I guess I should mention this, since it is quite a long piece:
XXX = A small time skip, usually an event later in a day.
Dividers = used to separate my Notes at the beginning and end, as well as bigger time skips at least a day apart.
*Disclaimer: I do NOT own Love Live!
To most of the students of Otonokizaka High School, Toujou Nozomi was the ex-Vice President of the Student Council, a member of the school's idol group Muse, and above all a very kind and caring senior student. However, only the other eight members of Muse have ever witnessed and experienced a very different side of her.
Away from the eyes of the rest of the world, Nozomi was extremely playful, almost mischievously so. If she wasn't sneaking up behind an unsuspecting Muse to grope her, then she was simply, yet sometimes more effectively, teasing them. Sometimes they were for good reason, like shifting away from a bad mood or cheer everyone up, including the one she was teasing. But mostly, she was just playful and enjoyed getting reactions out of the other Muse. And while they would rather Nozomi at least stop the groping part, they understand and have accepted that it's just who Nozomi is, and secretly agreed it would actually be alarming if she stopped altogether. Even so, they still try and fail to control their reactions, much to Nozomi's fun.
So for Kousaka Honoka, the second-year leader of Muse, today was another odd day. It wasn't weird because of Nozomi, at least not directly, as she was as playful as usual. What was different was the reactions of one particular Muse. It wasn't obvious at first, and Honoka only happened to notice it by chance. But after a few days of observing, she noticed the change in behavior. It was a subtle change, but it was there, and it seems like the other Muse hadn't noticed it.
Honoka was very caring of her friends, and even more so her close friends which were the other eight Muse, so of course she had to do something about this. As discretely as possible, she asked the concerning Muse to meet her in a particular room afterschool. Muse had no club activities today, which made things easier to keep secret. She told her two closest friends, fellow second-years and Muse members Minami Kotori and Sonoda Umi, that she had things to take care of and couldn't walk home with them today. After bidding farewell to them, she headed straight for her destination. Slightly surprised, she found that she had arrived first, so she sat in one of the chairs to wait. After a minute the other Muse arrived, one Nishikino Maki that she had found in this very room earlier in the year.
"Maki-chan, thanks for coming," she greeted with a smile.
"I hurried over as soon as I could," the redhead returned as she closed the door behind her. She gave her leader a concerned look. "You sounded pretty serious during lunch. Is everything okay?"
Honoka's smile faded slightly. "Everything's okay with me. Actually, I'm more concerned about you."
"Mhm. Maki-chan… do you love Nozomi-chan?"
Maki took a step back, surprise clear on her face, along with some red. "W-what are you saying? There's no way I could like another girl like that."
"But Maki-chan, you've been less and less resistant when Nozomi-chan touches and teases you lately. And just earlier, you kept looking at Nozomi-chan as if you were expecting something."
But the words died in Maki's mouth, overwhelmed by the situation she suddenly found herself in. There was a short pause, followed by a defeated sigh.
"I… I don't know."
"Huh?" That wasn't something Honoka expected. "What do you mean you don't know?"
Maki's eyes fell away to a distant corner of the room.
"I don't really understand it myself… But lately, Nozomi's been on my mind a lot. It's still embarrassing to get teased by her, but… it's kind of nice as well, since she's only this close to us. She's serious when she needs to be, she's kind and helpful…"
Hearing her name called broke Maki's ramblings and redirected her attention to Honoka. The older Muse was simply smiling at her, but Maki knew the meaning behind it. Her cheeks reddened a bit, as well as a small smile worked its way onto her lips.
"I guess… yeah, I do love Nozomi."
"I see. Well then that settles it!" Honoka rose from her seat, eyes full of excitement.
"Huh? Settles what?"
"Heh, I may not look it, but I know some things about love. So I'm going to help you get together with Nozomi-chan!"
For a moment Maki was stunned, surprised by Honoka's declaration. Normally she wouldn't take her spontaneous leader seriously, but this time was different. Maki was out of her element here, and she knew it. So instead of discounting those words, she replied to them with a hopeful look.
