Hellping

[Hikaru V10] Chapter 5

“I saw it~. You tried to stab Hikaru with that knife.”

The calmed winds suddenly bellowed around Michiru, and every word of rebuke she said echoed in the icy darkness.

Koremitsu could not look back. His face was frozen. He said the spite appearing in Michiru’s words, the rain falling upon her icy boy.

Hikaru’s face was contorted, his lips slightly opened.

“No…”

It seemed he said that, but the word was overpowered by the sounds of the winds, the rain, and Michiru’s voice.

Michiru’s malicious words were like the poison falling onto the water surface, spreading upon it, corroding even Koremitsu’s heart. He could not move; the poison had practically spread all over his body.

“That night, I knew that Hikaru was living in the resort, so I ran out of our resort, and had a peek at the window to Hikaru’s room. I saw Hikaru slip out in the middle of the night. It seemed he was waiting for someone at the river, and then, when you appeared, he called out “Miss Fujino.”. back then, you whispered,”

Michiru muttered,

Why did you decide on that?”—”

Hikaru’s face got increasingly contorted. He winced bitterly, and his eyes silted.

Koremitsu had an impression on those words from Fujino Michiru talked about.

That was back when Yū was shut in her room, unwilling to head out. Back then, Hikaru did nothing, merely watching on from the sidelines lifelessly, and he explained to a rowdy Koremitsu,

 

—In the past, someone important… once chided me… why I made such a decision. At that time, I felt that my decision might not be the correct one…

 

Back then, Hikaru gave a fleeting, forlorn smile to Koremitsu, who was unable to accept this answer.

(So those were what Fujino said!?)

In that case, what Michiru was narrated about actually happened? The one who called out Hikaru was Fujino, and that night, Fujino appeared to Hikaru—

 

“And then, you held the knife with both hands, running right at Hikaru.”

 

Koremitsu felt a hard smack at his head.

Was that the knife that was placed by the window, that was too dangerous to be an ornament?

Hikaru was obviously rattled when he saw that knife.

Before she left, Fujino stared at that knife in melancholy, and kept it in her clutches. At that moment too, Hikaru’s shoulders shivered, his face contorted.

The uneasiness felt back then was engulfing Koremitsu completely at this point.

He turned his stiff neck, and once he finally turned his head around, he saw Fujino lower her head, her eyelids slightly downed. The raindrops fell from her raincoat hood, dampening her hair. The hems of her skirt was drenched along with her feet.

But even so, Fujino was breathtakingly beautiful.

She never did refute a single word Michiru said; the eyes welling tears were looking down, her thin fleeting eyebrows eyebrows lowered, her petal-like sealed together, as she merely remained silent with anguish and pain.

Just like when she was chided by Hiroka.

A lifeless, beautiful corpse—

(Why aren’t you saying anything!? Please! Say something! Refute it!)

Koremitsu kept screaming in his heart.

Both Honoka and Yū looked over at Fujino, uneasiness and shock appearing on their faces.

In stark contrast to Fujino, for every word Michiru said, Hikaru’s face would contort, his shoulders and lips quivering. The reason why he was so flustered was definitely because what Michiru said was the truth.

That night, Hikaru saw Fujino charge at him with a knife!

 

—The rain was heavy, and I could not see anything in front.

 

Hikaru thoroughly insisted that he died in an accident. The feeling Koremitsu had back then, that Hikaru was hiding something about his own death, was not merely a feeling.

Suddenly, Mikoto, standing beside Fujino all this while, entered Koremitsu’s eyes.

With a grim face, she accompanied her master, whose head was lowered. However, she did not show the stupefied faces Honoka and Yū showed. Perhaps she too knew that Fujino called for Hikaru, and pointed the knife at him.

As the storm intensified again, Michiru glared at Fujino with fiery eyes, venting all her hatred on the latter.

 

“You murdered Hikaru!”

 

Fujino continued to keep her head lowered, not moving at all.

The beautiful eyes were merely showing tears due to gloom and misery. Just as the flowers would never speak, Fujino too did not say anything.

At this moment, Hikaru yelled in anguish,

“No! I slipped into the river! I never got stabbed by Miss Fujino!”

