Chapter 40: Home Is Where The Heart Is
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In the quiet peace of the morning, a single ray of dim sunlight shone into the silent chamber of a certain pair. Blissfully asleep, without a single care in the world, or at least… 


… until one of them began to stir. 


Maren's eyes slowly blinked open, trying to adjust to any of his surroundings. And yet, it proved inexplicably difficult since his mind seemed to be wrapped in fluffy cotton, refusing to leave its current state at any cost. 


But for once, his memories didn't need to remind him why exactly that was the case. 


He felt light, warm, so very warm… and as if on instinct, Maren moved his eyes a bit upward to see the cause for this. Amaragi was close to lying directly on top of him, her head resting above his own, while her arms were neatly draped over his torso. Trapping him in her hold, alongside with her legs that were entangled with his own. 


In their current position, as Maren could consciously enjoy the serene silence, he could see how her chest was moving with each gentle breath, touching against his own. Her hair was quite in disarray, certain parts and loose strands sticking into different directions that he wouldn't have imagined previously. 


But most of all, he simply couldn't tear his eyes away from her face as she was still calmly asleep, a smile always resting upon her lips. 


Even when they were slightly parted… and he swore he could see a tiny trail of drool trailing down the edge of her mouth


It was really rare to see her like this, even before everything that happened… more often than not, Amaragi would always be the first to be awake and rise in the morning, always prepared to face her duties no matter what. Yet, she still would always take time for him as well… 


Slowly but surely, as Maren's expression almost grew solemn, he carefully reached up a hand, brushing a loose strand of her crimson hair away from her eyes-


-only for them to slowly blink open. 


For a moment, a new kind of silence reigned inside the chamber once Amaragi's eyes became fully awake, and the both of them simply gazed at one another. At least, until Maren grew far too self conscious, nervously retracting his hand instead. 


"Good mornin- mmph…?"


He was swiftly cut off in his words when Amaragi wordlessly kissed him, still slightly groggy in her actions, but never any less affectionate, acting as if it were the most natural thing in the world for her. 


They… had never quite started a day like this before… 


Yet, as Maren's mind was slightly left in a daze, he never realized how Amaragi subtly moved a finger towards her mouth to wipe away the small trail of her drool. 


Thus, when he looked back at her, he merely saw an innocent face and an equally innocent smile looking back at him. 


"Good morning~ I…" 


For a brief moment, Amaragi's eyes purposefully trailed towards the bed sheets before glancing back at Maren with a small but honest smile. 


"... do hope you slept well…"


Even when her voice turned into a small whisper near the end. 


Struck with multiple memories at once, each one of them more vivid than the last, with even more vivid images replaying in front of his mental eye, Maren all but evaded her eyes, his hands curling up slightly near his lap as he held his left arm. 


An almost quiet hum escaped his lips, but all the while, even when his head was partly lowered, the smile upon his lips could never be mistaken. And thus, it was all that Amaragi needed to feel her heart blossoming with warmth. 


How she could have lived and endured this long without having done this with Maren was beyond her. For now that she had experienced it once with him, she felt that there were no boundaries between them anymore. Nothing for her to be afraid of when showing her affection. 


Her eyes lidded slightly at the realization. She would make good use of that, and she hoped he was equally aware of it… 


These feelings she had experienced that night... that feeling of pure love, of being special, and most of all, to be able to share it all with him in the knowledge that they both felt the same... 


... she would cherish it forever. 


Again, silence reigned for a while. There was not truly a need for words, not when they both felt utterly content to remain in their current position forever. 


And Amaragi did not even seem to question her entangled hold over him, not even when she was awake


But after a while, Maren was the first to break that silence, along with a thought that had struck his mind. 


"... is… there something particular you want to do today…?" 


… however, he didn't know how to properly approach the subject in his mind. 


An almost careless but utterly content and overly long sigh escaped Amaragi's lips, and in response, she merely draped her body over Maren's own entirely, wrapping both of her arms around his back to hold him against herself. 


"... yes, not letting you leave, that is…" 


His face flushed slightly. 


But after a while, apart from any and all playfulness, she lifted her head slightly to look him directly in the eye with a light tilt of her head. 


"... is there something you had in mind? If you are worried about my duties, nothing will interfere with us today, I promise…" 


Hearing her words, Maren once again visibly hesitated slightly. Seeing that she was so clearly at ease right now, it felt wrong for him to ask this, but… 


"Magi… are you worried about your father's condition…?" 


For a split second, he could see her eyes widening in surprise. Turning into confusion, then mixed with a tinge of uncertainty and anger. But in the end, she remained quiet. 


For a long time, even in her earliest years in life, there was not a time that she could remember where she had not despised her father. Thus, it should have been so easy for her to say these words, of how much she hated and loathed him… and yet, right in that moment, as Maren was looking back at her like this… 


… she found herself quietly thinking about it all. In peace… going over each and every memory, over each and every painful experience. And never once did she find even a sliver of compassion for her own father, her heart and mind remaining devoid of any emotion when she thought about him. It was just… blank. 


It made her question herself


"Am I the one who is heartless if I were to say no…? I can't… I just can't feel compassion, even when I tried…" 


Maren remained silent as Amaragi was evidently searching her own feelings and thoughts, her eyes staring at the sheets beside her. 


It was such a strange sensation… when she remembered each negative and painful memory, she knew exactly what kind of mental torture she had endured. And still, right now, as she was quietly laying here in peace, she still wondered if she was just making it all up in her mind? Was it truly as bad as she believed it to be? Or was she just pitying herself…? Was she… 


She gasped when a hand lightly touched her cheek, tearing her out of her own spiralling thoughts. 


"If you feel like your struggles were not as severe as you remember them, please don't… I would know, more often than I could count, I felt the same way about my family."


A light but heartless chuckle escaped his lips. 


"At least I should know better now, now that they are gone…" 


Amaragi's face twisted in concern, her lips trembling ever so slightly. 


"Do you miss your family…?" 


Guilt was ready to once again seep into her heart, for having extinguished whatever family remained in his life. 


But it was swiftly rendered silent when Maren smiled at her with a solemn but honest gaze. 


"I don't. I guess if you ask yourself whether or not you are heartless, you should probably ask me instead… after all, even after they are gone, I only feel better now."


Again, Amaragi could feel his fingers trailing away from her cheek, but before he could retract his hand, she clung to it with her own, holding it against her skin once more. 


"... the fact alone that you are feeling this way, of questioning whether or not it was truly as bad as you remember it… it shows that you care, even after all that you have endured, you were willing to forgive if possible, when in truth, you had simply grown accustomed to your trauma. It doesn't make it any less severe…"


Quietly, Maren shyly placed his head against her shoulder, and Amaragi did not hesitate once to embrace him whole. 


"I have learned that… sometimes, it is just not possible to forgive… to give compassion. For it is not up to you how they have treated you… and you are not heartless for it…"


Silently, Amaragi could feel his arms subtly returning her hold, an increasing warmth, and she only reciprocated. 


"... then, in that case… no, I don't worry about him. Even if he is my father, I never did…"


The moment she had finally uttered these words, she felt strange. A part of her was glad, glad to have finally spoken it out aloud in the knowledge that Maren understood it without question. And on the other side… 


… sometimes, it is just not possible to forgive…


… she could finally accept her own feelings. She was… not a monster for it… 


"Thank you…" 


She meant it. And even if she could not see it, she could feel his small smile against her shoulder as she held him. 


However, there was someone who she wanted to apologize to. Someone to ask for forgiveness. Someone who should have never seen or witnessed her fight with her sister… 


and she hoped that… it was not too late for forgiveness… 




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