoo and blood drifted in the air, and he knew you both had to leave if you didn’t want anyone to stumble upon you.

But, for a moment, he allowed himself to relax. Of course, not at the expense of his keen senses. A hunter should never let his guard down.

“Thank you.” you whispered, seemingly out of breath despite him being the one who was bitten.

Rook chuckled, the soft sound tickled your sensitive ear.

Je vous en prie, Mademoiselle.” He laughed again when he felt your cheek warmed against his. Languidly, he turned his head so he was looking at you from your neck. “So, will you quench my curiosity and tell me what you are?”

You sighed, defeated with his dogged persistence. You played with a lock of his blond hair, noticing his brown hat was askew. “I’m a ghoul. I eat humans.”

Rook hummed, not very surprised nor scared by the revelation. Or, rather, confirmation. “And you don’t like it?”

“I don’t like eating innocent people.” you clarified. “Other than that, it has its own advantages.”

“And what’s that?”

“Keener senses on surroundings.” You poked his cheek. “I always feel like someone’s stalking me, but I never got to know who. And now, I know the culprit.”

He chuckled. “At the very least, I’ve learned many things about you. The way of a ghoul is certainly… unique, to say the least.”

“I’m not much different than humans.” you grumbled, frowning slightly. “And quit stalking me. That’s creepy.”

Pardonne moi, Mademoiselle, but I don’t think I can leave you so easily. You’re too interesting for me.”

You rolled your eyes.

“Fine, then. As long as you agree to be my food again.” you paused, and quickly rectified. “I-I mean, if you don’t mind, of course…”

Rook slowly smiled, his eyes squinting slightly. The sight of it sent shivers down your spine, and you admitted that you already missed his comforting face.

Avec plaisir, Mademoiselle~”

***

Je voue en prie: You’re welcome

Pardonne moi: Forgive me

Avec plaisir: With pleasure

Chapter Text

Epel had always felt miserable ever since he came to Night Raven. It was nobody’s fault, really. Fate gave him this kind of appearance and fate sorted him into Pomefiore. But he wished something was different, wished people treated him more seriously.

And you did.

You always praised him for his ‘manliness’ and occasionally helped him rebel against Vil. You comforted him when the infantilizing remarks from his peers and Vil’s constant scolding became too much for him to bear. And you always spent some of your time cheering for him during his club activity.

For as long as he could remember, you’d always been his number one supporter, friend, and partner in crime. You’d cheered him up like no other, and your smile warmed his chest more than the summer sun. The sight of your face alone was enough to dust his cheeks in soft pink and crumbled his composure.

And somewhere along the way, he’d begun to rely on your support so much to the point where he felt lost without it.

Just like how he felt lost without your  presence  now.

Sitting on the edge of his bed, Epel pulled out a photo from the drawer and gazed at it. Nobody knew about its existence, and Epel was determined to keep it that way. His eyes softened as he stroked your beaming face beside his and the memory it held. You’d invited him to study together at that time, which he used as an excuse to avoid his nightly beauty routine. You’d laughed when he recounted Vil’s suspicious look and Rook’s amused face and praised him for his cleverness.

It was a gentle moment shared between two close friends; one that could never be recreated or replaced. One that held a special spot within his heart, because it was the last time he got to see you before you went home.

Home, as in, the home in your world. Not the Ramshackle dorm, but yours.

“This’ll be my last day here, so I want to spend it with you.”

It felt like a punch to the gut when you said that. He remembered sitting there stunned, blue eyes fixed on your tender face. He didn’t understand how you could still smile, or how limpid your tone sounded when you dropped the bomb. Did you even know the impact it had on  him ?

“Why… why did you tell me now?”

Why not yesterday? Or two days before so he could at least prepare himself for the  inevitable  goodbye. Why did you have to rain on his parade?

“The headmaster told me this morning. I was shocked, too. I thought he’d detain me here forever. That bird always made excuses every time I asked him about the progress.”

Forever didn’t sound  too  bad if he could spend it with you.

You sighed and smiled bemusedly, twirling the magic pen on your hand. The pen that would soon lose its owner. “Well, at least he’s proven himself as  somewhat  reliable.”

He remembered you used to joke about how useless Crowley was when it came to handling his students. And although you tended to end the joke with a laugh, he could see the weariness and the sleepless nights under your eyes. Epel was always irritated whenever you told him about Crowley’s recent ‘failure’. What if you got hurt when dealing with the overblotted students? He didn’t think he could  forgive  the headmaster if such a thing happened.

Just because you possessed no magic, didn’t mean your life was any less  worthless  than the ones who did.

“… Well, that’s great, then.” Was  it ? “I was ready to burst into his office if he kept being vague.”

You chuckled. “You don’t have to do that. I don’t think he wants to keep a magic-less student like me any longer. Who knows what kind of rumors would spread if the people outside know about this.”

Who cares about what a bunch of strangers would say? He wanted you here. With  him .

… But that was  impossible , wasn’t it?

Epel sighed and put the picture back to its place. It’d been two weeks since your departure, and yet, it felt like an eternity to him. He missed his family too, but the feeling was never this strong.

He just wanted to meet you again, was that too much to ask?

… Probably yes, considering how long it took Crowley to find a way back to your world.

Epel slowly lied on his back and stared at the ceiling like he always did before he slept. Nighttime allowed him to reminisce, and although it always soured his mood in the morning, he was happy.

He was happy because he got to see your face once more, even if it was from his  memories .

And when he closed his eyes and saw your figure standing underneath the stars, Epel finally allowed himself to cry.

Chapter Text

Your skin wasn’t as warm as it used to be, but that was okay. At least, it still felt smooth.

As smooth as a robot’s skin could be, that is.

Idia stroked your jaw, reminiscing the days where it’d taken him such a long time just to touch you. Even when he’d finally mustered the courage to hold hands with you, he still couldn’t stop blushing. You’d chuckled back then, remarking about how ‘cute’ he’d looked. Idia didn’t understand why you’d call him that, out of many bad nicknames his overactive brain had conjured up, but he liked it.

It made him feel… loved. Wanted. Normal.

If only he had enough courage to return the praise, to tell you how beautiful you looked.

If only he wasn’t such a coward, always backing out and pretended he didn’t see your disappointed face at whatever he’d chosen not to say.

If only… he told you how  precious  you were to him, how the days seemed brighter and more  bearable  with your presence.

A pale hand hovered over your lips before it clenched slowly. It was very of him, wasn’t it? Full of regrets, full of hesitation, and full of hatred. He’d repressed his feelings so much he didn’t know how to share them anymore, not even to you; the girl who patiently stood beside him.

Who used to stand beside him.

And it was all his fault.

It was his fault that you got attracted to him when there were so many boys pining for you. It was his fault that you dated him despite the countless confessions you’d received from other people. It was his fault that he slowly opened his heart to you despite knowing what would happen if he did. And it was his fault that he was so weak, so pathetic until he couldn’t save you from that–

Idia silently gritted his teeth. He should’ve never accepted you. He should’ve rejected you instead, because why would someone as gorgeous as you, as popular as you, wanted a nobody like him? He should’ve stayed away and insulted you mentally like he used to do.

… But if he did, then, Ortho would be sad. You would be sad.

He’d never seen the little robot looked so excited it almost seemed human. Ortho had always been a friendly kid, a stark contrast to his antisocial brother, but even Idia was surprised by his reaction towards your relationship.

“Yeay! A new sister!” he’d exclaimed, jumping up and down gleefully. And despite the shy blush that graced your cheeks, you’d giggled.

You’d giggled as in… you were happy to be with him. It wasn’t fake happiness he’d anticipated or a polite smile you’d show just to please Ortho.

And that was why it hurt.

It hurt because… you seemed truly happy to be with him despite his flaws and attitude, despite his strange appearance, despite everything he could find fault in.

And when he finally left his shell to repay your efforts, you decided to leave him instead. Not a text, not a call, not even a goodbye.

You left as if… you were tired of him.

You left just like those close to him was bound to do.

You left… just like what he’d  expected  you to.

And he… he should be happy, right? He should be glad that his expectation came true because there was no way anyone would stick with him for long. People would leave eventually, and he’d be alone again. Just like what he preferred.

So, then, why…?

With a gentle tap on his transparent keyboard, your eyes slowly opened. A pair of glassy irises stared back at him, and he silently clenched his hands.

They looked  too  much like your eyes at that time…

It seemed that he needed to make some modifications to the eyes if he wanted them to look livelier.

“Good evening, Idia Shroud-sama.”

Idia frowned and slowly shook his head.

Too formal.

Another tap and your expression immediately softened.

“Hello, Idia.”

Why couldn’t he feel the same happiness as he’d felt when he first met you?

A small, almost unnoticeable smile bloomed on his blue lips. And yet, his stinging eyes said otherwise.

“… Welcome back, [Name]-shi.”

Chapter Text

You’d always admired Malleus ever since your encounter on that fateful night. At first, it was a fascination over his species and how fireflies always seemed to appear around him. Those sturdy horns that stood proudly for everyone to see, dark green eyes that pierced into your glittering ones, his looming figure which elegance only a few could possess, and his gloomy yet commanding aura.

You were starstruck, to say the least. Those beast men were quite a sight already, and now you met a horned man in your sleep-deprived state. Real horns, nonetheless. You’d rubbed your eyes, trying to ensure that you weren’t just imagining things.

You didn’t.

He was real, standing before you in his full 202 cm glory. Arms crossed in his chest, he cocked his head and asked if you were the magic-less human everyone had been talking about. You’d nodded; it seemed like the news was the only thing people asked you these days. After a few seconds of closing and opening your mouth like a fish out of water, you finally inquired about his name because damned if you didn’t know who he was.

You were pretty sure he was somewhat influential, it had to be. There was no way an ordinary student could be so… majestic. Perhaps he was a dorm leader too? But you didn’t see him at the opening ceremony. Maybe he was just one of the rich kids; one who had a proper upbringing and the like.

The horned guy didn’t answer and merely smiled. He permitted you to call him whatever you wished, and so you stuck with ‘Tsunotarou’. You kept calling him that until you eventually learned that his name was Malleus Draconia, one of the top five mages and, to your brief surprise, the dorm leader of Diasomnia. You also found out that other dorm leaders often forgot to invite him to any gathering due to his unapproachable aura.

It was a sad fact because although he did speak rather arrogantly, Malleus was truly lonely deep down.

And, so, you resolved to follow him to ease his loneliness.

The first time you did that, Sebek had scolded you mercilessly. He still did, honestly. He thought you were a danger to the ‘young lord’, secretly wanting to harm him despite the impossibility of such a situation. Silver was quite suspicious, too. But after he realized that you meant well, he relaxed slightly. Though, he’d warned you to not suffocate Malleus like Sebek often did.

You’d nodded and smiled, but you didn’t really listen. You thought he said that because he didn’t want to listen to Sebek’s loud lectures, so you decided to dismiss it. You could handle him, you reassured yourself. Sebek was still a teenager, anyway.

However, you supposed even Malleus could feel overwhelmed sometimes. And now that you thought about it, the reason why you even encountered him that night was that he wanted to be alone.

“Why do you keep following me?”

Malleus wasn’t angry, and yet, his frowning face looked like he wanted to electrocute you on the spot. It was the first time you’d seen that expression, and directed to you, nonetheless. The air grew colder, too, or maybe it was just the fact that you didn’t wear your jacket.

Now, you understood why some people thought he was scary. He was scary, especially when you considered his magical capabilities. Not that you’d say it aloud, though. Malleus was surprisingly sensitive to such opinions.

“I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to overwhelm you.” you stammered slightly, feeling every bit like a child being caught by her parents. You were certain that Sebek would cheer on him if he was here. “I was just… well, you seem so lonely, Malleus. That’s why I kept following you.”

You paused, listening to the wind that howled distantly. “I promise I won’t follow you again, but I hope we’re still friends. Or acquaintances are okay, too.” you gulped. “I’m so sorry for bothering you these past few days. It wasn’t my intention, I swear!”

“… Is that so?” he mused. “So you followed me out of pity, then, Child of Man?”

Your eyes bulged a little. Oh, no. He took it the wrong way! He must be offended now…

“N-no, I… I admire you too!” you shouted as if he’d turn his back and leave you any second now. “You’re tough despite being feared by others. You always keep your head high even when people are whispering about you left and right. I know the comments don’t phase you anymore, but I think it’s cool, you know?” you chuckled to yourself. “If it were me, I would’ve long crumbled by the constant negativity.”

There was a brief silence, in which you tried to read his otherwise unreadable face before Malleus broke it with a thoughtful hum.

“Indeed, human spirits are easy to break. But some of them are quick to move on and flourish. They grow stronger than before.” Looking down at your enthralled visage, he smiled softly. “And I’m certain that you’re one of them, Child of Man. Because the fact that you’re still here with me, smiling so innocently despite your predicament, proves that you’re tougher than you look.”

Your eyes widened when he patted your head tenderly, not the crushing grip everyone just seemed to assume. It felt as if you were a child being rewarded or something, but you liked the feeling somehow. It proved that even Malleus Draconia, the most feared man in NRC, was capable of gentleness.

Blinking away the tears that had somehow gathered at the corner of your eyes, you looked up to him and beamed. “You can be so sweet sometimes, you know that, Tsunotarou?”

Chapter Text

When people had been avoiding you for all your life, it was hard to believe that you’d come to love one of them soon.

Malleus knew you were different, though. You were pretty, caring, and brave. Despite the number of challenges life threw at you, from waking up in an unknown world to dealing with the overblotted students magic-less, you faced them all optimistically. It was this kind of disposition that allowed you to approach him fearlessly even after you learned about his name, and in return, you gained his rare respect and affection.

The latter wasn’t something he’d easily admit, however.

The green flame accentuated your slumbering face as you lied motionlessly on his bed. All trace of weariness disappeared from your visage, replaced by the peacefulness only a deep, wholesome sleep could provide. Your fingers interlaced with each other on your stomach, a tiny dot marred the tip of the forefinger. Despite the uniform that fit your body snugly, you seemed nothing short of a princess from that story.

The one where the prince had to wake her up with a  kiss .

But this time, the prince wasn’t some man from the faraway castle. Rather, it was your nightly stroll companion.

Malleus wondered if there wasn’t any alternative to rouse you. He was strong, both physically and magically. Surely, he knew a spell or two that could lift the curse, right? It shouldn’t be the only way…

… But it was. And he needed to do it fast if he wanted to see your lively face again – if he didn’t want to lose his only friend.

Or was it crush? His retainers were accustomed to his habit of disappearing from their supervision, but Lilia seemed to be the sole person who knew about the girl he met every night and his blooming feelings.

Of course, he wasn’t his supervisor for nothing.

“The longer you run away from your feelings, the stronger they become,” he said prudently once he ascertained your condition. Malleus wasn’t stupid, but he just… wanted to know if his suspicion was wrong in any way. “If you can’t muster up the courage to confess to her, then do it for her sake.”

What would happen later, then? If Malleus kissed you now, it’d prove that he indeed loved you, and he couldn’t. He couldn’t do that, because it meant his feelings were real and yours might not.

And even if you did, there was no guarantee that you’d want to stay here forever. Departure was inevitable, as was death.

“For her sake, huh…” he mused, stroking the hair that framed your countenance. 

Lilia noticed his turmoil and put a reassuring hand on his back. “Nobody says that dealing with your feelings is easy, so please take your time, young lord.” he murmured.

The gesture disappeared as soon as it appeared. Malleus once again stood alone in his quiet room, contemplating his choice.

Could he do it?

Would he do it?

… In the end, his love for you won over his hesitation.

Taking a deep breath, Malleus slowly bent down to your level and paused. He needed to do this, for your sake. Your friends were waiting for you, and he wasn’t selfish enough to chain you in a coma forever.

Malleus angled his head and slowly pressed his lips against yours. They were soft, almost pillow-like. How many times had he been dreaming of something like this to happen?

If only you loved him as he did…

But that was okay. For now, he’d savor the moment where you finally opened your eyes and pretended that he hadn’t kissed you just now.

For now, he’d pretend to be just a friend for you.

Chapter Text

The King of Thorns was… gloomier than you thought. You’d expected a tall, austere man who would electrocute you if you so much as looked at him without his permission, not a, well… tall, dark, and brooding man. Beneath those piercing green eyes, you perceived an inexplicable sense of loneliness and yearning for something far – something unattainable.

You never thought a powerful leader like him could harbor such painful feelings, especially if you considered his three loyal retainers who would be willing to destroy the world for him, but you supposed even he wasn’t devoid of personal sentiments.

That, in the end, loneliness was universal.

“Well, do you need anything, human?” His deep voice echoed in the throne room you’d been dragged to after you stated your wish to see him. He was, of course, every bit as intimidating as your neighbors and family had told you. However, your recent discovery had compelled you to rethink your opinion.

Perhaps, Malleus Draconia was more  human  than you thought.

“Are you lonely?”

A thick, deafening silence permeated in the already quiet hall. The green-haired guard who barked at your face earlier looked ready to throw you out of the window, the particularly sleepy one had snapped his eyes open, while the shortest stared at you bemusedly.

It wasn’t until the king himself opened his mouth, did you realize that you’d screwed up. Badly.

“Oh…? And what makes you think so, human?”

He’d squinted when he uttered the nickname as if he was trying to emphasize the difference between you and him.

That fairies never felt human feelings like you did. Or perhaps a silly sentiment such as loneliness was beyond him, and you were just misreading things.

Fearing that you might’ve offended him, you immediately clasped a hand over your mouth and bowed apologetically.

“F-forgive me! I didn’t mean to blurt out such a rude thing…!” you stammered, grimacing at yourself.

Your father always said that you tended to blurt things out, but it never really dawned on you until this very moment. Truly, old habits die hard.

“Master, let me dispose of this pesky human immediately!” the green-haired guard piped in. “After all, she has committed the grievous crime of insulting you!” 

You internally panicked, body stiffening. Oh, no, no, no. If he kicked you out now, then gone was the chance of you helping your village. Who knows, he might burn it too! And it’d be all your fault! Why did you have to be so blunt?! It’d taken days for you to mentally and physically prepare yourself, and now you ruined it!

Lord, weren’t you a genius? Insisting your father let you come here when he couldn’t even trust your mouth. You should’ve obeyed him, instead. After all, he knew how to be diplomatic better than you.

Malleus finally raised his gloved hand, effectively shushing the fussy guard. “Be quiet, Sebek. Let her speak before we decide things.”

So… you still hadn’t destroyed your only chance, then? You were still alive?

“B-but Master…!” Sebek sputtered, but Malleus once again shushed him.

“Well,” he averted his gaze to your frozen being. “answer me, then.”

Should you lie…? No, he wasn’t your father who you could willfully disobey. He was the king, and that meant he could punish you if he noticed your horrible attempt at sugarcoating things. But… would he appreciate frankness? Lord, what should you do now?!

“I…” Ah, screw it. Better rely on your gut in this kind of situation, you guessed. If he felt insulted, then you could just convince him to kill you instead. You really were suicidal “It’s just that… your eyes look… somber.”

… Was it nice enough? You weren’t being too blunt, were you?

Malleus cocked his head, humming thoughtfully.

“My eyes have always been like this.” It was true. “I don’t think that alone is enough for you to conclude that I’m lonely.”

“Well…” You had a feeling that you wouldn’t leave this castle anytime soon, somehow. “My father once said that eyes are the windows to the soul. When you’re sad or worried, you furrow your brow, which makes the eyes look smaller, and vice versa. That’s how you know about people’s emotional states, apparently.”

“And… do you believe it?”

You shifted a little under his scrutiny. You never thought a stare could become even more piercing, more… penetrating. You wondered what your father would react if he were in your spot. Would he be honest like you were doing? Or would he escape instead? You couldn’t say that you wouldn’t blame him if he did. Malleus appeared ten times more intimidating when he was intrigued by something.

“I do. That’s how I know about people’s feelings.” Although you weren’t the best at reading their expressions, either. Most of the time, you relied on the occasional flash of intuition… which you tended to overthink later.

Malleus examined your fake stoicism before he leaned back against the chair, nodding to himself.

“… I see.” he mused. “To think that I’d hear such profound words from a human… how fascinating.”

… Was that a good thing? Did that mean you could tell him your intention now? You knew you’d been here less than ten minutes ago, but it felt like hours had passed. Had you didn’t comment on his eyes, you might’ve gone home now.

“Tell me, human.” You snapped out of your mini regret session. “What is your purpose of visiting me?”

Finally…!

“W-well,” You coughed into your fist, trying to gather the last remnants of your composure. “You see… a drought has been attacking my village for months now. The crops have all failed, and the wells are beginning to run out of water. If it’s not too much for Your Highness, we would like to request some food supply and possibly… rain, so we won’t have to suffer anymore.”

Malleus went quiet a moment, seemingly pondering on your request. “That’s quite unfortunate. I’ll be sure to order my retainers to send some food supply to your village as soon as possible.”

You sighed in relief, feeling some of the tension rolled off your shoulders. “Thank you, Your Highness. We truly appreciate your help.”

“However,” he quickly said before you could excuse yourself. “I would like to request something from you in return.”

You blinked in surprise. What could he possibly want from you…?

“I want you to come to my tea party.” he smiled enigmatically at your perplexed expression. “It’s been such a long time since I gained noteworthy knowledge from a human, and I want to hear more from you.”

Well, that was quite… shocking.

“O-of course!” Basically, he just wanted to talk with you again, right? “I’ll be happy to oblige.”

“One of my retainers will come to fetch you soon, so I hope you prepare yourself.” Why did it sound like you were about to face a death sentence? The king truly had a… unique style of speaking. “Before that, may I know your name first?”

“Oh, it’s [Name]. [Name] [Last Name].”

Malleus nodded, pleased with your quick response. “I shall see you again, then, [Name].

Chapter Text

You’d always known that grief took a long time to heal, if ever. You’d seen many people from your village died, either from natural causes or diseases. You’d seen many people wept and moved on, although you knew they’d always carry the pain inside until their deaths. Rarely did they remain the same person, the grief had changed them for the better or the worse.