"Well then, I'm counting on your help, Honoka."
Muse were gathered in their clubroom afterschool the next day. Without a song to work on, they were mostly just hanging out together. A few people were doing some kind of work, namely Yazawa Nico and Koizumi Hanayo, who were doing research on the computer. Hoshizora Rin, Hanayo's best friend and last of Muse's first-year trio, sat nearby them, head rested in her arms as she had fallen asleep a while ago. Honoka sat at one corner of the table in the center with fellow second-year and Muse's designer Minami Kotori, flipping through a fashion magazine just for fun. Sonoda Umi and Ayase Eli, the third of Muse's second and third-years, respectively, sat together on the couch comfortably chatting away as they had no choreography to work on.
Nozomi sat at the opposite corner of the table from Kotori and Honoka, idly looking around the room. As crazy as this group could get, she enjoyed these peaceful times as well, with everyone spending time with each other. Though she wasn't looking around just to enjoy the atmosphere. She was asked a question, and her eyes wandered as if searching for the answer in this room. Eventually she turned back to the table, gazing at the subject of the question, her tarot cards. Still thinking of her answer, she decided to ask a question in return.
"Why do you want to know about my cards, Maki?"
Maki fidgeted in her seat, eyes also wandering to the cards on the table.
"Well, you talk about them every so often, and on days like this you usually have them out. I was just wondering if they meant something special to you."
"My, that's quite observant of you," Nozomi said with a smirk. Seeing the red on Maki's cheeks, she giggled. "Mm, I wouldn't say they have some special meaning. It's mostly just a hobby I've had for a long time now, though it does help me relax if I need it."
Maki looked back to Nozomi with the expected question. "How does it help you to relax?"
"Well, to put it one way, it can show you the future." She reached over and started flipping some of the cards laid out. "The position of a card, whether it's right-side up or upside down, and what the actual cards are, they all mean different things. Piecing it together can give you an idea of what's to come, or that's the idea at least."
Maki hummed in response, looking intently at the cards that Nozomi had revealed. They didn't mean much to her, especially according to Nozomi, so she just read the names of the cards. Noticing that Nozomi hadn't moved her hand, she looked back to the older Muse, seeing a surprised expression on her face.
"Is something wrong?"
Nozomi shook her head. "No, just a little surprised is all. Though I might just be misreading these."
Maki looked back at the card, eyes falling on a particular one that stood out to her when she read them. Unknown to her, Nozomi's eyes had been locked on that card as well. For Maki, it made her just a little nervous, especially since she didn't know what it told Nozomi. And for Nozomi, she became incredibly curious about the things to come after seeing that card.
Eli decided that they were finished half an hour earlier than normal, seeing as they weren't doing much today. Honoka and Maki went home like normal, Honoka with Kotori and Umi and Maki getting picked up, as to not draw any attention. Maki arrived at Honoka's house a few hours after, once she finished her assignments. They were now in the older girl's room, Honoka laying at the head of her bed flipping through a magazine, while Maki sat at the foot of the bed holding up one of Honoka's stuffed animals. They had been in comfortable peace, until Honoka laid the magazine on her stomach, seeing a gentle smile on the younger girl as she held the teddy bear, causing Honoka to smile as well before getting to business.
"So, how did things go?"
Maki lowered the bear onto her lap, still smiling. "It went… good, I think. I did like you said and asked her about her cards and tried to get more comfortable around her."
"… I'm still a little nervous around her, because of the teasing. But aside from that, I feel better than I did before."
"That's good! See, I knew you'd be fine. Now for tomorrow…"
As Honoka started thinking (out loud), Maki looked over to the ginger. Her eyes fell to the magazine on her chest, noticing it's familiar cover.
"Isn't that Kotori's magazine?"
"Hmm? Oh, yes this is. I wanted to look through it again, so she let me borrow it for the day since she didn't need it yet anyway."