Koremitsu too yelled agitatedly,

“Hikaru didn’t have any stab marks on him, right!? Fujino never did stab him, and Hikaru wasn’t killed by her! Isn’t that right? You didn’t stab him, right?”

He kept calling for Fujino desperately, and the latter merely folded her eyebrows, not answering at all.

Michiru then refuted sharply,

“Hikaru tried to dodge that woman’s attacks, and slipped into the river as a result. You can say that that woman killed him.”

“Miss Fujino grabbed my hand!”

“You did grab Hikaru’s hand when he fell into the river, right? You wanted to save Hikaru, didn’t you?”

Please, tell me that’s the truth!

Tell me that you never intended to kill Hikaru! Even though the fact remained that you pointed the knife at Hikaru, you regained yourself and grabbed his hands, trying to save him, didn’t you!?

That you tried to save Hikaru right when he’s shivering and pale, wanting to trust you!

Koremitsu begged, his fists clenched so firmly that blood was about to seep from his hands.

Honoka and Yū probably had the same feelings as Koremitsu. Both of them were giving pleading looks to Fujino.

Mikoto was the only one who was mentally prepared, and it appeared she was going to accept Fujino’s words wholeheartedly.

Fujino opened her sealed lips.

She lowered her head, and stated calmly,

“No, I did not grab him.”

At that instant, the rain weakened.

Fujino’s voice clearly echoed into everyone’s ears.

Hikaru looked utterly devastated, while Honoka and Yū gasped too, frowning, contorting their faces miserably.

Koremitsu too widened his eyes, looking utterly stupefied.

Mikoto in turn kept her stoic face.

Michiru gleefully curled her lips.

“Yes~~that woman was just standing there with a knife. The one who grabbed Hikaru, was me!

Hikaru’s eyes faltered, his pale face looking utterly stunned.

For Hikaru did not know of this either.

For Hikaru thought that Fujino was the one who grabbed him.

On that night, there should only be Fujino and Hikaru.

“That woman wanted to kill Hikaru, and I tried to save him. That is why—I am more suited to be his dearest~~~!! I am the real Wisteria!”

Michiru never gave anyone a chance to pause as she spewed out those words like rapid fire arrows, her rain soaked face appearing to be in ecstasy, standing there like an omnipotent god.

“Hikaru’s fated loved is me! Hikaru’s dearest is me! This is why I will set this straight! I shall save Hikaru, become his Wisteria, we shall be the best couple, living in our pure garden alone, always loving each other~~~”

The maniacal delight. The delight of victory.

For Michiru, the rain pelting upon her might be sweet dew of blessings.

Koremitsu felt a chill down his back, and gulped his bitter saliva.

Michiru had lost all sight of the boundary between reality and delusion. How was she supposed to revive Hikaru, cremated into ash and buried in a grave, and start all over again?

That was impossible.

(Damn it! How am I supposed to chase that Rokujō out of Hanasato’s heart!?)

Honoka too was staring at Michiru with fear and anxiety, as her friend continued to inch closer towards being a monster beyond common sense.

The rain embalmed Michiru—Rokujō, and she appeared to be surrounded in light, the torchlight glowering her..

The rapid lashing of the flooding river echoed in Koremitsu’s ears.

Suddenly, Fujino asked,

 

“You wish to save Mr Hikaru?”

 

Michiru being in such ecstasy at this point, suddenly shivered.

Fujino gently lifted her head and eyes, staring at Michiru silently with those eyes of agony and overwhelming beauty, asking again,

 

“When you did reach out for Mr Hikaru’s hand, what did he do?”

 

For some reason, Michiru could not answer.

She widened her eyes, her expression frozen, and her face got contorted. Her mouth, half-opened, seemed to be gasping for air, and her eyes showed something akin to fear.

Upon hearing Fujino’s question, Hikaru too remained frozen.

 

“Did he grab it? Or did he let go?”

 

The monotonous voice was filled with some misery.

Michiru still did not answer.

She held onto the torchlight firmly, and looked away from Fujino, biting her lips; it seemed she was trying her best not to shiver.

Why did Fujino keep asking this question? Why did Michiru show such a frantic expression? Koremitsu did not understand.

However, the tide had turned. Fujino, filled with anguish in her eyes, calmly asked the questions, dominating Michiru.

