|A Question of Survival
Author: Sneezy PM
Negi/Nodoka. Nodoka POV. One remote possibility for a hookup. Although it seems that high time-compression training is a possibility. Most likely won't be continued.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Negi S. & Nodoka M. - Chapters: 2 - Words: 6,780 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 6 - Published: 03-16-09 - id: 4927404
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 2 – Business as Usual
I'm still in my pyjamas when Asuna comes to get us.
"We've got to talk. All of us, and especially people who used to have a contract with Negi."
"Give us a minute or two," Yue says quietly. "Unlike some people, we aren't usually up this early in the morning."
I pull on my bathrobe and head just down the corridor to the other room.
Negi has seen me in all states before, and now, well it doesn't really matter, does it? I do my best to feel resolute, but to tell the truth, I don't feel like I got enough sleep at all. I'm also not sure... Are pyjamas really ok?
I'm also still dealing with a lingering feeling that yesterday was a dream, and it hasn't really happened at all. I'll just end up being haunted by the memory of those few perfect minutes when Negi and I…
Eeeee… if it was a dream, my imagination is very strong. My feelings of being so close to Negi…
But Asuna just said 'people who used to have contracts with Negi'. So I guess the other provisional contracts have been broken.
And did I really throw Evangeline over my shoulder?
I felt so strong yesterday, for just a little while, but now it seems that I'm back to feeling like a normal sort of me. It seems that the normal sort of me worries that Evangeline might be a bit angry at having been tossed aside like a bag of laundry. Oh, and of course, having her mind read.
Maybe I can count on Negi to defend me?
I hold my book up in front of my face. I think I just turned red. What was I thinking?
Anyway, I shuffle along to their room, knock on the door quietly, and go in.
It looks like a council of war, in their room. At least Asuna looked like it was a council of war. Konoka and Setsuna seemed pretty calm. Happy even.
Yue, Haruna, and I sit down.
"Alright," says Asuna, "we're going to have to come up with some stories pretty quick, don't you think?"
"Could we pretend that Negi left, and got replaced by Nagi?" Haruna asks. "Although that might cause some problems with the other girls who like Nagi."
"I thought that I could disguise myself in my younger form, so it wouldn't be obvious at all that anything had happened," says Negi.
I think maybe I'm staring at him. He's sitting on the floor on the opposite side of the room.
I'm still not used to his older form yet. It's a bit hard to take.
Before, it was every once in a while that I looked at Negi-sensei and he looked mature and cool. The rest of the time he was, well, sort of cute.
Now he's cute and mature and cool, all at once.
He just smiled over at me. I'm sure I must be lit up like that reindeer with the glowing nose. He's blushing a bit too now.
I think that everyone in the room can probably hear my heart beating.
Asuna grabs his ear, and I manage to concentrate again.
Focus, Nodoka! This is important, right?
"And look, Negi-baka, no more pervy behaviour from you, alright?" Asuna raises her voice, shouting straight into his ear.
"Before, well it was one thing because you were a little boy. So that was embarrassing, but not too bad. Now you're our age, and interested in girls, and you're probably already having all sorts of thoughts you shouldn't be."
"Ahhh, Asuna, I'm not really that…" Negi stammered.
"Shut it! Now if we see you in the baths, or anywhere you shouldn't be, I'm not going to hold back! And if I hear that you've been taking advantage of the girls in the class who don't know you're older now…" she cracks her knuckles in a threatening way.
He bows his head a bit. "I'm sorry, this is quite troublesome for all of you," he says. "Believe me, if there had been any way we could think of that would have got us around the…"
"Asuna is such a spoil sport. I was looking forward to seeing everything that this new Negi…"
"Haruna! Don't encourage him!"
"Asuna, this is about me and what I want to see, it isn't about what he wants at all!"
I try to raise my voice and get people to quiet down, but as usual, I get drowned out by all the others.
Negi sighs, and holds his head in his hands. It looks like he didn't get much sleep, the poor boy. Maybe I could rub his back, and make him…
Oh no… I hope he didn't hear any of that thought at all. What was I thinking?
