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Bitter Flowers

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When Amanda O'Neill returned to Luna Nova to start her second year of studies, her arrival punctuated by a skidding broom into a crowded school hall, startling and angering student and teacher alike, she promised herself that she would do one very important thing before anything else. During her holiday she had given herself a resolution for the new academic year, something she was not only determined to achieve, but needed to accomplish for her own peace of mind.

It was, quite simply, to confess to Atsuko 'Akko' Kagari.

Amanda was a confident girl, and having turned seventeen she had felt her sureness and swagger increase by her age times a thousand. She was already one of the most individualistic girls in the school as well as the most rebellious, doing what she liked whenever she liked, regardless of the consequences and the looks teachers such as Finnelan and students like Diana Cavendish would give her.

So why could she not apply that thinking to a silly little confession?

It was a frustrating conundrum, something that bit at the back of her mind and enraged her, her head hairs feeling the brunt of that emotional hindrance when Amanda would pull at her red and maroon locks in draining despair and crippling nervousness. It had been a couple of weeks now and Amanda had yet to find the courage to make the confession. Why was such a simple thing so daunting and impossible for the American witch? It was a question that reverberated in her head time and time again when her mind was not conjuring up images of a pleasured brunette beneath her.

Emotions were hard and confusing to understand.

Mixed in with hormones too, however?

Bloody impossible.

Akko Kagari was such an attractive figure to Amanda, and not just on a sexual level of course. Even regarding that, the girl was stunning. Her shiny brown hair was always arranged in such a visually appealing way, the cuteness of her little bouncy ponytail contrasting perfectly with the alluring elegance of her untied, flowing locks. Her eyes beamed brightly in the light and dark, catching the attention of Amanda's own vivid green eyes which lost its vivid nature when compared to the burgundy brightness of Akko's.

The seventeen year old was also a head shorter than Amanda and that, combined with her perfect figure, and the way her scars were dashed around her body, blemishing her skin in just the right way...

'God bless the English and their consent laws.' Commented Amanda in her mind, grinning as she reminded herself that she'd break the law if she was in America anyway.

It was in her nature, after all.

But that was enough of Akko's perfections thought Amanda, shaking her head as she reopened her sleepy eyes staring directly at the distracted Akko who sat opposite her on the canteen table. Her grin transformed into a loving smile as she began to list all the non-sexual things that made the Japanese wonder so appealing to the American broom-dancer.

Such as her unending determination that pushed everyone out of her way when she wanted and needed to succeed. Her reckless ways, combined with near infinite levels of energy, made her the most exciting witch to be around, even when the world was not at risk of ending. Sure, she could be spontaneous and very quick to frustrate, but that also added to the fun factor in Amanda's eyes.

'Imagine what she'd be like in-'

“What are you smiling at, Amanda?”

Amanda's not-safe-for-work comment was interrupted by an upbeat Akko, who had apparently noticed the maroon-haired girl staring at her just now. Forcing down a blush and trying to prevent a stutter, Amanda responded.

“O-oh, just your dumb mouth blathering away.” Amanda said, her hand mimicking a mouth as she said 'blathering'. Amanda felt relief in her chest as the brunette gave Amanda a sizeable pout, the action reassuring the American that her flustered state had not compromised her. Amanda grinned at Akko's display, giggling a little as the brunette stuck out her tongue.

'Ah, this will never get old.'

But before Akko could retort with something equally rude, a pristine, soft hand landed on her shoulder. It was Diana attempting to calm the girl down, apparently doing so as Akko turned her attention to the blonde beside her.

Amanda ignored the jealousy building in her stomach, her face remaining as is to pretend that arriving was fine.

“Please calm down Akko, it is very early in the morning.” Diana said, pleading to the shorter witch to keep herself calm and stop herself from shouting out a reply. Akko hummed a quiet groan, resentful at the request but heeding it nonetheless. This would have been a strange occurrence to anyone else outside the group of nine on the table. Indeed, some on the table might have still found it strange themselves.

But Amanda was not surprised. Not surprised at all.

