“The professor forced me on weed duty earlier,” Hilda complained over lunch, as usual, “I don't know what they were thinking, pairing me up with Linhardt like that— he fell asleep halfway through and I had to do all the work! Ugh! Why did I have to suffer through that? I saw Marianne talking to some birds, though,” she sighed. “She was so cute and—” She cut herself off when she realized her companion wasn’t paying attention. She squinted at him. “Hey Claude, are you even listening?”
He snapped out of his daze, quickly looking back at Hilda. “... Sure I was,” he said after a while, grinning at her, and she was annoyed that he didn't even try to hide it.
“Okay, what's on your mind? Don't tell me you're planning to poison Hubert again,” she chided him, “because it didn't work last time and it won't work now.”
“No waay,” Claude averted his eyes, laughing awkwardly, “I learned my lesson from before— anyways!” he said a little too loudly, wincing when a few students looked over. “So, you and Marianne, huh?”
“What about me and Marianne?” she asked, genuinely confused.
“I’ve noticed you've been sending a lot of time with her lately,” he stated, and Hilda genuinely had no idea what he was talking about, because she was pretty sure it was normal to spend time with friends?
Hilda was puzzled for a moment more, before realizing what he was implying. “Oh,” she said, very smartly.
“Oh,” he repeated back to her.
Hilda groaned, “Oh my god, Claude, it's not like that.” She put her head in her hands in frustration. “I just help her with her chores sometimes, and we go out for tea—”
“Wait, wait,” Claude interrupted, “you’re helping her with chores?!”
“Yes!” she cried out, causing another few heads to turn towards them. “Because she gives me cake afterwards!” Honestly, she didn't even know why she was being so defensive over this, but she couldn’t stop.
“I’m sure that's why,” Claude said and he looked so smug that she wanted to smother him.
Hilda groaned. “Fine, she’s cute and I like spending time with her, but that's it!”
“Yeah, you definitely don't immediately look for her every time you come in the dining hall.”
“Okay, one: what the fuck, Claude, that's creepy,” Hilda narrowed her eyes, “and two: I'm just looking out for her!” She threw her hands up in exasperation, “I don't want her eating all alone!”
“You didn't deny it.”
“Whatever. I'm not gonna stay here any longer if you're just gonna bully me,” she said, getting up. She could hear Claude laughing at her as she left the room.
Hilda liked Marianne. Marianne was nice and gentle and even though she was practically incapable of cleaning and doing chores, she found that she didn't mind helping her out at all — especially because after finishing their tasks, Marianne treated her to pastries!
So here Hilda was, having tea with Marianne after doing library duties together. Today they were enjoying Marianne's favorite lavender tea while sharing a slice of chocolate cake.
“This is really good, Marianne,” Hilda said between bites, “Where’d you get this?”
Marianne took a second to process the question, before she answered in her soft voice, “Ah, Lysithea told me about this bakery across the street, and I got it from there.” She took her fork and cut off a piece, chewing it tentatively before her eyes lit up and her lips curled into a small smile. “Oh! It is good!” She whisper–shouted, then she took another bite.
“Right?” Hilda agreed, and they chatted a bit more until they finished the slice, leaving behind only crumbs.
Hilda took a sip of her tea, which had remained untouched prior, and it was no longer warm— she'd been so preoccupied with talking with Marianne that she didn't notice.
“Ah...! I almost forgot!” Marianne suddenly cried out, “The professor told me to take care of the stables today — I'm supposed to be there in—” she looked at the time, “five minutes!” She looked down, fidgeting with a lock of her soft, blue hair. “I’m really sorry for cutting this short.”
“No need to apologize! You really should get going now,” Hilda ushered her, and Marianne bowed and quietly apologized again, before rushing to the stables.
She took care of the dishes and utensils after that, and usually she’d get someone else to do it for her, but she didn’t mind because this tea party was with Marianne, and somehow everything was different when she was involved, and even after she’d finished cleaning up and she was lying in bed, she couldn't stop thinking about the smile Marianne had when she tasted the cake. She'd like to see it again.
Wait, she realized. Claude was onto something.
“I think I have a crush on Marianne,” Hilda announced the next day while she and Claude were hanging out in his room.
“Gee, I wonder how you figured that out,” he called out, not even looking up from his book about herbs and stuff. She sincerely hoped he wasn't actually gonna try it on Hubert but he's not your responsibility, Hilda reminded herself, so it's not your fault if he just suddenly disappears one day.
“Shut up,” She groaned, rolling over to glare at his back, which probably messed up her hair, but whatever. No one was gonna judge her here.
