The day before the new semester, Amane was lazing on the sofa, watching the TV news, yawning away.
The new semester was about to start, but he remained lazy, for the season began to warm, inducing sleep. Also, he did not think anything drastic would happen no matter which class he was assigned to.
He yawned, and turned his blurry vision towards the TV. The broadcaster was scowling away, reporting on the places to view the cherry blossoms.
This area he was living at would soon experience the blooming blossoms. Surprisingly, it was starting exceptionally early, right before the new semester. Nevertheless, his hometown was experiencing the blooming of the cherry blossoms, and he was not that surprised.
（Cherry blossoms, huh?）
Amane himself was never one to enjoy the seasonal scenery too much, but it was not that he did not understand the atmosphere. He had fond sentiments of the cherry blossoms, and liked the faint colored petals.
Suddenly, he recalled there was a riverside path with blooming cherry blossoms, not too far away, so he slowly got up.
（It’s unthinkable of me to spend my entire spring break at home.）
He did exercise his muscles and go jogging, but aside from those situations, he did not leave his house.
He was more inclined to staying indoors, and practically spent his days together with Mahiru. Perhaps it was fine for him to go out once in a while.
He was annoyed to be induced into doing so because of the news, but since it was a good day, he might as well go out. Furthermore, it was the last day of spring break, and he would have to wait till the next week if he did not go out on this day.
He got off the sofa, and changed into appropriate outdoor clothing. He was alone, and there was no need to dress decently.
A boy’s preparation was simple, especially when going out alone. A change of clothes, wallet and smartphone in the bag, and out of the corridor…then, he saw some flax colors.
“Huh, where are you going, Amane-kun?”
Mahiru was in plainclothes, and probably intended to head to Amane’s house, only to bump into him while he was leaving, making him apologetic.
“Oh Mahiru? Well, just going to take a stroll. It’s the last day of spring break after all.”
“I see. You have cooped inside your house the entire spring break after all, Amane-kun.”
“But well…ah, I’ll be back in a few hours, so you got any plans? You can relax in my house if you want.”
Amane’s house had more recreational items than Mahiru’s, and would be more fun, but she would feel more relieved to stay at her house. He intended for her to make her decision.
Jiii, but Mahiru stared back at Amane. It appeared she was waiting for him to say something, so he scratched his cheek, wondering what to do.
For some reason, her eyes were looking somewhat hopeful.
“What, you want to come along too?”
What? He wanted to laugh, but she nodded; he did not expect such a definite answer, and his pitch was raised drastically.
“Y-you do not have to oblige if you dislike it.”
“N-not that dislike it…well, actually, there’ll be rumors again if we’re seen. You fine with that?”
“Well, rumors are rumors. We can just ignore what others say.”
“U-understood. Get ready then. We’ll leave one hour later.”
He was wondering why Mahiru was being so interested. He took it that she too was bored, and got ready to leave with her.
Mahiru’s casual clothes were a little shoddy. Her fashion sense and the clothes were fine as they were, and her clothes were not unsightly to say the least, but a girl probably would not be going out in such clothing.
Amane too felt that if he was to walk alongside her without dressing well, he would cause her trouble in two ways.
Got to tidy up my hair, he fiddled with his bangs. Mahiru realized the reason why he decided to go along, and lowered her eyebrows.
“So-sorry. It is because of me.”
“No that’s fine. It’s a nice change of mood to go out on a stroll. Maybe the scenery will change when I’m with you, Mahiru.”
It’s not that much of a hassle, and since they had been together for so long, he was not going to be quick to anger.
Furthermore, with Mahiru, befitting of the cherry blossoms next to him, the cherry blossoms might end up prettier than before…so he quietly thought to himself, and never had any intent to reproach her.
“See you later then.”
Seeing her looking so apologetic, he patted her head, and returned home to change clothes and tidy his hair.
About an hour later, they were done changing, so Amane accompanied Mahiru out in a fresh change of clothes, leisurely strolling out.
He looked towards the girl next to him, and found the usual pretty face.
She was dressed in a white one piece dress with lace, along with a faint pink cardigan over it, dressed in a spring-like vibe. The one piece dress reached slightly above her knees, a little short for her, but she was wearing stockings, so her thighs were not exposed.
They were merely going on a stroll, but she tied her hair in a half up. Even on a stroll, she would put utmost effort into dressing well, her obsessive commitment was undeniable, and he glanced at her.
“What is it?”
“No, feels like you’re dressed well today.”
“…Thank you very much.”
Her cheeks were a little flushed, her head lowered as she looked down bashfully. She was being the perfect example of an innocent, pretty girl.
And thanks to that, he could sense stares around them as they walked.
“Sp-speaking of which, is there any place you want to go to?”
She did not appear to be particularly mindful of the surrounding stares, and looked up towards him, albeit a little flustered.