While Akko was blind and oblivious to Amanda's smiles and flirting, Amanda was not blind to Akko's and Diana's growing proximity to each other. It was apparent to a substantial portion of the table that the two witches had grown closer since Akko had brought the heiress back from her estate in the last academic year, the two spending more time together and acting more friendly towards each other with each passing day. To Amanda it was clear competition and a certain worry in her mind; that perhaps influencing her indecision.

It had already been a few weeks since the girls returned to Luna Nova, and it was clear that things were continuing to develop between the two. This character development was becoming increasingly critical and Amanda knew she was running out of time. It kept her on her toes for sure, always giving her something to think about.

But her persistent feeling of boredom was slowly being replaced by a constant sense of bitterness.

Amanda could not help but feel anger towards Diana, the blonde witch slowly stealing Akko away from her. The British witch had spent so much of the past academic year being cold and abrasive towards Akko, while Amanda had slowly grown a strong, playful friendship with the Japanese upstart. Yet it was Diana who was reaping the benefits, Amanda unable to shake off the feeling of stagnation between Akko and herself. Diana, who had said such icy words and publicly embarrassed Akko so many times, was now, quite likely, the one Akko had fallen for.

Not Amanda.

Not the one that gave her the chance to be her friend the earliest.

Not the one who talked honestly to her straight from the beginning.

No, it was Diana.

A girl whose personality flip-flopped more than Professor Ursula's identity.

'Sorry, Chariot...' Amanda corrected herself in a bitter tone, still not too pleased at what Chariot had done to Akko, intentionally or not, despite the heart-warming moment before the crew went off to defeat that wild, magical missile.

She should have heard it then, referring back to Diana's romantic encroachments, when Diana requested it was Akko and herself that should defeat the missile.

She should have seen it then, when the two clasped their hands together and smiled in such a loving, caring manner towards each other, before the two accomplished something that would forever be in the history books and the canon of every magical tale.

Amanda felt sick.

In all honesty, she knew she had missed her chance, that Akko was taken or going to be taken by Diana at some point.

Her stomach was a swirl-pool of nausea, jealously and bitterness, and she could not bear to stay at the table any longer. Not while the two lovebirds swooned, blushed and teased each other out in the open like this.

Thank God people knew she was a lesbian, because her walking out of such an obvious loving display, filled with finger jabs, warm smiles and enthused giggles, would have looked bad otherwise.

She would not have cared anyway, because the display disgusted her regardless.

“Where are you going?” Sucy said questioningly in her monotone voice, her dull, bored expression revealing little from behind her pale red eyes. Amanda stretched her arms and back as she stood, grunting out a moan as she tried to shake the sleepiness and anger out of her body. Diverting her gaze to a one-eyed one, she replied.

“Eh, thought I'd head off early; my class starts early anyway.” Amanda said in her usual, cocky tone, it hiding the depression that oozed into her blood at the reminder of her lost chance. At this point the entire table had taken notice of the soon to be departing witch, each with their own reactions. The Green team of Constanze and Jasminka knew that Amanda was not lying when it came to her having an early class, but also knew that the display from Akko and Diana had likely prompted her unusually professional decision.

The Red team was mixed; while Akko was a little disappointed to see Amanda go - a kind of disappointment you feel when your friends part ways for the next few hours – Sucy and Lotte were curious. The two looked between each other, the freckled girl raising an eyebrow while Sucy simply shrugged, her suspicions internally noted.

The Blue team had the most mixed reaction. Hannah and Barbara were sat at completely different ends of the table, with Hannah conversing with Diana whenever she could, while Barbara almost constantly talked with Lotte. It was an odd sight given the two girls usual attachment to each other. But since their return to Luna Nova, the two seemed to have grown distant for no good, obvious reason.

Everyone had noticed that, but no-one really had anything to say. At least in public.

Barbara simply shrugged, lacking much care for the departure of the witch, seeing nothing in it and preferring to return to her nightfall discussion with Lotte. Meanwhile, Hannah eyed her closely, deeply curious at the display. She was not sure if she was Amanda's friend, but Hannah knew the American well enough that her being even remotely enthusiastic for class was just wrong.

