Disclaimer: If you hear something that resembles "ChibiSecchan and/or OkashiraShinomori own Negima," please sic your lawyers on a Saotome Haruna. We've never owned 'em, and probably, never will.
Okashira: Okay, this fic, although not a one-shot, is a continuation of the three KonoSetsu one-shots I previously wrote. It is the first chapter in what I hope to be a very long running series.
ChibiSecchan: Yeah, hopefully it can be completed by the time I graduate from college...People here probably know me as "Chou Nuriko", but now I'm his Partner-In-Crime ((smacks Okashira's thick head)).
Okashira: ((Rubs the back of his head sheepishly.)) Hopefully it will be done by the time you finish college, but pretty soon BOTH of us will be tied up with it, so y'never know...
ChibiSecchan: ((nods)) So readers, please bear with us. After all, there's no such thing as too much KonoSetsu!
Okashira: ((Nods in a sage fashion.)) Amen to that.
By OkashiraShinomori and ChibiSecchan
Beta Reading By Shinmeiryuu and Spiritmage
"Why does my food always seem to go missing when Haruna-san is around?" – Sakurazaki Setsuna
"I'm WHAT?" Konoe Konoka's usually soft voice echoed throughout the headmaster's chamber, bouncing angrily from the aged walls. She stood before the massive desk contained in the room, a look of deep hurt and shock etched onto her pretty face. Being the first day of break, she was wearing a pair of blue-jeans and a yellow t-shirt rather than the usual Mahora uniform, which, combined with the expression she wore, made her seem to be an entirely different person.
With a curious lift of his eyebrows, Mahora Academy's headmaster responded, "You're going to be attending a school for magic, rather than normal subjects."
Konoka continued to stare. "W-what about Secchan? And Asuna? And everyone else?" She launched another question before allowing her grandfather to attempt an answer. "And what about dad? He said I'm still supposed to distance myself from magic."
At this, Konoemon raised his withered hand in a motion of halting. "Actually, it was your father's suggestion." With something of a grin at so easily disrupting his granddaughter's rare tirade, he handed an open envelope across his massive desk. Konoka plucked it from his hand slowly, almost as if she thought it would attack her.
She pulled two sheets of paper from within the unusually thick envelope and flipped the pages open, scanning them quickly, instantly recognizing her father's seal at the bottom. Sure enough, the hand-written letter stated his wish that she attend a school for magic, a rather highly renowned school at that, judging by his mention of expenses. She looked over the top of the letter towards the white-bearded old man.
"Well, this still doesn't help much. I don't want to leave Secchan and all of my friends. These are the best friends I've ever had!" Tears welled anew when her girlfriend's name was once again mentioned; she could adapt to leaving the others, but not her Secchan.
Again the well-aged man chuckled loudly, ruining the atmosphere the chocolate-haired girl had instilled. "Setsuna-kun, at least, has already been given due consideration, and she won't hinder your decision." He watched with a growing smile as Konoka's soft features screwed up in confusion.
"W-what do you mean, she won't hinder my decision?" It could only be one of two things; one good, and one crushing...
The elder Konoe motioned at a stack of official looking documents on his desktop dismissively. "I've been going through the academy's budget, pruning things and such, and there's more than enough excess funds lying around that the academy can pay Setsuna-kun's tuition. If you go, she can as well."
Although she smiled, the news was still enough of a shock that Konoka found she had to sit down. Well, if Secchan would go with me, I guess I could go... She cleared her throat, trying to sound authoritative. "If that's the case, then I suppose I could go to this school, as long as Secchan wants to as well."
Nodding, Konoemon spoke, "I figured as much. And I was actually hoping you'd say that. It shows your devotion." He cleared his throat as Konoka blushed. "I assume Setsuna-kun is waiting outside, yes?"
Konoka nodded, her face taking its normal color. "Yeah, she said she'd wait for my meeting with you to end. We're gonna go to the park afterwards." Her eyes lit up at the mention of their outing, and her posture marked an improvement in her mood.
Her grandfather smiled, happy that she was happy, and cleared his throat. "Setsuna-kun," he called towards the door, "would you please come in?"
The heavy door swung open several short moments later, admitting the raven-haired young woman, her ever-present sword at her back. Her eyes held a questioning look as she gazed first at her Kono-chan, then at her contractor and educator. "Yes, sir?"
"Come on in." He beckoned her forward, and without hesitation she walked across the room to stand beside Konoka's chair. Konoka grinned happily at her, and Setsuna smiled a small smile at the seated girl, then looked back up at the man behind the desk.
"If Konoka were to leave Mahora Academy for another school, would you be willing to go with her?"
"Of course." Setsuna blushed slightly at having answered nigh instantaneously, but maintained eye contact with the headmaster. "Of course I would."
