The following day, Mahiru remained the same.
It seemed that she had recovered from the previous day’s incident, and sat next to him with a usual expression. She did not appear to be in agony, but rather extremely calm.
But, the little difference was that…the distance between them had reduced.
In the past, there was a space of at least two fists even though they were sitting next to each other. On this day, she was close enough to touch his arm.
Her fragrance was closer than before, and Amane could feel his body warmth.
Because of that, he recalled that he did embrace her tightly the previous day, and also the softness and fragrance from her. He was troubled. Back then, she looked really feeble, and he just could not help but embrace her. In hindsight, that act was really bold.
She did not dislike it, and instead, sought for an embrace from him.
Her gesture indicated that Amane received her trust, that she could rely on him…but while he was delighted with this, he felt awkward.
…I want to seize the opportunity now that I experienced this.
Amane really welcomed her fawning over him, but he started to wonder if she liked him as a boy.
It would be great if that was the case.
He could no longer fool himself completely again; he realized he was captivated by Mahiru. He was worried, wondering how he should keep his distance from her.
Perhaps he could touch her normally? But to what extent? He never expected himself to have such troubles.
Fortunately or not, Mahiru was oblivious to Amane’s worries, and leaned by his side with a peaceful expression.
Amane wanted to suppress his impulses, and was suffering as a result.
Mahiru had a psychological trauma due to her parents, and probably was against having a boy-girl relationship. He did not want her to know his feelings. Given her personality, he did not think she would despise him, but he was frightened at the thought that she might distance him.
He wanted to embrace her up front again, to touch her, to kiss her…but as a girl, the only emotion she might feel was fear if a boy she had yet to date started to have such thoughts.
He dared not express such emotions to her as he wanted to treasure her.
“…What is it, Amane-kun?”
Mahiru noticed that something was on Amane’s mind, and tugged at his sleeve. He shook his head, making a poker face.
After all, he could not say that he was thinking of something guilty, and wanted to change topics.
“Ah, right. We’re going to be in our second year soon.”
He mentioned this, as there were only a few days left for their spring vacation. Mahiru seemingly forgot her doubts as she went with the flow.
“We will have to change classes then, no?”
“Change classes? It’ll be easier for me if I get in the same class as Itsuki and Chitose.”
“…Yes…I am looking forward to it.”
“I wonder if I will be in the same class as you.”
Mahiru gave a little bashful smile, and Amane wanted to bang his head onto the sofa armrest, and also to scratch his chest.
“…I won’t talk to you, you know?”
“That may be so, but I will be relieved. And…you will keep an eye out for me, no?”
“Not to the point of being a stalker, no.”
“…I will not be angry about you looking at me, Amane-kun.”
Please look at me more, that was what Mahiru said so innocently, and looked so innocent that a sheepish Amane dared not look at her directly.
She meant for him to watch over her, but to him, it seemed to imply more.
Since she did not intend otherwise, it was pointless for him to second guess.
Hmph hmph, he snorted to purge his own thoughts, and shrugged.
“If I’m to look at you, everyone else will find that disgusting. I’m like this after all.”
It was one thing if they were alone together, but if he were to do the same to Mahiru at school, he might be labelled a disgusting guy in addition to his reputation as a gloomy one.
He intended to pretend to be a passer by at school. He was not particularly keen on letting others know his feelings for Mahiru.
However, Mahiru was strangely peeved for some reason.
“Look, even if you make that face.”
“…Amane-kun, are you not cutting your hair?”
“What’s with this out of a sudden? Well, I’ll tidy it up from time to time, but I don’t really cut it short.”
“It is a pity…”
“But your handsome side is a secret only to me. That is fine too.”
Amane had a feeling that Mahiru was being sweeter to him than usual, as though she was showing affection to him.
Usually, he could handle it, but since he already realized his feelings for her, this attitude from her might cause him fatal damae.
“…What’s cool about that?” He muttered to hide how embarrassed he was being. At that moment, Mahiru showed a peeved look, and slapped his thigh.
He knew what she wanted to say, but he dared not look at her in the eyes due to the shame.
“I get it I’m sorry I’m sorry. I look handsome to you, is it?”
“It is not good of you to think so, but I shall leave it be.”
Mahiru accepted his apology for the time being, and reached out towards his bangs.
His clearer vision reflected her serious eeys.
“Are you not belittling yourself too much, Amane-kun? You are rather handsome after all.”
“…I’m embarrassed to hear you say that to me directly.”
“You often say so to me. Perhaps you should try enduring that shame too.”
I too am embarrassed. She said confidently, and Amane recalled that when he called her cute, her face really was blushing.
She would feel embarrassed whenever she was praised, and because she was so adorable, Amane earnestly praised her for being so. Whenever he did so, she would feel embarrassed. Surely it was not a good feeling to her.
“…You’re the only one who’ll call me handsome.”
“You should have a little more self-confidence, Amane-kun. The person who consoled me has to have some confidence.”
“Amane-kun, you helped me, and gave me confidence. I am really grateful to you…I hope you can muster some confidence. You are a kind, handsome, outstanding.”
Amane unwittingly felt bashful the moment he was praised.
He was never praised before, and his heart felt unbearable when the girl he liked praised him.
Of course, he was elated. The emotion called embarrassment took precedence however.
One might say his embarrassment was the majority, and he was restless. He reached out to ruffle Mahiru’s head to divert his attention, and to disguise his emotions.
“…I-I am fine with this, but you will mess my hair up.”
Amane felt that his actions might be too violent to a girl, so he hastily switched to a different gesture, gently combing her hair. Mahiru then earnestly leaned her head over.
Please pat me more. Her voice sounded like a background noise, but it was probably a delusion on his part.
Despite that, Mahiru did not look unwilling, and Amane continued to comb the smooth glossy hair.
…Is she fawning over me?
She never had one to fawn over, and at this point, she finally had someone understand her situation and true thoughts. Perhaps she had the urge to.
In that case, he felt that he should dote on her more. He buried his immoral thoughts to touch her back in his heart, and gently patted her head as she wished.
Once he was done, Mahiru lowered her completely beetroot face. Amane got too carried away, and he too was blushing once he was done. This was the outcome to be expected after all.