Who would have ever thought that Akko and Diana would become friends? When they first met, it seemed they would never get along. How could she ever be friends with someone who insulted Shiny Chariot? But then it turned out that Diana had been a fan of Shiny Chariot all along, and not just that, she was actually pretty cool. Akko hadn't given up on her one-sided rivalry with her—far from it—but that didn't keep them from getting closer and closer. Though they had a lot in common, they still had their differences which always arose whenever Diana caught Akko doing something she shouldn't.
One afternoon, Akko was sitting on the Luna Nova school grounds with Lotte and Sucy, gathered around a cauldron. Sucy was attempting to brew a new, difficult potion that required lots of direct sunlight and at least three pairs of hands. They left the potion to simmer in the sunlight, Sucy watching it closely to make sure nothing went wrong, while the others waited in case they were still needed.
Akko rolled around on the grass, Lotte watching her closely to make sure her flailing legs didn't kick over the cauldron. "Is it done yet? We've been here for hours."
"It's been exactly one hour," Sucy said, checking her hourglass, "and that means it's time to check it." She ladled some of the potion into a glass phial and held it up to the light. The sunlight filtered through the translucent goo and Sucy smiled at the result.
"Perfect," she said, cackling with satisfaction. "What an exquisite colour."
Akko examined the phial for herself and made a face at the potion's sickly yellow hue. It looked to her like it could use a lot more sunlight, but Sucy was the expert.
"What even is this potion?" Akko asked.
"Weren't you listening?" Lotte asked. "It's a potion that absorbs the sunlight as it brews and concentrates it into a form that can be used as a substitute for direct sunlight and get the same benefits." The explanation drew a blank from Akko. "Think of it as liquid photosynthesis."
"Oh!" Akko had heard of that in regular school before coming to Luna Nova. "That's when plants make food out of sunlight, right? I wish that was me." She could really go for a snack right now.
"Really?" Sucy's eyes glinted like a mad scientist's goggles. "Because there's an animal-to-vegetation potion I've been thinking of making next..."
Lotte frowned. "Sucy..."
Before the potion mistress could trick Akko into volunteering to become an experimental plant person, Diana arrived to shut things down, Hannah and Barbara in tow.
"What is the meaning of this?" She pointed at the cauldron set-up.
"Oh no, here's the fun police," Sucy said.
"Hey, Diana!" Akko drew out each syllable of her name with fondness. Though she knew she was in for a lecture, she couldn't help but be happy to see her.
Diana's expression softened. "Good afternoon, Akko. You did well in History of Magic today. I was wondering—" She cleared her throat, returning to the matter at hand. "What are the three of you doing?"
"It's a lemonade stand," Sucy said dryly. "Want a glass?"
"You're obviously lying," Diana said. Hannah and Barbara nodded in agreement.
"If you knew that, why did you ask? Don't you have better things to do? We're not bothering anyone."
"You aren't bothering anyone yet," Diana said, "but your past alchemical endeavours have hardly been harmless."
"Lighten up," Sucy said. "You should be glad that we're taking our studies seriously."
"You're the only student who needs to study potions less."
"Awww but it's not anything dangerous!" Akko whined. "It's just liquid photosynthesis."
Diana frowned. "With which Sucy will grow all matter of banned flora under her bed for more illicit potion brewing. Have I hit the nail on the head?"
Sucy gritted her teeth. "Tch. Nobody likes a know-it-all."
"Can't you let this go, just this once?" Akko's lower lip wobbled.
"I..." Diana faltered under Akko's pleading gaze. Hannah and Barbara elbowed her, and she reasserted her status as a goody two-shoes. "Rules are rules. I can't make exceptions for anyone. I'll be confiscating this"
Sucy waved her wand and the cauldron vanished, potion and all, whisked away to an unknown location beyond Diana's grasp. "Oops, my hand slipped and all the evidence is gone."
"Not all the evidence," Diana said, pointing at the phial in Sucy's hand. She stepped toward her, Hannah and Barbara flanking her as reinforcements.
"Look alive, Akko," Sucy said, tossing the potion phial.
Akko scrambled to catch the tiny bottle, arms flailing wildly and accidentally juggling it for a few seconds before it hurtled downward. Right before it hit the ground, Lotte caught it with a levitation spell, and it gently floated up until Akko caught it again. "Ooh! Nice save, Lotte!"
Diana advanced on her. "Akko, give that to me right now."
Akko stuck her tongue out. "Come and get it!"
Come for it, Diana did. The second she moved toward her, Akko held the potion as high as she could, stretching her arm and standing on tiptoes to counter her rival's height advantage. She didn't think Diana would stoop to her level, but little miss perfect went ahead and tried to snatch the potion away, her frustration mounting as Akko denied her. As she danced in and out of her reach, she couldn't help but notice how pretty Diana looked up close. Her eyelashes were so long and her skin looked so soft. Was she wearing makeup, or was she naturally this gorgeous?
"Akko, please. Just give me the potion."
"I can't! Sucy entrusted it to me!"
Diana's eyebrows knitted together and she grabbed for the potion but seized Akko's wrist instead. Akko jerked her arm away on reflex, accidentally pulling Diana with her.
Taken by surprise, Diana lost her footing. She stumbled into Akko face-first. Time slowed down as their faces got closer and closer, their eyes widening in shock. Akko had a moment to realize what was going to happen before their lips crashed together.
Time stopped, or at least Diana and Akko did. Both girls froze at the most inopportune moment, right as their lips connected. The force of the collision brought their mouths together hard, their teeth pressing roughly against the inside of their lips. Neither girl reacted, unless staring into each other's eyes counted as such. They didn't even notice the chorus of gasps from their friends. It was as if they were in their own little world.
