Chapter 35:

We’re confessing but it’s so Chuuni that we don’t understand each other

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

"Seriously Mom, we weren't on a date!" I rumble to distract myself from my own insecurities just in time for Koyori to burst through the door without warning.

"We weren't?" the girl interjects, finally awake and back to her bubbly self though something about her still feels different than before.

"Well, don't you, like, ask someone out on a date?" I ponder quizzically while feeling a little embarrassed.

If Yori asks me out, I'm not ready for it yet! But wait, if she does then it means she likes me, right? Ugh, stop being complicated!

"Hmm, I think the roleplay kind of counts, don't you think, Keiichi?"

My shocked expression prompts her to elaborate.

"I mean, you did ask for my hand so Yori-chan gave it to you, hehehe. That's something you do on dates, right?"

Fuck, I can't deny that. Still, I was just playing along for the sake of it!

"Kei-kun is a great actor so Yori-chan can't tell if he was being serious or not."

Koyori is straight-up teasing me at this point, making me double-check my earlier assumptions. If she's aware of dates being a thing, she's probably aware of other romantic things. So does that mean…

I catch myself instinctively distancing myself from Koyori as the possibility of her having a crush on me revives with a bang. It takes a short moment to recall that I'm already past this ridiculous awkwardness. Guiltily, I'm taking a step back towards her. Regardless, Koyori throws a funny look at me.

"Could Sir Keiichi actually be a gangster stealing a young maiden's heart?" she inquires a little uncertainly which makes me wonder how seriously she’s pondering this.

Who's the one so talented at acting now?! Also, don't mix slang with ancient language!

I absolutely can't tell what's going through the girl's mind right now. Is she trying to poke me for the fun of it or could she be seriously puzzled about how serious Sir Keiichi's declaration of love may have been?

Well, there's only one way to find out… I HAVE to know.

Gulping, I approach her until I'm in Yori-chan-range aka. too close for comfort for day one Keiichi and just about not uncomfortable for current me. Just an arm's width is separating our bodies, our mutual excitement palpable. A hint of surprise is flickering across Koyori's beautiful face when I take both of her hands into mine, surprising even myself when I do so, acting guided by a certain feeling in my stomach.

She smiles at me. Meanwhile, I turn into a tomato.

"Y-your faithful knight would n-never think about betraying a young maiden's feelings," I somehow manage to say while trying to keep slight spasms in my arms under control. Koyori is observing me closer than ever before, seeing me blush and fail to connect with her twinkling green eyes.

"S-sir Keiichi may have bitten off more than he can chew - he's a valiant knight after all."

Koyori chuckles cutely, unlike me keeping eye contact, her eyes staring directly into mine as I enter a soliloquy.

"H-he may have said some things that Keiichi wouldn't say because he’s bolder than him. He may have promised you things that Keiichi couldn't keep too. B-but… it's Keiichi who is holding your hand now, not that silly knight. H-he's often watching the princess from afar, yearning to see her but, whenever they actually meet, he's always riding away with his horse. Isn't he a silly knight?"

Koyori chuckles again but she's still listening, still waiting to see if I have more things to tell.

"Sometimes, he doesn't understand how he feels and does something stupid because of it, making the princess angry and sad. He wants to spend time with her but never finds the right words to say. He doesn't even know what the princess likes and what she doesn't. No matter how hard he tries, he just can't find out what the princess is feeling or thinking about, because all she ever does is smile and goof around. The knight doesn't know what to do but his heart is telling him to keep following the beautiful princess in her lonely castle…"

For a few awkward seconds, neither of us says a word. Koyori's affectionate smile stuns me into petrification and it's so quiet that I can hear my own heartbeat drum in my reddened ears. Our eyes finally meet again. This time, I keep eye contact, even when Koyori's face moves so close that the tips of our noses touch.

"The cute princess sometimes doesn't understand her feelings either - or why that silly knight is being a weirdo sometimes…"

Koyori speaks in an unusually soft and quiet tone. Her words leave no doubt that she understood every word I said. She's clenching my hands, then pulling them upwards on chest height.

"Sir Keiichi isn't the brave and amazing knight she dreamed about all these years but his heart is kind and warm. The princess doesn't know why Sir Keiichi entices her so much even though he's such a poor knight…"

Oof, sometimes the truth really hurts. Wait, I'm enticing her?

Koyori's unusually honest words momentarily spark a little bit of self-consciousness in me, however, I'm immediately shaken out of it when her forehead gently connects to mine. She's squeezing my hands tightly as she continues to explain her own feelings.

"The Great Lady Koyori doesn't know why but sometimes she just can't help but hog the weird knight."

A slight twitch of her hands notifies me of her intention. I'm feeling just the same, though unlike her I probably know the reason for my own cravings. Knowing what she's about to do, I allow Koyori to embrace me wildly, almost choking me in the process. Then, I follow her example, although in a less crushing manner. Koyori's words are barely above a whisper.

"She can feel it somewhere in here, really deep inside her stomach. Nothing in the big wide world makes her more happy than the knight she's hugging right now."

Wait, is this a confession?!

“The princess isn't very smart, though. She needs to do it many more times until she understands the desires in her heart…"

… or not, I suppose?

For a few seconds, Koyori literally attempts to strangle me. I can feel the raw emotion she's putting into her embrace, pressing me against her as if attempting to merge our bodies into one. Then, just as suddenly as it began, she pulls back from me, her hands remaining on my hips as she looks me into the eyes with sudden sheepishness.

"In other words, Kei-kun feels the same as Yori-chan does?"

Whoa, she's back to Yori-chan now. Does she have multiple personalities?

I fail to realize the implications of her words until Koyori starts blushing and sweating in front of me.

In other words, she has a crush on me too?!

Suddenly, we're both holding a blushing competition. I can't tell how bad mine is but I've only seen Koyori blush this badly once - back when she learned about the dark side of my hobbies. She's suddenly fidgeting around with her skirt in apparent nervousness.

Whoa, embarrassed Yori-chan is c-cute!

For once, it's Koyori who can't keep eye contact while I can't take my eyes off her reddened cheeks.

Is she expecting an answer? Help, I don't know what to tell her now!

Strangely enough, the limiter, that usually keeps me from saying or doing exactly what's on my mind, seems to be broken today. After brief consideration, I open my mouth again.

"Koyori - Yori-chan, I, you know…"

I’m about to admit my feelings when an aggressive gurgling sound erupts simultaneously from our stomachs which prompts me to adapt my words on the fly.

"Yes, I feel just as hungry as you s-so let's bug Mom about dinner, shall we?"

Suddenly, the mood is completely ruined but our red faces remain even while we're having sandwiches for dinner, much to the amusement of Mom who thankfully knows better than to comment on the situation.

I don't know if I just indirectly confessed my feelings to her and neither do I know if she just indirectly confessed her feelings to me. I know for a thing that it would have slipped out if our stomachs hadn't interrupted us. I’m not even sure if I should be sad about the missed opportunity.

Maybe I should really ask her out on a date… 

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