Hikaru’s pale, handsome face too showed a serene agony, seemingly having given up.

“…”

And even the rain echoed sadly and weakly as Fujino’s voice; all that replaced it was the lashing of the river echoing clearly in the ears.

Mikoto, who was so loyal to Fujino, watched her beautiful master with an unflinching stare.

While Koremitsu and the others watched on with bated breath—Fujino then said to Michiru, the latter biting her lower lip, seemingly wanting to affirm.

 

“He let go, did he not?”

 

Hikaru’s face was faint as he stared at Michiru, agony clearly filling his eyes.

Michiru widened her eyes slightly, before shivering. She covered her ear with her empty hand, shaking her head slightly, seemingly having heard something ominous. She kept on shaking her head, over and over again. One might feel that she was pleading for Fujino not to continue, and not that she was denying it.

Fujino then lowered her eyebrows, the serene despair appearing on her face along with misery.

“I suppose…Mr Hikaru really wanted to die after all.”

“!”

Michiru shivered again, and she shrank back.

Koremitsu and the others gasped.

Hikaru, whose face was exactly the same as Fujino, showed the same sorrow, the same despair—the same agony as he stood in the tranquil rain.

Mikoto merely stared at Fujino.

And Fujino too was embraced by the rain, just like Hikaru, showing the same look of agonizing despair at Michiru, seemingly admitting her guilt as she muttered feebly,

“Both Mr Hikaru and I were suffering. We wanted to make this end. Our hearts could never be at ease.”

Michiru shrank back, seemingly shielding her body as she muttered weakly,

“No…”

She timidly lifted her head, but the moment she saw those clear, beautiful eyes that were clouded in despair and misery, all the words she could mustered vanished in her mouth.

Fujino’s pain and despair was so deep.

“The message you sent me stated that you wish to start all over…to be the one fated partner of his in this world…but you have nowhere to escape. That means you had no other options. The meaning of the other half is an existence that cannot be cut away—that you cannot leave him at all. That fated partner you talk of is merely a curse you cannot escape from, even after escaping to the ends of the world.”

Fujino’s tone was gentle.

She did not glare at Michiru.

But her calm tone and anguished eyes clearly conveyed a pain, darkness, and despair she experienced till this point.

“That i-is not…”

Michiru’s face was contorted as she tried to counter, but her words melted lifelessly before she could say anything.

Surely, no matter how much she was berated, no matter how much she was called a murdered, the agony and despair Fujino possessed would never falter.

Upon thinking of how deep the darkness within Fujino was, Koremitsu felt a chill raising in his body, his heart wincing so much he was about to be overwhelmed.

The beautiful Fujino, who was so alike to Hikaru, continued calmly,

“If you had experienced that despair and suffering caused by that partner, whom you cannot leave at any given moment…you can never call it ‘love is sweet’. When you wake up in the morning, you will think of that person. When you are awake, that person’s voice will continue to echo in your ears. Even when you are dreaming, he is smiling at you. You never have a chance to rest, let alone breathe—that can be considered a curse.”

Fujino once appeared at Shioriko’s garden, kissing the Comfrey alone, in anguish.

The tears fell down her white cheek, and the sight of her eyelids lowered was painful.

Just seeing that image alone was enough to suffocate anyone.

That ‘dearest’ meant that all five senses—and the soul would be dominated, a love to be devoted to even in the past, or in the present.

That was a curse.

Fujino, whom Koremitsu saw back then, was like a beautiful prisoner.

Michiru glared at Fujino.

Koremitsu again recalled those words of love Michiru sent to his cellphone,

 

I knew, right from the beginning, that this is a love that can never be allowed, a grave sin that breaks the taboo, one where nobody will bless me.

 

I knew very well that I was practically gouging myself, incinerating myself…just a bitter love that will bring about pain and despair, an arduous love.

 

It can never be revealed to anyone, and we shall continue to love in the darkness, where the moonlight cannot shine upon us. Did we not entwine our fingers and promise?

That it was an eternal promise.

 

I love you.

I always did.

 

I loved you more than my own happiness, my own future,

Even though it is a sin, I still love you, so much that it is maddening.

 

My beloved Hikaru, your ‘dearest’ will always be me.

