Release Date TBA
It’s a nice relaxed morning for Aoba and Hifumi. Actually it’s nearly noon, and they’re having a slightly early lunch because they’re soon heading out to walk under the cherry blossoms.
It has been two months since they moved together now. One month since they moved into a slightly bigger place. They quickly realised Hifumi’s old apartment wasn’t suited for two people living there full time.
The new place is roomier, with more storage space, a larger kitchen counter, room for a second couch, and a very nice view of the river. Even a guest bedroom. Not that they ever have overnight guests, so it became a computer room. It’s quite nice, and not too hard to afford on two salaries. They’re probably managing better than Hifumi did on her own with the old one.
Right now Hifumi is just blissfully watching Aoba eat a sandwich, while she reads a book on her tablet. Hifumi has been thinking about certain things lately. Actually for a while. About the future. Maybe it’s time to test the waters.
Aoba looks up from the tablet, and sees Hifumi watching her with a goofy smile.
“Have I got something on my face?” she asks. Hifumi shakes head and giggles. Aoba’s noticed Hifumi just sometimes spaces out with this very content look on her face, and she’s not sure if Hifumi’s simply that happy they’re living together, or if there’s something more on her mind.
Aoba’s enjoying living together with Hifumi. Part of her was worried it would be really weird moving out from home, but it’s actually been very comfortable, and… nice. Seeing each other all the time has changed things. One might have imagined it could become too much, but rather it seems to have made things better. Aoba feels that way, and she thinks Hifumi does too.Without the rush of ‘we only have this limited time together’, things have become more cosy.
Getting used to giving Hifumi space at times due to her introvertedness was probably the biggest ‘hurdle’ at the start. Either leaving her alone completely (for example in the computer room) for a little while, or just sitting with her in silence. Maybe huddled up softly, with Hifumi having her headphones on.
“Hey, what’s up?” Aoba says with a smile.
“Hm? Oh, I was just thinking,” Hifumi replies. She looks very pleased about something. Aoba chuckles.
“Thinking about what?” she asks, and Hifumi’s cheeks get a little flushed.
“Oh, you know…” Hifumi replies. “About the future, and… stuff.” Aoba is a little confused.
“Okay?” she says, and takes the final bite of her sandwich. She regards Hifumi for a moment to see if she’s going to say anything more, and is just about to go back to her book when it happens.
“Hey Aoba, have you thought much about the future?” Hifumi asks. She watches Aoba with clear interest now.
“Er… the future? How so?” Aoba doesn’t feel entirely sure about where this is going.
“Well… you know… our future. Together,” Hifumi says, and now Aoba’s cheeks also start getting a little red.
“Um… sometimes, I suppose… why… why do you ask?” It’s not like Aoba is entirely oblivious, but she doesn’t want to jump to any conclusions.
“Well, I’ve been thinking about it… a lot,” Hifumi confesses. “I’m having a great time living with you, Aoba,” she says with an affectionate smile. Aoba’s creeping blush is very cute. “I’ve wanted to bring up this topic earlier, but I thought it was best to see how we got on living together first.” She has to stop herself from spacing out again. Her insides feel very fluffy and floaty.
“What… what are you saying?” Aoba asks, even though she’s now reasonably certain she knows.
“Maybe this seems a bit sudden, but…” Hifumi ponders how to phrase it best. “What do you think about spending the rest of our lives together?” Aoba’s eyes go wide.
“You… do you mean…” Aoba suddenly think it’s very hot in here.
“I mean… making it official,” Hifumi says, blushing warmly. “I suppose there’s no point beating around the bush. Aoba, would you consider marrying me?” The words are out there. Aoba feels like she’s lost all breath.
“I…” is all she manages to say.
“Ah, you don’t have to answer right away!” Hifumi quickly adds. “This isn’t a pro- actually, it is a proposal, isn’t it? What I mean is: I’m not going to force you to answer right now.” Hifumi takes a breath to calm herself down. She had managed to say that without falling apart, which is better than she expected.