Diana meanwhile looked very passive. Diana had grown to appreciate Amanda further since the end of their first academic year, having taken part in the odd escapade throughout it. But as the nine young witches grew closer, Diana could see the value of having the American as a friend, rather than some kind of odd enemy. Perhaps frenemies was the best descriptor, the two sometimes getting blunt advice from each other on any pressing and delicate matters.

That had happened near the end of the first year and the first week of the second. But after that, Diana noted, it had suddenly tailed off. Amanda had grown a little cold to Diana, that was unmistakable.

Diana had hypothesised why, but she kept her cards close to her chest.

So, with all that said, the girls simply let Amanda go on her way. They all bid their farewells, though one did ask her a question; one with an enthusiastic and ever loud voice.

“Oh, Amanda! Can we do some broom practice at lunch?!” Akko exclaimed, accidentally bursting Diana's tired ear-drums. At least it felt that way, the blonde wincing, making the brunette utter a whispered apology and pat her shoulder. Amanda tutted in her mind, rolling her eyes in frustration. But her rolling eyes appeared to be playful and normal, the maroon and red-haired girl almost always doing such a thing when Akko had an outburst such as this.

“I'll think about it, but I want ya to do some tricks before we do more basics!” Amanda forced herself to act playful, faking her enthusiasm and teasing in order to appear normal and content. Her facade took a dent, however, when Diana outwardly tutted and shook her head.

“Now now, Amanda, Akko still needs consistency and-” Diana's prim and proper interjection was interrupted by a disgruntled Amanda.

“Yeah, yeah, I'm kidding, get some humour.” Amanda could not help but let her mask slip this time around, her usually teasing retort to Diana's seriousness appearing even more serious than Diana's prior tone. It caught Akko and Diana off guard, as well as everyone else on the table, forcing the American to wave off the suspicions.

“Sorry, ehe, just a little tired still.” Amanda said with an apologetic tone, her waving hand moving to the back of her head to scratch at it.

“That's fine, enjoy your class.” Diana dismissed the apology with a small smile, allowing Amanda to head off as she had intended. Raising both her eyebrows and placing her other hand behind her head, Amanda turned away and began to walk off toward the ground floor exit of the canteen, intending to head toward the courtyard and catch the morning sun. In all honesty though, despite her early class, she was not keen to go to it. Her chest felt heavy and her frustration was boiling over.

She felt so tired. Not from lack of sleep, but from the facade of pretending everything was alright. Amanda was not one to cry, refusing to allow her tear ducts to do their task, but she desperately needed some kind of release. She could not just grab her broom and fly off as she knew she would be caught and immediately put in detention for skipping a class to do acrobatic twists and aerial stunts. All that was really left was for her to simply turn up and zone out, hoping to Jennifer, God or whoever was listening that the teacher would not pick up on her zoning out.

If she got a detention for failing to answer a question, she may as well have flown her broom into the clouds, because at least she would not have become even more cripplingly sad.

She sighed as she went to brace onto one of the statures in the courtyard, giving herself a minute to catch her bearing and let her skin soak up the sunlight. Thankfully it was a clear day, so she could enjoy the fresh air and blue sky; providing a kind of emotional comfort to the girl.

But not enough.

She still felt really, really frustrated.

Her free hand went to grab at her fringe, pulling at it in order to vent her raging storm of emotions. She felt all kinds of frustration, towards herself, towards Akko, she even felt the tell-tale signs of sexual frustration, feeling unable to vent her desires with another or clear her mind alone on her bed. The room always seemed to be occupied and there was always a visitor, and she really did not want to tell Constanze, Jasminka, or both of them to piss off so she could rub one out.

“Ugh.” She grunted, bemoaning a light dusting of red coating her cheeks. She was just such a mess right now. Everything was affecting her, even things that would normally fly over her head or just not be a thing that would make her react out of character.

She was Amanda O'Neill! Confident, cool and collected, always ready and eager to get into trouble.

Not some flustered, depressed sulk in the corner of the room.