 

Michiru talked about that arduous love, but in fact, she never did understand that suffering in the slightest.

She said that it was a grave sin never to be committed, but she did not understand the weight of it.

She merely admired in the highly forbidden love.

Indulged in the sweetness of the secret love.

 

When the times change, will you remember me? Remember how our hearts are connected in that time, the blissful, bewitching and pure moments?

 

Will you remember our hands intertwined with each other, our legs folded together, the sweet despair that came with the frigid pain?

 

The eloquent prose that were ornamented with sadness immediately faded in the face of real despair.

What Michiru viewed as a treasure, the unparalleled love, gradually collapsed with every word Fujino said—in her eyes.

What she was saying was basically, The love in your delusions is never pretty, never sweet in reality.

The love Michiru talked about was unrealistic. She was just admiring it.

“Having met Mr Hikaru, I was cursed. It was my sin to fall in love with him, and my pain and suffering continued whenever he lived. I assumed that I could relax after he died, but it never did. Right now, all i feel is just a hollow emptiness and despair. This too will continue to happen in the future.”

The dark abyss continued to spread in Hikaru’s eyes.

That was the same abyss Hikaru would occasionally show when he first got to meet Koremitsu.

The dark despair.

A love of only pain.

However, she wanted to repeat it again. She wanted it to end, but she could not end it. The determination and despair continued. Do not look at him, stay away from him. It felt like his whispers could never be heard—she kept thinking of the same thing over and over again, telling herself the same things over and over again, that this love was a mistake, this love was a sin, this love would bring destruction.

But even so, she could not sever the love.

“You are not me, so you do not understand.”

Fujino, who became the wife of Hikaru’s father, decided to flee from Hikaru, who became her stepson, and committed that one grave sin.

Ever since then, she refused Hikaru over and over again.

Yet she pretended to be Sora, and again bonded with Hikaru; perhaps the child flowing in her body had Hikaru’s blood.

She had to forget him, she had to flee from him, she had to have him far away from him.

But her soul and body were all attracted by Hikaru, and never was she able to forget him, even for a moment. This caused her to again commit the sin she should not have.

The rising emotion of despair in Fujino accompanied the tide, and Koremitsu understood those inexplicable acts of hers were all born of her love to Hikaru.

“Never once did I call Mr Hikaru by his name affectionately, and never did I once think that Hikaru belongs to me. My feelings for Hikaru were never sweet to me, and I do not feel that my feelings for Hikaru are pretty. I was never able to obtain happiness from it.”

Fujino’s words too etched into Koremitsu’s heart.

It seemed Hikaru could no longer yell nor beg for mercy, and he too was showing the same look of despair Fujino showed, standing there. This left Koremitsu breathless.

(Are you the same too, Hikaru?)

Were you pursuing Fujino on your part, loving her, and yet hoping to forget her?

“It does not matter whether we are blood-related or not. The reason why I am so alike to Mr Hikaru is because we are thinking of each other too much, and this will only cause us pain. If reincarnation is possible, I—”

Fujino’s voice paused.

She swallowed the emotions rising in her heart, lowered her eyelids, and concluded with a feeble, yet clear voice,

“…I wish to live in a world without Hikaru.”

Those words stabbed right into Koremitsu’s heart.

Honoka and Yū too were pained so much, they winced.

Michiru widened her eyes like a person lost in a storm, looking completely perplexed.

As the rain continued on, pausing at intervals, Fujino continued on by the side of the lashing riverbank,

“Hikaru too will surely say the same things to me. Never once did we think that this love will ever be reciprocated, that both of us will be happy; we both knew that this will only continue in pain. If he wanted to continue living despite that…he would have held your hand. Since he let go, it means Hikaru wanted it to end, to end the days filled with only despair.”

Koremitsu noticed that Hikaru, who was staring at Michiru, was staring at Fujino with an anguished, bleak face.

He stood still, appearing to vanish at any given moment

 

—Hikaru probably killed himself.

 

Koremitsu recalled the words Tsuyako muttered to him, and those words continued to echo in his ears, unnerving him.

There was no sign of cut marks on Hikaru’s wrists when he became a ghost, but Tsuyako said that something was amiss with him when she rode on the horse with him at the turf.