Throughout one year you’d been working in Draconia castle, you’d come to learn how different the king was compared to the stories your old friends and family had recounted to you. They always depicted him as a draconian ruler who would burn you if you disobeyed him, or let his three loyal retainers kill you for him instead. When you asked them how did they know about those things, they always shrugged and told you that was what their families had said.

But they were wrong. The King of Thorns was a soft, albeit aloof man. And his wife, a lovely lady in her sixties, was the one who had gradually melted his heart into accepting the humans better. At least, that was what Lilia had told you.

Regardless, anyone could see just how affectionate he was to her. How his eyes always softened whenever he stared at her, how gentle he held her wrinkly hands, and how tender he stroked her white hair. Never once did he look at her with anything other than love, even though her face wasn’t as youthful as it used to be. And she never once looked at him with anything other than love, even though he looked as young as they first met.

You remembered the times when you spotted them waltzing in an empty hall, hugging and smiling softly as they soaked in each other’s presence. Those heartfelt moments – ones that only a couple so deeply in love with each other could create – never failed to bring tears to your eyes, and Lilia often caught you sniffing silently. He always chuckled and teased you for being tenderhearted, but you knew that he was proud of Malleus, too – if the countless baby stories he’d recounted to you wasn’t enough proof.

However, death was a natural part of life. It took everyone regardless of time and age, and the Queen wasn’t an exception.

One day, she failed to wake up from her sleep.

And for the first time in your life, you finally witnessed Malleus' breakdown.

After the funeral had ended, he’d locked himself up in his room and refused to leave despite the number of encouragements and calls for his duty. He’d rejected any food from the servants. The advisors were forced to handle the kingdom until he was deemed stable enough to lead. It’d taken a long, emotionally tolling conversation with Lilia for Malleus to finally come out.

And he wasn’t quite the same person ever since.

He’d become quieter, more withdrawn, and more… forlorn.

It pained you to see his crestfallen face, slightly hunched back, and cheerless aura. And although you barely talked to him outside the necessary interaction, you wanted to do something for him.

You wanted to ease his grief however little it seemed.

“Your Majesty…?” you called, nervously waiting for his response. You shifted the tray in your hands, trying to prevent the cup from sliding down.

The door opened soon enough. Malleus’ head jutted out from the gap, and his green eyes immediately landed on you.

“Did Lilia order you to bring tea for me?” he inquired.

“Oh, no. I…” you paused, wondering if he’d feel offended by your intention somehow. After all, you were just a lowly maid in this castle. “I just thought about pouring this for you, Your Highness. F-forgive me if I seem insolent to you. I assure you it is not my intention to offend you, Your Highness.”

Malleus’ eyes widened slightly, feeling a bit surprised yet pleased at your kindness.

“That is very thoughtful of you,” he remarked, opening the doors a bit wider. “Please, come inside.”

His room was large, befitting his status as the king. You gently put the tray on the table and stood beside the chair, diligently waiting for his orders if he had any. Malleus raised a brow at your tensed figure and beckoned you to the chair in front of him.

“No need to be so stiff. Sit down.” he ordered. “You must be exhausted from your duty today.”

“E-eh…?! Ah, it’s alright! I don’t feel tired at all.” you tittered, waving your hands to emphasize your statement.

Standing near him was already nerve-wracking, and now he wanted you to sit before him? You’d probably sweat buckets.

Malleus looked up from his cup.

“Hm…? Are you talking back at me?”

You weren’t sure if you misheard it, but you caught a subtle teasing tone from him. Regardless, his question still startled you anyway.

“N-no, of course not…!”

“Then, do what I said.”

You hesitantly and slowly planted your behind on the chair. If he noticed your rigidity, he didn’t comment. Instead, he calmly sipped on his tea.

“It’s very rare for a servant to bring me tea without any order beforehand.” he spoke up after a moment of awkward – at least, from your view – silence. “My wife used to do that, instead.”

You pursed your lips and looked down.

“The Queen was a very kind lady.” you remarked.

“She was. I love her very much.” He nodded in agreement, putting the cup and its saucer down. “Her death impacted me greatly. It was embarrassing to remember the time when I isolated myself in my room.”

“Well…” you trailed off, unsure of whether you were allowed to speak anymore. It felt weird to converse with him so easily, so casually, but Malleus didn’t seem to mind. “I don’t think there’s a right way to grieve.”

“Indeed. Regardless, I’ve burdened many people during my inactivity. I even made Lilia worried about me.” he said, staring down at the murky tea. “However, I resolved to improve myself from now on. It’ll take a long time for me to be able to move on from her, but I hope she sees my progress from wherever she is.”

You smiled, happy to hear the quiet determination within his normally sullen voice.

“I think she will. After all, she loves you very much.”

“Thank you for this, by the way.” You looked up, confused with the sudden gratitude. “I truly appreciate your attempt at comforting me.”

A soft smile finally graced his features for the first time in months since the Queen’s death as he regarded you appreciatively. Your cheeks began to heat up as your chest fluttered at the sight of his gentle face.

No wonder the Queen fell for him. He really had a nice smile on top of being surprisingly pleasant to talk to.

Unable to hide your happiness, you looked down and smiled shyly.

“I’m glad, then…”

Chapter Text

Humans truly had a unique way to show their friendship. Some proclaimed it to the people around them or through social media, some gave their friends presents, and some defended their honors.

However, yours didn’t seem to fit into any of that category. You always went out of your way to greet him despite the distance it took from your class to his and Sebek’s continuous scolding, smiled up to him with those glittering eyes, and shyly touched him. It was nice to be treated like a normal person for once, and not a monster to be feared of.

Like an average student, not an  outcast .

Malleus had always thought you were being friendly, that you just had a special way of displaying your companionship, but Lilia’s knowing smirk proved him otherwise.

“What is it?” he inquired as soon as you left after chatting with him briefly.

“Hm…? Oh, it’s nothing.” Lilia smiled mysteriously, putting his hand under his chin. “I just think your interaction with her is very interesting.”

“And why is that?” Malleus pressed on, slightly irritated by his enigmatic response. As far as the former was concerned, there was nothing odd about his conversation with you. Right? “Is it because she’s the first human who doesn’t fear me?”

“Well, that one is rather intriguing, too. But that’s not what I’m concerned about.”

Malleus frowned, feeling his patience running thin. Why was it so difficult for the older fae to just come out and say it? Why did he insist on playing guessing games with him? “Speak up, then. Don’t keep me waiting.”

Lilia peered up at him, smirking slightly when he discerned his exasperation. “It’s you, young lord.” he said bluntly.

Now that was quite surprising.

“Me…?” The dragon fae pointed to himself, his frown deepened. “And what have I done to warrant your ‘concern’, Lilia?”

Lilia chuckled behind his gloved hand. Malleus’ innocence could be so amusing sometimes. The older fae pitied your near futile attempts at showing your attraction to him. Almost.

Of course, he wouldn’t be Lilia if he didn’t enjoy a little drama once in a while. After all, there was nothing more entertaining to watch than young love.

“Young lord, you must know that human emotions are complex. There are many ways to display those turbulent sentiments, and one of them is called ‘flirting’. Humans typically do that when they’re interested in someone, because some of them are very shy about confessing their genuine feelings. They usually want to touch, giggle, or start a conversation with their preferred someone. And based on how she reacted to you, I must say that she’s interested in you, young lord.”

Malleus stared at his supervisor long and hard, attempting to conclude whether he was telling the truth or not. Lilia rarely teased him as much as he did to Sebek, but who knows what he thought.

He just hoped Lilia wasn’t trying to mess with his mind.

“… And you think I’ve been dense to her efforts.”

“It is what it is, young lord. I was merely stating the truth.”

Malleus brought a hand to his forehead and sighed. To think that he’d completely misread your intention all these times, and have Lilia shove it to his face. Malleus wondered if you secretly felt irritated by his obliviousness if you thought about giving up after weeks of trying. What if… what if you wanted to avoid him now? Your patience could only go so far, after all. What if you pursued another boy instead? Someone more aware, more… responsive.

No, Malleus couldn’t let that happen. He couldn’t afford to have you distance yourself from him and pay attention to someone else. He might’ve been too absorbed by the fact that he finally had a friend now – a real friend – but he was determined to make things right this time. And who knows, his feelings might grow into something more.

“Are you planning on telling her, young lord?” Lilia inquired once he spotted his tired face morphed into a quiet determination.

Malleus squared his shoulders and stared forward, accidentally spooking a few students in the process.

“Of course. I can’t allow her efforts to go in vain, can I?”

“Ah~ you sure have matured greatly, young lord.” the shorter fae cooed as he closed his eyes and imagined the scene that would ensue later. Perhaps he could follow Malleus while he was at it…

True to his words, Malleus set out to meet you in your usual spot that night. As expected, you were already waiting there. With a beam that could rival the sun, you waved at him enthusiastically.

“Senpai, I’m glad you come again!” you chirped, clasping your hands behind him.

“Of course.” Couldn’t allow you to wait any longer, could he? This time, he’d definitely repay your efforts. “Nighttime is my favorite time, after all.”

“Me too! The stars look so beautiful tonight, don’t you think?”

Not as beautiful as  you .

“Indeed.”

“So, where are we going now? Do you want to see gargoyles or… visit that graveyard again?”

Just being with you is  enough  for me.

“Anywhere is fine by me.”

You stared up at him and blinked owlishly. He usually had a general plan for their next activity, but now, he let you took the reigns. How kind of him.

“Well, I’m in the mood to explore something creepy now. So I think we should visit that graveyard again…” you trailed off. “If you don’t mind it, that is.”

Malleus shook his head. “Lead the way, then.”

You both walked side by side, admiring the fireflies that always seemed to accompany him. Well, you were busy marveling at the beauty of night scenery, while Malleus was busy thinking about the right time to bring up the topic.

Should he do it now? You looked distracted, so it should be a good opportunity, right?

“Child of Man,”

“Yes?”

“Lilia told me that you’re interested in me. Is that true?”

You sputtered, shocked by the sudden inquiry. It was true that you’d been liking him for quite some time, but you’d kind of surrendered now. Malleus wasn’t good at reading people’s behaviors, and you were just too shy to divulge your feelings to him. How high was the chance of him accepting your confession, anyway? He was a prince, the future king of some kingdom, while you were just a simple human girl. Your relationship would never happen.

“That… that’s true.”

Malleus raised a quizzical brow.

“You don’t sound very confident, Child of Man. What happened? Are you tire of me, perhaps?”

Tire… How would he react if you told him that? Would he be angry? Would he avoid you instead?

“N-no, I’m not tire of you.” He was a nice man despite his slightly cocky nature and tendency to give you an existential crisis due to his contemplation towards humans. But there was no point in hoping any longer, right?

He might’ve known about your interest, but it didn’t mean he liked you back.

“Then, what is it?”

For someone so oblivious, he sure was persistent. You wished he’d stop trying to dig the feelings you almost succeeded in burying.

“I just… well…”

“Don’t stutter.”

“I kinda gave up now.”

Malleus froze. Gave up…? Gave up as in… you no longer liked him?

No, you said ‘kinda’. That meant there was still a tiny opening, right? He wasn’t too late. Yeah, he wasn’t.

Hopefully.

“Is that so…?” he hummed, hiding his throbbing heart behind a calm veneer. “What if I told you that I like you too? Would you reconsider your choice?”

You whipped your head towards him. He.. he wasn’t joking, right? You didn’t mishear things, right? Because this wasn’t funny.

“You… you like me? Malleus Draconia… likes me back?”

Malleus cocked his head, arms crossed over his broad chest.

“Is there something wrong with that? Or… would you like me to be more romantic instead?” he smirked, eyes darkened mischievously. “I heard human girls like an intimate confession.”

No, there wasn’t anything wrong with that as much as you–

“I don’t believe it.”

“Well, you should.” Slowly, he put one hand on your shoulder and the other raised your chin to look at him in the eye. “Because I don’t lie to my beloved.”

“Oh, how touching~” Lilia swooned as he observed on what should be a private moment between lovers. He wiped a tear from the corner of his eye and sighed blissfully. “Malleus sure has grown up so fast. It feels like yesterday when he was cooing at Gao Gao Dragon-kun, and now, he’s able to seduce a human female to be his girlfriend.” he giggled. “Ah, aren’t I just the best caretaker ever~?”

A few meters before him, Malleus’ ear twitched slightly.

Chapter Text

You had a friend.

childhood friend, to be exact. He was a strange man with slit eyes, dark horns, and pale skin. You remembered meeting him in the forest during one of your daily explorations because you were rebellious like that. He was standing among the trees, stroking a gargoyle on his large hand like it was his precious pet. Green irises peered towards you once he sensed your curious presence, and with a deep, authoritative voice, he inquired.

“Why is there a gargoyle in the middle of a forest, Child of Man?”

You blinked owlishly, trying to decide whether his question was worth answering or not. It wasn’t every day you saw a stranger aside from the occasional travelers, let alone a horned man like him.

“I threw it away.” you said with the typical honesty of a child. “I don’t like scary things, so I threw it away.”

The man slowly squinted, looking increasingly offended as if you just committed the greatest sin.

“Do you have any idea of how useful gargoyles are, Child of Man?” he asked. “You look young, so I presume you know nothing about them. Very well, let me educate you.”

He proceeded to ramble about the different types of gargoyles, their function, the difference between them and grotesques, etc. And despite your baffled face, he kept talking anyway. If anything, it seemed to be the fuel for him to explain things even further.

You didn’t think you could ever understand anything he’d spouted on, nor would you consider returning the gargoyle to your village. But you noticed that there was a certain spark in his irises; a spark that dispelled the cold glint and illuminated a part of his enigmatic nature. It lifted the shade that covered his eyes, and frankly, what hidden beneath it was–

“Beautiful.”

The man froze, lips parted slightly. “Sorry?”

“Your eyes…” You pointed towards the said organ. “look very beautiful when you’re talking about gargoyles, mister.”

He stared at you long and hard, and you innocently yet blankly stared back. You didn’t think there was any harm in a simple compliment, and yet, he found it astonishing somehow.

“You… think my eyes are ‘beautiful’?” he drawled as if he’d misheard it or you’d worded it wrong.

But there was no reason for you to lie to him, so you nodded.

“… I see.” Looking down, he smiled shyly as a blush dusted his pale cheeks. “Thank you… for the compliment, Child of Man. I truly appreciate it.”

Your innocent praise seemed to encourage his visits because, for the next few weeks, you kept encountering him in the forest. He always came at twilight and disappeared when you went home, leaving fireflies in his wake. And every day, he brought you either story that never failed to amaze you or trinkets for you to play with. Never once did he give you his name despite you readily told him yours, but you didn’t really care. He was nice, and that was all mattered to you.

However, all meetings had to come to an end.

“I will be leaving soon.” he stated suddenly as he sat against the bark during one of your nightly rendezvouses. The lake glistened under the moonlight, and somehow, it darkened his already somber eyes. You stopped intertwining the flowers that you created absentmindedly and looked up, blinking owlishly.

“Where to?”

“School.”

School…? How odd. You thought someone like him was knowledgeable already, or at least, had an education somewhere else.

“… Why?”

“It’s important for me to broaden my horizon.”

Oh… so he wanted more experiences, huh? Couldn’t say you didn’t understand his intention, and yet–

“I see…” It sucked, anyway. You’d begun to consider him as your close friend; your getaway to the outside world, or well… his world. And now, he wanted to leave you. Maybe even for a long time. “How long?”

“Possibly four years.”

Four years… you’d be fourteen, then.

You nodded mutely, resuming your little work. It disappointed you that you wouldn’t have an excuse to go out at night anymore and to see your hangout place void of the usual laughter and chatters. But if tonight was his last night with you, then you were determined to spend it meaningfully.

“Henna hito, can you please bend down a little?”

You recalled his confused yet insulted frown when you first called him ‘weird person’, but you reasoned that he’d given you the liberty to call him anything. He’d opened his mouth to protest before sighing, eyes closed bemusedly. You’d smirked at his resignation.

The man complied and bowed his head slightly. You gently put the crown and admired the flowers that seemed to appear more exquisite around his forehead. Despite its awry shape, he stroked the twigs with such tenderness as if he was touching porcelain.

“That’s my gift for you,” you said. “my farewell gift.”

He blinked owlishly, and a smile - softer than the moonlight that caressed his broodingly handsome features - soon appeared. “Thank you. I’ll be sure to maintain this keepsake forever.”

Suddenly, his gloved hand reached out and patted your head. “Child of Man, once you reach your maturity, would you like to be with me?” he asked with an uncharacteristically hesitant voice bordering on… scared. “I vow to keep you happy and accommodate you to the best of my ability.”

You didn’t understand what he was saying, or the severity of his words. All you knew was that you’d meet him again, and when that time came, you wouldn’t be separated anymore. So, of course, you accepted.

What kind of person would refuse their friend’s loyalty, anyway?

… At least, that was what your green mind comprehended.

Nodding eagerly, you beamed. “Yes.”

And so, you waited. You read many books and learned many skills in the meantime, just so you could have something to talk about during your reunion. It was also a way for you to pass the time and boredom.

When you had a friend that regularly enriched your brain, other friends felt duller now.

But when four years had passed, there was no sign of Henna Hito. You’d searched nearly every nook and cranny of the forest, childishly thinking that he might be hiding somewhere. However, he still hadn’t come. Not even your tantrums, or breaking the gargoyle that had somehow become the symbol of your friendship were enough to bring him back. The lakeside was still empty, the forest was still quiet, and you were still lonely.

Where was he? He said that he’d go to school for four years. Had he forgotten about you? Had he broken his promise? Had he only said that just to comfort you?

You threw the last piece of gargoyle against the tree, tears streaming endlessly, and chest heaving from your latest rampage. How could he lie to you like that?! Him, your dearest friend. Him, the one you trusted the most aside from your parents. Did he even consider you as a friend too? Or were you just a toy to play with?!

Over the five years, you’d slowly begun to despise him. Not dislike, just pure hatred. You’d sold all trinkets he’d given you (which earned you quite a lot of money, much to your parents’ shock), and ripped all the pages from your journal that described your adventures with him.

You were determined to get rid of everything that reminded you of him, even if it hurt you somehow.

Time fleeted, marking the tenth years he’d abandoned you. You’d grown into a fine young woman, but the ice that encased your heart had yet to melt. You diligently helped your father taking care of the village, whilst rejecting every proposal that came your way. As handsome and kind those men were, you didn’t want to marry anytime soon.

You wanted to enjoy your newfound adulthood. You wanted to befriend more people. You wanted to–

No, you immediately shook your head, you’d promised yourself that you wouldn’t think about him anymore. There was no use in hoping for a stranger to return; a traitor. You hated him, and that was that. Your opinion would never change.

At least, that was what you assumed, what you’d like to hold on until your father revealed shocking news to you.

“[Name], you will soon marry the King of Thorns.”

Your eyes bulged, and you could’ve sworn your heart had paused for a second. Marry…? To the King?

Are you crazy?!” you blurted out.

He shook his head sadly.

“I know this is sudden, but the King has specifically requested you to be his bride.” he explained patiently despite his heavy chest.

You sputtered.

“B-but… why me?! There are many richer and prettier women in the village! Why would he choose me, out of all people?!”

“[Name], calm down. Please don’t panic.” Your father tried to rub your back, but you swiftly shrugged off his hand.

“No, Father! You can’t… you can’t just…” You choked on a sob. Embarrassed, you turned your flaming face away and sniffled. “You can’t just tell me to marry a stranger. And a king, nonetheless! How could I not panic…?! It was too sudden. I can’t… I can’t even begin to explain just how wrong this is…”

Your father frowned and slowly coaxed you into a comforting hug. Luckily, you accepted the gesture and sobbed against his chest.

“I’m sorry, [Name], I really am. I’ve… I’ve tried to reject the proposal, but the King was stubborn. He said you’re the only woman he wants, and wishes to meet you this weekend.” he whispered, trying to repress the tears that clouded his gaze. “I’m sorry I couldn’t do more for you, sweetheart.”

You shook your head. He was right; there wasn’t much he could do for you. Your village was under the Thorn Kingdom’s protection, so you needed to obey its ruler regardless of your wishes.

But it didn’t mean you liked your predicament. Despite your parents’ efforts to cheer you up, you kept frowning and had chosen to isolate yourself in your room until the fateful day came.

Your mother tried to smile through her tears as she and other female villagers transformed you into the most beautiful woman in the village. It wasn’t until she accompanied you to the carriage did she finally break down and begged you to stay. You wanted to cry, too. Heck, you wanted to scream to the sky just how unfair your life was. But you couldn’t stay long to comfort her before your father gently pushed you into the carriage, a somber frown on his already wrinkly face.

He didn’t talk much during the journey, and it wasn’t as if you could bring yourself to speak, either. Your throat was dry, and you were trying hard to repress the tears from leaking and staining your caked face.

It was just an ordinary meeting between two future spouses, as much as you hated to describe like that. You’d definitely go home later. But, somehow, it felt as if he was accompanying you to a funeral or your death sentence instead.

Once you passed the rocky road and long driveway to the castle, your father left a deep, tear-stained kiss on your forehead and told you to take care of yourself.

And off he went, along with your future and old life.

A hand patted your shoulder, kicking you back into the cruel reality. Peering towards the said person, you spotted a young man with silver hair nodding at you. You sighed, and after glancing at your father’s distant old carriage for the last time, you reluctantly followed the knight.

The castle was majestic and spotless, with chandeliers illuminating the endless hallways and vases of colorful flowers placed on each side. It was a stark contrast to the gloomy aura the castle emitted and somehow reminded you of the flower crown you gave him.

No…! You gently smacked your head to dispel his tender visage. Don’t even think about him, or anything connected to him. He’d never come, and even if he did, you’d never meet him again.

Because you belong to someone else now, forever and ever.

Pushing the huge oak doors open, you both entered the throne room after what seemed to be an eternity. And while the silver-haired guard promptly kneeled to show his respect, your body chose to freeze instead. Not even the order from another guard was enough to snap you out of your shock.

Because Henna Hito was in front of you now, sitting on the throne as if he belonged there – like the king he was. And there was a flower crown sitting on the small table beside him, displayed to the world as if it was a priceless jewel. The flowers remained as vivid as they used to be, even after all these years.

