A/N: Yes it's another KonoSetsu story but hey, you can never have too many of those right?
Summary: At the age of 18, Konoka still has to go through the agonizing attempts of finding a suitor her grandfather loves to set her up with.
Chapter One - Life at 18
"Whaaaaat? Another one Gramps? I just had an omiai three days ago…" Konoe Konoka stood in front of her grandfather's desk, also known as the dean's desk.
"Now, now, Konoka this guy I'm sure you'll like! He's the ideal guy! He's only eight years older than you and he graduated with five majors in…" the voice of Konoemon became muffled and no longer able to understand as he buried his face into the profile of this so called ideal man.
Or perhaps it was Konoka who decided to block him off since it was the same thing over and over again.
Konoka rolled her eyes and let out a sigh. It was the end of the day and it happened to be a Friday, and like any other girl in school, Konoka looked forward to the weekends. Although this Saturday was going to be a dread, she just knew it.
'Yeah, I'm sure I'll like him just as much as I did with the hundreds of guys before…' Konoka sighed again before she looked up and smiled sweetly. After so many years, Konoemon was still trying to set Konoka up with some good for nothing rich guy. At the age of 17, Konoka had indeed grown into a more…fuller very well proportioned woman. Her hair grew longer and her bangs grew out with of course a few strands that hung over her eyes. Her eyes became more attractive and entrancing while her smiles became irresistible. As many others have said, with proper training, Konoka was on her way to becoming the best healing-mage the world has yet to see. She was already a very smart girl to start with, added with the fact that Konoka loved magic, she studied and practiced whenever she could, often under the watch of Negi and Evangeline as her mentors in the magical aspect of her training. But since Evangeline was weak in healing spells, she instead gave books to Konoka to study from and had other willing teachers teach her the theory of white magic.
"What time am I supposed to meet him tomorrow?" Konoka asked instead obediently. She knew it was useless to argue or even try to get out of these arranged marriages. Konoemon was determined to find Konoka a suitor whether she liked it or not.
"5 o'clock, sharp. You know the rest." Konoka nodded again with an empty smile. She was just about to turn and leave when the door opened.
"You called for me, sir?" Konoka's world lit up immensely at the sound of the oh-so-familiar voice.
"Setsuna-kun, right on time as usual. How was the patrol?"
Sakurazaki Setsuna, age 18, glanced at Konoka and gave her a small smile before she walked up besides her. Three years have all but made Setsuna the same girl when she was 15. Setsuna finally was able to reach a height taller than the mage besides her and couldn't have been happier to have come to the realization after being the shorter of the two for the last 17 years of her life. Her body indeed grew with her height but unless she was in a fight, it would seem nothing changed save for her height. But upon closer inspection, her hands had become rougher and she had a few scars on her arms. Setsuna, true to her word, grew stronger day by day and had come to control the power she once feared. Her eyes became slightly smaller but were as sharp as ever. Her hair was longer and the ponytail Setsuna always tied to the left was the same but tied slightly lower and more behind her head but her bangs stayed in the same fashion only covering half of her eyes. Her breast weren't much of a deal to begin with since she always bound them down but they became slightly more noticeable, if anyone dared to mention it. The physical aspect of Setsuna changed but the way she acted with others…especially concerning a certain someone, hadn't exactly improved much. But she was more daring and sometimes teased others, she even laughed more than her classmates thought possible but still blushed as badly as before.
"So far there is nothing to report. No abnormalities whatsoever." Setsuna answered professionally. Konoka stared at the swordswoman besides her and slowly began to smile as she realized that Setsuna's cheeks gradually began to take a pink color.
"Very good, very good…can I ask a favor from you?" Setsuna nodded and Konoka's attention returned to her grandfather. "Would you mind escorting Konoka to her omiai on Saturday evening? Just so, you know, she doesn't somehow escape or get kidnapped again and leave me to apologize."
Setsuna couldn't help but smile as she glanced at Konoka who also looked back and gave an abashed grin. Setsuna blushed at the memory back in Konoka's dorm room…
"Ne, Secchan…what are you doing tomorrow?" The swordswoman was working in the middle of a math story problem and was twirling the pencil in her fingers. She tried to figure out the abstruse equation when her attention diverted from her textbook to her tutor. Konoka was fidgeting with her pencil avoiding eye contact because she knew if Setsuna examined her long enough, she would catch onto what the healer wanted.
"I just have to patrol around the forest for two hours. Why?" As usual Setsuna dropped everything and gave Konoka her full attention, aware that something was bothering her princess, although the pencil was still twirling in her hand.
