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The Tenth Mystery: The Demon Asta

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Most days Yuno doesn’t feel like he goes to the most renown school in Clover City.

 

It all boils down to the people he studies with, and the thing he’s made to do. Yes the education is first class, and so are the facilities, but with the amount of chaos that goes down on the daily it almost feels like he’s in some twisted amusement park instead of a school.

 

“Yuno look out!”

 

That small warning is all he gets before his thoughts are promptly interrupted by the same chaos he’d been alluding to. He doesn’t even utter a groan as something hard collides with the back of his head, sending him stumbling forward over his cleaning supplies.

 

He hears both laughter and gasps of fear behind him, and when he turns to look he sees exactly what he expected to see. His classmates are all standing in the hallway, which is covered in soap and water in what is supposed to be a method of cleaning, but is only helping to mess it all up even more.

 

Something clatters beside him and he looks down to see the object that had attacked him just a second ago. A bucket, he wonders how the hell someone managed to accidentally throw a bucket at someone, especially so hard and fast.

 

If it was indeed an accident. Part of him doubts that it is.

 

“I’m so sorry Yuno! You see David didn’t want to hand over the bucket and we were fighting over it and-!” Mimosa quickly apologizes, fearful of his wrath.

 

But Yuno is too tired to be angry, and if it was Mimosa he could let it slide. “Whatever.” He kneels down to pick up the bucket, tossing it back to them without more protest.

 

How the hell did he get stuck here again?

 

Right, cuz all the freshmen had to help clean the school. Why? They said it was to build discipline, but Yuno can’t help but he resentful anyways, because there are people they pay for this right?

 

Yuno rubs the back of his head, over the area the bucket had hit him, and groans inwardly at the bump he can already feel forming back there.

 

He decides to ignore it and picks up the mop, sweeping the floor with practiced ease as he tunes into the conversation behind him.

 

“You heard about it right? The rumors?”

 

“Which one? I hear there’s like seven!”

 

“No, there’s ten! And they’re all super creepy!”

 

Yuno rolls his eyes, wondering who in their right mind would believe things like ghosts and demons really exist.

 

“Oh I’ve only heard seven, what are the other three?”

 

“Well eight and nine aren’t that special, but the tenth? It’s so tempting I might just go over and do it myself!”

 

“Well what is it?!”

 

“I heard that if you go to one of the bathrooms in the oldest building of the school there’s a spirit that grants a wish to anyone who asks!”

 

“That sounds way too good to be true!”

 

“Thing is there’s a catch, if you wish for something the spirit takes something from you in return. It sounds scary but image of it was real!”

 

Yuno decides he’s had enough nonsense after hearing that last part, because that’s ridiculous. Dreams don’t come true, everyone knows that, especially him, because if they could he would’ve wished for his memories back long ago.

 

He quickly picks up his things and starts making his way to the next hallway over, which ironically enough is the oldest building. No one has bothered to clean this area yet, and Professor Vengeance had explicitly told them to clean every part of this floor, so it had to be done.

 

He works in silence for a bit, listening to his classmates fool around in the hallways nearby. He wonders how long it will take them to finish, because he could really use a hand, but he’s never been one to ask for help, so he just grits his teeth and keeps going.

 

Soon enough he’s done with the hallway, and so he moves to the most dreaded part of it all, the bathroom. It’s the oldest building, so part of him hopes no one uses these bathrooms very much.

 

Yuno enters the bathroom with his supplies, dumping them by the door and looking at the rusty stalls with nothing short of dread. Whatever, the sooner he starts the sooner he finishes. He really should hurry, he notes as he looks out the window, the sun would be setting soon.

 

He kneels next to his supplies and grabs the mop once more, but stops when he hears the door to one of the stalls close shut. He turns his head, very aware of how it couldn’t have slammed on its own, since the window is closed.

 

Maybe someone already came in and was cleaning when he arrived? Or someone was using it. Whichever it was he should make sure before he starts cleaning, he doesn’t want anyone tripping over a wet floor.

 

He walks over to the stall, the very last one. There’s definitely someone inside, because its locked, and the door had been wide open when Yuno came in.

 

Yuno’s fingers graze the wooden door three times, the sound much too loud in the quiet bathroom.

 

“Is someone in there?” He asks. No answer.

 

“I know you’re in there.” He sighs, “Can you please hurry? I need to clean this place.”

 

More silence. And then the lock clicks, Yuno lowers his hand from the door and watches as it slowly drifts open. But no one comes out, and Yuno begins to feel his patience wear thin.

 

He opens the door forcefully, showing the empty stall in all its rusty glory. Yuno blinks, wondering if they crawled under the gap between the stalls.

 

“Back here buddy.”

 

The sound of a voice right behind him triggers his reflexes, his elbow bending backwards to drive it into the person’s face. He misses, and part of him is glad that he missed until he sees what’s behind him.

 

There’s a boy behind him, a good four or five inches shorter than him, with spiky grey hair and bright green eyes that are staring up at him. Yuno can only see one of his eyes though, because his hand is phasing right through the other one, obscuring it from view.

 

They stand here in silence, with Yuno’s hand run straight through the boy’s head, and it’s not until the boy tilts his head sideways that Yuno understands he should be freaked out.

 

His hand is out of the boy in seconds, his back pressed to the stalls as the boy blinks owlishly at him.

 

“Woah you ok there dude? You look a little pale.”

 

Yuno’s eyes narrow, and he takes in every detail of the stranger with careful precision. He’s wearing a tattered uniform that doesn’t belong to their school, there’s a headband in his hair that has a logo with a bull’s head, and there’s a lot of scratches and scars over his arms and face. He’s the perfect image of a troublemaker if Yuno’s ever seen one.

 

“Who the hell are you?” He asks, calm and collected.

 

“Who am I? Didn’t you come here looking for me?” The boy shoots a question back, crossing his arms.

 

“What? No, why would I be looking for you?”

 

“Well you came into this decrepit bathroom at sunset, knocked on the door to my stall three times and asked if I was there.” As the boy lists off the things he’s done he raises the fingers on his right hand. “You followed the steps to summon me perfectly!”

 

Then something clicks in Yuno’s head, like the spark that comes out when you high wire a car. He remembers what his classmates had been talking about earlier, about the ghost that lives in the bathroom in the oldest building.

 

It couldn’t be a coincidence right? Someone was definitely playing a prank on him.

 

“Oh I get it.” Yuno pushes off the stalls with a sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose, “I don’t know who in my class set you up for this, but you should stop this prank before you get in trouble.”

 

His words make the boy frown and then he’s at Yuno’s level, floating off the ground so he can match his height.

 

“You think I’m fake? Just look at me! I’m the real deal!” The boy reaches forward and his hands phase through Yuno’s chest, sending a chill up his spine.

 

Yuno admits it’s hard to counter that, and he struggles to find any kind of projector that might be around the room, but there’s none.

 

“Stop that!” Yuno bats him away, shivering, and although the action doesn’t affect him at all the other still stops. “You can’t expect me to believe you’re really a ghost that grants people wishes, that’s ridiculous.”

 

“It is not!” The boy huffs, getting right in his face again. “I’ll prove it pretty boy!”

 

Yuno doesn’t like the implications of that sentence.

 

Before he can voice a complaint however he watches the boy pull out something from behind him, a book of sorts, but the cover is too worn and dirty to make out any sort of title.

 

“What are you doing?” He’s almost afraid to know the answer.

 

The boy grins, and Yuno’s head snaps to the bathroom door as it slams shut behind him. The room suddenly darkens, the light of the setting sun no longer casting its orange rays on them.

 

“I’m Asta by the way,” Yuno looks at the boy as a black figure looms over them both, standing behind his floating body, “They call me the tenth mystery. The Demon.”

 

The darkness is terrifying, it’s cold and deep, he almost feels like he’s sinking. Asta is looking at him expectantly, but Yuno isn’t looking at him, he’s looking at the demon that’s grinning at him. The creature points, it’s long fingers hovering over his head before it speaks.

 

Be careful.

 

The warning is unexpected, but Yuno doesn’t flinch back from it. He stands tall and glares up at the demon before looking back at Asta.

 

“Alright I get it, you can stop.”

 

His words seem to surprise Asta, though maybe it’s just the fact that he doesn’t seem scared of the giant demon in the room with them. That’s not exactly true of course, because Yuno can’t even begin to try and wrap his mind around all of this.

 

Still his act is enough to convince Asta, and the ghost closes his book, calling off the demon as twilight shines on them through the window once more. Yuno relaxes slightly, feeling like he can move again.

 

“Do you believe me now?” Asta grins.

 

“Not a chance...” Yuno says, turning around and making his way to the door.

 

“Hey hey where are you going?! I still need to grant your wish!” Asta calls from behind him.

 

“I don’t have one, so go back to your stall or whatever.” He has no intention of getting mixed up with demons, no thank you.

 

“But I can’t leave until I grant your wish! Get back here!”

 

“No! Leave me alone.” Yuno walks faster, completely forgetting his earlier task.

 

Asta is suddenly in front of him, and Yuno steps backwards. “I’m serious, I don’t want your wish, I already know your deal!”

 

“You mean the price? Don’t worry about that! I’d never take anything too precious from you!”

 

His words make Yuno stop, and he glares, “Me? Why?”

 

Asta pales, and Yuno wonders if he’s hiding something. Whatever, it’s not like he cares.

 

“W-Wait! I promise I’ll do anything! No price!”

 

Yuno actually thinks about it for a moment, because this kid was the real deal and he was promising one wish for free. Maybe...

 

“Anything?” He asks, unsure.

 

Asta perks up at his interest. “Anything!”

 

“Alright, then I do have something I really want...” Yuno gazes out the window for a second. “You see, not too long ago I lost my memories... I think there was an accident or something. I would really like to have them back.”