Without your knowledge, he’d kept his  promises .

And here you were, standing before him with years of heartache and hatred, dressed in the prettiest and most expensive gown your mother could afford.

And here you were, standing before him… as his soon-to-be-bride. Or should you say, Malleus Draconia’s soon-to-be-bride?

You finally understood now, the meaning of his question and what your innocent answer had impacted your life. Why he'd refused to tell you his name despite being friends for so long, because who didn’t know him? And as much as it relieved you to see that he looked as healthy and young as he used to be, the resentment existed anyway.

“You may stand up now, Silver.” he spoke with that familiar deep, authoritative voice. The voice that you always missed secretly and dreamed of hearing. Then, his eyes – the eyes that you’d praised once, the eyes that softened just for you – glided up to your gaping figure. His lips quirked into a fond yet wistful smile as he finally regarded you after ten years of disappearance. “Hello, [Name]. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”

***

変な人: Henna hito, lit. Weird person.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t the first time you visited this place, but it was definitely the first time you heard music.

Curious about the sudden sound, you slowly got up from the rocks that scattered along the riverbank and dusted the dirt from your uniform. You leaped from the biggest rock that had become your favorite spot to unwind, lifting your skirt slightly to prevent tripping on it or the pebbles. Using the moon above you as your source of light, you ventured through the darkness that bound the trees. The crickets had stopped chirping as if allowing the music to permeate in the quiet woods. Only the crunching sound of dead leaves under your soles that ruined the ephemeral serenity the song effortlessly created.

Peeking from behind one of the trees, your eyes subtly widened at the sight of Malleus standing in the middle of a clearing. Lithe hand skillfully drew the bow against the strings while his other hand played with the bow. His eyes were close, but you could see his brows scrunched occasionally as if recalling something unpleasant. His lips were downcast, emphasizing the nameless song that squeezed your chest with its sentiments.

Yearning, isolation, and most of all, loneliness.

For years you’d been working in the castle, you’d never seen him receive any visit from his friends. The guests who he’d greeted so far seemed to only come for diplomatic relations, and occasionally marriage proposals.

Because despite being a king, he remained single.

You never really cared about his relationship status. The kingdom was fine under his lone leadership, but you supposed it was important for him – or any royalty at all – to have a spouse. However, it wasn’t your main concern.

You were more worried about whether he befriended anyone at all during his study at Night Raven College.

You knew it was rather presumptuous of you to think about his friendship since your relationship with him was merely master and maid. You didn’t know the true extent of his abilities aside from the recurrent thunder and lightning, and you’d never even talked to him beyond the necessities.

But was it really wrong to pity him? Was it really wrong to want to know whether his time in the college was fun or not? Malleus was always so powerful, so… unreachable despite his subtle kindness. And him being a fae must’ve intensified his loneliness; the feeling that fully revealed itself in this rare moment of vulnerability.

The moment that you shouldn’t have witnessed.

Fireflies floated around him, accentuating the moonlight that illuminated his lofty figure. The night breeze caressed his ebony hair and dainty lashes as his gloved hand glided the bow rhythmically. You could spend forever watching him in this state, marveling at his elegant movements despite the gloomy cloud that surrounded him daily.

However, Malleus wasn’t a king for  nothing .

He dragged the bow down, ending the melancholic song in a high-pitch tone. Dropping his hand, his eyes remained close for a moment before they snapped open and peered towards you.

“Who’s there?”

You released a strangled gasp as you swiftly retreated behind the bark, intending on hiding there until he left. But he merely stood there and stared at the tree as if waiting for you to come out.

And come out you did.

Stepping to his view, you bowed your head and fumbled with your uniform. What was he going to do now that you watched him without his permission? Would he electrocute you? Would he kick you out of the castle? It sounded rather farfetched, but who knows…?

Malleus hummed questioningly.

“A maid from the castle?” he mused. “Pray tell, what’re you doing so late at night? Shouldn’t you be sleeping by now?”

“I… I usually come here to unwind, Your Majesty.”

“In such a dark place? All alone?”

Malleus seemed rather skeptical, but you understood why he’d feel that way. You could’ve had a rendezvous here, or plotting with enemies.

But you didn’t, because you weren’t cruel.

“Yes, the atmosphere here is very calming.” you paused. “I… I can leave now, if my presence disturbs you.”

Malleus hummed again, seemingly weighing your answer. “No need.”

You blinked owlishly, but stayed silent.

“You heard me playing, didn’t you?” he inquired. “What do you think?”

What did you think? You thought it sounded forlorn, but… you couldn’t exactly tell him that, could you?

“I think it was beautiful, My Lord.”

“Is that so?” he mused, stroking the bow absentmindedly. Then, he peered towards you. “You weren’t lying, were you?”

“I-I would never…!”

How could he assume that?! Did your face look unreliable or something?

Malleus regarded you for a moment before nodding. “… I see. So you were being honest, then.”

Somewhere deep in the woods, the crickets had started chirping again.

“I’m… I’m sorry for intruding, Your Majesty.” you murmured, bowing apologetically. “I was just… curious because this was the first time I heard someone playing violin in the woods.”

“I don’t mind.” he replied coolly. “I admit, I was rather surprised to see someone watching me from behind a tree, but your presence doesn’t annoy me at all.”

You smiled in relief. “I’m glad…”

That meant you were still safe.

“Was that something you came up on the spot, Your Majesty?” you asked tentatively. “The song…?”

Malleus nodded.

“I see…” He truly was amazing, wasn’t he? It made you realize that even he had an artistic side on him. “Do you… come here often?”

“Sometimes.”

He looked skyward, eyes softened slightly. It dawned on you that he must’ve had quite a rough day judging by his weary profile, even if he tried to hide it behind an emotionless façade.

“I… I really love your song, My Lord. If… it doesn’t bother you much, may I watch you play again?”

You didn’t know what possessed you to ask that, but you supposed it had something to do with wanting to comfort him. For once, you wanted to see him look a bit less gloomy.

Malleus blinked in surprise. Granted, you were surprised by your own boldness. But he seemed to be pleased with it because he soon smiled.

“Of course.”

And, thus, the unlikely friendship between a maid and her master finally bloomed.

Chapter Text

Sometimes, Malleus wondered if he made the right choice for letting you to return your world. On one hand, he was glad that you finally found a way after months of vagueness from Crowley and fatigue from those first-years. He could see your eyes gained some sparks in them, seemingly alive for the first time since your arrival in Twisted Wonderland. But on the other hand, Malleus didn’t want to see your departure too.

Of course, he didn’t say that. When was the last time he’d been truly honest with you, anyway? It wasn’t as if he wanted to deceive you or anything. He just… preferred it if you remained oblivious to his true identity, although his Overblot ruined everything anyway. Not to mention, you’d looked so happy, so innocent as you told him that Crowley would open the portal soon.

How could he have the heart to kill such a bright smile? How could he rip that newfound happiness from you? No matter how many times people called him nasty things, he wasn’t that cruel. And you were his friend, the very first human who dared to approach and still approached him even after he rampaged right in front of your eyes.

Malleus wasn’t sure if you truly forgave him for scarring you, for bringing you more problems after he mentally swore to assist you with whatever troubles you were facing. And he hurt you, Great Seven, he really did it. He was just too betrayed, too livid that you even dared to oppose him after all the late nights you’d spent together; after all those conversations that cemented your unlikely friendship.

Granted, it was a light scar. Nothing that couldn’t be cured by simple healing magic, but it didn’t erase the fact that he’d injured you.

And that just proved how dangerous he was. How… cruel he was even to his own friend, to a magic-less human who couldn’t even defend herself against one of the greatest mages.

“I’m sorry…” he sobbed on your chest, gripping your blazer as if it could somehow make everything felt better; as if it could dispel the memory of your shocked and pained face when he swiped your arm. “I’m so sorry…”

“It’s okay.” You whispered, rubbing his trembling back. “I’m not mad, really. I’m sorry that you had to suffer all alone, too.”

But were you really okay? Or were you just saying that because you were being nice? Those were the questions that plagued his mind as you continued to meet him after the incident, smiling up to him like everything was fine and he didn’t hurt you. You always dismissed his concern whenever he asked to see your arm, saying that you were alright and there was nothing to be worried about.

But he did, and you knew. That was why…

“I’m not lying, Malleus.” you said during your last night together. “I’m really okay. Look!”

You rolled up your sleeve, showing the arm that he’d scratched at that time. “It’s healed now.”

Malleus absentmindedly stroked the once bleeding skin, trying to memorize its smoothness before you left along with the bittersweet memories. He wished there was something he could do to make that night more memorable, but alas, he could only stew over the past.

“Hey, at least smile for me, won’t you?” you asked boldly, pouting at his gloomy face. “I don’t want to leave this world with too much tears. I want my friends to be happy, too.”

But how could he be happy knowing that he’d wounded you and you’d leave him behind?

“You’ll do that, won’t you?” you pressed, leaning forward slightly as if pressuring him. Truly, you were the only human who could order him like that. “I want to see your smile before I go.”

And he smiled; a lopsided smile that he wasn’t sure looked sincere or smug. But you seemed satisfied with what you saw as you withdrew and clapped your hands together.

“Now, that’s better!” you beamed.

Malleus’ eyes softened as he reached out to touch your stretched lips, finally knowing what you wanted to remember on your last day in Twisted Wonderland; happiness.

Because you couldn’t leave peacefully if your friends looked too sad, could you?

“Child of Man, you won’t forget me, will you?”

You opened your eyes and frowned. “What are you saying? Of course, I’ll remember you. All of you are too unique to be forgotten that easily.”

Malleus huffed an incredulous laugh at your clever reply. “Then, I won’t forget about you too, Child of Man.”

He couldn’t, even if he wanted to.

Sighing, Malleus touched the mirror in his room. It was a bit different than the one Crowley used to return you to your world, and no matter how many times he prayed, you’d never appear.

Still, he kept polishing the old mirror, hoping that you’d visit sometimes. Even if it was just a blurry figure, he’d accept what he got.

You’d visit him… right?

A soft knock snapped him out of his reverie. Peering through his shoulder, his eyes widened at the sight of a familiar face in the mirror.

“Knock, knock~!” you grinned, eyes closed and head cocked.

Chapter Text

Malleus knew more than anyone how it felt to be shunned, to be mocked, to be disrespected, although nobody had ever once tried to bully him. They were too scared of him, obviously, and for a good reason too. Anyone who tried to lay a hand on him or badmouth him would suffer a grave consequence, ranging from being electrocuted to burned alive. The same treatment extended to those who dared to harm his property and people close to him, which included you.

Although he wasn’t adept at knowing people’s minds, Malleus wasn’t blind. He knew what’d happen if a magicless person ever studied in this prestigious school, that was supposedly only accepted people with magic, especially if they were a girl. Of course, not all boys were jerks. But for the most, you only had yourself to fend off the nasty ones. The other first-years couldn’t always accompany you, as much as they wanted to. Malleus also had his own duties to attend to, both as a prince in a mission and a student, despite his wish to protect you.

So he appointed Sebek to keep an eye on you, thinking that he could freely approach you as a fellow first year. The said boy was reluctant and tried to protest, but Malleus silenced him with a ‘what kind of a knight can’t protect a maiden in need?’. Immediately, Sebek complied albeit somewhat hesitantly.

Regardless, even Sebek couldn’t always protect you from the bullies. His duty to serve Malleus, and his schedule for extracurricular activity after school, were undoubtedly more important. Malleus couldn’t blame him for wanting to fulfill his ambition to be his guard, so he was left to see the effects of the harassment in you. You became more withdrawn, to say the least, and always avoided the topic of your bullying.

“I’m okay.” you always said to him with a strained smile. “The school has been wonderful, and my friends help me a lot.”

But you weren’t okay, were you?

That was why Malleus decided to punish the bullies himself. Obviously, you couldn’t do that due to your lack of magical abilities, but he could. Because who in their right mind would dare to attack him knowing what’d happen if they did?

With the help of Lilia, as someone friendlier out of the bunch, he gathered the people who had disrespected you – both in the past and present – in the field. Some of them complained, but ultimately, they all came anyway.

And, oh, the horror in their faces when Malleus approached them along with a simpering Lilia almost made him grin sadistically.

“I like you begging. Do it again.” Malleus intoned, chin lifted haughtily.

As expected, the students had tried to either escape or fight him before he electrocuted them. They crumpled on the grass pathetically, groaning, and wincing to themselves. The electricity wasn’t enough to kill them, of course. However…

“If one of you dare to bully [Name] again, you’ll suffer worse than electrocution.”

Malleus spun and left the field, ignoring the pitiful mess behind him. Lilia snickered, gliding beside him like a mischievous phantom.

“The length you’ve gone through to ensure that your crush won’t be harmed anymore…” he mused, eyes twinkling mirthfully. “First love is beautiful, isn’t it?”

The dragon fae stared at the dilapidated dorm that loomed ahead, unfazed by his teasing. “She’s not my crush.”

Not yet.” Lilia glanced at your sitting figure on the porch and smiled. “I should excuse myself now. Silver and Sebek must be worried about you.”

He vanished to the night, leaving Malleus alone in the darkness that shrouded the dorm. Malleus obviously knew why he left, but at least, he kept the young guards from searching for him later. Sighing, Malleus straightened his back and prepared to teleport to your location for another nightly ‘rendezvous’.

Friend and crush, nobody would harm you and get away with it.

Chapter Text

Diasomnia dorm was… gloomy, to say the least.

Perhaps, you should’ve expected as much from a group shrouded in mystery. Aside from Malleus, being one of the strongest wizards, the others weren’t that scary, to begin with. Though, you did have some doubts about Lilia. The guy acted too cheerful sometimes, and his eyes always gleamed with mischief and knowledge. The kind of profound knowledge you couldn’t possibly fathom. Regardless, they were all an accommodating bunch. Maybe because Malleus liked you, so they felt compelled to welcome you in their little group too.

Well, everyone but Sebek, who was still slightly apprehensive about your existence. It was funny to hear how paranoid he could be sometimes, how he thought you could land a hit on Malleus without dying first, but everyone ignored it. And if he ever stepped out of the line, Malleus would be there to scold him.

So, it didn’t take a long time for Malleus to start inviting you to his dorm for tea. Sometimes, Lilia would relay the invitation and messages from him and to him by popping out of nowhere. You hadn’t had much time to accept his invitations, thanks to Crowley dumping his work on you, but you did reply to his letters. The whole interaction felt oddly quaint, especially when you saw his cursive writing, and you remembered giggling so much Grim had thought you were becoming crazy from the homework. It wasn’t until Lilia’s umpteenth persuasions did you finally gather the courage to visit his dorm.

And Great Seven, did you regret not bringing a flashlight.

… Okay, you were exaggerating here. But one glance at the building, and you knew you’d definitely need a flashlight.

“I told you to bring flashlight!”

For once, Grim was the sensible one here.

“I know, I know. I’m sorry, okay?” you sighed, rubbing your forehead tiredly. If he said ‘I told you so’ again, you might snap instead. “I didn’t know it’d be this… dark.”

“Well, you should’ve known!” You rolled your eyes at his exclamation. As if you’d ever visited the dorm before. “And where is that creep, anyway? You said he’d greet us here.”

You quickly shushed him. “Don’t mock Lilia like that! And I’m sure he’s somewhere… probably.”

“You don’t even know!”

You shushed him again and knocked on the double doors. They loomed over you like a pair of sturdy guards, a barricade to the heart of the mystery, and you wondered how heavy they were if you were to push them. Ramshackle’s doors had always been somewhat rickety, after all. You were afraid that a mere breeze would knock them down someday.

“Hey, [Name].” Grim spoke up after your third attempt at knocking. “Do you think anyone’s home?”

You shrugged, though, you’d be lying if you said that you weren’t slightly worried. You only knew a handful of people from this dorm, after all, and they consisted of Malleus and the guards themselves. It’d be awkward if they weren’t here.

“I think one of them is.”

“Yeah, but not Lilia, or that horned guy.”

“Well, even if they were, I’m sure Silver or Sebek could give them a message that we visited.”

Grim huffed. “You do realize that we’re just wasting our time here, right? We even cancelled Riddle’s invitation to his Unbirthday Party! At the very least, we could get some cakes in there, and the dorm isn’t so dark and scary.”

“Oh, come on, Grim. Don’t tell me you’ve chickened out already.” you cooed, patting his small head somewhat mockingly. Grim complained a ‘hey!’ and promptly swatted your hand away, ignoring the fact that he almost closed his eyes from contentment. “Diasomnia dorm isn’t that bad. It’s just… the aesthetic, you know?”

“And the vibe.” he muttered. “You can’t tell me that it’s not scarier than our dorm! Our ghosts are friendly, and we only know a few people here!”

“Come on, Grim. I promise it’ll be worth–”

As if on cue, a thunder boomed from behind you. You both squeaked and startled, pushing the doors open with your back accidentally. You fell backward and immediately winced upon impact onto the cold, hard floor, rubbing your butt as if it’d lessen the tingling pain.

“[N-Name], are you okay?!” Grim asked, jumping from your shoulder to assess the injury.

You kept grimacing, yet you shook your head, anyway. The transition from the ground to the floor had been abrupt, and your butt felt like it was on fire, but it was nothing you couldn’t handle. You had fallen from being thrown to a desert by Overblot Jamil, after all. Being startled by a mere thunder was nothing.

“It’s okay. I–“ You winced again when you tried to stand up. “Don’t worry about it.”

Grim spread his small arms in case you’d fall again somehow, large blue eyes examining your shaky form. You weren’t that weak, and you weren’t sure if he could handle your weight on top of his, but his attempt at helping was deeply appreciated. You rubbed your butt again to ease the throbbing pain and peered around the empty living room.

“Well, should we leave now? I think Lilia or Malleus isn’t home yet.”

“Like hell!” Grim huffed, putting both paws on his tiny hips. “We already came here, might as well search for them first!”

“But it’s rude to barge into someone’s dorm.”

“Who cares? I’ll show them what happens when they waste The Great Grim’s time!”

“Wha– wait!”

You outstretched a hand towards Grim who promptly dashed away, disappearing into the darkness. You cursed to yourself, and Grim for being so damn stubborn, and quickly chased him. The green torches that lined up against the walls provided little warmth and light in the gloomy hallway, and the storm outside did nothing to ease your thundering heart, but you persisted. Just because you were friendly with Malleus’s group, didn’t mean you trusted the other students. Who knows what they’d do to Grim if you left him here…

You shuddered at the thought and picked up your pace. Grim must be somewhere, you were sure of it! He couldn’t have strayed too far, not without guidance. But the problem was, this dorm was a freaking maze! The deeper you ran, the more lost you were. Who had the bright idea to build a hallway similar to others, anyway?!

You huffed and grumbled, but even it didn’t work. You needed guidance, dammit! Where were people when you needed them the most?! Or maybe you came into the wrong place and ended up in an abandoned house. That’d explain how dismal and desolate this dorm was.

If that was the case, then you needed to find Grim as soon as possible. You didn’t know what kind of horror this place had, nor did you want to see its ‘occupants’. Like Grim said, you were lucky the Ramshackle ghosts were friendly, and not too scary. Otherwise, you would’ve joined them a long time ago.

“Curse them!”

You halted on your tracks, nearly tripping on your own foot for the second time. Was that… Malleus you heard just now?

“Who are they to say that they can bother her like that?!”

Her? Was he talking about you?

“Your Highness, please calm down.”

That was Lilia, you were sure of it. His voice was a bit deeper now, and more calming. Your respect for him automatically increased. After all, you weren’t sure if anyone – not even you – could appease Malleus’s anger.

But why was he angry, though?

“How can I calm down, Lilia?! Those humans wanted to play with [Name]’s heart by pretending to date her!”

Play with your… heart? You knew some boys were assholes, but you didn’t know they were low enough to plan to fake dating you. And who were these boys, anyway? First-year? Second? Third? Or maybe it was his own classmates?

“I understand. However, you’ve done your best to scare them away. I’m sure they’ve learned by now not to mess with you, or her, ever again.”

Lilia approached him tentatively. You couldn’t see his face from here, but you were certain it was a soft one. Playing fire with fire wasn’t a way to solve this kind of problem, after all, unless he went on a rampage like the other students before him.

You hoped he’d never do that. It’d certainly lessen your workload, save your sanity, and prolong your life.

“And besides, have you forgotten that she’ll come here today?”

Malleus stayed quiet for a second that passed by for too long, but you noticed the storm abated slightly. You clenched your fists silently.

So, he was the one who caused that storm, huh?

“She did?” he murmured, almost disbelieving.

“Why, yes, of course. I managed to convince her to come today.” Lilia chirped, a subtle satisfaction seeped into his tone. “So, why don’t we go to the lounge room now? I’m sure she’s on her way–”

The men abruptly stopped talking, replaced by silence so thick you could cut it with a cleaver. Slowly, they turned around, multicolored eyes zeroing on your stunned figure in the hallway. And just like how Malleus automatically focused on you, you stared at him too. At the veins that slowly disappeared from his forehead, at his lips that parted slightly in shock, at his eyes that widened slightly. The storm had receded to mere rainfall, but you couldn’t erase his rage from your mind.

“[Name]…” he whispered as though you were a phantom and he feared if he called your name any louder, you might disappear.

And you did.

You spun towards the direction of the exit – at least, that was what you hoped – and bolted away. Malleus’s frantic shouts echoed in the hallway, but you ignored it. You even dismissed Grim’s fearful inquiries as you promptly picked him up from the stone floor and fled into the lounge room

You didn’t know why you were running away from Malleus when he was just trying to help you in his own way. Being a female in an all-boys school was dangerous, after all, and you knew you should’ve been grateful for his unprompted assistance.

But you couldn’t. You were too scared, at his voice, at his aura, at his power. If he was already that frightening from a simple concern for you, then how would he react when he found out about all the harassment you went through daily?

And how destructive would he be if he went into an Overblot mode?!

You quickly shook your head and pulled the doors open, once again ignoring Grim’s panicked questions.

“Let’s just go home, okay? We can come back later.”

Probably never.

Chapter Text

You weren’t good at remembering birthdays.