Akko's brain had trouble processing difficult concepts at the best of times, and this was hardly one of those times. Even under the best of circumstances, it would have been nigh impossible for her to comprehend that Diana was kissing her (albeit accidentally). When the realization finally hit her, it did so like a ton of bricks, and she had strong feelings about it.
Oh this is actually kind of nice, she thought. Maybe this isn't so bad—wait! Diana was her friend, and more importantly her rival! They shouldn't be kissing, and Akko shouldn't be enjoying it! Even if it did feel good...
Diana was the first to react. She released Akko's wrist and stepped back so quickly she almost lost her balance again. "My apologies!" she said hurriedly, her arms pin-wheeling in a most unladylike manner, either to prevent herself from falling or from sheer distress. "I didn't—I wasn't—there was no way I could—"
Akko wasn't quite as adept at keeping her balance. She fell on her butt right after Diana pulled away from her. "Wh-what was that?" she spluttered, pointing an accusing finger at her. "You can't seduce me into doing what you want!"
"I was doing no such thing!" Diana's blush deepened from pink to red. "That was clearly an accident!" She searched for the words to explain herself, but for once she was speechless. "Just—just don't let me catch you doing this again."
Diana fled the scene without confiscating the potion, Hannah and Barbara hot on her heels.
Rarely had Akko seen Diana blush, and never that deeply. I never knew her ears could turn red like that , she thought as she watched Diana's retreat.
"Is Akko okay?" Lotte asked. "I think she's in shock."
"Don't worry, Akko," Sucy cackled. "I think I have an antidote to Cavendish cooties, but I can't make it every time you go around smooching Diana."
"I didn't smooch her," Akko said indignantly, brushing herself off as she stood up. "She smooched me ."
"Wow, she really swept you off your feet," Lotte said, stifling a laugh.
"Not you too!" Akko whined.
Sucy snickered. "I'm honoured that you would brave Diana's lips just to save my potion sample. You're a real hero."
" Mou! Next time I'll just give her the potion," Akko said, stuffing the contraband into Sucy's hands. "It'd serve you right!"
Akko stomped off to avoid any further ribbing from her friends. "It wasn't even a kiss," she grumbled. "It was an accident. Diana said so..."
I said she was trying to seduce me, Akko thought. Why did I do that? She's going to think I'm weird or that I hate her! She needed to sort things out with Diana as soon as possible, but how was she going to face Diana after this?
Diana had never met a girl more perplexing than Akko. In sheer troublemaking, she rivalled the likes of Sucy the illicit potion brewer and Amanda the cocky delinquent, but that wasn't all. No one had ever gotten under Diana's skin quite like Akko. At first Diana thought they were fundamentally different, that their differences were irreconcilable. Little had she known how alike they truly were. For better or for worse, Akko kept surprising her. Through their trials they formed an unshakable bond, one which Diana originally found objectionable, but became thankful of it as Diana came to value their friendship and they grew closer and closer.
Which brought Diana to their accidental kiss.
"One could hardly call that a kiss," she mumbled to herself. She sat at the desk in her dorm room, diary in front of her and pen in hand, with nothing in her mind but that terribly embarrassing moment with Akko. "It was merely an incidental collision of the lips."
Who am I trying to fool? she asked herself. Anyone would call that a kiss. Akko certainly seemed to think of it that way, accusing her of attempting a seduction. As if her courtship methods would be so brusque! If she were to charm Akko, she would favour her with honeyed words and gentle touches.
Not that she was interested in Akko that way. She certainly hadn't been thinking about their accidental kiss for the last hour. Specifically, she wasn't lingering on the memory of their mouths pressing together, or the way Akko's lips were soft, yet slightly chapped. Diana would have to offer her some lip balm the next time they spoke so her lips wouldn't be so rough the next time she kissed someone...
Just in case. Not that Diana was thinking about kissing Akko again.
"Diana, are you okay?" Hannah asked, peering around the bookshelf that divided the room. "You haven't said anything since, uh..."
"Since you accidentally kissed Akko," Barbara said from Hannah's side.
Diana turned in her seat at the word 'kissed'. "Akko and I did not kiss , accidentally or otherwise. Our lips touched, yes, but that doesn't necessarily constitute a kiss." She couldn't possibly have kissed Akko. Such a thing would be absurd. Akko was her friend, and kissing her friend would be impossibly awkward, even if there had been no intent behind it...
She put her train of thought back on its tracks and noticed Hannah and Barbara were staring at her.
"Is something wrong?" she asked.
"You're blushing," Hannah said.
"I mean, I'd be embarrassed too if I kissed—accidentally collided faces with Akko," Barbara said, hastily correcting herself.
Blushing? Diana put a hand to her face and felt that, yes in fact, her skin was flushed with heat. "I—I'm not embarrassed, and if I were, Akko would have nothing to do with it." Akko was nobody to be embarrassed over.
Hannah and Barbara exchanged a look. "Okay, if you say so," the former said. "It's just that you seem a little, well, not yourself."
"We've never seen you this out of sorts," the latter added. "Not since that time you left Luna Nova."
If that were the case, perhaps Diana needed to admit there really was something wrong with her, that the accident between herself and Akko couldn't simply be brushed off. "I apologize for worrying you, girls. It's just that I don't know what to do about this situation with Akko. I ran off without explaining myself to Akko." Not that she had anything to explain. "I lost my composure in a way most unbefitting of a lady, and I should have stayed with Akko instead of running away in a panic. Now I can't imagine what she thinks of me." After being suddenly kissed— accidentally —without a proper discussion of it, Diana wouldn't blame Akko if she hated her...
