The next morning, Amane woke up to none of the daily sounds.
The house was so quiet, the bird could be heard chirping outside, and Mahiru, sleeping in Amane’s room, showed no signs of waking up.
It was long past dawn, but she might be sleeping soundly as she was too tired the previous day.
Amane himself had fallen asleep, but he could not sleep well as he remembered Mahiru was on his bed, and woke up from the light sleep at this time.
His body was not feeling uncomfortable, but he was suffering in another way.
It was the first time he had a girl spend the night at his place, and on his bed. There was no way he was not flustered.
（…It’s troubling how defenseless she is.）
He realized she was sleeping because she found him to be completely harmless, he was a boy after all, and she should be a little more wary.
He regretted not waking her up and forcing her to go back, but it was too late to do so.
Haa, he sighed, and made a deep sigh, stretching as his body had turned stiff from sleeping on the sofa, before he slowly got up.
For the time being, he would check on Mahiru first. His main objective was to get a change of clothes, but he thought he should check on her while doing so.
Ssss, he opened the door to his room.
It was completely quiet inside, and Mahiru was still sleeping soundly on the bed.
The only difference was that she had flipped a few times in her sleep, and was lying sideways, her hair flowing on the bed like a river.
Kuu, kuu, she was making such an adorable sleeping sound as he knelt down to look.
She really looked adorable sleeping like that.
She had a cool facade most of the time, probably because she was being so tense…but her sleeping face was a lot relaxed, and adorable.
So adorable she was, he had the urge to caress her.
（…She’s really cute when she’s sleeping.）
Of course, she was a pretty girl, adorable even when awake, but at this point, his feelings were more akin to one observing a pet.
He wanted to pet at the silky hair, and to poke at the fluffy cheeks.
Usually, she would never let her guard down, but since she had become this defenseless, he had the urge to tease her.
Without thinking, he reached his hand towards her soft cheek, touching it.
The smooth cheek was as soft as the previous day. So fluffy it was, he wanted to keep touching, and he started poking with his finger.
He was touching her as softly as he could, but while he caressed her cute cheek softly, “Nnn…” Mahiru, who had been sleeping silently, let out a sweet sound.
And before he could move his hand aside, she slowly began to open her eyes.
The moist, unfocused caramel-colored eyes were staring at Amane…or to be precise, in his direction.
Her fluffy expression showed some traces of a young, sleepy face, and showed much innocence. He sleepy eyes had some consciousness despite being in a daze, and she looked more immature than when she was sleepy.
She gave a careless, completely vulnerable expression, and then lowered her eyelids, closing her eyes again.
He wanted to retract his fingers, but she brought her face onto his fingers, and rolled her cheeks on it, her thin throat making a sweet sound.
Please do not leave me, so she appeared to say as she rubbed her cheeks on him.
He knew very well that she was half-asleep.
There was no reason for Mahiru to fawn at Amane, and usually, she would not show such a relaxed face and gesture.
Despite that—she was acting like a fawning kitten, and Amane’s heart and sanity were put to the test.
Should he retract his hand, or go with the flow and poke her in the cheek dotingly?
Emotionally, he was leaning towards the latter.
It was not often that he would get to see such a fluffy Mahiru, and he was interested to know how much she would fawn around.
But he had a feeling that once he did so, Mahiru would start pouting away and give him the cold shoulder the moment her consciousness returned. He knew she would be utterly embarrassed, and did not know what to do.
In any case, she was really adorable, so he decided to stop at merely staring at her.
Her consciousness had mostly returned, but as she was a little groggy, or that she never noticed Amane’s hand, she brought her head close to his fingers.
Amane only intended to check on her and get a change of clothes, but for some reason, there was such contact. His heart was filled with unspeakable itch, and heat started to gather on his cheeks.
After a short while, Mahiru finally opened her eyes, seemingly awake this time….
Their eyes met.
She turned her eyes towards Amane who was up close, along with the finger her cheek was touching, and she froze.
The next moment, Mahiru leapt.
“…Go-good morning, to you…”
“You fell asleep in my house, so I moved you here. Nothing else. Thought I should have you thank me for not doing anything.”
Amane seized the moment to explain why she was on the bed; she did not pout, and instead listened obediently.
However, the fact that she slept on a boy’s bed caused her face to redden, and she pinched at the blanket, pulling it to her lips.
That gesture too was strange adorable, and he averted his eyes.
（What is this situation?）
He was merely lending his bed, but for some reason, he felt he was the one at fault.
He was sorry for poking her cheek, but just a little, and he had no intention of doing anything more.
His heart was beating because of how adorable Mahiru was, and aching because of guilt. He felt really conflicted within. He looked towards Mahiru, and found her still blushing, a little displeased…not too bad by itself, but it appeared she had something to say as she looked back at him.
“…Amane-kun, do you like touching the cheek?”
“Well, you did the same on Christmas, and before I slept last night.”
“…You were awake?”
He did so the previous day when she was supposedly fast asleep, so she should be unconscious then.
Since she knew that however, it showed she was awake back then.
“…Ac-actually, well…I was awake when you put me on the bed…what else could I do other than to pretend to sleep?”