Of course, you cared about your friends. Of course, you cared about their feelings. And of course, you cared about their special days. But if they, or someone else, didn’t remind you, then you wouldn’t have remembered it. There were always some things that occupied your mind, especially as a poor, magicless student who was struggling with feeding two stomachs at once. It didn’t help that Grim was quite a glutton, too.

And Malleus, your nightly companion, wasn’t an exception to your negligence.

“I had a pleasant day today.”

“Oh?”

You cocked your head and blinked, wondering about why he suddenly said that. It wasn’t as if you weren’t happy for him, but telling you about his days wasn’t his go-to conversation starter. Usually, he’d start rambling about gargoyles already, or the history of abandoned places around the school, and sometimes about dragons too.

But, nevertheless, you were relieved to know that his day went well. Malleus was a lonely and misunderstood soul, and although he tried to cover it up with forced nonchalance, you knew it hurt him deep inside.

It hurt you too, being an alien with no escape and all. Your three friends could only do so much, and they didn’t quite understand your feelings no matter how hard they tried.

You didn’t blame them, though. They never knew what it felt like to be the only magicless, female student in another world, or realizing that they couldn’t probably meet their friends and families ever again. Their friendship was enough, but even it wasn’t enough during lonely days.

And Malleus was simply another distraction to prevent your mind from going haywire, too.

“That’s great, then!”

Malleus didn’t look too happy with your joyful expression. Normally, he went along; a smile so tiny it might’ve been imperceptible, yet it lit up his solemn face in a way not even the moon could. Beautiful, in a way not even the moon could compare. It made him look less otherworldly, and more… humanly. Familiar.

Another anchor in this unfamiliar world.

Frowning, Malleus crossed his arms over his chest. “Indeed, but it lacked one more person.”

“Oh? Who is it?”

Malleus’s frown deepened, as if he was expecting you to know the answer to that already. And you did. Tried to, at least. You scratched your head, trying to think about this missing person. He already had everyone he needed; his little family, Diasomnia students. Who else did he want?

“Leona?”

The man bristled. “Wrong.”

Oops.

You scratched your head again, as if it could urge your brain to think faster, and frowned thoughtfully. Who was this mysterious person? To think they had the audacity to miss his birthday…

“Child of Man,” Malleus called, snapping you out of your mental hard work. He’d stopped walking and was now standing right in front of you, staring down at you with a look darker than the night itself. “it’s you.”

Oh.

Oh, shit.

“Ah…” you tittered, nodding dumbly with pursed lips. So the missing guest was you, after all. “Sorry?”

Malleus merely squinted.

It was official, you’d pissed him off.

“I’ll make it up to you, I promise!” you quickly added in fear of provoking his wrath. As if you hadn’t. “What do you want? A friendship bracelet? A free lunch?”

But your wallet couldn’t handle another stomach.

Whatever, you needed to find a way out just this once, even if it meant begging Crowley like the beggar you were.

Malleus sighed as if he were tired of you. You couldn’t blame him; you were tired of yourself too. “You don’t need to give me anything, Child of Man. Your company is enough for me.”

But you still felt guilty, anyway, especially when he seemed to have been anticipating your arrival.

Though you wouldn’t say that the fact truly flattered you. You’d always considered him as an acquaintance, fearing the embarrassment of describing him as a friend if he disagreed. However, you were proven wrong in the most bittersweet way possible.

“Well, I’m still gonna give you a present, though.”

Even if you didn’t know what he liked aside from gargoyles. He looked like someone who had everything handed to him on a silver platter, so how could you compare to those expensive gifts he’d received? How could you give him something memorable when he already had everything he needed?

Malleus’s face finally softened, and you found yourself heaving a sigh of relief. He’d calmed down now. Good. The last thing you wanted was to gain a powerful enemy due to your short-term memory. Overblot students were enough hell for you. You didn’t need another one.

“I’m looking forward to it, then.” he murmured, smiling that tiny smile that you’d grown to love and admire. “By the way, I believe Lilia has given you the invitation?”

You nodded.

“He has, but…” you paused, debating on whether or not you should lie to him to save his feelings. Well, you already hurt him, anyway. Might as well rip the bandage completely. “I forgot.”

Malleus remained quiet. By then, you both had resumed walking. There was no particular destination tonight. Just you, him, and the moon above.

“I’m sorry.” you quickly rectified as if it’d fix everything and heal the pain away. “It’s just my mind sucks, and I–”

“Child of Man.”

You immediately stopped rambling. “Y-yes?”

You gasped softly when you felt a pair of arms enveloped your body. Malleus had buried his face on your hair, sniffing the cheap shampoo you’d used earlier. Because you couldn’t afford more. His body was bigger than yours, and a bit colder too, so it looked like he was draping himself on you.

But you didn’t mind. The hug felt warm in a sentimental way. Safe, like he was protecting you from the dangers that lurked in the darkness. A perfect shield. You could stay here forever, nestled in his arms, and not have to worry about everything. About Grim, lessons, and home. About Crowley, about the dorm leaders you didn’t even know much, let alone talked to.

In here, you could rest. Finally rest.

Yet, before you could fully close your eyes, Malleus withdrew. His hands lingered on your sides, and you resisted the urge to wrap them around you again.

He’d be uncomfortable, and the last thing you wanted was to drive him even further away.

“It’s fine, I forgive you. Just don’t do it again next year.”

Your eyes widened. So he’d invite you again, despite knowing about your memory? Clenching your hands, you smiled up to him and nodded eagerly.

“Yes, I’ll try not to disappoint you again!”

His smile stretched a bit wider.

Chapter Text

You never felt as if someone truly cared about you.

Don’t get you wrong, you knew people liked you. Some of them, at least. Grim, Ace, and Deuce liked you enough to hang out with you every day despite your lack of magic. Riddle liked you enough to provide you advice on your studies. Trey liked you enough to give you cakes sometimes. And Malleus liked you enough to stroll with you on certain nights. But other than that, you never felt as if they cared enough about you.

And, well, you had no one to blame other than yourself on that aspect, because you never told them about your feelings, about your problems. Refused to, either because you wanted to feel self-sufficient or because you didn’t want to bother them. Maybe both. So, how could they help you? How could they know what truly happened to you if you always hid yourself?

They couldn’t, but that was okay. You didn’t need their help, anyway. You were already used to it, to the agony that had become a phantom pain, occasionally throbbing to remind you that it still existed. That you merely buried it far away from where no eyes could see, could pry, but it didn’t erase its presence entirely. Never erased, because as long as you were here, in this world, it’d always remain. Lingered. Echoing, like the clock ticking in the background.

So, imagine your surprise when you saw Malleus cried. Malleus Draconia, your nightly companion. Malleus Draconia, the dignified dorm leader of Diasomnia.

Malleus Draconia, the man who you fought until your last breath.

You’d expected this, of course. You weren’t as dumb as people thought you to be. You didn’t even know why they equated magic to intelligence. When you spent a concerning amount of time bringing Overblot students back to their senses, you’d learned to predict who would be the next. You weren’t sure why this was such a common trend lately, why this incident didn’t feel as ‘rare’ as Crowley had claimed it to be, or why you were the one tasked to be their psychologist instead of him, but you didn’t complain. Couldn’t complain, because, otherwise, you’d lose your allowance, and you didn’t want that. Grim relied on you, and you couldn’t risk dying in another world without saying goodbye to your old friends and family first.

And yet, even that was a futile hope, because you knew – you all knew – you wouldn’t return. You’d been staying here for too long, past the expiration date. It was a wonder how you hadn’t died from all the stress, trauma, and injuries.

Just because you didn’t fight those raging students directly, didn’t mean you came out unscathed. Angry people were unreasonable, after all. It’d be naïve of you to expect them to spare you just because you were magicless, or a female.

In their eyes, all of you were the same: their enemies. And as their enemies, they needed to attack you until nobody survived. Sometimes, you were the only one left standing, and those students would have a field day scaring and wounding you. It was nothing too painful, because usually, someone would save you. The scars littered your body like trophies, and yet, they served as a reminder of how weak and helpless you were without someone to help you.

How much of a burden you were in your little group despite being its de facto leader.

It irked you sometimes, but you learned to ignore it. To smile and act like everything was okay. That you weren’t hurting on the inside, and how your body wasn’t aching on the outside.

Everything was okay, because someone – anyone – would save you. They always saved you, after all.

But today, they were too late.

No, not too late. You shook your head weakly, every little movement sucking more energy out of your body. It was your fault. You wanted to feel useful for once to the point where you rushed headlong into the crossfire just to rescue someone. What was his name again? Your head was pounding, but you vaguely remembered a boy with silver hair and a sword in his hands.

Silver.

Yes, of course. You were running towards him because you saw Malleus turned his head towards him; a big, reptile-like head that would surely haunt your dreams. Another nightmare stacked on top of the others like a tower, before it crumbled. Because you were too busy trying to save Silver until you neglected yourself, and at that point, Malleus’s fire had reached you. Had burned your uniform and skin with such ferocity it brought you to your knees instantly. The pebbles pierced your legs and tore your socks, drawing little blood that dripped down onto the charred ground, but it didn’t hurt as much as your upper body. You collapsed with a thud; another victim in this long battle, yet the first fatality in the grand scheme of things.

Silver was too shocked to move, lying about with eyes the widest you’d ever seen from him, but Deuce was already screaming. And cursing at Malleus, dragon Malleus, with no fear whatsoever. Yet, not even he could get up. Nobody could, honestly, except Lilia. Or was it Silver? You didn’t remember. It didn’t matter, anyway. The battle was won by your group again, in exchange for your life.

You wondered how Crowley felt about this…

Well, at least, you were finally able to go home now, even if it wasn’t the kind of home you’d been wanting to see.

“[Name], [Name], stay alive, please.” You heard Malleus begged through your ringing ears. Droplets were falling onto your bruised cheeks, cool yet salty. You felt one slipping into your parted lips. “Don’t close your eyes, okay? I’ll heal you. You’ll be fine. Just don’t–”

He paused, choking on his own spit. Through your blurry vision, you caught a green glow. Healing power, you supposed. It certainly gave you some energy; enough to hold on for another minute, at least. How much time did you have again?

“Don’t close your eyes, alright? You’re going to be okay, I know it. I promise you, [Name].”

To hear the great Malleus Draconia begging you was certainly flattering, to say the least. It felt as if he really cared about you, and not because he was guilty of accidentally killing someone in his rage.

Ah, but even if he didn’t, it was still nice, anyway. It made you feel needed, wanted, useful. Like you weren’t a burden, like you were truly loved, even if it was platonically.

You decided you didn’t mind dying like this.

Beside you, your three friends – who had been sticking with you since day one – were sobbing and pleading. Grim whimpered and tried to shake your weakened body with his paws, but you still couldn’t feel anything. Was this the end…?

“Don’t… leave… please…”

Who was that? It sounded like Deuce. Heh, you heaved an amused breath. Among them, he’d always been the one who was most open with his feelings. He’d tried to conceal it with his bravado, but you knew better. That guy loved his friends too much.

If only you could tell him that you loved him too.

“I… love… you…”

Oh, what was that? A love confession before death? How romantic. Never thought you’d get one.

Then again, you’d never thought you’d die here too.

Someone bowed their head and kissed your forehead. So deep and so sincere it almost hurt your heart. And through your lashes, you saw a pair of glowing green eyes, shining with tears that you’d love to wipe, staring down at you.

“I love you.”

Your eyes finally closed, the answer died on your lips.

Chapter Text

Every night, he always appeared in your dream. A short man with dark hair and pink streaks, red slit eyes that reminded you of a vampire’s gleaming ones, pale skin, pointed ears, and longer than normal fangs. You supposed there was nothing about him that seemed normal, and his smile – or was it a smirk? – just added to his overall mystery.

He never did anything to you despite his slightly eerie appearance, and you noted that he was fond of dancing. A waltz, to be exact. You didn’t know how to do it, and you always accidentally stepped on his feet, but he merely chuckled and dismissed your bashful apologies. The atmosphere was soothing, and the stars that twinkled distantly looked like stage lighting in the dim hall.

“How was your day?” He always asked you with the same calming yet surprisingly deep voice. No matter how many times he asked you that, you never felt irritated or bothered. Instead, you cocked your head and smiled.

“It was good. Thank you for asking.”

It didn’t matter if you just had the worst day ever because his existence made everything felt good.

And then, you proceeded to dance and generally soaked in each other’s presence. Despite the routine and your awkward moves, you were content. The way your arms looped around his waist and the way you rested your head against his chest at the end of the dance felt like you were made for this moment; for him.

But… that was impossible, wasn’t it? You didn’t know him, and you doubted he knew who you were too.

And yet, you didn’t want to leave him. Not now, not ever. You just wanted to stay in his arms, twirling around until the end of the time. And when the first ray of sunshine finally peeked over the horizon, you’d sit and chat together. You wanted to learn everything about him; his likes, dislikes, past, etc. You wanted to drink tea with him, share jokes, and play.

You didn’t want the sun to become the reason for your separation, even for just a few hours. You wanted to be with him forever. You wanted to keep dancing with him.

You wanted… him.

“See you again,” he whispered as he caressed your hair. Bending slightly, he pecked your forehead and watched his vanishing figure through your sparkling eyes. The place would darken with his disappearance, and you’d fall into a seeming void before you’d wake up in your bed. After that, you’d do your routine and go to sleep as early as you could just to meet him.

That was what it always happened for months, until one day, he didn’t come.

The scenery remained similar; a dim hall in the middle of nowhere that overlooked a chasm below, stars glinting against the murky backdrop, and the occasional howling winds. But the main guest still hadn’t appeared, no matter how long you waited. You’d tried to beg, to call, but your voice merely echoed as if mocking your helpless person.

You wondered if he was angry at you, or if you’d grown complacent with his presence until your expectations exceeded reality. However, only the cold breeze answered your silent questions.

And on the fifth night, you finally broke down.

“Please, come back!” you sobbed against the floor, tears streaming down your flushing cheeks. “I’m sorry if I offended you or anything. Just, please–” you choked. “come back. I need you…”

Maybe you were being crazy instead, pleading for a stranger to come to your rescue. But how could you not? He was probably your only friend, regardless of whether he was real or not. Everyone was simply too focused on themselves. They didn’t care enough to know about you, or how your day went. They never tried to gently probe your troubles, and they never had the patience to just listen.

Everyone was selfish, and you, too, were selfish.

A gloved hand suddenly stroked your sweaty forehead. Looking up, you saw the familiar slit eyes that never failed to intrigue and comfort you. He smiled gently as he wiped the trails of tears from your face and cooed.

“You poor thing. Missing me, huh?”

The blush on your cheeks deepened, but he wasn’t done. You realized it a second too late that he’d started to withdraw his hand and moved further away from your hunching figure.

“You will meet me soon enough, and when that happens, feel free to visit me as often as you can.”

You stretched your hand, trying to graze even the hem of his clothes. However, the darkness got to you first, and after you fell to the same void, you woke up.

Not in your bed, but in a place darker than your room. It looked like a hall of some sort, with mirrors surrounding you.

A strange cat with a grey coat and blue fire on his tail started to wreak havoc, spitting fire left and right. A boy with red hair and another one with glasses then proceeded to pursue him. You didn’t know or understand, what was happening, so you simply stood in the background like a gaping statue.

What was even happening, anyway? Who were these people? Why did they wear strange robes like some kind of cult members? Why did the man wear a crow mask? Why did the cat burst fire from his mouth? How could a cat burst fire and speak human language?

Maybe this was really a cult, and you were the sacrifice. Heck, you might’ve even interrupted their meeting for all you knew.

After many scuffles, the boys finally managed to restrain the cat and brought him back to the hall. The man with a crow mask asked you something about the cat being your ‘familiar’, and you – still clueless and a bit dazed – merely shook your head. Then, he ordered other boys to bring the ‘students’ to their respective dorms.

All was well, with the students muttering to themselves about how scary ‘Malleus Draconia’ was until a new person entered.

“Oh, so it’s true.” Your eyes began to widen. “I was wondering if that was the case, so I came to see, but it seems he truly hasn’t come.”

You slowly turned your head towards the speaker.

“I suppose he ‘still’ hasn’t been notified about this ceremony.”

You opened your mouth, trying to utter something – anything. However, another revelation – one that you should’ve known a long time ago – crashed on you.

You didn’t know his name.

“Wait…!”

The man halted on his tracks, compelling the students to stop as well.

“What… what’s your name?”

He was silent for a moment before he turned his head towards you. With one eye closed, he planted a finger against his lips and smirked.

“… It’s a secret~”

Chapter Text

Lilia was truly mysterious.

Even after you dated him, there were still some things about him that you hadn’t know. Not because he refused to tell you, but because he didn’t feel the need to completely reveal himself to you. You didn’t really mind it, because the fact that he trusted you enough to have a relationship with you was substantial in itself.

Though, you’d be lying if you said that you didn’t want him to become more open.

Nevertheless, you still learned some fascinating things from him. From his experience in raising babies, which surprisingly included Malleus and Silver, to his inexplicably long lifespan, you absorbed it all with the utmost attention. Sometimes, he gave you some sound advice concerning your plight, and those moments always felt like a slap of reality for you.

Recently, you found out that he liked to cook, too. You figured that he’d developed that skill to feed his ‘children’, and agreed to taste his cooking when he offered. Lilia had cheered, patting your head whilst praising you for some unknown reasons. You assumed it was one of his quirks and decided to shrug it off.

Maybe he was happy because he finally got to cook again…? His ‘children’ had grown up, after all, and could probably cook for themselves. Maybe this was his way of reminiscing the past.

“[Name]-chan.”

Despite the number of times, he surprised you, you always fell for it somehow. And now, even his normal voice made you jump a little on your spot. How embarrassing…

“Lilia…!”

The ancient man chuckled at your shocked expression and plopped down beside you, holding a plate of what seemed to be… a cake.

Yes, you’d call that dark, burned matter a ‘cake’. Maybe even brownies, who knows.

“Lilia, what… what is that?” you inquired hesitantly, pointing to the said… thing.

“This is a cake, of course.” So you were right. You didn’t even know whether you should be glad about your correct assumption. “You told me you would like to taste my cooking, but I thought about baking something instead.”

You slowly accepted the plate from him, warily inspecting his creation. Lilia didn’t seem to be offended by your examination and gave you a closed-eye smile, instead.

“Go ahead, taste it. I would love to know what my girlfriend thinks about my baking skills.”

You hesitated for a moment. Maybe it was just the appearance. Maybe it was still edible… somehow. You honestly weren’t sure if you wanted to know, but Lilia seemed giddy to hear your opinion. And besides, you already told him that you’d eat it.

Surely, it wouldn’t taste that bad, right? What was the worst that could happen from consuming a burned cake, anyway?

You picked a slice and reluctantly brought it into your mouth. Relax, [Name], it wasn’t poisonous. He’d never do that to you… right?

A slight grimace instantly crossed your face as soon as you bit down the cake. It was rather bitter… and sticky. Not the creamy-kind of sticky, but the egg yolk-kind of sticky. And–

You frowned when you accidentally crunched something. Parting your lips, you slowly took the strange thing out and your eyes immediately widened once you saw what it was.

Eggshell. You just bit a freaking eggshell, for the first time in history.

“… So, what do you think?”

You glanced towards your boyfriend, unsure of what to say now that you knew what kind of nightmare that waited for you in that cake. As expected, he was anticipating your answer. He’d leaned forward, the tips of his fangs poked those curving lips as crimson eyes glittered under the sun.

He looked so hopeful, you almost couldn’t bear to see that smile fall when you told him about the truth.

About how  horrible  his cake was, and how you'd  definitely  refuse his cooking if he offered you again.

So, you decided to be nice instead.

“It’s good.” you simpered, secretly throwing the cracked shell away. It was really good… for his feelings.

Lilia withdrew slightly and chuckled. You weren’t sure if he caught on your lie or not, but when you spotted his widening smile, you knew that he didn’t.

“Why, thank you.” he beamed, almost as if he’d expected you to say that. “I’m pleased to know that you like my creation.”

You sighed in relief, putting down the plate in a quiet sign of resignation. The things you’d do for him

“… I could bring more if you want.”

“No, thank you!”

Chapter Text

Lately, Lilia had been avoiding you.

No longer did he surprise you with a greeting as he dangled upside down anymore, or offering his cooking to you despite your repeated refusals. Instead, he acted as if he didn’t know you – as if those precious moments you’d spent together meant nothing for him. Every time you tried to confront him about this, he always turned around and walked off with his two companions.

He didn’t even bother to look at you, and it hurt. It hurt to wake up on what should be a good morning and see one of your close friends suddenly ignored you for unknown reasons. It hurt to see your senior didn’t consider you as his junior anymore when he used to coo and pat your head lovingly.

It hurt to see your crush pretended as if you didn’t  exist  after all the butterflies he’d unwittingly given to you.

What have you done wrong? Have you offended him somehow? Lilia didn’t seem to be the type who would get upset easily, but then again, you barely knew anything about him. You could be mistaken.

But how would you know what your fault was if he kept refusing to talk to you? How could you rectify your mistake if he wasn’t even willing to help you? How would you handle these insurmountable feelings now?

You were lost. Your grades started slipping, you kept forgetting and misplacing things, and you often zoned out in classes. Your friends were beginning to get worried; even Grim, who usually fell asleep in the middle of lessons, had complained about your abrupt behavior.

But you couldn’t tell them. Not because you didn’t trust them, but because this was extremely personal to you. You wanted to deal with this situation alone before you asked for their advice, although you weren’t sure what kind of suggestions a bunch of male teenagers could give you.

So, that evening, you set out to the Diasomnia dorm after lying to Grim about buying some chocolates in Mr. S’s shop. You were determined to solve this problem once and for all, probably even slip a confession in the middle of it. And if he rejected you… well, at least you weren’t lying about buying chocolates.

You just hoped Lilia would be willing to hear you out first before he dismissed you again.

“Who–? Oh, it’s you.”

It was Silver who opened the door. It was kind of disappointing because you were expecting his senior to greet you, but you quickly recomposed. You’d handled the worst during your stay here, therefore, you shouldn’t back out due to a minor setback.