"It was her fault, not yours," Hannah huffed. "She should have just given you the potion."
"The... incident was no one's fault," Diana said. "However, I owed Akko a proper explanation. She seemed to be under the impression that I was seducing her..." She grew hot at the thought of such a thing.
"She knows you weren't doing that," Barbara said, blushing a little herself.
Diana hoped that was the case. "Be that as it may, I'm not sure how to approach her after everything that happened. As you well know, Akko's reactions can be rather unpredictable."
"We could go sort out Akko for you," Hannah suggested.
"Then you won't have to worry about being awkward around her," Barbara added.
Diana doubted that would be productive. More likely than not, her roommates would end up making things between them even more strained. Despite her best efforts, her three closest friends were not yet able to get along with each other, even when she was concerned. "Thank you for offering, but I'll see to the matter myself. I owe Akko that much. The only thing that troubles me is the matter of how to approach her."
Time was of the essence, so she couldn't devote much time to coming up with an elaborate plan. Then again if she went after Akko too quickly, might she run the risk of appearing too guilty? Worse yet, if Akko had already gotten over the incident, would she make a fool of herself if she pressed the matter? Diana realized that she was mentally running herself in circles, but lately she couldn't avoid over-thinking things when it came to her self-professed rival...
But how would she make up with Akko? And when? Diana considered tracking Akko down before curfew to sort out things between them, but ultimately opted to wait until the next day instead. A good night's rest would do both of them some good.
She hoped Akko had a more peaceful sleep than she did.
Diana went to bed with troubled thoughts about Akko on her mind, and they carried over into her unconscious mind to produce a most perplexing dream.
It took place in one of the classrooms. Professor Callistis announced that they would be covering the long awaited "kissing unit," which confused Diana, on account of there being no such module of the astronomy course. When she protested, Ursula waved away her concerns and told the students to pick a partner to kiss. Diana tried to leave her seat to escape the nonsense, a hand grabbed her wrist. Akko's hand.
"I guess we're partners," Akko said, pulling Diana back down into the seat next to her. That should have been a clue it was a dream. Akko never sat next to her in class, a fact which never troubled Diana at all.
"You're not going to go along with this nonsense, are you?" Diana asked.
"Don't tell me you're getting cold feet now?" Akko leaned in, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "You're the one who started this by kissing me."
Diana tried to deny the accusation, but her mouth betrayed her. She tried to back away, but she found she couldn't move. With a captivating smile, Akko drew closer, so close that all Diana could see was her lips. Would they feel as rough as last time?
She awoke with her lips pressed against her pillow.
It took a moment for her to come to her senses. She sat up in her bed and hugged herself tightly. What in Jennifer's name was that?
Thoughts whirled through her mind like a hurricane as she tried to make sense of her dream. Not that one could even make sense of a dream. Nothing but nonsense produced by her subconscious mind. There was nothing deeper to the dream. Of course she would dream about whatever she had been fretting about just before sleeping, which in this case happened to be her accidental kiss with Akko. There wasn't any other reason that she would dream about such a thing.
Diana went about her morning routine as if nothing was wrong, lest her roommates suspect something had happened. Everything will go back to normal soon, she told herself. As soon as I talk to Akko.
Akko, it seemed, had other ideas.
There wasn't an opportunity to talk to her before class. Diana didn't see her at breakfast, though that wasn't worrying by itself, given how often Akko slept in.
When Akko finally entered the classroom at first period, she avoided looking at Diana and made a beeline for Sucy and Lotte. The second the bell rang, she shot out of the room as if fired from a cannon. Obviously she wasn't just excited to attend History of Magic class with Professor Finnelan, so she could only assume that Akko was avoiding her.
Diana's suspicions were confirmed when the same thing happened after the next class. And the next. She hoped to catch Akko during lunch, but her quarry wolfed down her food even quicker than usual and hastily evacuated the cafeteria, disappearing until afternoon classes began.
As the day wore on, Diana tried harder and harder to attract Akko's attention without bringing scrutiny upon herself. She tried to make eye contact with Akko, but found herself rebuffed at every turn. Though she didn't act on the impulse, she was tempted to send an enchanted paper plane after Akko to get her message across. When the bell rang, she raced to the door to try to catch Akko, but the energetic girl was too quick for her.
The last class of the day—Diana's last chance to catch Akko that day—was astronomy. She wasn't able to catch Akko before class started, but she did take a seat near the door with the intent of cutting off her eventual escape. Diana contemplated asking Ursula to help her confront Akko, but she wasn't yet so desperate as to bring an adult into the situation.
"Divide into pairs and read each other's horoscopes."
Diana perked up. An opportunity. She turned in her seat and her eyes locked onto Akko. The excitable girl jumped in her seat and begged one of her friends to partner up with her.
Diana caught Lotte's attention and pleaded with her eyes, hoping the other girl would get the message. Luckily the bookish girl could read the mood. She latched onto Sucy and claimed her as a partner.
" Mou! Why are you guys leaving me on my own!" Akko pouted. "Traitors!"
"Because you'd probably make our lucky stars go supernova," Sucy said.
"We have to be in pairs, so someone has to be left out," Lotte said apologetically. "Maybe there's someone else who wants to be your partner..." Her eyes drifted over to Diana, who was approaching their table.
"Diana!" Akko shrieked. "Wuh-what are you doing?"
"It seems like everyone else already has a partner," Diana said. "I suppose we're stuck with each other." Which suited her perfectly.
