Michiru, who had her hand held by Koremitsu, widened her eyes, her mouth half opened as she panicked.
Koremitsu’s face too sizzled as he said,
“Don’t refuse me now. I did my best to set aside time for this moment, to go around school with you.”
Unlike Hikaru, who was used to inviting girls out, Koremitsu himself was rather embarrassed by this situation.
And furthermore, how could he endure this any further if Michiru was to run away in fear?
Feeling anxious, he grabbed Michiru’s fingers firmly, and exerted strength on them.
While seated on the chair, Michiru looked up at him, her face beetroot.
“B-bu-bu-bu-but, I-I’m in charge of reception. I-I’m the only one here right now.”
“There’s still one more supposed to be here, right? Where did she go?”
“She went out with her boyfriend?”
“What? She left everything to you to go dating with her boyfriend?”
“Th-th-th-th-th-th-that’s because I don’t have any plans. So-sorry…please don’t glare at me like this.”
Michiru’s neck cringed.
“Koremitsu, you cannot be so furious towards a girl. You have to talk to her gently, for you are the prince today.”
Hikaru floated above him, cheerfully chiming in advice.
Koremitsu weakened his tone.
Michiru assumed that she would be chided again as she looked up.
“Tch.” Koremitsu clicked his tongue, tapped Michiru on the forehead with a fist, barely touching it…and knocked on it.
“You’re too kind-hearted.”
Michiru widened her eyes in shock.
Koremitsu diverted his bashful face aside as he held onto Michiru’s hand, yelling into the classroom.
“HEY! CAN ANYONE DO THE RECEPTION?”
The remaining students stared at Koremitsu, and upon seeing him grasp Michiru’s hand firmly, they were shocked.
Both Michiru and Koremitsu had such red faces.
What exactly happened on the corridor!?
Surely, they had all sorts of imaginations going on in their minds.
And amongst them, a boy timidly raised his hand.
“Erm, if I can.”
The plain looking face certain did seem to register in Koremitsu’s mind. Was that not the one seated right in the middle of the 3rd row? Koremitsu did also see him staying behind after school to deal with the work.
And so, another boy raised his hand as well.
That boy too was someone he often spotted after school.
Koremitsu inadvertently felt touched.
“Thanks. Then you two are…?”
They worked together, but Koremitsu did not know their names at all. It was only till this point that Koremitsu actually noticed this, and he frowned.
And so, the duo spoke apprehensively,
And just like that, Koremitsu’s heart warmed.
“Many thanks, Yoshida and Onodera! I’ll repay you guys!”
He was really grateful as he answered them.
And so, he again faced Michiru,
“Now you don’t have any reason to refuse. Let’s go.”
“Mr. Akagi, but, that?”
He dragged Michiru by the hand just as the latter continued to fuss, and they walked off.
Behind them, their classmates seemed to be chatting about something.
“When did Akagi and the class rep…!?”
“Speaking of which, did Akagi not smile when he said thanks!? It wasn’t as scary as a vengeful spirit. He just smiled.”
“I-I-I-I-I-I saw that too!”
“That Akagi actually smiled!?”
“Wait, Mr. Akagi!”
“Time for you to give up now. If we go back to the classroom now, both you and I will be embarrassed. We’ll be embarrassed either way, so might as well enjoy ourselves a little.”
Koremitsu walked on as he led Michiru by the hand, and the students passing by were staring at them with surprised looks, like their classmates did.
“Bu-but, why…why a date out of the sudden?”
Michiru’s voice got increasingly softer, probably because she was bashful due to the surrounding stares. Koremitsu grasped onto his hand firmly, perhaps to encourage her.
“Because you made a promise, with Hikaru.”
Michiru’s shoulders jolted.
With a crude voice, Koremitsu continued passionately,
“In Middle School, back when Hikaru was surrounded by both female and male classmates, you were the one who folded the white flower and sent him notes to encourage him, right?”
