Chapter 7:

Breaking a Sweat

Lovely kNight


Juna and I had bid our time by in our old homes. Hers came first and we’d collected all she’d desired into the pull cart we’d rented for the occasion. We both remain sitting together in my own house. Here I had been thinking that going to the castle would be the most sobering taste of reality that things had indeed changed, yet now that I’ll be leaving behind my home, it feels even more like an ending than had every change concluded at my visitation.

“I’ll be missing this place. Sure I could stop by sometimes if I’d wanted, but that’s not the same as living in.”

“It’ll be strange to get by being able to come and visit you here, but it’ll still be the same with us both at the manor. All I’ll need to do now is walk down the hall and there you’ll be.”

“You’re right. Even if we won’t be in our own homes, it’ll still be home to me. You’re there and that’s home to me.”

She pauses and stares towards me. Gradually a pink slides from her neck and across her face.

“I-It’ll be home for me too... Anywhere you go is my home.”

“I’m grateful you ended up being a maiden so we could still be close. I couldn’t imagine being without you. I would likely end up feeling partly demotivated. If anything I would likely have requested that you’d be able to stay in the manor with me.”

“It was really… lucky that I happen to be a maiden… And that I’m able to help you with your work as the Celestial Knight after all. I’d thought for the longest that I wouldn’t be able to do anything, but it’s fortunate that’s not the case.”

“Even if you hadn’t been a maiden, I know you would have continued to help me so much. And soon enough we’re going to get you to mage knighthood. I’ll do all that I can to make that day come.”

Th-Thank you, Khiron.”

An ensuing pause in conversation leaves the air in silence. Though our moments together quietly are always so relaxing, I pick up a hint of peculiar tension. Juna fidgets where she sits and plays with a bang of her hair while huddling closer to herself. It takes an embarrassing amount of time before I remember exactly what she’d meant to say.

“R-Right. You’ll really be making sacrifices to help me, won’t you? My apologies for that.”

“There’s nothing that you have to apologize for. I’m not burdened by it in the slightest. It’s important for your dreams and the kingdom. Besides… we’re partners. Whatever there is that I can do to help you, I’ll do it.”

“You have my… my thanks. You’re a real lifesaver as ever, Juna.”

✩ ✩ ✩

As I’d stated before, there wasn’t too much that I’d particularly needed from my house. So I simply gather my clothes and a few stray belongings such as my practice sword. When I go to gather the final fixture I desire to take, I find Juna looking up to it.

A forest trail filled with tall, majestic trees and life abounding. The dusted path leads to a coursing river that appears refreshing with its gentle flow. The sight of the sky above through the openings of the canopies gifts a relaxing feeling of the heart of a gentle summer season.

“You’ll be taking this as well, won’t you?” She asks me while keeping her eyes fixed on the painting.

“Without a doubt. It’s a masterpiece that can’t just be left in a place it won’t be admired like it should be. If anything, even more people will be able to see it in its new home.”

“You really enjoy this so much. I never would have expected to this degree.”

“It’s your finest work. Even if you were so unsure about it, it won the prize. That said plenty more than I could. I’m just glad that the academy let me take it rather than hording it to themselves like I know they’d wanted to.”

“They didn’t want it that badly.”

“You can say that, but that art collector was really adamant to fight me over it. Gratefully I happen to be friends with the artist, so I was able to win in the end. If we weren’t so busy with our knightly duties, I would love to see something new by your hand.”

“Maybe someday I can.” She plays with her hair some more.

“As much as I wish I could stare at it some more, the daylight is burning and we should be getting on our way. We still have sword practice, so let’s move.”

I gently remove the painting from the wall and begin to wrap it with a cover. With plenty of concern for damage, I do it as carefully as possible.

✩ ✩ ✩

We had set the cart off to the side as we’d arrived at our customary training grounds. A pleasant meadow settled a small distance from the heart of the city. The sunlight peaks down in warm, generous rays as the glittering of a small lake shimmers elegantly.

Our wooden swords clash and echo out through the comfortable evening air. As she swings for an opening, I parry and return the favor with a quick strike of my own. By now both of us are well exerted and we’re dabbed with sweat. While we’re chasing after our wind, I call for a small rest. We seat ourselves side by side and face towards the waves of the waters.

