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[Hanako] Love Matters - Part 1

_Daedalus_ Sep 24th, 2012 612 Never
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  1. Love Matters - Part 1 - A Rock and a Hard Place
  2.  
  3. “I love you, Hisao. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you! Don’t go away, I beg of you. Never, ever go away. I love you, so please….!”
  4.  
  5. So… that’s why she’s been acting like this. That tender voice when I called her, her thoughtless concern at the slightest pain I might feel… After having been left in Japan without her family, and with only Akira, Hanako and I around, she was afraid of losing yet another person who was close to her. She was genuinely worried for me.
  6.  
  7. It’s a strange feeling. A mix of surprise and sorrow, yet also of the deepest gratitude I think I’ve ever felt; This is the first time that I have ever seen Lilly so raw and emotional in all the time that I’ve known her. She’s always maintained that refined air, always seemingly unfazed by whatever problems she may face. Yet here she is, like I’ve never seen her before, because she cares about me.
  8.  
  9. Because she loves me.
  10.  
  11. A feeling of unease begins to build up. Here she is, opening up to me and telling me her true feelings, but I can’t return them. I can’t tell her that I love her, that I feel the same way.
  12.  
  13. I thought that I might’ve, once. But I don’t, I know that now.
  14.  
  15. As we stand together in the field, I find myself pondering what drew me to Lilly in the first place. I find Lilly attractive, sure. She’s kind and thoughtful, always thinking about others first. She remains polite and friendly in almost any situation, taking on everything with a seemingly unwavering sense of rationality. I think that the most important thing is her motherly nature; she helped me with so much in my first few weeks at Yamaku, I came to rely on her a lot. It’s not just me, either. You only have to look at Lilly’s relationship with Hanako to see how caring she is to others.
  16.  
  17. I almost let a sigh escape there and then.
  18.  
  19. Hanako.
  20.  
  21. The source of my confusion. I think that Lilly’s feelings for Hanako began rubbing off on me some time ago. However, this isn’t simply a desire to protect her; I want to see her grow as a person. I don’t want to just be there to shield her from the bad. I want to be there to see the good, too.
  22.  
  23. I inhale deeply, now isn’t the time to get distracted: there’s a more important matter at hand.
  24.  
  25. Am I really going to have to tell her that I don’t love her? Can I really reject Lilly like that? It could completely crush her. I swallow hard. I have to do it no matter what. I can’t lie to Lilly and tell her that I feel the same way. Besides, building a relationship on a fragile lie like that can only end badly.
  26.  
  27. First things first, I need to calm Lilly down and get her back inside the house. You can do this, Hisao, baby steps.
  28.  
  29. I gently stroke Lilly’s hair, “Hey, hey, it’s alright,” I say in the softest voice that I can manage, “I’m here, I’m not going anywhere,” her grip on me tightens slightly as she begins sobbing once again.
  30.  
  31. We stay like this for a while, embracing each other amongst the sea of wheat, the wind beating against us. The front of my sweater becomes stained with Lilly’s tears, her body shaking with every sob.
  32.  
  33. So this is the real Lilly, huh? This is what she’s like underneath that prim and proper exterior that she tries so hard to maintain. She always seemed so calm and reserved whatever the situation, but deep down she’s just as fragile as the rest of us. Now she’s finally opening up, letting it out. Part of me feels relieved that she finally has a chance to do this, and yet another worries about how much worse she could feel when I reject her confession.
  34.  
  35. I have to do it, though. There’s no other choice.
  36.  
  37. I wait for Lilly’s crying to settle and continue holding her. As silence finally falls over us, I speak, “Do you want to go back inside?”
  38.  
  39. She simply nods. I take her hand and begin leading her towards the house.
  40.  
  41. ====================================================================
  42.  
  43. I pace slowly as I wait for the tea to finish brewing, pondering what to say next. I return to the living room shortly afterwards, teapot in hand. I pour two cups and I guide Lilly’s hand, carefully, to hers.
  44.  
  45. “Thank you, Hisao.” Her voice is gentle, having regained the refined, polite persona that she so often wears.
  46.  
  47. A strained silence fills the room. It’s as if we both have a lot to say, but we’re waiting for the other to speak first. Deciding that it’s best if I take the initiative, I clear my throat.
  48.  
  49. “Lilly?”
  50.  
  51. She turns her head towards me, “What is it?”
  52.  
  53. I might as well tackle the problem head on, trying to sidestep the issue here would only complicate things.
  54.  
  55. “About what you said earlier...”
  56.  
  57. She gives an acknowledging ‘hmm’. As impassive as ever, her eyes remain closed and her facial expression remains indifferent.
  58.  
  59. Just tell her how you feel, Hisao, you can do it.
  60.  
