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The Making of a Bride

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“Yes… I think it is dONE. Perhaps I should test it on my little kitTEN?”

It took almost a month of mixing and testing, but, after countless accidents that barely avoided killing Tsumugi, Natsume’s potion was complete. He had enough for maybe a dose or two, and it’d take at least a week to prepare another batch, so he had to be careful about who tested it.

Not to mention, its effect should be extremely powerful. Giving it to someone with vile intentions could be disastrous. No, it’d be best to use it on someone unwittingly lest any buried evil rise. He needed someone pure of heart just to be safe, someone who it wouldn’t hurt to have their greatest wish come true. Such was the power of this spell, after all.

Therefore, Anzu seemed like the obvious first choice. Sora could work, too. He had a fairly vivid imagination, though, and his body was unique enough to potentially work against the potion’s magic. Plus, if his wish was something like “Have all of Switch get along, HuHu!”, then Natsume would have no choice but to bond with Tsumugi. He wasn’t sure Sora was worth the risk.

Now… where was his first choice hiding?

He prepared to head out and find her, grabbing a vial of the potion and a bottle of tea to mix it in later. He’d start at the classrooms, then he’d move to the practice rooms, and if she didn’t show up after that, he would ask around. His watch claimed it was ten to noon, so he might be able to catch her in the cafeteria, too.

Natsume left, a skip in his step at the thought of Anzu’s face when her dreams came true. However, about ten steps out the gaming club room, he stumbled and barely avoided dropping the vial or falling onto his face. “Wha… a dead bODY?” He nudged at the form with his foot, the body fully unresponsive. Passing out in the middle of the hall was dangerous, both for this kid and people walking by like Natsume.

He crouched down, turning the body over before making sure there was a pulse or breath. “Ah, is this Shu nii-san’s pET?” It certainly looked like it, and he heard before that this boy tended to pass out a lot. “Well, at least he is breathING.”

Natsume didn’t think he was strong enough to carry the boy, even with how thin he was, so getting him to the infirmary would be difficult alone. He could go get someone, or he could wait for Mika to wake up on his own. Neither sounded very fun. He poked at the boy’s cheeks, gaunt with malnourishment. He seemed dehydrated, too.

“Shu nii-san would probably be upset if I didn’t do anythING… I suppose I have the tea he could drINK.” Begrudgingly, Natsume reached for the bottle and unscrewed it, thinking up the best way to give a drink to an unconscious person. He started by propping Mika up against a nearby wall, carefully arranging him so he wouldn’t fall. Natsume couldn’t help but think he was as easy to move as a doll, a thought that was probably Shu’s influence.

He set the potion aside and poked at Mika’s lips until they parted enough for the bottle. Natsume hoped he wouldn’t choke from this or anything. It’d be a real hassle to hide a body if he wound up dead. Raising it to his mouth, Natsume tilted the bottle back and breathed a sigh of relief when the boy swallowed without issue.

He brought it back down once it was finished, reaching for the cap to-

Huh?

Natsume looked down to his side, noting the full, open bottle of tea at his side. He looked at Mika, lips still slightly parted and moist from the drink Natsume just gave him. Finally, he looked to his hand, noting the open, empty vial that left a solid beep playing in his mind instead of coherent thought.

Empty… vial.

“Shit.”

He was a lot closer to Shu than his pet, but this boy wasn’t bad to his knowledge. Natsume hoped either his potion was a fluke or no horrible wish would be granted as a result of this. Something like riches or success or power wouldn’t be ideal, but at least he was confident Mika wasn’t a malicious person. He’d been glared at a few times by the boy when he was near Shu, but he never seemed genuinely mean. This could be worse.

Natsume had popped the stopper back on his vial and the lid back on his tea when Mika finally shifted, his eyes fluttering open moments later.

“Nnah? Ah, you’re… Nakkun, ain’t ya? Did I pass out again?” He looked a little flustered, but he didn’t seem particularly surprised or worried. Though… the potion was meant to be instantaneous, and Natsume was starting to wonder how nothing happened yet. Surely he had some wish?

“YeS, I was just watching over yOU. Do you need any help getting UP?”

“Nah, that’s fine. I gotta find Oshi-san ‘fore he gets mad. He asked me ta help him carry some fabrics to our clubroom.” Mika pulled himself up, his legs shaking for a moment before he balanced out. Natsume was tempted to offer his assistance again, but he instead opted for falling back and stalking Mika to his destination.

It’d be much easier to notice the wishes of those that believe themselves to be alone, after all. First, though, he had to plant the idea. “Before you GO, I am curious about somethING.”