You needed to be strong to face him. You could always cry in your room later.

“A-ah, good evening, Silver-senpai.” You bowed to him and smiled nervously. “Is… is Lilia-senpai here? I’d like to talk to him.”

“Well…” he trailed off, scratching his temple. “Old ma– I mean, Lilia-senpai, doesn’t want to meet you right now. Sorry about that.”

It felt as if your heart had stopped beating for a second when he said that. Did… did Lilia want to erase your existence from his life so much until he told him to kick you out when you visited? Did he… hate you that much?

“P-please, Silver-senpai!” you pleaded as you grabbed his hand and looked up to him with glistening eyes. Were you crying now? No, you hadn’t even met him yet. You… you needed to hold out for another minute. You had to, otherwise, you might break down any second. “Give me a moment, that’s all I want. I promise I won’t bother you anymore! Just, please… give me a chance to talk things out with him. I’m begging you, Silver-senpai.”

Silver looked uncomfortable with the abrupt contact, and you would’ve felt bad for inconveniencing him had the man you were planning to meet didn’t appear beside him.

“Silver, what’s happening – oh.”

The relief that you felt when he finally looked at you was so amazing, you almost missed the way they hardened slightly afterward.

“Do you need something, [Name]?”

[Name]…? Not [Name]- chan ?

“I…” Why did he stare at you so coldly? Where was the gentle gaze you’d always missed? Where had the glint of mischief you were accustomed to seeing gone? “I want to talk to you.”

“Well, you are talking to me right now.”

It’s not funny.

“I want to talk to you in private, please.”

Please don’t kick me out. Please give me a chance to make things right for  once .

Lilia regarded you for another minute before sighing. “Fine, follow me then.”

You released Silver’s hand and quickly trailed after his retreating figure. Lilia ascended the stairs, passed by several rooms before he stopped before a particular door. He slowly opened it, almost as if he was reluctant to let you in, and proceeded to close the door behind you once you entered.

“Well,” he plopped down on a chair and looked up to your distracted person. “what’s the matter?”

Everything.

You settled down in front of him and pursed your lips. It was all or nothing.

“I want to talk about your recent attitude.” you began after taking a deep, slightly shaky breath. “Why… why did you avoid me, Lilia-senpai? What have I done to you until I deserve your silent treatment? Are you… are you angry with me, perhaps? Have I insulted you? If so, then, I apologize. I didn’t mean to come off as mean to you.”

Lilia was silent throughout your ramble. You tried to read his expression, but nothing appeared on your radar.

What are you thinking, Lilia-senpai? Please speak up so I’d know what my mistake was. Please allow me to improve myself before he cut me off for  good .

“… It’s not you specifically.” You perked up once you heard his deep voice. “If there’s anyone to blame, it should be me instead. You have done nothing wrong, little one.”

You blinked owlishly. On one hand, you were relieved to know that you were innocent. And yet, on the other hand, you didn’t understand why he blamed himself.

“W-what do you mean?”

Lilia sighed, and at that moment, he appeared older than he looked - like he was supposed to look. “[Name], I assume you already know about my species, and how we have a long lifespan.”

You slowly gripped your skirt. Something was wrong, you could feel it.

“It’s been a long time since I fell in love with someone.” he mused, looking upwards to recall something forgotten. Something that… he didn’t necessarily want to remember. “I’ve been flitting from one person to another, allowing my whims to take over. And yet, for the first time in a century, I finally feel it again. Love.”

You froze. Did that mean he…?

“Initially, you were merely another face among the crowd. Another junior that I’d surely forget, but you’re different. I was intrigued by you the moment we met in the cafeteria that time, and I decided to spend more time with you in hopes of quenching my curiosity. Who would have thought that I’d get attached to you instead…?” he chuckled humorlessly. “Every meeting shall end in separation, such is how the world works. We can never be together, little one. Even if we do end up dating and marrying, you’ll certainly die first, and then I’ll live on like I always do.”

Lilia slowly turned to you, his smile tiny and bitter. “I love you, [Name]-chan, that’s why I avoided you. I admit, it was very immature of me. But I don’t know how to handle these feelings again, after all these years, especially now that I realized I’ve fallen for a human. Someone who will soon wither away and slip through my fingers before I know it.”

You stared at him long and hard, trying to spot any sign of fallacy. But there was only sincerity in his eyes and sadness in his lips as he returned your gaze.

Just when you wanted him to call you with that endearing nickname again, he just  had  to say it now.

But that… that was great, wasn’t it? Your crush liked you back! And yet…

“I… I love you too, Lilia-senpai.”

… Some things just weren’t mean to  happen .

At your tentative confession, his smile widened slightly while his eyes softened. And yet, the melancholy was still present.

He knew.

He'd always known, probably before you even realized your own feelings.

You wondered if your reciprocation was another reason why he’d avoided you.

Unable to look at his empathetic face any longer, you averted your gaze.

You’d bared your heart  enough.  He didn’t need to see the tears, too.

“But we don’t have to date to be together.” you murmured.

It was the only alternative you could think of; the only way to keep seeing him despite the revelation. The idea pained you, but at least, it was better than his avoidance.

It was better than drifting away like you were supposed to do to protect your  heart .

“… We can be friends, instead.”

Lilia seemed to be satisfied with your suggestion as he reached out to hold your clasped hands. “That’s a good idea.” He gave a smile that didn’t reach his eyes as if the gesture alone could mend your broken heart somehow.

He… truly had  resigned  himself to fate, hadn’t he? He didn’t even bother to protest, to give this relationship a  chance .

Then again, you weren’t sure if you could handle another heartbreak, either. If you could handle watching his grieving face from above later.

You squeezed his hand and closed your watery eyes, smiling bitterly. And although your fingers itched to intertwine themselves with his, you didn’t dare to.

Because you weren’t, and could  never  be his lover.

Because in the end, you were, and would always be a friend to him.

Chapter Text

“Silver, will you still remember me even after I go back to my world?”

The hint of sadness within your tone dispelled the sleepiness that regularly, yet randomly struck him. Silver slowly opened his eyes and frowned at the somewhat gloomy look on your face. He knew you tried to hide your worry, but he wouldn’t be your boyfriend if he couldn’t even discern your expressions. Granted, he wasn’t very perceptive and a little lacking in some areas. However, he strived to be more observant for you.

If only this annoying sleepiness didn’t hinder him…

“Of course I will. I’m your boyfriend, after all.” he replied matter-of-factly.

“But you do realize that we’ll have to break up anytime soon, right?” you inquired hesitantly. Silver wasn’t one to get angry suddenly, but as far as you were concerned, your fragile relationship was a sensitive subject. “Our worlds are just too… different.”

“Yeah, I do. You told me that before we started dating.”

You sighed.

“I’m scared, Silver. I’m scared that you’ll forget about me, and everyone else, too. I…” You frowned sadly and gripped your skirt. “I have so many beautiful memories in here, and I’m afraid that I’d end up as just that; a memory.”

Silver inspected your visage for a moment, trying to think of a perfect response to your concern. He knew that your departure was inevitable, and while it’d hurt you both that your relationship would have to break before it could flourish properly, the fear of being forgotten was more potent.

But Silver didn’t believe it.

“… I don’t think they’d be able to forget you.” You slowly trailed your sullen gaze from your lap to his quietly determined ones. “You’ve been a great help to them, especially those who have overblotted. I don’t think they can forget about you so easily, even if they want to.”

He didn’t believe that he’d forget about you, even he wanted to.

Silver peered towards the field that stretched before him, hands lied beneath his head.

“They might forget your face, or your name, but they can never forget the impression you’ve left on them.” He glanced at you as he continued. “And even if they do, I know that I’ll never forget about you.”

“Do you mean that, Silver?” you asked hopefully, your face gradually losing its gloom.

“Of course…” Plopping his head on your lap, he exhaled. “And if one day you manage to come back to this world, I’ll definitely choose you again.”

A relieved smile slowly curved your once frowning lips. Caressing the silver locks away, you bent down to kiss his forehead and whispered. “Thank you, Silver.”

You weren’t sure if he said that just to comfort you, but for now, you chose to believe him.

It’d be great if he could hold on to his promise because if you ever met him again, you’d definitely choose him too.

Chapter Text

“Hello, Silver. It’s me again.”

The distant howl of the wind served as the response to your soft greeting. Mustering up a small smile, you crouched and put the bouquet in his bed.

His eternal bed.

“… How have you been?” you asked, putting both hands on your lap and waited for an answer that would never come. “I… I’ve been fine.”

Just barely, but you knew he’d be angry if he found out about that. That was just the kind of guy he was; always putting other’s well-being above his. Despite his detached demeanor, he truly was a selfless person.

And you… you’d been lucky to become its recipient for so long. You’d been lucky to become the recipient of his tender eyes, affectionate touches, and warm hugs. You’d been lucky to meet his adoptive family.

You’d been lucky to become the  love  of his life until he exhaled his last breath.

“Somehow, my house feels quieter now. It’s weird because you rarely talk but… that’s just how I feel.” Because you used to hear another breath beside you, and it was the same breath that lulled you to sleep on nights where you weren’t able to. “And my bed feels lighter, too. Or maybe that’s just my weight decreasing?”

You chuckled, but everyone knew it was fake. He knew it was fake. You could never fool him, but you liked to lie to him sometimes. It was a harmless lie… at least, that was what you thought.

You just didn’t want him to know the reason for your sleepless nights; how the thought of his impending doom haunted you more often than you liked to admit. You didn’t want him to know about the tears that would blur your sight as you gaze at your photos together.

You didn’t want him to know that… that you were planning on prolonging his lifespan.

But you couldn’t… You couldn’t bear to do that to him. His humanity was his main feature; the main difference between you and him. How would he react to you immortalizing him? What would happen if you go through with your plan? What would happen to your relationship later?

You didn’t want him to live on hating you, so you decided to let nature did its course instead. It hurt, it was agonizing to be the only living one. But at least, he died loving you.

At least, you could still live on knowing that his feelings remained constant for many years to come. And at least, you could die peacefully knowing that he’d greet you on the other side with open arms and soft smile later.

“… So this is what it feels like to outlive your lover.” you mused pensively. “I guess we’re just too different, huh, Silver?”

The love stories between a fae and a human weren’t supposed to happen, but they weren’t uncommon, either.

Unfortunately, none of them ended happily ever after.

In the end, the fairies were always the stronger ones. The survivors, the lovers, and the mourners.

“Ah, you’re here too, [Name]-chan.”

You snapped your head towards the speaker. Lilia emerged from the forest, hands clasped behind him. He wore a dark dress shirt and matching pants, just like what he wore during his son’s funeral.

Just like the sky above you, and your heart.

“Vanrouge…” you murmured, wiping a stray tear that managed to fall unknowingly.

Lilia smiled understandingly and ambled forward. His eyes softened when they landed on the grave in front of you, and he reached out to stroke the cold stone.

“Grief… really makes the days pass by slowly, don’t you think?” he mused, glancing towards your solemn person. “How have you been? Have you been taking care of yourself?”

“… I don’t know.” You couldn’t say that you’d been neglecting yourself, but you just… weren’t in the mood to do much lately. Waking up felt like the hardest thing to do, not when you could see his face in your dreams – not when you sometimes caught his sleeping figure beside you, only for you to blink and realize that it was merely your imagination.

“He’ll be angry if you neglect yourself, you know?” Lilia chuckled, trying to lighten the atmosphere. “And I told you to call me ‘Father’.”

You bowed your head deeper and smiled bitterly. That was right; he should’ve… he could’ve been your father by now.

Your father-in-law.

“Father…?”

“Yes, [Name]-chan?”

“I miss him.”

Lilia pursed his lips in a poor attempt to suppress the frown as he enveloped your shaking body within his small arms.

“I know, [Name]-chan…” he whispered. “I know.”

You buried your face on the crook of his neck and sobbed, letting his warmth eased the grief that wrecked your body.

And had you paused for a moment, you would’ve felt something wet dripped on to your shoulder, too.

Chapter Text

“What you did was stupid.”

Perhaps, you’d offended him somehow. Perhaps, you’d accidentally insulted his master’s honor. Either way, you didn’t understand his sudden hostility towards you. Why he was hell-bent on criticizing or scolding your behavior and grades like a mother hen.

Sebek used to spare you no glance, thinking of you as another weak human. But somewhere along the way, he’d begun to change. He was no longer able to maintain eye contact with you for more than a second, his cheeks always flushed whenever he spoke to you, and he tended to stutter before he raised his voice to hide the embarrassment.

You thought it might be because you were a female, but he used to treat you rather similar to how he behaved towards other students. And the longer you observed his mannerisms, the quicker you arrived at your conclusion: Sebek Zigvolt liked you.

As in… he had a crush on you, like any normal teenage boy.

You refused to acknowledge it, just like how he refused to acknowledge his budding feelings. Why would the vassal of some prince like you? Was it because you were the only girl in an all-boys school? Was it because you were the only magic-less student? Or… what?

You knew that the only way to get the answer was to ask him, obviously. There was no use in overthinking if you could just approach him and confirm your suspicion. However, his overbearing attitude had overridden your burning curiosity and replaced it with a growing irritation instead.

Hiding the paper test from his judgmental stare, you scowled up to him.

“Why does it matter to you, anyway? Don’t you know how hard it is to memorize alchemy when you don’t have any experience beforehand?”

Now, he really took offense to your response. Crossing his arms over his broad chest, Sebek returned your scowl with a heated glare.

“It wouldn’t be hard if you were being more diligent with your study!” he barked. “But you chose to waste your time with those pesky humans, instead!”

You knew that he was right; you wouldn’t get a bad grade had you spend more time studying for the test. But it wasn’t completely your fault, anyway. Your friends, the only people who had been sticking with you since day one, just happened to be a bunch of rowdy students.

And as embarrassing as it was to admit it, you’d been growing rather fond of them… even their troublesome antics. This was why his little ‘nickname’ for them boiled your blood even more, and in turn, garnered more attention to you both.

“Don’t you dare call my friends ‘pesky humans’! At least, they don’t force me to change like you do!” you growled, pointing an accusing finger to his chest. “Who do you think you are, anyway? Barging into my life like that… I don’t even know you!”

The breath hitched on his throat.

“W-what do you mean you don’t know me?! I am Sebek Zigvolt, servant of Lord Malleus Draconia!” he bellowed somewhat proudly. “I thought I told you to remember that!”

Clutching your head at the telltale sign of a headache, you mentally cursed his inability to read between the lines.

“Oh, shut up! I didn’t even ask for your introduction!” you yelled. “Just… go. Go away! Leave me alone! I don’t want to see your face anymore!”

You swiveled and fled from the scene, not wanting to waste any more time in his presence. You were so busy trying to suppress the frustrated tears that you missed your friends’ worried calls and a pale hand that stretched behind you.

Sebek stared at your retreating figure, mouth agape despite your name that lodged in his constricting chest. His hand slowly dropped as he sighed, wondering how did he even get into this mess in the first place. What had he done wrong? He thought he was doing his best to appear caring to you… although his idea of ‘caring’ was different than yours.

This was the first time he ever had these feelings – these stupid, annoying feelings that had reduced him into a bumbling fool in front of you – so he wasn’t sure how to deal with them. And it wasn’t as if he could ask his peers, anyway. No, Sebek had too much pride for that. He was a knight, and a knight should be able to handle the unexpected alone.

Regardless, Sebek wasn’t exactly adept at hiding his emotions. The black cloud refused to leave him even after hours had passed since his ‘lovers spat’, as other students had so nicely called it, and he became pricklier than usual. His classmates had avoided him in class, refusing to face another ‘tantrum’ from him, but not Lilia.

No, as soon as he spotted the latter returned to Diasomnia with a glum frown on his face, Lilia instantly materialized before him upside down.

“Sebek, what happened? Why do you look so melancholic?” he inquired. “Please, do tell me everything.”

“L-Lilia-sama,” Sebek sputtered, once again surprised by his abrupt appearance. Chewing his bottom lip, Sebek looked down. Should he tell him? He knew that Lilia had years of experiences, but to tell him something so insignificant – even if it messed up with his mind more often than it should be – was quite… embarrassing.

Then again, Sebek couldn’t deny that he was desperate for a piece of advice or two.

“W-well, it’s nothing important…”

“You wouldn’t come home with this face if it was, young one.” Lilia landed smoothly in front of him and bounded across the room, plopping down on the couch. “Don’t be shy. Perhaps I can offer you some reassurance or a way to fix your problem once and for all.”

Sebek hesitantly accepted his invitation and sat down beside him.

“So, tell me what’s troubling you, young one.”

“Ah, well…” Sebek took a deep breath, mentally preparing himself for the big revelation that would cost half of his dignity. “I… I’ve been feeling rather odd lately. I used to consider [Name] as another pathetic human, one that’s not worthy of my time and attention, but it’s different now. I want to… I want to care for her. I want her to be better, but… she doesn’t seem to appreciate my help. She said that… I was trying to force her to change when I told her that she would’ve gotten better grades had she spent more time studying. She even said that she didn’t want to see my face again.”

Clutching his head, Sebek sighed heavily.

“What have I done wrong, Lilia-sama? Should she be grateful that I even bothered to pay attention her? Why was she angry at me? I don’t… I don’t understand.” he murmured, almost whining.

Lilia merely smiled as he patted his back sympathetically. He’d always known that something wasn’t quite right with the youngster. First, he’d spilled Malleus’ tea. Second, he no longer berated Silver for trivial reasons. And third, he’d zone out more often than usual.

But to think that he’d been liking someone, and to the magic-less student nonetheless? Heh, Lilia pursed his lips to repress the amused smirk, now that was interesting.

However, he needed to test it out first…

“Sebek, you love [Name], don’t you?”

As expected, the boy immediately sputtered with cheeks as red as fresh apples. He tried to deny his statement, tried to shake his head. However, it only expanded Lilia’s knowing smile.

“Sebek, you have to know that humans have different ideas for affection. What you think is good for them, might not feel like that to them. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with telling her that you meant well; that you merely want to see her flourish into a capable student.” he said judiciously. “Just refrain from being so intense with your confession if you don’t want to spook her into avoiding you again.”

“But I wasn’t being intense!” Sebek bellowed.

“Then, try to lower your voice.”

“This is my low voice!” Clenching both hands atop his knees, Sebek abruptly stood up and frowned resolutely. “Thank you for your sage advice, Lilia-sama! Tomorrow… tomorrow I’ll definitely tell her the truth! I’ll erase any doubt from her heart! Lilia-sama, please pray for me!”

Lilia chuckled, half amused and half proud of his conviction.

“Of course. You have my full support, Sebek.”

Sebek, being a persistent boy he was, immediately approached you the next day. And despite his thundering chest and your sour face, he forced himself to stammer out an order to meet him in the schoolyard during lunch break.

Then, once the bell tolled in the distance, Sebek promptly headed towards a tree in the yard. He frowned to himself and paced back and forth, mentally praying that you’d come.

And you did, thankfully.

Clearing his throat, Sebek regarded you somewhat aloofly. “So you chose to come, human.”

You scowled, unimpressed with his remark.

“What do you want from me? Spit it out already.” you snarled. “My friends are waiting for me.”

He nearly flinched at your bitter tone before he immediately recomposed.

Calm down, Sebek. Don’t make Lilia-sama disappointed in you.

“I want to… I want to apologize for angering you yesterday. It wasn’t my intention, I assure you. I just… I just wanted to see you improve because…” he paused, looking down to avoid your blank stare. “Because… I love you.

Your eyes widened slightly.

“I never meant to fall in love with you, I just did.” he whispered bashfully. “… At least, that’s what Lilia-sama told me last night.”

The wind breezed past, filling the silence between you both. Sebek closed his eyes and frowned, trying to force himself to stay put. It would do him no good to escape just because he couldn’t endure awkwardness and indecision. Not to mention, he’d surely tarnish Malleus’ reputation for having a weak-willed servant. 

“… I know.”

He snapped his eyes open. What…?

“I know you like or… well, love me.” you murmured. “I’ve been meaning to ask you that, but I was too irritated by your attitude until I forgot.”

Running a hand through your hair, you sighed. “I accept your apology, and I’m sorry for blowing up to you, too. But I don’t think we can… you know, date right now. I need some time alone.” you smiled wearily. “Maybe once we both feel calm down enough, we can start a relationship. If you want to, that is.”

Sebek blinked repeatedly, attempting to process your request. He couldn’t deny the tiny disappointment inside him, but he had to admit that you were right. You both need some time alone because so far, he’d been breathing down your neck with his uncalled-for lectures.

And although you didn’t quite reject him, it still stung, anyway.

“Yes, of course.” he finally replied, albeit rather hesitantly. “Take as much time as you want, human. If you…” He averted his gaze and coughed nervously. “… ever change your mind, just know that I’ll be here.”

Chapter Text

There were two kinds of couples; one was where everything about them changed, and two was where everything didn’t.

And fortunately, or should you say unfortunately, you were the latter.

Of course, within your circle with the Octavinelle trio, something had changed. A lot of things had changed, actually. Floyd became more affectionate and more possessive, Jade became more accepting and more teasing, and Azul… well, he was still weary of you both, but he also became more accustomed to your happy-go-lucky nature and decided to use it to lure more closed-off students into his net. You weren’t dense enough to not notice his attempt at manipulating you, but most of the time, you didn’t need to do anything to reject him. Not when Floyd kept dragging you back and forth. Whether he purposely did that or not was still unknown.

However, the same couldn’t be said for other people.

Outside, you two were still known as the ‘Chaotic Duo’. Floyd was still feared. And you were still pursued by some boys, mainly because you were the only female in this male-infested school.

To respect your relationship with Floyd, you’d try your best to reject them. You were confused at first, because couldn’t they see that you were getting closer to Floyd? Or how he stuck with you more often? When Jade saw your thoughtful face one day, after meeting you ‘coincidentally’ amid a boy’s confession and thus scaring him off, he’d chuckled.

“Surely, you don’t think you’ve grown any quieter now that you date Floyd,” He cocked his head. “do you?”

You’d frowned at him.

“What do you mean? I’m still the same as usual.”

Slowly, Jade smiled.