  61. “I-I’m glad that you told me all of that, in fact, I’m really happy that about what you said. It was… nice to see another side of you, to see past that exterior that you take such care in maintaining. I’m glad that I could be there for you, and I want to keep being there for you when you need someone. It’s just…” I breathe inwards, “It’s…”
  62.  
  63. A slight chuckle emanates from Lilly, “My my, you don’t normally get this flustered,” Her eyes flick open, and the unfocused orbs gaze in my general direction, “I’m a big girl, Hisao. Whatever it is that you’re about to say, I can handle it.”
  64.  
  65. Can she really? I don’t know if I can believe that, seeing how she was earlier. I don’t want her to bottle it up, either. I shake my head, I should trust her.
  66.  
  67. ”It’s just that I don’t think that I’m ready for anything right now. It’s not a question of you, it’s my own issue; I don’t know how I feel. About you…” I pause for a moment, wondering whether or not I should tell her the most important part; my feelings towards Hanako. I give an exasperated sigh; I can hardly tell her that I think I might be falling for her best friend, not now.
  68.  
  69. Nevertheless, I press onwards, “About anyone, really. I’ve been through a lot recently, but I’ve made some very good friends, and I want to keep those friends. That much I know for sure,” I pause for a moment, gauging Lilly’s reaction. She remains impassive, though; she simply listens, no signs of emotion on her face. I don’t really know where I’m going with this but she doesn’t seem to be making any move to speak, so I try to continue my senseless rambling.
  70.  
  71. “That’s the gist of it, really. I just don’t think that a relationship would be best right now. As I said, it’s my problem, not yours. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing and how I feel about…” Lilly’s ears pick up as I hesitate, “People.”
  72.  
  73. Having nothing more to say I begin to sip at my tea slowly, waiting for a response. Lilly stays silent for a few moments, thinking. Then her soft laugh makes its way to my ears.
  74.  
  75. “There’s no need to be so tense, Hisao. It’s okay, really.” Her facial expression belays her words slightly.
  76.  
  77. “Lilly…”
  78.  
  79. “I will be fine, trust me. It’s not the first time that I’ve been rejected, it won’t be the last. These things happen; I can hardly force you to love me, can I?” She chuckles again, “To tell you the truth, I didn’t plan on confessing to you. But after what happened earlier I think that my emotions just got the better of me. It was quite selfish of me, really; expecting you to accept something like that when I was nearly hysterical.”
  80.  
  81. “Lilly, you’re not selfish,” She raises her eyebrows, surprised at my interjection, “Telling someone that you love them isn’t selfish. I’m the selfish one here; If I had actually thought things through and remembered to take my medication then I wouldn’t have had a flutter earlier,” She opens her mouth to speak but I continue speaking, “Don’t call yourself selfish, please. Think about how much you’ve helped me since I arrived at Yamaku. You’re constantly helping others and you rarely let things get to you, no matter how bad they might be. I believe that someone as strong as you needs a few moments of emotion like that. It lets you get everything out of your system. So don’t think of yourself as selfish. You’re one of the most caring and wonderful people I know, Lilly. It’s my fault that this happened; don’t blame yourself for any of it.”
  82.  
  83. Lilly doesn’t respond; she simply smiles and turns towards me. Her hand reaches out, coming to rest on my cheek. She slowly begins tracing the contours of my face, much like that time in the tea room.
  84.  
  85. I remain silent, waiting for her to finish the gentle caressing of my features.
  86.  
  87. “Thank you for that, Hisao.”
  88.  
  89. She’s pulls her hand away with a girlish giggle. She speed at which Lilly can recover from an outburst like that is amazing. Were it not for the hints of red around her eye you wouldn’t even be able to tell that she had been any different.
  90.  
  91. “What’s so funny?” I ask; my curiosity piqued.
  92.  
  93. Her eyes wander back in my direction, “I just thought of something; you said that you didn’t know how you felt.”
  94.  
  95. “Uh… what about it?”
  96.  
  97. She giggles again, “That means that I might still have a chance yet.”
  98.  
  99. My breath catches in my throat and I end up having a coughing fit from the surprise. This apparently amuses Lilly to no end, who bursts into surprisingly cheerful laughter.
  100.  
  101. “That was a joke. I didn’t expect you to be so uptight about such things,” She responds in a teasing manner, “However, in all seriousness; I would hope that my little episode earlier won’t change our relationship with one another.”
  102.  
  103. She poses a good point. It’s not something that I’d stopped to think about yet. Will Lilly’s confession change our friendship? There’s going to be some underlying tones of awkwardness for a while, but that’s to be expected. I honestly can’t imagine that it’d change anything too drastically. I hope it won’t, at least.
  104.  