“Hwah? What’s up?” Mika asked, pausing from his shaky trek down the hall and turning back to Natsume.

“What… is your dreAM?”

“My… dream?” He tilted his head to the side, pondering.

“Well, if ya mean what I want, I guess that’d be seein’ Oshi-san’s artwork become as recognized as it deserves. Imma keep workin’ hard to see that happen, too!” He pumped his fists, a smile lighting up his face.

“I sEE… Thank yOU.” Mika gave one last smile before continuing down the hall, Natsume still a few paces behind. The boy’s dedication to Shu seemed unflinching, which, while admirable, could mean bad things for whatever his truest wish was. If he wanted to turn Shu into some sort of god, for instance…

Humans seldom know their heart’s greatest desire. Since Mika took the potion while unconscious, he shouldn’t have had anything on his mind but his truest thoughts. As such, his real wish should’ve been granted. Natsume had to take responsibility if anything went wrong.

After a few minutes of walking, Mika was close to class 3-A when he pulled out his phone, read over a text Natsume couldn’t make out, then abruptly turned and headed to what Natsume was fairly sure was the handicrafts clubroom. Did something come up…?

He trailed behind after some distance was created between them, careful to keep from being detected as they eventually arrived at the room. Mika stepped in, leaving the door cracked much to Natsume’s relief. He watched as Mika walked up to Shu, who was sewing passionately in a far corner of the room.

“Ya… wanted to see me, Oshi-san?”

“Yes. Take off your jacket and your shirt if you can. I need to take new measurements for you.”

“Huh? But, you’ve been controllin’ my diet. Nothing should be too different from last time.”

“This next piece has to be tailored exactly. Even one centimeter off could ruin everything. Now, take them off.”

Mika complied without fuss, taking off his many layers of clothes despite the chill in their clubroom. Shu stood up, tape measure in hand, and got to work without a word as he marked down measurements. Natsume felt like a bit of a voyeur watching them, the measuring coming across as far too intimate.

As Shu reached the tape around Mika’s waist, mouthing some complaint about how thin the boy was, one of them broke the silence. “So, what are ya makin’? We don’t got any big performances soon, do we?”

“No. This isn’t a stage costume. I’d rather keep it a secret until it’s done, if it’s all the same to you. Lift your arms a bit more.”

“No need to ask. Just tell me what ya wanna, Oshi-san.” Shu hummed in response, leaning down to measure Mika’s hips. Rather than take off any more clothes for a more accurate measure, he tugged the pants down a few centimeters until they weren’t in the way. The whole scene looked scandalous from an outside perspective, and Natsume glanced up to see a blush covering Mika’s face. Maybe not just an outside perspective, then.

Shu finished the measuring without fanfare, pulling away and getting back to sewing as soon as he had started. Natsume tried to get a peek at what his friend was making, but it was hard just looking in from the door. Mika stood in the middle of the room, still barely dressed but unaffected by the cold. After a bit more sewing, Shu snapped his head up to glare at his unit mate.

“Do you need me to dress you, as well, Kagehira? Useless…”

“Ah! No, ‘m fine. Sorry. It’s just…” Mika trailed off, looking away with an even stronger blush than before. Shu continued to glare, his patience visibly dwindling the longer the boy took to explain himself.

“Just what? Out with it already!”

“Well… uh… I know ya said you didn’t wanna tell, but… Is that a dress?”

Oh? That would be interesting. Natsume leaned in as close as he could to try and look. The most he could tell was that Shu had quite a bit of white fabric piled up. It looked like lace, from what Natsume could see, but that crafty stuff was more Tsumugi’s thing.

“Would it be a problem if it was?”

Mika squeaked at that, replying almost right after, “No! I just… didn’t expect it, is all. It’s been a while since ya put me in a dress, ya know?”

“I've put you in one before, then?” Shu glanced between his lace and Mika, confusion plain on his face.

“When we were kids. I told ya about it before, but I guess ya still don't remember, huh?” He sighed, a tight smile on his face, before continuing. “That's fine, though! I'm real happy you're doin’ this, actually. I wanna be as pretty as I can for ya.”

Shu blushed before continuing to sew, barking at Mika to be quiet as a way to hide his embarrassment. Natsume smiled at the scene before pulling away, content with the thought that this was probably Mika’s true wish. It was adorably simple, if not a bit odd for a high school boy, but he considered this a positive outcome.

After that, he hardly even thought of the incident if not to lament his potion disappearing. He never bothered to remake it, instead focusing on a live Switch had planned in the coming weeks. All was well until Tsumugi ran into the gaming club room exactly one week later, his face red and chest heaving as he struggled to calm down.