And this whirlpool of emotions within her? Conflicting with her normality? It pissed her off to no end. As seconds passed it grew more and more into something more specific, something more tangible.

It was bitterness. The same bitterness that had replaced her boredom. It was her new endgame emotion after her wave of depression and anger had subsided. When before her confidence and cockiness would lead to boredom and rebellion, now it was replaced by her anguish and despair, leading up to this new emotion she had rarely ever felt in her life.

She needed to vent.

Now.

But how? And how could she anyway? Skipping class this early on into the year was never a good thing but she could barely give a damn about that.

Now that Avery girl, on the other hand?

Amanda spotted her in the corner of her eye walking alone down the hallway, herself looking tired and groggy, but her short, dark purple hair still appearing neat and tidy, it rounded off by the triangular hair clips that sat at the same height as her equally purple eyes. The girl of average height was a head below Amanda and she carried a kind of aristocracy similar to Diana, her well-mannered voice the right amount of pitch to sound sassy but not annoying. She seemed to have put some eyeliner on her eyelashes, thickening the edges to create a distinctive styling.

Amanda was... drawn in.

The American had the odd conversation with Avery from time to time, usually when the two were bored and just happened to be in the same place in the academy. She would sometimes hang out by a set of stairs, waiting for friends or passing time on her orb. Those moments gave Amanda the time to get to know the girl; not by a lot, but just enough for the two to be reasonable acquaintances.

The two had yet to talk since they had arrived back in Luna Nova a couple of weeks ago. Amanda used this to justify her fast paced walking towards the girl, trying to cut her off before she went anywhere else. It was sound justification, Amanda convinced herself. There was nothing else in it, Amanda dubiously claimed in her mind.

“Avery!” Amanda shouted half a hallway in length from the Canadian witch, her attention immediately earned as her head whipped towards the call of her name. She appeared confused and irritated, perhaps not instantly recognising the voice or annoyed at such a loud noise in the morning.

“Huh?” Avery began in irritation, her tone changing to something more welcoming and reminiscent when she recognised the American jogging towards her with a grin. “Oh, Amanda, been a while.” Avery said, welcoming Amanda's presence before her. The maroon-haired girl placed her hands behind her head as she slowed down and stopped, still grinning as she replied.

“Hey, Ave, how ya been?” Amanda asked, shortening her name down and genuinely curious as to what the girl had been up to during the break. Avery frowned a little, caught slightly off guard at the sudden nickname.

“Alright, yourself?” Avery asked in kind, receiving a shrug as a reply. Amanda then continued with another question, keen to start a casual conversation.

“Got up to anything during the break?”

“Uh, nothing much, really. Was a little boring, honestly.” Avery spoke honestly, shrugging her shoulders as she looked to the side, Amanda's gaze seeming stronger than usual.

“Same, actually. You can only do so much on a broom before it gets boring.” Amanda spoke off-handedly, recalling her constant broom dancing over the summer as well as the odd local and regional race she participated in. She won quite a few, which was something of note given her age.

“Didn't you win some big race in America though?” Apparently, Avery knew something about that, which was pretty interesting to Amanda. The American's grin got wider, a hand leaving the back of her head and now resting on the wall, leaning into to it.

“Aye, was one of the major regionals, did pretty good for my age apparently.” Amanda winked as she finished, and Avery could feel the confidence oozing out of Amanda. It perturbed her, but not in a bad way. It was just something to keep note of as the American eyed her up and down.

“That's pretty cool to be honest.” Avery began, popping a little smirk toward Amanda as she continued. “Not too big into broom racing personally, but I may as well keep up with what you're doing, eh?” Her smirk became a small smile, her face appearing a little smug for some reason.

Perhaps because Amanda could not stop eyeing her up. However, Amanda did notice Avery's reaction.

Was this a hint?

“Ah, I appreciate it. Always nice when a cutie keeps an eye on what you're doing.” Admittedly, it had not taken long for Amanda to get to the flirting, not that it was entirely planned. Still, Avery seemed to take it in her stride, grinning again and leaning on the wall with her shoulder acting as support.

