A warm breeze blew past Setsuna, softly waving her hair and ruffling her skirt with its gentle force. However, Setsuna was unaware of the very minor disturbance. She was lightly napping against a tree in the depths of one of Mahora Academy's most remote areas. She was napping, but she was also listening and waiting. She was listening for the sound that would tell her that she could finally wake up. Until she heard that sound, Setsuna would continue to nap and listen and wait... and dream...
Part 1: Memories Renewed
"Hey, Secchan?" Konoka asked, rolling over onto her stomach. Through the thick sea of soft grass that grew around them, Konoka could clearly see her companion lying across from her with her hands folded comfortably behind her head. Using the small fingers of a seven-year-old girl, Konoka gently prodded the top of Setsuna's head and called for her again. The young swordsman emitted a faint squeak of surprise and rolled over, casting Konoka a curious look.
"Spin me," Konoka said once she finally caught Setsuna's attention. She propped her head upon her raised arms and smiled playfully at the other girl.
"Spin you?" Setsuna repeated as the expression in her large eyes changed from curiosity to uncertainty. Her confusion elicited a giggled from Konoka, who got to her feet and held out a hand to her friend. Slowly, still with uncertainty clouding her eyes, Setsuna mimicked Konoka's actions by standing up and reaching out to take the hand that was offered to her. As their hands met and their fingers became intertwined, Konoka reached out and grasped Setsuna with her other hand as well.
"Spin me," Konoka repeated, her smile growing as she tugged on Setsuna's hand with both of her own. Setsuna felt her feet leave the ground without so much as a warning and her eyes widened in surprise. With her free hand, she frantically waved and tried to grasp at nothingness, impulsively and irrationally thinking she would find something to cling to in the open air.
"Kono-chan!!" Setsuna cried, clinging tightly to both of Konoka's hands with only one of her own. However, Konoka could only giggle at the frantic look on her friend's face. Setsuna stopped in mid-shriek as the merry sound of Konoka's laughter reached her ears. The high-pitched giggles, much like the sound of wind chimes swaying in the breeze, melted away much of the shock of suddenly being swung into the air, and Setsuna quickly found herself laughing as well.
After swinging Setsuna around in two large circles, Konoka finally let Setsuna back on the ground. The young swordsman landed firmly on the ground and released her grip on Konoka's hands. "Like that," Konoka laughed as she watched Setsuna place her hands on her knees in an attempt to regain her bearings and catch her breath. "Spin me like that."
"Like that...?" Setsuna grinned mischievously as she straightened up. Before the other girl could react, Setsuna grabbed Konoka's hands within both of her own. With a small grunt of effort, using all of the strength of her seven-year-old body, Setsuna pulled on Konoka's arms and lifted her high into the air, much higher that Konoka had lifted her. Konoka shrieked with delight and tightly shut her eyes as Setsuna spun her once, then twice, and then three times in a wide circle, never once letting Konoka's feet touch the ground. Setsuna smiled as she watched Konoka fly through the air, laughing all the while. She watched as the young girl's flowery kimono fluttered in the breeze, her sleeves billowing merrily as she was spun.
As Konoka's feet finally landed unsteadily on the ground, she stumbled forward into Setsuna who hugged her until she regained her footing. "How was that?" Setsuna asked with a wide grin as her friend straightened up within her arms. Konoka simply giggled and nodded her approval. And then, without warning, she leaned in and gently kissed Setsuna on the cheek.
"H-hey!" Setsuna protested taking a small step backward, blushing as she moved. She raised a hand to her cheek and placed it upon the spot that had been kissed. Konoka, however, seemed unfazed by what had occurred.
"Come on, Secchan!" Konoka cried, turning around and starting to run. "Let's go back to my house!"
Setsuna's watched for a moment, stunned, as Konoka moved further and further away from her. Though they were only upon her cheek for a moment, Setsuna could still feel the touch of Konoka's lips upon her skin. She let her fingers rest just an instant longer on her cheek before slowly dropping her hand to her side. Faintly, Setsuna heard her name being called in the distance. Finally pulled out of her reverie, she slowly stumbled after Konoka, still dazed by the kiss...
The sound of a door opening in the distance startled Setsuna out of her nap. She opened a tired eye, glanced in the direction of Evangeline's cottage, and saw a dark haired girl passing through the doorway. Shutting her eyes tightly, Setsuna let out a yawn and used the tree she had been napping against for support as she got to her feet. Stray traces of the dream she had been having still lingered in her mind, slowly fading away, and Setsuna quickly tried to recall it before the memory slipped away from her entirely.
