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Once and Always
Book: Once and Always, Chapter 3
Book 2
Written by SkyGuy
Chapter Guide
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Chapter 2: A New Life Begins
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Chapter 4: Familiars, and a Date

Chapter 3: A Bond of Friends

Sixteen years passed since Suzuka was born. Already, she was a confident young woman beginning her second year at the Tristain Magic Academy, and, despite being a noble, had a job.

"Suzuka." the sixteen years older Jessica called "The man at table six is calling for a drink."

"I'm on it." said Suzuka, taking a bottle of wine. Yes, 16-year-old Suzuka de vi Hiraga was working part-time at the Enchanted Fairy Inn, wearing the same uniform her mother used to wear. "You called sir?" Suzuka asked pouring the wine

"I did." said the man "I must say, they have quite the taste when hiring young girls."

"If only I could tell them I'm a noble." Suzuka thought to herself

"And those are really nice and soft." He said, referring to Suzuka's chest "Would you mind letting me see how soft they really are?"

"What? Wait. no. Please, don't touch me there." Suzuka thought to herself as the mans hand inched closer

"Suzuka!" Hermione, a girl resembling Siesta, called running into the room. Hermione was an 11-year-old girl and Siesta's daughter. Though her father has been long deceased, there is no doubt that she is the special child Siesta had long ago foreseen, but feared she might never have. "Hey Aunt Jessica. Suzuka, you better come quickly." said Hermione,

"Thank, you, Hermione." Suzuka thought to herself as she followed her outside quickly.

Outside, it was evening, and a scuffle was going on with a crowd gathered around it. Once Suzuka and Hermione got to close enough to see what was going on, she saw that the ones fighting were 16-year-old second year Guiche de Gramont Jr., son of Guiche de Gramont Sr. and Montmorency, and a few other boys from the academy. When Guiche caught a glimpse of Suzuka, she gave him a disapproving look before he was dragged back into the brawl.

"Drako!" said Hermione as a 16-year-old second year resembling a male version of Kirche jumped into the fray to help Guiche Jr. He was Drako Colbert, the son of Kirche and Jan Colbert. He truly resembled a Kirche in male form, with the exact same hair and skin color as Kirche, and his pure red hair covered his right eye.

Within two minutes of Drako's entry into the fight, a couple of soldiers came and broke up the fight, while telling them to act their age. Suzuka and Hermione then brought the boys back to the tavern.

"You're welcome." said Drako as they sat down at a table

"I had it sorted." said Guiche

"What was it this time?" Suzuka asked passing them all drinks

"He bumped me." said Guiche taking a sip of water

"So you hit him?" said Hermione reproachfully

"No. After he bumped me, they tried to make me apologize. That's when I hit him." Guiche explained

"Is it that hard just to walk away?" Suzuka asked

"I shouldn't have to. Don't you ever get tired of being treated like a kid?" Guiche asked

"We may not be kids, but we're not adults either." said Drako, Guiche sighed

"I, am a kid." said Hermione after a pause

"I'll be back in a minute." said Suzuka, and she got up to help a customer

"She's right you know." said Drako

"Why do you always have to side with her?" Guiche asked

"Why don't you? You're her boyfriend aren't you?" Guiche sighed again "You still haven't asked her out, have you?"

"I know we grew up together, but regardless, it's not as easy as you think."

"What are you two talking about?" Suzuka asked, returning to the table

"Nothing." Guiche and Drako said in sync

"They were talking about dating." said Hermione

"Hermy...!" said Drako

"Don't call me that!"

"By the way Drako." said Suzuka "There's a girl over there that's been eying you since you came in." she pointed to a girl no older than they were at a table near the door "You should go talk to her."

Drako looked at the girl "I'll admit she's cute. But I get weak kneed when I try to talk to cute girls."

"Oh! And you have absolutely no problems talking to me and Hermione." said Suzuka, Hermione looked offended

"I'm not my mother." Drako retorted

"Does your shift end soon?" Guiche asked trying to change the subject

"Fifteen minutes." said Suzuka "We'll leave together when I'm done." Suzuka walked away again

"You're welcome." said Guiche

"I had it sorted." said Drako

"Déjà vu." said Hermione

Later that night at the academy, Suzuka and Hermione were soaking in the women's baths with several other girls.

