There were some girls, that even when they simply existed there, they would be the focal point of attention.
She in particular was one of those special girls.
She was a girl who transferred to the affiliated noble girls school ‘Saffron’ studied at.
On the day of the opening ceremony, ‘Saffron’ was in a new class, ignoring the buzzing voices of the other girls as she read her book quietly.
A shocked voice could be heard.
“That book! I’m reading it now too!”
She said as she took out a book with a similar cover from her bag.
That was her.
The girl with a cheerful smile.
The girl who remained fearless even when dealing with the rich princesses.
She had a strong sense of justice, would often take care of others well, and was able to express all she wanted to say fluently.
She was extremely gentle.
—I like this flower very much.
—In Arabic, this flower means ‘yellow’. It can be made into a yellow dye, but this flower is a beautiful purple color itself. Isn’t it interesting?
—That’s why my lucky colors are purple and yellow.
The glamorous purple and the radiant yellow.
She was like the flower with both these colors—
And before ‘Saffron’ knew it, she had many people surrounding her.
It was such that the princesses who were in the school since the affiliated kindergarten wanted to improve relationships with her, that they invited her to their houses.
But for some reason, she treated such a person like ‘Saffron’ as a friend. Whenever they were together, ‘Saffron’ would feel that she was being compared to, and she felt suffocated.
The only one willing to talk to ‘Saffron’ at school was her.
‘Saffron’ was not used to conversing with others directly, so she would lower her head and cringe, her voice sounding really tense, and she was unable to express herself very well. Whenever she wanted to talk, the tip of her nose would become red, and a miserable feeling was pricking her from within.
She kept reading books during rest time, and that was because she could not burn the 10 minutes of time if she did not do so. Whenever her classmates continued to buzz and chatter at the back, her body would stiffen, and her inner heart would seem very empty. She wanted to return home quickly, she wanted to escape to a place where she would not feel awkward even when she was alone.
There was only one girl who approached ‘Saffron’ like this, giving a warm smile, approaching her with light steps.
This made her annoyed.
This made her distraught.
But XX, you just need to doll yourself up a little better. Let me go shopping with you. I’ll pick the clothes most suited for you. If you add a little touch to your hair, you can change your image, you know? Do you want me to cut it for you? You’ll be happy if you become pretty. You’ll feel a lot better when you wear your favorite accessory—but even after saying that, those words merely caused ‘Saffron’s heart to break in despair.
Even if it was a little accessory, it was something too shameful to ‘Saffron’, too pitiful, something she could not wear.
♢ ♢ ♢
She added the gooseberry jam into into the green tea cup with the gold hemming that was filled in tea, placed the liquid in her mouth for a little while, and closed her eyes, ostensibly analyzing the lingering taste in her mouth. After that, she said with satisfaction.
“The sweetness and sourness of the jam, when added into red tea, becomes a richer fragrance that spreads in the mouth.
Her pretty, long and curly eyelashes were raised upwards, and she broke into a thin smile, giving off the regal vibe of a few thousand flowers blooming at the same time.
“The interior decorations of the shop is similar to the foreign houses I see in the illustration books when I was young, simple and cute. The space between the seats is just right, and really is relaxing. This is a fine shop. The shop name Bonne Chance is brilliant too; in French, it means ‘to wish someone good luck’. Ah, there is an afternoon tea set in the menu, two types of scones, clotted cream and my choice of jam, different types of sandwiches like seasonal fruits, petit four, and cookies…this is worth looking forward to. However, I am on a diet now… what do I do now, Mr. Akagi? Can you help me?”
“What is it~?”
“I can’t really help as I don’t really like sweet stuff.”
Koremitsu glanced at the three layers of photos of cake and tarts laid out on the silver plates.
“Eh? That is too bad.”
Once Tsuyako said this, she giggled as she played with the menu using the slender fingers she trimmed every single day.
“Ahh, the afternoon tea set starts at 2. It is now too early though, so how about some cream tea? I want both types of scones here, the clotted cream and my choice of jam. What do I do with the jam? Which one will be better? Marmalade or blueberry? Ah, pineapple looks delicious too.”
