Actions

Work Header

A Twist of Fate, or Two

Work Text:

Imagine if, by pure chance, Akko and Diana had met during the Shiny Chariot show. Rather than their strings of fate glancing off one another before becoming parallel again for ten more years, what if instead they intertwined?

 


 

"Guess what came in the mail today," Bernadette said, entering Diana's room with her hands behind her back.

"Is it an invitation to another ball?" Diana had been to a lot of dances lately, perhaps too many for a six year-old.

"Cold. This letter comes from somewhere a little farther away. From the other side of the world."

Diana's eyes lit up like a will-o'-the-wisp. "Akko!" Her new friend had promised to write, and Diana had eagerly waited for weeks to hear from her. She had almost given up hope.

"Here you are, dear." Bernadette revealed the letter and relinquished it into Diana's grasping hands. With a wave of her wand, the envelope unsealed itself and Diana read it aloud, giddy with excitement.

 

Dear Diana

Sorry if my English is bad. My papa makes me learn it because it's a "international language". I don't like it but I can write to you!!

I'm very, very happy to meet another Shiny Chariot fan. And you're a real witch too! That's so cool! I hope we'll be friends forever!

Also your hair is really pretty.

Sincerely,
Akko

 

"Isn't she sweet? You should take your time writing a return letter, so she'll know how much you appreciated her letter. I can help you later."

"No! I need to write now!" The sooner Diana penned her response, the quicker she would get one in return.

"Very well. Sit down at your desk and I'll bring you everything you'll need."

Diana did as she was told, jittering with anticipation in her seat. She had so many things she wanted to say to her new friend, so many things she wanted to tell her about magic, and of course she wanted to discuss Shiny Chariot at length.

As soon as she had a pen and paper. her hand moved at lightning speed. When she finally laid down her pen, she'd written too much to fit in a single envelope.

Bernadette helped Diana edit her letter down to a more manageable size, insisting that the small novel would probably overwhelm her new pen pal. "You'll have plenty of time to say all this once you get more letters," Bernadette reasoned. Her daughter reluctantly agreed, though she saved the original letter so she wouldn't forget a single thing.

The pen pals exchanged letters as quickly as the postal service would allow. Over time, Diana developed patience for the process, but she never lost her excitement over receiving a letter from her dear friend. She simply became better at hiding it.

Akko was frequently on Diana's mind, especially during the most boring of the social functions she was required to attend. She wondered what her best friend would say about the stuffy nobles and their lofty concerns—probably something that would make Diana break her composure and burst out laughing in a most unladylike way. Akko was funny like that. Were it feasible, she would have invited Akko to come to these parties as her. The aristocrats would have balked at a commoner within their ranks, but Akko wouldn't have cared, and Diana wouldn't either.

Diana looked forward to nothing more than Akko's letters. She treasured them more than any other possession, even her limited edition Shiny Chariot card. Rereading the letters never failed to cheer her up when she was feeling listless, though they sometimes filled her heart with longing.

When they were fifteen, Akko sent Diana a picture of herself at the beach. She was wearing a rather flattering two-piece bathing suit and a playful smile that made Diana's stomach tingle. Akko had always been cute, but as she matured she had grown beautiful, in a way Diana wasn't used to. She was often surrounded by gorgeous and refined people, but Akko outshone all of them with her unconventional charm. Diana didn't understand it herself, but Akko was special to her in a way no one else was.

It wasn't until she spent part of every day around Akko that she realized she was hopelessly infatuated with her.

 


 

When Akko met another girl who liked Shiny Chariot, she couldn't believe her luck. That girl being a witch herself was just icing on the cake.

Her first letter to Diana had only been intelligible because her parents proofread it. However, once she had a solid motivation for learning English, she threw herself into the language headfirst. Her skills improved exponentially, and before long her letters to Diana increased dramatically in size; Diana matched her enthusiasm.