"Huh, I never guessed you were into that stuff."
"Oh come on, anyone can appreciate a cute outfit. Come here, look at some of these."
Honoka sat up, laying the magazine on her lap as Maki crawled further onto the bed. As she did, Honoka couldn't help but notice that Maki never let go of the teddy bear. But rather than commenting on it, she kept it to herself. Together the two flipped through the magazine, Honoka opening to certain pages and showing Maki some of her favorites, while Maki gave her own input, which actually matched Honoka's a lot of the time. They passed the rest of the time comfortably like this, only stopping before Maki left so they could talk about what she should do next.
Maki crossed the school gate, marking the end of her run. Today was a practice day for Muse, but with no song to practice, that meant it was just exercises. Many of them were in groups, but because they were currently doing some runs, the girls went to their own pace. Maki was fourth to finish after Eli, Rin, and Umi, who were waiting in the front of the school which was their end point. Seeing her finish, Rin handed Maki a water bottle, which she thanked Rin for before quickly using it to refresh herself. Thankfully she had just closed the cap before she felt something grab her chest from behind.
"N-Nozomi!" she whined, freeing herself before turning and glaring at the mentioned girl.
"Take it easy Maki," she returned playfully. "Just a little reward, since your time has improved."
"Y-you could be more normal about it," she huffed. "But… thanks."
Nozomi giggled, before giving a more genuine smile. "If my teasing bothers you too much, just say so, alright?"
Maki paused, not at all expecting that from the playful senior, before stuttering out, "Y-yeah, sure."
Nozomi just giggled again before walking up to Maki, giving her a quick one-armed hug, then making her way toward Eli. Maki watched her go, almost unable to stop the smile tugging at her very heated face. She turned back to the sound of footsteps as the other Muse finished their runs soon after. Specifically Honoka, who gave her a wink, seemingly noticing that last interaction with Nozomi. Of course it was gone as soon as it happened, still keeping their plans a secret from the others.
"She really said that?"
"Yes… Do you think I should be worried about it?"
Honoka paused just before bringing another Pocky to her mouth. She looked away from the manga they were reading, eyes wandering as she thought.
"Mm… I don't think so. It is a little surprising coming from Nozomi-chan. Though it could be a good thing, since she's being more considerate for you."
Satisfied with her answer, Honoka snapped the Pocky stick between her teeth. Maki did the same as she thought over Honoka's words. Though with nothing said, both girls quickly returned to the manga opened between them, at least until Maki read a particular line.
"This is… quite a cheesy story, isn't it?"
Honoka shrugged. "At times, yes it is. But it's still really good overall. One of my favorites."
Maki hummed in response. While it was a bit simpler than the romance novels she's read, she can see why Honoka liked it so much, as she found herself pretty drawn to it as well. This was the third book they were reading already, even though they just started earlier. In fact, if it wasn't for this, they probably could've finished talking an hour ago.
She felt her hand hit something as she went to grab another Pocky, turning her attention from the book. It seems that their hands hit reaching for a Pocky at the same time again. She was going to tell Honoka to go first, but stopped as Honoka spoke first.
"Ah, it's the last one." She pulled her hand away. "Go ahead, Maki-chan."
But she shook her head. "It's fine, you should have it."
"That won't do, you're my guest." She picked up the last stick and brought it up to Maki. "Here."
Maki's face instantly reacted with a blush. "N-no, it's fine."
But Honoka didn't budge, and Maki quickly realized she wouldn't win when Honoka was being stubborn. Reluctantly, she let Honoka feed her the last piece, face heating further while Honoka smiled brightly.
Muse met afterschool once again. And just like last time, they were mostly just hanging out around the clubroom. Nico and Hanayo were still at the computer, finding a good topic for their next song. This time Kotori, Umi, and Rin were together, playing cards out on the table between them. At the other side of the table sat Honoka and Eli, student council work already finished in front of them, now just having a casual chat. Maki was with Nozomi again, this time on the couch, having their own conversation.