"I…um…well…gramps set me up with another guy and…well…I really don't wanna go cause he's triple my age and no where near as cute as yo- a-as the younger suitors…so…I was wondering if…you know…could…I don't know somehow kidnap me?" Setsuna's pencil flung towards the wall opposite of them and hit the T.V.
"Pft…ahahahaha k-kidnap?! Are you that desperate to get out of those arranged meetings, Kono-chan?" Setsuna continued laughing as Konoka's face flared up in embarrassment.
"Secchan! Don't laugh at me! You wouldn't like it either if gramps was trying to hook you up with some random person!" despite her pouting, Konoka smiled as she watched Setsuna laugh freely, a rare sight to see even after all the years that they've been reunited.
"Sorry, Kono-chan…but kidnapping would be a bit extreme especially if I'm the culprit. Your grandfather would be upset if he found out I was your accomplice." Said Setsuna as she got up to grab her pencil and came back to see Konoka smiling brilliantly. Her eyes slowly wandered to a piece of paper Konoka held in her hand with stick figure drawings of some sort.
"Don't worry I planned everything!" Konoka shoved the piece of paper into Setsuna's face. Setsuna instinctively recoiled back and slowly took the paper out of her hand. After a few moments of staring, Setsuna's eyes slowly went back to staring at the mage with a look of utter disbelief.
"This is your plan?"
Regardless how ridiculous Setsuna thought the plan was it still worked out. Apparently Konoka had formed some type of kidnapping that would happen right before the designated dinner time. She knew that paper doubles were Setsuna's specialties and used those to her advantage. Setsuna was to create these doubles that would kidnap Konoka away right in front of her grandfather and Setsuna would see them and chase them down. After being gallantly rescued with the ones responsible punished, Konoka was too overwhelmed from all the excitement to attend the dinner, thus she stayed at the dorms. To help make the set up look more believable, Konoka used magic to make it seem that Setsuna had cuts and bruises all over her body and her clothes slightly ripped. But of course she healed Setsuna up in an instant when they were safe and sound.
The plan worked, yes, but also backfired. Security was higher than ever, so much so that people often wondered if the president or some other powerful person who needed extreme bodyguards was visiting.
After that brilliant plan, Konoka was no longer able to escape nor was Setsuna able to help.
"I'll make sure Kono-chan arrives on time, sir." Setsuna bowed and Konoka shook her head. She's told Setsuna one too many times that she didn't have to be so respectful to her grandfather. That was the only thing Setsuna wouldn't allow to change.
"Excellent. Oh, Konoka, I bought you another kimono since you seem to have worn out and out grown the other one. Or perhaps you just like the flower designs on the one Setsuna-kun picked out for you?" It wasn't as if Konoka didn't have more than one kimono, she had about five of those things.
It was just as Konoemon said, Setsuna was asked to choose a kimono for Konoka when they went shopping together, all expenses paid for by gramps. The kimono was navy blue with a cherry blossom branch that extended from the bottom up on front. The pedals were pale pink and scattered in a circular fashion up around the waist. The sleeves have blossoms that decorated the arms up to the elbows. The obi belt was a slight shade lighter than the navy blue with a swirl like design and a large flower in the middle surrounded by miniature flowers. The obi-jime was also navy blue and the bow was white.
Setsuna blushed fiercely and looked down at the ground. Konoka just smiled and scratched the back of her head.
"I haven't really grown that much have I? We got that Kimono a couple of years ago."
"No, you just wear it so much that the color has begun to fade. Don't worry, I asked Setsuna-kun to pick out this kimono for you as well!" Konoemon smiled as he watched his granddaughter look at the swordswoman besides her with a curious expression.
"A-Asuna-san and Negi-sensei helped choose as well! I cannot take all the credit." Konoka suddenly was excited to see this new kimono if Setsuna picked it. That and she didn't like being in the presence of her grandfather when he set her up on dates that never worked out.
"Well gramps, I'll see you tomorrow then. Let's go Secchan!" with that Konoka grabbed the blushing girl's arm and pulled her outside with strength Setsuna didn't know she had.
Konoemon watched the girls speed out of the doors and he couldn't help but smile. There was a slight knock on his door and it opened to reveal Takahata Takamichi.
"Ah, Takahata-sensei perfect timing! You saw Konoka and Setsuna-kun run out just now didn't you?"
"It'd be rather hard to miss a pair like those two. What was it that you wanted to discuss with me sir?" Takahata took a seat in a chair provided for him.
