It was winter, and the nights without sun were really cold.
He wore a light grey sweater with a navy blue pea coat for warmth and fashion, along with black skinny pants with inner lining; he was still so cold, so how cold would Mahiru be wearing only a coat over her uniform?
Mahiru wore thicker tights for winter, but her skirt was barely short enough for a high school girl to not break the rules or look crude, and one would feel really cold just looking at it. He thought she should wear some pants.
The few high school girls he brushed by were swaying their meaninglessly short skirts, and he was painfully aware how much hard work they put into beauty.
So he thought as he covered his lips with the muffler Mahiru gave him, and hurried towards the nearest station.
It seemed they went to a large shopping facility, and took the train there. The nearest station from the apartments was within walking distance, and Chitose said that the train was about to arrive, so he should be right on time.
The hair gently blew at his waxed hair as he walked, but not ruining it.
He would have to tidy up his hair if it got messy, and that would be troublesome. He felt that those who usually dolled themselves up were worthy of respect.
So he thought as he moved on silently, and spotted the station.
She might appear at this entrance, considering the direction of the apartments. If he waited near here, he should surely meet her.
He leaned his back on the entrance wall, looking at the time as he waited for Mahiru; soon after, the girl with the familiar flax-colored straight hair exited the station.
He called out to her, and she turned around after hearing the familiar voice…only to freeze once Amane appeared in her sights.
“Eh, …yes? Wh-why?”
The why probably referred to this getup.
She probably knew from Chitose that he would be picking her up, but she probably never expected him to welcome her with the Hatsumōde appearance.
Amane could not show up in his usual attire and hairstyle after all.
It would be troublesome if anyone around them spotted him and connected the dots. Furthermore, even Mahiru would look down on him if he was to walk alongside her in his usual getup.
He was intending to disguise himself, but at the very least, he could appear passable standing next to Mahiru.
“You’re thinking I can’t do that? I can’t meet you in my usual style after all.”
“…That is correct.”
“It doesn’t suit me? I did check the mirror. Weird?”
While he was dressed normally, his hairstyle was exactly the same as during Hatsumōde. He did not think it was anything, but it might be different to those who had an outstanding sense of beauty.
He had some stares directed at him, and there was a possibility that he looked weird.
He dressed up quite a bit, but it seemed he still looked plain, and he shook him a little. Mahiru however shook her head “it suits you.” He was relieved at her affirmation.
“That’s good then. Look, it’s dark out here. It’ll be dangerous for you to walk alone.”
“…I-I know that, at least.”
“Or you don’t want me to pick you up? If you aren’t willing, you can follow me from behind. I’ll walk ahead of you.”
“I-I do not dislike that. Erm…thank you, very much.”
He was relieved as she did not appear to dislike this, so he withdrew his hand from his pocket. She tentatively placed hers onto his.
Perhaps due to the cold, her hand was somewhat colder than he expected.
“It’s cold. Where’s your glove?”
“I washed it today. What about your hand, Amane-kun?”
“I put my hands in the pocket.”
He arrived with both hands in his pocket, and no good child should imitate him; it was nothing particularly noteworthy.
He did not say anything more, just wrapping his hand the fine, cold hand.
Mahiru’s hand was really slender, delicate, unreliable, easily wrapped in Amane’s hand.
She muttered, narrowing her eyes as she seemingly beamed.
The earnest emotions had his heart pounding, but he focused on the hand, and did not showcase how shaken he was.
He held her hand, taking the bag from her shopping trip with Chitose before walking off..
Chira, she glanced up at him, “What?” and he answered,
Mahiru stared at Amane, before she finally looked aside.
Her ears and cheeks were slightly red, either from the cold, or from staring at him for too long.
“Alright, shall we get something from the convenience store on the way back? The meat buns are really delicious in this season.”
“…I like red bean fillings.”
“You really like sweets…what about dinner?”
“I have prepared some seasoned eggs, char siu and menma, so ramen.”
“Ramen for these cold days sound nice.”
He did not know as he never checked the fridge, but it seemed she bought those days ago.
They had to buy the soup and noodles, but the ingredients were all hand made. His throat croaked as imagining the thick char siu and the robust taste of the half-boiled eggs.
That taste would surely fill the cold bodies.
“…I do not know if I can eat the red bean bun.”
“We’ll share half of it. You can eat dinner then.”
She bashfully accepted his suggestion, and he smiled, exerted a little more strength in the grip holding her hand.
“I think Shiina-san was spotted walking with the same boy again.”
And the next day, Itsuki shot Amane a reproaching look for adding fuel to the fire once again. Amane played dumb as he looked aside.