“That’s right, you’re still the same. You two are still the same.”

It took a moment for you to realize that he was hinting at the fact that nothing had changed much outside of your little circle. If at all. Everyone still thought you were just a friend to Floyd and vice versa. And even if someone did notice the differences, they’d think you were both best friends now.

Of course, with your ‘friendship’, came those who would try to get you out of it under the pretense of ‘saving’ you. He didn’t deserve you, they said. You’d be better off without him, they said. He’d only hurt you, they said. They didn’t know about Floyd’s affectionate side. How he’d cook for you, how he’d give you a potion to breathe underwater so he could show you the various creatures underneath, and how he’d often protect you. His mood might play a huge role in his life, but it didn’t detract from his kindness.

They couldn’t possibly understand that, you thought. All they saw was a scary, lanky man who loved to squeeze people and do whatever he wanted. And while they weren’t wrong, they weren’t right, either. Floyd was more than a nightmare for every debtor along with his brother. He was your boyfriend, platonically and romantically, and you were determined to stand by him.

Unfortunately, your resolve didn’t solve the problem. A boy would leave, and another one would come in. Once, you’d been flattered by the attention and confession, but you were a taken girl now. Cheating on Floyd wouldn’t end well for everyone involved, perhaps even ending in bloodshed. Although you were pissed at those persistent admirers, you’d never want them to get hurt. Or worse, died, because of you. Your wallet, conscience, and feelings couldn’t handle that. And Floyd, or Jade, or Azul, or all of them might help Floyd avenge your betrayal by putting you in great debt. Floyd might not be the pettiest person you knew, but you wouldn’t take any chances. You didn’t mess with the Octavinelle trio and hoped you’d come up alive. If not physically, then mentally.

Luckily, Floyd had never heard about those ‘saving’ attempts, but he seemed to catch you moments after you rejected them more often. And then, he’d rush to squeeze them, mouth grinning and arms twitching. You always scrambled to stop him and scold him. But he rarely listened, and sometimes, you’d have to see the poor boy outstretched his hand towards you with eyes wide and mouth choking on air. You’d never saved him, couldn’t save him, wasn’t allowed to save him. Otherwise, Floyd would be angry, and the frantic thoughts of death that you knew must’ve swirled in that boy’s head would come true. But you always apologized and begged him to stop meeting you. That is, if Floyd didn’t drag you again to God knows where, as if knowing where you’d go and striving to hinder you.

You hated those times the most, and he knew. He just didn’t care enough about it. Or rather, he thought it was the best idea. Nearly everyone was scared of his infamous squeeze, and if he did that to your suitors, they’d definitely back down. Right?

“No, Floyd! Stop it!” you screamed as you struggled to pry his arm from another boy’s neck.

It had been a good day when you two went to the basketball court. Floyd had wanted you to watch him practice, and you’d agreed, knowing that he wouldn’t take no for an answer. You didn’t mind it, though. Any time spent with your boyfriend was always a great time.

At least, until someone appeared from the corner and timidly asked for a little of your time.

You knew where this would lead to, and Floyd knew it too. So the next thing you knew, he already had an arm around the boy’s neck, growling about his audacity to confess to you when your boyfriend was still there. Your legs moved almost instinctively to try to save him; something that you’d never done until now. Floyd was surprised too, but instead of releasing the boy, he merely tightened his vice-like grip instead.

“Shrimpy, what do you think you’re doing? Are you trying to defend him?”

His voice was low, and had it been any other moment, you’d stop your insistent pulling and cower. Soft-speaking Floyd never meant anything good.

But it was different now. Today was supposed to be a good day for you both, and like hell would you let his temper ruin it.

“Stop it! Just please stop it, Floyd!” You were aware that your strength was nothing against his, but you persisted nonetheless. “God dammit! None of this would happen if you just showed everyone that we’re dating!”

You didn’t plan to blurt it out, not now at least, but you were glad you did. Because Floyd slowly stopped choking the boy and his glare softened slightly.

“Showing everyone, huh?”

Then, his heterochromatic eyes glided to your collarbone and you saw them almost glazed over. Your cheeks warmed as you withdrew, gripping your collar together. You weren’t as neat as Jade was, and it’d never embarrassed you until now.

Surely, Floyd wasn’t intending to do anything to you, was he?

“Well, okay!” He finally slipped his arm from around the boy’s neck and grabbed your wrist, ignoring the boy who collapsed on your feet like a dead fish. “Let’s go to my room, then~!”

“W-wait! What about your basketball practice?!”

Floyd shrugged.

“Meh, not feelin’ it.”

He began to drag you down the hallways where people seamlessly yet fearfully parted their ways, almost jerking their own bodies in fear of accidentally touching either of you and provoking Floyd’s wrath. Not even a shoulder was bumped as he rushed through the school, the magic mirror, and finally, the Octavinelle dorm. Fish of various sizes and colors swam peacefully along the glass tunnel-like corridor, with the anemones and the corals swaying against the current. Your heels clacked against the light purple floor, with matching baseboards shaped like waves and a strip of clam patterns. There were transparent lines on the floor that reflected the light blue water and occasionally white flashes from the sunlight. If you focused hard enough, you could hear the sea ambient too.

Floyd pulled you to his room and pushed you to his bed until you bounced on it. It was messy, as usual. Clothes were strewn on the mattress and the blanket was pushed against the wall. There was a small rack that contained his snack stock, and above the headboard, his tie and uniform hung on a purple tentacle hanger. In front of the bed, the closet was ajar, spilling the shoes. His grey scarf draped on the clam-shaped grey chair, and various books sat on the table, illuminated by a candle that glowed a pinkish hue. The grey mat with golden trim laid aslant on the floor.

But Floyd didn’t care. All he cared about was biting and kissing your neck and collarbone, his large hands struggling to unbutton your uniform. But the lust was too strong and he was too impatient, so he ripped the shirt open, revealing your bra to him. You squeaked and tried to move sideways to cover your chest, but he easily pushed your shoulder back against the mattress.

“Hey, Shrimpy. Don’t hide from me, okay? After all, you asked for this.”

“W-well, that doesn’t mean I’m not embarrassed, okay?!”

Floyd giggled.

“How cute~! Shrimpy is embarrassed!”

Despite all his teasing, even you couldn’t contain the moan from your parted lips when he proceeded to attack your neck again. You were secretly glad that he’d ripped your shirt open, because the room suddenly felt too hot and too heavy and too constricting. There was a fleeting wish for you to scratch his bare back instead, to see his naked body above you, but you’d take what he gave you. You were afraid that if you asked more, his mood would disappear and the moment would be ruined.

So, you settled on scratching his clothed back, subtly grinding on his knee that was placed between your legs. His large hands caressed and groped every inch of your skin, and you moaned when he squeezed your butt through your skirt and lifted you. He parted your butt cheeks and poke and played with your butthole and clit.

“Shrimpy is wet already~?” he whispered almost huskily, his long finger tapping the damp spot on your panties. He giggled when you whined and began to rub your clit, faster this time. You buried your face on the crook of his neck to muffle your moan, wishing he’d just slip his finger inside already. Floyd stopped abruptly, and you whined again. “Hey, don’t hold back your moan. I wanna hear it loud and clear.”

You shook your head and you squealed when he loosened his hold slightly.

“Okay! Okay! I’m sorry, I’m just– ah!”

You squeezed your eyes shut at the sensation of a finger entering your hole, gripping his uniform as tightly as you could. If this continued any longer, you wouldn’t be able to hold it back any long–!

“Oh, you came.”

You finally slumped on his shoulder, panting. Floyd stared at the liquid in his hand and wriggled his fingers as if awed by its slickness. He noticed your limp body and gently put you down back to his bed. He giggled again.

“You look like a mess, Shrimpy. Who would’ve thought it’d affect you so much?”

Floyd spun but you didn’t ask where he went. You couldn’t, because the sleepiness compelled you to close your eyes.

And close your eyes, you did.

“Did you have a good sleep, [Name]?”

It was a great embarrassment to wake up with your memories of yesterday still intact, especially when Jade ever-so-kindly greeted you. Floyd was nowhere to be seen, but you didn’t stick around to wait for him. You bolted out of the dorm and to yours, passing the students along the way. Some of them were shocked by your disheveled appearance, and some were simply scandalized. Regardless of the stares and whispers you received, a faint, pleased smile still appeared on your lips.

Hopefully, with this, everyone would know who you belonged to.

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Sebek Zigvolt

⚡ Lately, Sebek had noticed that you’d been spending time with your friends. Of course, there was nothing wrong with that. It gave him more time to study and practice, anyway. Well, it would’ve been enjoyable had he didn’t overthink it. Why did you look so happy with them? Were they more fun to be around than him? Were you mad at him or something? Sebek might not be the best at reading people’s feelings, but he cared about you very much. And even if it flustered him to no end, he wanted you to be happy with him.

⚡ Lilia, being the old fae he was, noticed his dilemma and suggested him to approach you. There was no use in overthinking if he could ask you directly, right? Maybe you just didn’t notice that you’d been neglecting him. And true to his words, you were oblivious to the problems you’d unknowingly given to Sebek. Regardless, you apologized to him and promised to spend more time with him. And despite the heavy blush on his cheeks, you knew that Sebek was happy judging from how tight he hugged you.


Ace Trappola

♥ Ace knew this feeling the moment he caught you being all buddy-buddy with other people. It gnawed on his chest like a worm, and it refused to leave even after he removed himself from the situation. Of course, he could always take you away from them. He was your boyfriend, after all. But what if you noticed his jealousy? He didn’t think he could handle the embarrassment that would come afterward. Regardless, Ace didn’t spend much time overthinking and just swooped in like an uncalled-for prince he was.

♥ Slinging an arm around your waist, he unceremoniously dragged you away from your friends after giving them a halfhearted apology. When you sourly asked him why he interrupted your conversation with them, he nonchalantly shrugged. You’d been speaking with them for too long. It was his time now… and that was when you knew that he was jealous. With a pout, he’d vehemently deny the accusation until he cracked under your constant teasing. You chuckled and pecked his cheek, promising to never neglect him again from now on. And of course, being the little shit he was, he asked for more than just a peck. As payment for making him jealous, he said.

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🗡 Silver’s wedding is a humble ceremony located outdoor. He prefers to keep it small and only invites a few selected people, such as Riddle, Kalim, Jamil, the first year gang, and, of course, Sebek. His animal friends also attend the wedding, and a squirrel even climbs to his shoulder.

Silver

🗡 Lilia and Malleus act as his groomsmen, and the former actually tears up when he sees just how handsome Silver looks in a suit. Lilia wipes a stray tear and coos about ‘how fast he grew up and how it feels like yesterday when he was just a wee baby’, while Malleus wishes him a happy marriage and advises him to take good care of you. Silver wearily tells Lilia to stop, but he can’t deny the warmth in his chest.

🗡 Silver’s droopy eyes grow tender the moment they land on your graceful figure walking down the aisle, a bouquet in your hands. And once you both finished uttering your vows, two birds swoop in and lift your veil, revealing your rosy face to him. Silver smiles softly and lifts your chin, planting a kiss on your lips that feels like a feather from how tender the action is.

🗡 Silver is incredibly gentle during sex, focusing on your pleasure first and foremost. He takes the time to kiss every inch of your body while constantly professing his love for you, the most open and sincere affection he ever shows. He asks whether you’re ready before he buries himself within you, rubbing your knuckles to ease the pain. He pauses to let you adjust, and won’t mind being a bit rough if you request it.


Deuce Spade

♠ Deuce’s wedding is also small, held in a venue. He invites his fellow first-year friends and Heartslabyul seniors. His mother broke down when he told her that he proposed to you, and she can’t stop sniffling even before the ceremony starts. She keeps dabbing her puffy eyes with a handkerchief while the other boys reassure her that Deuce will be okay and there’s nothing to be worried about.

♠ Ace and Trey became his groomsmen, and the terracotta-haired boy takes it upon himself to tease him relentlessly. Who would’ve thought he’d score such a hottie? Deuce chokes on his spit and scolds Ace for being so blunt, voice strained and cheeks blushing heavily. Meanwhile, Trey merely chuckles and smoothly dissolves the situation before it grows too heated.

♠ Tears sting Deuce’s eyes when he sees you emerge from the doors, dressed in the most elegant and purest gown. He has to purse his lips to keep himself from crying joyfully once you stand beside him, smiling at him somewhat shyly. And after you repeated the vow, his hands shakily lift the veil with the reddest cheeks you’ve ever seen before he pulls your face to his, lips meshing in a deep yet heartfelt kiss. Nearby, his mother breaks down again while his friends cheer.

♠ Same as Silver, Deuce is very tender with you to the point where he’s almost hesitant to touch you. He’s very scared that he might accidentally hurt you somehow, but your reassurances alleviate his anxiety. Slowly, he kisses your lips before he trails down, relishing the smoothness of your skin. His hands eagerly roam your body, unable to hide the hunger he feels. He shyly asks for your consent and gingerly puts his size into you, being very attentive to even the slightest twitch and wince from you. It’s only after you breathlessly ask him to continue does he comply, the speed slowly increasing with each moan and plea that left your parted lips.

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Leona Kingscholar

🦁 Despite Leona’s respect for women, there are always some boys who either disobey his order or just like to mess with you. And it gets worse when they gang up on you to assert their so-called dominance.

🦁 His sense of smell is sharp, as expected from a beast-man. He can practically sniff a little bit of blood from you from far away as you hold your wounded cheek. He scolds you for being ‘troublesome’ and tends to the scratches that litter your skin, despite you insisting that you’re fine.

🦁 Although he looks tired as always, he’s very pissed on the inside. And it’s actually quite obvious from the way his tail swishing back and forth in displeasure. Don’t they have anything better to do than bullying a harmless girl? He demands you to tell him the names or the dorms they belong to and proceeds to confront them. Nobody can mess with his girlfriend without suffering in return.


Ruggie Bucchi

🐾 Ruggie is a busy man so he won’t be able to check up on you very often. So imagine his surprise when he sees a bruise on your arm from being gripped by your bullies. He knows that not everyone likes you, and it’s normal, but he doesn’t know that they can stoop so low as to manhandle you.

🐾 He gently massages your aching arm, frowning as he does so. You’re quite worried about the tensed silence, thinking that he’s angry with you somehow, but he reassures you that he’s just concerned with your condition. He reminds you to be more careful from now on and calls him if your bullies approach you again. 

🐾 He doesn’t immediately confront the bullies. Oh, no. He works in secret, but he’ll make sure the result is blatant. An accident in the staircase, mysterious scratches, some bruises here and there. It almost feels like the Magift incident all over again, but he thinks it’s nothing compared to the pain they’ve been causing to you.

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Kalim Al-Asim

☀ Kalim is sympathetic to your predicament, despite your reassurance. He can’t imagine what it feels like to live your whole life unable to see everything. If there’s a way for him to cure your blindness, he’ll definitely search high and low for you.

☀ Regardless, Kalim is still a sweetheart and he’ll go out of his way to describe the things around you. He’s a bit sad that you can’t see the beauty of nature, but he’s quick to rebound and help you with anything as much as you want. Jamil has to step in and remind him to do his own work, too.


Jamil Viper

🐍 Jamil knows that you don’t want to be treated as fragile despite your blindness, and will let you work on something alone. Nevertheless, he’ll still help you with things that are too difficult for you to do. The last thing he wants is to see you get injured.

🐍 He’ll watch you and check up on you more often. He likes to read a story to you or accompany you to read the braille, although those moments are very rare. But you can still feel his love from the way he gently holds you at night and all the things he assists you despite his packed schedule and constant headache.


Leona Kingscholar

🦁 Ah… must be suck, huh? Although he spends the majority of his time sleeping, sight is a vital thing to avoid any predator. The fact that you tripped over his leg during his nap just paint a bigger target on your back.

🦁 Leona isn’t the one to coddle people, but he’s going to be subtly protective over you. He’ll growl at anyone who dares to disturb you and won’t hesitate to turn some things nearby into the sand as a warning. They should’ve picked on someone else instead unless they want to suffer his wrath


Azul Ashengrotto

🐙 Initially, he tried to ‘convince’ you to sign his contract. Someone like you was a perfect target, as far as he was concerned. He could give you a temporary sight, but of course, it came with a price. It was only after you firmly rejected his offer did Azul gain a newfound respect for you.

🐙 Azul doesn’t want to risk anything when it comes to your safety. He’ll order the twins to accompany you wherever you go if he’s not able to do it himself. Anyone who bothers you will have to face the twins first, and everyone immediately behaves.

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Leona Kingscholar

🦁 Leona is irritated. Rook has been hounding him all day, and now, he arrives in his dorm to see a bunch of kittens harassing you.

🦁 It’s obvious that you’re trying to defend yourself by snarling and slapping their wandering hands away, but your strength is no match against those brawns-for-brains. And Leona, as if struck by his responsibility as the dorm leader for once, grabs the leader’s hand and glowers at him. He tells the poor boy that he’ll kick them out of Savanaclaw for harassing you, and he’s not joking.

🦁 After gruffly asking about your well-being and whether you want to punish them yourself, Leona proceeds to the headmaster to tell him about the matter. Very soon, the news spread around the school like wildfire, and those who doubt the severity of his warning, particularly from his own dorm, begin to behave.


Ruggie Bucchi

🐾 There’s nothing he can do when Leona tells everyone to behave around you, and besides, it’s not as if Ruggie has any beef with you. You’re surprisingly easygoing and helpful, always attempting to ease his responsibilities somewhat. However, not everyone holds the same opinion…

🐾 He spots you trying to walk away from his dorm mates, but the leader of the group blocks your way by putting his hand against the wall. Ruggie immediately intervenes, asking them what their problem is and demanding them to leave you alone from now on if they don’t want him to tell Leona.

🐾 Obviously, he tells Leona about this, and the latter is cooperative. He orders Ruggie to keep an eye on them and report them to him if they try to bother you again.


jack Howl

🐺 Jack is already a tsundere to other people, and he becomes even more tsundere with you. Luckily, you’re not too annoying to be around and heed his warning of being cautious with your surroundings… which he quickly follows by a ‘it’s not like I care about you or something baka’. But alas, menace always exists.

🐺 He wastes no time dawdling around and instantly appears by your side, holding the collar of the pest. If the bullies refuse to leave, he won’t hesitate to punch them and drag you away from the scene. He grumpily asks what happened and if you want him to look after you from now on… b-but that’s because he wants to uphold Leona’s order, okay?! Don’t get the wrong idea!

🐺 Jack won’t immediately report to Leona because he thinks he can handle the situation. But if push comes to shove, then he’ll tell Ruggie about the matter. Hopefully, your bullying can stop with his interference.

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Leona Kingscholar

🦁 Dating Leona often feels like you’re the only one who puts in the work. He doesn’t really bother to arrange a date, preferring to sleep together instead. And while you have no problem with that, you want to do something else too. You want to make new memories, but he doesn’t seem interested in that, and it’s upsetting you.

🦁 His ears twitch when he hears the unmistakable sound of sniffles. He slowly sits up, ears erect and tail curls forward. Leona isn’t stupid; he knows why and who makes you cry. But it doesn’t mean he knows how to comfort people. The most he can do is hugging you, wrapping his tail around your quivering body. He realizes that you won’t stop crying unless he compromises, and after long contemplation, he reluctantly promises to take you out on a date from now on. Only quiet places, though.


Jack Howl

🐺 Being a tsundere, Jack finds it hard to confess his feelings and often accidentally dismisses you. You know that he doesn’t mean it; sometimes he just gets caught up in the moment and can’t really filter his words. But there’s only so much you can handle, especially when you try to be attentive to him. And before you know it, you’re already sobbing in front of him.

🐺 Jack is obviously flustered by the sudden display of vulnerability. His tail wags lowly as he racks his brain for a way to comfort you. He knows he’s the one at fault for brushing you off so coldly, but he doesn’t really know what to do to remedy it. In the end, he can only apologize softly, albeit awkwardly, and offer his tail for you to play with if you’re still sad.


Sebek Zigvolt

⚡ Sebek is very oblivious to other people’s feelings, and his attitude often makes him look insensitive. And because he’s very devoted to Malleus, it frequently becomes the source of problem for you both. You don’t want him to work too hard and always tell him to rest, but he mistakes it as an insult for his duty as Malleus’ servant. He orders you to never ‘bother’ him again, and it sends a pang to your chest.

⚡ He sputters when he catches the first tear drip down from your eye. He tries to ask what happened, but nervousness amplifies his already loud voice. You cower, thinking that he’s yelling at you. Realizing that he only worsens the problem with his pitch, Sebek hesitantly sits down beside you and cradles your body. It’s awkward, you can feel the nervous aura emanating from his stiff body, but at least he tries.


Jamil Viper

🐍 Jamil is a busy man. There’s always something he needs to do even if he doesn’t want to, even if it’s late at night. You try to understand his situation, how unpredictable situations are inevitable in his job, but that doesn’t mean you don’t feel lonely sometimes. He’s always tending to Kalim, never really have the time to spend with you.

🐍 You unwittingly break down when he cancels yet another date to handle the exotic animals Kalim has accidentally released. Jamil knows that you’ve been looking forward to the date – you didn’t really hide your giddiness, anyway – and proceeds to kiss your forehead. Time is chasing him, but he promises that he’ll make it up. For real, this time.

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Leona Kingscholar

🦁 … Sigh, how troublesome.

🦁 Well, isn’t it just his luck to fall for a dense girl? Leona pinches the bridge of his nose, wondering how and why he likes you in the first place. As cute as your obliviousness is, it’s starting to get annoying how ignorant you are to his advances.

🦁 Leona has tried everything; sacrificing his sleep to hear you rambling, grooming his hair, giving you meat, letting you touch his tail, and even allowing you to sleep in his usual spot! He’s also territorial towards other boys, scowling and occasionally growling when they get too close to you. Anything to let you know that he’s into you. And yet, you remain blissfully blind.

🦁 He considered giving up, because what’s the use of trying if the outcome will be the same anyway? He dismisses Ruggie’s advice on confessing his feelings for you, but luckily, the hyena doesn’t get discouraged easily. He offers to assist him, and when Leona squints suspiciously, he reassures him that he just wants to blackmail help him.


