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Marisa slumped in her chair, still wearing the same mix of pajama bottoms with the top from the day before. It looked like she had stayed up night by the looks of it. I knocked softly but found that she had actually been asleep.
“Oh, Arc,” she mumbled quietly, still half-asleep by the look of things. She managed to lift her head up to acknowledge my presence. “Are we going for another round?”
“Round of what?” I asked.
“You were giving it to me really hard just now, I'm surprised you still have so much stamina left. I thought my hips were going to give after the last round.”
“I think that was a dream,” I said, a stupid grin manifesting itself on my face. “It's morning Marisa. And I came to see you because your light was on.”
Her words slurred and a half smile on her lips, she asked, “oh, then just five more minutes then? I'll do it myself. Let me finish properly. It feels too good.”
“That's… well, there's no sugarcoating it, that's incredibly lewd,” I said, shaking my head. “Once again, I'm really here, standing right before you.” I flicked her forehead lazily, just strong enough to show her that it was the real world. “See?”
“Ah, so it is,” she sighed and rubbed her eyes. “What time is it?”
“Still early. We won't have to go to school for a while.”
“I've really got to p-” finally coming to her senses, she cut her sentence short, “um, forget what I was saying just now, would you?”
“It'll be hard to forget,”I said, still grinning like an idiot. “I'm flattered to have been of such service to you in your dreams.”
“I'm sure you have outlandish dreams all the time,” she said, sounding more than just a bit defensive. Maybe her mind was still dull with sleep. “It's natural, so I don't know why you're giving me lip. I wouldn't make fun of you for having fantasies about someone in your dreams.”
“Alright, sorry,” I said,” I was just surprised, that's all. It's kind of flattering… and cute if I'm honest.”
There was a pregnant pause between us. I scratched my nose and looked at her desk, avoiding making eye contact with her. After a moment she cleared her throat and stood up, walking away briskly. Without turning to face me, she sad, “I'll go to your room in a bit, let me get ready first.”
I gave her no argument and went back to my room.
She showed up about twenty minutes later, already changed into her uniform. Seemed like she was properly awake. “It's a little hard to comb my hair in the mornings. It has a tendency to get a little wild,” she said, excusing herself for taking a long while.
“So, stayed up all night?” I asked, putting away the magazine I had started reading.
“No, but it feels like it,” she said, forcing a smile. Her energy was noticeably lower than the usual. “I ended up reading up on a lot more so that was worth it. Somehow I think that something like magic happened to me. I think that whatever it is that I got is related to my feelings and I had a dream-” she paused, a sheepish smile on her face, “before that. It felt like I could affect reality by focusing myself and imposing my will. It was really cool. Whenever I have the box nearby, it seems like I'm close to understanding more, it's hard to explain.”
“Would be nice if there's something to this,” I said. There hadn't been anything conclusive yet but there were a few reasons to keep cautiously optimistic.
Marisa closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. She said, “I think that the dream afterwards might also have had something to do with it. Strong emotions if focused properly can lead to results. At least according to this one book I read. There's invocations to say too, of course, but well… let's just say that what led to all that involved a lot of feelings.”
“If you say so,” I said, feeling a weird tightness in my chest. It was uncomfortable and I didn't know how to deal with it.
“You know...” Marisa started and paused. Her lips pursed. She held up her hands to her face, pressing them together, taking both index fingers and tapping them nervously together. “I mean, I might have had that dream because...” she continued unsteadily, her voice small and uncertain, “I read in one of the books that… well, that sort of activity promotes the transfer and focusing of magical energies. Especially if between those sensitive to it. And, uh, that might have stuck with me and-”
“I get the point,” I told her, understanding fully why she was so skittish. I, too, wanted to fidget with something if only to pretend I wasn't so uncomfortable. Why? I couldn't quite figure that out either.
I couldn't figure out what to say next. And it looked like she couldn't either. Thankfully, providence had other plans.
Marisa waved at the window and smiled. Alice was looking in at us, probably wondering what we were up to. The tension dispelled at once. I opened my window and we chatted a bit and agreed to have breakfast together.
After that, it was business as usual. We walked to school together and got to class earlier than was normal. With the assembly looming ahead, I didn't really pay much attention in class.
When it was time, I went to Reimu and chatted. We were going to be up on the stage and so we were to go to the rear of the auditorium, past the doors into the hallway that passed through there. Big Sis was there waiting for us. She told us that the headmistress was going to go through a few announcements and give a speech on civics before introducing the candidates.
“Wait here, I'll come get you when we're ready,” she said, with her usual sunny smile, “I know you'll do well out there but good luck. I'll be back in a few, I have to go by my office first.”
Big Sis disappeared around the corner, leaving just me and Reimu in the empty hallway. I could head the assembled students talking for some time before they finally quieted down. I leaned against the wall, crossed my arms and tried not to think too much. .
I imagined it would be at least a few minutes before we would be called in. Reimu took a few steps down the corridor and then turned to face me.
“Nervous?” she asked, offering an unguarded smile. With a practiced touch she adjusted the ribbon in her hair. How she even knew it was slightly askew without a mirror was beyond me. I felt her project calm all around. It didn't seem like wasn't too concerned about the assembly.
“A little,” I confessed, “I just want to get this over with. I'm not too used to being stared at by the whole school.”
Reimu giggled. It was hearty, honest giggle. She stepped closer, looking me up and down with a smile. Finally, she reached out and brushed away at my shoulder. “A little lint,” she explained. “And I thought you liked being the center of attention.”
“Quite the opposite. It's why I run away from classes so often. I like being left alone,” I told her.
“Make sure to smile and, if you're put on the spot, I'm sure you're more than capable of thinking on your feet. I've got a good feeling about this,” Reimu said. “This circus will all be over soon. And then we'll be left to our own devices.”
“Yeah, don't worry, I'll be fine,” I said. Even if I didn't fully believe it, it was close enough to the truth. I may have been generally uneasy but, with the end so close, I was feeling determined to see it through.
“Still, just in case...” she looked right up at my face, her soulful brown eyes meeting my own. They seemed to be asking for something. Or maybe waiting for a prompt.
If I was reading it it right, it was...
 A kiss, for good luck.
 Just a confident smile to reassure her.
 Some words of encouragement.