"No, I don't have any experience with relationships."
That was definitely not the answer Maki was expecting.
Nozomi smiled. "I suppose it's surprising, but it's true. I've never dated anyone before."
"I see… Have you liked anyone like that before?"
"Not before. Though, there is someone recently that might be…" Nozomi trailed off, making sure not to say anything unnecessary. Then something clicked in her mind, and she turned to Maki. "I take it there's someone that Maki likes then?"
"Oh come on, why else would you be asking me these kind of questions. There's someone that Maki likes, isn't there?"
Unable to face Nozomi at that point, Maki looked away. Her eyes very briefly met Honoka's, who seemed to sense her distress. The Muse leader managed a smile and a subtle nod, the best she could do to encourage Maki without interrupting her conversation with Eli. It was only a moment, but it was enough for Maki.
"Y-yes… there is," she softly admitted.
"And do they know how you feel?"
Maki shook her head. "No… I haven't told them yet. I'm not even sure how they feel about me yet."
"I see. Then, how about some advice? I might not have any experience myself, but I do know a few things that might help you."
Maki didn't respond right away, though she wanted to. Honoka had told her she needed to keep calm, or she might give things away too soon. When she felt enough time had passed for her to have considered her options, she nodded to Nozomi.
Despite some nervousness, her time with Nozomi in the clubroom went well overall to Maki. Though her nervousness returned when she met with Honoka later that night.
"Y-you want me to ask her out already?"
Honoka nodded. "I think you should. You already know she isn't taken. Plus, you get to be her first relationship! What could be more perfect?"
"I don't know… It still seems too soon."
Honoka frowned a little, eyeing Maki at the foot of her bed as the younger girl fidgeted with her fingers. As much as she thought it was a good idea, she knew there was no point in forcing Maki to do something she didn't feel ready for. So she sighed.
"Well, I guess we'll just have to build up your confidence some more then. Anything else happen?"
"No, that was about it."
Maki knew that was a lie. The things Nozomi said to her before they left school did wonders for her, but telling Honoka what Nozomi said, or even letting her know how happy it made her, would be enough reason for Honoka to push for Maki to ask her out again. Noticing the time on her phone, Maki stood up.
"Well, it's getting late. I need to be heading home."
"Okay. See you tomorrow, Maki-chan."
Maki waved as she left the room. Honoka watched her leave from her bed, a pain in her chest as she did so. It was the look Maki made earlier, but not because Maki was nervous. Honoka didn't say anything at that moment, realizing Maki was firm on her decision, but it still hurt a little to see Maki look sad as she made it.
Although it was Saturday and there was no school, Muse still decided to make this one of their practice days. Maki found herself at the school's entrance, once again being one of the first to finish. To her surprise, she actually finished alongside Umi this time, the archer having slowed down for a bit to admire a view of the city. The two of them were talking to pass the time as they waited for the others to finish. Their conversation came to an end with Kotori finished, calling Umi over for something.
It was at that point that Maki had turned around, noticing that Nozomi had already finished as well. Not only that, but she wasn't with Eli, instead by their bags with her phone in hand. She made her way over as quickly as she could without being obvious.
"Hmm? Oh, hello Maki."
Maki noted that Nozomi sounded distracted, and that the older girl's eyes kept glancing at her phone screen. She was a bit curious, but decided to ignore it for now.
"I had a better time for our run again."
"Oh? That's great, Maki."
For a moment, there was a genuine smile on Nozomi's face. But just then her phone started ringing, and she looked at the ID on screen.
"Ah, excuse me, Maki. I have to take this."
Before Maki could react, Nozomi picked up the call and brought the phone to her ear, walking away from the group quickly as she did so. Caught off guard, Maki only stood and watched as she left. Realizing her chance was gone, she only sighed before turning around, waiting with the others as the rest of the Muse arrived one after another. Inside, her mind was confused for a number of reasons, as well as a little bit nervous again.
Who could Nozomi be talking to?