Konoka sighed in relief, and her bearded grandfather smiled. "It's settled then."
Setsuna frowned. "What's settled?" She again looked from Konoka to Konoemon, more than a little confused. I think I've missed something... "Kono-chan?"
Konoka grabbed Setsuna's hands in her own, smiling broadly. "Father said I can go to a school for magic!" She squeezed Setsuna's hands happily, and Setsuna found that her jaw dropped slightly at the statement.
"Your father gave you permission to go?"
Konoka nodded. "He suggested it!" Stunned silence fell, which changed to pained silence moments later.
Setsuna's shoulders slumped, and her eyes darkened slightly. "Does that mean you're leaving Mahora Academy, Kono-chan?"
Konoka blinked, instantly hearing the unspoken question in the other girl's voice. "Gramps said there's enough money that you can go too, if you want, Secchan."
A wide smile crossed Setsuna's face, and it was only with a light blush that she gently squeezed Konoka's soft hands reassuringly. "You bet I'll go, Kono-chan."
Konoemon coughed discretely, easily dissolving the mood that was being created. Turning scarlet, Setsuna released Konoka's hands and smoothed her skirt apprehensively. Also blushing, Konoka tugged lightly on Secchan's shirt and motioned at the chair beside her.
The headmaster waited for the contemporary knight to seat herself before continuing with the initial subject of conversation. "I'm sorry, but I need a definite answer now. The tuition is due shortly, you see..."
The two young women looked at each other and nodded simultaneously, Setsuna somehow communicating with Konoka, who turned back to her grandfather and nodded. "We're going."
"Good then. I was correct in making sure you were accepted ahead of time." Rather surprising the both of them, he pulled a moderately large stack of paper from a desk drawer and slid it across the desk to Konoka. Seconds later, a similar stack sat before Setsuna. "All that's left now is for you to apply."
Konoka couldn't help but groan slightly. She had never been one to enjoy paperwork of any sort, and it was already wearing at her excitement with the prospect of a magic school. She took the pen her grandfather offered, casting a mock-angry gaze at it, then focused on the first sheet, finding it to be the customary "We're pleased you've chosen to come to our school, blah, blah, blah" greeting used by schools of every sort.
After an hour and a half of reading, page flipping, and writing, the young girls found that they were anxious to get to the school, and that they had both developed minor headaches. According to the reams of paper, there was no set length of time one attended the school, for one left when satisfied with their education. It seemed likely that one would attend for several years, as one could only take 3 classes per semester due to the 3 hour class periods.
Konoemon had shown them the long, single sheet of paper that listed the classes, but put it out of Konoka's excited reach before they could get a hold on it.
"I'm afraid it'll take quite a bit of time to make these decisions girls. There're many classes to choose from." Konoka made a pouty face in hopes of persuading the older man, but with a cocked eyebrow, he slid the paper under his elbow firmly. With a wry grin, Konoemon flipped through the large stack of papers and pulled a single yellow sheet from each stack. "I'll send these out then, and within a week we'll see whether your application is accepted. Then there'll be much to do..."
Konoka stared longingly at the paper. She had glimpsed classes about fortune telling, and was desperate for details. "Are you sure I can't just look for a little bit..."
Her grandfather shook his head. "I'll let you have the list after we're done here. There are still some things I need to tell you before you delve too far into that." He cleared his throat, refocusing their attention on him. "If you are accepted, which I've no doubt you will be, you'll need to be ready to leave in a week in a half. You're supposed to have around two and a half weeks to familiarize yourself with the campus, then school will start. While you're still here, you'll need to get your uniforms, and have yourself packed as well as have your goodbyes said." He smiled kindly. "It might be hard, but if you wish to follow your blood, Konoka, it's best."
He clapped his hands together. "I believe we are quite done. Now," he handed the long sheet of paper to his granddaughter, "you may look at these."
Konoka snatched the paper eagerly, sharing it with Secchan immediately. The two girls scanned the words, looking for thing that they each found particularly interesting. With a small smile, Konoemon realized the girls had no intention of moving. A glance at the clock told him that simply wouldn't do. "Excuse me, but I've a meeting to hold here soon, and I'm afraid you'll need to clear out." It may have sounded rude, but both of the young women knew him well enough to know it was not meant as such.
Landing a kiss on his cheek, Konoka leapt from her chair. "'Kay. Thanks a lot, gramps." She moved to grab her papers from the table, but found that Setsuna was holding both stacks, her sword already over her shoulder. "I can get those, Secchan..."
Setsuna smiled slightly and turned towards the door, pretending not to hear. "Shall we, Kono-chan?"