Sebek Zigvolt

⚡ Well, isn’t it a disaster? Two dense people with the other trying so hard to repress his feelings while also yearning for her attention.

⚡ Sebek doesn’t know what to do with this situation. On one hand, he’s irked to acknowledge that he actually likes you, a weak human. But on the other hand, he wants you to notice him; to know the true him and hopefully reciprocates his feelings.

⚡ He asks for Lilia’s help who gladly helps him whilst smirking amusedly. He does his advice; lowering his voice despite the great difficulty so as to not scare you into avoiding him, helping you with your troubles while attempting to repress his tendency to bark, and generally acts like an awkward gentleman.

⚡ Your obliviousness truly disheartens him. What has he done wrong? Has he been obvious enough? Have his efforts been futile all this time? Sensing his chagrin, Lilia quickly comes to the rescue and reassures him that his efforts are gradually paying off. Look, you’re not scared of him anymore! You even greet him every morning! Isn’t that progress? Hearing this, the corner of Sebek’s lips twitch into a smile and he resolves to keep trying.

Chapter Text

🐺 It’s not the first time he came to your room, but this is certainly the first time he catches you sleeping. You’re buried under the blanket, strands of hair nearly covering your entire face. Grim curls up on the foot of the bed, mumbling about tuna fishes and being the best magician in the world. You look so peaceful, so deep in slumber until Jack feels somewhat guilty with his intention. But he never does anything without a reason, and he’s determined to go through with his plan.

🐺 He tries to shake you awake. You don’t budge at first and merely grumble before turning away from him. He swears he hears a soft snore from you. Irritated, Jack shakes you again. A bit forcefully, this time. And yet, you swat his hand away and sleepily tells him to leave. Which he would’ve done, had it wasn’t so important.

🐺 Realizing that you won’t wake up without force, Jack proceeds to rip the blanket away, uncaring towards Grim’s squeak. The sight of your naked back and luscious butt immediately greets him, and blood spurts into his tan cheeks. Jack sputters and swiftly pulls the blanket up until it nearly conceals your head, once again ignoring Grim who’s hissing at the disturbance.

🐺 His heart keeps beating hard despite having removed himself from the situation, and he won’t stop trembling until he returns to Savanaclaw. He needs to take a cold shower just to erase the memory from his head, and even then, it still lingers more than he’d like to admit. And, obviously, he won’t tell you what he saw. He can’t even bring himself to question why you sleep naked in the first place. He just makes a mental note to never break into your room again, unless he hears your or Grim’s voice beforehand.

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Jade Leech

🌊 Ever the observant one, Jade notices your sadness the moment you enter Monstro Lounge with downcast eyes. Putting a hand on your lower back, he ushers you to a table and prepares your favorite drink and snack. He patiently listens to your troubles and gently wipes the tears that trickle from your eyes with his gloved hand.

🌊 Despite his tender action, his mind is already whirring on various ‘punishments’ he’ll bestow upon your bullies. He pities you, of course, but he’s secretly more excited at the thought of manhandling some unsuspecting victims. If you’re more perceptive, you’ll notice the sadistic glint in his heterochromia eyes as he holds your hands and reassures you that they’ll ‘beg for your forgiveness in no time’.


Floyd Leech

🌊 Everyone knows better than to anger Floyd, but there are still some bastards who simply have no fear and pick on you instead; naively thinking that they can get away with it. Obviously it doesn’t end well because despite his playfulness, Floyd is more observant than he lets on. He sees your bruises and immediately ask you who the bullies are, not even bothering to comfort you first.

🌊 You might have to stop him before he can actually kill them with his infamous squeeze or ask Jade to do it. Floyd will certainly protest at first, whining about why he can’t just finish them off when they’ve been hurting his precious Shrimpy. But after you bribe him with cuddles and kisses, he perks up and promptly drags you to his room. Just be prepared to fulfill your promise because if not, then he’ll threaten to hurt them again. This time, with the intention of sending them to the hospital.

Chapter Text

Azul Ashengrotto

🐙 The first time he sees you singing under the sunlight with little animals surrounding your holy figure and birds chirping harmoniously from the twigs, he’s hooked. Azul loves a beautiful voice, so he quickly offers you to sing in Monstro Lounge with a forced professional voice and pinkish cheeks. Don’t worry, he’ll split the money evenly. Oh, you want to sing for him instead? Well, Azul looks away and coughs into his fist bashfully, can’t say that he’ll refuse such a deal…

🐙 The feelings came crashing on him like a tsunami when you sang for him. Head on your lap, he’s closed his eyes and listened to your soothing song as you stroked his silver hair. He thought about how nice it’d be if you can sing for him every night before he goes to sleep. Sometimes, his past returns to haunt him and he can barely get a wink of sleep afterward… And that’s when he snapped his eyes open.

🐙 The twins will have a field day teasing and giggling on his behalf. Azul barely leaves his octo pot, too busy drowning in his embarrassment and silently cursing them for being unsupportive about his predicament. How could he fall for you?! You’re too pure, too nice, and… too out of his league. There’s no way you’d want someone like him; someone so insecure yet shady. You bring peace and comfort to everyone you meet, while he leaves chaos and pain in his wake. It’ll take a lot of prodding and subtle manipulation from Jade to kick him back to the game, and even so, Azul still feels the lingering hesitation and self-hatred inside him.


Vil Schoenheit

💜 Vil sees just how patient and kind you are in dealing with his fussy nature. He knows that he can be scary and overbearing sometimes, but the fact that you still take the time to greet him with an amiable smile despite his attitude is very much appreciated. Not to mention, every dress that you wear fits you nicely. Even the ugliest gown appears glowing the second it slips into your figure, and your bare face isn’t any less gorgeous than your caked one.

💜 He realizes his blooming feelings for you when he sees you chatting with Rook. Not many people can handle his inquisitive nature, and that’s why it irks Vil so much. Since when did you two become buddy-buddy with each other? And why does Rook have to sit so close with you?! No, wait. Why does it even bother him? It shouldn’t be any of his concern about who you talk to, right?

💜 For the next few days, Vil acts passive-aggressive towards you both. No longer did he return your greetings with a curt nod, he chooses to ignore you instead. You feel a bit hurt by the sudden treatment, so you decide to distance yourself. Rook is confused too, but when he catches Vil staring at your retreating back, he begins to smiles understandingly. My, to think that the Queen would get jealous of a friendly interaction… Vil immediately snaps at him and threatens to poison him if he keeps talking to him, but Rook is impervious. He urges Vil to pursue you before someone else captures your heart. After all, he’s not the only suitor that you unknowingly have…

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Azul Ashengrotto

🐙 Oh, is that so? Pray tell, what makes you love the ocean so much? Azul is a curious man, so he’s gonna ask you lots of questions regarding your love for his homeland.

🐙 It’s interesting to see that there are humans like you who love swimming so much. It makes it easier for him to invite you because he knows that you’ll immediately agree.

🐙 Of course, he never forgets to prepare the necessities. A good businessman should be ready for any situation. He might even bring some potions so you can breathe underwater if you wish to dive.

🐙 Do you think the sea creatures are ‘cool’? Does that mean you like octopuses too? He’ll blush when you nod fervently, and has to look away to recompose. Seeing your reaction is definitely a reassurance for him if he ever thinks about showing his octopus form to you, which will be a lot quicker due to your love for the ocean and its content. He hopes that you won’t change your mind once you see his true self someday.


Jade Leech

🌊 Oya, what a curious sight. The ocean is scary, and yet, here you are; swimming back and forth while laughing without a care in the world. Aren’t you scared that some underwater animals might attack you?

🌊 Jade knows many things about you, but it still comes as a surprise for him to see you enjoy your time in the sea so much. He thought that you only loved the scenery, as many humans do, and not necessarily its content. He doesn’t complain, though. He likes to see your joyful visage.

🌊 Would you like to visit the ocean floor? There are many interesting fishes down there. After all, you love sea creatures, no? He’ll chuckle when you whine and splash water to his face, and promise that he’ll guard you. You’re lucky that you’re his girlfriend, otherwise, he might seriously leave you there. Well, who knows?… Just kidding.

🌊 He’ll definitely introduce you to all kinds of underwater plants and mushrooms, being the mushroom nerd he is. It’s nice to have a girlfriend who’s passionate about the ocean instead of being frightened by its mystery, and will certainly invite you more often.


Floyd Leech

🌊 Eh, Shrimpy loves swimming? Awesome! No doubt that he’ll join you, laughing and dragging you back and forth in his eel form. He’s gonna have the absolute fun swimming with you. In fact, most of your dates probably consist of swimming around.

🌊 Hey, hey. Let’s play in the ocean floor, okay? Floyd doesn’t wait to hear your response before he pulls you down, grinning from ear to ear. It’s not every day that people are willing to play with him, let alone swim together.

🌊 He’ll show you many fishes and might even attempt to eat one of them right in front of you when the mood strikes. He’ll pout when you stop him, though. Regardless, it doesn’t deter him from killing them and childishly ask for your praise.

🌊 And like other dates, you always try to keep up with his whims. You don’t mind it, though. Swimming feels more fun when you’re doing it together, and that’s all matters to you both.

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Vil Schoenheit

💜 Everyone is potato to him. Nobody can get close to his beauty, and even if there is, it’ll take a long time for him to admit it. So, him falling for an average person is almost… inevitable, I’d say.

💜 Regardless, Vil isn’t an entirely shallow man. He understands inner beauty just as much as outer beauty. And besides, there’s nothing more attractive than someone striving to be the best version of themselves.

💜 Of course, it doesn’t mean he’ll tolerate disorder. Even if you’re average looking, it’s not an excuse to neglect your appearance! He’ll suggest you beauty products that are suitable for your skin and takes you to jogging every morning. Sometimes, when he’s in a particularly good mood or you please him with something like, say, an A in your test, he’ll treat you to some five-star body treatments or spoil your body himself. At least, he wants you to look rather pleasing to the eye.


Rook Hunt

🏹 As much as he appreciates good looks, I think he’s more fascinated by the mystery you hold. Sometimes, the most average person ends up being the most surprising, and he wants to be the one who discovers it first.

🏹 Rook is someone who finds beauty in everything and gives compliment freely, so don’t be surprised when you catch him examining you as if you’re a masterpiece. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, he says, and it just so happens that you’re the most beautiful thing he laid his eyes on. Yeah, he can be smooth like that.

🏹 That said, he’s still as inquisitive as ever. Your hair is quite sleek… What kind of shampoo do you use? What kind of fragrance do you prefer? What’s your favorite food? He’s a lover and wants to know everything about you. And, of course, because it satisfies his hunter side. Knowledge is power, as far as he’s concerned.


Epel Felmier

🍎 Epel doesn’t really care about your look as much as your opinion on his own look. He comes from a village, after all, and that means he’s met more ‘average’ people than you. Also, don’t call him ‘cute’, goddammit!

🍎 There’s something homely from your face. Nearly everyone he sees is attractive in their own way. That’s not to say that you’re ugly in his eyes, though. But to meet someone who everyone deems average looking feels… grounding, to say the least.

🍎 In the end, he cares about your personality more than your appearance. Beauty is relative, he thinks. And the longer he spends time with you, the longer he becomes smitten by you. Truly, your kindness brings a certain glow to your being, and that is beautiful in itself.

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Malleus Draconia

🐉 Malleus had noticed a bit too late that you’d been acting differently. It’d begun as a simple avoidance of eye contact, even though you used to gaze at him affectionately. Malleus had shrugged it off, assuming that you were pondering over something. Instead, he’d left you to your devices so you could think clearly. He’d thought that he was being thoughtful. After all, nobody wanted to be bothered when they were thinking hard, right?

🐉 Then, you’d started to actively avoid him. You didn’t even come to their usual hangout spot for several nights. A pang stabbed his chest as he attempted to remember his mistake. What had he done to you until you refused to meet him? He’d tried to approach you, trying to talk things out, but you promptly fled before he could even call you.

🐉 Lilia noticed his frustration, how he looked this close from setting the whole dorm on fire with his thunder and swiftly attempted to diffuse the situation. He decided to invite you to Diasomnia while he ordered Malleus to recompose. Obviously, this problem needed a peacemaker.

🐉 Lilia found you curled on your bed, sniffling whilst listening to a particularly gloomy song through your earphones. After many persuasions, he managed to bring you to the dorm and immediately left the living room. It was awkward, especially with Malleus squinting at you right in front of you. But he decided to push aside his resentment and asked the dreaded question. Thus, the tensed conversation started.

🐉 When he learned about the reason behind your avoidance, Malleus could only shake his head bemusedly. Him, cheating on you? Have you forgotten that not many people were brave enough to approach him in the first place? What made you think he’d betray you, anyway? Even if someone liked him romantically, there was no way he’d leave you for them. He proceeded to hug you, whispering an apology for not noticing the signs earlier.


Rook Hunt

🏹 Rook had known that you were feeling down lately. You’d tried to lie to him, brushing off his concern with fake smiles whenever he remarked about your sudden melancholy. But how high was the chance of you deceiving him, anyway? He would’ve laughed at the idea had the situation wasn’t so bleak.

🏹 For the next few days, Rook stopped commenting on your worsening mood and behaved normally. He kept observing around, acting like he was searching for his ‘prey’, when in reality he was trying to pinpoint the cause of your sadness. Maybe he could find some answers out here…

🏹 Then, he heard some people whispering about him having a rendezvous with another girl. How they could create such a ridiculous rumor was beyond him, especially when he was already dating the loveliest girl in Twisted Wonderland… until he thought about it further. Could it be the reason…?

🏹 Rook immediately went to your room and caught you sobbing into your palms. Your phone lied on the pillow, emitting a forlorn tune that only worsened the atmosphere. His heart clenched at the pitiful sight and he silently approached your hunching figure. You tried to bury your face on to the pillow when you felt a hand patted your shoulder, but he quickly embraced you.

🏹 He gently asked whether the news of his ‘rendezvous’ was the reason behind your sadness, and cooed when you hesitantly nodded. Well, weren’t you just an adorable bunny? Being sad over a baseless rumor… He wasn’t a coward who would cheat behind your back, you know? Rook tenderly wiped the tears that trickled from your bloodshot eyes and began to list off the things why you were better than any girl out there. It wasn’t long until you blushed out of embarrassment and hid your face on to his chest.


Vil Schoenheit

👑 Something like this was bound to happen, one way or another. Vil was famous, and that meant he’d worked with many different people. And it just so happened that the women in there were simply gorgeous, so many people tended to pair him up with one of them.

👑 Of course, Vil was used to ignoring those rumors. As far as he was concerned, his relationship status was none of their businesses. And besides, he’d already dated you, anyway. So why should he seek for another woman? Most of the models he’d met only looked pretty on the cover and rotten on the inside, anyway, or were just plain stupid. But you weren’t him, nor could you easily ignore the fact that the models were indeed pretty. Pretty enough to stand beside him.

👑 Vil often saw you perusing his fashion magazines, but only recently did he notice your crestfallen visage. He’d pluck the magazine out of your hands and tell you to stop overthinking things. He dated you, and that was it. No buts, no ifs, no what-ifs. However, his cool reassurance did nothing to quell the demons inside you. You began to avoid him and often bowed your head whenever you two passed by. Vil was, of course, irritated. He was already busy with his schedule, and now that he’d finally have some time to spare, you chose to hide instead?

👑 Vil had some suspicions regarding your skittish behavior, but Rook’s observation felt like pouring salt to the wound. Sad because of people’s mindless comments? Honestly, you should’ve known that things like this were common within the industry, especially to famous figures. Regardless, Vil decided to shut down Rook’s suggestion and headed towards Ramshackle dorm. He didn’t need anyone telling him what to do. He already knew, anyway.

👑 He heard you singing a particularly sad song and softly opened the door. You were too absorbed by your raging thoughts until you failed to sense his presence in the room. A gasp left your trembling lips when you felt a pair of arms enveloping you from behind, blond and purple strands tickling your shoulders. Burying his face on the crook of your neck, Vil chided you for worrying too much and made him worry about you in return. When you shakily apologized, he merely nodded and proceeded to kiss your neck to show you that you were the only one who owned his heart.

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🏹 Rook sees everything, and that means he sees your shyness too. He sees the way you sit or stand in the corner, maybe snacking or playing with your phone to look busy. He sees the way you stare at certain people or someone as if wanting to talk to them but can’t. And he sees the way you smile awkwardly at those who try to interact with you.

🏹 Everything about you is precious, including your shyness, but he won’t hesitate to insert himself if you look like you’re struggling with something. Maybe you want to say something, but everyone is too busy among themselves or your voice is too soft. His sudden appearance never ceases to surprise you, but you appreciate his assistance nonetheless.

🏹 Rook is more than willing to teach you about socializing. While he might not truly understand the struggle of approaching people first, rest assured that he’ll be there for you every step of the way. He’ll compliment every progress you make, no matter how little it seems, because even a small effort is still enough and is still beautiful to him.

🏹 He’ll also reassure you that silence is golden and that you don’t need to fill every moment of silence with small talk. It might feel awkward to you, but sometimes people just want to enjoy the moment and there’s nothing wrong with that! You’re not a failure at socializing and some conversations tend to end naturally. And sometimes people are thinking about what to say next too, so don’t feel too bad about yourself!

🏹 His heart feels like bursting in pride and joy when he finally sees you approaching someone. There’s still a slight hesitation and shyness in your pace, face, and voice, but you’ve certainly come a long way from your once withdrawn self. Your smile isn’t so awkward anymore, and little by little, you feel even more relaxed and open in conversations. You look like a caterpillar that has grown into a gorgeous butterfly now. Beauté!

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Lilia Vanrouge

🦇 Ah, first love… The most awkward yet memorable moments in one’s life. Lilia himself has forgotten who his first crush is, but he has many experiences with love, so you can be sure he’ll use them to assist Malleus.

🦇 Of course, it’s not without some stalking observation beforehand. It’s amusing to watch the big dragon gets all soft and sweet to you, only to see you dismiss it as a mere platonic gesture. Honestly, Lilia doubts that Malleus himself recognizes his feelings for you. All he knows is that he just wants to spend his time with you, be it chatting or enjoying the silence.

🦇 But Lilia isn’t cruel enough to leave his son pining for the next years, so he suggests some things to Malleus after explaining to him what he’s feeling. Candlelit dinners, bouquets of rare yet everlasting flowers, picnics under the stars, and other old-fashioned advances. He wants Malleus to start slow so you’ll get used to him and hopefully reciprocate his love, because not everyone can handle a dragon’s affection. And until you both reach that part, Lilia will sit back and enjoy the process.


Silver

🗡 Silver doesn’t really want to meddle in Malleus’ affairs, especially if it involves romance. Unlike Sebek, he knows when and where Malleus needs his privacy. So, for the most part, Silver won’t do much about his blooming crush nor will he react much about his heart eyes towards you.

🗡 Though, it doesn’t mean Silver would disobey him either. When Malleus tasks him to keep an eye on you, he’ll do it wholeheartedly. It allows him to learn more about you, and possibly why Malleus likes you in the first place, because Silver still has a duty to guard him. He can’t have a suspicious person getting too close with his master.

🗡 Regardless, Silver shares Sebek’s concern about Malleus’ tendency to disappear, and how it worsens now that he likes you. Silver wishes Malleus would at least tell them where he’s going, but he’s not stupid enough as to think Sebek would let Malleus off the hook that easily.


Sebek Zigvolt

⚡ Sebek is… dumbfounded, to say the least. The great Malleus Draconia falls for a human? And a magicless one too? He doesn’t understand how Lilia can still smile when he told him that, and why the ancient fae looks so proud.

⚡ Being the blunt boy he is, Sebek instantly and plainly questions Malleus why he likes you. Obviously, Malleus doesn’t take well to him criticizing you and warns him to keep his mouth. Sebek heeds him, but his curiosity hasn’t been quenched yet. And so, he begins to investigate you. Maybe you possess some amazing skills that manage to wow Malleus, maybe you seduce him, or maybe you hex him. Whatever it is, Sebek is determined to find out the truth.

⚡ Despite his continuous perplexity over Malleus’ infatuation towards you, Sebek can’t help the ire that surges within him when he sees you acting oblivious to Malleus’ endearingly awkward advances. Silver has to hold him back from storming towards you and knock some sense into you, while Lilia puts a gloved hand over his mouth. How dare you dismiss Malleus’ efforts like that? Don’t you know how hard he work to get your attention? And thus, Sebek is stuck in a confusing circle of supporting yet complaining about Malleus’ actions.

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Riddle Rosehearts

🌹 Riddle respects your strength. He’s not very athletic, so it’s nice to have someone who can protect him, as embarrassing as it is to admit it. He might have powerful magic, but you never know when people would attack him physically, right? Even if you only excel in running, for example, he’ll still like it. Who knows, maybe you can teach him sometimes.

🌹 Arguments aren’t rare because you two are stubborn. Ace jokes that you act like a married couple, and it never fails to embarrass Riddle to the point of clamming up. Of course, he’s gonna have Ace’s head after that. But everyone knows that he needs someone who can knock some sense into him once in a while and who won’t back down the second he gets angry, so your existence is very much welcomed.


Leona Kingscholar

🦁 An athletic student does suit Savanaclaw’s theme, and Leona is glad because it means you won’t be a burden to him. It’ll be much better if you can protect yourself, too. Savanaclaw isn’t exactly the friendliest dorm, after all. Everyone keeps picking a fight with each other, sometimes over the silliest reason.

🦁 Your stubbornness doesn’t really bother him. At least, it’s better than dating a weak-willed person. If you try to argue with him about something, he simply chooses to zone out or sleep through it instead. Arguments aren’t worth it, he reasons. However, if you annoy him too much, he’ll growl to make you stop. His patience – or indifference, let’s be honest here – only goes so far.


Azul Ashengrotto

🐙 Having an athletic s/o will be a huge benefit for him. He can freely ask you to be his partner in PE… if coach Vargas allows him, that is. Regardless, sport isn’t his strong suit and he doesn’t really want to improve himself unless it’s necessary. But, hey, at least you two match the ‘brain and brawn’ pair! 