“All I want is for you to think about it, okay?” Hifumi says, and smiles reassuringly at Aoba. “Don’t feel like you have to answer until you’re ready.” She gets up and walks around the table to give Aoba a quick, soft kiss, and a hug. “Just think about it.” Aoba softens and nuzzles against Hifumi’s hug.
“I… I’m… thank you,” she says, not being able to think about what else to say right now. She doesn’t want to think about how red she probably is. Hifumi starts clearing the table.
Marriage. It’s not that it’s never entered Aoba’s mind or anything, but it hasn’t been as prominent or serious for her as it’s been for Hifumi. She’s been much too occupied just living in the moment. Marriage, huh? She gets up to help clean up.
Aoba feels like leaving Hifumi is unthinkable anyway, so in a way it would just be making it official. Signing some papers, having a ceremony, but otherwise it wouldn’t really change anything. At least that’s what her head is saying. Her heart doesn’t seem to agree. It’s beating really fast just thinking about it.
Would they both wear dresses? Or one in tuxedo? Both in tuxedo? Hifumi would probably look great in a tuxedo actually. That’s probably something to talk about when they get there. She’s already thinking ‘when’. Well, it was bound to happen eventually…
Hifumi hopes she’s doing a good job of pretending to not be as nervous as she is. Considering they hadn’t really talked about it before, it’s not that she expected Aoba to immediately burst into tears and say ‘yes!’ like in the movies and stuff, but… part of her had hoped that would be the case.
How long will Aoba need to think it over? Hours? Days? Weeks? Hifumi knows she needs to be patient, but it’s killing her already. Maybe this was a mistake… no. It was definitely not a mistake. She shouldn’t get discouraged after just five minutes.
Aoba’s head has started raging by the time they finish cleaning up. She should just say ‘yes’, right? Why is this taking so much thinking? Why didn’t she just immediately say ‘yes’? Doesn’t she want to marry Hifumi? Why is this so hard? Doesn’t she think they’re going to last?
“Hifumi…” Aoba says quietly, tugging on her shirt. Hifumi feels like her heart stops, wondering if Aoba has an answer already. “Can you hold me?” That’s not what she expected Aoba to say. “I know we’re going out, but can we… can we just sit down a little bit? While you hold me?” She places a hand on Aoba’s head.
“Sure,” she says kindly, and they sit on the couch. Aoba immediately leans against Hifumi, and places her ear against her girlfriend’s chest. Listening to her heartbeat. Hifumi puts her arms around Aoba.
Aoba’s starting to feel calmer. This is one of the safest places she knows. Hifumi’s heart is actually beating a little fast. Is she excited, or nervous maybe? She seemed so casual and calm when she asked, but maybe that was just on the outside.
“Sorry…” Aoba says after a while. Hifumi kisses the top of her head.
“For what?” she asks.
“For not having an answer ready,” Aoba replies. “This should have been an easy one, right?” She sighs deeply.
“I’m sorry too,” Hifumi says, and Aoba glances up at her. “I didn’t exactly ease you into it… I didn’t know how to, so I ended up putting you on the spot. Even though that’s what I wanted to avoid.” Aoba giggles a bit.
“I guess we’re both hopeless,” she says, only half-joking. Hifumi laughs gently, and Aoba can feel her chest rumble.
“I honestly just wanted you to think about the possibility…” Hifumi says reassuringly. “Should have phrased it better probably. Freaking you out was the very last thing I wanted.”
“Freaking out is taking it a bit far…” Aoba says, even though she doesn’t sound entirely convinced. “I love you, so I just thought it should have been a no-brainer.”
“Aoba…” Hifumi smiles warmly down at her. “It’s a big step. Even if we’d lived together for over a year, it would have still been a big step.” She starts stroking Aoba’s hair gently. “Take all the time you need.”
“Thank you,” Aoba says, and looks up at Hifumi. It really is very warm and safe like this.