“If it is jam, pineapple and kiwi flavors are said to have the refreshing flavors that cannot be eaten elsewhere so I really recommend them. This is what a girl who often came here said. Personally, I want to try the honey jam myself.”
Hikaru poked his head in from beside Tsuyako, and spoke with a soft, sweet voice.
Koremitsu stared at the happenings going on in front of him, and said,
“Senpai, are you here just to open a tea party?”
“Can I not come here to see my cute underclassman here? It will be a month and a half of summer vacation when we will not be seeing each other. You probably would have forgotten about me.”
“I won’t. Speaking of which, don’t say cute to a guy here.”
“So you do pay particular mind to this, Mr. Akagi. That is unexpected.”
Tsuyako looked away from the menu, stared at Koremitsu, and laughed cheerfully. She was still the same as before, a woman who really liked to laugh.
“So you really came here to open a tea party.”
“Can I not?”
“Not that you can’t—but well…”
At least choose the right place! He however did not say the reason.
Micihiru was seated near the toilet, holding a sugar pot in her hands as she peered over quietly. She did not come over to talk to them, probably because she was worried about disturbing them.
And in contrast, Aoi had been scowling ever since Tsuyako sat at Koremitsu’s seat, giving them a terrifying glare that caused his back to freeze over.
To Aoi, Tsuyako was a woman who was not to be underestimated, who did not care that she got involved in a scandal with her fiancee Hikaru. Also, Tsuyako was heavily involved in the incident with Kazuaki back then.
Tsuyako too had her own troubles, and from the outcome, it seemed Tsuyako told Koremitsu where Aoi was. It was because of this that he was able to save Aoi.
But even so, it was probably impossible for both Aoi and Tsuyako to get along well. Leaving aside Tsuyako, Aoi, who had a pure mindset, would probably think about Tsuyako’s scandal with Hikaru and the incident with Kazuaki whenever she saw her face.
(Hikaru, don’t just stand there, giggle and talk to senpai like that. Don’t you feel sorry to Aoi?)
Koremitsu knew very well that Hikaru really treasured Aoi.
And he knew Hikaru broke up with Tsuyako to improve his relationship with Aoi properly.
In spite of that, though Aoi could not see Hikaru, the latter looked completely unabashed as he whispered to Tsuyako sweetly in front of Aoi, and till this point, Koremitsu could not comprehend.
(This guy is a harem bastard to the soul after all.)
Koremitsu was sometimes left speechless by Hikaru, sometimes sympathetic to Aoi. Tsuyako stared at Koremitsu, seemingly harboring some thoughts, and said,
“It seems Miss Aoi will feel unhappy whenever I am around.”
Koremitsu was left speechless.
“If you understand that, please take note at least. You’re an adult right, senpai?”
“Ah, but Miss Aoi and I are of the same age. In terms of birthdays, Miss Aoi is even a few months older than me.”
“And I do not like it if I am told to watch myself. This makes me feel that that person is looking down on me.”
“I don’t have that intent.”
“But you do think that as compared to Miss Aoi, I am more resilient.”
“That is why you wish for me to be more adult-like, so that Miss Aoi will not be feeling uneasy, no?”
“Am I wrong?”
Koremitsu was again left speechless.
Why could this upperclassman give such a carefree look, a mischievous expression, and give one tough question after another, confusing him completely?
As Koremitsu scowled and muttered, Hikaru too seemed rather sympathetic as he gave a skeptical look.
Tsuyako used both hands to support her head and stared at Koremitsu with her alluring eyes. Suddenly, she showed a cute smile from her lips and eyes. This upperclassman that seemed older than him normally showed an innocent, cute expression that matched her age.
“Sorry to stump you there~”
She apologized, chuckling away, looking as if she was happy to be able to trouble Koremitsu.
Amongst the girls around Koremitsu, Tsuyako was more or less the most unreasonable yet the most feminine, stubborn, busty and alluring.
And it was because of these feminine features that Koremitsu was occasionally teased, occasionally troubled by.