 

He looks back at Asta, seeing he’s gotten pale all of the sudden. The ash blond averts his gaze and chuckles.

 

“Memories huh? Sorry bud but I can’t help you with that!” He says in mock cheer, grinning. It’s fake.

 

He’s hiding something, Yuno can tell.

 

“You can’t? Or you don’t want to?”

 

Asta flinches.

 

“You can.” Yuno’s eyes narrow.

 

“No I really can’t! I know I said no price but things like that are uh-! They’re expensive!” Asta waves him off.

 

Yuno hums, because although Asta is a bad liar he can already tell he’s not going to get anything from him like this. Well two can play at that game.

 

“Fine, I guess I do have another wish you can grant for me.” He crosses his arms.

 

The ghost relaxes instantly, reaching for his book, that’s exactly what Yuno was waiting for. He needs to get that.

 

“Tell me, what is it? I’ll grant it no questions asked!”

 

Yuno nods, “There’s this boy I like, make him fall in love with me.” His tone is flat.

 

There’s silence following his words, and Yuno can tell Asta has stopped functioning for a few seconds.

 

“A-A boy huh...?” Asta chuckles, “Ha ha...”

 

His hands fall slightly, his grip going slack around his book. Yuno takes his chance then. He reaches for the book and snatches it out of the ghost’s hands, surprised that he can actually hold it.

 

“W-What the-?! Give that back!” Asta reaches for it.

 

Yuno keeps it out of reach, evading the ghost’s hands even as he flies full speed at him.

 

“You’re not getting this back until you grant me my wish.” He states, dodging Asta once more.

 

“I told you I can’t! Now give that back before something happens!”

 

“No, not unless you give me your word that you’ll grant my wish.”

 

Asta grits his teeth in frustration, groaning. “Look I can’t! I don’t grant wishes like that!”

 

Yuno raised a brow, because it’s an obvious lie. “Fine then.” He flips the book open and begins reading through the pages.

 

“Hey stop! Don’t do that!”

 

“I won’t stop, if you won’t grant my wish I’ll find a way to do it myself.”

 

His hand touches the pages, and Asta gasps as a light begins to emit from it.

 

“Yuno!”

 

Yuno gasps as the book burns him suddenly, and he let’s go of the item as his vision begins to swim. Asta is somewhere in his peripheral vision, but he can’t focus on him as his eyes close against his will.

 


 

“Yuno! Hey Yuno! Wake up!”

 

Yuno closes his eyes tighter as a loud voice interrupts his sleep, curling further into himself when his head thrums uncomfortably. But the voice persists, and Yuno is forced to open his eyes and pay attention.

 

“What is it?” He asks, but the sound of his voice surprises him.

 

“Finally! I was so scared you died back there!”

 

Who...? What? Why would he die?

 

Yuno blinks a few more times, finally locking eyes with Asta as the other looks down at him. Oh right, ghost, demons, wishes, he’d touched the book and passed out. That must be why Asta is above him, and that’s why he...

 

Wait, since when was Asta that big?

 

Yuno bolts up, but he’s shocked when he barely comes off the ground. He looks down at himself and stares as he sees a body that isn’t his own, that isn’t human.

 

“I’m... a bird?!”

 

He is! When he moves his arms wings flap instead, when he opens his mouth there’s a beak that speaks for him. He’s a bird!

 

“Asta, what the hell happened?” His voice is just barely calm, and the squeakiness of it doesn’t help the rising panic.

 

“It’s because you touched my grimoire! Humans aren’t supposed to touch it! If they do they get cursed!” Asta says, clearly angry and exasperated. “I told you to give it back!”

 

Yuno deflates, silently berating himself for being an idiot. He’d been so desperate for his memories that he went and got himself cursed, just great.

 

“You’re taking this a lot better than I thought you would.” Asta reaches down and cups Yuno between his palms, Yuno’s both too shocked and tired to protest.

 

“Yeah, I suppose I got myself into this.” He answers, shivering and watching as his feathers ruffle.

 

“Hey hey don’t look so down! I still need to grant your wish remember!” Asta lifts him up, smiling.

 

“You can turn me back?” He asks, hopeful.

 

“Yeah!” Asta’s face then turns dark, “But should I? You’re much more obedient like this, cuter too! And you’re right, you deserve it for not listening to me!”

 

Something inside Yuno snaps, all of the day’s events catching up to him and fueling a rage he’s very unused to feeling. He flies up to Asta’s face at full speed, pecking his forehead over and over until the ghost is begging for mercy.

 

“Yuno waitwaitwait! I’m sorry! Ack! Stop that it hurts!” Asta swats at him, but Yuno isn’t done.

 

“Then turn me back.” Yuno huffs, continuing his assault.

 

“Fine fine! I was only joking! I’m sorry!”

 

The apology calms him down, and Yuno perks himself on Asta’s shoulder with as much anger as a six inch bird can muster. It must look amusing, because Asta laughs as he grabs his grimoire.

 

Asta holds his hand out to Yuno, and he hops onto it without another word, his black feathers finally smoothing out against his body.

 

“I can grant your wish Yuno, but since this is a pretty heavy curse it’s gonna take a little payment.” Asta says, sitting cross legged on the floor.

 

“What’s the price?”

 

Asta looks at his grimoire, still smiling, “Your body!”

 

If Yuno had visible skin, he would pale.

 

“My... what?” Is he saying what he thinks he’s saying...?

 

“If I grant you this wish then you’ll become my human assistant! Which means you have to do whatever I say!”

 

Yuno’s anger almost returns, but he quiets it, Asta’s clearly an idiot, he probably didn’t think that statement sounded wrong at all.

 

“Fine I guess.”

 

“Cool! Now then!” Asta sets his grimoire down, cupping Yuno between both his palms once again before he leans down.

 

“What are you...?”

 

Yuno’s cut off as Asta’s soft lips press against the top of his head, and he gasps at the warmth that it spreads through him. The feeling is almost familiar, but he doesn’t get the chance to ponder it too much before everything changes.

 

Next thing he knows he’s on top of Asta, their faces close together with the other’s hands firmly on his waist. His own hands are on each side of Asta’s shoulders, his legs settled between ghost’s

 

He doesn’t blush, he really doesn’t, the heat on his cheeks is just his imagination.

 

“Sorry about... that...” Yuno says slowly, unable to find it in him to move.

 

“I-It’s alright, really.” Asta grins, and although it’s lopsided there’s definitely a blush on his face.

 

Yuno quietly shifts to push himself off, but then he notices something.

 

“I can touch you now.” He says, looking down at Asta’s hands that are still on his waist.

 

Asta seems to realize what he’s doing and quickly scuttles away, floating off the ground and grinning still.

 

“Yeah! I told you we’re bound now right? That means we can interact normally from now on!”

 

Normally his ass, what about this was normal?

 

“I see.” Yuno stands up, dusting himself off and facing the ghost.

 

“Well in any case, thank you for granting my wish.” Yuno admits, glancing out the window, seeing the sun has finally set.

 

“Don’t thank me yet! Because...”

 

Yuno turns back to Asta as the other trails off, eyes widening when the other floats forward and grasp both his hands. The spirit intertwines their fingers, smiling brightly at him though pointed fangs.

 

“Even if I can’t give you back your memories, I intend to make every other one of your wishes come true.”

 

Asta says it with such devotion, and the gentleness in his voice brings that warmth back to his face. It’s such a new sensation, yet overwhelmingly familiar. Yuno wonders where Asta’s words come from, why he’d promise something so deep and sincere to a boy he just met.

 

But still he smiles, swept away by this feeling of belonging he can’t quite place. He wants to revel in it, now and forever.

 

“Then I’m in your care.”

Chapter Text

Turns out working for a ghost isn’t as supernatural as one would think. Yuno learns this with as much enthusiasm as he learns most things in school, which is close to none. Asta is a pain, pulling pranks on Yuno left and right and asking him to keep his bathroom clean on the daily.

 

Yuno wishes he could take back that day, the day Asta saved him by turning him back into a human, but... It was kind of his fault for doing something so stupid, so maybe this is his punishment for messing with the supernatural.

 

“Yuno!”

 

The student groans as he feels Asta run into his back, making him lurch forward. He turns to look at the ghost that’s supposed to be his “master” and wonders how this kid has such terrifying powers hidden inside him.

 

“What do you want?” He asks dryly.

 

“Aw come on don’t be like that! Why do you sound so mad?” Asta wraps his arms around his waist from behind. “Is it because I’m making you clean?”

 

Yuno doesn’t dignify that question with an answer, because what else would it be?! All he’s done since he met Asta was clean, clean, clean. He cleans during his school duties, he cleans after school when Asta tells him to and he cleans back at the orphanage when he leaves. He’s starting to feel like Cinderella at this point, but with the fairy godmother being the one making him work.

 

“Don’t be mad Yuno! Come on you can take a break!” Asta pulls on his shirt, and as much as Yuno needs the break he doesn’t want to give Asta the satisfaction of winning.

 

“No, I’m finishing this.” He says stubbornly, turning away from Asta.

 

“Fine! I’ll make you take a break then!”

 

That’s when Yuno suddenly feels himself being picked up, and he gasps as Asta begins making his way towards the stairs with Yuno slung over his shoulder.

 

“Asta, you have three seconds to put me down before I kick you where it hurts.” Yuno says through his glare, holding onto Asta’s back to keep from falling.

 

“You shouldn’t do that to your master Yuno! Because I could turn you back into a bird by accident!”

 

Yuno can hear the stupid grin in his voice, and as much as it irks him he knows he can’t really counter him in any way. So he let’s Asta carry him, blinking in surprise when he finds himself on the roof of the school building.

