It was December 31st, New Year’s Eve.
It was the last day of the year, the day to cap off the whole year.
It was supposedly a frenetic day for many to prepare for the New Year, to do a major clean up—
“Erm, Mahiru-san, ya?”
“What is it?”
“…Is it really fine for me to just laze around?”
Amane was relaxing leisurely on the living room sofa, watching the back of Mahiru as she stood in the kitchen with an apron on.
Mahiru arrived since morning to prepare the Osechi dishes.
Since they decided to spend the New Year together, two people’s worth of Osechi dishes would be a must.
He had intended to simply buy some from the shops, but she insisted on making them. It was shocking how a fine high school girl could handle something so troublesome even for housewives.
He was really impressed by her, but she said,
“We need to order that in advance. It is impossible to do so now.”
He understood the reason why Mahiru would personally prepare them once he heard her explanation, but he really had to tip his hat to Mahiru for undertaking such a laborious task.
Of course, Mahiru would skimp on any step she could. Cooking the black beans would take time, and take up a stove, so she bought them at the market instead.
“Amane-kun, you may feel uneasy about not having anything to do, but do you think you can contribute?”
“I guessed so. It is better for you to remain there obediently than to cause me trouble.”
So he obediently remained on the sofa after Mahiru stated her harsh viewpoint, but he was restless as he had nothing to do.
However, it was not that Amane never did anything at all.
They finished cleaning up the previous day, and they had enough ingredients to last for a little while without having to go outside, including those to be used for Osechi.
Not that he did not do anything; he did not exert much effort compared to Mahiru at this moment.
“You should be tired since you moved the furniture and appliances yesterday. Please rest well.”
Mahiru voiced her concern to Amane, who did the heavy work, as she continued to cook without looking back at him.
Just to note, it appeared Mahiru was done cleaning her apartment. She said she would clean it up regularly, and it did not take her much time.
“Well, you say that, but…I feel a little sorry.”
“I do not feel tired since I do like to cook though.”
“It is fine. I really enjoy this.”
Do not sweat it, so Mahiru implied as she focused on her work. Amane cupped his head, not knowing what to do.
“Mahiru, I bought lunch.”
Amane realized it was overbearing to have her prepare lunch when she was cooking Osechi, and bought lunch from the convenience store. A sandwich pack should be fine, given that Mahiru would not eat much.
Mahiru took off the apron, probably intending to rest, so this might have been perfect timing to her.
“Thank you very much for doing this. Sorry that I do not have the time to do so.”
“No actually, I’ll be sorry to ask you to make you do that when you’re making Osechi…here, eat up.”
It was rest time, and lunch, so Mahiru obediently returned to the living room.
“A sandwich and café au lait for you?”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
She nodded, received lunch from Amane, and sat next to him.
“How’s your progress?”
“Some are already done, since they are bought, and I am almost done since I have kept the dishes minimal, most of them are simply waiting to be cooled. Since it looks like you like Datemaki, I decided to make them for you, Amane-kun.”
“How do you know?”
“You said you like egg dishes, no?”
It appeared she had baked it in the oven, for Amane had heard it being used, though he had wondered what it was for. So that was what she was making.
“You like a little sweetness in that, I suppose?”
“You really understand me well.”
“It has been months, I can remember what you like.”
For some reason, she sounded happy when she said that as she munched on the ham and lettuce sandwich.
Amane ate the onigiri he bought as he looked over at the kitchen, staring at the Jūbako Mahiru brought and left there.
That Jūbako would be used, it seemed.
Amane never expected her to have a Jūbako even though she was living alone, taken aback even when he found it to be posh look, with gold plating on it.
“Seriously, I’ve to be grateful about this…how do I put it, when I started living alone, I never expected to be so nourished in the latter half of the year.”
“I myself am amazed that you are able to live till this day.”
“That’s harsh. I can survive on convenience store stuff and what’s sold out there, you know?”
“But that is not healthy, goodness.”
Mahiru sighed while looking dumbfounded, but there was a grimace in the sly dig, her expression clearly going, guess I have to do something, and that caused his heart to jolt.
“With me living here, I will not allow for any unhealthy eating habits, you know?”
“Are you my mom?”
“It is your fault for being so callous about it, Amane-kun. I am making sure you will eat healthier next year.”
Mahiru appeared invigorated for some peculiar reason, so we’re together next year too? He was a little embarrassed by that thought, and averted his eyes.
However, Mahiru took that attitude of his as an intent to skimp and live lazily, and she stared back in annoyance. It took him quite a while and lots of effort to explain that he did not mean that.