Entering February, rumors of the ‘mysterious boy suspected to be Mahiru’s boyfriend’ seemed to have quelled.
Amane was spotted picking her up, kicking off the rumors, but no other news happened thereafter, so it seemed the flames were extinguished for the time being.
Despite that, there seemed to be common understanding that ‘the boy was not Mahiru’s boyfriend, but someone close to her’. There were also baseless rumors spreading that Mahiru had interest in that boy…which she denied with a smile that would not allow them to probe further, and that somehow calmed down.
Chitose seemed to have witnessed that scene on the corridor, and according to her, Mahiru was giving off an ‘unspeakable intimidating aura’, so it seemed the latter really hated it.
That was to be expected, but he was a little sad to know that she was vehemently denying it. At the same time, he felt it was to be expected.
There was no love between them, and their relationship was in question just because they were acting a little familiar; surely she would be furious.
Amane himself could only show a wry smile.
“Speaking of February?”
“End of year exams.”
“Hey, why is a high school boy in his blooming stage having such boring thoughts?”
It was after school, and Chitose popped by at Amane’s house, uninvited actually; she could not hide how dumbfounded she was to hear that answer.
He heard that she wanted to discuss something; perhaps it was just him, but it seemed she wanted to play with Mahiru.
In any case, Mahiru was brewing tea in the kitchen. Amane and Chitose were the only ones in the living room.
“I don’t know if any high school boy has a blooming stage, but I think it’s an obvious thought for students…”
“Any high school boy enjoying his youth should be talking about Valentine’s, right?”
“I don’t know. I’m not enjoying my youth.”
“Don’t kid around~”
She knew the rumors were not true, but she leered away at him, so he glared back.
Nevertheless, she did not stop smiling, so he could only give up.
“So, what are we discussing?”
Chitose said that she came to Amane’s house to discuss with Amane and Mahiru, leaving out Itsuki.
“Nn. I’m wondering what chocolates to give to Ikkun. In middle school, I just melted the chocolate and hardened it again, but I think as a high schooler, I should look to do something a little trendy.”
“Then Shiina’s suggestion should be enough for you.”
Amane could not cook, and if anyone was to ask him about chocolates, he could only say that he did not know, just Itsuki’s likes at most. However, she spent more time with Itsuki than he did, and already knew about these things, it seemed.
“I can ask Mahirun, but you are somewhat a guy anyway, Amane~ I want to hear what a boy has to say.”
“What’d you mean somewhat I’m a real guy here.”
“I do think a boy will act on a girl when two of them are alone.”
“Say, that only happens when the other side agrees to it, and we aren’t in that sort of relationship.”
“You really are well raised there, Amane. Some healthy thoughts you have.”
He was appraised to have healthy thoughts, but Amane himself assumed it was common sense.
It was true that boys could do such things to girls they do not like, but the concepts of being able to do was a little different from actually doing it. After all, he had to be concerned about what she thought.
He would be lying if he said that he did not have such desires on Mahiru. He felt that it was to be expected for a boy to have some desires from a female who was charismatic inside and outside.
But despite that, he would not want to think of any folly.
He did not want to make her cry, to be hated by her, and wanted to dote on her—such were the feelings he first had for her.
Also, she had declared that she would harm him greatly, both socially and critically, and he was not foolish to actually do anything out of his lust. It was likely she would actually follow through with the threat.
“Well that’s another good point of you, Amane, or rather why you got Mahirun’s trust there.”
Chitose had given Mahiru the cute nickname Mahirun instead.
Mahiru did not deny it even though she heard it in the kitchen, so while he did not know if she was willing, she was at least accepting of this given nickname.
Well, for her, it might be better than being called the Angel
“Sometimes I wonder if you’re a guy.”
“I said I’m a guy. Is there a girl out there who’s rugged and bony all over?”
“So an herbivore…you know, I think you can be a little more greedy, Amane?”
“Won’t it be disgusting for me to be greedy in this appearance?”
“Just use that manly style the last time. I want to see.”
Itsuki and Chitose already knew that the rumored person was Amane, and he admitted it days ago, so there was no point hiding it at this point.