"Uh, I think Avery is on her own over there. I'm just gonna go over there and—"
Diana stepped in front of Akko and cut off her exit. "Don't be silly, Akko," she said, showing her a strained smile. "We should start our assignment as soon as possible, shouldn't we?"
Akko looked around and saw no other options, short of exiting the classroom through the door or one of the windows. She looked to Ursula for help, but the professor simply smiled when she saw Akko next to Diana.
"F-fine," Akko said, sitting back down in her seat. "So, uh, what's the spell again?"
With a sigh of relief, Diana sat down next to her and went into tutor mode. She explained the spell and answered Akko's other questions as the other girl tentatively brought them up. Their spells went smoothly, despite their frayed nerves. Diana's brain barely registered the results of their horoscopes, her hand writing them down by reflex alone. Though troubling thoughts threatened to bubble up to the surface, she kept her mind blank and on task, not letting her awkwardness show.
Akko wasn't nearly as reserved. Every so often, her eyes flicked over to Diana when she thought she wasn't looking, and she fidgeted even more than usual. She clearly couldn't wait to get away from her.
Diana took a deep breath.
"I need to speak to you after class," she said. "Alone."
"Eh?" Akko's face turned red. "Alone!? Why!?"
I understand she isn't happy to see me, Diana thought, but it hurts to know she's mad enough to turn red. "You know why," she said.
Akko swallowed loudly. "Um, okay." She shot Diana a quick look of indiscernible emotion and refused to look at her for the rest of class, jumping in her seat every time Diana spoke or even moved.
Class ended and Diana didn't let Akko out of her sight. She didn't even let her get a foot away from her. Were she bold enough, she would have held Akko's hand to keep her from escaping.
Diana realized that Akko was leading her toward the West Dormitories, where the Red Team's room was. "We can't go to your dorm room," she said. "Your roommates might interrupt us." Part of her worried that Akko was leading her on and would simply slam the door in the face when they got there.
"What!? No!" Akko huffed. "We're going to the laundry room. It'll be empty right now."
"I suppose you would know," Diana said, immediately wincing at her own words. Akko hadn't even gotten that many detentions lately. "Which is to say, I defer to your experience in this case," she hastily added.
Akko harrumphed, but didn't retort. Silently, she led Diana down the stairs to the ground floor of the west dormitory wing and into the laundry room. As promised, the room was unoccupied and thankfully not full of laundry—though the stench lingered.
"So," Akko said, leaning up against the back wall. "What did you, um, need to talk to me about?"
Diana chose an almost-clean part of the wall to lean on, close to Akko but not too close—she was acting skittish enough already. Leaning was a crime against good posture, but mirroring a person's body language was a proven way of getting people to empathize with you, and Diana needed every advantage she could get.
"I wanted to speak to you about..." Diana cleared her throat. "About yesterday. The thing that happened. Yesterday."
"Uh... what thing that happened yesterday?"
Diana's eye twitched. "The only thing that happened yesterday which matters." By the nines, she thought. What an indelicate phrasing that was.
"Oh yeah. The kiss." Akko swallowed loudly.
"It wasn't a kiss!" Diana said sharply. "My apologies. What I meant to say, is that it was an accident. I lost my balance and that's why things happened the way they did. And I was most certainly not trying to... to seduce you."
Akko made a strangled sound. "I knew that!" she said a little too loudly.
Diana had told herself that was the case, yet for some reason she wasn't prepared to hear it. What would Akko do if she did think she was trying to seduce her? Never mind that, Diana thought. "Then why did you say it?" she asked.
"I don't know! Why do I say anything?" Akko finally looked at Diana, taking the latter by surprise. "Since when do you pay attention to everything I say?"
Diana had been paying close attention to everything Akko said for quite a while now, but she was too embarrassed to admit that. "Never mind that. If you knew I wasn't attempting to... do something untoward, then why were you avoiding me?"
"Well, uh..." Akko looked away again, touching the tips of her index fingers together. "I was worried you hated me or something."
"Why would I hate you? None of what happened yesterday was your fault." Even if Akko had been to blame, Diana wouldn't even think of hating her.
"I don't know, okay?" Akko crossed her arms over her chest. "Do I need an explanation for everything?"
Diana suspected there was something Akko wasn't telling her, but she doubted she could pry it out of her. "If anything, I should be the one worried about being hated."
"Wait, why?" Akko was back to staring at Diana, who flinched under the weight of her gaze.
Why indeed? Diana hadn't done anything wrong, and yet she felt guilty for some reason. "In any event, we're now on the same page. If neither of us bears any ill will toward the other over yesterday's incident, we can go back to normal." Whatever normal was for them, anyway.
"How are we supposed to act like normal after we kissed?"
Diana's face grew hot. "We didn't kiss. It was an accident. Neither of us intended for it to happen, thus that accidental brush of the lips does not count as a kiss."
"What do you mean?" Akko stared at the wall opposite, resolutely not making eye contact with her.
Diana took a deep breath. "At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, a kiss should be something special between two people who care about one another and done with such intent. A person is completely within their rights not to count anything that doesn't live up to that." At least, she had read something to that effect in one of Hannah's Teen Witch Vogue magazines. She had consulted an article about the "magic of first kisses" last night, for no reason in particular.
"I mean, it felt like a kiss," Akko said.
Why was Akko fighting her on this? Did she want to have kissed her? Or was she simply trying to say that she was "fine" with it having happened? "Well, you can think whatever you like about it, but I'm reluctant to count an accident as my first kiss."
"That was your first kiss!?" Akko stared at her like she'd grown a second head.
