“Heyy!” The intrusive black-white yelled out as she strode in through the door. “How ya doin' Patchy?”

Patchouli sighed, and solemnly shut the book she had been reading. “The rat creeps in again, I see. What a useless gate guard.”

Marisa laughed. “China didn't even see me this time, ze. I came around back.”

“What have you come to steal this time, rat?” Patchouli rasped. She had tried to sound more fierce, but it just came off as weak, yet annoyed.

“Nothin'.” Marisa grinned. “I only borrow, ze! B-O-R-R-O-W! But I have plenty of books for now.”

“So, why are you here?”

“Is there something wrong with a friend visiting a friend, ze?”

Patchouli sighed. “Since when have we ever been 'friends'?”

Marisa took the liberty of seating herself at the table Patchouli had been reading at. “Haven't we been friends for a while? You're in a bad mood today, ze.” Patchouli grumbled something intelligible and opened her book again. Marisa sighed, leaned back in her chair, and stretched her arms and legs out. “You should go outside more, ze. You can't learn everything from books.”

“That's nonsense.” Patchouli tossed back. “You can learn everything from books, so there's no need for me to go anywhere.”

Marisa smiled broadly. “If I can find something you can't learn about from a book, will you come outside with me?”

“Fine, whatever. It's impossible, so I'll agree if you'll keep quiet.” Patchouli spoke without looking up from the book she was reading.

“What's a flower smell like?” Marisa asked immediately. Patchouli sighed. It looked like the rat wasn't going to stop squeaking, after all. Where was a cat when you needed one?

“Fragrant and sweet.” Patchouli said monotonically.

“What's it like to play in a stream, ze?”

“Splashing each other, and fishing. Best done on hot summer days because the water is so cold.” Patchouli turned the page.

“Doesn't that sound fun?”

“Not really.”

A silence fell between the two. Marisa began rocking on the back legs of the chair, staring thoughtfully at the ceiling. More than once, Patchouli caught herself peeking curiously over her book at the witch so determined to think of a question that she could not answer. Eventually, Patchouli herself began trying to think of a question she could not answer. It was infuriating. Even when she wasn't talking, Marisa found some way to disturb her reading.

There simply wasn't anything that Patchouli couldn't learn about in a book. Magic, military tactics, history, information from the outside world, herbology, chemistry, if it had a name, she could recite information about it more accurately than an encyclopedia. Even if Marisa had been stealing her books, there wasn't any way she could know about anything that Patchouli hadn't already previously studied, especially with her short lifespan. She felt confident in this assumption, but the glowing, mischievous grin that had suddenly cropped onto Marisa's face seemed to cripple this confidence a bit.

Marisa stood, and turned towards Patchouli. “Can you tell me what love is like?”

Patchouli blinked. She recognized the word, of course, but the definitions in her dictionaries were rather vague. She had seen it as a subject of many novels—when she felt that she needed a break from study, she would read a novel to pass the time—but, it seemed to shift meanings in each book and between each character. Patchouli opened her mouth, and then closed it again. Was it something personal? Something definite? Patchouli furrowed her brow. Marisa laughed softly.

“So you don't know, ze? Looks like I won.”

“I...” Patchouli started, but she couldn't find any words to follow up with.

Marisa grabbed one of Patchouli's hands and pulled her up from her seat. “A deal's a deal, ze. You're coming outside, now.”

“Wai... wait...” Patchouli struggled against Marisa's grasp.

“Jeez.” Marisa let go of Patchouli's arm and turned to face her. “You wanna know what love is, ze?” She took a step closer. “You really wanna know?” She leaned forward, and her face was inches away from Patchouli's own. “If you come with me...” Centimeters away, now, and Patchouli could feel her pulse race and her breath become short, “...I'll show you.” Marisa finished in a whisper, before leaning back and looking at Patchouli from a normal distance.

Patchouli struggled to regain her breath, and had unconsciously placed a hand over her chest. Marisa extended a hand towards her. Patchouli attempted to convince herself that it was simply her thirst for knowledge that caused her to take the hand offered and enter daylight, but that excuse only worked for the first week.

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