However, he did not want to show them that style, and he found it a hassle.
“Don’t say that. I hate that getup of mine.”
“It’s not like you’ll lose anything—”
“My sanity and wax will.”
Miser! Chitose puffed her cheeks, and he ignored her. Mahiru returned from the kitchen with a wry smile on her face.
On the tray were the cups of milk tea, which Chitose wanted.
After three cups were served onto the table before the sofa, Amane stood from the sofa, and sat on the cushion nearest to it.
“Sit down.” He prompted Mahiru with this look, and the latter felt a little awkward as she cautiously sat where he once sat.
“Since there’re such rumors going on, you can be rather popular at school if you make that hairstyle.”
“I don’t want to. It’s definitely going to be a hassle, and I never wanted to be popular.”
“Ehh~ Valentine’s going to be a big turning point. You sure you don’t want any Valentine’s chocolate, Amane? Look at the popular Yuu-chan for example, he’ll receive quite a lot, you know? Aren’t you jealous?”
“Eh, no, that’ll cause diabetes.”
This Yuu-chan probably referred to Yuuta. Luckily for Amane, he was not one of the victims of Chitose’s nicknaming habits.
It was likely the prince Yuuta would receive lots of chocolate, but he would gain lots of excess fat if he ate them all.
“Besides, it’s a hassle to repay all these gifts. Including the obligatory chocolate and the heartfelt chocolate, Kadowaki’s probably have to deal with dozens of them, and he has to repay them three times worth. Isn’t that too much for a high schooler’s wallet?”
“So you’re taking it that you have to repay three times worth? Great. Well, you don’t have to worry about repaying me, I’ll give you chocolates. How do you like it?”
“I don’t really hate or like sweet stuff…something not too sweet, I guess.”
“Got it. I’ll add different things inside.”
“Don’t add anything strange in.”
“Don’t worry, it’s edible.”
He did not know what she was going to add, but it seemed Chitose had no intention of delivering a normal delicious chocolate.
“Mahirun, who are you giving yours to?”
“All the girls I interact with in class.”
“You’re not giving to any boy?”
“…If I do, even if it is obligatory, there will be a commotion…”
One could easily imagine the boys getting all fired up, and after that, a meaningless melee between them.
To the ordinary boys, chocolates from the Angel would be a god’s present to them. If she gave them any, there would be quite the uproar going on.
One had to wonder which was the terrifying one; Mahiru’s popularity, or the imagination of the boys.
Well, there would be no trouble if she did not give any, so he understood with a wry smile.
“I will give to you, Chitose-san.”
“Yay, I love you, Mahirun. I’ll give you some too~ the best chocolate for you unlike what I’ll give Amane.”
Chitose grinned away as she latched onto Mahiru.
At the very least, he was relieved that she was not sexually harassing Mahiru, but he could not let those words past him. He glared at Chitose fiercely, and the latter showed a dumb face on her face.
“Just kidding~ I’ll make sure yours is edible too, Amane?”
“Feels like this edible is completely different from being delicious…”
He saw that Chitose was clearly planning some mischief, and felt a migraine as he held down his forehead. Chitose clearly showed her joy “Look forward to it.” as she giggled at him.
As expected, the school was in a ruckus on Valentine’s Day, and everyone was in a restless mood.
Many boys were eagerly looking forward to something while pretending not to have any interest.
Many boys felt that being able to receive chocolates on this day would determine their manliness level, and thus their attitudes.
“Everyone’s getting restless.”
Amane, never one to pay heed to this, felt it was really troublesome, and turned towards Itsuki who had no interest due a different reason.
Itsuki himself was leisurely watching the commotion in class “Yep” and answered back at Amane.
“So Itsuki-san, who’s being carefree because he has a girlfriend, please state your understanding of this year’s Valentine.”
“I guess all the boys are feeling really desperate; whether they can get chocolate today, that will determine their futures. Also, there’s about 60% of them being restless, hoping to receive chocolates from Shiina-san.”
“Looks like she’s not giving any obligatory chocolates to the guys, or else it’ll be a mess.”
