With just one day it feels like everything I’ve ever known has been challenged and changed. The Celestial Manor had been deemed my new home. I’d begin living under the same roof as all the Celestial Maidens, the women I’d only just met starting today. Since the rest of the day was devoted to even more initiation, I’d had no time to make personal arrangements to have my own belongings relocated. Though there was an offer for the kingdom itself to assist, I’d let it be a miss.
I’d separated from Juna who’d been given her own room. The very moment before she’d entered in, we were both awkwardly silent. Despite all the years we’d spent together, it was the very first time we’d both been so uncertain around each other. What could we say after we’d been thrown into such an absurd situation?
So I lay on my new bed in my new room all the while reflecting upon the events that had lead up to this moment. No matter how much I strain for details reminiscing the recent past, I can’t seem to find even a single trace of a sign or warning along the way. My entire life I’d never even entertained the thought that becoming the Celestial Knight would entail such an absurd concept.
Try as I might to let myself be at ease, I can’t get a particular thought out of my mind. The knowledge that the maidens I would be… kissing… in due time are currently resting in the rooms near my own.
I can see their faces so clearly in my mind’s eye. And somehow my mind begins to wander.
The energetic face of Mercy, so bright and full of life, nearly ready to tackle me with a smooch.
Plutia’s seductive smile inviting me to kiss.
Neptanie’s face stained a bright red as she prepares herself for our moment.
Celina’s shyly looking towards me, a hint of displeasure in her expression no matter that we would soon kiss.
Venna and Marcia standing side by side waiting for me to choose whomever would be first between them.
Then the most surprising and impactful image shakes me to my core. I see Juna herself with a shy smile on her face. She has her hands laced behind her back as she prepares herself for our duties to save the world.
“It’s my first kiss. I’m grateful that I can give it to you.”
“No, no, no! Nononono!” I slap myself in the face with both hands as I shoot up in bed. “I’m a knight! You’re a knight, Khiron! There’s no way I should be having those sorts of thoughts! It’s ungentlemanly to… think of those things… isn’t it?”
I stay seated in my bed with a restless spirit gnawing away at me. My heart stomps about in my chest. I take to my feet and change my mind away from such embarrassing thoughts. I decide to find something to give my troubled mind a little bit of peace.That way I can hopefully get some sleep tonight.
✩ ✩ ✩
Even at the night hour the library is just as beautiful as it had been during the day. The moon’s platinum rays fall through the clear glass high up above and the striping light streaming through the stained glass is marvelous. Theirs is a unique glow with the tame night’s light peeking through.
I sit with a small stack of books resting on a table. The tome I read is a collection of myths and tales of Celestial Knights from times long passed. Though the pieces I study are common knowledge for Juna and myself, it’s still a pleasant read nevertheless.
Yet a creeping pain begins to radiate through my body in pulsing waves. Touching my chest, I lightly massage the bit of peculiar flesh I feel there.
“Some pain to top off this crazy day, I see.” I sigh inwardly.
After deep breaths and a moment of rest, the unpleasant sensation settles itself back down to the bearable and dull tone it most commonly rings. That old wound still haunts me to this very minute.
And it may continue to harm me for the rest of my life.
“No. You need to be positive. You will be healed from it. You’ll succeed as the hero and you’ll be well.”
“Khiron? You’re still awake?” I hear the unmistakable voice of Juna call to me and it returns me from my thoughts.
I see her enter view as she ascends the stairs to the second floor. Though I feel an inkling of bliss seeing her face, it is blotted out the moment I remember my future duties.
“Ah, Juna. Seems like it’s been the same for you.”
“It’s... an odd night. It’s strange not being home at this hour... Or with you... I-I mean that I’m still feeling like a fish out of water.”
“That’s right. You slept with me last night so you haven’t been at your own home for a few nights now. Being with you does make things a bit more bearable. I can agree with that.”
“But what about you? Why are you still awake, Khiron?”
“I was too busy with plenty on my mind. Couldn’t stop myself from wondering if there’s another means about being the hero, so I came to the library for some studies. So far I haven’t come up with anything worth while.”
“Just thinking? It’s not anything else, is it?”
“N-Not so much. Don’t worry, I’m doing okay tonight. Just a tiny flare up, but besides that it’s been fine.”
“I’m glad. I was worried for a moment if you weren’t doing well. If you were in pain... But...” She shakes her head lightly and changes her topic. An inquisitive, shy expression is borne to her face. “This... What we’d learned today... Do you really not want to do this?”
“A knight has no business with such things. It’s... never something I’d really let be on my mind. All of this just feels… so much different than I’ve expected things would be as the Celestial Knight... K-Kissing and all.”
“It caught me of guard too. All the time that you’ve been fighting for your dreams, I didn’t expect something so... unique... would be a part of your duties. But it’s not the worst thing in the world.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I don’t think it’s something horrible. Maybe it could have been much worse than kissing. And I know you better than anyone else. I won’t be with a complete stranger. You won’t be with a stranger either. Though I suppose that’s not entirely the case aside from us...”
“I can somewhat understand your point. I should probably be more grateful that you’re among the maidens. It’s nice to at least have one familiar face with me.”
She takes a pause and begins to sway on her hips with a lightly hesitant spirit playing about her.
“You haven’t had your first kiss yet, have you?”
“My first kiss?” I repeat mindlessly, caught in a bout of surprise.
“I-I haven’t my-... myself... I was saving it for someone... someone special” She rubs her arm nervously, a small glitter of pink hangs on her cheek.
“I was hoping to save mine as well. So... I haven’t yet either.”
“Oh! Good!” She speaks yet snaps quickly afterward. “I-I mean, I’m glad that you’re... I mean... Well...”
