AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written for Bellumina of LiveJournal.
R2 spoilers ahead, you have been warned.
And, I've never written much on Anya and Zino. I like the pairing, but this is my first time writing for it. –hides-
Anya Alstreim walked through the corridors of Ashford Academy, managing to put one foot in front of the other and flip through all the photos saved on her cellphone at the same time. It was a slow day – too slow, in fact.
She pushed open the door to the student council room. Somehow, the Knight of Six wasn't surprised to see that it was empty, except for a black cat taking its afternoon nap on the table. Zino Weinberg had asked her to meet him there, and she had to admit, she was several minutes early. And if he was late, she could just blame the students who were constantly chasing him – not that Zino hated the attention. He actually basked in it and loved giving his fans a challenge.
The thought made Anya scowl as she settled into the nearest seat. Arthur stirred, got up and stretched. He surveyed her with bright amber eyes for a moment before walking over and settling himself under the hand that was not full of cellphone.
Anya absently scratched his ears as she got to a photo of Zino waving to the camera. He had that big, goofy smile on his face. Sometimes it was quite infuriating and it took her quite a while to get used to it when she joined the Knights of Rounds.
She even began to think that his smile was cute.
But she couldn't say that out loud, of course.
Anya remembered her first day with the Knights of Rounds.
One by one, each Knight introduced himself (or herself), all of them older and definitely more experienced. And as usual, she returned their greetings with simple nods, the corners of her mouth barely even moving up. Then she snapped photos of each of them – not only would they all be in her blog that day, but it would also help her remember their faces and names, not that they were all forgettable.
The Knight of Three would never be forgettable. He was the last one to meet her, and apparently seemed to be closest to her age.
"Pleasure to meet you, Anya Alstreim! I'm Zino Weinberg, the Knight of Three! Welcome to the Knights of Rounds!"
Then he raised his hand in a rather eager wave.
And then he placed his arm around her shoulder, which was awkward and annoying at the same time. She wanted and didn't want to tell him off and at the same time.
All the while, he had that smile plastered on his face, which only got bigger as she took his picture while he was still attached to her.
At least Anya would have someone to talk to. It was either him or the adults, who were probably already whispering about the youngest Knight. As if he could read her thoughts, Zino started talking about life at the Rounds and pretty much anything and everything else in between, with the adults filling in every now and then. But of course, it was mostly the blond young man who instantly talked her ears off on that very first day.
Anya continued leafing through her photos. Glancing behind her at the slightly ajar door, she could see other students passing through the hallway. But none of them looked like Zino, or even had that goofy smile to match his. And it seemed that no matter what happened, he always looked like he was having the time of his life.
She paused at a picture of him at the school festival, taken before the two of them actually enrolled.
The Knight of Three was clutching a water pistol and wore a triumphant grin. Anya had thought that his game was a serious and mundane waste of time, and it was clearly written on her face – at least she thought it was clearly written on her face – yet Zino paid the fee and toted an overly colorful but obviously fake gun as a gaggle of girls gathered to watch him play.
Anya hated the gathering girls more than the game itself. They were screaming and basically just being a huge distraction. Some of them were even in the photo.
Somehow, she had the urge to use her cellphone's photo editing feature to erase them.
"Anya?" A familiar voice called out her name as the door was pushed open. The Knight of Six turned to see a familiar young man standing there. He looked so casual and noble at the same time…
"Come on, Anya, let's go!" Zino said, walking over to her. She quickly switched her phone back to camera mode and took a picture of Arthur washing himself.
Standing up, she asked, "Where are we going?"
"It's a surprise, you'll see!" He took her hand after giving Arthur a brief pat on the head.
Anya doubted that. It was no surprise that Zino loved dabbling in the common life, after all. They went through all the trouble of going to the Ashford Academy fair and eventually entering the same school as students just so he could experience what it was like. He had been raised by a very noble family, and it was practically in his nature to be curious about everything else outside his comfort zone.
"Eh…are you all right?" She felt a tug, and in an instant she was back in the student council's room. Sir Smiles-a-Lot wasn't smiling this time; in fact, he now looked pretty worried.
"Oh…" The girl nodded.
"Are you sure?" Zino stared at her, and he slowly loosened his grip on her fingers. Anya nodded again, and she could feel him scrutinizing her, searching for any sign that she wasn't okay, which she was.
But apparently, she passed the test.
"You'll like where we're going, I promise," he said. That grin was back on his face as he pulled, and she willingly let herself get dragged away. And as they were out the door, she took a photo of him and his smile with her cellphone.
It was an unusual angle.
But it was still a good smile – as expected from Sir Smiles-a-Lot.