A grin crossed Konoka's face, and she dashed forwards, ignoring the general solemnity of the room as she did so. She raced up to Setsuna's side, unable to grab her arm or anything due to the load of papers. Instead, she sidled up close to her, causing a dark blush to immediately grace Setsuna's neck and face. "Let's go choose classes, Secchan!"
After three hours within Setsuna's dorm room, the list of classes and their descriptions spread before the couple, conversation was becoming slightly heated. The list of classes was rather expansive, although one wouldn't know it by comparing the two girls' preferred class lists. Despite the fact that in the field of academic interests, the two were nothing alike, Setsuna's list of desired classes was identical to her girlfriend's.
Konoka reclined in exaggerated tiredness against Setsuna and yawned slightly, her gaze falling to the paper in Secchan's hand. "So, Secchan, what classes did you decide on?" She put her right hand on Setsuna's right shoulder and rested her chin on the left, gazing down at the paper. There were ten or so class names that had been hastily scribbled, then marked out, but at the bottom were three clearly written, unblemished names. Konoka frowned as she read them.
"Those are the same as mine, Secchan!" She pointed at her own paper lying on her lap as if to stress the point. "Why?"
Setsuna cleared her throat. It seemed, to her, that it was a matter of security, and she didn't much appreciate having her decisions questioned. "It's still my job to protect you, you know. And now that you're worth protecting even more, I want to make sure I'm there if you need me, that's all. We don't know anything about the people at this school, after all..."
With a frown, Konoka continued, "But you aren't going to like these classes! You should take the Kendo class or something!"
"As long as I'm with you, I'll enjoy whatever I'm doing." Although sweet, it didn't help Konoka's mood.
The chocolate-haired girl turned what could be called her patented pout on the older girl. "Secchan, I know you won't enjoy it. You should have fun at the school too. Now pick some classes YOU want to take."
"I'm perfectly happy with the classes I've chosen, Kono-chan." Her voice had unintentionally taken on a slightly chilled edge, her general dislike of Konoka trying to brush off her security measures showing through quite clearly.
Konoka frowned, seeing Setsuna fall into a bad mood slowly. She can be so stubborn... But Konoka was certain she had ways of getting her wishes. Forcing her cutest smile onto her face, Konoka slid around and fell backwards into Setsuna's lap, looking up at her with pleading brown eyes. "Secchan, you don't REALLY want to take Light magic, do you?"
A blush quickly traversed Setsuna's features at finding Konoka lying across her lap, and she was tempted to look away, but the cute girl's eyes held her.
"I..." Dammit...why can't I lie to her! Setsuna paused before answering and decided to give the idea a little more objective thought, this time from the view of Konoka's girlfriend, rather than merely her guard. Kono-chan needs to be protected, but I suppose she also wants me to be happy...I know what that feeling's like, anyway. And to make HER happy, I have to be happy... With a defeated sigh, Setsuna conceded slightly.
"No, I don't particularly wish to take Light Magic."
Konoka's mood seemed to brighten somewhat. "And Latin?"
Mocking a glare down at the irresistible young woman, Setsuna shook her head. "Boring, if you want my truthful opinion." She smirked slightly as Konoka screwed her face up in indignation.
Konoka reached down beside her and picked up the list of classes again, and compared it to Setsuna's list. Had she been pressed to choose Setsuna's classes for her, she wouldn't have had any more to add to the list. The ones on there were definitely the ones Setsuna would have picked, and would certainly enjoy more than the magic that she had picked out for herself.
With an air of importance, Konoka circled two of the classes that Setsuna had already marked out, and drew an arrow from the circle to the bottom of the paper, marking out both of the magic classes, leaving only Magic Allocation from the original three. She smiled up at Setsuna and turned her paper over. "Here ya go. Your new class list."
"Kendo and Illusion, huh?" Setsuna leaned back against the unused lower bunk, a look of deep consideration etched across her face. "I dunno...I don't know how much I'd enjoy those..."
A grin crossed her face as Konoka pretended to get huffy about it, going on about how maybe Setsuna would prefer to learn Arithmancy or perhaps Potions. Setsuna actually laughed when Konoka suggested Advanced Alchemy, although she also slid her arms around her waist affectionately. "I think I'll stick with Kendo and Illusion, thank you." She smiled down at Konoka, who cheered considerably. "But I'm still taking Magic Allocation with you, got it?"
Konoka nodded quickly, a wide smile on her face. Smiling wryly, Secchan motioned towards the kitchenette imperiously. "How about you alchemize us some supper, Kono-chan?"
Pouting again, Konoka hugged Setsuna's waist. "Don't wanna go." As if on cue, Setsuna's stomach rumbled, and Konoka looked up in surprise to see Setsuna smiling sheepishly.
"Well if you're that hungry, sure," she giggled. She sat up slowly, stretching her arms over her head. "What would you like?"