“I guess…anyway Amane-kun, are you expecting to receive any from her?”
“Who knows? I can’t tell at all.”
Mahiru would give to the girls, but not to the boys, so he was not expecting to receive chocolates. Even if he did not, he was fine with that.
Of course, if he received it, he would be grateful, but it really did not matter.
To be honest, Amane felt Valentine’s Day was merely a promotion from a sweets company, and not some very important event.
Seeing that Amane clearly had no interest in it “How boring.” Itsuki gave a wry smile, and turned away from Amane to look at where the biggest commotion in class was.
“…But well, that’s really amazing.”
The ‘that’ Itsuki was referring t was the person popular with almost all the girls in class.
The prince was gathered in the middle, showing an innocent, adorable smile, girls flocking to him and giving him wrapped chocolates.
Class had not started, but the bag he had prepared was already full of gifts, his popularity clear to see.
“Well, that’s really amazing.”
“Same goes for the guys gritting their teeth around him.”
Some boys probably never received chocolates, and they merely stared into the distance, or looking at Yuuta with envy.
The difference in popularity was right before them, before they could even be rated, and they could only watch and lament.
But Amane was concerned that it might be tough for Yuuta to bring that many chocolates back, and he wondered how the latter would handle them.
“The popular guy sure has it tough. It’ll take lots of effort to bring them back and eat them.”
“I guess, but it’s amazing how he’s still not fat. Feels like he’s been like that since middle school. The body shape hasn’t changed at all.”
“Guess that’s to be expected of the track team. But I can’t say I won’t get fat eating chocolate.”
“Chii made your chocolate. Be prepared.”
“What do you mean, prepared?”
“No wait, what did she add inside?”
He sensed from the conversation days ago that she was not going to make ordinary sweets, so it seemed she added something unnecessary.
“Let’s see, a chocolate with habanero, wasabi, Japanese pepper, one with umeboshi extract energy jelly, and the rest are all normal.”
“What the hell did she make!?”
“Looks like she wants to surprise you, Amane.”
He might be shocked in a certain way, near outright agony it seemed.
“…I’m scared to eat.”
“Just give up. I experienced this when I taste tested.”
“Did you eat it for fun or something?”
“Well sorta. I’ll eat anything Chii makes.”
“Damn you stupid couple.”
Itsuki would eat anything Chitose would make for him.
In fact, Chitose’s cooking was not bad in any sense; the problem was that she was overly adventurous. She could make it as normal as possible if she put her mind to it, but she had the tendency of adding some bothersome steps.
The usual sacrifice was Itsuki, but he never expected himself to be the sacrifice this time around.
Looking at Itsuki’s reaction, the chocolate should be somewhat edible, not something to be overly terrified of, but he would still worry about worrying things after all.
While Amane looked a little downhearted, Itsuki gave him a warm look of one who had survived the experiences, the just give up look.
“Come on Amane, here!”
After school, Chitose came to pick up Itsuki, and delivered chocolates to Amane, the latter answered her with little enthusiasm.
He was grateful to receive them, yes.
Grateful, but there was dangerous stuff inside; he could not be as happy as he would like.
He intended to finish all of them, so he would surely encounter the super-hot and super tangy flavors, so he would be worriedly eating the chocolates over the following days.
“You heard from Ikkun, so look forward to seeing what’s inside!”
“I really don’t like spicy stuff…”
“It’s still edible at least, you know? I tried it before, it’s rather nice!”
“That’s because you like spicy stuff…goodness.”
Amane could not pique his interest as he did not like spicy stuff that much. He also did not like sour stuff, so the chocolates contained flavors he disliked.
The good news however that was others were probably delicious.
“Ahh, there’s some super sweet and super bitter.”
“Thanks for telling me beforehand.”
Chitose heartily added another bomb to him, and he was so frustrated, he wanted to cup his own head.
The super sweet chocolate probably contained condensed milk, and the super bitter contained 99% cacao.
He could however handle that much. He did not dislike bitter stuff.
It seemed this was the first time Itsuki heard of it, “Chii…you…” his cheeks twitched slightly, but Chitose maintained her smiling face.