🐙 Stubbornness helps you from falling victim to his scheme, too. It’s not as if he’d trick you to do bad things – he’s not that pitiless, he swears! – but there are some instances where he just purposefully lures you into letting him help you… with a price, of course. Luckily, since you’re his s/o, the prices aren’t that outrageous. Just a peck or a date should satisfy his desires. But sometimes you just want to do some things alone, and Azul will gracefully back down before the situation can escalate.


Kalim Al-Asim

☀ Oh, you excel in a sport? That’s great! Kalim will cheer for you when you train or during your part in PE. He’ll cheerfully ask you if you’re hungry after working out for a whole day because he’d love to invite you to a feast in Scarabia. Kalim doesn’t hold himself from helping you as much as possible. All because he loves you so much, you see! Though, Jamil will pop a vessel as he searches around for his whereabouts.

☀ Kalim likes that you’re stubborn! That means you’re dedicated to something, be it your ideals or friends. He’s such a pure, sunshine child that arguments are very rare – if not entirely nonexistent. He doesn’t like fighting, so he’s gonna agree to almost everything you say just to keep the peace. And he’s quick to forgive and forget, too. It pains you to see his tearful eyes when he apologizes to you, even if it’s not his fault in the first place, so you have no choice but to return the apology.


Vil Schoenheit

💜 Good, good, Vil nods to himself as he watches you train hard. He likes a person who takes care of themselves and absolutely can’t tolerate a mess, especially from his lover. He can be such a pain with his constant lectures, but at least, you got one part handled. He’ll demand you to jog with him every morning without fail because beauty needs continual maintenance. There’s no day off with him. Even if he has to order Rook to drag you out of the bed, then so be it.

💜 But as for your stubbornness, your relationship can be the most explosive or smoothest – well, as smooth as you can have from the Queen, of course. Unless you share the same view in beauty, or at least willing to obey his demands, it’s almost inevitable for you to argue with each other until your throat hurts. Everyone keeps wondering how you’re still together despite the number of squabbles you both have. Really, your saving grace is probably your athleticism. 


Idia Shroud

💙 He’ll sweat buckets if you invite him to train together. He can only run virtually or have Ortho run for him instead. But he won’t want to leave his room if there are other people in the field, even if you beg him to. Nope, thank you. He can’t deal with so many diverse personalities at once, especially the cheerful ones. Don’t worry, he can attach a camera or hack the school’s CCTV to watch you if you want to.

💙 Idia is too scared to argue with you. One because he can’t endure your anger, and two because he fears that you might leave him. You’re the only student, aside from Azul, that he’s willing to talk to, you know? And you’re probably the one true friend he has, so, like Kalim, he’ll agree to anything you say. He’s bad at dealing with people in general, let alone handling conflict. So please give him a break, okay?


Malleus Draconia

🐉 It’s good that you have a passion for something, even if it’s different than his. Malleus is quite strong physically, so he won’t have any problem if you want to compete with him. Just be prepared to lose because he won’t back down from a challenge, though, of course, he’ll be mindful of your limit. Humans are fragile, after all. He’ll love it if you invite him to train together, and may come a bit earlier than expected due to sheer giddiness. He’s cute like that.

🐉 Humans are stubborn, he knows that much. Malleus is mature enough to not deliberately provoke you, and respect your opinions. Though, he does love a good debate. He wants to learn more about human wisdom, and what better way to learn it if not from you? You must have something noteworthy, but if you say that you’re still learning, then that’s okay too. Both of you can learn things together, and he’d love to share his discovery with you.

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Leona Kingscholar

🦁 The second Leona sees your bruised eye, he jolts up from his slumbering position. Ears erect, tail curls forward, and eyes wide open, he immediately asks what happened and tries to assess your condition. Once you finish telling him your story, Leona closes his eyes and clucks. Your noble action reminds him of Jack. It’s a bit… irritating, to be honest. Regardless, he’ll order Ruggie to grab a medical kit and ask if you want him to punish the bully. He won’t protest if you refuse and merely warns you to not be so careless next time. Although he looks annoyed, you know that he cares about you deep down.


Riddle Rosehearts

🌹 Riddle is shocked and instantly runs towards you, dropping whatever he’s doing to focus on your condition. His heart is thumping so loudly he’s sure that you might hear it. He barks at anyone in the vicinity to bring a medical kit and ushers you to a chair as if you’re limp. He frowns throughout your story as he tends to your bruise. It’s good and all to protect your friend, but you should know who your opponent is. What if you suffer worse than this? Riddle shudders at the thought and tells you to report to the staff next time. Some things just need an adult’s intervention, and this is one of them.


Idia Shroud

🖥 Idia is probably more spooked by the incident than you. You’re his girlfriend; the only connection he has with other people, aside from Azul. And now, you got hurt? What should he do?! He’s sweating buckets as he stands in the middle of his room, racking his brain for a solution. It takes Ortho’s shout to snap him out of his mental breakdown. With his patient guide, Idia shakily and slowly heals your black eye, body trembling like little earthquake beside you. He mentally swoons once he learned about your heroic action. It reminds him of that one anime where a fierce girl protects the protagonist or a bullied victim. But please, try to avoid this kind of incident if you can help it, okay? He doesn’t think he can handle seeing your bruised face again. You’re not an anime character, after all.


Azul Ashengrotto

🐙 Azul is torn between crying and seething at the sight of your black eye. Regardless, it doesn’t stop the frown from contorting his visage as he hands you an ice pack to alleviate the bruise. As much as he understands the reason behind your action, did you even think about how he’d react? He could’ve sworn his heart has paused for a second when the twins brought you to his office. Rest assured, he’ll send them to your assailant. He might’ve changed, but that doesn’t mean he’s gonna let anyone hurt his girlfriend without consequences. And if you refuse his offer, then he can always do it behind your back. Besides, it’s a win-win situation, no? You and your friend will be safe from now on, and the bully will taste their own medicine, even if the result seems too severe for your liking…


Vil Schoenheit

👑 Vil has to catch himself from shrieking when he catches you stumbling slightly in the hallway, one hand covering your eye. He promptly drags you to the infirmary, shooting down your complaints with more scolding and lectures. Honestly, what were you thinking? Throwing yourself in front of your friend to protect him like that… You should’ve asked for help instead! He shakes his head in exasperation as he halfheartedly listens to your justifications. It’s enough that he has to hear your daily stories of helping the idiot trio solve their shenanigans, and now, you got involved in bullying. And hurt, too! He’ll tell the headmaster about the matter to avoid further incidents, using his status as a dorm leader in hopes that Crowley will solve it quickly. He doesn’t want to get white hair from worrying about you too much.


Kalim Al-Asim

☀ Kalim might as well cry on the spot. He’s already sniffling as Jamil ushers you to a safe spot and helps you cool the bruise. He tearfully asks what happened and proceeds to hug you tightly once you finish. He absolutely refuses to let you go until you feel much better, despite Jamil’s irritated orders. Do you need anything else? Do you want him to accompany you to your class? Do you want him to report this to the headmaster? Not wanting to upset him even further, you accept the last offer and smile wryly when he quickly drags you to Crowley, ignoring Jamil’s frantic calls behind you. Although you’re unsure of whether Crowley will truly handle the bullies, at least it’s better to see Kalim’s relieved face than his weepy one.


Malleus Draconia

🐉 Well, aren’t you quite the brave one? Humans are fragile creatures, and yet, you fearlessly protected your friend from his bullies until you got a black eye. But it still doesn’t make him feel any less worried, you know? Malleus frowns and heals the bruise with a quick spell, watching your eye turns healthy and lively again. He wishes he could’ve been there to protect you, but alas, what happened has happened. Regardless, he still asks you to take care of yourself better and to approach him if you have any kind of problem. You’re his one true friend and lover; the human who has bravely approached him and even dates him despite the unsavory rumors that surround him daily. So he wants to return the favor by helping you whenever and wherever you are.

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Trey Clover

♣ Trey will definitely bake something for you! He knows that he has a lot of ‘rivals’, each with their own special ‘weapons’, so he tries to seduce you through your stomach. He’s also gonna amp up his helpfulness! He wants to be seen as reliable in your eyes, so even if you reject him, he knows that at least you trust him.

♣ He’s very humble. He admits that he doesn’t know much about romance, and knows that there are many men who are far more attractive and better than he is, so he’ll understand your decision of not picking him. Though, he still hopes to be your friend later on. Just because you’re dating someone else, doesn’t mean you can’t talk to him normally, right? He doesn’t really consider other vice dorm leaders as his ‘enemies’.


Ruggie Bucchi

🐾 He would’ve followed you almost everywhere had Leona wasn’t being a lazy bastard and gave him too many responsibilities. He’ll give you lots of food and gifts and try to save as much money as possible to take you out on an unforgettable date in hopes that you’d pick him later. He’s also very affectionate, always has an arm around your shoulders, or touching you in some way. He’s trying to subtly ‘mark’ you, although he knows that it won’t deter the other rivals.

🐾 He feels jealous easily every time he smells another scent on you. How dare they erase his scent…! He wishes he can accompany you every day, but alas, he can’t. His dislike for Rook amplifies whenever he sees you two together, and he has to physically restrain himself from storming towards you and drags you away from that stalker pest. Ruggie almost prefers to see you with anyone other than Rook, although the idea of rejection stings anyway. He knows that he’s not the richest, but he hopes you’d be willing to accept him nonetheless. After all, his heart is the only thing he can sincerely offer to you.


Jade Leech

🌊 Jade will become even smoother, flirting with you at any chance he gets with a hand under your chin and generally relishes in your flustered face. Though not as showy as his twin, he likes to put an arm on your shoulder or waist when he’s feeling particularly bold, which is often. His affection is more ‘intimate’ than Ruggie’s ‘platonic’ one. He’ll invite you to Monstro Lounge under the pretense of offering you to taste samples before he sits down in front of you and admires your puffed cheeks (just like how he admires his mushrooms), sometimes eating the food as well. He even offers you to ‘rest a bit’ in his room and chuckles when you bashfully reject him.

🌊 Everyone is rival to him, but his ‘true’ enemy will always be Lilia. Both of them can be smooth as hell and both of them are sneaky little shits. He always ushers you away whenever he meets the fae, and often tries to provoke him by cornering you against the wall and put his face a bit too close with yours. He’ll steal furtive glances to his side and smirk triumphantly when he catches Lilia squinting slightly. If you reject him, he’ll smile and wish you good luck. Please don’t be afraid to approach him if you have any problems… or if you break up with your boyfriend. He’ll accept you with open arms anytime!


Jamil Viper

🐍 Liking someone presents him with so many problems. One, he absolutely can’t afford to look away from Kalim in fear of him accidentally wreaking more havoc. Second, attracting your attention means exerting more energy. And third, he fears that Kalim will discover his crush and blurt it out to other people. Regardless, it doesn’t deter Jamil from trying. He’s another candidate who will seduce you through your stomach, cooking you so much food until you’re bloated. He’ll secretly and silently help you with anything, calmly dismissing your gratitude as if it’s nothing despite his throbbing heart.

🐍 He always wishes for Kalim to be more responsible, and his silent prayer only intensifies once he catches feelings for you. His packed schedule barely allows him much time to spend with you, and he secretly fears that someone might steal you without his knowledge. He also feels jealous of Trey who can meet you anytime he wishes. He feels a bit hurt if you reject him but ultimately accepts your choice because he knows that he can never quite change his lifestyle if you date him. Not that you’d know about his feelings from his stoic face.


Rook Hunt

🏹 Suddenly, you feel eyes nearly everywhere you go. It’s more persistent and penetrating than the passing glances other students give you. Rook’s approach may appear stalker-ish and, well, he does act like it with his constant questions. But he means well, he promises! He’ll kiss your hand and compliment your beauty, green irises peeking seductively through long eyelashes. He also likes to call you with French pet names that you don’t really understand but still make you feel flustered anyway, and sometimes try to fix your makeup just so he can have an excuse to touch your face. Expect to be stared at a lot.

🏹 Although he presents you with a suave French-speaking gentleman side, Rook secretly enjoys irritating Ruggie. He knows that the hyena occasionally watches from the distance and will silently scoot closer to you. He gets fussier with his praises if that’s even possible. Rook won’t be very hurt if you reject him, mainly because he can quickly move on once something beautiful catches his eyes and because he respects your decision. Though, that’s not to say that he won’t try to ‘observe’ your boyfriend and shoot him many upsetting ‘questions’. He just wants to know what kind of a man is he, and what qualities that attracted you to him!


Lilia Vanrouge

🦇 Lilia is an ancient man and his approach feels more like a courting than anything. He’ll kiss your hand, invite you to a tea party in Diasomnia dorm, and call you some old-fashioned pet names. Regardless, Lilia can be shameless with his advance, having lived long enough for him to release his dignity once in a while. He’ll boldly kiss you upside down in the middle of the hallway, sometimes even in front of your friends, and wink at you before he disappears. Every time you confront him about it, he always smirks and coquettishly offers you another kiss if you so desire. No need to be shy~!

🦇 It’s been a long time since he feels jealous, but he does love a good challenge… and he knows that the Leech boy is trying to provoke him. It’s almost laughable, honestly, but that doesn’t mean he’s gonna back down. Oh, no. He’s got too much pride to surrender so easily, and to a youngster nonetheless! He’ll kiss you deeply in front of Jade and smirks against your lips when he sees the leech’s smile turns stiff and his aura darkening. Lilia, being an old man with so many experiences, readily respects your decision to pick someone else. And because he’s such a kind fae, he’ll approach your boyfriend and tell him to treat you nicely. Otherwise, Lilia gives the poor boy a closed-eye smile whilst squeezing his shoulder, he’ll show him a little peek of what hell looks like.

Chapter Text

Riddle Rosehearts

🌹 Commander mode intensifies. Riddle keeps barking orders left and right, trying to ensure that the tea party runs as flawlessly as possible. It almost feels as if he’s reverted to his pre-overblotted state, but that’s only because he’s nervous. This is the first time he likes someone, so he can’t help but be a perfectionist about the whole situation. Trey has to reassure him that you’ll still appreciate his efforts even if it’s not perfect, and tells him to rest if he doesn’t want to faint during the party. And despite the stern face, he shows to his dorm members, you can bet that he’s gonna blush hard and stutter nonstop in front of you. It’s very endearing and totally tease-worthy. You’ll have a field day watching him trying to suppress his anger while Ace snickers behind him.

🌹 It never fails to annoy him every time he catches Jade or Floyd accompanies you when Azul isn’t able to. He doesn’t trust any of them, and sometimes wonders how and why you can talk to them so freely despite their enigmatic smiles. Don’t you know how shady the twins are? Riddle quickly grabs your wrist and drags you away from them despite your protests and Floyd’s whining. He scolds you from being too friendly with them, and although people might think he’s jealous, he’s more concerned about your safety instead. What if you get hurt without his knowledge? He doesn’t think he can forgive them and Azul later.

🌹 It’ll disappoint him greatly if you reject him, and will avoid you for a few days before he can properly talk to you again. Please don’t feel guilty. He just… wants some time alone to sort out these new, crushing feelings.


Leona Kingscholar

🦁 Leona isn’t really keen on exerting too much effort, but once he tries, then he’s gonna act like a gentleman. He buys and carries your stuff, throws a jacket around your shoulders if you’re cold, and listens to your problems patiently, even if he doesn’t always understand what the problem is. He doesn’t really care how much money he has to spend for you, but of course, his favorite date will always be cuddling and napping together. He feels closer to you that way, and because he can secretly mark you. Just because he respects women, doesn’t mean his shrewdness disappears. It’s just more subtle than usual.

🦁 Leona has been jealous of everything all his life, and although he’ll tone down his attitude due to his respect for women, it still leaks sometimes. He often growls or glowers at anyone who speaks or looks at you for too long, unconsciously acting like a possessive lion trying to protect his mate. And don’t get me started with Malleus… Both of them will throw insults like two kindergarten kids, and might even last until the whole day if you don’t drag Leona away. You’re the only reason why he bothers to wake up, you know? It might not sound very important, but your existence relieves some of Ruggie’s burdens.

🦁 If you choose someone else, he’ll feel disappointed but not surprised. He respects your decision, and he’s not delusional enough to consider himself as easy to handle. Don’t be afraid to come to him if you have any problems.


Azul Ashengrotto

🐙 Another gentleman, minus the whole contract part. He’ll invite you to eat together in Monstro Lounge (he can’t eat too much, though, so he mainly spends the rest of the ‘date’ admiring your happy face), kiss your knuckle, pulls the chair for you, etc. Any further than that, and he’ll go into a bashful merman. Despite his suave demeanor, Azul has never dated someone, let alone flirting. So he tries to charm you with the ‘tried-and-true’ method. You’re also gonna have a free bodyguard in the form of either Jade or Floyd to protect you from the nuisance, which includes other leaders. Though, it won’t really deter them from trying, anyway.

🐙 It’s easy to make him jealous due to his insecurities. Why do you look so happy with Riddle? What does he have that he doesn’t? Azul then proceeds to drop roundabout questions regarding your preferred type, and endeavors to change himself into that. It’s unhealthy, but it’s the only way he knows how if the whole suave persona doesn’t work for you. If you favor tea parties, then he’ll try to create one for you. Anything to gain your approval and attention.

🐙 He’ll be stunned when he hears your rejection before he recomposes and calmly pushes his glasses. Well, if that’s what you want, then he’ll respect it. You can bet that he’ll hide in his octo pot and bawl his eyes out later.


Kalim Al-Asim

☀ Kalim is already friendly, so his affection increases tenfold once he has a crush on you. He always has a hand around your shoulders, his face seems to grow brighter every time he sees you, and he invites you more often. Dances, feasts, playing with the exotic animals, you name it. He’s also very generous, almost worryingly so. Anything you want or need, regardless of how ridiculous it is, he’ll immediately buy it without a second thought. Don’t be shy to ask more, okay? He wants you to know that you can rely on him anytime you wish.

☀ Sunshine boi doesn’t really get jealous, even if someone ‘borrows’ you from him right before his eyes. Instead, he’s become even more determined to steal your heart. They’re all working hard to attract you, so he has to do the same, right? Like Trey, he doesn’t really consider other leaders as his ‘enemies’.

☀ Kalim will be heartbroken if you reject him, but he quickly moves on. Just because you pick someone else, doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with him, right? Other people might think you choose him instead due to how close you two with each other.


Vil Schoenheit

💜 His idea of seduction is an examination of your appearance. It might seem overbearing, especially when he starts to fuss over those unruly strands on your head, but he means well. You’re the only magic-less student here, therefore, you need to maintain your reputation so others won’t degrade you anymore. And as far as he’s concerned, only a handful of people can get special attention from him, regardless of how suffocating it feels. You should be grateful, honestly. Nevertheless, he’s always willing to fix your looks, albeit with an aloof look and haughty remark first. He can’t just show you that he likes you, can he? He’ll drop hints like no other, and it gets worse if you’re the oblivious type.

💜 Vil understands that you have other friends than him – if you even consider him as a friend at all – but he still feels irritated, anyway. He considers the trio as a ‘bad influence’ for you, and might even try to prolong your stay with him. Where do you think you’re going? He still hasn’t finished with your hair yet, you know? Oh, your skin is dry! Come here, let him rub his favorite body lotion on you. Consider this a ‘gift’ for being such a good girl.

💜 Like Azul, he’ll pretend to be calm if you reject him. However, you can still sense the lingering tension around him and a slightly bitter tone on your next encounter.


Idia Shroud

💙 At least you can still talk to Azul normally, despite his nervous coughs sometimes, while Idia will have an instant shutdown. There’s no… there’s no way he can win. He’s just a nobody, a blank-faced NPC among the SSR characters that surround you daily. He doesn’t have any remarkable ability or awesome skills. His mind immediately spirals down as he lists off all the reasons why you won’t choose him to Ortho; from his personality down to his hair. Whereas other boys will usually approach you first, it’s the reverse to him. You have to be very gentle, very patient in dealing with him because it doesn’t take much for him to scurry back into his room. You can’t help but feel like the bad guy for some reason.

💙 Idia doesn’t want to admit it, but he does get jealous of Kalim sometimes. He’s so cheerful and active… it won’t be a surprise if you choose him later. After all, who wants a gloomy person like Idia, anyway? He really wants to talk to you like those normies, but his crippling anxiety always hinders him.

💙 Thus, he decides to resign himself to fate without ever trying. It doesn’t matter how many times Ortho scolds or begs him, Idia thinks that you don’t need him. And even if you pick him somehow, he’s certain that you only do that because you pity him.


Malleus Draconia

🐉 Malleus has very limited contact with humans outside his retainers, so he doesn’t really know how to attract a girl without scaring her in the process. Regardless, Malleus will try to approach you and talk about anything, preferably the deeper stuff. He wants to pick your brain and learns something from your experiences, maybe even discovers a matching view for something. Then, once you two are close enough with each other, he’ll give you something bizarre yet valuable, like magical gems from some secluded caves and such. You can never go wrong with gifts, right? After that, he may show you some magic tricks. Just the lighthearted stuff, such as growing flowers in the middle of the forest or temporary levitation on your bewitched person. Nothing too horrifying, unless you request it. He wants you to know that he’s not as scary as people tend to describe him, and he hopes you’ll stay with him forever.

🐉 Although he likes to see your expression whenever you talk about whatever your friends have done during the day, he actually feels a teensy-weensy annoyed… alright, a lot. For one, he never has anyone who can and wants to joke with him, let alone constantly dragging him into trouble. Except, maybe Lilia. And two, he doesn’t really like to see you look so bemused when you chat about them. It’s confusing; on one hand, he adores your liveliness and yet, he secretly resents it too. Especially when you start to mention Leona’s name… His face will turn sour, his aura will grow heavy, and the surrounding will darken. He’s not averse to glower at you if you keep rambling about the beast-man, yet still quiet nonetheless.

🐉 His exasperation only increases once he learns about your rejection. Oh, so that’s what you want, huh? Like Vil, he’ll be petty towards the whole situation and proceed to cause another thunder. Lilia is torn between amused or irritated once he reveals everything. Well, at least he learned something, right? Even if he sulks later.