Love's Magic
Episode One

Note: This fanfic updates on Saturdays and Tuesdays, generally, with some exceptions. If you want to see something new, check back on those days.

Takakura Takeo took another step towards the Magic Club room. He could faintly hear words being spoken inside, and he clenched his fist as he wondered if it was another one of Mizuha's manga club goons searching around for another way to corrupt a project. He stomped to the door, turned the knob, and swung it open with a satisfying BANG! as the wood hit the cement of the wall beside it.

Inside, however, he saw something completely different. A girl with firey-red spiked hair sat at the room's only table, her brow creased in frustration as she held her magic wand over an apple. She didn't seem to notice he was even there, so he took a step backwards to examine what she was doing-- trying to shrink the apple with a magic spell. She wasn't having much success.

Sawanaguchi Sae. The name itself was enough to make his heart pound. He knew that he was two years her senior and she looked to him only for admiration and respect, but she still had power over him that no other girl had. Whether or not he would ever have a chance with her, she still found convienient cracks in his fantasies to sneak into and change completely. She was so innocent, so pure. She was also sitting five feet in front of him, and he had lost all willpower to take another step closer.

"I can't do it!" Sae wailed finally, placing her magic wand on the table and standing up. Takeo ducked out of the way so that by chance she wouldn't notice him, but she knew he was there. She smiled a bit and walked over to him. "Sempai, is that you?"

"Hello, Sae," Takeo finally managed. "I was just coming--"

"To make sure that Mizuha's henchpeople weren't ruining our club presentation for the festival again." Sae's smile increased. "I've been here since the end of the day, and nobody's come. I don't think anything's going to happen to our project."

Takeo nodded. He glanced at the magic wand, sitting alone on the table and motioned to it with his hand. "Were you having trouble with a spell? Maybe I could help."

"Arigatou, sempai!" Sae clapped her hands together and sat down again in the chair. "I was trying to make this apple smaller. I chant the same spell over and over, and nothing happens. What am I doing wrong?"

Takeo stood at Sae's back, wiping his now sweaty palms on the pants of his school uniform. He knew the way he was feeling was stupid and wrong, but he couldn't help just looking at how perfect Sae was. Her outside appearance was enough for any guy, but the cheerful personality and can-do attitude was enough to win anyone over. She'd been the love interest of Jinno Jurika last semester, but now that Takeo was almost finished with high school all together he was happy he could spend the spring semeseter alone with Sae. Even if nothing was going to happen, he knew this was how he wanted to close out his high school career.

He watched as Sae closed her eyes and concentrated on the apple. She motioned her magic wand over it, chanting the same spell he had taught the group at a club meeting a week before. Sparks shot out of the end of the wand and danced in the air over the apple, but nothing happened. Sae sighed and folded her hands in her lap.

"It doesn't work," she finally said. "No matter what I do, it always has the same result. It's as if my magic is being blocked by something."

Takeo's hands were shaking, but he picked up the magic wand and placed it in Sae's hands. He put his hands over hers and motioned the wand toward the apple. "Let's try this together," he finally stammered. "I'm sure that if we both concentrate hard enough, the spell will work."

He closed his eyes and tried very hard to make the spell work. Even though in his current situation he was a little bit more than distracted, he knew now if the spell didn't work Sae would be crushed. Aburatsubo, another member of the magic club, was so hard and critical towards Sae because he loved Takeo, and knew that no matter what he did Takeo in his heart would always love Sae. With this fact, Takeo also knew that Sae didn't have any role models. High school clubs were designed for the older members to help the underclassmen, but Aburatsubo despised Sae greatly and Takeo himself had fallen in love with her, so there was really no one left.

The apple bobbed slightly as it was struck by the magic. It rolled from side to side on the table before finally becoming half its original size. Takeo glanced at Sae, pleased to see that her eyes had lit up. She jumped from the chair and wrapped her arms around his neck in a hug.

"Thank you, sempai," she whispered graciously. "I couldn't have done it without you."

"I, I--" Takeo did his best to return the hug, although with his other hand he was blocking his trademark bloody nose, which always seemed to start whenever he was thinking about girls.

"I'd better get home now, sempai," Sae said, slipping her magic wand into her club bag and throwing it over her shoulder. "My sister will be very angry with me, it's my turn to cook tonight."

"Sawanaguchi-kun," Takeo said as he watched her leave, "Do you-- do you want me to walk you home?"

Sae nodded and she motioned for him to catch up with him. Takeo himself didn't even really understand why he had just offered-- there were boys who courted after girls every day in the school, and walked a different one home all the time and watched her blush over themeselves. Takeo wasn't like that, he rarely ever asked to walk with a girl-- though he hardly got the chance, Aburatsubo was usually hanging all over him before he had even reached his locker. Takeo gave a sigh of relief that he was busy with tennis practice today, and wouldn't bother them.

It was a beautiful spring day, and the two walked down the street at a leisurely pace. As they began to walk out of sight, Takeo glanced back and took a glimpse at the brick walls of the school. In a few short weeks, he would be leaving that place forever, going on to a university just on the outskirts of the city. The school also brought back a fond and warm memory for him-- the night when he had flown to Sae's window, and she had rested her head on his shoulder as they flew high above the city, concluding the trip by painting the school in rainbow colors with their magic. He wondered if she even remembered, for all he knew she could have thought it was all a dream.

"We're here, sempai," Sae said, jerking Takeo out of his daydream. "Thank you," she said after a pause, a blush gathering on her cheeks, "thank you for walking me home. You were very nice to me today. Not many people would... consider doing that."

"Why, Sawanaguchi-kun?" Takeo's brow narrowed slightly. "You're a perfectly nice person."