“It’s fine. There are some that fit his taste buds.”
“We’ll be going off then~ bye bye~”
Without answering Amane’s question, she grabbed Itsuki’s hands and ran off. They appeared to be on their Valentine date.
“I pray for your safety”, he received these consoling words of encouragement from Itsuki, and waved with a sigh as he watched them leave.
Once he saw them disappear, he felt it was time to head back, so he put on his coat, and took the bag from the hook on the side of the table.
He was not displeased about being alone, but he intended to leave early, for if he stayed around for too long, the riajuu boys and girls would be too overwhelming for him.
He was about to leave with the bag on his back, only to look at the most popular boy in the year.
It seemed the bombardment of presents had stopped as Yuuta stared at the items all the boys thirsted for, looking into the distance. The bag next to his table was also filled with treasures.
Amane immediately realized what he was thinking, and with some pity, he went over.
“Nn, ahh, Fujimiya? What is it?”
They had been classmates for almost a year, so even though Amane did not have much presence, his name was remembered.
Yuuta was surprised to be approached by an unexpected person, because apart from duty matters, Amane would never approach him to talk.
Amane could only give a wry smile at that attitude, and unzipped a little pocket at the front of his bag.
“Nothing much, here.”
He took out a few supermarket bags that were compacted into triangles, and tossed them at Kadowaki.
“Do prepare a few inside just in case. It will be useful later on.” Mahiru said when she put them in. When he received them, he thought he would be using them as barf bags or trash bags, but he never expected to use this to help others in a page of youth.
What is this, so Yuuta wondered as he opened the triangular blocks, and they were plastic bags much larger than he expected.
They were not particularly thick, so they might tear, but Amane was not going to help him out that much, so he would leave it to the actual party involved.
“Am I wrong?”
“I see. Looks tough, hang in there.”
Someone might see the Yuuta carrying large bags in school.
Being a popular guy sure is tough, so Amane thought as he waved his hand and left the classroom.
It was Valentine’s Day, but there was no such mood at home, and like usual, he returned home to rest.
It was not time to make dinner yet, so Mahiru was next to him. However, she never looked anxious, and did not show signs of wanting to do anything to Amane.
He never looked forward to receiving chocolates, so that was fine with him. The little sadness he had however was merely a result of his pride as a man.
“There’s a sweet smell in school today.”
“It is Valentine’s Day after all.”
It seemed the Angel had given chocolates to the girls she was acquainted with, but did not give any to the boys, not even obligatory ones. He could hear devastated voices from the boys who were infatuated with her.
Why do they think they can receive any from her when they don’t even interact? …he wondered, but the boys were ultimately being hopeful.
“Well, Valentine’s Day is just an event for the popular guys. It doesn’t have anything to do with unattractive guys like us.”
“You seem mentally prepared.”
“Not that I’m proud of it, but I never received heartfelt ones. I only received Russian obligatory chocolates from Chitose.”
“Russian Obligatory chocolate?”
“Some chocolates with stimulating stuff mixed among normal chocolates.”
It appeared the chocolates Chitose gave contained some really spicy, sour, sweet, bitter, and various kinds, filled with the kinds to destroy his taste buds. He was terrified of eating them.
“She made something really amazing again…”
“I’ll eat it, so if it looks like I’m suffering, please forgive me.”
“You will eat them all, I suppose.”
“Of course. She prepared it for me anyway, so I’ll eat it. It’s not poison.”
While there were stimulants inside, they were not harmful to the body, so he intended to eat those chocolates gratefully, since she made them for him.
Since she spent the time making them, the recipient should finish it. However, he was really unenthusiastic about eating stimulating stuff.
“Well, I didn’t receive anything else. I’m not a riajuu; Valentine’s Day isn’t something I can talk about.”
He was fine just receiving one obligatory chocolate.
He was frowning in a brooding manner, not knowing how to repay her a month later, his eyebrows dropping. Mahiru in turn silently stared at him.
After dinner, he ate Chitose’s chocolate, and was prone on the table.