 

“Here we are!” Asta finally sets him down, walking over to the railing and hopping onto it.

 

Yuno follows, trying to keep his hair out of his eyes as the wind whips it around wildly. He rests his elbows against the railing next to Asta, looking down at the city just below them.

 

“Look I uh...” Asta starts before silence can settle over them, “Sorry about making you work so much, I guess I just kinda make you do it cuz I like spending time together with you.”

 

Yuno’s eyes widen at the confession. He’s only known Asta for about a week or two, but throughout that time the other has shown him acts of kindness one would usually reserve for a close friend or even a lover. He wonders why that is, but doesn’t ask, because it almost seems like Asta isn’t aware that he does this either.

 

“When we clean and chat together like this, I feel like I’m hanging out with my friends again.” Asta continues, a blush on his cheeks, “It takes me back.”

 

Yuno let’s his anger go, he smiles, “You don’t have to make me clean to do that you know. Idiot.”

 

Asta blushes and stutters, “Who are you calling an idiot you handsome jerk!”

 

“You.”

 

“Why you-! Come here!” Asta lunges at him, but Yuno is too quick.

 

Yuno chuckles as Asta nearly falls on his face, running through the roof as the ghost follows him. He has to admit this is fun, as strange as it is, because no matter how hard he tries he can’t help but always feel at ease with Asta. It’s nice.

 

“Gotcha!”

 

Yuno gasps as Asta does indeed catch up to him, wrapping his arms around his torso tight and knocking him over. They laugh, and when Yuno turns to face the spirit the other is giving him such a soft look that it takes his breath away.

 

“Asta...”

 

“Hold it right there you fiend!”

 

And suddenly Asta is screaming, flames engulfing the ghost as he throws his head back in pain.

 

“Asta!” Yuno calls worriedly, but then someone grabs Asta and throws him out of his reach.

 

He looks up at the attacker, seeing wild orange hair that ties into a braid and blue eyes. It’s a boy, about his age, who wears the Crimson Lions’ uniform. That means he goes to this school too, but...

 

“Don’t worry, I, Leopold Vermillion have come to save you!” The guy grins back at him, holding a sword engulfed in flames.

 

Then he turns back to Asta, who’s getting back up. “Geez you didn’t need to be so rough! It’s not like I was bothering anyone!”

 

“Lies! You were attacking this poor defenseless student! And as an exorcist from the house of Vermillion it is my duty to protect him and put you to rest evil spirit!”

 

Yuno stares between the two of them, wondering if the nonsense this guy is spouting could actually be true. He did burn Asta, and even if he looked better now those flames seemed to have done some at least damage to him.

 

“Woah calm down buddy! I know you’re a Vermillion but let’s not get ahead of ourselves!” Asta raises his hands pliantly, “Yuno is my friend, I would never hurt him!

 

The statement makes Yuno’s chest warm, but he swallows it back without giving it much thought.

 

“It’s true, Asta wasn’t hurting me.” Yuno stands up, trying to step between them.

 

But the guy isn’t having it, he grabs Yuno’s arm and pulls him back, keeping him from approaching Asta. The other is an inch or two shorter, but Yuno can tell he’s physically stronger regardless.

 

“Don’t let yourself be fooled, spirits like him put people under spells and control them.” He glares at Asta, who looks just as angry. “Just look at the mark on his hand, that’s the mark of someone who’s been cast off to repent for all eternity.”

 

Yuno’s eyes drift to the mark on Asta’s hand. He’d asked about it previously, but Asta had said it symbolized his attachment to the demon inside him.

 

“I didn’t lie to you Yuno,” Asta is quick to say, as if he could hear his thoughts. Yuno doesn’t know why, but he believes him.

 

“That mark is only given to those who break the worst of taboos.” The guy raises his sword, “Like murderers.”

 

Yuno’s eyes widen, looking back at Asta and waiting for him to deny it.

 

“I didn’t kill anyone...” Asta clenches his fists, but before Yuno can relax he keeps going, “Yes I broke a taboo, but it’s not like you can understand why I did it.”

 

“I don’t really care why you did it, the fact is that you messed with the laws of nature and now you must pay the price.”

 

And then the guy lets go of Yuno’s hand,  when he looks up both he and Asta are clashing. Asta wields a giant black sword he’s never seen before, and the angry look in his eyes unnerves him. That look doesn’t suit him at all.

 

“Let him go you devil!” The guy shouts.

 

“No!” Asta bites back.

 

They pull away and clash once more, their swords sending sparks flying every which way. Yuno huffs and looks around for anything he can use to stop them, cursing when he’s met with only the barren roof around him.

 

Fine, he’ll take matters into his own hands.

 

Yuno watches Asta struggle to keep the guy at bay, the flames sprouting from his sword burning Asta’s skin relentlessly.

 

“Now repent!”

 

The exorcist raises his blade and prepares to bring it down on the spirit, but before he can Yuno is between them, arms spread wide as he shields Asta from the blow.

 

The blade stops less than an inch from his face, the heat of the flames tickling his skin for a second before it’s pulled away.

 

“W-What are you doing?! I could’ve killed you!”

 

“I’m putting an end to this nonsense! Asta isn’t evil, and I’m not under some sort of spell!” Yuno says, looking down.

 

The guy swallows and steps back, looking sheepish. “Look this guy isn’t what you think, if he didn’t murder someone then he certainly did something worse!”

 

Yuno opens his mouth to counter, but then he feels an arm snake around his waist. Asta’s sword is then at the guy’s neck, and when Yuno turns to his friend the other is glaring with burning intensity.

 

“I’m sorry you had to find that out Yuno. I had hoped you’d never get to know this side of me.” Asta says, tightening the grip he has on his waist.

 

“Asta?” Yuno looks down at him.

 

“I’m sorry mister exorcist, but I still have something to do here.” Asta keeps going, his sword still to the other’s neck, “I can’t let you kill me yet.”

 

Yuno blinks and then Asta is no longer behind him, instead standing upon the railing again and smiling at them both.

 

“But when I’m done I’ll be waiting for you to come and set me free.”

 

Asta’s grin is too radiant for someone who’s just asked someone else to kill them. It makes Yuno so incredibly sad. He wants to help Asta, wants to know more about it. But can someone like him really do anything?

 


 

 

The next day comes by as quick as Yuno expects it to, which is slow and torturous. After their encounter with the exorcist Leopold Vermillion Asta had told him their cleaning session was over. Thankfully the newcomer hadn’t tried attacking the spirit again, vowing to instead keep an eye on him because he seems “worthy”.

 

Yuno can’t say he quite understands, because those two seem far too eccentric for him to even try to, but he’s still glad that Leo and Asta won’t be fighting to the death anytime soon. It doesn’t stop him from worrying however, because Asta’s words from yesterday still haunt him.

 

‘I can’t let you kill me yet. But when I’m done I’ll be waiting for you to come and set me free!’

 

And the bright smile he’d given them only worsened the pit in his stomach. Asta was hiding something, and perhaps it wasn’t his place to pry, but he could tell the spirit was getting himself into something way over his head.

 

“Yuno!”

 

Yuno’s internal monologue is interrupted as a familiar voice calls to him. He turns and waves at Mimosa as she approaches, who takes her seat in front of him. He’s glad she seems fine, since this part of the day is the most normal part of his life now.

 

“Good morning.” He greets, neutral as ever.

 

“Good morning!” Mimosa smiles, “Oh my Yuno, is everything alright?”

 

Yuno raises a brow, “Yeah, why?”

 

“Well no offense...” Mimosa chuckles, “But you look terrible.”

 

Yuno does take a little offense, but instead of grumbling he simply reaches up to try and tame his wild hair. He smooths down his clothes afterwards, hoping the bags under his eyes aren’t as bad as he thinks.

 

“That’s better!” Mimosa giggles, “It’s not like you to look so put off, did something happen?”

 

Yes. So so much has happened, but he can’t really tell her now can he? Between the ghost’s and exorcist and even those “fairies” he helped Asta catch last week he feels like he can’t catch a break.

 

“Not really, things are just rough back at the orphanage.” He rests his chin on his palm, looking out the window.

 

It’s a believable lie, since he’s the oldest kid at the orphanage then he always helps Sister Lily and Father Orsi with the chores and the children. It is tiring, but not overly so, though Mimosa doesn’t need to know that.

 

“You’re such a nice person Yuno, I would’ve never thought you so caring with children when I first met you you know?” Mimosa says honestly. Too honestly.

 

“Yeah, I get that a lot.”

 

“Oh but don’t let it get to you! People will change their minds when they get to know you!”

 

“Yeah...”

 

“Anyways!” Mimosa is trying to save his mood, “Have you heard the rumors?”

 

Yuno resists the urge to roll his eyes, “More of those ghost stories?” He really doesn’t want to know, because last time he heard a rumor it ended up being true.

 

“Yes! It’s about the stairs near the art room!” Mimosa ignores his obvious discomfort. “They say if you set foot on the fourth step you’ll disappear!”

 

“Fake. If that were true half the school would be gone.” Yuno is quick to say, but he’s nervous.

 

“True, but rumors also say you forget about the people who go missing. What if many people have gone missing and we just don’t remember?”

 

Now that’s a terrifying thought. To think perhaps people, maybe even friends of his, could have disappeared without a trace, but no one would care because the memory of their existence had been taken with them. Maybe he’ll talk to Asta about it later.

 

“You really need to stop gossiping about those things, I know for a fact those stories scare you.” Yuno scolds, watching Mimosa sputter.

 

“H-How did you know?” She asks, blushing.

 

Yuno rolls his eyes, “You really think I didn’t notice? The last time you told me about a scary story you heard you texted me in the middle of the night because you were “pondering it”. That obviously means you were too scared to sleep.”

 

“You’re so mean Yuno! At least pretend to be fooled!”

