The festival was in full swing by the time the quartet arrived.
The area, usually devoid of crowds, was packed with them, giving a completely different impression from before. The situation was probably a result of a lack of other festivals over the prior two weeks or so.
One glance showed that not many were in yukatas, so those who were wearing them were often the center of attraction. The main reason however was because Mahiru was so beautiful.
“There’s quite a lot of them.”
“Yeah. Don’t get lost now.”
“Don’t let go of Amane’s hand now, Mahirun.”
“…I shall not.”
Mahiru clung onto Amane, and held his hand firmly. Amane clasped his fingers back, swearing never to let go.
If he did, many despicable men would try to woo her. Surely they would all come running towards such an adorable girl.
Itsuki deliberately whistled, you’ll be holding hands anyway, and Amane shot back a dirty glare, before looking around at the path lined with stalls.
“Anything you want to look at, Mahiru? Like, food?”
“It is my first time at such a place. I am not too familiar…”
“I see. Let’s order something then…”
Amane was a little gloomy upon recalling that Mahiru never went out with her parents, but he encouraged Mahiru with a smile, and she too chuckled.
“Ah, I want cotton candy~”
“Cotton candy’s very filling though, and it gets humid if you leave it for long…”
Chitose could eat, and probably could finish the cotton candy. However, Amane felt it was better to fill their stomachs before having sweets.
He wanted to play it safe, and start from yakisoba and takoyaki, but he decided to prioritize what Mahiru wanted to eat.
“…What does a festival have?”
“For food, we have yakisoba, takoyaki. ikayaki, frankfurters, and stuff. I guess we’ll probably be eating here, so those stuff I mentioned are more filling.”
“…It is bad to walk and eat though.”
“I don’t mind. This is the charm of a festival after all.”
They could decide what to eat before buying, and it was an intriguing experience to stroll and view. One might say that would make the experience more enjoyable.
Amane looked towards Itsuki and Chitose, asked for their opinions, and they all nodded, noting they were fine with it. Amane decided to do so, prompted Mahiru, and ventured into the crowd.
They frequented the stalls, strolled about, bought some snacks, and spotted the common shooting.
The one stall Amane would have associated with a festival was the shooting stall. It was a rare opportunity, so Amane wanted to play, but he was fine with skipping it if Mahiru had no interest.
Mahiru held his hand and looked around at the stalls, her eyes sparkling. She looked over where Amane was looking, and blinked away.
“Amane-kun, what is that?”
“That? A shooting game. You aim for the prizes with toy guns, and shoot them down to take them home. You want to play?”
Amane felt that one should always try everything to gain experience, so he took his wallet out and shook it. Mahiru looked a little perturbed, but her curiosity probably got the better of her. She nodded.
He quietly cheered in his heart, and handed money to the stall owner, received the toy gun and 5 rounds, loaded them, and gave it to Mahiru. He managed to load the gun without the assistance of the owner, and there was no doubt it was because his parents brought him to countless festivals.
“Alright, done. Which one?”
“…That. It looks cute.”
Mahiru pointed at a hairpin packed in a plastic box. It had a hydrangea shaped decoration, and was a match for the yukata Mahiru was wearing. It too had an adorable design.
However, Amane’s experience told him that that item was often positioned in a difficult manner to shoot down, and would not recommend any novice to try that as the first target.
Nevertheless, he wanted to respect Mahiru’s wishes, and did not mention that. Instead, he taught her how to shoot it, how to position herself, and the rest was up to her.
It’s a toy, but it’s a great sight seeing a pretty girl wielding a gun, so he thought as he looked at Mahiru, who raised the gun with a really serious look, and squeezed the trigger.
A single click, the round was fired…and hit the cloth behind.
“Uu, it is difficult.”
“Hm, well honestly, it’s already tough to aim for your first attempt.”
The prize was not too far away, but the difficulty was still not to be underestimated.
She had to adjust her angle based on the power of the gun, and the firing speed, and ensure that she did not shake when firing. The gun too had its own temperament, and one might not be able to graze the target without taking these factors into account.