"I swear, Drako can be such a child sometimes." said Suzuka frustratedly, while soaking in the water with Hermione, both with towels around themselves (note: Hermione's not a student, or a noble for that matter, but she's allowed in the baths with the rest of the girls).

"But he's not the one you have eyes for, is he?" said Hermione

"No." said Suzuka "But Guiche won't make a move. Maybe he just-"

"Thinks you have no appeal?" said a voice behind Suzuka and Hermione. It was Erlea, a blond, snobby, second year girl, and a rival of Suzuka's

"Erlea! What are you doing here? And why are you soaking next to me?" Suzuka asked

"There's no rule saying you can't soak in a certain place." said Erlea "And as I was saying, mister Gramont probably thinks you have no appeal compared to me. I'm mean, look at you, it's known that you were an early bloomer, but there are girls with bigger ones you know. It's only a matter of time before he falls for someone other than you."

"That will never happen." said Hermione as Suzuka took a look at herself

"Can it washboard." said Erlea, and Hermione made an angry face

"Lets go Hermione." said Suzuka getting out of the water "I've had enough of this snob." Hermione followed her "And for the record, Erlea, a girls chest size is not that matters."

Suzuka and Hermione grabbed their robes, put them on, and made their way back to their bedroom, Suzuka and Hermione shared a room, and, due to prearrangement, Hermione was Suzuka's personal maid, technically still a maid-in-training. They were two of the best of friends.

Once they got to the room;

"That darn Erlea. Saying whatever she wants." said Suzuka once they entered the room. Suzuka clapped once and the oil lamp turned on

"Don't let her get to you." said Hermione as she opened a drawer and pulled out a nightgown "Here's your gown."

"Hermione, I told you, you don't have to do that."

"I'm your personal maid."

"But-"

"I want to."

Suzuka pulled off her robe and towel, and allowed Hermione to pull the nightgown on her.

"Alright, where's yours?" Suzuka asked pulling open another drawer

"I can do it." said Hermione, and Suzuka gave her a stern look. Hermione pulled off her own robe and towel and let Suzuka pull Hermione's nightgown on her.

"Ah, how this happens, even between the best of friends." said Suzuka "Now into bed young one. It's been a long day."

Hermione hesitated before getting into bed

"What's wrong?" Suzuka asked

"I'm just..." Hermione started

"You're still nervous due to that bad dream you had a few days ago." Suzuka said with an understanding voice

"Uh-huh."

"Come here then." Suzuka invited Hermione to sleep with her again that night, and Hermione took it. Suzuka then blew out the lamp with her wand.

"Sorry about this." said Hermione once she was under the covers "I just feel safer with you next to me."

"Don't apologize." said Suzuka, she then pulled Hermione close to her "I'll always protect you at night."

"Thank you.... Big Sister." said Hermione

"Good night Hermione."

Meanwhile, in Guiche's room, he and Drako were having a conversation.

"Girls are so weird." said Drako "I'll never understand them."

"Maybe if you tried, you might." said Guiche, who was reading a book

"Look who's talking. You can't even pluck up the courage to ask Suzuka out."

"She's an ongoing process." Guiche said closing his book "And what did you mean earlier, when you said 'you're not your mother'?"

"You're better off not knowing." said Drako, he knew that his mother, Kirche, used to make out with all the best boys in the school before she ended up with his father. "Anyway, I'm serious bro, Suzuka's pretty popular. If you don't ask her, and soon, she's gonna give up on you and end up with another guy. I can tell she's getting tired of waiting."

"How should I even start?" Guiche asked

"There's a ball coming up, remember? You can start by asking her to that."

"That wouldn't be bad."

"Then I'm going to bed. We have class tomorrow and I need my sleep." Drako made for the door

"Drako." said Guiche

"What?" Drako snapped

"Thanks for the advice."

Drako smiled at this thanks and left the room.

With words of advice in Guiche's mind, comfort in Hermione's, tomorrow was greatly anticipated by the four, the day the second years would summon their familiars.

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