“Arthur, are you sure it’s still necessary for us to meet in the park on weekends?” you asked one cloudy, humid, Saturday morning in the middle of March, nearly a month after you had received the necklace from him. The two of you were sitting on top of the hill next to the large tree like you usually did, only this time, you were resting a good enough distance away from it and were instead lying on your backs on the grass, your shoulder just barely touching Arthur’s. Throughout the month that followed after Valentine’s Day, you continued meeting him in the mornings, which was now the only time during the weekday when you were able to talk to him without anyone else to disrupt. Your grades kept on rising, it became much easier for you to concentrate in school, and pretty soon, you had caught up with the rest of the class in math and even exceeded some, pleasing your teacher, and even more, pleasing yourself and Arthur. You learned more math in a few months than a regular student probably would've in a few years, and it was all thanks to him. Though you still weren’t quite sure how you were able to thank him after everything he had done for you.
You were no longer procrastinating, though Arthur sometimes called you from time to time just to make sure you were on task whenever you arrived home, and you no longer got as angry or annoyed by the rudeness of others, like Casey, as easily as you did before. It seemed that your life slowly seemed to be getting easier and easier, and you felt happier more often than not, unlike before, when happiness was almost like a mystery to you.
At the sound of your voice, Arthur shifted his head so that he was able to look at you and gave you a tiny smile. “I don’t see why not. Why do you ask?”
You drifted your gaze over to the side so that it was able to meet his and shifted in place so that you were fully facing him. “Well, it’s just that...” You let out a sigh as a frown came to your face. “We...We used to go here just so I can get caught up in math, right?” When Arthur nodded, you continued. “Well, I'm already pretty much caught up with everything, so I don’t really see a specific reason to come here anymore...”
He was silent for a few moments before a slight look of disappointment came to his face. “Oh...Well...I thought that we could still come here just to...talk about things other than math...”
You let out a sigh. “But every time I tried to do that with you before, you always changed the subject back to what it was when we first got here! Whenever we got into a talk about something other than math, you always pointed it out and forced us to go back to talking about what we were supposed to be talking about.” You stared at him with a slight look of longing. “I thought the only reason you came here with me was just for math.”
“Oh...” Arthur shifted in place so that he was fully facing you as well, his face just only a few inches away from yours, though you seemed to pay no attention to it. “That’s not true. At first I wanted to talk about math with you because I wanted you to learn it more quickly, so you wouldn’t have had to spend a longer time getting caught up in it than you would have if we had always stayed on task. I didn’t want to make it harder for you...”
You shook your head and gave him a tiny smile. “Actually, I think it would've been harder for me if we spent hours talking about it. It would've been way boring for me, and taking a break for a while to talk about regular stuff with you made it easier for me to learn.”
“I...I never knew,” Arthur said softly. “I-I thought that once we got the math over with, we still would've been able to come here and spend time with each other...together...like real friends do.”
“Oh...” you murmured. “Well, if that’s what you want, then of course we can keep meeting in the park on weekends. Besides, I like the idea of just spending time here outside with you relaxing for a few hours more than anything else.”
“R-Really?” Arthur asked as his eyes slightly widened in surprise, a tiny blush coming to his face.
You nodded, the smile on your face returning once again as you got into an upright position and looked down at him happily. “Of course! I always feel happy whenever I'm with you with nobody else around to bother us. You're the best friend I’ve ever had in my life and the only one who really, truly understands me and my most personal issues, which is something I'm really thankful for.”
“Oh,” Arthur said in a hushed tone before he got into an upright position as well, shifting so that he was able to meet your gaze with a smile. “I...I’m really glad you feel that way, _____,” he said to you warmly. “Thank you...”
You let out a giggle as you moved slightly closer to him. “You have nothing to thank me for, Arthur. You’re the one who’d done so much for me for these past four and half months, a lot more than I had ever expected out of you. You should be the one to be thanked, not me.” You extended your arms out toward Arthur and pulled him into a hug, paying no attention to the thunderstruck, flustered expression that appeared on his face as a result of the action.