Man, that’s deep, Amane recalled the useless skills and knowledge his parents taught him, and chuckled. Mahiru misunderstood in thinking that Amane was laughing at her, I shall hit it this time”, loaded the round as Amane taught her, and fired away.
She never hit one though, and all that enthusiasm was deflated as a sigh.
Mahiru looked very dejected as she received the somewhat many participation prize stick snacks.
“I did not hit.”
“Well it’s your first time.”
“Yeah yea, it’s the same first experience for everyone, and Amane will take revenge for you anyway. Heh, I want to see Amane acting cool here~”
“Don’t make it sound easy when it doesn’t concern you.”
Amane intended to challenge next if Mahiru did not get what she wanted, but it would be troublesome if he could not, especially when Chitose made it sound so easy.
Mahiru however continued to look at the hairpin longingly, and lifted her head towards Amane.
“…I want that.”
“…I guess I have to work hard.”
Mahiru looked so adorable as she stared up towards Amane, and surely this fawning technique was taught by Chitose. “Guess I can’t miss now.” Amane noted wryly, paid the owner, and received the rounds.
It had been a while since he last played, and he did not know if he could do well. He felt the gun, relaxed, positioned himself, and squeezed the trigger.
He fired in a fluid manner, and soft cork bullet hit the box with the hairpin, grazing it.
The box tumbled a little, but did not fall.
“Ahh, too bad.”
“No no no, that’s fine. It’s just to see how the bullet fies, the power, and how the gun acts.”
He did not think that he had to hit it down on first try.
It was a test, and he did merely graze the item.
Given the touch, the feeling of the shot, and the hit on the prize however, Amane assumed the gun provided by this shop was decent.
Due to certain reasons pertaining to the gun, there were moments when he could not shoot the target down, but Amane felt this was fin.e He should be able to shoot down most of the items as long as he aimed and hit them well.
He was relieved that his reflexes were not dulled, loaded again, and took aim.
He intended to shoot every item in the stall for Mahiru’s sake, whether it was the large toy that was the grand prize, or anything else. Since Mahiru wanted the hairpin however, that was all he aimed for.
Back during elementary school and middle school, he was often brought out to such festivals. He recalled these moments, and silently squeezed the trigger. This time, he hit somewhat above the center of the box.
The box might not fall even if he did shoot it right down the middle. Amane was more concerned with stumbling it, breaking its balance, and fired another shot, which shook and knocked down the box, as expected.
There was a slight commotion, for the onlookers probably witnessed it.
He felt it would be awkward if he missed it, and used the remaining rounds to shoot down a few snacks that appeared easier to snatch, winning them. The owner smiled, but was cringing a little.
I guess I’ll ruin his business if I take down too many of them.
Amane shrugged as he recalled how Shihoko was barred from playing as she won too many prizes, “Sorry about that.” and collected his winnings.
“This good enough?”
Amane turned around, raised the hairpin box he received, and Mahiru nodded bashfully.
“…Th-thank you. I never thought you would be able to shoot it down…”
“Why are you able to get it?”
“Well, I’m good at this.”
“Waahh handsome, you annoy me.”
Chitose was the one who prompted, but she ended up grumbling, and once again, Amane felt how unreasonable it was.
“You’re good at such things, aren’t you Amane? You always get high scores at the arcade shooting games.”
“My family spent a lot of effort teaching me these useless things…saying that it’ll enrich my life experiences…”
“But you managed to get what Shiina-san wanted because of this. Isn’t this good?”
Amane was really grateful to his parents, since it was a fact that he got what Mahiru wanted.
I don’t know if I’m good enough to call this a skill though, Amane chuckled as he took the hairpin out of the box, gently lifted her bangs, and fastened it.
The hairpin really suited the yukata, and there was a sense of uniformity, along with the mood.
“Yep, it’s cute. It really suits you.”
The hairpin had a simple, cute design, and was convenient, really suitable for Mahiru. Amane leaned over, smiled at Mahiru, and her face turned red as she went “Thank you.”
He realized this was Mahiru being embarrassed, and Itsuki said something of ambiguous meaning, “Man, you’re just dedicated to Shiina-san.” Amane patted Mahiru’s head once he saw how embarrassed and happy she was, ignoring Itsuki.