Muse met in their clubroom afterschool as usual. They were split up similarly to last time, though the only difference this time was Maki was at the computer. Nico and Hanayo were showing her some songs that had quickly become popular, as well as suggesting what they thought the best theme for their next song should be.
As they went through more sites, Maki had glanced over at the couch a few times. Nozomi was sitting there by herself, though she didn't seem bothered by it, or even seem to notice at all. Just like over the weekend, Nozomi's attention was almost entirely on her phone, her expressions shifting from what Maki assumed were text messages, as Nozomi would occasionally type things out as well.
It added to the things bothering Maki at the moment. After all, she wasn't working with Nico and Hanayo to start, as they had called her over midway through. But when she approached Nozomi, all she got was a very short greeting. No teasing, not even a mention of what she revealed to her last time. It felt very odd, very out of place for Nozomi to act like this, and it only increased Maki's worries further.
"Why did this happen?"
Her room was empty, so of course no one was going to respond to Honoka's question. She didn't need anyone to either, since she already knew the answer.
"We have been spending a lot of time together recently, after all."
And yet, despite the pain she was feeling now, she couldn't bring herself to regret what she did. She doesn't regret offering to help, she doesn't regret all the time they spent together, here in her room even.
She doesn't regret falling in love with Maki.
But what was she to do? She knows who Maki loves, knows it's not her. Even if she didn't immediately take Honoka's advice and ask Nozomi out, she knows Maki will eventually. Does she stop it?
No, that isn't the girl Honoka is. Despite her feelings, or maybe because of her feelings, she was going to put Maki first. She was still going to help the first year, even if it hurt already doing so. But Maki has liked Nozomi longer, where Honoka only fell for Maki recently, so it's probably better this way. At least, that's what Honoka was convincing herself of, even if deep down she didn't want to.
Just then, there was a knock on her door. When she responded, the door opened, and a mix of happiness, pain, and concern that all didn't show on her face ran through her when she saw the girl troubling her thoughts appear.
"Sorry, I hope I'm not interrupting or anything."
"Maki-chan? Of course not. Come in."
Maki nodded as she stepped into the room, closing the door behind her. She immediately sat where she usually does, at the foot of Honoka's bed, though this time without the bear she's been holding. Only concern remained as Honoka noticed the troubled look Maki had since she entered.
"Maki-chan, what's wrong?"
"Honoka, have you noticed anything different about Nozomi recently?"
"Nozomi-chan? Well… I noticed she has been a little more distant lately."
"With you, too? She barely says hi to anyone, she's been off on her own, and she's seem to be talking to someone on her phone now…"
"So that's been what's bothering you lately…" Honoka didn't want to say it, but she knew she had to. "Maki-chan, you need to tell Nozomi-chan how you feel."
Maki didn't respond, she just looked at Honoka, though the question was still clear on her face.
"You can't let this trouble you as much as it's been the last few days. And now it sounds like you might lose your chance soon if you don't."
And it'll help me move on if this ends sooner.
There was silence as Maki thought about her options. All the while Honoka pushed down the lone thought, the tiny hope that things would work out her way. Eventually, Maki slowly nodded her head.
"You're… probably right. I don't think I can wait much longer like this either."
"Tomorrow, then. Go to the Music Room. Nozomi-chan and Eli-chan are supposed to stop by my classroom during lunch. I'll send Nozomi-chan to you."
"Okay. Thank you, Honoka, for everything you've done for me."
Maki did something Honoka was definitely not expecting, she hugged Muse's leader. She was caught off guard for a moment, a whirlwind of emotions within her, but she pushed that all down to return the embrace.
She savored this rare moment, and the last time they'd be alone together like this.
Maki arrived at school the next day, meeting up with Rin and Hanayo at the front like always. She usually walked with them to class, especially since she was in the same homeroom as Hanayo. But today she told them she had to see someone before classes started. She quickly entered the school, making her way through the second-year halls. Of course, a few of the other students noticed, but otherwise minded their own business, which Maki was thankful for. She realized as she was about to reach a certain classroom that the other might not come early, but when she peered into the classroom, she was relieved to find that wasn't the case.