A blush rose to Setsuna's cheeks as the possible answers to that question arose, few being food. It was with some effort that Setsuna narrowed her answers down, trying to remember what kinds of food she had stored in the room's cabinets. Only one good way to answer this question, then... With a small cough, Setsuna cleared her throat of an odd unwillingness to answer. "Uh...surprise me, Kono-chan." She grinned at the girl, and quite satisfactorily had the smile returned.
"Okay, Secchan!" With a bounce, Konoka was on her feet, laying her papers back on the floor. She began humming as she stepped into the cooking area, engrossing herself in meal-time preparation entirely.
The evening passed quickly for the two. Still discussing classes, they lingered over the simple meal that Konoka had prepared, seeing as how Setsuna did indeed keep little food in the immediate vicinity. Konoka had vowed that under her iron fist, Setsuna would begin eating a more balanced diet, to which Setsuna had blushed fiercely before changing the subject back to the school of magic they hoped to attend.
They spoke of the subject 'till the late hours of the night, only ceasing when Konoka nearly fell asleep in her plate of potato chips. It was with the gentleness only shown to the young healer that Setsuna escorted her back to her dorm room, parting at the hinged blockade with a quick good night kiss, grateful that no-one lurked in the hall.
As is common when one is awaiting something of great import, the week passed slowly for the couple, more so, even, than when school was still in session. Despite going on something of a date nearly each day, time still seemed to merely crawl towards the day Konoe Konoemon had said they'd get a reply. They'd already had a second meeting with him, clearing their course selections with him, making certain they would be allowed to take them. As far as he could see, there would be no problem, and was quite in agreement with their selections.
When the day their hopeful acceptance was to arrive, the two were waiting at the headmaster's office door that morning when he walked in, and all but camped out on the couch and chairs arranged at the far end of the otherwise typical administration office. Not having slept well the last couple days due to anxiousness, Konoka quickly fell asleep on Setsuna's shoulder, and the swordswoman couldn't help but blush each time the headmaster shot a glance at them, followed by one of his impossibly knowing grins.
After what seemed to be hours, a lesser member of the school's staff, a young woman Setsuna recognized as a secretary in the English department, arrived bearing the day's mail. Being of strong mind and body as she was, the normally not-so-excitable student managed to hold back the feeling that she should tackle the secretary and steal the mail. Rather, she would wait until the frail old man had it...
Despite her outward shows of impatience, Setsuna was not as anxious to attend the new school as was Konoka. She had no particularly strong attachment to Mahora, but was also not overly fond of the idea of being isolated from any sort of reinforcements if something were to happen on the island. She supposed it was silly of her to worry; it was, after all, a stronghold of magic, but she couldn't bring herself to put the thought from her mind entirely. As long as Konoka was going, though, Setsuna had her heart in the plan completely.
Deciding it was better for Konoka's health to simply tell her the news, rather than let her fret over it while she opened the letter, Setsuna called across the room at the smaller girl's grandfather, "Sir, would you please open our letters? I'd rather not wake Kono-chan just yet." She looked down at the girl. "As you can see, she's not gotten a lot of sleep lately."
Konoemon nodded, but made sure to set the rather thick envelopes apparently from the school off to the side, having to deal with Mahora business first and foremost. Rather than kill herself with anxiousness awaiting the letters to be opened, Setsuna closed her eyes and rested her chin atop Konoka's head, trying to relax herself. To what would later be her amazement, she drifted to sleep nearly instantly.
Several minutes after the both of them were asleep, Konoemon finished reading through the usual lists of bills incurred by the school, and turned his attention to the thick envelopes of a rather heavier type of paper. He picked one up, finding it addressed to "Konoe Konoka, c/o Konoe Konoemon, Headmaster, Mahora Academy." The sender seemed to be lacking an address, and the name "Asian Academy of the Arcane" was all that was emblazoned across the top of the top of the envelope.
He slowly opened the envelope, not nearly as worried about the results as the two young women were. Konoka was descended from a line of powerful mages, and Setsuna was sent under the advice of the leader of the Kanto Magic Association. He pulled the sheaf of papers from within the envelope, having decided by the presence of so many papers that they had indeed been admitted, and searched for the official confirmation.
The first paper on the stack declared quite proudly that "It would be our honor to instruct the esteemed daughter of the Konoe household in the art of magic." He scoffed at their politeness, knowing full well it was merely for show, having written such letters many a time himself. After the multitude of niceties, the letter boiled down to simply stating that Konoka was accepted, and the date that school would begin. He cast a quick eye across the rest of the literal stack of papers, and found it to be mostly necessary information about the campus, the dorms, supplies lists, teacher introductions, and the general happy-crappy that schools liked to boast about when they could.