There was that feeling again. That warm, fuzzy feeling you felt that made your heart seem like it was slowly starting to melt and made a soft, prickly sensation sweep through your body in ways that you were unable to describe. You didn’t know what it was called, but you didn’t know why you were starting to feel it all of a sudden. It wasn't like there were major changes going on with your emotions at that moment as you sat there hugging Arthur, right?
For a few seconds there, Arthur had gone completely stiff, his mouth slightly open and his face a significant shade of red after you had leaned forward and pulled him into a hug. He didn’t know why he should've been feeling so surprised. After all, you had been hugging him at least a few other times before, and even though those occurrences had been pretty rare, that didn’t mean he should have been so surprised by this sudden display.
But...still. It felt strange and awkward to actually be hugged like this. The only people who had ever hugged him in his life were only his family members, and since he never had that many friends who were even remotely close to him throughout his life, being hugged by a very close friend like you made a whole surge of new feelings spread through his whole body.
Finally, after a few seconds, somehow Arthur regained the ability to move and hesitantly returned the hug, wrapping his arms around you and patting your back a bit awkwardly. “I-It’s nothing, really...” he stammered, still finding it a bit hard for him to speak.
“Nothing?” you asked in surprise as you pulled away from him and looked up at him with a surprised smile on your face. “How can you say that it’s nothing when all that you’ve done for me practically changed my whole life? Because of you, I'm passing all my classes, I'm not procrastinating anymore, I know how to act more respectfully around people, and I don’t even stay up past 11 p.m. anymore! I wasn't able to do any of these things no matter how hard I tried before I met you, and you act like it isn’t anything at all!”
“W-Well...I just wanted to make things easier for you,” Arthur murmured sincerely as he continued to meet your gaze. “I didn’t care much about whether or not you were going to be thanking me in any sort of way. I only wanted to help you.”
You stared up at him in silence for a few moments before a smile once again made its way to your face. “Arthur, you’re...you’re such a great friend,” you said softly. “I don’t know how my life would've been different and depressing if I hadn’t met you. I bet I still would've continued procrastinating and failing all my classes even today, but because of you, my life became easier and most of my problems were solved. You're the best, most caring friend I could ever ask for.”
Arthur looked down at you in surprise, suddenly at a loss for what he was supposed to say to you back. Your words struck him unexpectedly, and as soon as he felt those same new feelings course through him once again, his mind was only able to come up with a single thought.
Maybe more than a friend?
As soon as Arthur had that thought, it took all of his strength not to immediately slap himself in front of you. Why should he have been feeling this way towards you? So what if he had helped you with your most personal problems and spent a lot of time with you for these past four and a half months? That didn’t mean he could have allowed himself to think of you this way at all! Even if he did, it would've been most likely that you didn’t return these feelings and wouldn’t have ever even had the slightest thought of returning them, since based on what you kept on telling him, you only thought of him as a close friend. He didn’t even know you for that long—four and a half months weren’t exactly a long enough time to go from barely knowing each other to starting this kind of relationship.
But in four and a half months the both of you had gone from barely knowing each other to knowing each other as if you had been friends for years, not just months. At first, Arthur thought of you as basically a student—someone who he had to help in learning and doing better in school. But as time passed, he had gone from thinking of you as a student, to an acquaintance, to a friend, to a best friend, to a very close friend, and now this. Now, he looked at you in a completely different view than he had four and a half months ago. He thought of you before as someone with a life full of problems and who always seemed to get angry at him all the time to someone who actually understood him and knew him in a way that nobody else did, and someone who he felt he could've confided in.
Arthur turned his thoughts to the conversation the both of you had at the lunch tables on Valentine’s Day last month. You had proved to him that you hated kissing and instead of it being as a form of affection, you thought of it as something that was utterly disgusting and rude. Knowing you thought of showing affection as that kind of way made a huge wave of disappointment surge through him. That only proved you didn’t want to get into a relationship and be involved with all this “affection” that you seemed to despise.
But as Arthur continued to look into your smiling eyes, he began to think a bit differently. Maybe you didn’t like affection when it was shown between others, but maybe you would've loved it if you had experienced it yourself. Maybe you wouldn’t have minded kissing if you were kissed by someone who you felt was very close to you.
