“Man that was harsh…”
Amane had a bath, washed away the dirt on his body, and once done, he leaned on the welsofa, feeling comfortably fatigued from the exercise.
As expected, he was attacked furiously during the cavalry battle.
Though it was expected, the aggressive bumps caused Kadowaki and the others much trouble.
“This is youth huh?” Hiiragi said excitedly, giving a bloodthirsty grin. Perhaps he liked such competition after all.
Amane’s team did not survive till the very end as they faced the incoming onslaught. Thanks to their rider Kuju’s heroics, they got more headbands they imagined.
Kuju contributed the most, but Mahiru, observed in the opposing ranks, smiled at Amane.
And just like that, the afternoon matches ended, followed by the closing ceremony. After the usual cleanup, Amane returned home.
Too many things happened, and he ended up all weary, but the day did not end.
…I have to say this.
Mahiru mustered such courage to reveal their relationship publicly, and chose to establish a relationship with Amane.
His pride as a boy would be ruined if he dithered and did not reciprocate those feelings.
But how am I supposed to do it?
He made up his mind, but once he thought about how he had to confess, he was hesitant and troubled. Perhaps this was the reason why he was derided as a coward.
It was the first time in his life that he had really fallen for someone. it was no wonder he was troubled, given that he had to confess to such a person.
Girls surely wanted to be confessed to under such a romantic atmosphere. How do I convey my feelings to make her happy? These frustrations would never garner any answer as they continued to swirl in Amane’s mind.
While he put his hands on his forehead, wondering what to do, he heard the door unlock.
He shuddered, for the sound indicated the arrival of the girl who caused him frustration, the girl who unlocked the door using his key.
it was the first time in his life that he was really tense hearing the sound from the door.
The door was then shut and locked.
The slippers echoed off the floor, and a sound seemingly encompassed the air…appearing at the entrance was the familiar girl with the flax-colored hair.
The faint red lips formed a gentle arch, a gentle expression.
She showed a expression similar to the usual, as though the buzz at school never happened. No, her smile was sweeter than usual, and his heart pounded faster.
One had to wonder if she noticed how shaken Amane was, for she sat next to him as usual.
The distance between them was smaller than a fist.
She was about to position herself again, and the soft silky hair fluttered, the shampoo fragrance flung violently towards Amane.
It appeared Mahiru too went home to wash away her sweat. One could notice that her smooth milky white skin was showing some redness.
Once he realized that Mahiru had just left the bath, Amane tensed up more than before. Mahiru in turn showed him a beautiful smile.
“Amane-kun, I feel you have lots of things to say to me, or ask…but may you listen to me before then?’
Now what? Amane wondered, and straightened himself. Mahiru lowered her head towards him.
“I apologize for blocking your retreat, Amane-kun. I am really sorry that many were looking at you, when you hated it.”
“Erm…I knew very well this would happen.”
Once he saw Mahiru lift her head awkwardly, Amane understood what she was guilty about.
She knew very well her influence, and till this point, ensured that everything she did would make her adored.
That Mahiru declared Amane to be the important person to her, in front of everyone, and surely that would cause confusion. Amane knew that she did it even though she knew this would happen.
“Well, I know you did it even though you knew what would happen.”
“Are you not angry, Amane-kun?”
“I see. Thank goodness.”
Amane in turn had resolved himself, for Mahiru did it despite the consequences. He knew how serious she was, and did not dislike it at all.
“I know I was a little forceful. I wish to apologize if I made you unhappy, Amane-kun…but if I did not do so, you probably will not understand.”
Amane groaned when Mahiru had indirectly called him a coward.
Of course, Amane realized his own cowardice, but his heart would rattled when the person who adored him said so openly.
He cautiously looked towards her eyes, and found a mischievous glint in them.
It appeared those eyes were hoping for something, as though yearning for Amane to take the step forward.
Amane gulped, and slowly spoke.
“Erm, say, Mahiru.”
“…Do you really like me, Mahiru?”
“Yes, I do…I like you, Amane-kun. I view you as a male.”
Mahiru smiled and affirmed Amane’s cautious little question.
Her answer was just as he expected, but he felt his heart pounding wildly. It felt as though his boiling blood was flowing throughout every corner of his body.
He had vaguely sensed her feelings, but he ignored it all this while.
It was to be expected then that he was overjoyed and excited to receive her feelings.
He froze, seemingly enduring the exhilaration that overwhelmed him. Mahiru too showed a wry smile at him, and one had to wonder what she was thinking.
“Actually, I am not hoping for you to answer me immediately, Amane-kun.”
“I simply wish to convey my determination. I like you, Amane-kun, and I wish to continue living with you…I am content with conveying these feelings.”
It appeared Mahiru had misunderstood, thinking that Amane was troubled, for she showed a gloomy, crestfallen smile.
“I simply wish for you to like me more, Amane-kun, until your hesitation is all swept away.”
Mahiru’s expression showed much confidence, and nobody other than Amane might have seen such an expression. Once he saw that she was about to stand up, Amane reached his hand out, and pulled her towards him.
―Now that she said this much, I have to give her a reply. I can’t embarrass myself by not giving her one.
Mahiru always respected Amane’s wishes, and said that she was fine taking it slow. Amane cast aside his hesitation, and embraced her.
Her delicate body froze in his clutches, and perhaps she understood he was hugging her, for she immediately relaxed.