He sat the papers aside and opened Setsuna's envelope as well, quite satisfied to find that they were also "honored to instruct the esteemed pupil of the Shinmeiryuu." Both letters were signed in flowing red ink by Saehara Noriko, the headmistress of the school. Despite the rather impressive title, she was no more than twenty five years old, a fact that had caused her torment for years, since she was appointed headmistress at twenty-two. Many thought it to have something to do with connections within the school system, while others thought it to be due to her good looks and charm. Konoemon, however, knew her to be fully qualified for the position, and was quite happy to leave his granddaughter under the woman's protection. I'll have to be certain to remind Setsuna-kun that she'll need to report to Noriko-kun as she reports to me... He thought as he read through an extra sheet included in Setsuna's letter, asking if she would continue her security practices at the magic school.
It was then that Konoemon fully appreciated his commissioning of the other Shinmeiryuu girl into the Academy's security team. The raven-haired girl had been the school's strongest non-magical defense for the past several years, and losing her would have been quite a blow to the school. With a wry grin, he wondered what it was about being one of his hired guards that prompted romance. He had seen a most curious change in the interaction between his blond sentry and her dark-skinned superior as of late.
Deciding that he'd have time to ponder such things later, he sat the letter aside and picked up the stack of supply requests from the staff meeting that had been held the day before. He began to flip through the papers, reading in a rather detached sort of interest, dreading the figure that these requests would add up to.
It wasn't until the headmaster had completed the final version of the supply requisition form, two hours later, when Setsuna managed to rouse herself from her nap, somewhat regretfully. She blinked the sleep from her eyes and stretched as much as she could without disturbing Konoka, despite knowing she'd have to wake her up soon anyway. Her sharp eyes caught that the envelopes on the desk had indeed been opened, as small stacks of folded papers of various colors sat atop them. With an inward sigh at having to do so, Setsuna gently shook Konoka's shoulders. "C'mon, Kono-chan. Wake up. Our letters are here." Her voice was hushed, hoping to not allow her contractor to hear the softness of her voice. It wouldn't do to show her softer side in front of a superior, but with Kono-chan, she couldn't force herself to avoid it.
Konoka's eyes fluttered open, and she looked up at Setsuna, smiling before sitting up straight, clasping her hands and stretching her arms in front of her, her shoulders popping as she did so. "Hey, Secchan." As if forgetting the rather solemn room in which they sat, Konoka leaned playfully against the slightly taller girl with an exaggerated yawn. "That was a nice nap, wasn't it?"
With a blush, Setsuna looked up at the headmaster, grateful to see him paying the couple no attention. "Yes, it was nice. We slept for two hours, by the looks of it." Her gaze strayed to the clock as if to offer proof.
Blinking, the room and their reason for being there seemed to rush back to Konoka. "The school! Is the mail here yet? Why didn't you wake me up? Did we make it in?"
Setsuna held a finger to Konoka's lips, halting the worriedly excited flow of questions. "Shh... I don't know yet. I asked your grandfather to read them, then tell us after we woke up."
Grabbing Setsuna's hands in her own, Konoka bounced off the couch, pulling her love along with her. "Gramps! What did the letters say?" She bounded up to the edge of the desk, looking anxiously between the older man and the letters, wondering whether it might be faster to read them herself.
Konoemon signed the paper he had been concentrating on without even acknowledging the two girls' presence. He was headmaster, after all, and as such, needed to put work before his personal affairs of his granddaughter and her girlfriend. He slipped the paper into its proper folder and pushed it off to the side. Folding his hands before him, Konoemon looked up into his granddaughter's wide mocha eyes.
"The letters have indeed come, Konoka. Setsuna-kun saw them delivered. Also, as you can see, I've already read then." He seemed to pause, a mistake on his part.
"Well?" Konoka leaned further across the desk, unconsciously dragging Secchan with her.
Somewhat exasperated with the excitable girl, but understanding how she felt, he waved dismissively at the papers. "Both of your applications have been accepted, as I'd expected." It was with admirable restraint that neither Setsuna nor Konoemon jumped when Konoka let out a joyous squeal.
Out of sheer happiness, she hugged Setsuna tightly, not noticing the girl stiffen and blush in response. Konoka released her and grabbed her papers from the desk, plopping heavily down in the over-stuffed chair behind her. With an apologetic nod, Setsuna also picked up her own papers and settled into the seat beside Konoka.
Humming happily, Konoka began flipping through the various pages, glancing at the headings in interest. Perhaps it was because magic had been denied her so long that she had taken such an unusually strong interest in the school of magic. She looked forward most to applying her interest in the occult to real life. What had once been a favored hobby of hers was now a school subject. The mere idea set a shiver of pure pleasure down her spine, rivaled only Secchan's presence.
As her eyes passed over another copy of the class list, she remembered that it was now necessary for them to send in their class selections. She looked over at Setsuna, a slightly worried expression on her face. "Secchan, do you have our classes?"
