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Twenty-seven

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The evening sun illuminated the simple playground with its warm and orange glow, despite it being a similar shade to the seven year old standing in front of the sand pit with her hands to her hip and a proud smile on her face; to the other seven year old in the park, it was like only her orange-brown haired friend was visible.

"I can't bake yet, and I don't have money to buy you the really delicious looking cake from the cake shop…but! I can make you one, Kotori-chan!" Little Honoka with bountiful creativity declared as she stepped aside to show a work of sand – stacked seven layers high (which was almost half of Honoka's 100 centimetres), with designs, decorations and makeshift candles out of twigs.

"A…cake for me, Honoka-chan? But why seven layers?" Little Kotori took a while before she could tear her eyes away from the gingerhead that always holds her full attention to look at the sand-cake her best friend made for her.

"Yup! Because it's your seventh birthday! Do you like it?" Honoka beamed in anticipation as she vibrated with excitement from where she stood.

Kotori nodded shyly as she looked back and forth the grand seven-layered sand-cake her best friend somehow made for her; Honoka must have just completed it since her clothing and hands were rather sandy. "You didn't have to…"

"I want to!" Honoka jumped closer to the ash-brunette who blinked in surprise as the gingerhead pulled her closer to the sandpit. "I know you like cheesecake more than strawberry cakes…but cheesecakes look kind of plain… So I drew some strawberries on your cake!"

Kotori blinked twice as she tried to look for where the strawberries could be, she even stepped into the sandpit to circle the large sand-cake in search of strawberries. "Strawberries..?"

Honoka nodded vigorously, her cheerful energy not depleting at all before pointing at the weird shapes that resembled perhaps ovals or triangles that sported dots or holes in them. "Strawberries! I actually destroyed the cake a few times trying to draw them… But I did it in the end! Ah…I feel like eating some…"

Kotori thought her friend was going to reach out for the sand thinking it was the actual red, juicy fruit, so she hurriedly grabs the gingerhead's hand in hers. "You mustn't, Honoka-chan!"

"Eh? Mustn't what..?" Honoka cocked her head to the side innocently.

"Eh? Er… It's nothing…" Kotori blushed and was going to let go of Honoka's hand, but the gingerhead took her hand instead.

"This way, Kotori-chan! I've got more gifts for you!" Honoka laughed and pulled the ash-brunette to the swings.

"Honoka-chan?" Kotori asked as she was made to sit on the swing.

"I'll push you up into the air to reach the skies seven times!" The gingerhead ran behind Kotori and had her hands to her friend's back.

"Seven times?" Kotori turned back to give Honoka a quizzical look.

"Because it's your seventh birthday!" The gingerhead exclaimed as she gave Kotori her first swing-flight.

Kotori let out a shout of surprise, but was soon laughing along with Honoka on the ground as she thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of swinging up and down.

After her turn on the swings, Kotori managed to convince the gingerhead to allow her to push Honoka too, so they both shared the same joy-filled experience this day.

"Shall we go home now?" Kotori asked after a good hearty laugh; she noticed some time back that when she was with Honoka, she would laugh a lot and smile a lot, and it was something she really liked.

"Let's!" The ever-energetic gingerhead ran in front of the birthday girl and lowered her back.

"Honoka-chan?"

"I'll piggyback you home, Kotori-chan!" Honoka turned her head behind to flash the ash-brunette a dazzling smile full of confidence.

"B-But…you don't have to…"

"I'll piggyback you for seven minutes!" Honoka took the ash-brunette hands in hers and pulled it over her shoulders, leaving Kotori no choice but to climb onto the gingerhead's back.

"Because it's my seventh birthday?" Kotori made herself comfortable on her best friend's back, though she felt slightly embarrassed.

"Yup!" Honoka answered, but Kotori knew that it took more than seven minutes for them to reach Kotori's home, and Honoka refused to let Kotori down until they arrived too.

.

.

.

Kotori giggles and Honoka looks over from the kitchen.

"Mm?" Honoka waited with curious mixed with her jolly cerulean.

Kotori shakes her head with another chirpy giggle. "I was just thinking back to my seventh birthday."

"Ooh~" Honoka wiped her flour-covered hands on her light blue and sunflower apron before approaching the ash-brunette sitting at the dining table.

"And was wondering if you'll make me a twenty-seven layered cake since you made a seven layered one for me then~" Kotori's grin pulled higher as she raised her head towards the approaching ginger.

Honoka reflected a similar grin as she cupped Kotori's cheek with one hand. "Maybe not twenty-seven layered cake, but twenty-seven..."

"Twenty-seven..?" Kotori's question came out as a soft whisper as she locked eyes with Honoka; eyes that were seeking out all of Kotori, and for Kotori's permission.

"I could kiss you for twenty-seven minutes." Honoka's carefree grin turned into a cheeky one as she Eskimo kisses Kotori.

"Twenty-seven minutes!? Not times..?" Kotori's heart was racing from the warmth of Honoka's hand on her cheek, her heart sped up when Honoka leaned in to brush their noses together lovingly, and now her heart was giving an over the top drum roll when the news of what Honoka just suggested clicked in her mind.

"I could kiss you forever, Kotori-chan. But for the sake of being romantic, it's twenty-seven minutes on your twenty-seventh birthday." Honoka shot a quick wink over before ghosting above Kotori's suddenly dry lips, waiting for Kotori's approval.

"No one will be counting though." Kotori cleared the distance between their thirsty lips by hooking her arms around the gingerhead's neck.

"We never do." Honoka replied between kisses; sucking on Kotori's bottom lip longingly as the ash-brunette did hers in short but rapid ones, while Honoka's hands gradually found their way to the back of the ash-brunette's head and among those soft ash-grey tresses, still kept long over the years.

"Mm-hm...I like it that way…" Kotori's response came muffled as her own tongue sought for Honoka's at the same moment the gingerhead deepened the kiss.

"Mm~"

"Mm~m~"

Moans of pleasure filled the space around Kotori and Honoka as they kissed for maybe a little over twenty-seven minutes, while exchanging words of affection they felt for each other.

All that was on Kotori's mind now was Honoka, Honoka and Honoka, just like when she was seven, and Kotori knew this was exactly how she wants it to be – Honoka, Honoka and Honoka in her life beside her even when she's seventy and more.

Kotori grins widely against Honoka's lips, their eyes met and they both knew what the other was thinking.

"I love you, Honoka-chan. More than the world, more than anything."

"I love you, Kotori-chan. More than you can ever imagine! I want to kiss you again."