Diana's stomach did a back flip that would have impressed Amanda. "Yes. Strange as it may seem, the famous Diana Cavendish has never kissed anyone before."
"Wow. Me too." Akko's eyes, once wide with shock, shrank out of sudden shyness, diverting themselves yet again.
"Oh." Oh. Diana and Akko were each other's first kiss. That was vexing—no, perplexing. Confusing? Diana didn't know what she felt. What was she to do with this information? She couldn't let it alone, but she couldn't even begin to think about how to remark on it. After all, what could she say about her—about Akko being her first kiss? Memories of the previous night's dream ( "You're the one who started this by kissing me." ) returned to the forefront of her mind and tied her tongue in knots.
Neither girl said anything for a minute that lasted eternity. Diana couldn't abide the awkward silence. She had to say something, to give a proper response, words that could diffuse such a tense situation.
Only Diana's aristocratic conditioning kept her from slapping her own forehead. She couldn't believe her own awkwardness, and she could only hope that Akko hadn't noticed it.
She noticed it.
"Mou!" Akko stomped her foot in frustration. "It was just an accident or whatever. You don't need to be so offended."
Diana frowned. "I'm not offended. "
"Yeah you are! You're making that face!"
"The 'I'm so embarrassed by Akko' face." Akko pulled a face which Diana assumed was an imitation of her own, a wild expression with her facial features all in a jumble. "Poor Diana Cavendish, offended by her first kiss being with a klutz like me."
"I have no such face," Diana huffed. "First and foremost, I'm not embarrassed by you frequently enough to have a 'face' for it, and furthermore I am not embarrassed by you right now. I am embarrassed, yes , but not by you."
Akko looked at her with... suspicion? Surprise? Relief? "Really?" she asked.
"Yes, really. I assure you that I am not offended in the least," Diana said. "Are you offended?"
"What? No!" Akko flailed her arms. "I'm the least offended I've ever been." She blushed and backtracked. "I mean, I'm kind of proud that my first kiss was with someone I admire, even if it was an accident, if that makes sense?"
Diana's heart skipped a beat. Akko admired her. "This should go without saying," Diana said quickly, "but please do not go around boasting that you kissed me."
"I'm not gonna brag about it! It's just, y'know, kinda cool or whatever."
Diana should have been relieved that Akko wasn't bothered by the idea of kissing her. But why? Why was she was so relaxed about it, and why did it matter to Diana? Innumerable explanations ran through her mind, each more wild than the last and every one of them entirely hypothetical. She could find out how Akko really felt if she asked, and she wanted to, but all that she could say was:
She internally fumed at her own passivity. Surely Diana Cavendish could be more articulate than this? Even if she couldn't muster up the courage to ask Akko about her true feelings, she could at least say something .
Diana cleared her throat. "Although I was shocked at first, I'm not troubled by what happened between us. If nothing else, it will make for an amusing anecdote in the future. I'm glad we had this conversation, that we could be so honest with each other. I'd be distraught if something so trivial affected our friendship." Her tongue almost tripped over the word "friendship" as if it weren't supposed to be there, as if her mouth had been expecting her to say something else.
"Yeah," Akko said. A pause. "Well, if there's nothing else you want to talk about, I've gotta go."
She pushed away from the wall and headed toward the door.
"A moment, please. Before you go..." Diana retrieved a chap stick from her pocket and handed it to Akko, who stared at it as if she'd been handed some arcane artefact.
"What's this for?"
"It's lip balm," Diana said, rather redundantly. "Your lips are chapped. I noticed it when..." She trailed off as she realized she was too embarrassed to let the words pass her lips. The lips that had touched Akko's. Akko figured it out anyway, judging by the blush spreading across her face. Diana tried to bluster on regardless.
"You should use it, so that you..." So that she could what? Go around kissing people with silky-smooth lips? Diana cleared her throat. "You should look after your body."
Akko shrugged nervously. "I've already got you looking at my body—looking after my body!" Her face twisted into a bizarre, panicked expression, her forehead visibly sweating. Diana didn't know what to think of it. Akko stuffed the chap stick into her skirt pocket. "Uh, thanks," she added belatedly.
"You're welcome," Diana said softly. She felt a strange longing, a desire to keep Akko there for even a minute longer, but she didn't know how without embarrassing herself again.
"I've got to, uh, do some homework," Akko said, pointing her thumb in the direction of her dorm room several floors overhead. "See you around."
"Until we meet again," Diana said. By the nines, she thought. Akko's going back to her room, not on an overseas voyage.
Akko smiled at her and exited the room, leaving Diana on her own in the empty laundry room.
Diana waited a moment before letting out a monumental sigh. What is wrong with me? she wondered. Never before had she experienced such a nerve-wracking conversation. At least she had made up with Akko. If her friend continued avoiding her, she may well have left Luna Nova again to escape the pain in her chest that came with such a prospect. Diana had grown used to having Akko at her side, and she couldn't imagine what life would be like without her.
As a friend, of course.
Diana left the laundry room, traversing the hallways in a haze. There was one thing she couldn't get off her mind:
She was the first and only person Akko had ever kissed.
For all her talk about an accident not counting as a real kiss, Diana had settled into the idea that what happened between them was genuine all along. After all, it would be callous of her to dismiss her dear friend's first kiss on such a basis. It wouldn't be fair. Besides, it wasn't as if she objected to the idea of being kissed by Akko. It brought them closer, a unique connection that they didn't have with anyone else. Nothing to feel awkward about, even if thinking about it made her stomach tingle. And she kept thinking about it. For the rest of the day.