Setsuna blinked at the abrupt question, and an instant later her mocha eyes lit up in understanding. With a nod, she reached into the pocket of her grey skirt, one Konoka had chosen for her, and produced two neatly folded sheets of paper. "Here they are, Kono-chan." She handed them over to Konoka who quickly unfolded them to re-read the selection, then passed them across the desk to her grandfather.
"Here ya go, Gramps." She smiled at him, and with a small smile in return, his mood improving, he tucked the papers inside a folder that was nearly empty. Satisfied, Konoka returned to her excited browsing, flipping through the four-page-long list of classes. The next couple of pages were supply lists, sorted by class type. With a raised eyebrow of curiosity, Konoka sat them on her lap for further study later. The next page was one she actually stopped to read, for it was the dress code.
Konoka was quite used to being made to dress up, due to her status, and she was also used to wearing a uniform to school. Perhaps it was because of these restrictions placed upon her, that clothes were one thing she took a special interest in when she could. Not necessarily fashionable clothes, just whatever caught her eye as being cute, colorful, or comfortable. Thus she was particularly interested in the new school's rules concerning attire. Her enthusiasm dropped half a notch when she saw they did indeed have a uniform. Although unlikely, she had hoped they wouldn't.
The paper didn't elaborate much, merely stating that uniforms could be picked up at any retailer of clothes operated by a mage, and that they were to be worn to any school-related functions. Also included was a list of things you could not wear in addition to the uniform. No more than 2 body piercings, one if not in the ears, no makeup, no hair dying or flamboyant hats/hairstyles, and no more than three pieces of jewelry other than earrings. Konoka sighed. About like I thought. Not quite as strict as here, but not much more liberal either. With another small sigh, she sat that paper aside as well.
The next several sheets in the stack were maps of the various school buildings and dorms, complete with the history of each of the buildings. Following that was a rather lengthy set of general school and dorm rules, along with the corresponding disciplinary measures. Due to the nature of the school, said punishments were rather more creative than Konoka was used to, and she couldn't help but stare quizzically at several of them. The last page was a copy of the school calendar, which Konoka found with great pleasure to have several more days of vacation than Mahora.
Grinning in general satisfaction, Konoka restacked the papers, tapping them against her legs to straighten them, then sat back in her chair to look at Setsuna. The girl in question sat, her chin resting on one palm, reading interestedly through the list of rules and punishments. She jumped slightly when Konoka's soft hand touched her forearm, a faint blush rising instantly at the pleasant contact. She sat the paper down and cleared her throat, "Yes, Kono-chan?"
The headmaster's granddaughter gestured at the papers with one of her excited smiles on her face. "Doesn't it sound great, Secchan?"
Her enthusiasm was infectious, and Setsuna smiled back with a nod. "I am rather looking forward to it." Her eyebrows furrowed slightly and she looked at Konoemon. "Where are we to find our supplies? It didn't say."
"There are several shops in this area, actually. The largest of which is one that Konoka," he gestured at her with his chin, "frequents for her occult things." She sat up, surprised written all over her face. "You just have to know what to ask for." Konoemon opened one of his several desk drawers, shuffling through the papers within. "I've a list, somewhere; of all the registered mages in the city...it also has a list of shops that carry magical goods and such." He closed the drawer with a sigh. "When I find it, I'll get Shizuna-kun to make a copy for each of you."
Konoka's jaw dropped slightly, both at her grandfather's statements and at Secchan's easy acceptance of them. "There are mages here? With stores?"
A blush crept to her cheeks and she shrunk into her chair when both Konoemon and Secchan cast her looks that seemed to say "You didn't know?" Rather than be so blunt, Konoemon nodded. "There are many mages across the world, Konoka. I'd venture to say between fifteen and twenty-five percent of the population. Not counting those who practice crude magic, of course." Setsuna nodded in agreement. Konoka was curious about crude magic, but decided it best to ask Setsuna later.
Much to Konoka's extreme delight, Setsuna seemed to notice her sudden feeling of embarrassment and quickly changed the subject. "Also, how are we to get to," she glanced down at her papers, "Syran Island?"
Nodding his head as if he'd expected the question, Konoemon replied almost immediately. "We'll contact a boat to take you there, probably launching from Okinawa. There will, of course, be a mage aboard or you'll never find the island. If it was visible to any, it'd hardly be something that'd be kept around, you know."
Konoka nodded. Sounds logical enough... "So...is there a way we'll know, after we graduate, who's a mage and who's not?" She glanced at Secchan. "Obviously I can't tell right now."
Her grandfather shook his head. "Not unless you're reading a person's surface-layer thoughts, or they're showing some kind of sign of it. For instance, Negi-kun's staff. You may not have before, but by the time you graduate, you'll recognize many similar things as being wands."