Akko had a million questions about magic, and even more about Diana herself. Her new friend was just the coolest! She was like a character from a manga, a descendent of a famous witch with a growing reputation of her own, a popular beauty who got top marks from the moment she started school. When Akko had the chance to visit her, she got to see her impressive magic skills firsthand. Diana encouraged her to pursue her dreams of learning magic, helping her however she could through their correspondence.

Akko kept every letter. She even brought them with her when she came to Luna Nova.

Once she unpacked her things and settled into her dorm room, she flopped onto her bed and reread the last letter Diana sent her before reuniting at school.

 

My dearest, Akko,

I am most overjoyed that you will be attending Luna Nova Academy this year. As much as I love your letters, it's no substitute for being around you. Your visits have been too short and far apart, but now we'll be able to see each other every day. However, don't make the mistake of thinking our time together will be spent playing. Our studies are of the utmost importance. I know you've wanted to study magic for years, and I won't let anything jeopardize your dream, even if I have to be sterner with you than I'd like.

Please do your best to get along with Hannah and Barbara. I've spoken to them about their uncharitable attitudes, but things won't change between you three unless you do your part as well. No more fisticuffs. Just remember, you have the moral high ground.

The household send their best regards, with the exception of a particular aunt and some onerous twins (they're still furious over the laxatives incident). I miss you terribly, and I can't wait to see you again in person.

Ever yours,
Diana Cavendish

P.S. I've enclosed a list of instructions for how to travel to Luna Nova. Hopefully I'll be able to lead you there myself, but one can never be too cautious.

P.P.S. At the risk of being a nuisance, I must emphasize that you NOT bring pickled plums with you through the leyline terminal.

 

Akko had accidentally left the instructions behind when she left for Luna Nova. The bright side was that she ended up meeting Lotte and Sucy! She forgot about Diana's reminder not to bring her pickled plums, but that mistake had led to herself, Diana, Lotte,  and Sucy falling into the Arcturus Forest and finding the Shiny Rod, so it was a win!

Sucy took the letter out of Akko's hands, read it quickly, and handed it to Lotte for review.

"Hey! Don't just take people's private stuff!"

"What's the point in keeping that old thing private?" Sucy said. "It reads like a university acceptance letter."

"Or like a love letter from a Victorian romance!" Lotte gushed. " 'Ever yours' is such a romantic way to end a letter!"

Sucy stuck her tongue out in disgust, as she tended to do when Diana was involved.

"She's my childhood friend!" Akko objected, snatching away the letter at last. "Don't make it weird!"

Their friendship deepened as it only could once they were only a moment away from each other, rather than half a world away. Diana assisted Akko with her studies, just as she promised, sticking with her through the roadblocks in her magical education whose source they didn't discover until Ursula and Croix's feud reached its climax.

Try as she might, Akko just couldn't match Diana's good behaviour. She ended up causing a lot of trouble, some of which her best friend helped her cover up, despite her protests about "proper conduct for a witch."

For example, Akko and her friends crashed Andrew Hanbridge's birthday party when she heard that Diana would be there. She couldn't let that pass! Not because she didn't like Andrew—he was a pretty great guy, but Akko liked him best when he wasn't around Diana.

"You really need to get your jealousy in check," Sucy told her after the party, when they were back in their dorm room. "

"I'm not jealous!" Akko said, pouting. "I just didn't want to be left out."

"You don't have to deny your feelings," Lotte said, ever the fan of romantic drama. "Anyone would feel threatened by a guy like Andrew, but you don't have to worry about him."

"Of course I don't! Diana doesn't even like him!" Akko had met Andrew several times during her visits to Cavendish Manor, and Diana barely looked twice at him. "Wait, you think I'm jealous of Andrew? I don't like Diana that way! She's just a friend."

Sucy snickered. "Oh really? Then why did you pass out from pure joy when Diana said she loved you?"

"B-b-because it was obviously because of your stupid bee!" Akko spluttered. "And I wasn't happy, I was freaked out! There's no way Diana would confess to me like that out of nowhere!"

However, Akko would have been lying if she claimed Diana's love bee-induced confession hadn't made her heart skip a beat.