"Maki-chan?" Honoka asked as she stepped out into the hall with her.
"Sorry if I'm disturbing you, but I was getting nervous again thinking about later, so I automatically thought to come to you again."
"It's no trouble, Maki-chan. But you have nothing to be worried about, I'm sure it'll go well."
"You really think so?"
"Absolutely! Nozomi-chan would be crazy to turn you down. Anyone would feel lucky to have someone like you love them."
It was a very honest answer as expected from Honoka, one that got Maki to smile like she came for, as well as blush a little.
"T-thanks. Nozomi said the same thing the last time we talked, before she started acting strange."
With that they exchanged goodbyes. Maki left, a bit more confidence in her step. Honoka watched her leave, sighing and composing herself before turning and walking back into her classroom.
Nozomi quietly walked up to the Music Room. It was a bit odd for Honoka to quietly tell her to go here, but she had a feeling as to why. And seeing Maki waiting alone inside, she started to piece together what was about to happen. She gave herself a moment to ready herself before making her presence known.
"Ah, hello Nozomi."
"Hello Maki. Honoka said you were waiting for me?"
"Yes, there's something I wanted to talk to you about."
"I see. Alright then, let's talk."
Nozomi closed the door behind her, ensuring some privacy, before approaching Maki by the piano. As she did, Maki took one last time to mentally prepare herself. Once Nozomi was situated near her, she began.
"We've been spending a lot more time together recently, and it's been really nice. During our time, you asked me if I like someone, though you didn't ask who. Well, it's you. You're the one I like, Nozomi. It was true before, and even more so after we've spent time together. I wanted to talk to you here, to ask if you'd like to go out with me."
She was kind of expecting this situation because of the set-up, but it still surprised Nozomi. She was silent for a minute as she collected her thoughts. She didn't let her thoughts show on her face, so Maki could only do her best to wait patiently until Nozomi was ready. Eventually, Nozomi looked like she was ready.
"I'm honestly very flattered to hear you feel like that, and that you even confessed to me. And I agree, it is nice that we've seem to grow closer recently. But… I actually just started dating someone else. I'm sorry Maki, but we can't be together."
Maki felt everything drop about halfway through Nozomi's response, though she managed to keep herself composed. She wasn't just preparing what to say earlier, she knew this was a possibility as well, after all. Even so, it was a bittersweet feeling.
"I… I see… Then that person on the phone was…"
"Yes, they're the person I'm now dating. They can be a bit jealous, so they asked me to stop with all my touching and teasing of you girls." Nozomi paused for a moment before adding, "I am honestly quite surprised by all this. I thought you were together with Honoka."
Hearing that pulled Maki out of her gloom. "Honoka? Why would you think that?"
"Hmm? I've caught you two looking at each other a few times, including when I asked if there was someone you liked. You were even talking with her alone this morning."
"Oh, that? Well, Honoka had found out that I had feelings for you. She's been the one helping me to get closer to you."
"I see. The mood between you has been very good lately. You two must have gotten awfully close then, spending all that time together."
"I… I guess so…"
Noticing Maki's mood dropping, Nozomi decided to push, just a little more.
"Are you sure that's all you two are? Just friends?"
Maki paused, realizing she didn't know the answer to Nozomi's question. As she thought about it, she started to feel confused. What exactly was Honoka to her, and what was she to Honoka? Nozomi was right, they had spent a lot of time together since Honoka was helping her. And thinking about it now, that time together was enjoyable for Maki. She had grown quite comfortable with her energetic leader, even as far as going to see her when she was feeling nervous earlier.
Even so, it was all because she was helping Maki. And knowing Honoka, it could very well just be her helping, like she would for another Muse, or anyone else for that matter. As far as Maki could remember, she didn't see any indication from Honoka that she had any feelings for her.