Konoka blinked as the thought struck her. How many people with canes, swords, or staves were mages? It was a staggering revelation. Her grandfather chuckled as he saw the effects of his statement on the girl.
"Clearly you've got a lot to think about." Konoka nodded slowly in response. "You two are dismissed for now. If you come back tomorrow morning, around ten, I think, I'll give you the money for your supplies and let the two of you take care of that yourselves. I'm afraid I don't have the time to go with you."
"Yes, sir." Setsuna stood, nearly at attention, and nodded in assent. Gathering her papers in one hand, she offered the other to Konoka, who took it with a small smile. An exaggerated grunt marked Setsuna pulling her love her feet; a grunt that was returned with haste with a mock-hurt look, to which Setsuna's tongue made reply. Still clasping Konoka's hand, Setsuna turned back to Konoemon. "Thank you, sir."
"Thanks, Gramps!" Konoka waved brightly, mostly over the brief bout of moodiness that had overtaken her as the tide does the beach. "See ya later." He nodded at the both of them and immediately returned to the stack of papers that demanded his attention.
Setsuna pulled the right-most of the doors open and, her hand on the small of Konoka's back, gently pushed the chocolate haired girl through, following the moment she was out. Unsurprisingly, Konoka immediately recaptured the other girl's hand. "Isn't this exciting, Secchan?" She skipped ahead a couple steps, a happy bounce in her gait.
Her thoughts briefly straying to how much money she had on her, Setsuna soon replied, "Yes, it is. I think it calls for a celebration as a matter of fact." Her own smile grew as Konoka clapped her hands happily and quickly placed a soft kiss on Setsuna's cheek.
"Yay!" Konoka noticed her Secchan's eyes dart around nervously, seeing if anyone had seen the kiss, but decided to ignore it. She had resigned herself to accepting Setsuna's caution. She knew it wasn't because Setsuna was ashamed of her or anything, it was just the way she was. It was just another thing Konoka loved about her. Besides, she giggled to herself, prompting a questioning look from Setsuna, the blush is so cute!
Deciding to ignore the rather ominous giggle from the girl attached to her hand, Setsuna continued, "How does Italian sound, Kono-chan?" The delighted squeal was answer enough, and the couple set out at a fast walk for the exit, having had nothing to eat since the night before.
"I'll have the classic ravioli and a side order of bread-sticks."
"Ooh! Me too! Good idea, Secchan!" Smiling, Konoka handed the leather-bound menu back to their server, who took it with a nod and hurried off through the dimly lit restaurant. The smell of garlic and spices hung heavily in the air, and Konoka inhaled deeply, loving it.
Setsuna reclined, flexing her shoulders to work out the kinks as she sipped at her water. With one of her rare wry grins, she spoke, "Happy now, Kono-chan?"
"Happier than ever!" Her response was immediate and accompanied by a ferverent nod, as well as Secchan's hand motions for her to lower her voice. "I'm going to learn magic AND I get to stay with you!" An almost unnoticeably blush covered Setsuna, and the corners of her mouth turned up in a small grin.
With a nod, as a good knight bowing to her lady's wishes, Setsuna conceded. "Then I'm quite happy as well."
The exceedingly content smile that soon appeared on Konoka's face quickly dropped as "Konoka!" rang loudly through the restaurant, causing several people to stop eating and look around for the source of the outburst.
Setsuna sighed heavily as the sound of three pairs of feet moving somewhat faster than a walk caught her attention. Considering the voice and the number of people, it could only be the rest of the library troop...
As she'd thought, Miyazaki Nodoka, Ayase Yue, and the speaker, Saotome Haruna, were soon standing beside her chair and at the end of their table. Haruna quite brazenly rested a hand on Setsuna's shoulder and winked.
"On a date, eh?" She cast an eye around the restaurant, perhaps to avoid Secchan's sudden blush and death glare, then looked over at Konoka. "Well, it's certainly a nice place. The food's great."
"Yeah, it is." Konoka was barely able to contain the giggles that threatened to burst from her at the sight of Setsuna trying to glare at the oblivious artist who continued to babble on about the restaurant's merits.
"I haven't gotten the chance to tell you congratulations, Sakurazaki-san." Nodoka, hands clasped before her, smiled genuinely at the swordswoman, whose reddened gaze flicked to her momentarily. "I'm really happy for you two."
"Eh? Uh...thank you, Miyazaki-san..." Setsuna stammered slightly through the words, nearly reaching shock-level as Haruna plucked a bread-stick from the plate that the returning waiter placed before Konoka, dipping it into the sauce on the plate sitting in front of Setsuna.