 

“Not a chance.” Yuno smirks.

 

That’s when the bell rings, Mimosa turns around in her seat with a pout, both of them waiting for their Professor to arrive so they can start the day. Just as their lesson begins however Yuno notices Mimosa glancing back at him every now and then, as if there’s something she wants to tell him.

 

When she realizes he’s caught on she stares forward, and he takes it as a sign that she won’t be telling him anything anytime soon. So he let’s it go, trying to ignore the feeling of weariness that coils in his gut.

Chapter Text

When lunchtime comes by Yuno leaves to heat up his food, deciding to go back to Mimosa and have lunch with her and Klaus. Their senior has become more of a friend nowadays, what with him always wanting to “check up” to see if they’re ok, but they all know he wants to hang out with them.

 

He re enters the classroom, ready to ask Mimosa to come with him, but then he sees her seat is empty, even her bag is gone.

 

Yuno blinks, wondering where she could’ve gone with her bag, maybe she left early? Surely she would’ve told him if she had to leave.

 

“Hey David.” Yuno approaches a few of his classmates, “Have you seen Mimosa around?”

 

David turns to him, blond hair catching in the light from the windows. “Mimosa? Who’s that?” He asks, tilting his head.

 

Yuno rolls his eyes, it’s a really overused joke. “Stop playing, just tell me where she is.”

 

David looks back at their classmates, who look just as confused, “We really don’t know who you’re talking about dude, maybe she’s in another class?”

 

Yuno frowns, about to call them out for using such a stupid joke when he’s clearly in a hurry, but then he remembers Mimosa’s words for some reason.

 

‘They say if you set foot on the fourth step you’ll disappear!’

 

‘rumors also say you forget about the people who go missing. What if many people have gone missing and we just don’t remember?’

 

No, there’s no way. That’s too much of a coincidence. Yuno turns away from his friends and decides to look for her somewhere else. This is just a prank, a really fucked up prank.

 

He decides to look for his senior, Klaus, hoping the other would know. Klaus would never participate in such an immature prank so he’s bound to know where she is right? On his way he decides to call Mimosa’s phone, swallowing when the call gives an error of “number not found”. Then he calls Mimosa’s house, and her mother answers, Yuno asks for Mimosa and his stomach drops when her mother says no one by that name lives there.

 

This is worse than he thought.

 

Finding Klaus is no longer his priority. He needs to get to Asta and ask what’s going on. If this is a school mystery’s doing then the spirit is bound to know more about it. He rushes down the halls, dodging students left and right as he makes his way to the old bathroom.

 

“Asta!” Yuno throws the bathroom door open, glad that absolutely no one comes to this part of the building.

 

“Y-Yuno?! What’s wrong?!” Asta is quick to come out of his stall, looking as alarmed as Yuno feels.

 

“My friend went missing, I can’t find her anywhere.” Yuno walks over to the spirit, who sets his hands on his shoulders.

 

“Well why are you coming to me? You should call the police or something!” Asta says, clearly trying to calm him down.

 

“I can’t, because no one remembers she exists.” Yuno explains, and recognition dawns in Asta’s eyes.

 

“You foul demon!”

 

Both of them turn at that voice, and Yuno wishes he could say he’s surprised to see Leo standing at the doorway, glaring daggers at Asta.

 

“Unhand my friends right this instance! I know you took them and erased their existence from people’s memories!” The exorcist accuses, stomping his way into the room.

 

“Your friends too Leo?” Yuno asks, and his words seem to calm the boy’s anger.

 

“Y-Yeah, two of my buddies have been missing since this morning, and no one seems to remember them no matter who or how much I ask.” Leo sighs, turning back to Asta with a nasty look.

 

“And I know you’re responsible for this! Only a supernatural could do such a thing!”

 

Yuno puts his hand on Leo’s shoulder, pulling him away from Asta. “Let’s calm down. I know Asta didn’t do this, but I bet he can tell us who did, right?”

 

Asta nods, sitting on the windowsill and looking troubled. “Yeah, it sounds like one of the school mysteries causing trouble.”

 

“I heard about it from Mimosa, the stairs in front of the art room right?” Yuno asks, and Asta nods. “Is there a way to get them back?”

 

“Of course there is, but it’s pretty dangerous.” Asta says, looking at both of them. “It involves going where your friends were taken.”

 

“I’ll go! It’s my job as an exorcist to keep people safe after all!” Leo is quick to say.

 

“Me too, I want to save Mimosa.” Yuno says.

 

“No you mustn’t Yuno! It’s too dangerous for a normal person to go in there!” Leo stands in front of him, worried.

 

“Actually I need him to go, cuz only those bound to supernaturals can deactivate a spirit’s power.” Asta explains, standing beside Yuno.

 

“That’s my job!” Leo cuts in, glaring.

 

“Nope! If you do it you’ll end up killing them, and even if they’re a little bit out of control these guys are still my friends, I can’t let you kill them!” Asta counters, frowning.

 

“Why you-!”

 

Yuno stands between them, “That’s enough you two, I’m going and that’s final.“

 

“Yeah!” Asta cheers, “Don’t worry Leo, I’ll keep Yuno safe and sound!”

 

“I can take care of myself.” Yuno says, but is ignored.

 

“No way! I’ll protect him! There’s no way I’m leaving him in a supernatural’s care!”

 

Yuno’s eye twitches, “I’m leaving.” He says, listening to the other two bicker behind him.

 

They make it to the art room without much fanfare, though Leo did get a few looks because he was seemingly shouting to himself. Yuno made sure to leave enough room for people to think they weren’t associated.

 

“Alright we’re here.” Yuno says once they arrive, making sure no one was nearby.

 

“Alright! Now step on the fourth stair.” Asta instructs, and Yuno begins to climb.

 

“W-Wait for me Yuno!” Leo catches up to him, both standing on the third step and setting their foot on the fourth at the same time.

 

Yuno didn’t think the change would be too big, but he’s severely mistaken. As soon as their feet meet the wooden surface the entire scenery changes. The floor under his feet disappears, and all three of them are sent falling through the expansive darkness that swallows them.

 

A light flashes, and then Yuno feels arms wrap around him securely. He looks up to see Asta carrying him with a smile, standing in front of a house that looks like it came straight out of a horror movie.

 

“There we go, we don’t want you getting all wet don’t we?” Asta grins, Yuno blinks.

 

“Wet?” He asks, and then he hears a splash behind them.

 

He turns his head to see Leo standing up, rubbing his head as he surfaces from the shallow water under them. Now that Yuno looks around that water is everywhere, the ground is covered in it wherever he looks.

 

“Where are we?” Yuno asks as Asta sets him down, his feet sinking into the water, thankfully it doesn’t reach past his ankles, so it’s not too hard to thread through.

 

“Why you stupid ghost! Couldn’t you have warned me about the water?!” Leo fumes, Asta laughs.

 

“Sorry! I only said I’d help Yuno remember?”

 

“Anyways,” Yuno steps in before they can start again, “Where do we go from here?”

 

“Right! We need to find the spirit’s heart if we wanna save your friends!” Asta says, looking up at the house in front of them. “It’s usually in the deepest corner of the spirit’s territory, so it’s probably in there!”

 

“Heart?” Yuno asks, Asta nods.

 

“A supernatural’s Heart is the source of its power! It’s usually an item that meant a lot to the person in life, so they’re bound to guard it heavily.” Asta explains with a smile, floating beside him.

 

“I see.” Yuno hums, making his way towards the front door, but a hand catches his wrist.

 

“Wait! Let me go in first!” Leo runs past him, Yuno rolls his eyes and follows, letting the exorcist open the door.

 

It creaks open, and Yuno can feel Asta inch closer to him. Leo is holding his sword, walking in with caution as they thread in easily.

 

It’s quiet inside, and dark, Yuno wouldn’t be able to see anything if not for the open door behind him.

 

“Welcome my new friends.”

 

Yuno freezes at that voice, having heard it right beside his ear. It was a mere whisper, but the eeriness of it made is body freeze over. He looks around, gazing at the door just in time to watch it slam shut.

 

“Who’s there?!” Leo shouts, and although Yuno can’t see him he can hear the splashing of water as he moves.

 

“Don’t be afraid.” The whisper beside his ear comes back, Yuno struggles not to shiver “We’re merely going to play a game.”

 

Yuno can hear water splashing all around him, and he wonders if Asta and Leo are moving around. He can’t see a thing, so he doesn’t move, not knowing where the sounds are coming from.

 

“Now who’s doll should I make first?”

 

The voice sounds even closer now, if that’s even possible, and Yuno can hear his own heart beating in his chest. He stays calm however, deciding to walk forward and search around for the other two.

 

His foot collides with something, but he can tell it’s not a person, because it’s small enough that he accidentally sends it flying. He squints to try and make it out, but that’s when the lights come on.

 

“I’ll start with you then.”

 

Yuno gasps, looking down to see the floor covered in moving dolls. They’re walking towards him, seemingly unperturbed by the water that covers the floor. He backs away, looking around for Asta and Leo, only to find that he’s alone in a different room than before.

 

“It’s your turn! Your turn!” The dolls sing, and Yuno backs away quickly.

 

“That’s it. Over here.”

 

Just as Yuno hears that voice he sees two sharp blades come out on either side of his head, light reflecting off of them as Yuno moves. He ducks without thinking, hearing the sound of scissors cutting through air above him.

 

“Don’t be that way, I promise this won’t hurt.”

 

Yuno looks up, feeling something looming above him. On the ceiling dozens of needles hang over his head, and he starts running without thinking twice. He steps over the dolls, uncaring if he crushes them in his haste. The giant scissors that nearly decapitated him are following him, and the needles keep falling from the ceiling just a hair’s breath away.