“It is a fact that I came to see you, Mr Akagi, but I am not here for myself; I am here to talk about Miss Shikibu.”
This time, Tsuyako revealed the reliable expression of an upperclassman as she beamed,
“I do use the Japanese Dance club room for dance practice during summer vacation, no? And so, I came to the clubroom this morning.”
“She looked really~~~ gloomy, that there was a cloud of rain over her.”
“What is the matter? I asked, but even so, she would not reply at first. However, if that feisty Miss Shikibu is being so dejected here, I guess something must have happened with you. After probing a little more, her expression got even more downcast. She continued to sit on the tatamis, her knees cupped together, and she shrank back like a tortoise.”
“I can never meet Akagi again, well that was what she said—”
Akagi felt his heart ached.
What in the world are you doing, Shikibu!?
“I have a rough gist of what is going on after asking Miss Shikibu about it, and while she is somewhat to blame for this, I cannot ignore her as an upperclassman when she is looking so dejected in front of me. Mr Akagi, would you mind paying a visit to her? She definitely must be withdrawn like a tortoise now, but I do not like the saying ‘paying a visit’.”
Tsuyako continued to stare at Koremitsu intently, her eyes clearly giving the vibe of a reliable upperclassman, exceptionally gentle.
That expression was very similar to Hikaru’s, the latter watching Koremitsu from the side.
“…Senpai, if you came directly from school, why are you dress in your own clothing?”
“I so happened to pass by a shop on my way here, and I bought these to let your heart aflutter.”
Even in this aspect, she was similar.
Koremitsu answered with a serious look,
“…I understand about Shikibu. I’ll get going now.”
Both Tsuyako and Hikaru smiled at the same time.
And as Koremitsu stood up, holding the bill, Tsuyako whispered to him gently,
“Well, Mr Akagi. Miss Shikibu must have been rather nervous when she is in front of you. She wants to show you her good side, to make you like her no matter how little it may be. However, she is often flustered as a reason, unable to control her mood swings. In the end, she always shows her most violent, indecent self in front of you.”
“Senpai… thanks for telling me all that.”
He lowered his head.
She answered cheerfully.
And so, he turned to look at Aoi, who continued to scowl.
She closed her lips, and turned away, showing a distressed look from her sidelong face.
“…If Hikaru was still alive, I suppose Miss Aoi probably would not want to be independent… Miss Asai… probably has her own troubles.”
—Miss Asai and I are so similar, yet so different.
When Aoi’s painting was stolen, Asai stormed to the clubroom, and had a squabble with Tsuyako.
The self-deprecating words Tsuyako said back at that moment rang in Koremitsu’s mind.
Hikaru too looked on glumly.
Though she seemed a little concerned, Tsuyako reverted into a bright smile immediately,
“I suppose honey jam is the best after all. It is what Hikaru likes. Have a good day, Mr Akagi.”
She sent him off.
And Koremitsu began to walk.
He finished paying, and was about to exit the door, only to find Aoi standing beside it, giving a feeble look.
At that instance, it seemed she wanted to say something to Koremitsu, but she still smiled in the end.
“Thank you for coming. Erm… please come back again.”
He felt a little uneasy about leaving Tsuyako and Aoi together alone, and the forced determined look Aoi showed, coupled with Hikaru’s pained expression, caused his heart to ache.
(Senpai, I trust you here. Please don’t busy Aoi.)
He muttered in his heart.
He answered, trying his best to sound gentle.
The girl seated at the window opened the pocket novel, watching everything that happened between Koremitsu and Aoi.
There was also Michiru, seated at the table next to the toilet—
After exiting, he checked the messages in the cellphone.
(So Saffron didn’t send me any messages after that, huh?)
I’m with Mignon right now.
He finally had the chance to meet up with Saffron.
(Damn it. I got no choice here.)
He slipped the cellphone carelessly into his pocket, and raised his eyebrows as he ran down the slope.
♢ ♢ ♢
(So Mr Polar Star went away… after all.)
Though she sent him a message, he never looked over at her.
‘Saffron’ grasped Mignon tightly with her icy hand.