“Gosh, what's with the flirting Amanda?” Avery teased, giggling a little at Amanda's blatant attempts at flattery. “I know I'm fine as hell but, jeez, keep your gay down!” Avery teased further and giggled as she finished, Amanda laughing with her. Amanda quickly looked around as their laughter settled down, glancing around to find the ground floor hallways and the courtyard relatively empty.

'Hmm, interesting.'

“Hey, a girl like you deserves it. And don't lie to me, you're enjoying it.” Amanda retorted, Avery rolling her eyes but not denying it, still smiling at the maroon-haired witch who had captured her attention so intently.

“Anyway, where ya headed?” Amanda asked curiously, genuinely interested in what the Canadian witch had on her schedule today. A noticeable moment passed before Avery answered, the girl glancing to the side for a moment as if to check the surroundings herself.

“I'm... meant to go to class in a few minutes.” Avery hesitated, keeping her answer vague. Amanda raised an eyebrow, her curiosity spiked.

“Oh? What do you mean by 'meant'?” Amanda said, questioning the shorter witch as to her meaning. Avery shrugged.

“It means I've found something more interesting.” Avery replied, Amanda perceiving it to be a flirtation. She looked down briefly, closing her eyes and opening them again when she looked back up, vivid-green eyes now beaming into purple ones.

“I'm interesting, am I?” Amanda asked, Avery nodding at the question. Amanda continued, leaning in a little. “And what's so interesting about silly old me?” Now it was Amanda's turn to tease, her tone slightly lower than before, almost husky but not quite there.

“Well you can't keep your eyes above my chest, for starters.” Avery retorted with her own flirtation, a moment of silence between the two girls before they both laughed. Amanda's laugh was more hearty while Avery's was more akin to a giggle.

But they didn't walk away from each other.

So Amanda grew bolder.

“Yeah, well, I like to appreciate my fans from time to time.” Her heartbeat quickened as she dug deeper, forgetting Akko and the anger she created within her.

“Ah, and why do you think I'm a fan of yours?” Avery replied, her voice becoming quieter, an almost hoarse whisper. Amanda swallowed silently.

“Because you can't keep your eyes away from my lips.” There was no turning back from that one, Amanda thought, her eyes half-lidded and her mouth forming a deeper smirk.

“Hmm, that's true...” Avery trailed off, looking to the side again as she pondered what to do next. To Amanda, however, it was affirmation that the purple-haired witch was interested.

“Say...” Avery trailed off again, thinking about what she should say next. “My next class is not that important...” Avery was clearly being suggestive, but Amanda took her time to tease the poor girl. She figured she still had a little time before her friends left the canteen.

“But education is so important, Ave.” Amanda teased her, but Avery was one step ahead of the American.

“Who says I still won't get an education.”

'Damn.' Amanda thought. 'That's fucking hot.'

“My dorm is empty, by the way.” Said Amanda, almost blurting out the sentence as her urges overtook her rationale.

“So is mine, and the walls are thicker.”

'Fuck.' Amanda felt herself shiver at that, the alluring, almost sassy tone of the Canadian doing wonders for her rapidly increasing libido. Amanda swallowed, a last piece of regret and rationale still fighting her in her head. She'd been repressing it all throughout the conversation, focusing solely on the girl before her.

But right now?

Honestly?

She did not give a fuck.

“Alright, lead the way.” With that, Avery turned around to return back to her dorm with Amanda in tow.

Amanda convinced herself that this was what she needed, a way to vent her frustrations within herself and against Akko. Hell, even Diana was on that list, though if anything she was doing her a favour. Even just thinking that, Amanda could feel her stomach churn in bitterness once again, overriding the lust within her for the shortest amount of time. But the bitterness soon ebbed away, it converted into desire and anticipation.

It was worth it, Amanda convinced herself.

It was not to get back at Akko, Amanda lied to herself.

As the two turned the corner, heading up the set of stairs leading up to the higher levels, the Red, Green and Blue teams exited the canteen. Nearly all of them missed Avery and Amanda heading up the stairs, apart from one auburn-haired witch that looked on in curiosity...

A lonely, isolated Hannah England.