“What is IT, you wORM?” Natsume asked, hoping the visitor would've been Sora but being met with disappointment. He put down his controller after pausing the generic dungeon crawler their club was playing, waiting for Tsumugi to breathe normally again.

“I went… I went to the handicrafts club today. And Shu… Shu-kun…”

“What about hIM? Did he collapse agAIN?”

“No. He has a… maybe it's best if you see, actually. He might even listen to you if you say something about it. Not that I don't want him to be happy, but youths shouldn't rush into this kind of thing…”

Hm? Tsumugi was starting to get lost in thought, muttering something about wasted youths and young love. Natsume stood up and started walking to the handicrafts club, his curiosity piqued enough to humor his unit mate. After a moment, Tsumugi noticed his absence and jogged after him until they were walking side by side.

“Ow! Why'd you elbow me?”

“Don't walk so clOSE.” Tsumugi trailed back a bit, still rubbing his abdomen, but once the club was in sight, he went ahead and made it to the door first, knocking until a tired voice called out for him to either go away or come in already.

Tsumugi glanced at Natsume before entering, holding open the door for the other boy to follow. When he stepped in, he immediately realized what caught Tsumugi’s attention.

Hunched over the sewing table was Shu, looking as overworked as usual, if not moreso. Mademoiselle sat on top of the sewing machine, dressed in her typical version of the school uniform and looking as pretty as ever. And on the table was… a dress. The same one Shu had been working on last week, now complete.

It didn't take long for the pieces to click for Natsume after that thought. So, this was his fault, then? Maybe Mika was a bigger problem than he realized. “Boy, did Aoba drag you here? Honestly, why is he so worked up over a simple wedding dress?”

“You're in high school, Shu-kun. If your family is arranging a marriage for you or something, you should let us know. That's not right, after all, is it? Well, it can be necessary sometimes and even helpful, but if it's something you don't want, then-”

“IdiOT, that isn't what's going ON. This is… my faULT,” Natsume admitted, throwing a quick punch at Tsumugi’s shoulder to shut him up. Shu glared at him before standing up and walking to both of them.

He quickly decided to focus on Natsume, ignoring the other boy entirely as he responded, “And just what makes you think this is your fault, boy?”

“This is for your little dOLL, isn't IT?”

Tsumugi let out a noise of surprise at that, his eyes wide when Shu nodded in agreement. Natsume grimaced before continuing. “Last wEEK, I gave him a potiON. It wasn't intended for hIM, but it was meant to make something like this happEN.”

“A love potion?” Tsumugi guessed. Shu glared at him before turning back to Natsume, his face pale.

“You gave Kagehira a potion… that made me sew him a wedding dress? What could possibly make that happen?”

Natsume debated whether to tell them or not, knowing something like this could be a major violation of privacy. He didn't expect such a telling wish, even more so than his initial guess at what it was. The two were waiting on him, though, and he'd hate to lie to Shu.

“It was-”

Before he could finish, the door slammed open, a flustered Mika racing into the room. “Ah! Sorry ‘m late, Oshi-san! Our class got held up for a bit ‘cause someone lost their notebook, and-” He paused in his explanation, taking in the scene for a moment. “Nnah? Tsumu-chan-senpai? Nakkun? What are y'all doin’ here?”

“I would also like to know that,” Shu answered, his patience visibly thinning. He had moved in front of the sewing table, blocking the dress from sight as well as he could, but Mika didn't seem to notice it at all.

Natsume resigned himself to owning up to his mistake, realizing there was no way they were all getting out of this without embarrassment. Sorry, little doll. “Mika-kuN, do you remember what I asked you last wEEK?”

“Uh… when I passed out? Somethin’ about my future or my dream, was it?”

“YeS, I asked what your dreAM, your truest wish wAS. I… am afraid I may have violated your trust and privaCY.” He turned away, genuinely embarrassed for once. Mika didn’t seem to get it, but something clicked for Shu.

“You made a potion to grant someone's greatest wish, then? And Kagehira drank that potion?”

“Huh? Did I drink somethin’ like that?”

Everyone turned to Natsume, Shu concerned, Mika confused, and Tsumugi conflicted. He grimaced before answering. “While you were unconsciOUS. I accidentally gave it to you instead of the tea I HAD. And, if my hunch is corrECT, Shu nii-san has been working to grant IT.”

“Uh, fer real? Isn't he always, though? After all, my wish is for his art to be loved.” Mika looked at Shu, a blush covering the older boy’s face. Then, he seemed to notice the dress covering the table, much too big for Shu’s body blocking to be effective.