It wasn't until she was tucked into bed that night that she realized she'd never answered Akko's question:
"How are we supposed to act like normal after we kissed?"
Diana blushed, touching her fingers to her lips. How indeed?
Akko and Diana had sorted out the whole accidental kiss thing, so why were things still awkward between them? It may have somehow gotten worse...
When she told Diana she didn't know why she had been avoiding her, she hadn't been completely honest. Try as she might, she couldn't figure out why she was acting so weird, but the main reason she had been avoiding Diana was that she couldn't stop thinking about her .
From the moment she woke up, Diana was on her mind. Akko spent the day dodging Diana as much as possible because she knew that if she looked at her, she wouldn't be able to look away, and if she stared at her, she wouldn't be able to stop staring at her lips.
They were just... so pretty. And soft. She couldn't stop thinking about Diana's lips and how nice they felt. Inevitably, the longer she thought about them, the more she imagined what it would be like to kiss them again...
Akko was scared that if Diana caught her staring at her like a lecher, she would hate her forever. So Akko didn't look at her, didn't take the risk. She might have avoided Diana forever if her rival hadn't cornered her during astronomy class and demanded that they talk.
She'd expected the worst, but it turned out Diana was just worried about why she'd been avoiding her. Their talk had been awkward as hell, but at least Diana didn't hate her. At most, she'd learned something she couldn't stop thinking about.
Not only had Diana been Akko's first kiss, but the reverse was true. She found it surreal that Diana hadn't kissed anyone before. She was so pretty and popular! It was amazing, and she was even more self-conscious than before. Furthermore, Diana had been paying close enough attention to her to notice her lips were chapped. She blushed at the thought of it.
Akko used the chap stick religiously, and her lips felt amazing. As expected of an aristocrat's tastes. Akko wondered if it was literally magic. Was it brand-new? Had Diana used it before? If not, then every time Akko used it was an indirect kiss...
Of course Diana wouldn't do that! What was wrong with her?
Akko wasn't avoiding Diana anymore, but her awkward levels were off the chart. She was doing her best to make eye contact with her, but those alluring lips kept drawing her attention and making her nervous. Anytime they were close, Akko wanted to reach out and touch her; whenever Diana touched her, she jumped as if she'd been electrocuted. Whenever they were alone, she remembered their accidental kiss and wondered if something like that would ever happen again...
It wouldn't have been so bad if Diana wasn't going out of her way to hang out with her. At first Akko thought that Diana was making up for the day she'd been avoided, but she kept doing it for days. Not that Akko would have minded if she weren't so awkward and self-conscious.
This awkwardness could only go on for so long before Diana confronted her again.
Diana found her in the library, studying for once. The orange light of sunset poured in through the windows, blanketing the empty tables and chairs in a warm, soft glow. Akko's table was the only one occupied, covered in a veritable fortress of stacked books and study notes. She leaned over the table, basking in the sunlight and was about to drift off to sleep when Diana came up alongside her.
"Fancy meeting you here," Diana said, her voice rousing Akko from her drowsy state.
"Bluh," Akko said, sitting up in surprise. "Diana! What are you doing?"
Diana held up a formidable tome. "I was returning a book when I spotted you. Forgive me, but I was a little surprised to see you here as well. You aren't hiding from me again, are you?" She smiled, though it didn't reach its eyes; her question was partly serious.
"No! I was studying" Akko pointed at her fortress of books, knocking over one of the stacks in her haste to prove her point. "I was doing a bunch of homework and stuff."
Diana took a seat next to her and helped her reorganize the books. "It's nice to see you being so diligent. I... admire the improvements you've made academically."
She admires me, Akko thought. The way that Diana's words echoed her own from the other day wasn't lost on her. It made her heart race.
Akko looked around and realized not only how late it was, but also that she and Diana were completely alone. "Where did everyone go?" Even the librarian was absent.
"You were so immersed in your studies that you didn't notice how much time had passed," Diana explained. Akko half expected her to say that she liked that in a girl. Or she hoped she would anyway. Not that she wanted Diana to like her that way.
Akko shuffled her papers into a neat pile for something to do. "Are you, uh, gonna put your book back?"
"I will," Diana said. "But I'll wait until you're finished. The book can wait." Her cheeks glowed—or was it just the light?
"Oh well, uh, I'm pretty much done here anyway!" Akko stood up quickly. "I just need to put some of these away!" She gathered up the text books into a staggering tower and rushed over to the bookshelves to put them back where they belonged.
Not that she remembered.
"Would you like some help putting those away?"
Akko squeaked in surprise; Diana's voice came from right behind her. Way too close for how awkward she felt around her. "I'm fine!"
"Don't be shy about asking for help," Diana said softly. "I'm intimately familiar with the library's cataloguing system."
Akko was tempted to ask her what else she was intimately familiar with. Get a grip! she told herself. "Uh, okay. Where does Intermediate Lunar Text Translations go?"
Diana removed the book from the top of the stack and returned it to its proper place, continuing down the stack. As she approached the bottom, her fingers brushed Akko's.
"I can handle these ones!" Akko said, her voice cracking under the strain. "Just tell me where to stick them—put them!" Her sensitivity to Diana was getting out of control. She nearly went limp when their fingers touched. There would be no covering up her awkwardness if she dropped a bunch of textbooks on her foot.
Diana pursed her lips, but pointed out the gaps between the books where Akko's borrowed study materials belonged. Akko let out a sigh of relief once she slid the final book into its space and turned away from the bookshelf...
Only to find Diana looming over her, leaning into her personal space, those soft lips getting closer and closer...
"AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!" Akko spun away from Diana. Once she was at a safe distance she realized that Diana had only been returning her own book to its shelf. Oops.
"What in Jennifer's name has gotten into you?" Diana frowned. "Though there isn't anyone else here to disturb, this is still a library."
Why did you have to remind me that we're alone? Akko thought. "Um, I'm, uh, not feeling well?"
"Akko..." Diana took on a pained expression, and it hit Akko right in the heart. "I've noticed that you and I have yet to return to normal behaviour around each other, despite our discussion the other day. Are you... uncomfortable being around me?"
"I'm not uncomfortable! If anything, I'm too comfortable." Akko slammed her hands over her mouth, but it was too late to stifle that verbal indiscretion.
Diana blinked. "Pardon?"
Akko couldn't even come up with a response. She had been so quick to reassure Diana, so worried that her friend would feel bad, that she blurted out the first thing that came to mind, and now she had no idea how she was going to get herself out of the hole she'd dug for herself. At this point she might as well bury herself instead.
"What does it mean to be 'too comfortable' with another person?" Diana mused, holding her chin in her hand, her index finger pressing up against her bottom lip, her soft mouth pursed in a way which inevitably drew attention to—
"Akko, you're staring at me..."
She was. She was staring directly at Diana's mouth and there was no way she hadn't figured that out.
Diana put a hand over her heart, as if she needed to comfort herself. "If there's a problem between us which has yet to be resolved, please tell me what's wrong. I'd hate if something came between us and our..." she paused. "...friendship."
Oh to hell with it.
"It's not my fault, okay?" Akko said. "I'm sorry that I'm acting so weird and stuff, but how am I not supposed to act weird after we literally kissed? Every time I see you, I remember what happened. Whenever I look at your face, all I can see are your stupidly soft lips! I can't even get close to you without thinking about us kissing again. Call me weird if you want, but I don't know what to do!"
She said it all in one breath. As she panted to recover, she waited for Diana's reaction.
Diana's expression was inscrutable. "I see," she said, her voice flat as a board. "I see."
Suddenly, she slapped her own cheeks, shocking Akko.
"I owe you honesty in turn," Diana continued. "Though I've been hiding it better than you, I've been experiencing the same feelings as you, and I can't hide it anymore. It wouldn't be fair." She readied herself with a deep breath. "At first, I thought my awkwardness was due to not knowing how you felt about the incident, but these feelings persisted even after we talked about it. I didn't want to bring it up to you because I didn't want to trouble you with my personal problems. The truth is that I too can't stop thinking about that kiss, and imagining scenarios under which it might happen again. I've even been having dreams about the possibility of kissing you."
Diana's words hung heavy between them. Neither girl moved, incapacitated by the fear that they might spook the other.
"I guess we were worried about the same thing all along, huh?" Akko said, hoping that breaking the silence would make things less awkward. It didn't.
"That seems to be the case," Diana replied.
"What are we supposed to do about it then?" Akko asked. "Is it just going to go away on its own if we wait long enough?" She didn't know if she could stay away from Diana much longer.
Diana broke eye contact with her. "One method has occurred to me, but I hesitate to suggest it."
"Well, what is it?" Akko squinted at her. It wasn't like Diana to hold back with a smart idea.
Diana returned her gaze to Akko, a blush rising in her cheeks. "If both of us are acting awkward over the possibility of a kiss, then perhaps the solution is to actually kiss."
"What?" Akko's face matched Diana's hue in a second. "You said you weren't trying to seduce me!"
"I'm not s-seducing you," Diana spluttered. "I'm suggesting it as a simple solution to our problem."
Akko's heart beat fluttered. "Maybe... But what if it doesn't work?"
"Then we simply need to do it until it loses its appeal."
How can you say that with a straight face? Akko internally screamed. How could they possibly kiss each other again?
But how could they stand not kissing each other again?
"Fine!" Akko marched up to Diana like a soldier going into battle, stepping into her personal space and stopping with mere inches between their faces. "Let's do it!"
Diana blushed furiously, her mouth opening and closing like a goldfish's.
Akko didn't understand her reaction until she put two and two together. "I meant kiss! Not that !"
"I knew that!" Diana shut her eyes and breathed deeply to calm herself, the air tickling Akko's skin and sending a shiver down her spine. She opened her eyes again. "Are you ready?"
Akko nodded excitedly, nearly colliding heads with Diana.
"Alright," Diana said. She bit her lip. "Which of us will initiate the kiss?"
"I thought you were going to do it!"
"Why are you putting the responsibility on me?"
"Because you suggested it!" And because you're the one who tripped into my mouth in the first place, Akko added mentally.
Diana sighed. "Very well. I'll start."
And then she didn't. Diana stood perfectly still, her arms stiff and her side, her eyes wide open, and her mouth a hard, inexpressive line.
"What are you waiting for?" Akko asked. "Don't tell me you..." She grinned. "You know how to kiss, right?"
Diana made an unladylike sound. "Of course I know how to kiss! I've read books."
Akko almost doubled over. "That's the nerdiest thing you've ever said!" she choked through laughter.
"I told you that was my first kiss," Diana huffed. "And if I recall correctly, it was yours as well, so don't pretend you're suddenly an expert in the field."
"At least I know how to start. Should I tutor you for a change?" she asked smugly.
"That won't be necessary," Diana said. "Give me a moment." She closed her eyes again and scrunched up her face a little, like she was meditating or something.