“You’re welcome. I love you too, you know.” They quickly sneak a little kiss before Aoba returns to her ‘listening post’. Is Hifumi’s heart beating even faster now?
After about 15 minutes of silence, Hifumi asks:
“Do you want to call off our flower-viewing walk?”
“Hm… no,” Aoba replies. “I think going outside would help me clear my head. But thank you.” She sits up and kisses Hifumi, which turns a little passionate before they remember they were about to go out.
They clean themselves up, and get dressed for going outside. Once out the door they take each other’s hands. Hifumi can tell Aoba is holding on a little tightly, but not uncomfortably so.
Walking under the trees, and making sure she never loses her grip on Hifumi’s hand, is letting Aoba slowly clear her head. Her thoughts ran away from her a bit there. Maybe even panicked a bit. She should try to think about what marrying Hifumi will actually mean, rather than spiralling into panic over her inability to answer, or getting caught in a whirlpool of chaotic thoughts.
It doesn’t matter whether she thinks it should have been easy to answer. She has to stick to reality. So it wasn’t easy or immediate. Is there any specific reason for that, or is it just as Hifumi says that it takes a little time to get used to the idea?
There’s a lot of pink on the trees, and swirling in the air. Hifumi keeps looking over at Aoba too though. Her little purple light. The woman she is certain she wants to spend the rest of her life with. She wonders what Aoba is thinking. At least the grip on her hand isn’t quite so intense now. Hopefully the fresh air and the flowers have made her feel better.
They walk along the river for a while, until they reach a small park. It’s a good place to turn around, so Hifumi does so. Aoba’s so preoccupied in her thoughts that Hifumi has to tug at her to get her to come along.
“It’s time to head back, Aoba,” Hifumi says.
“… yes,” Aoba says a little quietly for Hifumi to hear properly.
“Yes,” Aoba says louder, looking Hifumi directly in the eyes.
“Yes?” Hifumi’s confused. Aoba nods once.
“Yes, I’ll marry you,” she says. Hifumi thinks her heart has stopped for real now.
“Wha- but- huh? Already? Your answer,” Hifumi’s mind is a little scramled. Aoba smiles apologetically.
“I just… needed to think it through properly without…” she says, trying to pick the right words to continue with. “Without getting mired in certain thoughts.” She takes Hifumi’s other hand too. “I got so stuck in why I wasn’t able to answer, that I wasn’t able to actually think about an answer. But now I have.”
“You… have?” Hifumi asks, even though she already heard the answer. She had resigned herself to ‘it’s going to take a while’, and this has thrown her off.
“Yes,” Aoba sounds confident. “After clearing out all the noise, there were two things that remained clear to me. That I love you absolutely, and that I want to stay with you forever.” Aoba smiles and squeezes both of Hifumi’s hands. “Sorry I wasn’t able to figure that out immediately. Maybe I’m being a little hasty now, but I-” And Hifumi suddenly hugs her.
“Hifumi?” Aoba says, hugging her back.
“Sorry, I’m just… relieved…” Hifumi says so quietly only Aoba can hear.
“Relieved?” Aoba says. “Did you-” she starts to ask, but Hifumi shakes her head.
“No, I didn’t think you’d say no, I…” she breathes deep. “I thought you’d be having a tough time with this for a while, and I… I guess I was maybe a little scared… you’d never answer…” She sniffles, and Aoba pats her back.
“Ahaha, I guess we’re both sort of a mess, huh?” she says with a laugh. “But that probably means we’re a good match.”
They hug for a little while longer, then start heading home.
“Do you want to go look at rings next week?” Hifumi asks, feeling like she’s on cloud nine.
“Rings? Eeehhhhh… I don’t know…” Aoba says, making Hifumi look at her. Aoba meets her eyes with a familiar twinkle. “How about I get you an engagement collar instead?” Aoba says with a wicked grin.
“Aoba!” Hifumi says outraged, her face bright red. Aoba can be so mean! Do I really want to marry this woman? Hifumi asks herself while Aoba laughs evilly.