And right beside Michiru was Hikaru, watching tenderly over her, saying,
“Placed inside Koremitsu’s shoe locker was the same note put inside mine, and there was a song about the Tachibana flowers written on it. I so happened to scent upon some Fragrant Olives, and I recalled about you putting the Tachibana flowers in the classroom vase. Back then, there was a refreshing scent similar to the Tachibana flowers from you, which meant that you were the one who put those flowers there. I already knew back then, Miss Hanasato.”
“You brought the Tachibana flowers to class and decorated it, right? I thought of it, and I immediately understood. This note, and the song written about the Tachibana flowers; you were the one who placed it there.”
There was an intense, perturbed look on Michiru’s face.
“Th-that’s a lie. Nobody else would have known about me bringing the Tachibana flowers to the classroom. I was the earliest to arrive in the morning, so I secretely—”
“Back then, you had the same refreshing scent as the Tachibana. Hikaru then noticed that you were the one who placed the Tachibana flowers into the classroom vase.
Michiru’s face again showed surprise, and some bewilderment, followed by some emotions mixed with anguish.
“…I see. So…Lord Hikaru knew…that I brought the Tachibana flowers…”
Michiru’s emotions were conveyed in her stammering voice.
“So he knew, it was me.”
She continued to stammer, feeling so touched, and appeared ready to break down at any given moment.
Hikaru remained beside Michiru as she was, embracing her as he whispered by her ears,
“You never talked to me, and appeared to shun me, so I felt that I was never loved by you, and I could not talk to you. When I was ostracized by everyone, I never thought you were the one who sent me the message, and never noticed the white Tachibana flower.”
Hikaru’s voice was filled with sweetness, filled with the thanksgiving and love for the girl who showed him tenderness and encouragement when he was younger.
They merely exchanged messages for 3 days.
But he was so elated, so warmed.
Even when talking about that, he would still show a tender smile at this point.
“Hikaru actually thought that you hated him, because you’re the serious class rep, and he’s the damned harem prince. He was actually worried about that, so he never greeted you.”
Hikaru liked girls, but even though he would drift from one flower to another, surely he would have an innocent side to him.
For example, not doing anything to the girl, his childhood friend who had a clean streak, for fearing that she would say that she ‘hated him’.
For example, loving a certain person even though he could not do so.
For example, not wanting to cause trouble for a pure, serious, easily flustered class rep.
And so, Koremitsu was the one conveying the feelings in Hikaru’s stead.
“That guy’s rather innocent himself.”
Michiru’s eyes quivered.
Her heart too was overwhelmed by the fragrance of the Tachibana flowers as she stared at the memories of the days with Hikaru.
Perhaps she recalled that figure, voice, and movements Hikaru did when he was younger..
With a cheery face, Hikaru said,
“The white flower you gave me was the Tachibana flower, am I correct? The one who retrieved my recorder and the drawing tools, the white flower encouraging me is the Tachibana flower, and this spirit of the Tachibana was the one whom I said to.”
“The white flower that helped Hikaru, and the bird that assisted me was you, right?”
He had been assuming that the one sending the letter with the little bird, the one who compiled a list of what the other classes were doing, and all the work that was to be done in the culture festival.
However, the one that helped him was Michiru, who was always beside him during the preparations of the culture festival.
She never denied those statements, looking perturbed as she curled her lips tensely, stammering softly as she appeared to utter something; that was a reply more affirmative than anything else.
And while Michiru remained so, Hikaru gave a tender smile,
“That bird is the cuckoo, is that not? There are often hymns pairing the Tachibana flowers and the Cuckoo, including the Man’yōshū, which includes poems pairing them. The words written on the bird were from those poems, I suppose. The rainy night comes from Ōtomo no Yakamochi’s poem (TN: Poem number 3916) ‘The Scent of the Orange flowers and the chirps of the cuckoos linger on scantily in the rainy night’, and the line ‘When friends meet come’ from the poem by Ōtomo no Fumimochi (TN: Poem number 1481) ‘The Oranges and cuckoos chirp when friends meet’. The message written in the flower was ‘The cuckoo in the village where the orange blossoms fall sings and sings on many and many a day’, of Ōtomo no Notabito’s. (TN: Poem number 1473). The other poems too are the same; and they really do fit you, the ever studious Miss Hanasato.”
