“Okay, we’re done.”
Shihoko combed his hair here and there, pinched his face, and matched clothing on him, and he felt a little fatigued once he was released.
Amane himself did not have much interest in clothing, and this time was one of suffering. He looked into the mirror however, and found the hard work had paid off; the mirror showed a handsome face incomparable to before.
Shihoko chose a dark grey Chester coat over a white turtleneck and black slacks, a simple, but not too casual outfit.
She made sure he did not dress too casually, as they were to partake in a celebratory New year event. His current attire looked a little formal.
Amane did not like clothing that was too colorful; the monotone, dull colors fit his tastes better.
He then checked his hairstyle; his slightly long bangs were ironed and waxed, combed to the side thanks to Shihoko’s skills, showing the eyes that were usually hidden behind.
Once his eyes were exposed, the impression he gave looked a lot brighter, and furthermore, his hair looked more solidified, giving a sophisticated vibe.
The boorish look his mother and Itsuki ridiculed him for was no longer to be seen, and standing before the mirror was a completely different, refreshed dashing boy.
“You could have looked a decent lad if you tidied up a little. Why wouldn’t you.”
“I don’t have interest in it.”
“You’re always like this, Amane. You can’t look refreshed when you’re always scowling away.”
He scowled, berating her for these unnecessary words, but he could not deny the fact.
“Now then, I’ll tidy up Mahiru-chan, so wait in the living room now.”
Amane was in his room when this was done, and he did not know how Mahiru looked, for she had returned home to change.
Mahiru returned home to put on the clothes, for she could do it on her own. Given that fact, one could understand how capable she was.
He saw Shihoko leave the room, and looked into the mirror once again.
It had been a while since he dressed up like this, and he appeared a different person.
“……Well, this isn’t so bad.”
He might look unsightly standing next to Mahiru, but it was a lot better than his usual self.
Ain’t bad to do this once in a while, so he fiddled with his hair that were unblocked by his bangs, muttering away.
Dozens of minutes passed as he waited with Shuuto in the living room, and heard the door open.
He was not displeased about having to wait, as he had heard that women needed lots of time and effort to dress up. However, he was worried if Mahiru was sexually harassed by Shihoko.
He anxiously stood up from the sofa, looked towards the entrance, and Mahiru silently entered the living room.
He was mesmerized upon first sight.
Mahiru would not usually wear Japanese clothing, and he did not get the chance to see her in it. Thus, he felt that it would fit her well—but not this well.
Shihoko said that it was not easy to move through the crowds in a furisode, so she chose a komon instead. The faint pink base was matched with little plum patterns, and fitted Mahiru so well, one had to wonder if the clothing was Mahiru’s to begin with.
Mahiru usually would not wear pink, and at this point, she looked really posh and feminine.
The sides of the faint colored long hair remained, and the rest were held up by hairsticks. The pure white neck and dangling accessories emphasized her femininity, making her alluring.
The beautiful makeup matched her already beautiful appearance, and her vibe as an innocent beauty was emphasized thoroughly.
“How about it? I find it rather cute. My effort in dressing Mahiru-chan up hasn’t gone to waste since she’s so pretty to begin with.”
“Yep, it suits her alright.”
Shuuto praised with a smile, and Mahiru lowered her eyes gaudily. This gesture made her so alluring; beauties were really terrifying after all.
“Come on, Amane, you have to say what you think here.”
“Well, it suits you.”
Amane could not bring himself to lavish praise on her before his parents, so he just made a painless appraisal, but Shihoko was really displeased.
“…You can’t do that here, you know?”
Shihoko reproached his uselessness, but Amane did not want to praise her more before his parents, so he turned his face aside.
Dumbfounded by Amane, Shihoko merely sighed and let him off the hook, for she understood his personality well.
“Goodness…anyway Mahiru-chan, what do you think? Amane looks completely different now, right?”
“Y-yes. Completely different from usual …”
“He could have been popular if he usually dressed up like this, but he just wouldn’t. It’s a pity.”
Amane felt Shihoko was saying unnecessary things again, but the latter merely sighed, as though it really was a pity.
“Amane really resembles Shuuto-san, but it’s disappointing how he doesn’t use it well. Too bad~”
“That’s enough Shihoko-san. Amane’s of this age too, you know?”
“Shouldn’t he think of being more popular?”
“Amane’s the type to be fine with just one. He might find it a hassle to have too many.”
Shuuto wanted to coax Shihoko, but her delusions were further fueled.
Well, it was true that Amane would rather have a single person next to him than to be popular amongst many…so Shuuto said, and Amane himself agreed with this sentiment. But would it not seem that Mahiru was that special someone at this point?
He could only turn his cringing face aside, away from Shihoko’s radiant smile.
Why does she have to let her thoughts run wild? He wondered, but he was aware others would view them in the same vein.
At the very least, Mahiru was special to Amane, or so he could admit.
But while that was fact—
He glanced aside at Mahiru, making sure she did not notice him, and sighed.
Well, I can say I like her.
He felt he was fond of her.
But he felt there was a distinction from it being outright love.
“Mom, what you think of doesn’t exist. Enough nonsense and get the car ready.”
“Such an unpleasant kid…well, that’s fine, Shuuto-san, shall we get going?”
It appeared Amane successfully diverted the topic, for the duo began preparations to move out.
He left the choice of shrine to his parents, and watched their backs depart for the parking lots right outside the apartments.
“…I got all my stuff in my bag, so I don’t have to prepare much. What about you, Mahiru?”
“Eh, they are all in this bag.”
Suddenly, there was the two of them, and he felt a little restless. Filled with such emotions, he checked if the windows were locked, and unplugged the unnecessary appliances.
He switched off the living room lights, and looked towards Mahiru again.
As expected, she was really a beauty, even if he did not look at her too intently. Though he never managed to praise her before his parents, there was no doubt to anyone that Mahiru was a real healing sight as a kimono beauty.
“What is it, Amane-kun?”
“Nn, well, it really does suit you. Like an innocent beauty in kimono. Really cute, really pretty, I think.”
He learned from Shuuto to lavish women with praise when it came to fashion, and he should have done so the moment he saw her, but it was too awkward for him to do so before his parents.
So once he stated his honest thoughts, Mahiru blinked a few times, her face gradually flushed as she pursed her lips.
Amane recalled that Mahiru made the same reaction moments ago, and made a wry smile.
“Ahh, you don’t want to be praised? Sorry.”
“Th-that is not the case, but…Amane-kun, you are rather,”
She turned her face aside, and though Amane was confused, it appeared she had no intention to talk more, so he just gave up and went to the corridor alongside her.
Having considered that they would be walking, she was not wearing geta, but boots, a Japanese-Western style. Despite that, he could see how cute she was.
Shalan shalan, the hairstick ornament shook as she put on the boots, and then she silently moved towards Amane, who went ahead to hold the door.
They were being closer than they thought. It was rare for Mahiru to take the initiative to approach, and she gently tiptoed.
She wants me to listen? So he wondered as he bent down at the door. Mahiru cupped her hand before her mouth in a ring, and approached his ear.
“Erm…Amane-kun, you look dashing too, I guess?”
After the little whisper, Mahiru darted past Amane, and hurried into the elevator hall. Bam, and Amane slammed his forehead into the door.
“…That was sneaky of her.”
That was retaliation, and Amane’s heart was pounding wildly.
Thanks to her, Amane took quite a while to cool his sizzling face down, and was met with his parents’ skeptical looks at the parking lots.