Hellping

“Here.”

 

Even though they were his parents, they were still guests, and it was imperative to serve them. Mahiru however insisted on serving tea, so Amane left it to her.

He never expected that the tea set and black tea Mahiru brought for him would be used in this situation.

 

His parents were seated on the sofa they normally sat together on, beaming away.

 

“Why, thank you Mahiru-chan. You’re completely used to this.”

“Y-yes.”

“Normally, Amane should be the one doing this, right?”

 

If Amane was to brew the tea, it was likely only the bitterness would be extracted, so Mahiru took charge. However, Shihoko looked a little dumbfounded.

 

“No, I want to do this…”

“Well, if Amane’s to do this, the tea might not be of appropriate temperature. That’s to be expected.”

 

While she was right, he was peeved to be criticized.

He could not refute this, and could only shut up. Shihoko looked towards him with glee.

 

“Speaking of which Amane, you have been addressing Mahiru-chan with her name now.”

 

Once she suddenly pointed this out, Amane and Mahiru froze in unison.

 

He had forgotten about this as he had been addressing her naturally. When his mother last met them, Amane did not call Mahiru by name, and Mahiru was fidgeting when she addressed him back.

At this point, both of them addressed each other so naturally, and Shihoko naturally would let her thoughts run wild.

 

“…That’s fine, right?”

“That’s nice, I think. Good to be intimate.”

 

She deliberately chose not to press the matter further, merely looking towards Amane with a clear smile, the latter sensing his cheeks shaking.

Perhaps it was better for her to tease him instead. Whenever Shihoko was in such a state, her mind would be imagining all kinds of oh me oh my happy situations.

 

“Shihoko-san, stop teasing Amane.”

 

But Shuuto slammed the brakes.

 

“This is a bad habit of yours, Shihoko-san. Don’t tease him too much.”

“Yes, too bad, but I have to stop.”

 

Shihoko would only listen to Shuuto’s words, and Amane the tormented son was really grateful for that.

 

“But it is great seeing our son get along with such a cute girl.”

“I was worried that your bad habit will run wild, Shihoko-san.”

“Oh, are you stopping me now, Shuuto-san?”

“I think it is good for you to change when you have some self-awareness, but I can’t help you when this is another thing I like about you.”

“Why…Shuuto-san.”

 

While he did stop her, the parents started veering into their own world, for some strange reason, and Amane blatantly sighed.

 

Shuuto was usually one of common sense, but he would instinctively dote on his wife, resulting in an unapproachable vibe around him from time to time.

Luckily, he would only do so in front of family, and would not be so brazen outdoors. Perhaps he was sufficiently relaxed, for they were in Amane’s house.

 

The son was fine with his parents being lovey-dovey after so many years, but he wished for them to at least be aware of where they were at, to be considerate to others who were watching.

 

Amane did not want to interfere the moment he saw them end up that one, so he just slumped into the chair he took from the dining room, and sighed hard again.

Mahiru too prepared a chair next to him, and quietly watched him.

 

“…Your parents really are on good terms.”

“I guess. They aren’t like this outside, but that’s how it feels at home.”

“I see.”

 

He answered with a wry smile, and Mahiru narrowed her eyes at Shihoko and Shuuto.

She was not looking displeased; rather, it appeared she was looking at something dazzling.

Her eyes were full of admiration and jealousy, as though she was looking at something precious.

 

As she watched them with a faint smile that could only be described as fleeting, he reached his hand towards her without thinking—

 

“Oh Amane, what’s the matter?”

 

Shihoko seemed to have returned to reality, and Amane retracted his hand upon hearing her voice.

 

“What do you mean what? It’s because you two are in your own world that we’re really restless, mom.”

“Oh, you jealous?”

“Not, jealous, at, all. Just, do that sort of thing at home.”

 

It seemed they never noticed Amane nearly holding Mahiru by the hand, and neither did the latter, so she could only give a wry smile at his words.

 

He did not know why he reached the hand out.

But it seemed that…he did not want that Mahiru to feel alone.

 

He was relieved to see Mahiru revert back to normal, and maintained a usual scowl so as not to be noticed.

 

“So, are you two happy to see your own son now?”

“Rather than you, Amane, we’re happy to see Mahiru-chan …”

“Oy.”

“Just half joking. We are not done with our objective here.”

“Objective?”

 

He thought Shihiko’s objective was just to make a New Year visit, and to say hello to Mahiru, but it appeared Shihoko had some other plan in mind.

 

“Amane, you two haven’t done Hatsumōde, right?”

“We’ll go when there’re fewer people around.”