“If we’re talking about the Tachibana flowers here, I can only think about the Cuckoos. Those words are written beside the picture of the birds, and I guess you probably copied them from some hymns about the orange flowers and cuckoos. That really was a roundabout way of doing things, and I really ain’t good at such elegant stuff like Hikaru. I guess Hikaru wouldn’t have realized it if he didn’t have a hint or whatsoever.”
Again, Michiru looked perturbed as she muttered something, her face again blushing as she lowered her head. The hand held by Koremitsu seemed torn between bending the fingers to grasp it back, and letting it go. She was a terrified dog.
For the straightforward Koremitsu, the creatures called women had extremely complicated, bizarre thought patterns.
Due to Hikaru’s requests, Koremitsu managed to establish relationships with a few women, and yet he was amazed by the thought in this. He was astounded as to why she had put in so much thought.
Michiru herself gave Koremitsu some suggestions discreetly, slipping information at Koremitsu desk anonymously, and even drew a picture of the cuckoo there. She even left a Tachibana flower note in Koremitsu’s shoe locker on the day before the culture festival.
Hikaru, who noticed the white flower note was the Tachibana, noticed that the bird drawing was a cuckoo, and understood that the one who helped both Koremitsu and Hikaru was Michiru.
However, surely Koremitsu would not understand if he was to see the white flower note by itself. Michiru herself probably never thought that Koremitsu would know who placed the flowers in the classroom, let alone the fact that Koremitsu could hear the words of the deceased Hikaru beside him.
Why did she draw the cuckoo on the envelopes however?
Why did she hint at the words related to the Tachibana flowers and the cuckoos?
Why did she leave the Tachibana flower note in the shoe locker?
Why did she whisper “It’s despicable…to remain anonymous.” with such a forlorn look?
Koremitsu was earnestly pondering about this with his all as he patrolled the school as a security member, moved the human lights around, and blended bananas and blueberries at the beverage stand.
He wondered what Michiru was thinking for not revealing that she was the cuckoo, and what her wish was as she continued to slip notes in Koremitsu’s table.
“You saw me as Hikaru himself.”
Michiru’s hand, resting in Koremitsu’s grasp, suddenly shivered.
And Koremitsu firmly grasped the icy hand that tried to escape, saying,
“You made me sit while facing away from the sun, deliberately gave me honey sweets, and tidied my clothing. My fact wouldn’t be that visible when I was sitting there.”
—Erm, let’s see…ahh! Mr. Akagi, do you mind sitting here?
Her face was blushing as she stood up, placed the empty chair beside the window, and stared at Koremitsu with a look of yearning and expectancy.
After Koremitsu sat there, she gave a delighted look.
—It-it’s better to button up that one, I think
—P-please straighten your back too…P-please be gentler in the way you speaking…
Her face practically melted as she watched Koremitsu nibble on the Macaron.
—“It’s honey macarons. There’s honey added in the skin too.
—Wow. This really looks good. I want to try some too.
—Mr. Akagi! There’s still a lot! Please have some more!
“Are you an idiot!? How do you resemble Lord Hikaru in any way? You don’t!“ Honoka exclaimed in rage as she heard that, but back then, Michiru clearly was not seeing Koremitsu, but Hikaru himself.
With tears in her eyes, her face contorted due to sobbing.
She lowered her head and shrank, and looked very apologetic, to a point where if there were dog ears on her, they would fold.
“Because you said the exact same words as Lord Hikaru, Mr. Akagi.”
She said with a barely audible voice.
“The same words?”
“Ab-about me, being like the Tachibana flowers…that although they’re ordinary, they have a nice scent, very memorable…and that, they’re fine that way. Lord Hikaru too did say he like that scent…that there’s a memorable thing about it…”
Michiru lifted her head at Koremitsu.
A tear trickled down her face due to the anguish.