 

He opens the door to the room and runs down the hall, searching for any sign of his companions.

 

“Asta! Leo!” He calls, hoping they’re alright.

 

Yuno rounds a corner and gasps, seeing he’s stumbled upon a dead end. Damn it! He turns around to look, seeing the dolls and scissors near him with terrifying speed. He ducks again, watching the scissor stab itself into the wall. But before he can get up to run he feels something tugging at him, cringing when he sees the dolls are holding him down with surprising strength.

 

“Your turn! Your turn!”

 

“Let go!”

 

Yuno curses when the pair of scissors pulls itself from the wall, angling downward so the blades surround his neck once more. He’s done for, he’s really going to die here.

 

“Yuno!”

 

He sees fire, and suddenly Leo is above him, pushing back one of the blades with his sword and the other with his arm. Yuno gasps, watching Leo curse at the blade digging into his skin.

 

“Leo!” He calls, watching as something in the other’s injured arm changes. It shifts and hardens, and next thing Yuno knows Leo’s arm is no longer human, resembling a mannequins more than anything else.

 

“What the-?!” Leo blinks, but he pushes further, the hardened limb helping reduce the pain in his arm.

 

Yuno turns back forward and throws off as many dolls as he can, standing up and grabbing the handle of the scissors. He opens them, allowing Leo to duck out before he plunges the scissor into the ground as hard as he can. It sinks deep, and Yuno grabs Leo’s good arm before bolting down the hall.

 

“Thanks! I didn’t know you had such strength Yuno!” Leo praises.

 

“Don’t thank me yet! We still need to find the heart and get out of here!” They also needed to find Asta, and who knows where he could be?

 

“There’s no way we can find the heart on our own! This house is too big!” Leo says, glancing over his shoulder to see if they’re being followed.

 

“Asta said it would be in the deepest part of this realm.” Yuno ponders, trying to think of a solution. Then it hits him.

 

“Try to look for any stairs that lead downwards. It has to be in the basement.” He tells Leo, who’s eyes widen in realization.

 

“Got it!” Leo grins.

 

It takes them longer than he’d like to find the stairs, but when they do Yuno is quick to push them both down, wanting to get away from those creepy dolls and the killer scissors as soon as possible. Once they’re securely at the bottom of the stairs Yuno closes the door, locking it.

 

Only then do they breathe a sigh of relief, the quiet helping to calm their nerves. He turns to Leo, who’s staring at his arm.

 

“How is it? Does it hurt?” Yuno asks, holding the limb carefully and inspecting it.

 

Leo swallows and nods, “Yeah, it doesn’t hurt, and I can control it for the most part.” He moves his arm to illustrate his point, “But man it’s weird, why would getting cut turn you into a mannequin?”

 

“The voice said it wanted to turn me into a doll, I guess it was more direct than I thought.” He sighs, “In any case, let’s make sure not to touch that thing again.”

 

Leo nods, and Yuno looks out towards the dimly lit hall before them. It’s creepier than the rest of the house, worn down and dirty. It’s clear no one’s supposed to come down here, which means it’s exactly where they want to go.

 

“Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

“I think we should stay close, we don’t want to be separated again.”

 

Leo couldn’t agree more with Yuno’s words. After being separated from the other two for those few frightening minutes he was sure he didn’t want to repeat the experience.

 

“Sure thing!” Leo says, grabbing Yuno’s hand with his wooden one.

 

Yuno raises a brow, “What are you doing?”

 

Leo blinks, “You said we should stick close, and since we were separated even standing beside each other last time I think it’s safer if we hold hands.”

 

That truly is the main reason why he holds Yuno’s hand, but he won’t deny he wants to keep the other as close as possible. But that’s only because it’s his job as an exorcist to keep him safe!

 

“Alright, let’s get moving then.” Yuno relents, his prying gaze staring forward as they venture deeper into the dark halls below.

 

The walk is slow and tense, Leo feels like something is bound to jump them at any given moment. He doesn’t let go of his sword for even a second, convinced that if he does it’ll be the end of him.

 

“Do you think Asta is ok?” Leo asks, wanting to break the silence.

 

Yuno’s eyes harden at the question, “I know he is. He might be an idiot but I trust him, he’s stronger than he looks.”

 

The genuine trust he displays takes him by surprise, and he wonders why the admission leaves a bitter taste in his mouth. It sounds like Yuno is very fond of Asta, and that they trust each other, he wishes Yuno would trust him too.

 

“What is it?”

 

Leo blinks as Yuno speaks again, only now realizing he’s been staring at the other for an uncomfortably long time.

 

“N-Nothing! Just thinking of how right you are! Asta is strong, and my rival, he’s bound to be ok!” He grins, and it helps to liven the tension.

 

“Yes.” Yuno gives a half smile, and the subject drops there.

 

After a few more moments of silence, Yuno speaks “There’s the end of the hall.”

 

Leo follows his gaze, smirking as he sees a door only a few feet away. That’s the only exit in this creepy hallway, so if the Heart is down here somewhere, it’s definitely through that door.

 

“Let’s go!” Leo tugs Yuno forward, who sinks his heels into the ground to stop him.

 

“Slow down, you don’t know what’s behind that door.” Yuno scolds, “Let’s be careful.”

 

“Right you are!” Leo agrees, because it’s true, they need to be cautious.

 

They both approach the exit, hand in hand, and Yuno is the one to reach for the handle to open it. The inside is even dimmer than the rest of the hall, with only a single flickering bulb lighting the object at the very center.

 

A pair of scissors sits atop a small podium, like a long forgotten display. The scissors have a piece of paper with writings on them, and Leo figures it must say something important.

 

“I’ve heard of this before,” He speaks up, remembering the teachings his brother had passed onto him, “A supernatural’s heart has a seal that keeps their power in place, if we take it off then it should free the people they’re holding.”

 

Yuno nods, “Alright then, I’m going.” He steps forward, letting go of Leo’s hand slowly.

 

Leo is close by, eyes darting around the empty darkness. This place is too quiet, he doesn’t like it at all, especially since Asta said this should be the most heavily guarded place in the whole house.

 

A cry of shock tears Leo from his stupor, and he turns his head to see a hand has come out of the darkness and is holding onto Yuno’s wrist, which hovers inches from the scissors.

 

“So you’ve finally come my friends.”

 

It’s the same voice from before, the one that spoke as soon as they entered. The only difference is that now it sounded like they were in the same room, not like a distant whisper in their minds.

 

Yuno quickly wrenches his arm away from the hand’s grip, but as he does so the whole limb comes off the unseen body, still attached to him. Leo steps forward as more hands come out of the darkness, swinging his sword and burning all the hands that try to reach for them both.

 

The flames of Leo’s sword help to light up the room, and both he and Yuno gasp as they set eyes on what’s probably the most terrifying person they’ve ever seen.

 

It’s a tall man with a lanky figure, who wears a dark old school uniform and a black hat to match it. His face is painted a ghostly white, his eyes surrounded with black as well as his lips. He captures the image of a ghost perfectly, Leo feels unnerved.

 

“So you’re the ghost behind all of this!” Leo shouts, pointing his sword at the culprit. “I demand you release our friends at once!”

 

The supernatural tilts his head, “But why? We were just having fun.”

 

His words are quiet, and he’s only audible thanks to the stillness of the room. Leo swings his blade to keep the incoming dolls at bay, their plush and wooden forms cowering back.

 

“How can you call this fun?! Imprisoning others is nothing but cruelty!” Leo shouts.

 

“I’m not cruel. They’re my friends.” The ghost says, and he sounds hurt. Leo won’t fall for it.

 

“These people are not your friends! They’re your prisoners!”

 

When Leo says those words there’s silence, and both he and Yuno watch as the ghost’s eyes widen. He looks distraught, and tears begin to gather in the corners of his eyes the longer they look.

 

“No... my friends...”

 

Leo gasps, the ground beneath his feet trembling. The movement threatens to make him fall, but Yuno holds onto Leo to keep them steady.

 

“I’ll show you that they’re my friends!”

 

The supernatural’s next words are loud and clear, full of pain and regret. Leo watches as scissors surround them, and it’s only thanks to Yuno’s quick reflexes they they’re able to duck out of the way of the incoming blades.

 

“Damn it there’s no way out.” Yuno curses, eyes set on the blocked entrance they’d come through.

 

Leo grabs Yuno’s arm and tugs him down again, another scissor soaring above their heads, but the next one is quick, and Leo is forced to raise his sword to block it while they’re still on the ground.

 

“Don’t be so scared, if you keep running I’ll end up hurting you instead.”

 

Yuno gasps as another scissor flies their way, looking around to find an escape only to find they’re surrounded. There’s just too many of them, they won’t make it!

 

But then a black streak overtakes their vision, and both students look up in time to watch as a black sword stops all of the scissors, breaking them apart until they fade from existence.

 

“Asta!” They both say, relieved. They watch as the spirit holds two swords, staring down at the other supernatural before he turns and grins.

 

“Yo! Sorry I’m late!”

Chapter Text

Both Leo and Yuno stand up, and Yuno sighs as he watches both the spirit and the exorcist get into positions to defend him. He wishes he had something he could fight with, but as it stands he’d have to count on their protection until he can grab the Heart.

 

“You sure were doing a good job of protecting Yuno, Leo. I leave for one minute and you’re already getting him nearly killed.” Asta says with a grin, Leo fumes.

 

“Thats so not true! At least I didn’t abandon him like some people!” Leo bites back, glaring.

 

Asta is riled immediately, “I didn’t abandon him! Gordon separated us! Do you know how long I’ve been searching for you guys?!”

 

“There’s no way I’m buying that! Just look how long it took you to get here!”

 

“You wanna go pal?!”

 

“Bring it on!”