She was seated on his legs as he suddenly pulled her over, and leaned on his chest as she lifted her head towards him.
The caramel-colored eyes showed shock, confusion, and some hope.
“Erm, it’s the first time I’ve fallen for someone. I thought I wouldn’t be like this…I thought I couldn’t do this at all.”
“…Is it because something happened in the past?”
Amane embraced Mahiru firmly, not letting her go as he gently nodded.
He said he was hesitant about liking someone, for somewhere in his heart, he refused to recognize her feelings. That was because back in middle school, his friends betrayed him, and their words stuck in his heart like a wedge.
“It might be really stupid…but I used to think of some people as friends, but they betrayed me, and mocked me for being of no value…I was the only one who treated them as friends, but they just used me. Even I found it stupid.”
Back in his hometown, Amane’s parents were famous for being relatively well off.
While his household was not as rich as Mahiru’s to hire a nanny, they were much richer than the other families. Amane himself never boasted of his wealth, but the items he had were of good quality.
A few classmates gathered around Amane, probably out of jealousy, or wanted to use him, or both.
“I think you should be able to understand somewhat, Mahiru…when your parents have money, the people around you will start to be greedy, and want to get some benefits.”
They got along really well with Amane. It started at the start of middle school, but they really did, and were so close, they could be considered friends.
They were so close, Amane felt that he could get along with them even after he got to high school.
But when he saw them slander him, his heart broke.
“I was stupid and immature to not see their real personality. I get the logic, but even so, I’m still scared of trusting others.”
Amane was scared that if he trusted others, would he too be betrayed by others again?
“I know not everyone was like them. Maybe some of them really wanted to be my friends. But…once the doubt kicks in, it’s not going to disappear that easily, right?”
“So I left my hometown, wanting to stay alone peacefully at a place where nobody knows of my parents.”
Of course, Amane’s parents had enough of his depression, and gave him encouragement, and cheered him up. However, having considered how painful it would be for him to harbor such scars of his hometown, they sent him to Shuuto’s Alma Mater.
They were unable to leave their hometown because of work. Amane did not want them to worry, so he chose to stay alone, and met Mahiru at this place.
“…Those who betrayed you were really foolish, Amane-kun. You are so kind and outstanding after all.”
Mahiru reached her hands towards Amane, showing a tragic smile, and Amane too smiled.
“Back then, I thought I would never like anyone else…though I never expected that to change so quickly.”
Amane stared at Mahiru again.
His heart felt warm, embarrassed, and doting. Mahiru was the first ever person to illicit such feelings, and might be the last.
Such were the feelings he had for her.
“…Back at the start, I didn’t think you’re cute.”
“I know. You told me to my face.”
“Well, sorry about that…when we first met, you were dishonest, aloof, and not cute at all. I thought we just had a mutual benefit…but before I knew it, I started to be dissatisfied about this.”
At the start, Amane did not want to get too involved with her.
When exactly did this change then?
“I started to want to know more about you, wanted to touch you, and wanted to treasure your. I wanted to have you. It’s the first time I had such thoughts.”
“I was enduring this the entire time, thinking that I couldn’t do it…you said this was fine, so it’s not that I thought of giving up, but that I wondered what I could do to be a match for you? You took the first step however, Mahiru, before I could do anything.”
“Fufu…I too have been enduring this. You are so handsome, and I worried if others would snatch you away. I was worried if you would like me.”
“I guess you’re the only one who’ll like someone like me.”
“Mmm. Again with such words…”
Mahiru looked displeased, as though deriding him for belittling himself again. Once she saw his expression however, she blinked several times.
At this point, Amane was not showing the good-for-nothing face Mahiru had criticized him for, but a serious, resolved look.
“…So starting from now…I’ll work hard to ensure that nobody says you chose wrongly.”
“I’ll work hard to be a good man, and not let anyone belittle your choice. It’s somewhat difficult…to not look inferior next to you, Mahiru, but I do want to stand with my head held high.”
Amane wanted to be an outstanding man, someone who could stand proudly next to Mahiru, that nobody would blame Mahiru for.
It was not just for her sake, but for his too, for him to have some confidence.
And the first step should start from these words.
“I like you, Mahiru…will you go out with me?”
He muttered as he looked at those clear caramel-colored eyes, and they turned moist as though a membrane was laid over them. The tears did not fall however, merely showing his silhouette.
She closed her eyes, as though hiding them and smiled at him.
Her answer was feeble, elated, and shivering. Amane would be the only one to hear her however. Once she agreed, she buried her face into his chest again.
She wrapped her arms around his back, holding him firm, and did not let go.
I am not letting you get away again, she seemed to imply, which left him a little embarrassed. He too wrapped his arms around her little back, and embraced her firmly.
―I’m definitely not letting go.
He wanted to treat her dearly, to dote on her, to love her.
It was the first time he felt such feelings after his heart resonated with Mahiru’s.
“I want to make you happy, Mahiru.”
“You cannot guarantee it?’
Mahiru impishly asked as she slowly lifted her head. Amane smiled as he brought his lips to her ear.
“This is my wish. I wish to personally make you happy, Mahiru. My resolve is…that I will definitely treasure you, and make you happy.”
Once she heard the passionate oath, Mahiru nodded with a sweet smile that was melted by these feelings.