“You didn’t think I was going to do anything?”
“…I do not think you will do such a thing, Amane-kun…and I pretended to sleep, to make sure, of that.”
It appeared he was tested on his trustworthiness.
Luckily, it appeared he was found trustworthy, but he really hoped that in future, she would not act so carelessly to actually sleep in front of a boy.
Even Amane did not think it would end at merely a poke on the cheek the next time it happens. He would be troubled if she was not wary in the slightest.
“…Well, glad that I got trusted, but don’t do this again. I’m a boy.”
“Uu, I-I know that, yes.”
“Or you want something more from me??”
“No way is that possible.”
Mahiru denied that with a completely flushed face, and snuck into the futon. Hey, that’s my bed, Amane wanted to retort, only to swallow back his words.
She remained rolled up in the coop, shivering away until her shame subsided, and Amane decided to leave her be.
Once she recovered from her shame, Mahiru returned home, changed her clothes, and returned.
But she remained bashful, and would glance aside awkwardly whenever she met Amane in the eyes, leaving him awkward as well.
Luckily, she was fine with sitting next to him on the sofa, but he was feeling unbearable.
Having had enough of this, he instinctively apologized to her, who glanced back at him, and sighed.
Her shame might have subsided somewhat, for she reverted back to her usual expression.
“I am not angry at you. You do not have to apologize to me, Amane-kun.”
“I was just regretting my own carelessness. I have shown you such an unsightly look.”
“It’s not unsightly…just cute.”
The angelic sleeping face was truly befitting her moniker as the Angel, and she looked really cute, whether it was the sleepy eyes once she woke up, or the defenseless innocent face.
It was contrary to the usual poised and aloof expression, a new discovery of a really innocent expression.
It was so adorable, he had the urge to keep looking, but she probably did not want to show such a careless look.
He did not find it indecent, unsightly, so he wanted to deny that; for some reason, Mahiru bit her lips, and whacked at him with the cushion in her clutches.
It was not painful, and she probably not was being serious, but he did not know why she did that so suddenly.
“…You really are hopeless at this, Amane-kun.”
“Seriously…what do you want me to do?”
“You should not be saying such words so lightly.”
“It’s not like I say this to anyone else…”
The only acquainted females near Amane were Mahiru and Chitose.
Chitose was relatively cute, if anything, but Amane instinctively found it a hassle to mention her, and there was no need to praise her directly. Thus, there was no one he could praise other than Mahiru.
Mahiru froze, and he was skeptical, shrugging,
“Say, you’re already used to hearing that from others, right? Not much of a difference now.”
He had called Mahiru cute a few times, and found it preposterous that she was being mindful of it at this point.
Mahiru should know very well how pretty she was, and was surely used to receiving praise.
There was no reason for her to be so flustered just because Amane alone said a few words.
So he thought, and for some reason, Mahiru frowned.
“So seriously, what’s up with you?”
“…Nothing at all.”
Finally, she launched another physical attack at him with the cushion, humph, before turning her face aside. “I shall make Ozoni now.” She wore the apron, and entered the kitchen.
Amane picked up the cushion that was pushed onto him, and could only stare at the displeased Mahiru in the back.
Once they finished the Ozoni, Mahiru reverted back to her usual expression.
She was scowling when they began to eat, and he was a little uncomfortable with that, but the Ozoni and the Osechi were really delicious, and he found himself mesmerized. Before he knew it, he sat that Mahiru seemed to be back to normal.
Everything returned back to normal when they left the dining table and returned to the sofa.
“Speaking of which, you going for the Hatsumōde, Mahiru?”
“Hatsumōde? I do not really wish to go…I do not like crowded places. It feels like I am being watched.”
“Well that’s because…”
You’re an unbelievably pretty girl after all, so he wanted to say, but he remembered he had just ruined her mood, so he swallowed back his words. “Well, that is to be expected.” He answered.
“Amane-kun, are you going to the Hatsumōde?”
“Back at home, I go with my parents, but I haven’t made up my mind. I think there’s no need to squeeze through on New Year’s Day itself.”
“Looks like Chitose’s group is bonding back home with her family, and kids nowadays don’t really go for Hatsumōde. We’ll go a little later.”
Compared to the past…fewer younger ones, especially those in their teens and twenties, would attend the Hatsumōde, not that Amane and the others were weird or anything.
It was not that he did not want to go, but he understood that it would be packed there, and he would only feel tired just going there. He thought it would be fine going later when there were fewer people.
“Besides, I want to relax over these three days. I don’t really care about the New Year packets.”
“I am interested in receiving New year packets though. ”
“You want to go to the shopping mall?”
“…I have no courage to charge into the crowds there.”
Amane replied just as Mahiru did, and leaned into the sofa.
They were not dictated to go anywhere on New Year after all.
Amane would typically hope to avoid troublesome matters, and was fine with just spending the day, lazing around. It appeared Mahiru had intending to spend the entire New Year period at his place, for the convenience of cooking. They did not have to worry about having food, or someone to talk to.
This is one fancy New Year, so Amane thought as he glanced aside at Mahiru, chuckling away.