“Nn, well, I thought of going to the riverside, see the cherry blossoms there. It blooms earlier this year, so it’s about time to watch them.”
“…Is that so?”
“That’s why I just wanted to go around, have a little look. We can’t?”
“O-of course we can. That is fine. I shall follow.”
She was acting a little unnatural, but he noticed her tugging at the hem of his clothes, and ignored all the unnecessary details.
She lifted her eyes, giving an adorable look, and his heart pounded wildly, leaving him breathless.
（…This is really an issue. Everything about her’s so cute.）
She was already a pretty girl, and the affection he had for her made her cuter. Furthermore, she trusted him, and would approach him. This feeling was exacerbated through the roof.
Trying to hide how shaken he was, he removed Mahiru’s slender hand, and held it.
“Alright, let’s go.”
Considering that there would be many present on this rest day, he held her hand to ensure they would not split, and she ended up lowering her head bashfully. He resisted the urge to yell out loud as he grabbed it firmly.
They arrived at the riverside a little distant from their apartments, and as expected, there were many there.
The students were experiencing the last day of their break, and the working adults took it as an appropriate them to watch the flowers. Many had laid out blue sheets, enjoying the sight.
The cherry blossoms were already in full bloom, their faint, gentle colors in full view. It really was a good time to view the flower.
“…Amazing. This is most spectacular than I thought.”
The breeze blew, and he muttered as he looked at the falling, fluttering petals.
He was not one to be particularly interested in flowers, but he did like pretty things. He really felt the flowers added a faint pink to his sight, and was really beautiful.
Hooo…he exhaled, and glanced aside to Mahiru, who was looking up at the cherry blossoms wordlessly.
He did not see any traces of amazement in her eyes, nary an emotion, just her staring blankly at the cherry blossoms. She might not have been paying attention to them, her eyes merely staring at the scenery, it seemed.
He sensed something strange from her, and called out to her, and she blinked a few times as she turned towards him.
“Why did you space out so suddenly?”
“…N-nothing, just…these are cherry blossoms.”
“Well, they are…I’m not talking about that. Is there something on your mind? Feels like something’s wrong, and well, I’m worried.”
He told her he was concerned by her change in mood, and she awkwardly lowered her eyes.
“No, nothing too important…I just, do not like cherry blossoms…or rather, spring itself.”
“Eh, sorry, I didn’t know. Shouldn’t have brought you here.”
He regretted bringing her here and showing her something she disliked, but she gently shook her head.
“No, not that I dislike the flowers…just that I am painfully aware that I cannot recall anything.”
“You can’t recall?”
“Yes. I have been alone the entire time after all.”
Upon seeing the forlorn smile on her face, he started to understand what she was thinking, and tasted bitterness in his mouth.
The bitter smile on Mahiru’s face was full of confusion and loneliness, rather than suffering. Beyond the pain was a look of utter resignation.
“I was alone during my entrance ceremony…and the graduation ceremony. Koyuki-san would visit in the afternoon, as per contract, and my parents would focus on work.”
My father did congratulate me, at least, so she bitterly noted as she lifted her head towards the blooming cherry blossoms.
“I always returned home alone, whether it was the opening ceremony, or the graduation ceremony. The cherry blossoms trees have held hands with all the parents, yet I remain alone. Nobody held my hand, nobody led me by the hand, and nobody accompanied me. I could only return alone…this is why I dislike spring. The more I think of it, the lonelier I feel.”
How indecent I am, she surmised as she lowered her head. Amane instinctively grabbed her hand, making her realize his existence.
While he had some strong opinions on Mahiru’s words to say, the most important thing to was to cleanse the loneliness from her heart.
“I’m holding your hand now. I’m right next to you.”
He stared right into the caramel-colored eyes, saying so, and Mahiru widened her eyes, blinking away before eking a smile, “…Of course.” She muttered.
She held the hand firmer than ever, as though yearning for further confirmation of his existence. Amane showed a kind smile, patting Mahiru gently on the head to calm her down.
“If this isn’t enough, we’ll get Chitose and Itsuki over. My parents are a little further, so it might be difficult, but they’ll definitely show up if I call them…”
“Th-that is fine. You do not have to go so far.”
“Really? Then be patient with me.”
“…I will not.”
“No, that is not it…I mean, you do not have to compromise further.”
You do not have to compromise further, once he heard those words, he was ever so bashful, his face starting to sizzle.
Even though she might not mean anything else, he faltered, and was delighted to hear her agree, to yearn for him next to her, to be willing to hold hands.
His heart was pounding, his face was starting to heat up, but he never let go of her hand. Slowly, Mahiru’s expression eased into a little smile.
“…I am starting to like the cherry blossoms.”
Mahiru looked at the cherry blossoms in the sky, “I see” and Amane answered so to hide how rattled he was, wrapping the little hand gently in his.