“I guessed so. You haven’t gone too, Mahiru-chan? That’s what you wrote in the message.”

“Yes.”

“Since I expected this, I brought kimonos~”

 

It appeared Shihoko wanted to attend Hatsumōde with Mahiru.

Amane realized at this point why she was grinning away and carrying such a large bag. Once again, he sighed for the umpteenth time.

 

Shihoko liked cute things, and liked to dress people up. Surely she would not miss out on this chance.

Amane knew there were a few kimonos back home, and it appeared she brought them all.

 

“I dreamed of having a daughter dressed in kimono for Hatsumōde…I think it will fit Mahiru-chan well.”

“Mom, you just want a doll to play dress up on…”

“Not true though? A big reason is that I want Mahiru-chan to wear it.”

 

It’ll really fit her after all, Shihoko was utterly confident in thinking she was correct.

Though it appeared there was no clothing that would not fit Mahiru well.

 

As far as Amane knew, she had worn boyish clothing, princess-like clothing, girlish clothing with frills and lace a few times, and they all fit her well. It seemed a pretty girl could fit any clothing onto her.

So would the kimono, it seemed.

 

The Fujimiyas had only one son, and Shihoko would never let the chance to dress up a daughter slip by.

 

“…Well, if Mahiru’s fine with that, you can dress her up.”

“Why are you making it sound like you’re not going?”

“Well, it’ll be troublesome if the guys at school see me with her.”

 

If his parents went with Mahiru to Hatsumōde, they might look like family, so that should be fine.

But it would be problematic if Amane himself was to join in.

 

If those in the same year were to see the unimpressive looking Amane together with Mahiru during the shrine visit, he could imagine a hellish scene of agonizing wails after winter break ends.

After all, he did not want to go for Hatsumōde while bearing such risk.

 

“It’s fine if you’re not noticed, right?”

“If we aren’t, but normally, we’ll…say mom, are you actually?”

“Fufu, this situation is why I prepared so much stuff here, you know?”

“What do you mean, this situation!?”

 

There were kimono, juban, and little props. Amane felt she would not have brought that much luggage if it was all related to kimono, so it appeared she brought more just to mess with him.

 

“Shuuto-san was enthusiastic about this too.”

“Dad…”

“It’s a rare chance, so why not? I think that since it’s an annual thing, we should go together.”

 

It was hard to refuse now that he had spoken.

Shihoko’s suggestion involved Shuuto’s heavy emphasis on family, and Amane would feel bad if he were to refuse.

 

“But then.”

“It’s fine. Trust mom here. I’ll definitely dress you up as a handsome guy unlike before, Amane!”

“So you’re saying I look ugly now?”

“Of course not, your face resemble Shuuto-san’s. But the hairstyle and the mood around you feels so bland. It’s so boorish, as they say.”

“Shut up.”

 

He knew he looked boorish, but he willingly dressed so because he felt like it…and did not want to be pointed out.

 

“You could have been more handsome if you dress up a little, Amane. Just that you find it too much of a hassle…”

“Stop being a busybody.”

“What a pity…say Mahiru-chan, you want to see Amane dressed up a little better too, right?”

“Eh?”

 

With the ball suddenly on Mahiru’s court, the latter widened her eyes, and clearly looked flustered.

Amane hoped that Shihoko would not pressurize Mahiru that much, but Shihoko continued to press on without a care.

 

“If Amane dresses better, I think you’ll have a different opinion of him, Mahiru-chan. He actually looks decent there, you know? You aren’t honest with yourself, but he has Shuuto-san’s gentlemanliness. A little dress up and he’ll look like a good man.”

“E-erm…is-is that so…?”

“You don’t want to go to Hatsumōde together?”

“A-actually, I wa-want to, but,”

“Oy don’t sell me out here.”

 

Amane hoped Mahiru would refuse in fear of the really unlikely situation, and she glanced aside after he retort.

 

“…It is fine if you do not want to, Amane-kun.”

 

Shuu. She sounded a little deflated as she lowered her eyebrows, and he found himself struggling to breathe.

 

While she intended to keep her feelings to herself, she obviously found it a pity. It was not shown deliberately, but naturally.

She silently lowered her long eyelashes, causing a strong sense of guilt to arise within him.

 

You made Mahiru-chan sad. Shihoko in turn gave Amane a reproaching look, Just hurry up and give up. Shuuto in turn gave such a look, grrr, and Amane let out a little groan.

Surely it appeared he was bullying Mahiru here, no?

 

“…Alright.”

 

Faced with such looks, he could only surrender.

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