 

Yuno feels his brow twitch, his clenched fists trembling as he watches the other two bicker and fight. They continue to throw insults back and forth, clearly having forgotten the enemy ahead, who seems very confused with their antics.

 

“That’s enough!” Yuno says, striking the top of both of their heads with enough force to send them stumbling forward. “This is not the time to be arguing with each other! So hurry up and get your act together before I get mad!”

 

Asta and Leo both stare at him, cradling the sore spots on their heads as they blink. It’s clear they’re both thinking the same thing, and Yuno could laugh at how similar they are.

 

“Y-Yes sir!” They answer, flushing in embarrassment before turning to the supernatural once more.

 

“Listen up,” Yuno says in a low voice, “I’m going to try and sneak behind him, so you two distract that guy and the crazy scissors while I make my way to the Heart, got it?”

 

“Got it!” Leo says, Asta grins.

 

“I’m counting on you to cover me.” Yuno says and then he’s off, running away from the scissors and the ghost and rounding them so he can get the Heart from behind.

 

Meanwhile Asta and Leo are fighting their hearts out, blocking and striking down everything that comes their way. Leo is fighting Gordon, who seems to dodge with little to no effort. Yuno needs to get the Heart before he gets hurt.

 

Yuno reaches for the small scissors, his hand barely a hair’s breath away. His finger brushes the paper, but then the whole podium is gone, sinking into the water beneath his feat and disappearing from sight.

 

“What the-?!” Yuno stops, looking down at the now empty space.

 

“Jump in! You have to go after it!” Asta yells at him as he fights of another hoard of moving dolls. “I’ll be right behind you!”

 

Yuno looks at the dark patch of water just in front of him, nodding his head and leaping in. He sinks like a rock, the cold water biting into his skin the further down he goes. He opens his eyes to look around, noticing how the murky waters resemble the deep space more than the bottom of the sea. Small star-like dots shine all around him, indistinguishable in their shape yet bright all the same.

 

Another light catches his attention, and Yuno looks down to see the darkness is giving away the closer he gets. That must be where the Heart is.

 

Yuno breaks through the water with a gasp, taking a deep breath as he lands on the rough ground. He groans, his back and head aching from his landing.

 

He gets up a little slower than he’d like to admit, pushing away the soreness in his muscles as he stands. Yuno looks around, blinking his eyes in confusion at the odd surroundings that greet him.

 

Wherever Yuno landed, it was a lot brighter than the area above, it’s a large garden, still decorated in a gothic style, but illuminated by the light of the sun. The plants are varied and colorful, with stone structures painted white in various places. Yuno walks along the dirt path he landed on, almost losing himself in the beautiful scenery until he catches sight of something odd.

 

To his right, tucked under the shade of a large tree, sits a desk. It was accompanied by a chair, and there were many books and papers stacked onto it. Yuno approached, looking at all the documents for a clue towards his objective. He opens the drawers, eyes widening when he sees what could be the answer to his prayers.

 

“Gordon’s Diary” is written neatly on one of the books, it’s the largest one of them all, with old papers poking out and what looks like stickers put onto it. Yuno opens the book, landing on a page with texts that catch his eye.

 

“Dear Diary, today I made my first poison. My whole family was so proud of me that I couldn’t stop smiling.” It began, “I was so excited that I showed my friends at school, but when they saw the plant wither they cried and ran away.”

 

Yuno hums, figuring he’d be scared too if a kid came up to him with poison. He keeps reading, flipping the page to look at more entries

 

“Dear Diary, today my friends went to the beach, but they left without me. I was really excited to go, but it’s fine. I’ll just go with them some other time.”

 

The way it’s written is shaky, and some of the ink is running on the last few letters. Yuno feels like he may have been crying when he wrote this.

 

“Dear Diary, I finished my collection of all of my friends! Their dolls are so cute, they look just like them!”

 

Yuno shivers at the though of someone making a doll out of him, imagining himself as one of those creepy ones upstairs.

 

“Dear Diary, I wonder why people ignore me. I wonder if they just don’t hear me well, even though I’m being as loud as I can.”

 

The entries are all just as sad or a little disturbing from then on. Yuno continues to read, his original feelings of wariness turning to pity as he sees just what Gordon has gone through. He flips another page, eyes widening at what he reads.

 

“Dear Diary, I wonder sometimes if you’re my only real friend. I feel lonely sometimes, and my friends just keep going off without me. But it’ll be fine as long as I have my dolls of them right?”

 

Yuno scans the text a few more times, finally understanding what this supernatural has gone through. Gordon isn’t some psychopath that wants to kidnap people for his twisted pleasure. He’s just a lonely guy that wants to make friends and doesn’t know how.

 

“You shouldn’t read people’s diaries. That’s mean.”

 

The whisper near his shoulder makes Yuno jump, a loud gasp escaping his mouth as he turns towards Gordon, who stands uncomfortably close to him. Yuno steps back, trying to calm his frantic heart while he puts distance between them. He needs to be calm about this, maybe he can talk things out.

 

“Your name is Gordon right?” Yuno starts, slowly.

 

“Yes. My name is Gordon Agrippa.” Gordon answers, standing way too still.

 

“Well Gordon, my name is Yuno.” He tries, “I know I shouldn’t have read your diary, but I had to.”

 

Gordon just stares at him, unmoving, so Yuno keeps going.

 

“I know you want to make friends, and that’s ok. But you don’t have to do it this way.”

 

“But nothing else worked whenever I tried, this is the only way.” Comes Gordon’s sad reply.

 

“I promise you there’s another way, just let us help you.” Yuno offers. He’s not sure if his words will get through, but they’re all he has, so he needs to try.

 

“Us?”

 

Yuno nods, “Yes. Me, Asta and Leo, we want to help you.” That’s when he remembers something. “Asta cares about you Gordon, before we came here he said you were his friend.”

 

That makes Gordon’s eyes widen, “H-He thinks I’m his friend?”

 

“Yes, he does. He made Leo promise not to hurt you because he wants to help. So please, let us.” Yuno outstretches his hand, watching Gordon stare at it before he tentatively reaches back.

 

“Will you be my friend too?” His voice is shaky, scared.

 

“Yes, and Leo too.” Yuno smiles.

 

Gordon blinks, a few tears gathering in his eyes. He smiles back and reaches for Yuno’s hand, but then he stops.

 

Yuno blinks, looking at Gordon’s face and gasping as the supernatural’s face changes. He looks at Yuno, worried, before his face contorts into anger.

 

“Get away...”

 

It’s not a threat, it’s a warning, one that Yuno barely has any time to respond to as Gordon reaches into his uniform and pulls out another scissor, raising his arm to strike Yuno.

 

The raven steps back, wondering what had happened to make him change his mind. He thought he had this, Gordon seemed to happy, but now he was acting like a completely different person. He dodged sideways, the sharp end of the scissors grazing his uniform and tearing his sleeve.

 

Yuno backs off, putting distance between him and Gordon. It’s futile however, because then something hard slams into his stomach, sending him crashing against the bark of a nearby tree. Yuno groans and looks up, wondering what the hell hit him, only to see Gordon walking towards him.

 

“You lied to me didn’t you? You don’t want to be my friend... no one does...”

 

Yuno tries to get up, opening his mouth to retort, but the words get caught in his throat as another giant scissor appears before him, trapping him against the tree. It’s dangerously close to him, the blades on each side of his shoulders. If he so much as breathes too deeply the sharp metal would undoubtedly cut into his skin.

 

“I know all your tricks, they told me you were lying.”

 

They? “What? Who are you talking about?” Yuno asks.

 

“I won’t listen to you anymore. If you won’t become my friend then I’ll have to make you one.”

 

“Wait!”

 

Yuno closes his eyes, waiting for the scissors to cleanly cut him in half, but then he hears a gasp, and next thing he knows he’s no longer pressed up against the tree. He sighs as he realizes Asta had gotten him out of that situation, both of them now standing a good distance away from the supernatural.

 

“Sorry Gordon, but I cant let you keep making your dolls.”

 

“Asta...” Gordon says, “You can’t stop me, just look at yourself. You’re hurt.”

 

Yuno follows Gordon’s gaze, eyes widening when he sees all the cuts and bruises littering Asta’s body. The spirit chuckles, his feet giving out. Yuno is quick to catch him, holding on for a second before Asta is able to stand on his own once more.

 

“I’ll admit it’s tough fighting you in your turf Gordon, but you know I never give up!” Asta grins through the pain, “I’ll fight you until you come back to your senses!”

 

Asta rushes at Gordon, his sword clashing with Gordon’s scissors as they exchange blows. Yuno takes his chance to look around, trying to find the Heart again. It’s not the scissor Gordon has on him, it didn’t have the paper, so it should be somewhere around here.

 

As he looks frantically he eventually catches sight of a small lamp-like decoration. It’s thin and black, with a crystal box on the top that’s framed with the same material as the base. Inside, instead of holding a candle or lightbulb, it holds a single pair of scissors.

 

Yuno makes a run for it, realizing this might be his only chance to get it. Asta wont last much longer, so he can’t afford to hesitate.

 

He reaches for the glass, opening it and pulling out the scissors. The paper comes off only a second later, and he hears a pained cry from behind him.

 

“Mystery No. 2! The Gordon Stairs! You abandoned your responsibility!” Asta shouts, and Yuno turns just in time to see Asta plunge his sword into Gordon’s chest.

 

“You are to return your seat number!”

 

Yuno’s eyes widen, watching as Gordon gasps. He can’t see what happens afterwards however, the world beginning to fall apart all around him. The ground disappears beneath his feet, and the last thing he feels before he loses consciousness is the sensation of falling.

 


 

“Yuno!”

 

Who’s screaming? It’s so loud... he just wants to sleep...

 

“Hey Yuno! Wake up!”