He probably would never look for ‘Saffron’ again.
(Because there are so many beautiful girls around Mr Polar Star…)
There was the waitress who quietly waited the red-haired youth leave the shop looked so adorable with her moist eyes and her lips that wanted to say something.
The red-haired beauty that watched the duo with her elbows on the table, her hands supporting her head, giving off such an overwhelming regal
There was the pretty little girl with rosy cheeks who called him ‘big brother’.
There was the pretty looking girl who summoned her courage to call him ‘Akagi’ in spite of being clumsy, and had neat eyebrows and nice long legs.
There was also the intellectual beauty who had a serious conversation
Compared to them, she definitely could not be categorized as a woman herself.
She was a peculiar animal.
—Yaa, that is a weird nose.
—You definitely escaped from the zoo or something, right
She recalled the events of her being teased by the boys in the park when she was still a child, and the tip of her nose became red, her body became frigid, ostensibly frozen.
(So boys do like cute girls after all.)
As a girl who was not born as a beauty, she probably could only live on with her face covered, never to be shown to others.
There was an irritating comment left on ‘Saffron’ blog
‘In reality, you’re probably just an ugly, unpopular girl right (LOLZ) You cover everything on your face other than your hair and chin because the rest of it is so ugly that you can’t correct it anymore?”
Her heart felt as if mud had been flung onto it as she trembled and deleted the comment.
(Mr Polar Star probably thinks that too, right? That he doesn’t want to see my face because I’m ugly.)
Was he feeling regretful that he gave the brooch ‘Saffron’ owned ‘Mignon’?
She felt really peeved.
The tip of her nose was searing.
(I-I-I-I-I might be an ugly girl, but ‘Saffron’ isn’t.)
—Miss Saffron, the way you space out is cuteness.
—Miss Saffron, you are definitely a pretty girl in real life, no?
She hid her real face, and for the first time, she was praised as cute, amazing, pretty.
—That really is a beautiful black hair, so much that it surprised me. You definitely are a princess, are you not, Miss Saffron?
—Your chin is thin and small; it causes my heart to throb.
As a 17 year old girl, such words were never said to her before.
Right, she definitely could not let this end.
She did not want Mr Polar Star to assume that ‘Saffron’ was an ugly girl, and hid herself to avoid meeting him.
The nose tip that had accompanied ‘Saffron’ for 17 years buzzed, seemingly determined too. At that moment, her heart was oozing in pain.
Her fated person never existed.
And she was a fool to believe that such a dream-like encounter might truly exist.
There was no one in this world who liked her like this.
And nobody would ever praise her, calling her cute.
Her fated partner never existed right from the beginning! If she never hoped for it, she would not be disappointed, and that would be fine!
But if it was ‘Saffron’—
As long as it was Saffron’—
The hands that were holding Mignon tightly were seeping sweat.
“Right… ’Saffron’ is a popular, pretty girl…”
♢ ♢ ♢
(Akagi’s definitely still mad now.)
Honoka cupped her knees, seated at a corner of the Japanese Dance Club.
She had been like that since morning, maintaining that posture for who knew how long. Noon should have passed quite a while ago, but she was not hungry in the slightest.
She repeated her thoughts over and over again, her regrets looping over and over again, repeating itself.
(I promised never to kick Akagi again, and I did it again without thinking, and even sent a staff member flying when he had nothing to do with it…)
There was a large lump on the shopkeeper’s head.
(Why is it that I don’t learn when it’s about Akagi! I always wanted to be a cool girl in front of him.)
—DON’T YOU EVER STEP INTO THIS SHOP AGAIN!
Honoka was lectured loudly outside the shop by Koremitsu, who was fuming so much his hair was standing. He really was livid, and she was utterly stunned.
(Akagi definitely thinks that I’m just a stupid, violent girl who’s not his girlfriend, a troublesome stalker girl who continues to harass him during the summer vacation~~!!)
Though Shioriko too was at fault for the commotion in the shop, she was still an elementary school student. There probably was no helping it either.