Akko definitely wasn't jealous of the people around Diana. It was just that she needed to be the person Diana paid the most attention to at all times. Obviously Hannah and Barbara took issue with that, but they couldn't say anything about her when Diana was around. The trials they went through during her first year at Luna Nova had brought them closer than ever. As far as Akko was concerned, she was Diana's most special person, and she planned on keeping it that way.

"Most special person?" Amanda scoffed. She'd asked Akko why she was glaring at the girls swarming Diana's table at lunch. "You're the most repressed person I've ever met, and my family's Catholic. "

"I'm not repressed," Akko said. "I'm an out and proud bisexual, baby." She shot bisexual finger guns at Amanda to prove it.

"You know that's not what I'm talking about. Just admit you've got a crush on Cavendish the size of her ego and you'll feel better."

Akko turned bright red, which didn't exactly bolster her argument: "I do not have a crush on Diana!"

"I saw you guys strolling around yesterday and you were literally holding hands."

"So? Sometimes friends hold hands!"

"Oh?" Amanda put her hand on Akko's side of the table. "Then you won't mind holding hands with me."

"I'm not doing that!"

"Why not? I promise it's clean."

"Diana might see," Akko mumbled weakly. "I don't want her to worry that she's not my most special person. She already doesn't like you, do you want to give her another reason?"

Amanda groaned. "You're hopeless. Look, instead of sitting her giving Diana's fans the stink eye, why don't you go over there and ask her out on a date."

"A d-d-date?"

"Yeah, a d-d-date. Ask her out, and you can have her all to yourself. That's what you want, isn't it?" Amanda winked.

Akko stuttered and stammered, but she couldn't find fault in Amanda's argument. She did want to spend more time with Diana, and asking her out on a date would certainly achieve her goal. So she did just that.

As a friend, of course. A friend date between friends.

Diana seized the chance to make it a study date ("We have a history of magic test next week, and it wouldn't hurt to review our notes."), so as soon as classes were over, they made their way to the library.

Unfortunately, the witch politics of the Late Inquisition period weren't nearly as captivating as Diana. At least once a minute, Akko looked up from her notes to glance at Diana, whose face was scrunched up in concentration. Every once in a while, their eyes met, and the tension disappeared in an instant, replaced with an easygoing smile.

How is she so pretty? Akko wondered to herself as she pretended to study. She'd never noticed how Diana's nose scrunched up when she focused. It was stupidly cute. Illegally cute. So cute that Akko couldn't stop thinking about it after hours after their totally platonic study date ended. Diana should marry Akko to take responsibility for bewitching her with her adorable, scrunched-up nose.

Akko was joking about marriage. She'd settle for an actual date.

It turned out she did have a huge crush on Diana. Maybe she always had. She'd spent an awful lot of time in the years before coming to Luna Nova smiling and giggling to herself while she thought about all the things she would do with Diana if only she lived in Japan. Some of them were date things—scratch that, most of them were.

Once she'd realized her feelings for Diana, the question arose: what was she going to do about it? Diana was Diana, arguably the greatest witch of her generation—she definitely had the greatest hair. Akko knew she was no slouch, but was she good enough for Diana? More importantly, would Diana be able to see her as anything other than a friend? The childhood friend always had the best chance to land the girl in all the manga she'd read, but was the same true for real life? She didn't want to risk what they already had.

Akko decided to play it safe for once in her life. Only the "Akko" version of playing it safe still involved a lot of clumsy mistakes and poor impulse control. Diana had no idea what she was in for.

 


 

Approximately eleven years after meeting Akko, Diana found herself in a most vexing predicament.

Vexing, not in the sense that she didn't want to do what she had to do, but rather that she dreaded what it would take to get it done.

Summer vacation was fast approaching, and Diana wanted to make the most of it. This year there was no risk of Akko being stuck in the library (the less said about their time-looping adventure, the better), which opened up a once in a year opportunity. Diana wanted to ask Akko to spend summer vacation with her at Cavendish Manor. She had procured permission to bring a guest during her stay at home, now all she had to do was subject herself to the mortifying ordeal of inviting her.