Nozomi noticed how deeply Maki was thinking about this, so she added a little more again.
"She was crying when she told me to come here."
Maki snapped out of her thoughts. "W-what?"
"Well, she wasn't exactly crying. But I could tell she was holding it in. You know how Honoka can be."
Hearing that, it all clicked for Maki. If Honoka did have feelings for her, of course she would hide them. She was helping Maki go after someone else, so she knew it wouldn't work for her. It was all, exactly like Honoka. And if that's the case…
"The rooftop, where we practice. Go."
Without question, with renewed purpose, Maki ran out of the Music Room, waving a goodbye and a thanks to Nozomi as she left. Nozomi smiled as she left, a tad bit guilty, but hopeful all the same.
"Break is almost over…"
Yet, Honoka couldn't quite bring herself to care. After her short talk with Eli, she told Kotori and Umi to continue without her so she could take care of something. Thankfully she was neither questioned nor followed up here. She finally felt out of tears, though it apparently took most of the lunch break to accomplish that. Now she didn't even feel like moving, much less getting back to class in time, as she continued to look down at the rest of the school.
She wasn't expecting the door to open, much less be thrown open so that it hit the wall. Though it surprised her, she didn't have the energy to jump. The haze she was just feeling quickly vanished when she saw who stood in the doorway.
"There you are…"
Honoka noticed that Maki was a bit out of breath, and wondered why she had run here. Then, realizing there were probably still traces she had been crying, turned away again.
"How… did it go with Nozomi-chan?"
"Nozomi… rejected me. It turns out, she just got into a relationship with someone else."
"O-oh… I'm sorry…"
She was still trying not to look at Maki, but when no response came for a while, she started getting curious. She heard the sound of footsteps quickly approaching her, which finally made her look, just in time to see Maki right in front of her. Surprised, she tried to take a few steps back, but stopped when Maki caught her by the hand. Being so close, she knew she couldn't hide that she had been crying from Maki, yet she still tried by looking away.
"Honoka, look at me. Please."
Unable to resist a plea like that, Honoka slowly turned her face to Maki again. Emotions no longer in control, tears she thought were gone by now started to form at the corner of her eye. But to her surprise, Maki caught it there, wiping it from her face. All the while their gazes never breaking, a serious look on Maki's face.
"Answer me honestly... Honoka, do you like me?"
There was an audible gasp, Honoka unable to believe she was found out. But because of that, or perhaps from shame or embarrassment, her eyes fell away. She couldn't find her voice, so she simply nodded.
It stabbed Maki to see Honoka so broken like this. But even more than that, she felt her conviction grow, wanting to make things right, wanting to bring back that smile. So she took a chance.
"You know, Nozomi just rejected me, but it didn't hurt as much as I thought it would." Honoka didn't acknowledge her, but Maki knew she was listening, so she continued. "She gave me some advice that got me thinking, and it helped me to realize something. My heart didn't lie with Nozomi, but with someone else, someone far more deserving of it."
Hearing that got Honoka's attention. She turned, just as Maki wrapped her arms around Honoka in a tight embrace. Everything froze for Honoka, who was unable to process what was happening.
"She helped me realize… we've spent a lot of time together lately. That we've had a lot of fun moments together, and that we're a lot closer. What I'm saying is… she helped me realize that, I love you, too. It took some help to figure out, but I love you, Honoka."
Those were, without a doubt, the last words Honoka was expecting to hear today. And their effects on her were instant, and they were strong. Honoka broke into tears once more, burying her face into Maki's shoulder as she finally returned Maki's embrace. As Maki did her best to comfort her, she heard the warning bell ring across the school.
"We need to be getting to class soon… So at least answer me this. Will you go out with me?"
Lifting her head from Maki's shoulder, wiping away some tears, Honoka gave her a bright smile. Her lips parted to speak, but instead leapt forward to meet Maki's. Satisfied with that as a response, Maki reciprocated. It lasted only a few seconds, but it was enough. Hand in hand, they ran back down the stairs.