"My dream... what had it been about?" Setsuna thought to herself. The sleepy swordsman let out another yawn and stretched her arms high over her head as she straightened up. Konoka had been in the dream; she was sure of it. Setsuna had also been in it as well. She brushed off her clothes to beat away any dirt that might have clung to her as she napped. Her sword was on the ground beside the tree where she had left it, and she bent down to pick it up as she continued to think.
What had the two of them been doing in the dream? Had they... flown? Flying, was that it? Setsuna frowned as she reached for the sword. No, it wasn't flying. It was something else. It was...
"Oh!" Setsuna gasped softly as her hand closed around Yuunagi. Her dream flooded back to her in its entirety and she quickly straightened up in surprise. She had dreamt about a memory from her childhood, one where she and Konoka were swinging each other. It was a memory where Konoka had given her a kiss; her first kiss from Konoka. Setsuna slowly brought her free hand to her cheek and rested it upon the spot that Konoka had kissed so many years in the past and then blushed slightly. Of course, that kiss had no real meaning behind it; at least, not romantically. They were only seven when it happened, so what real meaning could a kiss like that have had? Yet for some reason, Setsuna couldn't help but blush at the memory...
When Setsuna finally looked up again, she found a smiling Konoka rushing toward her. Setsuna smiled as well, pulling her hand away from her cheek and holding it out to the cheerful mage.
"Secchan!" Konoka happily cried as she grabbed onto the hand the swordsman offered with both of her own. As Setsuna looked down at their joined hands, she impulsively dropped her sword and grasped Konoka's hands with both of her own. Konoka's mildly surprised expression quickly turned into shock as she was pulled off the ground, and then turned into one of giddy excitement as Setsuna swung her three times in a wide circle. She screamed with laugher until her feet finally landed on the ground again. Konoka stumbled as she shakily tried to catch her breath and regain her balance. Again, impulsively, Setsuna let go of Konoka's hands, stepped forward, and held Konoka in her arms until the mage could stand on her own.
"How was that?" she asked Konoka, echoing the words she had used in their childhood. Konoka giggled and nodded, just like she had done when they were seven, and Setsuna wondered wildly for a moment whether or not Konoka would kiss her like she had in the past.
However, instead of leaning into Setsuna, Konoka took a step back and cheerfully said, "You're so silly, Secchan."
Setsuna nervously laughed and scratched the back of her head. Konoka was right about that; she really was acting silly. What had made her suddenly want to swing Konoka around like that? They hadn't played like that in years.
"Hey, Secchan? You weren't waiting all this time for me, were you?" Konoka asked peering into Setsuna's flustered face.
"Eh? Well, sort of..." Setsuna answered, growing even more flustered.
"Silly Secchan. I told you that you didn't have to do that. I had an extra long training session today, remember?"
"I know, but I wanted to wait for you..." Setsuna mumbled, looking away as she continued to blush. She picked up her sword again and began to play with the tassels that dangled from the end of Yuunagi's hilt.
Konoka smiled at her devoted protector and gently slipped her hand into Setsuna's, halting her teasing of the tassels. Still blushing slightly, Setsuna looked down at their joined hands and smiled faintly. Konoka bent down and tilted her head to meet Setsuna's lowered gaze and then smiled at the swordsman.
"Come on, Secchan, let's go back to the dorms."
Setsuna smiled and nodded. Now that her moment of embarrassment had passed, she finally felt the warmth on her cheeks fade away. Even with Konoka's hand tightly intertwined with her own, Setsuna began to relax a bit.
"Ojou-sama? How was your training with Evangeline-san?"
"Hm?" Konoka asked. She turned away from the natural forest scenery that had caught her attention and looked at Setsuna. "Training went ok. Eva-san had me fight with Chachamaru-san, which was really rough, but look! No scars!" Konoka smiled as she winked and held up a scratch-free arm to prove that she was uninjured.
Setsuna tried her best to return the smile, but inwardly she was wincing. She knew that Chachamaru probably tried to hold back, but she still must have hurt Konoka pretty badly under Evangeline's orders. Setsuna wondered how many cuts Konoka had needed to heal with her magic, and she was forced to try even harder to conceal her wince.
"Was that why you training was so long today?" Setsuna asked, still keeping her fake smiled plastered to her face. "Because of your fight with Chachamaru-san?"
Konoka shook her head. "No, that was just normal stuff. We took so long because Eva-san wanted to discuss some things about my training with me. Speaking of which..."