What if Akko said no? What if she thought Diana's request was weird? What if she figured out from the invitation alone that Diana had fallen head-over-heels for her?

Logically, Diana knew she wouldn't get an answer without asking, but nevertheless she put it off as long as possible.

In the end, she blurted out the invitation during a last-minute study session for their end of term exams. In front of all their friends. She had to repeat herself, because her first attempt came out so garbled that Akko thought she was trying to speak fish language.

"Of course I'll come!" Akko beamed. "It'll be like one huge sleepover! I wouldn't miss it for the world!"

Diana let out several weeks of tension out in a single breath.

"Gosh! You were so nervous, I thought you were going to ask me out." Akko rubbed the back of her neck.

The most intelligent response Diana could muster was, "Haha, yes, very amusing."

Hannah and Barbara, who had figured out Diana's crush a while ago, each gave her a thumbs up hidden behind their textbooks, out of Akko's sight. Amanda, whose presence at a study session defied all logic, rolled her eyes. Diana's relief was so great that she couldn't even be annoyed with the delinquent.

"This is going to be so fun!" Akko said. "I haven't seen Bernadette in forever!"

Oh right, Diana thought. For all her planning about how to get closer, she had forgotten her biggest rival for Akko's attention: her own mother.

 


 

It's impossible to move the strings of fate without the reverberations carrying along in unexpected ways. One change elicits others.

At Akko's urging her father arranged for experimental medical treatment for Diana's mother through his business connections. Unlike in the more familiar timeline, Bernadette Cavendish survived, which had unforeseen implications of its own.

 


 

It wasn't that Bernadette ever tried to get between Akko and her own daughter, it just sort of happened. She had always tried to be the "cool mom" type, especially after her health scare. When Diana invited her new best friend to visit them in Britain, Bernadette did everything she could to make her feel at home in a foreign country. Of course she succeeded; everyone loved Bernadette. Then there was also the matter of Akko having quite possibly saved Bernadette's life, albeit indirectly. It was only natural that they would have a strong bond.

Diana felt foolish being jealous over her own mother spending time with her best friend. Such childishness had been acceptable when she was a child, but it was just pathetic when she was boarding at the same school and could spend as much time with Akko as she liked. It's not like it was a problem . She could easily forget about it when the two of them were apart, but Diana found it overwhelming whenever Akko came to visit Cavendish Manor.

Bernadette and Anna were waiting for Diana and Akko when they arrived by broom. They waved at the pair as they landed and dismounted.

"How are you doing, mother?" Diana asked as she approached.

"I'm doing well. All the better for seeing my lovely daughter again."

"I'm doing pretty great too, bi the way," Akko added, shooting bisexual finger guns at Bernadette, who returned the gesture.

Diana couldn't understand how her mother could match Akko's pace like that. One minute, she was an aristocratic lady whose elegance was beyond compare, the next she was exchanging meme references with her daughter's childhood friend.

"You're looking beautiful as always, Bernadette," Akko said.

"Why, thank you, dear."

Diana's jaw tightened. "Please refrain from flirting with my mother."

"I'm not flirting with her!"

This was new. Akko had commented on Bernadette's beauty before. "Your mama is so pretty," was something she'd heard plenty of time when they were children, but hearing the sentiment from a teenage Akko put her teeth on edge. Diana knew she was overreacting, but there was a limit to what she could put up with.

"Don't be so stiff, Diana," Bernadette chided. "Has she been getting enough rest? I know how she can push herself when it comes to her studies."

Akko huffed. "I swear, she wouldn't sleep if she didn't have to. You have no idea how many times I've broken curfew just to make sure Diana wasn't pulling an all-nighter!"

Diana recalled one night when Akko threatened to hold her down in bed until she fell asleep. Then she immediately repressed the memory for the sake of her sanity.

"Oh my. I'm counting on you to make sure she doesn't look at a book for as long as she's here."