But it wasn't like he was ready for that right now, anyway! He still wasn't sure whether or not you had these feelings towards him as well, and if you didn’t, it was best to keep quiet. But still, he didn’t know whether you did or not, and this thought made his body prickle with confusion and slight frustration.
A long moment of silence stretched between the both of you, and as soon as Arthur snapped out of his thoughts, he shifted his gaze so that it was able to meet yours once again and a tiny smile came to his face. “Well, you also helped me with many of my problems, too,” he said quietly as he lifted his hand and gently ran it through your hair. “You made me feel like I'm no longer lonely, and because of you I can know that someone likes me for who I really am. You made me realize what it’s like to have a friend who really understands me and who I can go to if I have any personal issues. You seem to be the only person I can ever be able to get along with without being judged.”
“Oh...” you murmured softly, unsure of how you were supposed to respond. “Arthur...I-I—”
“_____, I need to tell you something,” Arthur interrupted, removing his hand from your hair and putting both of his hands on your shoulders. There. He was going to confess to you, just admit his feelings for you so he no longer would've had to feel shame and guilt in keeping secrets from you.
“Yeah?” you asked, looking up at him with a tiny smile on your face.
Arthur studied you carefully, his heart pounding in his chest anxiously. Just say it! It was only three simple words, how hard could it even be? Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes before he opened them again and looked at you sincerely. “_____, I—”
Suddenly, the park filled with a loud clap of thunder, instantly drowning out the rest of what Arthur was saying. The rumbling noise lasted for a few seconds, during which he was looking at you a bit nervously, and after the sound died down, you looked at him with a tiny smile on your face.
“Uh, sorry, I didn’t hear you,” you said. “What was that again?”
Arthur was silent for a few moments, staring at you in befuddlement. You hadn’t heard. You hadn’t heard what he had said to you. “Oh...I-I...uh...” He pulled his gaze away from you and lifted it so that he was able to look up at the sky, which had considerably darkened since when the both of you had arrived at the park a while back. “Hmm...It looks like it’s going to rain,” he observed as he removed his hands from your shoulders and stood up, still keeping his gaze fixed to the sky with a frown on his face.
You looked up at him in confusion. “Really?”
Arthur lowered his gaze so that it was able to meet yours and nodded. “We should probably get out of here before it starts to pour.” But it wasn't a few seconds later before the first raindrops fell, quickly turning into a shower and then a full downpour.
You let out a squeak as you felt the rain instantly drench you, making you shiver with cold, and heard another loud clap of thunder.
“Come on, _____!” Arthur said to you as he extended his hand out towards you. Without having any further thoughts, you grasped it and allowed him to lift you up into a standing position with you next to him. “How far do you have to travel to get home?” he asked you, his hair glistening in the rain.
You stared down at your feet. “Well, it takes me a few blocks to get to the bus stop, and then a few more blocks after I get off to walk home.”
Arthur let out a sigh, shaking his head and reaching out to tightly grasp your hand. “That’s too far. You’ll get a cold by the time you get home. My house isn’t very far from here, so we can go there instead.”
You opened your mouth and were about to object, but were interrupted when you felt him tug at your hand and already start to lead you down the hill at a rather fast pace, making you almost trip coming down more than once.
Once the both of you arrived back on the pavement, Arthur paused, turning around to face you. A few moments passed between the both of you, the only sound being the heavy pounding of the rain, before a tiny smile came to his face. “Do you want to run?”
You were silent for a few moments, debating on what you were supposed to say. Well, you were already soaked, so it didn’t really matter if you ran or walked. But running seemed more...fun, and the thought of doing it with Arthur made you smile. “Sure!”
The both of you broke out into a run, your hands still tightly grasping each other’s as you headed out of the park and you allowing Arthur to lead you over to his house. For some reason, running outside in such heavy rain with him made you feel free in a way that you have never felt before. For a few minutes, as you continued running with him, giggling almost the whole entire way, you completely forgot about what he had wanted to say to you and instead focused on the wonderful feeling you had of feeling so energized and happy.