"It's about Konoka. For these past years I've been trying to find her a suitable partner since she's going to become a well-known mage in this world but I can't seem to find anyone who catches her interest!" the old man threw his hands up in the air as he brought up a rather large stack of files onto his desk and started to rummage through the stack of portfolios. "A doctor, a rich businessman, a strong magician, a popular boy at school with great grades, is handsome, and knows magic. No one sparks her interest! I'm almost out of choices!"
Takahata simply smiled before he leaned back in his chair. "Sir, if I may boldly say, what if Konoka-kun isn't interested in the men you choose because she's never met them before."
"That's the thing; the girl won't give anyone a chance! It's the same every time, she purposely drinks too much sake, makes a fool of herself, and poor Setsuna-kun has to carry my drunken granddaughter back home and care for that girl! Not to mention Negi-kun being in the same room, hope he hasn't been traumatized…"
'Kind of too late for that wish…' Takahata sweat dropped "Uh…sir…"
"Setsuna-kun never complains either! Even if she was sent to be Konoka's bodyguard, babysitting isn't part of the 'bodyguard' description! No matter what Konoka does, Setsuna-kun is there, true to her word!"
"Negi-kun even helps out so much, not to mention Asuna-kun! It's almost embarrassing how much trouble Konoka causes for her roommates and her best friend…"
Takahata sighed and stood up, pulling a folder from his jacket and laid it open in front of Konoemon.
"Sir, may I suggest that you try setting Konoka up with this person next? I'm sure that this person is quite auspicious."
Konoemon stared at the paper and brought it up to his face, examining the person intently. He then spared a glance at Takahata who held a confident smile.
"Why didn't I think about this in the first place?!"
"Perhaps it's because you limit your group of suitors to be good for the family image?" Suggested Takahata as Konoemon waved his hand.
"Pish posh! I may be old but that doesn't mean I'll force tradition onto Konoka!" Takahata grinned
'Could've fooled me…'
"Wow…you chose this for me, Secchan? It's beautiful."
The two girls made it back to the dorms and were greeted by Asuna and Negi. It was dinner time but Konoka was exhausted from running plus her attention was taken by the kimono laid out on her bed. The kimono was sky blue with a rather complicated design with flowers of all sorts that took up all the space on the upper and lower part of the kimono, leaving a few select spots and the area around the neck to see the background color. The flowers were outlined in all different shades of blue, red, green, purple, and yellow circling up around the body and the sleeves with the vines connecting them. The obi belt was no less complicated in design and was of tapestry weaving with flowers and wavy pattern background in shades of white and pale blue.
"I just picked out the best kimono out of the handful that Asuna had narrowed down for me." Setsuna took a seat at the table watching the chocolate haired girl hold up the fabric against her body.
"Hey it was a team effort, no need to be so modest, Setsuna!" Asuna smacked the back of the swordswoman rather hard. If it weren't for Setsuna being used to the friendly painful hits, she would have smacked her head onto the table.
Kagurazaka Asuna was still the tallest out of the group of four but her features hadn't changed too much. But as Chamo put it, Asuna had finally become a woman, just not nearly as close as Konoka did though. Her hair was still worn in pigtails with the bells given from her beloved Takahata-sensei only now they were lower. Her fighting skills had improved greatly with hardcore training from Setsuna and she even learned the Kanka fighting style since it was evident that she was able use it and was trained by Takahata himself. It was no surprise that she learned Kanka quite quickly but naturally also had plenty of mess ups, nearly all of them were out of nervousness. Her skills increased dramatically but her GPA probably had increased only by a fraction.
"Konoka-san, do you have another omiai tomorrow?" asked Negi. Negi Springfield grew into a handsome young 13 year old. He still had the personality of an innocent gentleman but puberty had hit also him. Of course he still couldn't allow a serious relationship to develop with anyone, particularly his students, and kindly refused their confessions. But Negi was still a growing boy and he would sometimes get…excited from time to time, usually after a few students shamelessly flirt with him. His body had matured and he no longer looked like a child but his baby face still resulted in nicknames pertaining to a kid. He even grew a few inches in his height but was still the shortest out of everyone, save for the Narutaki twins.
"Yeah, and supposedly I'm going to like him. Just like all the others…" mumbled Konoka as she folded up her kimono and put it away. "You guys must be hungry! I'll start making dinner." The young healer grabbed an apron and headed into the kitchen.
"I'll help you." Setsuna stood up and went into the kitchen after properly setting Yuunagi up against the wall.
Asuna watched the raven haired woman stand next to her most precious person and let out a sigh.
"When will that girl ever confess?" muttered the Baka Red Ranger as she turned her attention to the T.V.