"You can count on me, Bernie!"

Akko and Bernadette shared a conspiratorial chuckle. If Diana weren't already walking between them, she would have rushed to separate them. As it were, she felt the urge to stake her claim by looping her arm around Akko's. She opted not to. Being clingy wouldn't solve anything.

Anna left to put away their brooms, and Akko raced ahead to stretch her legs after the long flight, leaving Diana alone with her mother.

"I had Anna prepare a room for Akko," Bernadette said. "Although, if you wanted to share your room with Akko, I wouldn't object."

Diana's face grew hot. "That's an unusual way to treat a guest."

"That depends on the guest. You and Akko are rather close, after all."

Not "sharing a bed" close. Diana wasn't opposed to the idea, but the thought of seizing that opportunity made her stomach turn inside out. "I'll ask Akko which she would prefer."

Bernadette smiled. "That's a good answer."

Diana felt like she'd been given a test, and she wasn't sure if she'd answered wrong or right.

Akko rejoined the Cavendishes as they entered the manor. Bernadette left to take care of something in her office, and Akko called out after her, cheery as always.

"You shouldn't address my mother so informally," Diana said as they ascended the stairs. "She is a lady after all."

"But I've always called her Bernadette. What else should I call her? Mom?"

"That wouldn't be appropriate either," Diana said sharply. "I don't particularly want a sister." Her feelings toward Akko were anything but sisterly.

Akko pouted. "That's not what I meant."

"Then what did you mean?"

"Not telling!"

Diana stopped at the top of the stairs, Akko screeching to a halt shortly after her. How could Diana have feelings for someone so frustrating? She was tempted to exile Akko to the room prepared by Anna, but her better judgement won out and she explained Akko's options to her.

"Ooh!" Akko fidgeted, her cheeks blushing bright with excitement. "If we both sleep in your room, it'll be like a regular sleepover like we used to have! Your bed's still big enough for both of us, right?"

But was the bed big enough to accommodate the romantic tension? "I suppose."

Akko, sensing indecision, took Diana's hands in her own and looked deeply into her eyes. "We don't have to if you don't want to."

How was she supposed to say no to those puppy dog eyes? "I'd be delighted to share my room with you."

Akko giggled and pulled Diana along the hallway toward her room. Their hands fit together like pieces of a puzzle, one whose complete shape Diana hadn't figured out yet.

Months ago, Akko had suddenly started initiating hold holding with her. Apropos of nothing. When Diana asked why, Akko simply said that she felt like it. It had become a habit of theirs, though the touch of Akko's hand against hers never failed to raise her heart rate.

Their friendship had been growing more intense in accordance with Akko's whims, in sudden leaps and surges. There was no predicting what she would say or do next. Diana didn't know what the rules were. Could she get away with, for example, a chaste kiss on the cheek, or was that too much? She hardly dared to dream that there might be something more to it than friendship.

Of course, Diana could get to the bottom of things by asking her. She could even admit her feelings to Akko and she could see how it felt to be the one caught on the back foot for once. Of all the ways she'd considered confessing, that plan was the least subtle. Diana had no idea what to do with her feelings yet, but she had an entire summer vacation to figure it out.

 


 

Once Akko had dropped off her things, they were free to do whatever they liked. Diana wasted no time monopolizing her guest, taking her outside for a stroll, for horse riding, and a friendly broom race or two.

Everything went according to plan until dinner, when Bernadette was back in the picture.

The two of them talked all through dinner while Diana aggressively chewed her food. She half wished that Daryl and the twins hadn't left for France; her aunt would have droned over them and kept conversation to a minimum.

Things didn't improve in the evening. The trio moved to the lounge, and they brought their two person conversation with them. The topic had changed to Luna Nova, though Diana paid as little attention to it as she could manage.

"My favourite part of living at Luna Nova was all the gossip," Bernadette said. "There was always rumours about who I might have been dating."

"I bet," Akko said. "You must have been the prettiest girl in school when you were Diana's age. There's also a lot of rumours about her—"

Diana reached her limit.

