Chapter 31:

The Drug Called Love and a Little Girl’s Fantasies

My childhood friend ran away from home and now I have to share a room with her?!

I’m still out of breath when I return to our blanket together with Yori who's beaming.

What on earth just happened while my brain was AFK?

Yori spreads her wet body across the blanket sighing contently. Puzzling about my sudden outburst, I follow her example, allowing the heat of the sun to heat my quivering body back up.

I almost drowned while hugging her underwater, what was I thinking?

As I feel the pleasant warmth on my naked skin, I conclude that I wasn't thinking but letting my emotions talk for once. All this time, I’ve always listened to my reasoning instead of listening to the desires of my heart out of some ridiculous fear or whatever. As I gaze into the deep azure of the cloudless sky above me, I realize that all this time I’ve been worried for no reason whatsoever.

A sudden blessed feeling overcomes me as I close my eyes to relax in the sun for a while. However, I can’t remain like this for long. A certain curiosity prompts me to jack up my upper body, allowing me to take a glance at Koyori. The girl’s eyes are closed, her chest rising and falling way too quickly for her to be asleep. Above everything, there’s a blissful, content smile on her lips. Koyori’s smile is honestly a work of witchcraft. How can a mere smile make her look so enticing?

A soft smile plays around my lips as I continue to observe her. I kinda want to hug her again yet I don’t want to disturb the tranquility of the moment.

Look at her cute smiling face, what could possibly be so bad about touching each other if she rewards me with… This? I puzzle as the memories of our intense underwater hug replay in the backspace of my mind. What made me feel so angsty whenever she touched me? Why have I been hesitating in the first place? Honestly, my heart is hopping around in my chest like a bunny on steroids right now because I'm still so excited! I kinda want to do it again, I kinda want to touch her body even if just to tickle that slowly rising and sinking belly of hers…

Whatever drugs I’m on right now, I wish someone had given them to me two days ago already. My gaze caresses her entire body with little to no shame. Seeing her exposed like this in her cute swimsuit suddenly doesn’t feel very awkward anymore, although I don’t think my gaze could linger on her chest while she’s aware of it yet.

It’s exhilarating how much my life has changed since Koyori entered my life. If someone told me a few days ago I’d share hugs with a girl in public, I’d have given them a run for their money. For the first time in ages, I’m actually really having fun. Playing a game or reading a manga can evoke feelings in me too but it could never even come close to the raw ecstasy I just can’t forget now that I’ve experienced it firsthand. If she were to leave any time soon, I’d be really sad similar to how one doesn’t want to give away a precious toy after playing with it for an extended period of time.

Yori eventually takes notice of my staring and giggles cutely.

"Kei-kun, you're so silly, hehehe."

"Well you're the one who's chuckling, how does that make me silly?" I counter playfully.

Koyori doesn't answer immediately, instead inching over to me until she's lying right next to me. She’s so close in fact that our arms are brushing against each other. A sheepish smile plays around her lips as my childhood friend speaks her mind.

"I like Kei-kun a lot better now. He's smiling like he used to, he's being funny like he used to and he likes Yori-chan like he used to."

Toddler talk again?

"You wanted to marry me back then, remember Keiichi?" she prompts me, making me puzzled why she’d bring that up right now. "I always thought it was a little silly but you were pretty serious about it at the time, weren't you?"

“Yes, but I was a stupid little 7-year-old kid!” I laugh nervously at the hilarity of my younger self. Koyori snickers quickly before elaborating in an unexpected way.

"Kind of made me feel like a little princess locked away in a castle - you know, like in a fairytale, waiting for my prince to return to take me along to a faraway place where we can live happily for the rest of our lives…"

What could she be talking about?

Yori gets somewhat melancholic while I attempt to deduce the meaning of her words.

"Well, just a little girl's silly fantasies…" she eventually sighs, returning to basking in the sun.

Wait, could she… I need to think this over! Juice! I’ll grab juice!

Feeling really weird all of a sudden, I tell Koyori about my plans before hastily jogging to a nearby stall.

It’s barely been 15 minutes since we returned from the pool but already sweat is pouring from my forehead again. I navigate past the masses of rambunctious children, laughing high schoolers, and hairy old men in an attempt to create some space to ponder about something Koyori said to me only moments ago.

‘Kind of made me feel like a little princess locked away in a castle - you know, like in a fairytale, waiting for my prince to return to take me along to a faraway place where we can live happily for the rest of our lives…’

These words continue to resound in the backspace of my mind. Koyori uttered them right after reminiscing about my promise to marry her one day. Her words, dreamy, nostalgic, and a little yearning, appeared to hint at some hidden feelings in the girl’s heart.

Could the lonely princess waiting in her castle refer to herself? And the prince… would that be… me? It has to be, right?

A sudden sense of nervousness clings to me. If my assumptions were to be correct, this would be as close to an indirect confession as it can get.

So, Koyori… does she like me like that after all? Does she want me to be her prince? Does she want me to keep the promise I gave her so long ago?

Considering my own feelings, I’ll gladly become her prince but I can’t saddle up before knowing Koyori’s feelings for certain. The words she uttered may very well have an entirely different meaning.

It wouldn’t be the first time she tried to hide her true feelings behind a metaphor.

To be frank, I also feel reminded a little bit of her odd behavior two nights ago. The melancholy I just felt, even if just for a split-second, felt awkwardly similar. Then again, she never actually revealed what she was dealing with at the time. Maybe some of it resurfaced for some reason?

Could she have been sad about not being able to see me all this time or could it be something deeper I won’t understand unless she tells me what it is? Ugh, I’m not getting anywhere with this!

Feeling a little uncertain and frustrated about my inability to figure out her motifs, I redouble my efforts to break a lane through the crowds. A low-key confession? A hidden S.O.S.? Or maybe I simply have tomatoes in my eyes? Whatever the case, there’s nothing to gain by brooding over this forever. There’s still a little bit of that ecstatic feeling left. Worrying over nothing would be a poor way of using the momentum I gained.

After buying two large cherry-flavored iced drinks, I’m shoving my way back toward her. As it turns out, I can’t entirely shake off those feelings no matter how hard I try.

There’s only one way to find out what kind of knight she dreamed me to be. I must become a knight myself!

Granted, there’s nothing remotely knightly about me. I neither have the character, the looks nor a dazzling horse to call my own but there’s still the option to roleplay anyhow. In my games, I do that a lot so pretending to be a valiant knight shouldn’t be too different IRL, right?

Gulping, I check the lines I prepared on my way back one last time before approaching Koyori who’s already awaiting me.

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