It was several days later, but Muse finally had a finished song thanks to Maki, who had done the lyrics this time in addition to the composition. Shortly after, Umi and Eli worked out the choreography. Now came the hard work for Muse, practicing the song. No one complained however, as everyone enjoyed times like these. Through their songs, through their time together as Muse, that's how they became such a close group, especially certain members.
"Phew, it feels good to be working on a song again-nya," Rin said as she sat on the bench beside Hanayo, drinking half of her water in one go.
"Yeah," Kotori agreed. "And it's such a cute song, both the music and lyrics. Great job, Maki-chan."
"I agree. Though you don't usually help with the lyrics, much less write the whole thing," Eli pointed out, looking at their composer. "Any particular reason?"
Maki shrugged. "Not really. Just found a bit of inspiration, with some help of course."
"Though, we didn't show you anything related to a love song this time," Hanayo admitted.
"Oh, I know."
Her eyes met with Honoka's, and she couldn't help but smile. They hadn't revealed their relationship to the others yet, so they did their best not to be caught looking. Of course, the only one that caught them was the only one that knew to look for it. So she decided to help.
"I think we're ready for another round, yes?"
There were cheers of agreement all around, everyone rising from their spots to move to their starting spots. The secret couple both shot Nozomi an appreciative glance, sneaking one last to each other, before reaching their spots.
Unknown to most of the Muse, their cheerful days had returned.
Hey everyone, nobodD here!
Lots in these notes this time around, so let's jump right in.
First off, I'd like to thank Shadestone. This wasn't just a pairing request this time around. Shadestone actually proposed the story idea. When I read the summary, I was already very interested. But after talking and hammering out some details, I got very excited to write this. So thank you, Shadestone, for giving me the chance to write this. It was so much fun ^.^
If you read the notes at the beginning, I mention how I divided scenes for this. That's because I never mention specifically which day each section takes place, with one lone exception being one Saturday I marked. The weekend is mentioned because most of events happen on school days, and I knew it would have to at least go through one weekend. But the main reason for this is because, well I'm actually curious how you readers paced this story in your heads as you read. Technically, it is possible for these to happen on consecutive days, though that might seem rushed to some. Personally I had imagined Tuesdays and Fridays as Muse meeting in the clubroom, while Wednesday and Saturday were their practice days. But again, you might have, or probably have a different idea of how many days this story covers. If you write a review, I'd love to know how you paced this story out. I'm super curious.
Now, for the important part of the story. The idea Shadestone had was for Honoka to notice Maki showing less resistance to Nozomi's teasing, and confront her about it and discover Maki's feelings. Honoka offers to help Maki, but during the process falls in love with Maki. She pushes Maki to confess to Nozomi, accepting the heartbreak. But not only does Nozomi reject Maki, but turns it around, noticing the two had spent time together, and pushes them together instead. Seeing this as the idea I was working with as a base, I got so excited about this story. So much so that the intro changed four times and the second scene three times. I eventually finished the first three scenes (which were delayed because of real life), and the rest of the story clicked into place. This story is quite long compared to my recent posts, and now you probably understand why. I wanted this to be amazing, and am personally quite proud of the final product. Though of course, I'd like to know what you all thought of it. I know some things about Honoka and Maki's characters are a little different than what you'd expect, but I think it wasn't too much, and fit with the context of the story.
Something I knew that would be important for this story was balancing the scenes. Maki had to interact alone with both Nozomi and Honoka enough to build a relationship, and it had to be paced just right. Although the end pairing is spoiled in this story's summary, it had to be written as if it was still leading away from that. Overall, this story isn't perfect by any means. But considering I've never done something like this before, I think it turned out nicely.
I believe that covers the important parts. I hope you enjoyed reading this, because it was a crazy ride to write. As always, and especially for something like this, I'd love hear from you in the reviews. Whether they're good or bad, I love to read them, and see what I can improve on for next time.
That about does it for me, until next time~