"What was that, Asuna-san?" Negi's ears perked up at the word confess since it became second nature to him.
"Nothing, kids should stay out of adult business." Asuna flicked Negi's forehead and then ruffled his hair. Negi rubbed his forehead and looked to Chamo for help but the ermine was too busy on the computer ordering who knows what.
In the kitchen, a slight ruckus was taking place. Setsuna, skilled as she may be with her sword, was often clumsy when she was too close to a certain mage.
"Secchan! You're cutting too much." Setsuna stopped in mid cut of half a carrot stick and realized that she had indeed cut too many for a meal of four.
It was instinct really. Setsuna was just really fast with knives and couldn't help but cut faster than a normal person. But that wasn't the case for this current moment.
Right on cue, the blush appeared but Setsuna smiled sheepishly. "Well…at least we won't have to worry about not having enough carrots." With that she popped a few carrot slices into her mouth and started cutting the next vegetable. Konoka smiled and continued adding the ingredients for the curry she decided to make.
Konoka's mind slowly began to wander on how much Setsuna had changed. At first, people were actually frightened by the girl upon meeting her because she allowed no one to converse with her. Then after the mini saga in Kyoto, she allowed the company of others to surround her bit by bit but still had a hard time keeping a conversation. Now Setsuna had actually become playful and joked around more. Hanging out with Konoka, Asuna, and Negi so much gave her confidence in what she had once feared before and she was truly happy. But after being confronted by Evangeline during that school festival, Setsuna was careful to not slack off too much and get too comfortable. Seeing how much it affected Setsuna when Evangeline told her to choose between her sword or happiness but giving up neither, Konoka saw that she took the fighting lesson to heart and with them became the best protector and friend she promised to be.
'Friend huh…' pondered Konoka, stealing a glance at the woman besides her.
"Hey, Secchan…" Konoka hadn't meant for her voice to sound low and slightly husky but it did. In doing so, Setsuna blushed and looked up, all the while still cutting.
"W-what is it, Kono-cha- ow!" The consequence of not watching what she was cutting, Setsuna cut her finger instead.
"Ah! Secchan you're bleeding!" Konoka quickly turned off the stove and grabbed Setsuna's hand, examining it.
"It's just a small cut I can…" Setsuna's voice suddenly died when she felt lips on her finger. Her eyes widened at the sight of Konoka preventing the cut from bleeding any more and her face fumed three shades of red. The last shade being so completely full and red that it seemed the swordswoman dipped her face in paint.
Usually Setsuna would've pulled her hand away and just have Konoka heal it like all the other times when she and Asuna got too into their sparing practice. But for some reason she couldn't will her body to move this time.
Konoka resisted the urge to smile, knowing all too well the affect this had on her personal bodyguard.
Kissing the finger, the cut healed up as if it wasn't there to begin with. "There all better…Secchan, you're face is red. Are you okay? The heat isn't getting to you is it?"
"N-n-no! I-it's nothing!" despite saying that, Konoka frowned. Setsuna saw something in that frown that was off, as if the healer was trying to hold back something.
"Hmm, let me see." Konoka held her bangs back as well as Setsuna's and pressed her forehead against the other girl's which turned the face blush into a full body heater cranked up to a hundred degrees. Setsuna could've broken the thermometer the instant she had it in her mouth.
With their faces so close, Konoka tried to not do anything else to cause the poor swordswoman more embarrassment. Setsuna on the other hand, was speechless with her mouth opening and closing unable to produce any type of sound.
"You're a little hot but nothing to worry about, I'm sure." Konoka leaned back, letting her hand that held Setsuna's bangs out of the way slowly trail down to her cheek and held it there. She gave Setsuna a soft kiss on the forehead and tried to smile but it ended up being a smirk. "I can't afford having you be sick before escorting me tomorrow, now can I?"
Setsuna resisted the urge to touch the burning spot and immediately returned her attention to the edible objects.
As soon as Konoka's eyes turned back to the food, Setsuna quickly chopped the rest of the vegetables furiously. She added in the remaining ingredients into the curry, her hand brushing against Konoka's lightly, sending a kind of shock throughout the healer's body and her heart beat quickened faster than before. Konoka's eyes became locked onto Setsuna's lips and glanced at the raven haired girl's eyes only to see she refused to make eye contact.
Konoka blushed at the thought that passed through her mind to which she simply just smiled unashamed and finished cooking. Asuna and Negi had set up the table and now the meal to was ready to be consumed.
'Secchan has become quite hazardous to me…' Konoka mused as she watched the swordswoman talking with the prodigy teacher.
'I can't seem to control myself when she's near.'