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Under Your Influence

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The first thing Lisa noticed was the blinding beams of sunlight exacerbating the throbbing in her head. The second was the Acting Grand Master standing up, looming over her with her arms crossed.

 

“Lisa, you need to stop drinking so much,” Lisa couldn’t help but groan as she got up, the reverberation of her own pulse pounding her eardrums, “You’re starting to scare Diona.” Jean appended that remark while recalling Diona’s expression of distress when she arrived to drag Lisa home, her brows lowered and the corners of her mouth dipped. Upon reflection, her look seemed more of disappointment rather than fear, but she deemed that unnecessary to mention.

 

“Jean!” Despite her apparent, intense headache, Lisa’s voice still dripped of sweetness. Feeling touched, Jean almost loosened her arms at her sudden burst of relief. Nonetheless, she tightened her grip and remained determined to scold her severely for her reckless behaviour.

 

A few beats passed, but she couldn’t bring herself to. It would be a little cruel to strike her the one time she displayed vulnerability. Her view right now, Lisa clutching her forehead as if to try to keep it in place, was pitiful even. Besides, she had more questions than rebukes, such as What problem were you facing that you drank so much? or Why did you think you could solve it with a drink instead of coming to me?

 

Lisa spoke up before she could. “Did I say anything weird last night?” The rapid change of her mood from delight to worry confused and concerned Jean greatly, mostly the latter, but she decided that she should answer the poor hungover librarian regardless.

 

“Well…” she began, as she tried to recollect last night’s events.

 

She remembered that she accidentally missed their daily breakfast trip yesterday due to pressing work matters, and that it was already dark, past the library’s closing time, when she became aware of it, then started scouring Mondstadt for Lisa. She remembered the weight and warmth of her body as she escorted her out of The Cat’s Tail, and that she had to grab her by the forearm to stop her from downing another glass of dandelion wine.

 

She wasn’t actually that drunk; she could walk and talk just fine, but she was already at that point of intoxication where she shouldn’t be allowed control of herself whether or not she still retained it, because she would keep drinking and drinking and drinking. This phenomenon was extremely common in Mondstadt, and Jean dealt with them frequently. Still, seeing Lisa among those faceless drunkards sent a twinge of pain somewhere in her chest. She remembered that vividly.

 

Lisa was too stubborn to lead them to her house. Luckily for Jean, she memorized her address and when they reached, Lisa had no other choice but to renounce victory and surrender the keys. As soon as Jean unlocked the door, Lisa strode straight to her bedroom, tossed her gloves and witch hat onto the nightstand and plopped right on the mattress. The Acting Grand Master followed after her, wondering how Lisa could permit herself to rest immediately. Her mother always instructed her to bathe and change her clothes before laying down. At that moment, Lisa looked like she was going to doze off in her work clothes.

 

“Lisa, aren’t you going to change?” She inquired.

 

The woman in question craned upwards, almost jolting, “Oh, Jean, you’re still here?”

 

Perhaps she was that drunk after all. “I don’t think we’re in a position where I can leave you alone,” Jean responded, “like this.” Though her words lacked it, admonishment was clear in her tone.

 

Either her reproach flew over Lisa’s head, which was unlikely because an intelligent librarian was still an intelligent librarian even when drunk, or Lisa dismissed it altogether. “My my, you can drop the formal talk in my bedroom, you know.”

 

She ignored her lilted teasing, like she did as usual. She was loath to admit that she was one of the many who were affected by her playful comments. ‘Affected’ was the only word in Jean’s vocabulary for it.

 

There was silence for some time. Jean figured Lisa refrained from conversing in an attempt to fall asleep, despite her arrhythmic tapping on the wooden headboard. Tap, tap tap, tap. Gradually becoming bored, she removed her gloves, carefully placed them next to Lisa’s, and wandered to the window. It was a regular, tiny Mondstadtian window, but the glow of the moon shone a bright powder blue.

 

Whilst admiring the scenery, Jean detected some footsteps behind her. How odd, Lisa must have given up on falling asleep. She joined her in her impromptu stargazing session and together, they gazed upon the vast Teyvat sky. Jean remembered this vividly, too; she remembered the refreshing scent of the night-time breeze mixing with Lisa’s floral fragrance, the sound of calm breathing next to her and Lisa’s elegant side profile in her peripheral vision.