She kicks her feet lightly and holds her arm while she does battle to find her place to continue.
“S-Since we know each other and we're comfortable together, what do you think about... fixing that?”
“Fixing that? Fixing what?”
Though I’m dumbfounded, I understand what she means to say. Yet I let her speak and bat away all the final fragments of denial I have inside.
“Fix that we’ve... both never kissed before. And maybe I could help you get a start on your duties as the hero.” Her words trail off as do her eyes which trace the stained glass at my back. “…Why don’t we kiss?”
Until this day, I hadn’t ever thought of Juna as more than my best friend and training partner. The woman whose similar dreams were interwoven with mine. Now so many emotions and thoughts were sweeping through my heart.
My eyes gently drift from her eyes and down to her lips. They’re always so cute and bright. The way she smiles has always been so captivating.
“I… I wouldn’t mind…”
I nearly slap myself for the second time tonight but my hand stops midway and hangs in the air as I hold myself back.
“Wh-What’s wrong?” Juna’s eyes widen in shock.
“Pardon, pardon. It’s nothing.”
I could never deny that she’s a beautiful woman. It wouldn’t be too uncommon that I’d be teased by fellow knights. There were times we were both mistaken as something more than friends and partner knights. Of course I would set the record straight quickly when those times moments would come.
“You want to kiss me?” I ask her while I’m yet in disbelief.
“If you’re okay with doing that. If you’d want to... kiss me. Plutia said that our contact would strengthen you through my magic. So this would help you take your first step, wouldn’t it? In fact, you’ve probably picked up something here and there from all the time we’ve ever spent together.”
“You’re probably right. It’s interesting to think about that possibility in retrospect. I’m not opposed to... kissing you. If… If it’s for the kingdom.”
We both hang in hesitation. I slowly rise from my seat and meet before her. The moonlight filters through the stained glass at our shoulders and paints her skin with an array of rich colors.
“We’ve… We’ve always been sparring partners so this is kind of like that, isn’t it? We’re helping each other. We’re training together just like always. I should become stronger through this so... I’d be grateful if you were my partner for this.” I think aloud.
“Y-Yes! This is training, so this is just business as usual! It’s just what we’re training for that has changed. That’s all... That’s it....” Juna shyly laces her fingers behind her back as she speaks.
Everything about her is somehow so much different than ever before. I’ve seen her so disarmed an innumerable times, yet tonight it takes an entirely different tone. The way her clothes freed from her armor are so elegant upon her. The white blouse she wears and the red and black plaid skirt compliment her to be so cutely feminine. So I wonder if she’d always been so adorable.
“Should we begin?” I ask her.
“If you don’t mind it, then I have no issue with practicing here and now.”
Juna’s deep red eyes lit up with a delicate shimmer find my own. The stained glass patching her skin and illuminating her features only magnifies the intensity of her deep gaze.
“Th-Then let’s do this.”
The moment weighs heavy on us. Hesitant, nerves at their height with emotions flaring. I come closer to her and she raises her sight to meet mine. A timid shimmering reflects in her gaze. She shyly closes her eyes and leans towards me. I have one final moment to steel myself for the first brave step in my life as the Celestial Knight.
Taking her delicate cheek into my hand, I study her elegant features before I give my own efforts to meet her where she waits for me. Our lips touch and I feel a jolt of electricity shoot through my body upon contact with their soft, sensitive surface.
“This is Juna…” The gravity of the situation takes its time to settle within me as I withdraw from her.
She looks deeply into my eyes as if to affirm the truth that I’d kissed her. So I give her even more to confirm that truth. I return to her lips. Her arms press against me and she lightly grips at my shirt.
I can only manage simple pecks to her lips for but a few seconds. Those short, teasing moments alone are nearly enough to overwhelm me. The sensations of Juna’s lips and cute figure are a familiar experience yet made into something new. Though I can’t deny the satisfaction in the sensations, the moment I remember my place as a knight, I grow reluctant. It’s with great difficulty that I retreat from her.
Juna peers to me as we settle ourselves after our practice.
“That was my first kiss.”
A shy smile graces her lips as her fingers delicately touch where we’d been so intimately connected.
“I... It was a good first. I’d enjoyed it.” I stutter and catch my slip. “R-Rather, I enjoyed learning with you very much, I mean. Thank you, Juna. It was fine training.”
“It was. I think I’ve already learned a lot today.” She laces her fingers before her and beams towards me.
“It’s late. You should… Tomorrow is going to be a long day ahead of us, I’m sure.”
“You’re right. Then I’ll leave you to your studies, Hero of Celestia.” She giggles lightly to herself. “It feels wonderful to finally be able to say that.”
“Y-Yeah. It’ll take some time until I’ve really gotten accustomed to names like that.”
”Have a good night, Khiron. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She flutters away with a cheerful wave and elegantly glides down the stairs, nearly glowing as she departs. I heave a deep sigh and readjust myself back to reality. But it proves challenging to remain there after everything I’d just experienced.
“My first kiss. I’m glad I was able to share it with her. I’ve shared an innumerable amount of firsts with her in my life so it should only be natural I’d share that first with her too, right?” I lean back in my chair for a moment and wonder to myself. “The true beginning to my work as the Celestial Knight. What a wonder it ended up starting with a kiss.”
I wonder to myself just how many kisses it would take to be prepared to battle with Eclipse. Though that wondering slowly slides into a bit of imagination as Juna dances about in my mind. I can still feel her warmth and her sensitive form lingering. The places she’d pressed her palms against that would constantly ache with pain is absolutely silent for the moment.
“I wonder when we’ll kiss again…?”
I shake my head to throw those thoughts out the window before I redouble my focus in search for answers.