Well, I know exactly what I was thinking, that's the problem.
Bad Nodoka! Stop it! Stop it!
I think of the economics section in the library. Phew… ok… macro economics, micro economics, face back under control, no more blushing.
Me, crouched over Negi, massaging his bare back…
I'm distracted by Asuna.
"And you, Nodoka!"
"Ummm… ummm… yes?"
"We don't want you spending any time alone with Negi. Who knows what sort of things he could get you to do through that link? And he's so much stronger than you now…"
Asuna leans forward toward me and whispers "He might turn back into that Kiss-Terminator again, and you wouldn't be able to do a thing."
"But, Asuna, I do want to spend some time talking with Nodoka, you know," Negi says, "We have a lot to discuss." He still looks a bit downcast.
I try to stifle the jealous part of my mind that thinks back to the Kiss-Terminator incident and insists that I really should have been the one he kissed, not her. And I really, really make sure that I ignore the other part of my mind that's insisting that I actually wouldn't want to stop him.
I clear my throat, and take a deep breath.
"Please, I need time to talk with Negi-sensei," I say, quite loudly, cutting through the other discussions.
I can't stop myself from bowing my head and apologising right afterward.
But Negi-kun is right, we need time to talk. I want to spend time with him. Lots more time.
"Look, we can't just have you two doing that! If anyone at all finds out that you're in some sort of relationship, even if it is a freaky magical one that neither of you really wanted, then Negi will be fired for sure."
"Totally apart from the fact that it would reveal to everyone else that magic was real." Haruna added. "I don't think Negi wants to spend the next 30 years as an ermine."
"Really, I believe that Asuna is right," Konoka adds. "My grandfather would probably be forced to follow school regulations, even if there were some extenuating circumstances."
"But on the other hand, let's try to arrange something, right?" Konoka looks across at Negi, and then at me, with a gentle smile on her face.
"Look at them, they're going to be so cute together, aren't they?" she asks the room in general.
I'm already blushing at that when I meet his eyes. He blushing too, and that only makes me feel more… more… self-consciously happy.
"Well, could we meet somewhere public, and have people watching us?" Negi asks.
"But where could you legitimately be talking with her?"
"Can we videotape for wide distribution?"
"Sell the movie rights?"
A great deal of discussion followed. To tell the truth, I didn't really try to follow that much. I just knew that instead of having time when I could really talk with Negi-kun, we were going to have some sort of supervised visiting hours, and it was just going to make me feel uncomfortable.
And knowing that everyone was going to be listening didn't make me feel any better.
And then there was Yue, and others I guess. Asuna was dealing with things in her way, I guess, but that didn't mean that other people wanted to have to stand and watch us talk with each other. I had to think of that. Whatever hurt I might have because of the unexpected situation, other people had suffered something far worse. Negi had sacrificed years of his life to training, to save us. All of the others had to give up on Negi, and watch shy, hopeless, weak Honya become a life partner of someone important to them, just because I happened to have the right ability at the right time.
So I think that I have to do the very best that I can as his partner.
Anything less, and it would be like I was taking it for granted. That I didn't value what I had with Negi-sensei.
Suddenly, I'm struck with inspiration.
"Umm… umm… could we maybe talk somewhere in the library?" I ask. "It isn't likely that anyone else would be there, and if someone found us I could be getting tutored in something."
"That's true, and we can be there to watch as well, without it being obvious or strange," said Konoka with a grin.
"Hmmm… Yes, yes, that's true," Haruna nodded her head. "Also, as one of the Library Rangers, Nodoka will receive a power up from being around so many books."
Asuna cradled her head in her hands. I suspect that she wasn't entirely happy with that comment, because being included and expected to understand it made her seem like a bit of a RPG weirdo.
So it was settled. I was to meet with Negi-sensei to talk for a half hour after school today in the Library.
And then we went and got ready for school.
It was strange, to go through the day. The rest of the class acted just as before. There were normal daily activities happening like squabbling over Negi, and shouting out questions to him.