 

She also remembered how their fingers met when they unconsciously shifted their hands towards each other on the windowsill. She jerked away immediately, unused to Lisa’s touch and its pleasant sensation. Lisa hesitated after observing her reaction, but edged closer. “Master Jean,” there was that lilt again, “Did I ever tell you how much I adore you?”

 

The teasing was familiar, the playfulness was familiar, but her voice was at an unfamiliar, low pitch. It wasn’t entirely unfamiliar, Jean recognized it from a few times before, such as when they were alone sipping tea or when Lisa accompanied her during her overtime. Jean didn’t remember hearing it in the last month though. That voice twisted her somehow, she felt like she was getting inebriated herself. Were the effects of alcohol contagious? Whatever it is, the Acting Grand Master must stay composed at all times, so she averted her eyes and pretended to resume her stargazing, “Lisa, you’re drunk.”

 

It was a simple, direct, offhand statement, but Lisa winced. Jean didn’t understand why, maybe the wine was piercing her liver. “My dear Dandelion Knight, you’ve been distracting me for quite a while now,” she continued, with less mischief and more sincerity.

 

Jean glanced at her instantly, eyes somewhat widened with unfeigned disquiet, “Is that true? Then I’ll leave so you can sleep in peace. Lock the door after I leave.” Frankly, she was a bit upset she couldn’t relish Lisa’s presence for longer. After all, she initially intended to apologize for missing their appointment, and she hadn’t even done that yet. However, her colleague’s health was top priority. If she wanted to enjoy her company, she could always rendezvous with her later. If she didn’t have work. Or maybe she couldn’t.

 

Strangely, when she turned back to bid her a good evening, Lisa’s orbs were flooded with dejection and her typical smile was nowhere to be found. A pang of ache hit Jean. She must be sad too, Jean thought, but it was time to rest. Before she could step out of the bedroom door and wave farewell, Lisa caught her hand with a poignant, gentle grasp. Jean was too impassioned to let go this time. “Kiss me goodnight?” It was a request.

 

She even marginally puckered her lips.

 

Oh.

 

She was definitely drunk out of her mind. Lisa was no cowardly librarian, but Jean knew she would never ask her this if she was sober. The ache worsened. The soft, sincere way she communicated her plea and held on to Jean’s palm like it was a lifeline tempted her to cave in, and savor her lips coated in the delicate moonlight.

 

The Witch of Purple Rose. Would she taste as electrifying as electricity or as velvety as the night? As that night in particular, with the moon and stars gleaming and embellishing the violet sky? Jean took a step closer, and Lisa promptly drew in a large breath. They were only two steps apart now. Jean inched closer again.

 

And instantaneously, she picked up a whiff of the odor of liquor, then backed away. She remembered that she was drunk and she was puzzled about how she forgot in the first place, scolding herself for tricking herself into believing that whatever Lisa was spouting right now was from a genuine place. How did she ever lose control of herself? It’s not like she couldn’t deny the request anyway. “No.”

 

She ceased her recollection and ended the memory there. There was no need to reflect further, not when those feelings rushed to attack her again hours after what happened. In a second, she was out of her trance, back in the present. It was morning. She was in Lisa’s room again, because she returned to Lisa’s house from her own house, as she kept her keys with her by mistake and locked Lisa in since she was too harrowed to go back inside. She was there as Lisa woke up.

 

It wasn’t night time anymore. A few early birds were already up and bustling around the streets, unlike the solitude of the night prior. She wasn’t at Lisa’s house because she had to attend to the tipsy librarian, aimlessly watch the stars twinkle with her or let the idea kissing her appear in her mind; she was merely there to fulfill one duty, that is to unlock her door and give back her keys.

 

The librarian was peering at her blank stare in bewilderment. “Jean?” Lisa called out, leading Jean to realize that she hasn’t answered her yet. So, did Lisa say anything weird last night?

 

“No.” Jean lied through her teeth. It’s too early in the morning to bother Lisa with last night’s troubles. But was it really something weird? It was an appeal done under the influence of alcohol at worst and a friendly entreaty at best. Jean wasn’t sure if it was a lie, but it was better to rebut her than relate every miniscule detail of last night to her. Easier. Safer.

 

Lisa sighed. “Oh, thank goodness.”

 

She didn’t remember. Meanwhile, Jean, who was overwhelmed with a myriad of acute emotions she couldn’t define, wished she didn’t remember too.