She said that Hikaru looked feeble.

She was worried, and so she could not help but kiss Hikaru.

(So you chose to die, Hikaru?)

 

—You want to know the reason why your stepmom called you to the riverside, right?

 

—….

 

Koremitsu asked, and Hikaru bit his lips, remaining silent.

It appeared that he was afraid of knowing the truth.

But in fact, that was not the case.

(You already knew of Fujino’s feelings, didn’t you?)

He knew that Fujino rejected him, and yet at the same time, loved him.

Hikaru, who was able to tell on a single glance who had fallen in love, could not possibly have omitted the passionate thoughts in Fujino’s heart.

Yes, Hikaru knew.

He knew why Fujino called him out.

He knew why Fujino pointed the knife at him.

 

—I slipped into the river…that is correct. It is not that person’s responsibility.

 

—I know that I love that person so much, that I hurt her so thoroughly…I was the one who caused that person to be so unhappy…

 

No matter how he tried to refuse, he was lured by that person. Even after looking away, averting his eyes, he could only feel that other party’s existence.

He could never forget the other party, from the moment he was awake in the morning, to the moment he slept at night. Even in his dreams, do the thoughts pursue him.

The only way left in which he could end this cursed, despairing love, was to end his own life—

 

—I am scared, Koremitsu. I am scared—of that person’s heart…what was she thinking of at that moment? What was she thinking about me? How will she think about me later on—I am scared, really, really scared, so terrified it is unbearable…

 

The reason why Hikaru was terrified was not because he did not understand Fujino’s thoughts.

It was the opposite! It was because Hikaru understood Fujino so well, that their hearts could empathize with each other that he feared the love he could never escape nor sever.

And then, at the dim riverbank, with the storm bellowing, Fujino held the knife with much determination in her anguished face, and charged at Hikaru.

Hikaru tried to dodge, but fell into the river; Michiru reached her hand out to him, trying to pull him up, yet he rejected her by letting go, and was swept away with the current.

(Is this the truth of that night?)

Koremitsu felt hammered in his head over and over again, and he gritted his teeth.

Tsuyako once stated adamantly that no matter how much pain she was in, she would never swap her fate for anyone else, and would continue to fall in love with Hikaru.

But the most beloved, Fujino, the dearest to Mikado, who was deeper in love with him than anyone else, was showing despair on her face at this point, concluding that she wanted to live in a world without Hikaru.

What would Hikaru be feeling after hearing those words?

Hikaru’s face was calm and fleeting as he stared at Fujino.

It felt that he would have vanished at at this instance.

Did he show such an expression when Tsuyako met him at the turf?

The soft strands of golden hair swayed forlornly, and the weakening rain was absorbed by Hikaru’s body as he appeared to merge within them.

(Hikaru, why must you look like you can give up on everything?”

The petal-like lips too showed a faint smile,

 

“Even if he is still alive, Mr Hikaru will never find happiness.”

 

Fujino noted sadly.

She gave Michiru a pained look, and with a languid expression, having given up on everything, she said,

 

“Mr Hikaru should never have been born.”

 

—This child should never be born.

 

Those were the words the adults around Hikaru said to him since he was young, and now, the woman dearest to him actually said it!

Koremitsu saw a smile appear slowly on his face, and was left in agony.

“…”

Mikoto too lowered her eyes.

Honoka began to mutter something,

“How cruel…”

It appeared that was what she said.

Yū, who knew that Hikaru had a special someone he loved, appeared to be on the verge of breaking down in tears.

Michiru in turn appeared to have completely crumbled.

She tried to start over from where the mistake happened, but was declared that everything was a mistake. No matter how much she admired it, hoped for it, they were all crushed; she was told that the dazzling love she so yearned was just pitch darkness, and this caused her legs to quiver as she bent down, widen her eyes, and stammer softly,

“No…this is not how it is…our love…is beautiful…the purest love in this world…the prettiest of them all…why…must you lie…because that Wisteria…is a fake…yes…this is not it…Lord Hikaru…Lord Hikaru would not reject this love…that he would not reject me…”

All the personalities inside Michiru were completely rattled, and she was stupefied.

“…Got to save Lord Hikaru.”