Konoka quickly stepped in front of Setsuna so that they were face to face, forcing Setsuna to abruptly stop walking in order to avoid running into Konoka. The swordsman's eyebrows shot up in surprise as she gazed at the still smiling mage.
Setsuna saw the young mage take a deep breath before answering her. "Well you see Secchan," Konoka began. "Eva-san and I talked about this for a while and she thinks that it's time I got a partner."
Partner. For some reason unknown to Setsuna, the word set off a warning inside her head. "O-o-oh..." Setsuna stuttered, quickly pulling her hand out of Konoka's grasp and taking a small step backward. She suddenly felt very hot and she could tell that she was blushing again. Setsuna's bottom lip began to tremble slightly, and she gently bit it and tried to calm her racing mind.
"No wait, Secchan. I want my partner to be you. I'm not looking for anyone else," Konoka said soothingly, trying to comfort Setsuna who clearly looked bothered. She took a step forward to close the gap between them. "Remember when we talked about this at Iincho's resort? If you're still okay with it..." Konoka said, taking Setsuna's hand in her own again. "If you're still okay with it," she repeated, "I want you to be my partner, Secchan."
"I-I-I—" Setsuna stuttered. She paused and tried to start again. "O-ojou-sama, I—" Setsuna stopped, unsure of what she wanted to say. She bit down on her lip again and looked back and forth between Konoka's apprehensively smiling face and their clasped hands. Her heart continued to beat audibly and painfully in her chest. This feeling of anxiety, where was it coming from? Setsuna would willingly give her life to protect Konoka; they both knew that. It was the quality that any ministra magi should have for her magister magi, but there's was something that was keeping Setsuna from agreeing to form the pactio...
"I-I can't..." Setsuna whispered softly, barely audible to even her own ears, and looked away from Konoka.
"S-Secchan? Konoka tentatively asked. "If this is about the kissing thing..."
Setsuna felt herself tense up at the word "kiss", and quickly extracted her hand from Konoka's gentle grip. Konoka's smile faltered at Setsuna's reaction, though the swordsman's averted gaze kept her from seeing this. Konoka closed her empty hand, still warm from Setsuna's touch, and brought it against her chest.
"I know how you feel about girls kissing, Secchan, and I get that, but we only have to do it once."
"Only once?" The words echoed in Setsuna's mind, and she looked up into Konoka's eyes to find a pleading expression on the mage's face.
"Just one kiss, and we'll never need to do it again," Konoka said, nodding comfortingly. She smiled softly, almost wistfully, at Setsuna. "We only need one kiss, and then we'll be partners." Slowly, she tried to reach for Setsuna's hand again. "So please, can't you do this for m-"
Konoka stopped as Setsuna twisted away from her outstretched hand. Setsuna shook her head slowly and stared back at her with apologetic eyes.
"I'm sorry, Ojou-sama," Setsuna apologized softly. She quickly looked away at the sight of Konoka's crestfallen face, knowing perfectly well that she was the cause of the young mage's pain and sadness. Yet even with this knowledge, Setsuna still didn't understand why but she couldn't bring herself to say yes. "I'm sorry," she repeated, "but I just can't."
Without another glance at Konoka, Setsuna kept her head down and hurried past the stunned girl. She ran without hearing the sound of footsteps behind her and understood that Konoka wasn't following. It was only until she was certain that Konoka could no longer see her retreating form that Setsuna finally lifted a hand to her eyes to wipe away the steady stream of falling tears.
Word Count: 2430
Authors Notes: Success! I kept this under 2500 words! The reason why I want this to be short is because I'm writing this as a one-shot for a KonoSetsu contest over at Mahora Academy Forums. This is actually part one of what should be a three part fic. "And why are you writing a three part fic when you're entering a one-shot contest?" you might be asking? Well the answer's simple. I'm gonna mash the three parts into one long one-shot before I send it in. XD Anyway, I hope you liked this chapter. This fic is going to be all fluff without any of the messy action stuff. :D Please review if you can. Constructive criticism is welcomed and encouraged since I still want to fix this up before I send it in to the contest. The rest of this fic should be done within the next two-ish weeks because the contest ends soon, so please keep an eye out for quick updates!
Also, I'm aware that there's a game with the title "Shining Tears". Chalk up another point for me using uncreative titles. XD First the highly unoriginal "Crimson Wings", and now I'm using a video game title. Perhaps my next fic will just be named "Negima" or something... There's still time to make changes, so this might end up with a new title for the final entry, but for now I'm content with this unoriginality. XD
Last Updated: January 30th, 2007