The chocolates he received from Chitose were diving into time intervals, 12 truffles.
There were four types of jackpot, a one in three chance of striking.
The grand prize was the really spicy one, so Amane though he could eat the others normally—only to end up like this.
“You hit the jackpot.”
“…I want to eat it over a few days, and this happens…”
Mahiru was in the kitchen making drinks when she noticed Amane, and approached him with a voice of pity.
He barely managed to swallow it; his mouth no longer feeling spicy, but pain. He knew spiciness was not really a flavor, but that was not the problem.
Should he be considered lucky? This really was not something edible, it was bearable, but utter suffering.
The wasabi’s unique sting shot at his nostrils, and he was impressed that Chitose really mixed all these flavors in, bemoaning with natural tears in his eyes that she should not have put in that much effort.
His nose and eyes were attacked by the wasabi, the habanero and pepper burned his tongue. It was an intense taste…painful even; one piece by itself left him battered all over.
“It is unfortunate. But you may think of it as encountering hell first; all that is left is heaven.”
Despite that, she was powerless to do anything about this pain.
Amane really yearned for this pain to quickly vanish as he heard a soft sigh, and from the side, there was a thud.
“Here, use this to wash it off.”
He lifted his head, and found a steaming mug next to him, giving off a sweet smell
It contained some thick brown liquid.
“Similar. This is chocolat chaud…well basically, hot chocolate. It is not that sweet, but should be sufficient in clearing your tongue.”
“You saved me…”
For the time being, he wanted to wash off this pain.
He poured the hot chocolate from the mug into his mouth, and the warm, rich flavor spread.
It had the sweet scent of chocolate, but the flavor was not too sweet, bittersweet rather, easy to drink, and comforting.
“That is good.”
She answered flatly, but he did not mind as he tried to conceal the pain in his mouth by slowly savoring the hot chocolate.
The chocolate itself did not contain much stimulant, and instead, they were mixed into ganache, hardened, and a coating of sugar was added. It was really impactful at first, but it eased up after some time.
Once he was done drinking, his tongue was back to normal, though a little numb.
“Haa…she really mixed everything in…”
“Was it that spicy?”
“Well she added pepper, wasabi and habanero. Goodness…good thing there’s something to clean my mouth up. I would have died if I ate it out there.”
“A silver lining in this misfortune, it seems.”
Damn you Chitose, so he cursed, but Chitose probably did so to give Amane a surprise, so he could not blame her.
Besides the jackpot, the others should be relatively normal, and she was not being malicious. She did make it for others, and tried it herself, so Amane could only give a wry smile at that.
“Speaking of which, it’s rare to see hot cocoa now. Isn’t it usually hot milk?”
“Wait, you’re making this for Valentine’s?”
Mahiru would usually drink hot milk or milk tea rather than hot cocoa; it was rare for her to make such a drink, so he asked, feeling a little hopeful.
“Nn, thanks. You saved me.”
She nodded slightly, and Amane heaved a sigh of relief.
If she denied it at this point, he would be embarrassed by how sensitive he was being; it seemed he got it right this time.
Mahiru probably used Valentine’s Day as a roundabout way of doing this, but he was really grateful for this.
Once he told her “it was delicious”, she shivered a little uncomfortably.
“What is it?”
He sat next to her, but he assumed that she would stammer if he prompted her, so he made sure to sound kind, asking again,
After prompting, Mahiru buried half her face into the cushion she tightly embraced, and looked up at him.
Her body shriveled slightly as she looked up, and she was being so adorable, Amane had the urge to pat her head.
She was acting like a little animal, strangely adorable, capable of coaxing anyone to smile. Amane waited silently, but she shivered, not continuing on.
“…I-I shall head back.”
And for some reason, she suddenly stood up, and took her belongings.
Heh? Amane blurted out, and her footsteps teetered off the living room.
Amane remained rooted as the entrance door opened and shut, followed by the sound of the lock. In the blink of an eye, Mahiru was gone.
It happened too quickly, “Ehhh…?” and he blurted out
（Did I do anything …?）
He never expected her to run away, so he was half confused, half worried that he did anything to ruin her mood…the anxiety was filling his heart.