"Could you please stop doing that? No girl wants to see her childhood friend hit on her mother."

Akko jumped. Her attention shifted from Bernadette to Diana in an instant. "But I'm not hitting on her!"

"You're always talking about my mother's appearance." It took everything Diana had not to add "instead of mine."

"That's not what I'm doing!"

"How is it not?"

"You're the super-smart genius girl, you figure it out!"

Akko stormed off, muttering " Baka !" under her breath as she stomped away.

Diana glared at the doorway Akko had left through. She knew she had messed up, and that she owed Akko an apology, but she was in no mood to make a proper job of it.

"That wasn't very ladylike of you," Bernadette said. Her tone was soft rather than judgemental.

"I'm not feeling very ladylike tonight."

"You know I'm not going to steal your friend from you?"

"Of course I know that," Diana said. Her pouting lip suggested that she didn't.

To her surprise, Bernadette laughed. "This is just like Akko's first visit here. Do you remember? You were so annoyed at me for 'hogging Akko' that you didn't speak to me for a week afterward."

Diana did remember. "In my defence, you were in fact 'hogging Akko'."

"Akko's like a second daughter to me." Bernadette smiled. "Hopefully in a few years she'll be a daughter-in-law to me."

"M-mother!"

"Was that too straightforward of me to say? Diana dear, you aren't as good at hiding your feelings as you think you are. You and Akko are soul mates. Anyone can see it."

"Akko can't," Diana said before she could stop herself. It was a petty comment and she was ashamed of saying it aloud.

"Is that how it seems to you?" Bernadette sighed and smiled. "Were you listening to our conversation while you were sulking in your chair?"

"I was trying not to."

"She was talking about you. How you've been doing at school, what you two do in your free time, how you've been helping her with her studies. You're all she ever wants to talk about when she's here. To her I'm—how did she put it?—'the number one source on Diana Cavendish lore'." 

Diana found that... rather flattering. Perhaps she shouldn't have tuned out as much as she had. But...

"If she's so interested in me, then why does she keep talking about how good-looking my mother is?"

To Diana's confusion, Bernadette laughed again. "Could you please stand up for me?" she asked, confusing Diana further.

Ever the dutiful daughter, Diana did as she was told. She got out of her chair, and her mother stood next to her.

Bernadette conjured a mirror with her wand. It hung in the air, showing Diana their reflections.

"What do you see?"

Is this a trick question? Diana didn't know what her mother was up to. She stared at her and her mother's reflections, trying to find what she was supposed to.

"For someone so clever, you seem to be having trouble seeing what's right in front of you."

Diana's eyebrows knitted together, and her reflection copied her. What was she supposed to get out of looking at her own image? She knew what she looked like; she saw her reflection every day. Seeing her mother's didn't add anything. They were almost the same person, the same cerulean eyes and platinum-blonde hair common to all the Cavendishes. Bernadette was taller and older, but otherwise the two were practically identical...

"Oh..."

Diana was the spitting image of her mother. She always had been. Which is to say, that every time Akko praised Bernadette's beauty, she had been, in effect, saying the same about Diana by proxy.

Bernadette chuckled. "Akko's rather sly, isn't she?"

Diana watched her own reflection blushed, exacerbating her own embarrassment. "

"Sometimes it's hard to say these things outright, so we find ways to get around it. You haven't exactly been forthcoming with her yourself, have you?"

"N-no..."

"Maybe you should change that."

 


 

Akko regretted her decision to storm off by the time she reached the end of the hallway, but she couldn't just go back. She had to angrily stay away out of principle!

She went back to Diana's room and collapsed onto the bed. "Why'd I have to go and say that?" she berated herself. "Diana's gonna think I wanna get with her mom!"

The whole "complimenting Bernadette to hit on Diana in a roundabout way" thing seemed like a stroke of genius when she came up with it. There was even a jealousy angle she could work with! But Akko hadn't expected Diana to get so riled up about it. She'd totally missed the part where she looked almost exactly like her mom (except way cuter)!