“Oh, the dress… was that it, then? I don't think I’d call wearin’ a dress my big wish, but I guess I was pretty happy ‘bout that,” Mika commented, turning thoughtful. After a second, he frowned, turning back to Shu. “Does that mean ya didn't really wanna put me in one again, Oshi-san?”

“Uh, Mika-kun, I don't think that's all that's going on here,” Tsumugi spoke up, placing a hand on the boy’s shoulder. Shu's blush only intensified, ignoring the question and instead choosing to glare at Tsumugi more.

Natsume was preparing to bite the bullet when Mika looked at the dress again, letting out a quiet gasp. “Oh… is that…. a wedding dress?”

The other three fell into silence, unsure what a good way to respond would be. Natsume felt guilt gnawing at his stomach as the situation grew, knowing he might've irreversibly hurt both Shu and Mika with this incident.

“I see… Sorry, then, Oshi-san. It's… it's real pretty, though. Sorry I made ya make it, that fabric looks expensive.” Mika’s face was blank as he spoke, staring the dress down with alarming intensity. “So, do ya think I could get my stuff first or should I just leave?”

Huh? The stillness in the room was broken as the 3 of them shot their heads up, staring at Mika. “Leave?” Shu asked, his voice barely a whisper.

“Well, yeah. Sorry ya had to find out like this, and that ya had to go through all this trouble. I know ya won't want me around no more, but… it was nice while it lasted. Though, could I try it on first, at least?” Mika was starting to cry, a slow and silent trickle, as the others looked on in shock.

“Kagehira… do you think I'd throw you away over this of all things? Do you truly believe I am so cruel as to toss out one of my most beloved dolls over an unconscious wish such as this?”

“Huh? Maybe ya don't understand, Oshi-san. I wanna marry you. I… I really, really love you. It's not that pure or perfect like I know ya like. It… It ain’t what a doll should feel.”

Shu stumbled around for a response, distress coming through at the sudden demand for honesty, vulnerability, that Mika clearly needed. Natsume debated stepping in and pointing out the obvious, that Mika was human, that Shu already loved him, but this wasn't something he should interfere with.

“Kagehira, you… You don't have to…. I…” Poor Shu was starting to sweat with the exertion of getting his feelings out in the open, Natsume having his earlier guilt of forcing them into this return. Well, he could at least show some mercy.

Wordlessly, he grabbed Tsumugi’s shirt and dragged him from the clubroom, Shu and Mika too caught up in each other to notice their departure. Once Shu noticed they were alone, he might be able to get a single honest thought out. Natsume hoped so, at least.

Even if this was a terrible accident, he had to admit he wanted to do something about Valkyrie’s relationship for a while. Of course, direct interference would be akin to treason, but he and the other Oddballs (minus Shu, naturally) had discussed before about how much something had to change there. And this might just do it.

Tsumugi's caterpillar brain seemed to understand why they left, at least, docile as he followed Natsume back to the gaming clubroom. Natsume returned to his dungeon crawler, happy to see it left untouched, promptly ignoring Tsumugi’s existence and occasional conversation attempts as he spent the rest of the afternoon gaming.

-

While Natsume never learned what went down after his departure that afternoon, it didn't take a genius to figure out something did. Even the students with no connection to Valkyrie took note of the shift in their dynamic. The way they started walking hand in hand to school, how Shu smiled at Mika any time he thought no one was looking, the lack of insults passerbys could hear pouring out of the handicrafts club. Suddenly, they had become softer.

Natsume was fairly certain they didn't get married after that, but the longer he thought about it, the less the wish made sense. A wedding dress was already an odd wish for Mika, even if from Shu, but to only want the dress and not the marriage that comes with it? Well, they were too young to get married, anyway, so maybe the wish wouldn't be filled for a while, this the temporary workaround his magic came up with.

That'd make sense, but… Maybe, that never was the wish. Just an odd coincidence born of Shu’s whims. Natsume’s magic was a mystery even to him most of the time, so it was hard to say, but he had a hunch.

The true wish of that boy, of Shu’s most beloved doll, never needed magic to be granted. Watching him, hand in hand with Shu and a smile stretched so wide it had to hurt, Natsume thought his magic couldn't have done something so powerful. Maybe it was the catalyst to get it in the open, but he didn't make Shu love him.

Natsume had to wonder if the rest of the wish would be granted, how soon after graduation he'd get his wedding invitation, if that was even in the wish. Not that it mattered with how happy Shu finally seemed. He'd wish them well in this new dynamic, knowing it was what they both deserved.

-Happy ending-