What do I say to her if she’s still in a bad mood tomorrow? He worried as he wanted to check on the entrance door she left by, only to notice a little paper bag hanging on the doorknob of his room.
It was the pink paper bag she brought along when she left, with a message card pasted outside the seal.
『This is my daily thanksgiving to you for being in your care all this word』
Typical of Mahiru, the card contained her polite, cursive handwriting. He looked into the bag, and found a chocolate-colored ribbon wrapped around a pastel pink box.
Why here? So he wondered, but he immediately realized she hung it there.
It seemed she found it too shameful to give it to him directly. She said she would not give to the boys, and this left her hesitant.
（Couldn’t she just give it to me normally?）
He gave a wry smile, thinking how she was rather reserved at such a moment, before removing the contents.
The box had a cute wrapping just like Mahiru, showcasing her feminine side.
He felt a little uneasy about whether he should receive her present, and slowly removed the wrapping, opening the box.
Inside it was chocolate coated sugar preserved oranges, each wrapped individually in vinyl. In other words, Orangettes.
The bright orange colors and the glossy dark chocolates looked really dazzling, and they looked really delicious.
There were normal chocolates and white chocolates coatings, and lemons too, ensuring that he would not get sick of them.
Attached to the Orangettes was another message.
『It seems you dislike sweets, so I made something easy to eat. It will be great if they suit your tastes』
Such was the message written, and he recalled the event ten days ago or so.
『How do you like it? 』
『”I don’t really hate or like sweet stuff…something not too sweet, I guess. 』
She remembered his conversation with Chitose, and took note of his preferences.
It was just like Mahiru to notice the details, and to remember his likes. This was her gift to her, and these factors combined together left him embarrassed, his face a little hot.
He stared at the normal Orangettes that were individually wrapped for easy eating, and took one.
The bright glossy chocolates formed a beautiful contrast with the oranges. He took a bite
Spreading in his mouth was the sour sweetness of the sugar preserved orange, and the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate.
The two flavors meshed perfectly, creating an impressive harmony.
He found them tastier than those sold in the shops, probably because it was made by Mahiru.
So he thought as he took another bite.
Mahiru’s Orangettes were sweet, sour, and a little bitter—but for some reason, it was incomparably sweet.
“Fujimiya, you helped me out yesterday.”
Amane arrived at school the next day, and froze as Yuuta suddenly spoke to him a little too naturally.
Though they had some interaction yesterday, he never expected Yuuta to thank him just for that little thing.
Unlike when he was surrounded by the girls, Yuuta was smiling as heartily as he could. Amane, being approached by Yuuta, could feel some stares around him, and felt really unbearable.
He hated the attention, and was a little intimidated to be faced with such curious stares.
“Ahh, you don’t have to worry about that. Looks like you had it tough too.”
Yuuta looked into the distance, and Amane answered with sympathy, “Well, a popular guy sure has it tough.”
Yuuta himself knew he was popular, but was not proud of it. He was popular with the people around him, and the boys jealous of him did not really despise him.
Perhaps one reason why he was so popular was because of his courtesy to thank others, even for the little things.
“Anyway, you helped me out. Just want to thank you.”
“It’s fine. We should help each other out when we’re in trouble.”
He did not help Yuuta out just for a favor, and he did not think he did anything worthy of being thanked.
Don’t fret, he chuckled, and Yuuta then smiled with some relief.
The surrounding girls started a ruckus upon seeing that earnest smile, and Amane could only show a wry smile, thinking that that smile should be directed at the girls.
“Did anything happen between you and Yuuta?”
After Yuuta left, Itsuki, who seemed to have noticed, approached Amane.
“Kadowaki received too many chocolates, and was at a loss of what to do. I just handed over my shopping bags to him.”
“Ahh, guess he received more than he expected. Managed to deal with them, somehow.”
Itsuki too had seen the masses of chocolates and the goodwill of the girls, so he understood after hearing Amane’s explanation, and gave a wry look with some pity mixed in.