Akko struggled to hold in a giggle. Diana was actually pretty cute when she was flustered. Shame that it didn't happen more often. Her expressions were usually so reserved, and it was a treat to see her blushing and wildly emoting. It made Akko want to fluster her more. She wondered how Diana would react if she leaned in and pecked her on the lips before she was ready...
Diana opened her eyes again and Akko panicked, averting her eyes in the hope that Diana wouldn't realize she'd been staring at her.
"I'm ready," Diana said, observing Akko's distracted behaviour. "Are you?"
"Yup!" Akko said, her eyes settling on Diana's lips, the way she'd been trying to avoid for days. "Come at me, bro!"
"Don't call me 'bro'," Diana said, cupping Akko's cheek in her hand. Her palm was a little clammy, and her grip loose with trepidation. "I am not your 'bro'."
"O-okay." Suddenly the idea of kissing Diana became very real. She might have run away due to nerves if it weren't for the mesmerizing sight of Diana's mouth coming closer and closer. When they were too close for her to see any longer, Akko's eyes fluttered shut.
Diana's lips were soft as she remembered, warm and silky-smooth. They pressed against her mouth lightly, tentatively, as if she were afraid of being as rough as their first, accidental kiss. Though the kiss was little more than a light brushing of lips against lips, Akko felt her stomach somersault. She kissed her back, pressing her mouth harder against Diana's as if it were a competition.
With a little noise, Diana returned the gesture, drawing out the kiss longer and longer, yet she was the one to retreat first. Her face was flushed, and her breathing had quickened. "H-how was that?"
Akko temporarily forgot how words worked. " Sugoi... Good! I mean, good!" Her face felt hot all of a sudden, Diana's hand on her cheek positively cool in comparison.
"And... do you think that was enough?" Something in the way Diana looked at her suggested she wasn't satisfied yet.
Or maybe what she was seeing was only a reflection of her own desire. "We should do it again, just in case."
"I agree," Diana said, stroking Akko's cheek with her thumb. "It's best to do such things thoroughly."
"Yeah, it would suck if—" Akko's words were cut off by Diana smothering her with her mouth. Gone was the nervousness and apprehension; Diana was really kissing her now. Her mouth was hungry and wanting, and it was getting what it wanted. Not to be outdone, Akko gave back everything she got, and a little more. Without thinking, she tangled a hand in Diana's hair, running her fingers through those beautiful tresses.
They broke apart, neither girl having yet figured out to breathe while kissing. Akko would have had her breath taken away anyway, because she was kissing Diana.
"You've been using the lip balm I gave you," Diana said, panting and smiling.
Akko thanked the Nine Olde Witches that she had. "I'm glad you noticed," she said. "Did you recognize the taste?"
"Now that's an idea." Diana leaned back in and ran the tip of her tongue along Akko's lower lip.
Akko couldn't believe Diana had used tongue first. I was going to do that! she thought. Still, she could take the plunge before her kissing partner had a chance. She pushed her tongue past Diana's lips, begging entrance.
Diana opened her mouth to her gladly. Her tongue met Akko's in a warm embrace, and she tasted of bitter black tea. Would it kill you to add a little sugar? Akko thought as she drank her in. Then again, she would give up sugar forever if she could have more of this. No sugar rush could give her the feeling of kissing Diana.
They clung to each other, Akko tightening her fingers in Diana's hair as Diana pulled her in closer. Led by her passion, Akko snaked her other arm around Diana's waist, her hand dangerously low down her back.
Diana responded by putting a hand on her shoulder and pushing Akko back against the bookcase, which was probably a fantasy the studious girl had held for a long time.
Akko was annoyed the Diana had taken the lead again, but her body didn't get the memo. She pulled Diana hard against her, moaning her name into her mouth. Kissing Diana felt good, too good . She didn't understand why she'd avoided her for so long, yet she didn't know how much longer she could last. Her body kept getting hotter and hotter, electricity arcing through her at every place Diana touched her. Anymore of this and she was about to explode.
Luckily for Akko's structural integrity, Diana's resistance met its limit as well. They split apart like tectonic plates, a thin ribbon of saliva connecting their swollen lips like hot lava. Diana disposed of it quickly, apparently mortified at something so salacious. Akko was tempted to tease her about it, but instead she pulled her into a tight hug, which Diana returned.
Akko nestled her face in Diana's hair. It felt soft against her burning skin. The full implications of what she had done were dawning on her; she had just made out with her rival!
"I think that's enough," Diana said, her voice soft as a whisper. "In any case, the library will be closing soon..."
There was no arguing with that, no way Diana would break curfew. And yet...
"What if, um, it's still not enough?" Akko asked. "What if we're still awkward after..." After playing tonsil hockey in the library?
"Yes, I can see how awkwardness might ensue after..." Diana didn't—or couldn't—finish her sentence. She rubbed Akko's back. "
"Before you said we should do this until it loses the appeal...it didn't lose any appeal yet..." Akko couldn't believe she was going to suggest this. "Maybe we can do this again sometime?"
Diana's reaction surprised her: a soft, high-pitched noise that she might not have heard if they weren't so close. "I would find that agreeable. Kissing you is... rather enjoyable."
Akko let out a sigh of relief. "Cool, cool. So, um, does this make us kissing friends?"
"I was not aware that was a thing, but I suppose it would be the best descriptor," Diana replied. "It should remain a secret. If any of our friends found out, the teasing would be relentless."
"Yeah. Nobody will take me seriously as your rival if they knew I was kissing you."
"Akko, nobody takes you seriously as my rival. Including myself."
"Eh!?" Akko pouted. "We'll see about that. Next time we kiss, I'm going to blow your mind."
"Kissing isn't a competition."
“Shows what you know.”