“That felt wonderful! After everything, it’s nice to at least get some exercises in.” Juna stretches herself and takes in a deep helping of air.

“You’ve improved again, Juna. If you keep this up, you might be the one one to save Celestia all by yourself.”

“No way! I couldn't be the hero! I’m too busy supporting him to find that kind of time!”

The two of us share in a lighthearted giggle. With the pleasant weather and the pleasant company, the day has been the most perfect kind.

“How is your training to become a mage knight coming along? All of this business hasn’t gotten in your way, has it?”

“Of course not. I’ve had plenty of time to study today. Before I’d come to your room, I was locked up in my own reading. So I’ve studied well enough and with all of this training, I know I’m doing just fine.”

Speaking of our dreams and duties, the special case of my own predicament regrettably returns to my mind.

“Say, Juna. You don’t think your… transferring magic will get in the way, do you? What if you lose your own magic abilities that go towards your being a mage knight because of all of this?”

“I was actually wondering the same thing. While I was studying, Plutia came in and had a talk with me. When I’d asked her about that, she’d stated that the magic power given to the Celestial Knight is a special type that I wouldn’t be able to use myself no matter how hard I’d tried. So it’s not tied to my magic as a mage knight.”

“That’s a relief.” I expel my apprehension with a sigh. “I was worried for a moment that this inane predicament would have jeopardized all of your hard work. That’s one last worry to have floating in my mind.”

“I was more than grateful to hear that it would all be fine.” Juna’s voice suddenly goes soft and I can’t quite hear her. “Even if I were to lose my dream, I wouldn’t mind, you know? As long as you could reach yours.”

“Come again?”

“Even if she does seem a little eccentric, Plutia really is a reliable woman. She’s very intelligent and hardworking. You know that she’d made breakfast today?”

“That was her own cooking? I had no clue. It was a wonderful. I’d even say that it rivaled that banquet we went to at that fine dining restaurant. I should remember to say my thanks to her when I get the opportunity.”

As the thought passes by, it earns a reflexive shudder from me.

I’d better remember to lock my door tonight. Though I hope she doesn’t have a master key or… maybe the know how to pick locks.”

“My next test for promoting to a mage knight will be coming up soon. It’s scheduled for this Saturday.”

Today being Tuesday means that it would be a mere number of days from now.

“Say, Juna. If you’re a maiden who is helping save the world, shouldn’t you be able to be a mage knight under that merit? Is it still necessary for you to go through all of this for it?”

“Even if I could have an easier way in, I won’t take it. You know that hard work is its own reward and it wouldn’t be fair to the others if I didn’t qualify properly as they had to. Plus I’d be undermining my own strength so few would likely believe in me if I went that route.”

“Your reasoning makes good sense. We’ll continue working hard so we can make your mage knighthood official. So why don’t we get back to sparring-”

“K-Khiron. A moment.” Juna catches the cuff of my shirt as I rise.

“What’s wrong? Had enough practice for today?”

“No… I want to continue. It’s just… we have other things to practice, don’t we?”

“Other things to practice?” I’m slow on the uptake, but quickly flush as I catch her point. “Oh. You mean that… other thing.”

“Y-Yeah. We both have an important job to do. This is our new duty together… isn’t it?”

“You’re not technically wrong about that...”

Nerves tangle between us as we remain completely still. Uncertainty abounds as I haven’t the foggiest clue what step to take where. But before we can spend too long in utter quiet, I bite steel and go for the most forward approach.

“How do you want to begin? Is there… something we should do? Or I should… do?”

“I-I don’t really know. The best bet would probably be to just… start.”

I forge my resolve to the best I can manage. Take a deep breath, steady myself, force my body to move. I draw closer to Juna and place my hand upon her shoulder. She peers at me with shy, expecting eyes.

“It’s okay. Please practice with me… however you want… Whatever would be… best.”

She gently closes her eyes and prepares herself. The final distance is crossed as I reach her. My lips press against hers and a chill runs through my body. The sensation of her, how soft and sweet she is is an enchanting feeling that threatens to overwhelm me immediately with its allure.

Though I haven’t the foggiest how long been so connected with her, I’m barely able to restrain myself and let her go.

“Th-There. How is that? That’s plenty of practice, right?”

“O-Oh. Is that all?” Juna speaks timidly, a faint tone of disappointment clear in her voice.