Back then, both of them felt that it would be tough for Yuuta to bring so many back. It was not surprising for Amane to lend him a hand.
Amane felt that he merely helped a little, and there was nothing to thank for.
“That’s all. Nothing too impressive.”
“I guess that’s just like you…but well, you got shopping bags prepared…why does it look like you’re raising a household? Feels like you’re a housewife when you’re looking at the supermarket ads on your phone.”
“Well I’m a guy. But, I guess I was affected by something…”
One had to wonder if he should call it Mahiru’s fault, or that it was thanks to her.
They had to share the ingredients costs, so Amane would sometimes surf the web for ads to save as much as possible. Sometimes, he would suggest to Mahiru to make cheap things like those seen on the ads. To Itsuki, he was basically a slave to the household.
Perhaps what he was doing was more akin to a housewife than a master of the household. However, the cooking was still left to Mahiru.
“Sure is great to have a partner who can take care of the house.”
“She’s not a partner…what about Chitose?”
“Chii? Well, she, if she doesn’t act on any strange impulses, yeah…she probably still can’t do it.”
“You’re saying that she capable of not doing anything crazy?”
“…That makes her cute too, right?”
“Oy don’t look away.”
For good or bad, Chitose was the haphazard thrill-seeker.
If she did things normally, she was capable to doing housework at the level of a typical high school girl; if she suddenly had a sense of mischief or a change in mood, she was capable of many things.
“Well, seems like she’ll be a little more obedient when we get married.”
“How long until your dad agrees…”
Itsuki’s father was rather strict about dating, a rarity at this time. He would not meet Chitose, and was displeased about them dating with the plan to get married in the future.
In contrast, Chitose’s parents were really welcoming of Itsuki. Isn’t it usually the opposite? …Amane was dumbfounded when he knew of it.
“Well, I’ll try to convince him when I’m an adult. Like, does he want to see a grandchild?”
He was not going to listen to his father regarding this, and merely shrugged at it, but his eyes were full of seriousness, and he was indicating that he would fight until the very end.
He showed thus far how much he loved Chitose. Amane felt it was impressive for Itsuki to consider marriage in high school, and was supporting them.
“…Well, you’re not going to give up until he gives up. Do your best.”
“Oh. You too.”
“You and her…right?”
“…She and I don’t have that sort of relationship.”
Don’t guess randomly, he said as he turned his face aside, only to hear Itsuki’s elated giggle next to him.
Amane returned from the supermarket with the requested ingredients, and found Mahiru already waiting for him on his sofa.
It was a usual scene, but the only difference was that this time, Mahiru was hugging the cushion, her arms wrapped around her knees as she sat on the sofa.
She was pouting like a child in this posture, but she seemed more embarrassed than pouting, being so adorable that he did not know where to look.
Thank goodness for the long skirt, so Amane averted his eyes awkwardly, went to the fridge and put the ingredients in. He returned to the living room, and found Mahiru peeking at him.
He sat next to Mahiru, and saw her stare averting elsewhere.
“Mahiru, thanks for yesterday. It’s delicious.”
He knew she was still concerned about the previous day, but he thanked her as he was really grateful. Upon hearing that, her eyes looked towards Amane, her face still half buried in the cushion.
“What do you want as a return gift?”
“I did not give you that just for a return gift.”
“I get that, but I should at least respond to your earnest thoughts with my own, right? It’s embarrassing for a guy to accept without giving back.”
Amane firmly believed in the concept of returning what he received, and to him, since she had made such a delicious thing for him, he had to repay her in some way, and he was not going to compromise on that.
After all, it appeared she never once did so to the others, but she made some for Amane’s personal tastes, and that would have taken some effort.
“…I have received lots from you, Amane-kun.”
“Actually, you’ve been offering so much for me. You’ve been cooking for me, and I’ve been causing you trouble.”
“I am doing this because I like it…you may not have noticed, Amane-kun, but you have given me lots. That is sufficient.”
Amane felt he never gave anything to Mahiru, and that he was the receiving side, so he wanted to repay Mahiru, but the latter did not seem to think so.
“But that’s different…well, I’ll think of something you’ll like.”
