Well, I bought a copy of Persona 3 from work back in 2009, and I kept starting it, getting a few days in, and then putting it down for months only to have to restart it when I picked it up again since it had been, well, months. I was vaguely familiar with the concept of a "waifu" since I had been lurking the *chans on and off for a few years, but I never actually gave it any thought. This cycle of restarting P3 continued through 2010 and well into 2011, until finally, that summer, I decided to buckle down and work on my ever-increasing backlog starting with P3, and I would actually put some effort into it (was she already driving me without me realizing it, I wonder?).
So I began Persona 3 in earnest, and from the outset, I knew there was something special about Mitsuru. Her voice (yes, I played the dub first, and I find both her EN and JP voices beautiful) was entrancing, but I didn't really think too much about it, plus she was very much the opposite of myself at the time - hard working, determined, and graceful. Also, being the unoriginal person I am, I had made up my mind to go with (semi-) canon Yukari for that run since it seemed quite clear she was the main love interest, and therefore would add better exposition. As June gave way to July in-game, I started to question this, and the Yakushima trip was the beginning of my interest in Mitsuru.
While seifuku have always been fine and dandy to me, seeing her in her swimwear, a shawl wrapped around her waist and a flower attached to her top, sparked something (no, not sexual). Here was this young woman who managed to always exude an air of grace and poise, and yet she seemed so...alone, yet she fought for her father (who I still find quite intimidating). After Gekkoukan reopened for the fall, I tried to establish the Social Link, only to find that she was always busy, and that disappointed me a little. It was only later I found out that you had to max your Academics and wait until November, and that's when I decided: forget Yukari, for Persona 3, Mitsuru would be my girl. Taking her to the Film Festival to see the romance films only deepened this resolve, and served as foreshadowing for what was to come, in more ways than one. At this point, it still hadn't reached "waifu" status yet, but I still eagerly began grinding Academics in the meantime.
It wasn't until that fateful day (in-game) that everything changed: November 3, 2009. Seeing Ikutsuki go turncoat was bad enough as I had already had enough of his awful puns, but seeing her tied to that cross while she helplessly watched him threaten her father was worse, and it only escalated from there, culminating in the sound of gunfire, and I had to put the controller down for a second (one of only two games to make me do so, the other being Bioshock). While Ikutsuki chuckled as he fell into the blackness of the Dark Hour, Takeharu Kirijo lay bleeding, and I heard a cry that still breaks my heart to this day. "FATHER!!" In that moment, I wanted to hold her. No words. Just hold her and let her cry. I wanted to take her suffering away more than anything.
The next few weeks, she was absent from the game, and I felt saddened by it, not to mention it threw off my training in Tartarus since she had always been part of my party. I began to wonder why I was so saddened by her absence, and the first bits of realization began to take form. She came back, and I was happier...until I noticed something was off. She seemed much more melancholy, and that only served to fuel my own melancholy in turn. Thankfully the Kyoto trip improved her mood, although I still want to slap Yukari's shit for what she did.
Finally, as the trip ended and normalcy (about as normal as it can get when you spend your nights fighting suppressed human emotions by shooting yourself in the head) returned, the moment I had been waiting for finally came: I could forge the Empress Social Link with her and begin wooing her. After school on November 21, I quickly headed towards the west hall of Gekkoukan and went up to Mitsuru, ready to begin what I had been spending so much time preparing for, and was disappointed at first; she gave the same response as usual...but then she asked if I had some free time, and I eagerly said yes, wondering what she wanted my help with. To my surprise, we ended up at Hagakure to eat ramen, and she seemed a little aloof about the entire experience. I'll never forget her tasting ramen for the first time and then boldly asking the chef what he used for bouillon, only to quickly agree when he said he had to keep it a secret while mulling over the business aspect of it all. Here she was, the heir of a huge corporation, granted opportunity after opportunity, yet had never experienced something as trivial as eating ramen, and was too embarrassed to do it on her own.
Of course, this was only one of many firsts for her as I scoured the halls after school every day to find her. Even something as simple as a burger was an entirely new experience to her, and that curiosity drew me even closer to her. I wanted and still want to show her everything I possibly can about the world. She then started to bring up marriage, and I was confused. She was 18, why was she mentioning marriage so soon? And then the bomb was dropped: a marriage had been arranged for her even though she didn't really wish for it. And I felt a little jealous. I then began to wonder why, I mean, she's a fictional character, why should I be jealous? I nevertheless continued forward as she began to question the nature of marriage; should it be between two people in love, or just two consenting parties for other benefit?
Sitting next to the fountain in Pawlownia Mall, she seemed a little nervous and was about to say something until her fiancé showed up, demanding she come with him and insulting me, her, and her family. With seemingly no other choice, she began to follow him, and I was given the option: let her walk away, or stop her. Of course, without hesitation, I stopped her, only to be insulted yet again. Mitsuru then began to lay into him, culminating in a phrase that will always be able to cause my pulse to race: "I want to be with him...now...and forever!". It was then that everything fell into place, so to speak. My heart was beating harder and faster than the drums of war, there was a swarm of butterflies dancing in my stomach, and I was flushed. I finally understood what I felt: I was in love. I love her determination. I love the way she peppers her sentences with French as well as English. I love her curiosity about the world. I love her grace. I love her beauty. But most of all, I love her.
With the engagement annulled (to my pleasure), she ran off, cheeks flushed. Days later, on Gekkoukan's roof, she finally told me herself what she felt, and I could do naught but smile as I held her through Minato as she asked me to take good care of her. Finally, at max rank, she invited me into her room, which looked much like I expected it, neat and well-kept, and we chatted. She asked if I wanted to ride the motorcycle that she had utilized during the Dark Hour, and when I said that I wouldn't mind riding, she smiled, and then blushed as she said "...but it would be nice to hold onto you sometimes..."
To this day, I still place a special value on keys, treasuring them as I would the motorcycle key she gave me that day. I may not have much, but I treasure that which I do have: her.