He was back to looking like he was 10 years old again. It looked right because that's the age I was used to him being but it felt wrong, because somehow I could tell that things weren't quite right with him.
As it grew closer to the end of the day, my heart started to pound, because I was going to get to talk to Negi. At the same time though, there was a tiny dark part of me that resented it. Half an hour wasn't enough. I wanted to be along with him for hours and hours. Days even. Weeks or maybe months. Nothing could be enough time to have with him.
And I didn't really want everyone listening in.
Of course now, sitting at a table deep in the library across from Negi, things were a bit harder.
We both had textbooks open in front of us. Konoka had prepared a little tray with some tea on it, which I was thankful for.
My throat felt parched.
I twiddled my fingers a bit.
"Umm… so, how long did you train for, Negi-sensei?"
"About 1000 days, I think. That was the total we were aiming for. It's a bit hard to tell exactly though, because we were moving back and forwards between time compression rooms inside other time compression rooms."
"Yes, I'd thought that it was by nesting the rooms that he was able to…"
"SHHHHH!" Asuna says. "We aren't supposed to be here, remember Yue?"
My head drops a little, I think.
Sure enough, there are about ten of the other girls sitting at tables around ours, listening in.
Negi clears his throat.
"It must have been a very difficult day for you, Nodoka-san," he says. "From being injured to becoming my partner…"
Asuna holds up a yellow flag with a whistle in her mouth.
"That's a warning, Negi! Explaining away what you mean by 'Partner' would be difficult to explain if someone overheard it, and it sounds a bit weird too," she says, glaring at him.
"But she is his partner now, you can't deny that," Setsuna says in an aside to Konoka.
"Set-chan, no mention about that! Ixnay on the Artnerpay! That's your first warning!"
"Well, should we think up some sort of code word to use then? Something like 'helping with homework' so that they can discuss it and not be given a penalty?" Konoka asked.
"That's a great idea, Konoka-sama," Setsuna gushes.
I wonder if they'll get Chamo to do a pactio for them now?
I looked across the table at Negi-sensei through my bangs. He was twitching every time Asuna blew the whistle.
"Ah, Nodoka-san, I'm sorry that you had to become… ummm… 'help with homework' on such short notice," he says to me, looking over and meeting my eyes.
His eyes are so nice.
"Ah… ah, sorry! Ummm… I'm sorry… that one of the other girls couldn't … umm… 'help with the homework' instead," I say.
I can't meet his eyes.
"Negi, if you think we went to all this trouble just so you can sit and talk about homework, you're totally mistaken!" Asuna shouts.
"Look, we're just using the code you wanted us to," he says back.
"What code?" she asks, scratching her head.
"You know, saying 'helping with homework' instead of 'partners'," clarifies Setsuna.
Asuna holds up the yellow flag, and then a red one.
"Setsuna, you'll have to leave the library. That's you second mention of 'partner'."
"No arguing with the referee!"
Negi suddenly shoots to his feet, knocking the chair over behind him.
He grabs my hand, I feel a surge of magic and vertigo, and…
We're standing on top of the school building.
He bows to me.
"I'm really sorry, Nodoka-san," he says. "But I wanted to talk, and…"
I reach out, and touch his arm.
"It's ok, Negi-sensei," I say. "It was difficult, wasn't it?"
"They'll come looking for us soon. Do you mind at all if we, ummm… take my broom and fly somewhere? I promise I won't be forward at all!"
'I trust you, Negi-sensei," I say, looking down. I expect I'm blushing. "Please, let's go."
So I end up sitting across his staff side-saddle, with him holding onto me, soaring up into the afternoon sky.
"Could you drop your illusion?" I ask, having to raise my voice a bit over the wind. "I'd… like to see what you look like now."
"Of course, Nodoka-san." He replies with a grin, and his outline shivers, and fades.
We fly onwards.
Hwa… my Negi, he's beautiful. He's not such a little boy now.
I'm maybe not so much a big sister type. I'm just a girl now, and he's a boy.