Michiru staggered towards the river.

“With that…Lord Hikaru will again thank me…he will find me from those noisy, wretched women, and choose me…and love me alone…”

“Michiru, that is—!”

Honoka frantically exclaimed.

“Hanasato, stop!”

However, it appeared Michiru neither heard Koremitsu nor Honoka’s voices as she stumbled to the river.

The uneasiness arose in Koremitsu’s heart.

Michiru, imprisoned by the madness that was Rokujō, said that she wanted to revive Hikaru to fulfill the promise between Fujino and Hikaru.

But that was impossible. In that case, the only method would mean ‘Fujino’ giving chase after Hikaru, and choosing death—

“Koremitsu! Stop Miss Hanasato now!”

Hikaru probably realized what Michiru was up to as well as he frantically called out.

Koremitsu dashed towards Michiru.

“Michiru, wait!”

“Don’t come here!”

Koremitsu lashed out at Honoka as he reached his hand out towards Michiru.

“Listen…Lord Hikaru is calling for help.”

“Hikaru isn’t over there!!”

His nose touched Michiru by the arm, and he ended up grabbing at the damp air. Tripped by the mud, Koremitsu tumbled, and hastily stepped firmly onto the ground.

Then, he saw Michiru fall slowly into the river.

That happened in an instance.

With a smile, Michiru fell forward, and the sight of her falling into the river was etched in Koremitsu’s eyes. Honoka shrieked, and Hikaru too shouted, “Miss Hanasato!” as the black water splashed.

The growling currents immediately engulfed Michiru’s petite body, and only the slender arm swept gradually by the river appeared in the eyes.

“Damn it!”

Koremitsu tossed the torchlight aside, and jumped into the river after Michiru.

“Akagi!”

♢ ♢ ♢

The river water so so chilly, it could have frozen Koremitsu’s body, and he nearly fell unconscious countless times.

Following that was a ripping pain that pressed upon his body.

The black currents raced on, and it appeared 10 times faster than the flowing pool he went to with Honoka and the other sin the summer, as he could not move his limbs freely at all.

“Koremitsu! Koremitsu!”

Hikaru kept calling for Koremitsu.

At this moment, Koremitsu spotted what appeared to be Michiru within his range.

He moved his body, now swept by the current, over to that body. No, it would be precise to say ‘swept towards it’.

“!”

It seemed Michiru had passed out, and she would be swept further down the river. The river water entered his mouth, eyes and ears, and he was almost crushed by the water pressure.

“How—can I give up now?”

He reached out his arm that was practically ripped off, and this time, he grabbed Michiru’s body.

“Ugh!”

And so, Koremitsu pulled Michiru up, hugging her firmly.

Michiru was completely limp not moving at all. I won’t let go! I’ll definitely get her up to the surface together with me!

“Koremitsu! Behind you!”

Hikaru’s voice caused Koremitsu to turn back.

A large tree fell before the duo as they flowed forth. The water lashed upon it, causing large splashes, and flowed to the other end of the tree.

Koremitsu narrowed his eyes, and firmly embraces Michiru with his arms.

“Watch out, Koremitsu!”

Hikaru exclaimed the moment Hikaru’s back hit the trunk.

He felt a sharp from his back, and it felt as though his heart was crushed from behind, causing him to wince in pain. However, Koremitsu did so deliberately.

With Michiru in his arms, he moved along the trunk. The currents continued to surge, and he was unable to get onto the riverbank successfully. He was already at his limit trying to protect Michiru and get to land.

“Hey! Hanasato! Wake up! Hanasato! Hanasato!!”

Koremitsu kept yelling her name by her ears.

“Open your eyes! Hanasato!”

Michiru groaned, and opened her eyes.

Once she saw Koremitsu, she was taken aback, and started to struggle.

“Argh! Why? Let go of me! No!”

‘You idiot! If I let you go, you’ll be swept away!”

“It’s fine…! I want to go over to where Lord Hikaru is. I shall be the Wisteria over there!”

“You’re still saying such nonsense now!? Pull yourself together!”

Koremitsu embraced Michiru firmly, protecting her from the branches, rocks, glass fragments, and cans that came with the river, and lashed out at her.