 

Wait, Asta? What’s he doing in the orphanage?

 

Yuno opens his eyes slowly, groaning at the bright light that assaults his vision. He looks up, blinking a few times as Asta’s face comes into view.

 

“Asta? Where...?”

 

He starts to remember the moment he notices he’s still inside the school. Oh right, Gordon. They managed to get his Heart.

 

“So we made it back.” Yuno says, sitting up.

 

“Yeah! All safe and sound!” Asta grins, standing up.

 

“All? But where’s Leo?” Yuno searches for the exorcist, only to find he’s not with them.

 

“Leo? Oh he’s right here!”

 

Yuno turns back to Asta, the blood draining from his face as he sees the small plush doll in his hands. It looks exactly like Leo, with its bright orange hair and deep blue eyes, along with his uniform and the diamond tattoo on his forehead. It even comes with a small flame sword to match.

 

“L-Leo?!” Yuno reaches for the doll, and Asta dumps it into his hands. It’s so strangely cute.

 

“He fought so bravely, I sure will miss him.” Asta says as he lifts his hands in prayer.

 

“Wait wait, he’ll turn back right?” Yuno asks, holding the little doll to his chest. If Leo doomed to stay like this forever he’ll ember forgive himself for abandoning him!

 

“Well of course! Just like the others! He’ll make sure of it!” Asta says, pointing to something behind Yuno.

 

“Yes...”

 

Yuno nearly falls over as a voice speaks right beside his ear. He turns around, fully expecting Gordon to be standing over his shoulder, but instead of that he sees a small Gordon doll sitting on it.

 

There’s a second of silence, everyone letting the information sink in. Yuno looks between the Leo doll in his hands and Gordon, noticing the similarities between them.

 

“I ran out of power... so now I look like this...” Gordon speaks, and Yuno is only able to hear him because of how close he is to his ear.

 

“I-I see...” Yuno sighs, looking back at Asta. “When will Leo and the others return to normal?”

 

“They should be back by morning... don’t worry, it’ll be ok...” Gordon pats the side of Yuno’s head.

 

Yuno grabs the small doll, setting it on the floor by his feet and standing up. “Alright, thank you Gordon.”

 

The supernatural seems to light up at that, it’s small eyes widening and it’s lips curving up before the doll runs off, hiking up the stairs and standing atop the fourth step.

 

“I’ll be sure to make the best dolls for my new friends.” Gordon says before he disappears, leaving Yuno and Asta alone in the hallway.

 

Asta laughs at Yuno’s worried expression, and they both give each other a tired look before the raven turns towards the windows. It’s dark outside, the sky already pitch black. He curses, realizing Sister Lily and Father are probably worried for him.

 

“I’m going to get in so much trouble when I get back.” Yuno says, leaning against the wall and closing his eyes. “And I’m so tired too, I don’t think I can run all the way home.”

 

“Really? You’re tired?”

 

Yuno opens his eyes to look at Asta, who’s floating close by and looking at him with a tilted head. Yuno nods, wondering why Asta is so surprised.

 

“Alright then, hold still!” Asta tells him.

 

”Huh? What are you-?”

 

Soft lips stop his sentence midway, the feeling of Asta kissing his cheek causing all the thoughts in his head to halt their progress. His eyes widen, focusing on Asta’s uncharacteristically calm face as he kisses Yuno.

 

Then the spirit pulls away, smiling widely at Yuno with those bright green eyes that rival even the loveliest of fields.

 

“It’s your reward! A little spell to make you feel better!”

 

Yuno feels his cheeks darken, his mouth hanging open uselessly for a few seconds before all the events start to settle in. He stutters for a bit, one hand coming up to push Asta away while the other covers his face.

 

Afterwards yelling could be heard from outside, accompanied by mischievous laughter that rang throughout the star filled sky.

Chapter Text

‘Don’t worry Yuno, I’ll keep you safe!’

 

‘I’ll make all of your other wishes come true!’

 

‘It’s a little spell to make you feel better!’

 

Every one of those thoughts repeat themselves in his mind like a broken record, and Yuno is tired of it. The student sighs, eye twitching as Asta’s smiling face appears in his mind for what feels like the hundredth time that day.

 

Speaking of that idiot, it’s been nearly a months since they’ve met and Yuno just feels like things get worse and worse. First he gets cursed, then he’s bound to a demon, then his best friend is kidnapped by some weird ghost that turns people into dolls. Well at least he got to save her in the end, and Leo and Asta are nice enough.

 

“Yuno!”

 

Yuno nearly jumps out of his seat as he hears the teacher call his name, he looks up and meets Vangeance’s eyes, who thankfully seems more concerned than angry. Yuno can guess that he’s been calling his name for a while, if the way the rest of the classroom is staring at him is any indication.

 

“Y-Yes, forgive me professor.” Yuno straightens in his chair.

 

“Can you read the next passage? Paragraph 54.” Vangeance says, and Yuno looks down at his textbook to see he’s two pages behind. Just how spaced out was he?

 

Thankfully he finds the passage soon enough, reading in a loud and clear voice to the rest of the students. Vangeance keeps him reading for a good while, probably trying to help distract him, which Yuno is thankful for.

 

“Alright, next up Mimosa.”

 

“Yes sir!” Yuno hears Mimosa speak up behind him, her sweet voice reading with as much fluidity as you’d expect from such a high class family like the Vermillions.

 

Wait, Vermillion, he’s sure he knows someone else by that family name. Who is it?

 

“Hey Yuno...”

 

A small whisper catches his attention, and Yuno turns to look at Mimosa, who has finished reading and is now leaning forward to whisper to him.

 

“Are you ok?” She asks, voice full of concern.

 

Yuno nods, “I’m fine, just a little tired I guess.” He whispers back.

 

Mimosa’s eyes narrow, like she doesn’t buy it, but thankfully she leans back into her chair and drops the subject. Yuno knows she’ll bring it back up later, so he’ll have to come up with something to tell her in the meantime.

 

The rest of the class goes by without incident, and Yuno is glad he managed to pay attention through most of it. Asta already affects his life enough, he doesn’t need him distracting him from his studies too.

 

When Vangeance finally dismisses them Mimosa is quick to grab him before he can leave the classroom, pulling him back into his chair and standing in front of him with her arms crossed. Yuno sighs, knowing there’s no escaping Mimosa when she’s like this.

 

“Something’s bothering you Yuno, what is it?” She asks, and even though her posture is serious her tone is still gentle.

 

Yuno looks away from her, gazing out towards the window and watching as the people outside stood under the cool shade of the beautiful trees. One in particular stands out, a beautiful cherry blossom who’s petals are being blown away in the wind to form a movie like scene. It’s like a romance movie, and Yuno swallows when his heart stutters at the image of Asta that flashes through his mind.

 

“Yuno?” Mimosa speaks up, slowly.

 

”There’s actually... something that’s been on my mind recently.” He says, unsure. He debates telling her, but decides he can afford to say how he feels if he takes away all the supernatural elements.

 

Mimosa sits on the desk in front of him, “What is it?”

 

Yuno opens his mouth to speak, but his heart starts hammering in his chest at the thought of saying something to open and embarrassing. He bites his lip, huffing as he takes a deep breath.

 

“There’s this guy that I think... might like me...”

 

His words come out slow, as if saying them pained him physically. Yuno looks at Mimosa, watching her eyes widen for a second before she smiles.

 

“What?! Who is it?! What happened?!”

 

And so Yuno tells her everything, both of them having to pick up to head to their next class as they talked. Mimosa hung onto Yuno’s every word, about how Yuno said Asta “wanted to make his dreams come true” about how he defended him and especially about the kiss. Once he finished Mimosa’s eyes were practically sparkling, her hand clutching the hose that she was supposed to be using to clean the gardening materials.

 

“Yuno he totally likes you! There’s no doubt!” She grabbed his arm and shook him lightly.

 

The thought made Yuno’s cheeks warm, “You think so?” He turns his head away.

 

“I know so!” She grinned, “Now tell me, what’s he like?”

 

Yuno thought about how to answer, knowing he definitely couldn’t say that Asta was a ghost. Still there was a lot to say about him, the spirit sure had a lot of personality after all.

 

“Well he‘s loud for one, though ironically he doesn’t have much of a presence,” he starts, “he’s shorter than both of us, and even if he has this childish look he’s surprisingly good in a fight.”

 

Mimosa hummed, like she knows some big secret. Yuno raises a brow at her, wondering what it is she wants to say, when suddenly.

 

“He’s definitely your type!”

 

“What?”

 

“Yeah! He’s your total opposite! Just hear me out!” Mimosa holds her hands out in front of her in a placating manner, “You’re super tall and quiet, very mature, and always catch people’s attention. You’re not very confrontational, but you’re intimidating enough to warn others not to pick a fight! You’re total opposites!”

 

Yuno blinked, realizing she really does have a point. He coughs, crossing his arms and gazing at the nearby tree he’d been looking at earlier.

 

“Well whatever, it’s not like I...”

 

Yuno trails off, wondering what it is he really feels about Asta. There’s no denying the ghost is definitely special, and has changed his life in more ways than one, but can he really call those feelings love?

 

“You don’t have to come up with an answer right now, though at the pace you’re going he’s probably going to confess soon.”

 

Those words make Yuno stiffen, and he turns back to Mimosa with what he hopes is a calm expression.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yeah, it’s the big thing these days after all!”

 

“What? Confessing?”

 

Mimosa nods, pointing behind him, “Isn’t that why you were looking at the confession tree earlier?”

 

Yuno turns to look, seeing Mimosa gesturing to the cherry blossom tree he had been staring at before.

 

“No, I didn’t know it was called that.”

 

“Well they say that that tree was blessed by the god of romance, and that the couples that confess their love underneath it are bound forever.”