I think… I think maybe I can understand why they didn't want us to be on our own. My thoughts aren't so ladylike, maybe. And now maybe his thoughts aren't completely those of an English Gentleman.
I'm not sure I would mind that.
Bad, bad Nodoka!
"Are you cold, Nodoka-san?" he asks. "I'll put up a wind shield, and a heating charm."
I don't think I was trembling because of the cold. Because his arm is around me, holding me on the staff as we fly.
Soon after, Negi-sensei lands on the top of a high cliff, overlooking a forest.
"Hmmm…" he taps his lips, and then with a flourish, conjures up a picnic blanket for us to sit on.
I smile over at him.
He's so thoughtful.
Is that a bit of a blush I can see on his cheeks?
"So, ummm… Nodoka-san," he starts off. "I hope everything is ok… you didn't have much of a chance to even think about what happened yesterday. I'm sorry."
"I think things are ok, Negi-sensei," I reply. "And you didn't have much time to think either, did you?"
"Actually, because of our planning, and the time compression, I had a pretty good idea that I was going to have a full contract with you for about six months before I actually made the contract."
"I have to admit, I was pretty hesitant at first. I didn't want to force you into it, and I didn't think it was really fair to do it, for you or for the others."
"But?" I ask. What changed his mind then?
"Well, T-sensei told me to think back on things I remembered about you, to get a better idea of what your reaction would be to it."
He flushes a bit, sitting on the picnic blanket with me.
"I thought back to… well, when you confessed. And our date at the school festival."
I'm pretty sure I'm blushing. At least… those are things that I think of as well.
"But I also thought of some of the other times when we were just talking with each other, and other times when you supported me."
"But everything is a bit mixed up now. Instead of… well… dating, we've been thrown into the middle of… well… you know."
"But… Negi-sensei… you could… date with others… couldn't you?" It hurts me to ask him, but I do it anyway.
"I… I don't think I'd want that, Nodoka-san. I've read some books about the full partner bond, and I don't think it would be fair."
"O..Oh," I stammer. "Why?"
"Maybe it would be best for you to read the books too. Umm… some of it is sort of embarrassing, I would think."
I think I've just turned red, but I don't think I'd turn down a book to read or three. Maybe I'd want to hide them from the others though.
"A…also, Nodoka-san… although it wouldn't be possible right now… but I think…"
Negi clears his throat.
"I… I think that probably when I'm not longer your teacher, that maybe… probably… at that time I'll confess to Nodoka-san as well."
I think my heart has done a back flip.
I think my stomach has tied itself into a knot.
My head is swimming.
But I don't think I've ever been happier.
In my whole life.
And then he leans over to me, and I feel his lips barely brush against my cheek.
We sit on the picnic blanket, watching the sun set.
Not too deep inside me, there's a Nodoka who's running around waving her arms with her eyes shut. She's making a loud, loud squealing noise. Negi-kun has just kissed me.
It was him, kissing me.
On the cheek, but I understand that too. He's being a gentleman, and I love him even more for it.
I've just turned red again.
I sneak a peek over at him, reach over, and cover his hand with mine. He looks over, and we smile.
If people melted from contentment, I would be a puddle.
I think that, even when we go back…
Asuna will punch Negi.
Everyone will talk like I'm not there.
They'll probably claim that he forced himself on me.
They'll probably ask how it was.
And it'll be painful, and embarrassing, and I'll want to hide until it all goes away.
But I'll have this feeling inside me.
A big warm sun of contentment will be hidden in my chest, shining light everywhere inside me. No matter what happens, I'll always know that for Negi-kun, I am somehow special.
I had intended, once upon a time, to continue this. I think Nodoka is a great character. But after reading most of the manga that was available at that point in a crazed marathon (about the first 200 chapters) I sort of went off it. It's a bit 'harem with no end in sight', and I sort of prefered it when the focus was on a smaller number of characters for the main story arc.
Anyway, you could sort of say that I'm intending to look at some of the themes in this in 'Cunning Like a Fox' which is a Naru/Hina story. If I ever get around to writing more of that. Jeeze.