  105. I return to reality, realising that Lilly was probably expecting some sort of response, “Yeah, me too.”
  106.  
  107. We remain silent for a few minutes before Lilly slowly levers herself up from the seat and informs me that she’ll be returning to her room. After she takes her leave I clear up the tea set before flopping down on the sofa. I stare at the ceiling, going over the tiring recent events. The sun is already beginning to set, bathing the room in an orange light. It doesn’t take long for the ambient glow of the room and the comfy furniture to send me into a deep sleep.
  108.  
  109. ==================================================
  110.  
  111. The smell of fresh cooking fills my nostrils, bringing me into a state somewhere between sleep and consciousness. I start to fall away from reality again until a soft voice reaches my ears, barely audible in my current state.
  112.  
  113. “H-Hisao, its dinnertime.” That must be Hanako calling me. I consider responding, but the sofa feels as if it’s a cloud, and I just can’t bring myself to move. Today must’ve taken more out of me than I thought.
  114.  
  115. “Please w-wake up, Hisao.” Again, I feel like I should do something, but sleep is too attractive a prospect right now, so I remain unresponsive. A hand gently nudges my shoulder, but I don’t stir. A finger suddenly pokes me in the side of my face, and again. This serves to bring me into wakefulness with a start, and I sit up very quickly. Hanako almost jumps back in surprise, startled at the sudden movement.
  116.  
  117. Groggily, I manage a chuckle, “Sorry about that. I’m kinda’ tired out.”
  118.  
  119. She stares at me very cautiously. It’s as if she thought that I was so fragile that she had to wake me up in such a gentle way, or I might break apart. That’s right; she’s probably still shocked over my flutter earlier. I grimace inwardly at the memory of how panicked she was.
  120.  
  121. “Dinner’s ready, c-could you help me set the t-table?”
  122.  
  123. “Sure.”
  124.  
  125. I lever myself up off of my makeshift bed and begin helping Hanako.
  126.  
  127. With the table set and our food prepared, the three of us begin eating. It suddenly occurs to me just how hungry I am, and I clean my plate with surprising speed. Not much conversation is made as we finish our meal, but I notice Hanako shooting inquisitive glances at both Lilly and I. No doubt that Lilly has already told her about what happened earlier.
  128.  
  129. It’s almost unsettling. I’ve never really noticed her like this before.
  130.  
  131. I think that after Lilly’s confession, it brought things into perspective. Up until this point it was all confusing speculation, I hadn’t really found an answer to what it was. But after rejecting Lilly I’m certain that there’s more to my feelings for Hanako then just friendship, or protecting her. I don’t see her how Lilly sees her; I don’t care for her as she does.
  132.  
  133. I think… I think I love her.
  134.  
  135. The fact that I have been staring at Hanako dawns on me. She notices as well, her cheeks flush with a hint of red and she quickly hides behind her bangs as she tends to do. I turn my attention back to the remainder of my food, certain that my cheeks have also flushed a little.
  136.  
  137. After we finish eating and cleaning up, the three of us spend a while just lounging around and talking. Lilly turns in for the night after a short while, leaving Hanako and I alone. The two of us decide to play a match of chess.
  138.  
  139. Her skill has improved significantly, and I am defeated with surprising speed.
  140.  
  141. “You’ve gotten better.” I remark.
  142.  
  143. “Th-thanks,” She still seems more cautious than usual, but I think that scare today must’ve affected her quite badly. I curse silently at myself for not taking my meds, “I’ve been practicing.”
  144.  
  145. “Practicing?” I ask.
  146.  
  147. She nods, “C-Computerised chess.”
  148.  
  149. “Ah, well it’s definitely helped. I didn’t stand a chance.” Hanako blushes at the compliment, fidgeting in her seat a little. She looks like she wants to say something; I’m about to ask what’s on her mind when she stands up suddenly.
  150.  
  151. “I’m going to bed now.” She hurries towards the door, turning back at the last moment, “G-Goodnight,” She disappears through the doorway in a blur.
  152.  
  153. I sit there for a moment, confused at the rapid chain of events. I give a hearty sigh; as much as I care for Hanako, I still understand very little about her. That will change with time though, I hope.
  154.  
  155. I slowly stroll over to the sofa and plant myself on it again.
  156.  
  157. We’ll be headed back to Yamaku tomorrow; exams will be starting up soon enough. I shake my head in an attempt to dispel all thoughts of schoolwork right now. I’ve had an exhausting day, I should get some sleep. My thoughts drift to Hanako, and wondering what she wanted to say before she left.
  158.  
  159. Perhaps I’ll find out some other time, I could probably ask her about it. It’d be best to wait until she’s gotten over what happened earlier however.
  160.  
  161. I fall asleep in a strangely good mood, considering that I almost had a heart attack earlier.
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