Claude turned back to face her, resting his arms on the back of his chair. She could clearly see that he was smirking. Bastard. “So,” he drawled out, “when’s the wedding?”
Hilda just stared at him. Wedding? She hasn't even confessed and he's already talking about a wedding? “What are you even talking about,” she said, like it was a statement instead of a question.
“I mean, she’s always staring at you when your back is turned,” he said, but Hilda still wasn't entirely convinced. “Also, I may or may not have overheard a certain conversation between her and Dorte about how much she liked you.”
“Hey, it's bad to eavesdrop,” Hilda replied jokingly, but she felt ridiculous saying it. What else could she say to that?
“My bad, my bad,” he chuckled. “But seriously, when are you confessing?”
“Who says I'm telling her anytime soon?” She deflected, then, after a small pause, “Or at all?”
“You, not confessing? I'd be more surprised, honestly.”
“Fine, you're right,” she conceded, “I’m planning on telling her over tea tomorrow.”
Claude let out an ohhh sound, seemingly impressed with her forwardness. “I don't think you need it, but good luck!”
Hilda huffed out a laugh before answering, “Thanks.”
Marianne was currently talking about birds— about different kinds of birds, about birds she'd seen around the monastery, about birds she'd only ever read about. Hilda was reminded of when she sometimes peeked in Marianne's room (not in a creepy way or anything — she was just curious!) and saw the ceramic birds sitting on her shelf. She realized she'd never actually been officially invited into her room. Hopefully that would change soon, and she thought, hopefully, maybe it would even be right after their tea session.
“I saw a pink bird yesterday.” Hilda snapped back into attention when Marianne started speaking again. “It reminded me of you,” she blushed and Hilda's brain kinda sorta short-circuited. Marianne was just. So adorable. Maybe this was her shy way of flirting with her? One could hope.
“Aww, you're so cute, Marianne,” she gushed, and Marianne's blush darkened, which, again, was super cute, but Hilda immediately felt bad for teasing the poor thing.
A moment of silence passed between them. She once found it stifling and awkward, but now it was comfortable. She didn't feel the need to fill it with needless chatter, and Marianne was a lot less afraid to speak her mind. It was a huge improvement from when they first met — Marianne back then only responded with short phrases and she always excused herself out of the conversation every chance she got. Thinking of how far she'd come in their relationship made her heart swell. And now that she remembered why she called her out here, “I have something to tell you.”
Marianne made a soft humming noise to signal that she'd heard.
Hilda gulped, suddenly nervous. If she liked her back, then that'd be great! But what if she didn't? Would they be back to square one where Marianne was awkward around her again? Claude said that she felt the same way, but she still doesn't actually know. She wanted to hear it for herself, but she shouldn't be thinking about it too hard because Marianne was looking at her, patiently waiting for her to say something. “I like you, Marianne,” she half–blurted out in her haste to say it.
Marianne looked down, her face sporting a pretty blush, but she bore a pained expression. Why? “I like you too, you're a great friend,” she mumbled.
So, clearly there had been a misunderstanding here. “No, Marianne,” she scrambled to say, “I like you, like, in a romantic way. I want to date you.”
A look of understanding passed through her face, her eyes widening and her mouth forming a small “o” shape. Her blush came back full force, reddening even the tips of her ears. Hilda thought that was a positive reaction, but—
“Y–you shouldn't,” Marianne took a shuddering breath, “I don't think you should, with me—”
“Marianne,” Hilda interrupted sternly, silencing the other. “I told you, I don't care if you're cursed or whatever. I want to spend time with you and I want to be with you, okay?”
“I–I still think it's a bad idea, but,” she added before Hilda could cut in, “It’s selfish, but I... like being with you, too.”
“So that's a yes?” Hilda beamed, reaching over to place her hand over Marianne's. It was soft, unlike hers, roughened from (as much as she'd hate to admit it) wielding her axe on the battlefield.
Marianne grasped her hand and shyly nodded, and she really was so cute. Hilda couldn't resist anymore. “Marianne,” she spoke up, “Can I kiss you?”
But instead of answering, Marianne leaned over the table and pressed their lips together in a chaste kiss. She quickly pulled away, embarrassed and still new to this kind of thing, and Hilda was completely okay with that. Hilda was gonna kiss her girlfriend (girlfriend!) a whole lot until they're both used to it, and she won't ever get tired of it.
They both sat back down, faces red, and their date — yes, it was officially a date now — continued with their fingers intertwined.
The next day, Hilda and Marianne entered the dining hall holding hands. Claude sat there looking all smug at Hilda and she stuck out her tongue at him, but also, she realized, thankfully he didn't actually poison Hubert. Dimitri, sitting beside him, wasn't so lucky, though.