Furthermore, to Koremitsu, Shioriko was someone to be protected like a real little sister. Perhaps they might have made amends, and she was fawning over him, asking Koremitsu to carry her on the back.
(If I get Akagi to carry me, won’t I look like a female pervert here? That’ll annoy Akagi more.)
No, at this point, she was already hated to quite a state.
(If I just go to him and apologize… will he forgive me?)
But how many times had it been that she went to apologize to Koremitsu after going berserk like that?
She was so bashful every single time, looking ready to die as she apologized with a shrill voice. She always assumed that Koremitsu would take pity on her in this state, and never pursued the matter.
If this were to repeat itself continuously however, Koremitsu too would have had enough and reach his limit.
Honoka too did not know what expression to show when she face Koremitsu in the future.
“Uuu, I guess I might have to transfer schools…”
Just when Honoka was mourning away, nearly breaking into tears.
She sensed the door being opened.
Certainly, it must have been Tsuyako who came back
Honoka continued to keep her head buried into her knees while this happened, spacing out as she remained silent.
“Up-upperclassman Tsuyako, please tell me how do I keep calm in front of the person I like?”
Her heart was already filled with agony when she simply said those words, and she felt full of anguish, nearly overflowing.
It was that painful, such great pain, and she wanted to shout,
“What can I do to be myself in front of Akagi.”
Tsuyako remained silent. No matter who it was, such a question would be difficult to answer.
Honoka lifted her head stiffly,
“S-sorry… it’s nothing. Please forget what I just said.”
But standing in front of her was not Tsuyako.
It was her classmate, the one with messy red hair, a sharp glare, a skinny body with his back arched, looking down at her with his face blushing, looking restless.
Why is Akagi here!!!!????
(Did he hear that?)
Koremitsu was blushing as he averted his eyes.
(He heard it after all!!!)
Honoka shook intensely, and just when she was about to stand, she pressed her hands on the hem of her skirt in her haste, lost her balance, and fell backwards.
Her legs flew towards the air as she tumbled.
Her back crashed the tatamis, and on top of that, her head hit the wall with a loud thud.
(Uuu, this is really embarrassing.)
She wanted to hurry and stand up, before realizing that her skirt was flipped. Surely her underwear could be seen as well, and her heart jolted.
And of all days, she was wearing panda prints!
She hurriedly supported herself, flattened her skirt with both hands, bent her knees, and sat down again.
She whimpered as she cautiously lifted her sight, and found Koremitsu standing still, blushing harder than before.
He turned away, stammering.
“You’re not denying it? You saw?”
“It can’t be helped!”
Honoka really hoped to break a hole in the tatamis and bury her head into it.
“I-it’s not like what you imagined… I normally wear something more mature than that. I do have things like black lace, lavender silk and the like! B-bu-but when I’m depressed, and when I wear this… I feel that well, I revert back to being a kid, that I become even livelier… I-I just wear it on occasion, just occasionally. Prints, patterns… like panda, I really only have one of it! As-as-as-as the love expert, don’t mistake me for liking to wear panda prints panties!”
(Seriously, why am I discussing about underwear so passionately?)
Koremitsu was rendered overwhelmed.
(I’m an idiot. Won’t this make him more stunned?)
Why was it that she would always show Koremitsu such an unbecoming sight?
She felt bitterness in her chest, hapless. This time, she really was about to cry.
(Well, it’s fine anyway.)
She closed her lips, and lowered her head.
And because Honoka suddenly became silent, Koremitsu called out to her softly,
“Well… it’s alright.”
She felt a stinging pain in her throat as she eked out a hoarse voice.
She raised her eyebrows, and turned her face towards Koremitsu. She wanted to show him a feisty look, but perhaps she looked ready to burst into tears at this point. Koremitsu gasped as he frowned.
“It’s fine already.”
(Akagi’s definitely incompatible with me here. No matter how I try to express myself, I’ll definitely fail all the time, and the relationship between us will definitely worsen.)
If that was to be the case, it would be best if she did not approach him.
(I definitely will not be liked by Akagi either way.)