I withhold myself as I watch her cutely, lovely lips curl ever so slightly into a shy smile.

“I was thinking that we should… practice as much as we can. The more… the better and more experienced you’ll become.” She speaks softly but not so softly I could miss it.

Seeing her cute smile on her face, how she bashfully touches her lips is enough for me to desire more of her gift of magic. I grab her shoulders firmly and embrace her against myself. Our lips meet as I throw all caution and care to the afternoon summer wind.

“Juna.” I speak her name as I pull back for an instant only to hold her even more strongly the very second I finish speaking.

Her lips open and it feels as if our hearts connect as one. I begin to feel more, understand more about Juna than ever before. I can almost hear her heart beating as we fall into our own little world together.

As we come up for air from the sea of emotion we dive through together, her gentle, delicately wavering eyes full of passion find my own. She pants lightly and her resolve feels so fragile, so delicate under my touch. The glittering light from the lake beside her sparkles so luminously and makes her already radiant beauty all the more enchanting. I gently sweep my hand through her hair and stroke her cheek before I dive in for more.

She begins to moan lightly and her breath strikes at my cheek while I continue giving her my passion. Her warmth soaks into my body as the softness of hers is embraced tightly against me. Her hand softly touches my own upon her cheek. I could almost suffocate from the desire to remain so intertwined with her, yet I know I must return from that world we share together. I reluctantly release, but not before I give her one last light kiss upon her lips.

“I… I think we’ve done good practice for today.” I speak through my panting.

“D-Do you think that we shouldn’t practice more? We practice sword fighting as hard as we can... so maybe we should practice this harder too?”

“W-We’ve broken quite a sweat already.”

“…Maybe you’re right. You… You seem like an excellent kisser to me. Maybe you’re already skilled enough.” She pauses and holds onto the hem of her skirt with both hands as her eyes peer up to me.

“W-We’ve done a lot of practice today. I think it’s time we return to the manor. You have your testing to study for as well. We’d best get you to it before the day is too old!”

I leap up from my seat and face myself away from her while I attempt to calm my pounding heart and salvage my focus.

“I-I… You’re probably right. You’ve such amazing help. I think practice was a... success.”

“It seems successful to me, I suppose. I’m not entirely sure, but I feel-”

My voice catches in my throat as I feel her arms sneak around my body and hold me. Though there is a light stinging from my scar, it’s nothing compared to the shock I feel as she holds me so closely, tenderly.

“Juna…?”

“Please let me stay like this for a moment… I’ll give you some more strength so you can save Celestia.” She pleads to me with a calm and yet uncertain voice.

“...Okay.”

The sun begins to set in the distance as she continues to embrace me with all of her care beyond the timidity. I’m sure she can feel my thunderous pulse and I wonder to myself what she thinks of its rhythm.

✩ ✩ ✩

While Juna and I walk through the city together beneath the passionate blazing light of the departing sun, we both remain in a comfortable silence. I glance to her and see the sun’s radiant red rays bringing a dreamy glow to her skin, complimenting the rosy shade of her long hair and gentle eyes. As I peer over to her, she notices and faces me with a cute grin.

“You get stronger from being around us, don’t you? That’s what Plutia said.”

“I’m supposed to at least.”

“Have you felt stronger from practicing with me?”

Whenever she would be near, I would feel a light sensation lift my heart. Though I’m not sure if that’s from the magic or from my nervousness lately. Though I’d felt that long before my duties as a hero. However, with the abundance of energy I feel when she smiles, it almost seems like there could be no other answer than that she’s magic.

“I… I believe I may...”

Her smile’s radiance blooms brighter with the sun’s light dancing on her skin. Among all the silhouettes of the buildings with their backs draped in shadows, she stands out among them like a beautiful rose in its season.

“Then I’m glad. Thank you for letting me train with you, Khiron.”

There is a small beat of silence before she continues. Her face is once more shy and overcome with a blush.

“If my being near you makes you stronger, then why don’t we hold hands while we walk back to the manor?”

“Hold hands? I suppose that’s simple enough. I wouldn’t mind that at all.”

I reach out to her and she slowly grabs hold. When her hesitation passes, she laces her fingers through mine and she beams towards me.

“Let’s grow stronger together.”