Even if Amane had unwittingly given her something, it was different from a White Day’s gift.
Since he received chocolates on Valentine’s Day, he should repay her on White Day. It was a form of basic courtesy.
I am not going to compromise, he gave her such a look, “…Yes” and once Mahiru saw it, her eyes faltered strangely as she nodded.
“Anyway, there’s still about a month or so to think of something. Will be great if I can think of something you’ll like.”
“…Do you have that much free time? We are starting our end of year exams next week. After that will be the closing ceremony.”
Mahiru pointed out, looking a little bewildered. It was true that their end of year exams would begin the following week.
On this day, the school still had some aftertaste of Valentine’s Day, but it would quickly shift to a tense mood right before the exams.
For Amane however, it was not something in particular to worry about.
“Well, I just need to perform during the exams like usual. Not like I’ll be retained, no need to worry. Same goes for you right, Mahiru?”
“I suppose. It is easy if we have put in the effort.”
Amane was serious with his studies, and usually did his preparations and revision, so he was not one to be troubled by the exams.
Even without cramming at the last moment, he felt he could maintain his usual level of grades, and that was how he made it this far. At most, he would spend a little more time studying at the desk before the tests.
Mahiru in turn had grasped the lesson material beforehand, and like Amane, she was not one to skimp on her revision, so she did not look anxious. She might prefer the exams to the actual lessons, since her schedule for the day would end earlier.
“Well, just wait for it, but don’t hope too much.”
“…Yes. I shall treasure everything you give me, Amane-kun.”
“That’s quite exaggerated.”
“I have treated Kuma-san well too.”
It seemed she had treasured the doll he gave her for her birthday.
He saw the key case, and knew she was using it, but he was a little worried about the teddy bear…looking at Mahiru, it seemed she really liked it.
He nearly burst out laughing upon hearing Mahiru give such a cute name like Kuma-san, but if he did, he might get glared, so he held it in.
If he could remain with Mahiru like this, what should he give for her birthday this year…Amane was looking forward to it.
“That’s good.” He answered Mahiru with a chuckle, and found her staring at him.
“…Speaking of which, I do not know of your birthday, Amane-kun.”
“Ahh me? November 8th.”
He realized he did not tell her that, so he told her of her birthday, ssuuuu…and her eyes narrowed.
They had been together for months, so he understood that expression was her being a little furious.
“We already knew each other back then, no?”
“Why did you not mention it back then?”
“You never asked. You never mentioned your own birthday. I only knew when I saw your student ID.”
“And anyway, our relationship wasn’t as good as it is now. If I mentioned my birthday, you would be wondering what I’m talking about.”
It’s my birthday, even if he said that to Mahiru, she would have answered “I see” and left it at that.
For Amane, that would be akin to begging for a present, which he hated, and he did not have such shame.
There was no need to mention, and they were not so trusting of each other, which was simply why he did not mention it.
“You don’t have to worry about that, you know?”
“…then, I shall celebrate your birthday this year.”
It seemed Mahiru was still not satisfied as she turned towards Amane, tugging firmly at his sleeve as she declared this.
Well, she probably was displeased that only she got to celebrate. Her eyes were implying that she would celebrate his more seriously than her own, so Amane gave a wry smile at that.
For some reason, he was delighted to hear her say that…a smile of ordinary joy appeared on his face.
Thus, Mahiru and Amane had the same thoughts…she wanted to be next to him, and that thought made him happier than anything else.
“So we’re promising to stay together until then?”
He nonchalantly quipped, and Mahiru widened her clear caramel-colored eyes—her cheeks instantly blushing as she moved her hand away from his sleeve, slapping the cushion.
It seemed she was embarrassed to have this pointed out to her.
Anxious to hide her embarrassment, she vented her tantrum on Amane, who nearly smiled again after seeing such an adorable scene.
“…I do not, dislike you, Amane-kun …I feel calm, being with you. That is fine.”
“I see. Thanks.”
“I do not, mean anything else though.”
“I know that at least.”
She hastily added, and he nodded understandingly, but for some reason, she looked a little displeased.