“I don’t know where you’re going, but Hikaru’s definitely not there! You said it yourself! Hikaru’s in me! In that case, just think of what I say as what Hikaru said!”

Koremitsu was so furious, he caused Michiru to shiver, speechless. From up close, he glared at Michiru,

“You’re not Fujino, and you’re not Rokujō! You’re Michiru Hanasato! Why is it that after being Michiru Hanasato for more than 10 years, you’re pretending to be another woman!?”

Michiru’s face winced. It was the same perplexed, helpless, childish look she gave when Fujino said, ‘you are not me’, and she bawled,

“Be-because, nobody wants Michiru! Nobody will call the name Michiru Hanasato! I don’t need…such a name.”

Everyone just calls me rep…

Koremitsu recalled Michiru saying those forlorn words, and was immediately left speechless. Michiru’s contorted face got increasingly tragic,

“Lord Hikaru too. When he let go of my hand, he said ‘that is enough’! He said the same thing mom did…’that is enough’—’that is enough’! Nobody wants Michiru!”

An anguished cry was eked from deep within the throat, cutting at Koremitsu’s heart.

Though he was unable to understand what Rokujō was thinking, ‘Michiru’ felt pain and desire. For Koremitsu, who was shunned by everyone else since he was young, never had a friend who called his name, who had his own mother abandon him, he really could empathize with her.”

‘That is enough’—Michiru, who was rejected by the one she desired, recalled the words from her mother that were similar, and Koremitsu could feel the despair.

How depressing, how tragic it is to realize that one was not needed by anyone. Those too came with the regrets and heartbreak, “If only I was not born with this look”, “If only I didn’t have such a personality”, denying oneself.

But if he was to tell Michiru that he too felt the same, he would only be told ‘then leave me alone’.

Right, he would never admit to feeling the same as Michiru!

He would never agree to Michiru’s excuse!

With Hikaru’s stern eyes watching them, Koremitsu again lashed out,

“There are people who need you, right!? Just listen? Somebody has been calling for your name for a while!”

A voice came from beyond the rivers’ lashing.

That probably was not an auditory hallucination on Koremitsu’s part,

 

“—ru!”

 

Michiru too pricked her ears.

And then, she widened her eyes. She too probably heard it.

 

“Michiru—!”

 

A flash could be seen by the riverside.

Honoka, holding the torchlight, was crouched on the ground. Surely, she came running here desperately. Her damp hair was sticking onto her face, her clothes were completely wet, and her cleavage and thighs were mostly covered in mud, most probably because she fell over. Her face and forehead too were littered with mud, her reddened eyes filled with tears as she kept calling for her friend’s name. She was worried!

Michiru’s eyes and lips—quivered,

“Hono…”

“Why do you think Shikibu stayed with you? Do you think she really looks down on you? Stop making your presumptuous decisions. Get up shore, and ask the girl herself!”

Koremitsu let go of Michiru, now lowering her head timidly, and supported her body from behind, telling her, “Grab the tree! Just go on like this!” Michiru then began to slowly move on.

Honoka, raising a torchlight by the riverside, was watching them with bated breath.

Hey, you’re leaning too far forward. What do I do if you fall in too, Shikibu?

Koremitsu too scowled as he moved forward little by little. The splinters on the truck cut his hand, and pain could be felt.

Honoka reached her hand towards Michiru, who had reached land.

Michiru grabbed firmly onto the tree, and lifted her head to see Honoka and the latter’s hand. Her face was stiff; she was still hesitating, apprehensive, still afraid.

Honoka gritted her teeth and leaned forward, touching Michiru’s hand.

Michiru shivered in shock.

This time, it was the muddy Honoka grabbing the hand that Hikaru let go of that day, pulling Michiru onto shore.

Having seen that, Hikaru narrowed his eyes, appearing to have seen something marvellous. Koremitsu too,

(Yeah, Hanasato. Don’t let go of those hands. Don’t give up. Hold it firmly.)

Right when Koremitsu’s body relaxed.

A strong gust of wind came from the front.

“Woah!”

Koremitsu fell backwards, his upper body facing the sky.

“Akagi!”

“Koremitsu!”

The river water surged on; Koremitsu felt his head hitting something hard, and sank into the river before he could sense pain.

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