She suddenly sat bolt upright as Konoka's foot poked insistently at her leg. Her brown eyes instantly locked with Konoka's, and with a gentle smile, Konoka shook her head as if to say "It's okay." Grumbling to herself, Setsuna watched Haruna munch happily on the breadstick, talking animatedly with the shortest of the three.
Setsuna cleared her throat conspicuously and focused her gaze on Haruna and Yue. "As a matter of fact, we are indeed on a date." She felt her cheeks heat up slightly and noted a delighted smile on Konoka's face. "What are you three doing, may I ask?"
Yue, noticing the rather irked look in the eyes of the quiet girl, spoke out before her taller friend could. Although quiet, her voice commanded attention. "We were looking for someplace to eat, and decided to check out this place." Seeing Setsuna's eyebrows raise in what could have been skepticism, she took a sip of her drink and continued. "But I don't think any of us are particularly in the mood for Italian, are we?"
Haruna looked down at the very end of the breadstick in her fingers and started to open her mouth, but closed it sharply as an elbow found its way to her side. "No, I don't think we do..." She rasped, casting a quick glare at her much shorter companion.
"I guess we'll leave you two to your date, then." Konoka grinned at Yue appreciatively, and Setsuna sighed in happy relief. "Have a nice time."
Yue took "Paru" by the elbow, leading her back towards the entrance. After a short wave and a "Bye!" from Nodoka, the third member of the group was soon trailing along after them.
Setsuna cast what was quite obviously a weary glance at the backs of the retreating three, the artist in particular. With a wry glance back at Konoka, she turned back around in her seat properly. "Why does my food always seem to go missing when Haruna-san is around?"
Konoka's perplexed look managed to coax a short giggle from Setsuna; a giggle she quickly masked with a rough cough. "Er, shall we eat?" For reasons Setsuna could not discern, this prompted a very short giggle from the girl across from her. Well, at least we're having a good time...
For several moments, they ate in general silence, the sound of forks clinking against plates and glasses hitting the table being the only real noise around them. As Setsuna was in the middle of swallowing a particularly large ravioli, Konoka looked across the table at her, clasping her hands in front of her. "Secchan, what's crude magic?"
Holding up a hand to signal her to wait, Setsuna choked down the bit of Italian food and sat her fork down. "You remember what you did at Cinema Village? When you healed me?" The very thought made the spot tingle slightly. Not in pain, but in...nostalgia, perhaps. "That was crude magic."
"Why is it called crude? It did what it was supposed to, right?"
The swordswoman cleared her throat uncomfortably, not particularly relishing the thought of pointing out the lack of skill in her love's magic. "Well, frankly, that display of magic was very...messy. You grossly over-exerted yourself for what should have been a simple healing spell; the excess magic was burned in something of an aura, a bit of a flare to something weird going on. It was also cast not of knowledge, but of emotion. That produces an unstable effect, and the actual effect can be quite different than the intention." She seemed to become rather lost in the subject, and she continued the short lesson with gusto. "Many of the more famous "magicians" around the world have been crude magic users. Houdini, for instance, was a good example of a crude mage. There're actually a lot of them across the world. They're all basically ignored by magic society."
Konoka's nod of understanding was rather like that of a bobble-head on a dashboard; completely automatic. With a sigh, Setsuna waved her fork dismissively at Konoka. "Your grandfather can explain it a lot better, I'm sure."
"Okay." With a satisfied smile, Konoka returned to the stabbing of her meat sauce with her breadstick of a sword. Setsuna smiled at the picture of nearly child-like innocent enjoyment of playing with food, and was reminded that no matter how mature Konoka acted, she was no older than herself.
The smile turned into one of self-satisfaction as Konoka looked up from her food to find Setsuna staring across the table at her. And she loves ME.
Konoka gulped down the breadstick and cocked an eyebrow quizzically at the other girl. "What?"
With a chuckle, Setsuna reached across the table and, with her index finger, wiped a bit of sauce from the corner of Konoka's mouth. Allowing herself a grin, she licked the still-warm sauce from her finger before replying. "Just thinking about how lucky I am, Kono-chan."
Author's Notes – Well, that's the first chapter. While you wait the short while it'll be for chapter 2 (since it's already written) go ahead and leave a review please. They're MUCH appreciated, and I'll see you soon!
Magic Allocation – A class in which a mage is taught how best to use their magic in a non-wasteful manner and still be effective.
Arithmancy – A Chaldean and Greek method of dividing numbers to determine fate and the future.
Alchemy – The ancient art of combining elements to form something entirely different.
Kanto Magic Association – The group of Magi that control the Kanto region of Japan.
Cinema Village – In an attempt to save the life of Sakurazaki Setsuna, Konoe Konoka accessed, unintentionally, her latent magical abilities in a burst of light and energy, though she did succeed in saving the swordswoman.