—I haven’t forgotten
Koremitsu said this to Honoka with a serious look at this place, on the day of the semester closing ceremony.
I haven’t forgotten, Shikibu, about you saying that you like me.
As it was too sudden, too embarrassing, she yelled ‘forget about it’ immediately, but once she reached home after that, she kept repeating those words over and over again in her mind, spinning around on the chair.
“Akagi has always… been working hard for girls… even when he had bad things said about him, even when he was scorned at, he would always act in the other person’s interest…”
Koremitsu revealed a troubled look as he looked down at Honoka.
Honoka tried her best to hold the tears from falling out many times.
“I think you are really cool because of this, Akagi, but..”
If she were to say such a thing, he definitely would be stunned.
And she would be hated.
No, it would be better for her to be hated by him than to be a classmate on good terms with him.
“I’m different from Her Highness Aoi, Miss Kanai and Shiiko! You never did anything for me, Akagi!”
Koremitsu widened his eyes, ostensibly from the shock due to Honoka’s words.
And as she saw him in such a state, she was filled with agony within.
She could not longer listen to Koremitsu say to her ‘you’re a good person, Shikibu’.
If she were to continue seeing his face, she would only be left with more anguish, so she stood up.
This time, she did not fall back, and stood up properly on the tatamis, storming out to the exit.
Koremitsu spoke gruffly as he grabbed Honoka’s arm.
(Why’re you stopping me, you idiot! You don’t have any intention, don’t agitate a woman’s feelings ! You’re going to make things worse worrying for me as a classmate!)
She firmly shook aside Koremitsu’s hand that was grabbing her arm.
“I just wanted the two of us to go to the pool together, Akagi. You might not think it’s anything much, but I was really looking forward to me! That’s enough now!”
She said everything she wanted, and did not take another look at Koremitsu as she stormed out.
♢ ♢ ♢
“Argh, what exactly was that all about anyway?”
Koremitsu grumbled as he stared at the direction left towards.
She disappeared before he realized it, and left in his hand was the touch of Honoka’s hand, and his dripping sweat.
Left behind as well were the uneasy eyes staring at him, and the flurry of intense words.
Koremitsu cupped his head and squatted on the corridor, ostensibly breaking his knees.
And then, he remained like that, grumbling,
(That Shikibu actually expressed her feelings like this. Did I make her endure like that all this while!?)
Honoka had been by his side, grumbling ‘I’m not doing this for your sake’ as she offered him help.
She ostensibly said everything she wanted, any doubts she had, but it also did not seem to be the case.
—E-Erm… about the pool…
—Are you really going to the pool with me once you’re done?
Honoka was ever so bashful back then, and once she got Koremitsu’s affirmative reply, she looked really delighted.
—I’m different from Her Highness Aoi, Miss Kanai and Shiiko! You never did anything for me, Akagi!
That actually was the matter after all.
Koremitsu had been thanked by Honoka all this time, but was never able to repay her back in any way.
Her words continued to echo in his mind, his heart aching.
“Hikaru… I really don’t understand women at all. I don’t understand anything about what she’s thinking.”
—I haven’t forgotten.
He said such words while pretending to look cool, and decided to face Honoka seriously at that. However, he never noticed how much pressure he brought to her.
(I’m really a bastard.)
He cupped his head, feeling really dejected. As Koremitsu remained like this, Hikaru spoke with a mature adult-like voice.
“Your realization of this can be considered an improvement by itself. If you find that you failed, you can try again.”
Koremitsu slowly lifted his head, and found his friend squatted beside him in the same posture
“If it is you, you can definitely do it.”
Koremitsu’s inner heart calmed down, silence blowing by like a refreshing breeze.
As a ghost, Hikaru could not start again even if he regretted.
That was why those words of his could echo in Koremitsu’s heart.
“Well, it is like you to pull yourself together no matter how much you regret, and continue running forward, Koremitsu. You are my hero after all.”
“You think too highly of me, idiot.”
He muttered, and stood up.
He certainly was not something amazing like a hero.
He certainly had regrets. From this day forth, he would also have many things he would regret.