 

Yuno frowns, wondering when they had gotten a tree like that. He certainly doesn’t remember there being a cherry blossom before, which is why it caught his eye, and he doubts he would’ve missed knowing its title for so long.

 

“Just look, haven’t you noticed all the couples in our class?”

 

It’s true, wherever Yuno gazes there seems to be a couple or two either chatting or working, most of them holding hands. The image of Asta holding him like that and vice versa made his cheeks flare up, and he truly hoped it wasn’t noticeable.

 

“I’m sure that certain someone will work up the courage and confess to you under that tree soon enough!” Mimosa smiles so brightly at him, and Yuno finds himself holding back his own smile at the thought.

 

“No, I don’t think he will...” or would he?

 


 

“Hey Yuno. After school tomorrow, can you meet me in the tree in the practice garden?”

 

Yuno’s mind comes screeching to a halt the moment Asta speaks those words. His eyes widen, and he grips the broom in his hands tight to keep himself composed.

 

He had been casually cleaning the bathroom with Asta that afternoon with no interruption, and after the long day he’s had he had nearly forgotten about his romantic predicament, until now.

 

“You mean the confession tree?” He asks, feigning indifference.

 

Asta perks up, “Oh so you know about it? That’s good! I guess I don’t have to explain myself then huh?” He grins.

 

Then he walks closer and hovers so he’s leaning close to Yuno’s ear. “I’ll see you tomorrow then. Remember to come alone.”

 

And he disappears. Yuno stands stock still, staring out the window with wide eyes as Asta’s words ring in his ears. There’s no way right? But there’s no other explanation! This is-!

 

His hand comes up to rest over his beating heart, covering his mouth to force down the smile that threatens to creep into his face.

 


 

The next day goes by torturously slow, his mind drifting back towards Asta every few minutes. He didn’t concentrate in class at all, and any other day he would’ve been mad, but since his talk with Mimosa that morning he’s been nothing but excited for what the afternoon would bring. He wouldn’t admit it of course, it wasn’t in his character, but he’d still like to think things could go well.

 

He thought about Asta, about the boy who was kind, headstrong and actually kind of attractive. He couldn’t see many flaws in him, aside from being very loud and occasionally pushy, but those things can be worked around. There’s no denying he’s interested, but he’s not sure what dating a ghost would even be like.

 

Yuno shakes his head, sighing and pinching the bridge of his nose as he tries to calm himself. He should just let Asta confess, and then he’ll make his choice. It might be difficult, but not bad considering all the time they already spend together. Besides they’re eternally bound already right? What’s the difference?

 

A stray petal suddenly grazes past his cheek, and Yuno looks up to see he’s already along his way towards the Confession Tree. He swallows, realizing the time has already come, there’s no turning back.

 

Yuno walks closer, seeing Asta standing under the cool shade of the tree and gazing out at the clouds. Yuno’s steps falter, wondering how he’s never noticed how beautiful Asta is.

 

The afternoon sun is bathing him in a golden glow, his tan skin looking like delicate bronze. His green eyes are wide and bright, holding so much hope and energy in them. His hair blows in the gentle breeze with a rhythm that draws him in, and Yuno suddenly feels like saying yes wouldn’t be a bad option after all.

 

“Asta.” He says as he approaches, trying his best to keep a straight face as Asta turns to him and grins.

 

“You made it!” The spirit says, bouncing his way.

 

Yuno nods, but his calm facade cracks a little as Asta floats up to set his hands on his shoulders, leaning in dangerously close.

 

“Well I’ll just get right to it then!”

 

Yuno blinks, “Wait, this is-!”

 

“I love you Yuno! Go out with me!”

 

Even though Yuno had been expecting those words hearing them sent his heart beating a mile an hour. His cheeks burst with color, his mind still trying to catch up with the fact that this is happening.

 

Asta, the Tenth School Mystery, who held unimaginable power, who tied their destinies together to save Yuno from his curse and who still continues to protect him at every turn, is confessing to him. He opens his mouth, ready to accept, when suddenly:

 

“What’s taking so long Yuno? Hurry and reject me.” Asta whispers, looking nervous.

 

Wait what?

 

“Say “Im sorry” ok?” Asta prompts.

 

“What?”

 

“Come on hurry!” He looks worried.

 

“O-Oh, sorry?”

 

Before Yuno can wonder what’s happening he suddenly feels the ground shift, and he looks up to see the branches of the tree twisting and turning his way.

 

“Oh my, we can’t have that. If someone confesses their love to you it’s only logical to accept.”

 

The voice is coming from the tree, and Yuno is only half surprised when he sees a face has appeared on the bark of it, its elderly face scowling at him in disappointment.

 

“It is love that brings people happiness. And you would refuse it? Preposterous!” The tree scorns him, but Yuno is too shocked to even internalize what it’s saying. “Do not worry. I will assist you in your quest for true happiness.”

 

“A supernatural?” Yuno asks, but then one of the branches is shooting towards him at high speed, and Yuno can barely bring his arms up to defend himself before it reaches him.

 

“No you don’t!”

 

Yuno gasps as Asta’s sword cuts through the offending branch, his hand settled around Yuno’s waist as he holds the blade up defensively.

 

“Man I’m so glad I have a human assistant, I don’t think I would’ve gotten you to come out otherwise.” Asta says, smiling.

 

“A school mystery?!” The tree exclaims, “What have I done to warrant such chastisement?! I’m merely trying to make people happy!”

 

Asta huffs, “And that’s exactly what you call meddling! You can’t make people fall in love like that! It’s crazy!”

 

Yuno watches Asta, wondering how the other can go from acting so cool and composed to shouting like a five year old in a mere second. He sighs, blinking when Asta let’s go to rush at the tree.

 

The spirit slices through the bark cleanly, cutting the wood in half with more ease than Yuno expected. The tree cries out and withers, the towering figure shrinking until there’s nothing left but a sprout.

 

Both Yuno and Asta lean over it, watching the little tree shout at them indignantly in a squeaky voice that Yuno can barely understand.

 

“I hope that teaches you a lesson! Messing with people’s feelings ain’t right!” Asta points accusingly at the tree, pouting childishly.

 

“Asta...” Yuno starts, “What just happened?”

 

Asta turns to him, blinking like he has no idea what Yuno means. “It’s another supernatural, he’s not one of the ten mysteries but it looks like he was meddling enough to almost be recognized as one. Thanks to you we managed to stop him though, it wouldn’t do to have more than ten mysteries am I right?”

 

“Oh.” Is all he says, because of course that’s what it was. There’s no way something so romantic could actually happen to him.

 

“Why do you ask? That’s why you were helping me right?” Asta tilts his head.

 

Yuno nods. It comes out a little stiff but it’s a nod nonetheless.

 

“Well then can you stay tomorrow after school? I think I might need help tending to the Fairies again, and Gordon says he wants to hang out so-“

 

Yuno nods along to everything Asta says, cuz he really can’t be bothered. He’s not sure why it hurts so much that it was fake, he should have seen it coming right? Asta wouldn’t really like him that way, they’re only hanging out because he’s Asta’s assistant after all.

 

“Hey Yuno?”

 

Asta’s voice breaks him out of his thoughts, and the raven looks up to see the spirit floating up to him with a confused expression.

 

But then Asta grins, “Oh I get it! Are you upset cuz it wasn’t a real confession?” Asta laughs. “I didn’t take you for a romantic Yuno!”

 

The words sting. Realizing this is all a joke to Asta hurts more than everything else. Yuno bites his lip and pulls his hand back, striking it across the spirit’s face with all his might before stepping back.

 

“So much talk about not playing with people’s feelings and look at you... you’re such a hypocrite...” Yuno whispers, pretending his vision doesn’t blur as he turns away from Asta and leaves.

 

“W-Wha-?! Yuno I- I didn’t-“

 

“Leave me alone.” Yuno bites back, “I’m going home.”

 

“Wait!”

 

For some reason Yuno stops, and maybe it’s because of the urgency in Asta’s voice. That last call was a plea, and it sounds so unlike Asta’s usually cheerful voice.

 

“What?” Yuno asks, only turning back towards Asta when he’s blinked back his tears.

 

“I um...” Asta reaches for him, his eyes glancing downwards to his hand.

 

He reaches for it, intertwining their fingers and pressing the back of Yuno’s hands to his lips.

 

“I’m sorry... I didn’t mean to make you cry.”

 

Yuno’s eyes widen at the gesture, his pulse picking up speed again as he looks into Asta’s earnest expression. He looks so vulnerable, so heartbroken, Yuno almost feels like apologizing, anything to make him smile again.

 

He can’t help but notice how vulnerable he looks like this. His shoulders are hunched, making him look small, and his confident expression is replaced with one of genuine regret. Yuno swallows, realizing that, for the first time since they’ve met, Asta finally looks like a normal boy.

 

Yuno chides himself for forgetting that the other is just as emotional and vulnerable as he is, and he strives to correct that. He wants to know more about Asta, to understand him, because as much as he’s talked about them being close and being friends, he really doesn’t know much about him.

 

“Please don’t go until you’ve stopped crying ok?”

 

Asta’s next whisper comes as a surprise, and Yuno turns away.

 

“I’m not crying.”

 

“Still...”

 

Yuno had expected Asta to argue with him, to tease him and say that he was going to cry, but he doesn’t. Instead he holds Yuno’s hand in both of his and waits for the student’s answer.

 

“Ok...”

 

His words seem to help Asta relax. The spirit grabs his free hand and guides him to one of the benches nearby. They sit in silence for a while, with Yuno’s head leaning atop Asta’s as the spirit rests his own against Yuno’s shoulder. Their hands are still linked, and despite the complicated feelings welling up inside him he can’t bring himself to pull away.