"You see," Sae shuffled her feet slightly against the welcome mat laying in front of her door, "since my parents don't live with my sister and myself, we're not exactly considered a traditional family. People tend... to slightly avoid us. I want to thank you for being there for me today. You always are... Aburatsubo, he..." she stared down at the ground.

Takeo felt his heart drop to his feet. He struggled to regain eye contact with Sae before replying. "What did Aburatsubo do to you?"

Sae shrugged a bit and took a step backwards. "It's nothing. Takakura-sempai, would you like to stay for dinner? It would be so rude of me not to ask."

"Only if I'll be of some help to you, Sawanaguchi-kun," Takeo replied with a nod. He clenched a fist behind his back as he imagined torturing Aburatsubo slowly and painfully for whatever he said or did to Sae. He followed Sae into the small house, where she opened the refridgerator and began taking various ingredients to make the meal.

Sae sat down at the table and began slicing carrots, and Takeo sat across from her and began to peel potatoes. They worked in silence for a few minutes, but what Sae had said before about "traditional" families ate at Takeo. He wanted to know what Aburatsubo had said-- so that he could punch him in the face, and then run to comfort Sae. He was just about to open his mouth when Sae spoke again.

"What's Aburatsubo's father like? I know I've seen his mother, but I guess his father must be a glamourous model, and can't stay home with them all the time?"

Takeo took a deep breath. "Aburatsubo's father... he was killed in a car accident when Aya was seven. He doesn't talk about him much, and I don't ask him. It seems to be a very touchy subject with him. I think... Aya's a very reserved person. He wouldn't admit some of the things he's hiding to most people."

Sae seemed about to speak again when the door opened, and Suki, her sister, walked in with a paper bag and humming a tune to herself. Takeo had only met Sae's sister on one or two other occasions, and she always seemed so careless and without worry she was almost airheaded. Though he knew she was very smart, she didn't act it. As the brown-haired girl set the bag down on the counter, she turned to Sae with a mischevious grin on her face.

"Sae, it took you until sophomore year to get a boyfriend?"

Takeo lifted his hand to his nose to sop up all the blood that was pouring out of it. "Sae" and "girlfriend" were two words that were absolutely not supposed to be used in the same sentence. The two words were completely unrelated and they would never mean anything to one another. A quick look at Sae's blushing face and Takeo instantly confirmed this, although with a bit of disappointment.

"He's not my boyfriend, onee-san," Sae said slowly. "He's my... he's my sempai."

The three then worked together to prepare dinner, which was finished very quickly and enjoyed by all. Takeo had to admit that both of the Sawanaguchi sisters were very good at cooking, although he himself had never been very good in the kitchen. After they had finished eating, Saki went to go and make a phone call, and had suggested that the two of them sit out on the porch swing in the front and enjoy the late spring evening. Sae had blushed again, but was polite enough to invite him outside. Takeo quickly planned on leaving as soon as possible to spare her any more embarrasment.

The night air was quiet, and a light breeze stirred the air. All was still, and Takeo watched Sae's facial figures distort a little bit before she opened her mouth. "Sempai... why did you start the Magic Club?"

"A few years ago, I ran across our spell book in the school's library. I knew that magical studies were considered foolishness by most colleges and that there are very few even in this area where you can study the art. It was just something that always interested me, and I didn't want... I didn't want to be alone, and so I thought that if I could interest others in the craft it would help the magical community. Aburatsubo always stuck by me, and has been in the club since its creation, even though we always lacked members."

Sae paused for a moment. "You didn't want to be alone?" she said slowly, and she seemed to still be processing the words. "I don't want to be alone anymore," she confessed finally. "Saki's getting married, you know that, and then I'm going to be here in this house by myself until I finish out college. I want my father and mother to come back, but there work is too important. It seems as though there's nothing to stop what's slowly ruining my life."

Takeo didn't understand. "What's ruining your life?" he asked.

"Love," Sae said with a frusturated edge to her voice. "My parents love their jobs, and so they run off and leave me and Saki here to fend for ourselves. Saki loves her boyfriend, and the two of them are going to go off and get married, and I'll be lonely here. Aburatsubo loves you, and so--" there was an immediate catch in her voice and she looked down at the ground again.

Takeo was becoming more and more angry with Aburatsubo by the second. "Aburatsubo loves me, and what?" he put a hand on her shoulder slowly, as if he were handling a tiger at the zoo who might bite him.

Sae's shoulders sagged, as if she were giving in. "Today, just before I went in the Magic Club room, Aburatsubo confronted me in the hallway. He said that he loved you, and that I was the reason he couldn't have you. He told me that since I was such a failure, it would be better if I just quit the Magic Club anyway, because I certainly couldn't cast the spells." she paused for a minute. "Then, he said I was no good for you, that he needed someone that was raised properly and that could love and care for you, and that since I was still so young that it was a bad idea for me to try."

The words stung as Takeo watched the tears roll down Sae's cheeks, her face writhed in pain. He pulled her close and felt the tears hit the front of his school uniform, but he refused to move. His anger towards Aburatsubo and his out-of-line comments was almost boiling over, but he would never let Sae see. He waited until she had composed herself and had begun to pull away from him before he spoke again.

"Sae," he said quietly. "Some of what Aburatsubo said is true. I do love you, I've loved you since that day when we met at the docks to practice our broomstick riding. Your spirit and determination is matched by no one else." He looked into her eyes and then moved in to kiss her gently. A few seconds passed before Sae broke the kiss and stood up, her hand on the knob of the door leading inside.

"Goodnight, sempai," she said softly. "I'm sorry, but... I just can't love you."