He started worrying about what he could do for Honoka.
And besides, he did have a friend he could consult beside him.
He arched his back and leaned forward, his cheeks seering as he muttered,
“A-anyway… wooing other girls isn’t something for me. I won’t do that again. And… well…regarding a woman’s feelings… can… can you teach me about them?”
Hikaru widened his eyes slightly, and said,
Hikaru seemed very delighted as he beamed, causing Koremitsu to feel very embarrassed. The latter placed his hands in his pockets, looked away, and walked down the corridor.
And at the corner, he stopped.
The bespectacled girl with braids looked devastated as she stood there.
“Sorry, I was worried about Hono… so I trailed you. And then… I heard your conversation…”
Koremitsu raised his eyebrows as he drew his hands out of his pocket, scaring the girl as the latter took a few steps back, shouting,
“P-p-p-please don’t be angry.”
He lowered his raised shoulders, and spoke quietly,
“It’s good that you’re able to think for your friend’s sake.”
The class representative with braids stopped retreating, looking ready to burst into tears as she gave a hesitant look deep within her eyes, staring at Koremitsu,
“…This is the first time Hono is concerned about a guy.”
Unlike the shrill voice she would use due to tension, she whispered,
“I had been friends with Hono ever since she transferred in during middle school. I came here through the affiliated school, but I look so plain, so easy to bully… like I got chosen to be the class rep by everyone… everyone just calls me the class rep… Hono however called me by my proper name Michiru, helped me complete my work, and she helped me say out whatever I wanted to say. Everyone was willing to listen to Hono… Hono really is cool.”
She said with an admiring smile, and reverted back to a lonely look,
“I-I always hoped that I can be like Hono, so I bought the same accessory as her. You see, doesn’t Hono have a glittery bracelet chain on her arm? Whenever she starts exercising, that chain would start shaking, rattling. She’s pretty, and amazing… but it doesn’t match me at all. In the end, I could only look at it and use it as a cellphone strap… ah, huh, what was I saying just now? I was supposed to be talking about Hono… please don’t be concerned about me. Sorry!”
She used both hands to support her glasses, saying it like it was a joke.
Upon seeing Michiru like that, Koremitsu spoke to her, as if it was the first time they met.
“Do you hate the role of being the class rep?”
Michiru shook her head.
“I did at first, but it’s different now. I’m me now, the best class rep in Japan.”
Koremitsu was very impressed by that reply.
And beside him, Hikaru watched on with a gentle expression.
“Miss Hanasato, you are like the Tachibana flower, a pure white flower that hides deep within the green leaves. Perhaps you might not be noticed by the others, but you are determined and devoted, giving off a memorable fragrance. You are a charismatic girl yourself.”
For the first time, Koremitsu understood that this was the name of the bespectacled class representative in front of him.
And, feeling somewhat respectful to his classmate as well, Koremitsu called out,
Michiru widened her eyes.
“You’re like the Tachibana flowers. You’re plain, but you have a gentle memorable fragrance. I think that’s very good.”
She probably was shocked because Koremitsu knew her name.
And she looked up at Koremitsu’s face, not moving at all.
As she had been staring at him all this while, Koremitsu was worried if she had passed out on the spot.
Suddenly, a tear flowed out of her large, widened eyes.
A little tear alone glided down her face like a glittering, transparent dew., and Koremitsu gasped as he watched this.
♢ ♢ ♢
“Can we sit together, Tōjō-senpai?”
Shungo Tōjō read the message on the cellphone with a frown, and lifted his head to stare at the girl who came to talk to him. The wrinkles on his forehead intensified.
“There are still other seats here, right?”
Shungo coldly answered.
“But this is the best one.”
Hiina Oumi of the news club showed an impish smile on her boyish face, and sat beside him.
She folded her legs, ostensibly boasting about the thighs that were sticking out of her shorts, and leaned her body to Shungo, ostensibly boasting about the breasts that she barely managed to hold in with a tank top.
She was merely a 15 year old girl, but her slightly opened lips and moist eyes revealing a fragrant coquetry and an intellect that defied her appearance.