Tomorrow Akko would go back to normal—meaning she'd be clingy as all hell and clumsily flirt like she always did. She wasn't looking forward to smoothing things over with Diana. Maybe if she fell asleep quickly enough, she could avoid it...

No luck there. The door opened, and Diana entered the room.

Akko sat up. "Hey, Diana. Uh, how's it going?"

Diana triggered Akko's fight or flight response (leaning toward flight) by coming across the room without saying anything. She sat down on the bed next to Akko—right next to her.

"I want to apologize for earlier," Diana said, looking down at her own knees. "I shouldn't have blown up at you, and I'm sorry for treating you that way."

"Don't worry about it! Everyone's a little cranky sometimes."

"I wasn't cranky. I was... jealous."

"J-jealous?" Wait, did her strategy work somehow?

"Yes, jealous. I invited you to spend your summer here because I wanted to monopolize you, and I was frustrated when you paid so much attention to my mother instead."

Was Akko having a stroke? "What was that about monopolizing me?"

Diana let out a laboured sigh. "It was immature of me to react the way I did. I can't blame you for having a taste for older women..."

"Wait, wait, wait," Akko said, the most panicked she'd ever been. "I'm not attracted to your mom! That was just me being a dumbass! Please forget I said anything!"

Diana... snorted? Akko leaned forward to catch a look at Diana's face, and she was grinning, only barely holding in a laugh.

"Wait, you were trolling me?" Akko couldn't believe it. Did she really get trolled by Diana Cavendish?

Diana regained her composure and looked at Akko properly. "My apologies. I thought humour would be the best way to defuse the situation."

"Sure, just give me a minute for my heart to start beating again."

Diana chuckled. "That's what you get for flirting with my mother right in front of me."

Akko wondered if she'd ever live this down. Definitely not if Amanda ever caught wind of it. "I told you, it wasn't flirting..."

"Then why don't you show me what it's like when you're actually flirting?"

"Huh?" There was no way she heard that right.

"Would it be more like this?" Diana slipped an arm around Akko's waist and pulled her in close.

Oh. She definitely heard that right. "Uh, well, I don't have a lot of experience, I wouldn't know."

Diana laughed softly. Directly into Akko's ear. She might as well have run a finger down Akko's spine, because it gave her shivers. "Would you like some experience?"

With flirting, or being flirted with? "A-are you trolling me again?"

"Not at all." Diana's fingers found hers and intertwined. "As a matter of fact, I wasn't joking when I said I wanted to monopolize you."

Akko squeaked. There was no way this was happening, right? She must have fallen asleep and this was just some wonderful dream.

"My mother gave me some advice. To be more straightforward, and that's... that's what I'm doing."

Akko had been avoiding Diana's gaze, but hearing her falter drew her full attention. You couldn't just ignore that kind of vulnerability. She turned her head and her vision filled with those stupendous sapphire eyes brimming with emotion.

"I like you, Akko. I've liked you for the longest time."

Akko's brain started to overload. "Holy shit, this is really happening, isn't it?"

Diana wasn't fazed. "That's why I like you. I never know what you're going to say."

"Well I was trying to say I've liked you since forever, but it didn't come out that way."

"I think it just did."

They stared at each other for a moment before bursting into laughter.

"What a mess!" Akko said, pulling Diana into a tight hug. "My confession was going to be way smoother than that."

Diana melted into the hug and ran a hand through Akko's hair. "Mine lacked the bouquet of flowers I'd always planned on."

"Flowers? Dang, you really know how to make a girl feel special. We totally need to have a redo then."

"I don't know," Diana replied. "This feels very us." There was a comfortable pause. "I'm so glad I met you, Akko."

"Likewise, Diana. I can't imagine my life without you."

"Oh my. Is that a proposal?"

Akko spluttered. "Don't get greedy. Your mom won't be happy with me if I don't court you properly first."

"Then court away."

Neither of them knew what to do next, or what to do for a first date, but they'd figure it out eventually. They had an entire summer ahead of them.