Coming to as the morning sun paints the room in pale blues, Juna clings tightly to my arm and buries her face into my shoulder. Though we’d held hands as we’d drifted to sleep, she’d shifted into a position more natural to her habits as a cuddler. Even if I’d only just woken up for the day, yesterday’s events are still clear in my mind. Try as I might to find the motivation to rise, my energy levels are lacking.
So I remain with Juna and run my fingers through her hair while countless thoughts of her float through my mind. Seeing her so tranquil and peaceful after the trouble that came yesterday gives me a bubble of rest. The morning light peering in through the window illuminates her gentle features with her hair lightly tousled about from sleep.
✩ ✩ ✩
A knocking at the door snaps me back from the edge of sleep. Juna stirs awake. With a yawn and a stretch, she rubs her eyes and calls out.
“Heya, Juna! It’s Mercy! We’d noticed that you and Khiron are pretty late today. But, y’know, I get why with… things. So Plutia thought you two would like to eat breakfast in your rooms.”
“That sounds wonderful. Thank you, Mercy.”
“Okay then, I’ll just-”
Mercy opens the door and pauses as she sees the two of us. A beat passes before a smile spreads wide across her face.
“I getcha, I getcha. I’ll leave these on your desk and let you be.” She places two plates down and returns to the door. “And one last thing. Plutia told me to tell Mr. Khiron that he has some business down in the main hall. So make sure you two don’t spend too much time lazing around like that.”
She clicks her tongue and sends a small thumbs up before shutting the door behind her.
Juna shifts around as she’s still dueling with the lethargy of her doubtlessly fatigued rest. She stretches her arms for another yawn and then holds me even more dear.
“Good morning, Khiron.” She greets me with a sleepy voice.
“Good morning to you too, Juna. Did you get any good rest?”
“I did. You’re here, after all.”
Her comment fishes out a weighty throb from my heart. She relinquishes me and rises to sit at the edge of her bed. Though I wonder to myself how she’s dealing with yesterday’s rejection, I leave it be for the moment and retrieve the plates. We sit side by side together as we begin our morning meal.
“It sounds like it’s already going to be a busy day for you, Mr. Celestial Knight.” She says with an airy giggle. “I wonder what this important business you have waiting for you will be.”
“It makes me tense just thinking about it. Everything else up until this point has always ended up being manic in one way or another.”
“With how things have been going for you I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s another cute girl for you to meet.”
“I already have so many people I need to meet on a daily basis. When it was just you and I all I’d needed to do was be by your side and do my duties as a knight. I wouldn’t know what I’d do if I had even more people to build relationships with.”
“Come on. I know that my Khiron can handle all that and more!” She punctuates her statement with a playful bump of her body against mine.
“Today may be busy after all, but I kind of hope it really won’t be. I have something I hope to attend to outside of my work as a Celestial Knight today. I wonder if I’ll have that opportunity.”
“I’m sure you’ll be more than able to. Just give it your best like you always do.”
Though she seems so chipper this morning, I can tell that something is awry deep down inside of her. If I couldn’t discern that much I’d have no right to call myself her partner and friend. The way she smiles to herself and seems so playful carries the feeling of a facade just barely hiding away whatever storm is brewing inside of her. Though I’d have wished to let her be, I can’t help but ask the question.
“Juna, are you doing okay?”
She turns her eyes towards me as she has her fork hanging from her mouth. Her expression has a light air of confusion that begs me to continue on.
“I… Of course with everything that happened yesterday I’m worried about you. So if there’s anything wrong, please tell me. I’m here to listen.”
That cheerful smile of hers slowly slides off of her face in a heartbreaking sight. As her mask crumbles, her true heart comes clear into view. Her lips fall sullen and her eyes are dull as they stray from mine to stare at her plate.
“It’s… difficult. That’s for sure.”
“I’d felt… I knew something was strange yesterday. I’d had this twisted feeling in my gut. Like something was destined to go wrong. I’m just not sure if I’d failed because of that feeling. But maybe I’m really not ready after all…”
“There’s no way I can believe that’d be the case. You’ve studied so hard and I know what you’re capable of. I’ve seen that for myself more times than anyone else.”
“The judge… She’d said that so long as she’s overseeing my case I won’t be honored with the duties of a mage knight. It’s… hard to settle with that. At this point even if I were to improve and give it more of my best, I won’t be able to reach my dream.”
She sets her plate aside and lifts her legs up onto the bed. Tucking her face into her knees, she holds herself close and shells up.
“Vestil and I had a conversation about everything. We swear that we’ll do all that we can to set things right. Of course we will.”
“I… I know you two would do everything you could… But I wonder to myself what can be done.”
As tempted as I am to divulge the conspiracies at hand, I withhold. To further complicate matters and risk raising her doubts higher would be of the most sour taste. Instead I reach for her and draw her into my arms. Her head leans against my shoulder and I rest myself against her.
“It’ll be okay, Juna. We’ll find a way like we always do. I’ll only give it my absolute best. This is just the beginning of something better.”
“...Thank you, Khiron.”
✩ ✩ ✩
The two of us finish our breakfast and I prepare to be on my way to my calling. But it’s easier said than done to push myself anywhere else while Juna would be left to the dour state she’s in.
“Are you sure that you want to stay here? You can come along with me today.”
“It… has to do with your work as the Celestial Knight. It’s important that you focus on all of your duties instead of me.” She offers a fragile smile. “And besides; I have more studying and meditation to do. I’ll make myself busy with that for today.”
Against all of my desires to stay with her until she can make a full recovery, I make the burdened decision to withdraw myself. Up until now it’s been little else but of the moment notices coming my way. If there happens to ever be a precise schedule, I could do so much more with it. But that’s how it is in this busy kingdom and this busy job. Though it’s likely due to the necessity of meeting the Celestial Maidens that I’m given so much free time until further notice.
“It seems like a good plan for the day. I hope to see you later on. Until we’re able to meet again, please take good care of yourself, Juna.”
I press through the doorway as she says her own farewells. When I close her door behind me, I let loose a breath that had been caught up and begging for release from my chest.
“I’ll do everything I can. I promise.”