The aura she gave off was something Shungo did not like.
Or rather, he despised.
No, to be precise, he had no choice but to despise.
He could not let this girl’s feelings rest upon him. That was what he swore when he brought her out of that place.
The relationship they would have was simply to be that of a user and a person being used, and they could not hope for more.
She smiled back without any begrudging.
—Even if this is the case, I feel blessed to be with my family.
Is it really a happy thing to be with a family member who cannot admit you? Shungo was uncertain.
But the girl sitting beside him, looking up and spacing out was being so satisfied, looking ever so blissful.
“This is good once in a while.”
Hiina turned her head around like a kitty, and narrowed her eyes.
“What will happen to if Aoi gets suspicious?”
Aoi was a waitress at this shop, the one Shungo really doted on, and concerned by her actions. Hiina spoke with a harsh look,
“Her Highness Aoi will think it is just a shameless underclassman forcing herself besides her senior.”
“So why are you not sitting opposite me, but beside me?”
“It’s easier for me to whisper to you, that’s why.”
Shungo kept quiet, and Hiina probably deemed this as acceptance as she leaned her face to his ear, whispering everything she learned in a happy whisper.
The head of the Mikados was still taken ill. During this time, Hikaru died; was it not a coincident.
It was probable that the head did not want to nominate Kazuaki, the legitimate wife’s eldest son, as the heir, but to Hikaru.
As for why, it was because Hikaru had the face most similar to the head’s favorite woman.
“Do you think Lord Hikaru killed himself, senpai?”
Hiina asked, changing her tone.
Shungo personally witnessed the scars on Hikaru’s arms.
When it was during Golden Week.
Shungo saw Tsuyako kiss Hikaru at the turf club located at the Mikados’ villa, and inadvertently lashed out at him.
After that, Shungo wanted to apologize, and went to Hikaru’s villa, seeing the injuries under his sleeves.
Those were scars from a blade.
“Hikaru has no reason to seek death.”
For he, beloved by the Heavens, the women, the boy who lived his life freely, why did he choose suicide?
Even so, Shungo noticed Hikaru’s hollow expression at the last time they conversed with each other.
Hiina stared at him with with her clever looking eyes.
“The Matriarch Asa might know something.”
Asai was Hikaru’s cousin, and Shungo again pondered.
After Kazuaki committed the cardinal sin of locking Aoi up, Shungo was the one to propose an alliance.
Asai agreed with this proposal.
For the sake of the Mikados’ future, the Tōjōs have switched over from the Roses to the Wisterias.
Asai’s objective should be the same thing.
And so, both Shungo and Asai would have the same benefits and cons.
However, unlike the cute innocent Aoi, Asai was as sharp and cold as a knife, and even for him, she was someone he did not really want to get involved with. It was one thing that he had to handle the obnoxious ladies like his older sisters, but it was another to deal with the overly insightful Asai. The way she called Shungo ‘Mr Tōjō’ when the latter was her senior made her an unpleasant person too.
But as an ally, she certainly was reiable.
And even if they had something going on, it was merely that of pros and cons, and not trusts.
“Asai—probably will not say anything.”
The bond between Asai and Hikaru.
The thoughts Asai had of Hikaru.
What was built up since young was probably something stronger than what Shungo could imagine.
Asai’s actions were still based on that dead boy.
And then, the one who most understood the boy called Hikaru on this world, the one who understood his thoughts, was Asai.
Hiina too had this idea.
“Yes, that’s why I started investigating whether Lord Hikaru killed himself or was killed. If ‘that person’ was the culprit, it’ll be killing two birds with one stone. I’ll just investigate more on that side.”
“Won’t that be too dangerous?”
After hearing her older brother’s words, Hiina Oumi relaxed her face, and smiled.
At a distance where both of sense each other’s breath, she stared bissfully at this important person to her who had the same bloodline, worried about her safety as he frowned away. She whispered,
This is something the princess Her Highness Aoi cannot do.
But if it’s for my brother’s sake, I’ll finish it even if I’ve to give up my life.