(Ahh, I see. Back then, Hanasato cried.)
I-I always hoped that I can be like Hono, so I bought the same accessory as her. I did at first, but it’s different now. I’m me now, the best class rep in Japan.
And while Michiru said that so forlornly while trying her best to act positive, Hikaru noted tenderly,
Miss Hanasato, you are like the Tachibana flower, a pure white flower that hides deep within the green leaves. Perhaps you might not be noticed by the others, but you are determined and devoted, giving off a memorable fragrance. You are a charismatic girl yourself.
And so, Koremitsu too conveyed the words to Michiru, his words resonating with Hikaru’s,
You’re like the Tachibana flowers. You’re plain, but you have a gentle memorable fragrance. I think that’s very good.
Back then, Michiru stared at Koremitsu’s face for so long, and silently shed some tears.
Surely, that was the moment where she began to see Hikaru in Koremitsu.
Michiru would remember every single word Koremitsu did say, and engraved everything about Hikaru within her. She kept observing him like one looking to save everything in a folder within her. This itself shook Koremitsu’s heart.
What was Michiru thinking when Hikaru suddenly died?
Surely she had been weeping alone again.
And after that, she could not forget about him, and kept thinking about him.
Hikaru, who certainly was no longer able to become her lover—
Caressed Michiru’s arm gently from sidelong, and with a forlorn, gloomy look, he stared at her.
Hikaru never held back the earnest love and sweet talk necessary for girls to bloom into beautiful flowers.
He complimented them, loved and showed them the affectionate smiles, like one tending to them with clear water.
To Hikaru, all the flowers were so precious, so adorable; but he too noticed that after he died, the words he said back then became the source of their agony.
Surely they would find it unbearable.
Koremitsu’s body too was wincing, stabbed by needles as he felt that bitterness.
And to prevent Michiru from being more hurt and intimidated, he did his best to sound calm and serious,
“Sorry for not being like Hikaru, with my rough hands, and my face and hair like this…”
The image of a prince certainly was beyond his grasp.
And he could not show a sweet smile, speak beautiful, flowing words with a transparent voice, or even how to think like that.
Koremitsu himself was proud to be Hikaru’s friend.
Koremitsu himself felt elated and honored to be able to convey Hikaru’s words.
“Until this culture festival ends, I’m Hikaru’s representative.”
And so he turned to Michiru, shivering in sadness, and told her with such directness.”
“I’ll fulfill your wish in Hikaru’s stead. You’re really looking forward to that lover full course, right?”
The tears kept flowing down Michiru’s tender face, and with a skeptical look, she looked up at Koremitsu, her eyebrows lowered.
With his empty hand, Koremitsu wiped her tears off.
“Let’s go try it out together!”
♢ ♢ ♢
The rough fingers gently caressed Michiru’s cheeks, wiping the tears off her.
“Let’s go try it out together!”
The moment she heard Koremitsu say this with such a positive look, the voice, and that serious expression reverberated loudly in her heart.
(I saw Mr. Akagi as Lord Hikaru himself, but Mr. Akagi’s not angry with that?)
Anyone else would have found it revolting or delusional upon learning that someone saw another person on them and had some delusions themselves.
As Hikaru’s representative however, Koremitsu remained as Michiru’s lover until the end of the culture festival.
And he was showing such a prideful, cheerful face.
With his overly large hands, he grabbed Michiru and darted towards the bustling crowd.
“Oh yeah. You set off the sprinklers, didn’t you? Back then, you combed your hair, put on the nurse cap, and had a half-sleeved gym clothes because your clothes and hair were wet, and you hurried off to change your clothes, am I right?”
Michiru’s heart nearly ceased to thump.
“Th-the fluorescent lights were flickering, and I wanted to change it, so even after asking the janitor, he said it was fine, and wouldn’t change it for us, so I…put the chair on the table, and fell off. I hit the sprinklers, and I-I think I wrecked it.”
“So, how did you end up setting off the sprinklers?”
“W-well, everyone would have been concerned about that, so I didn’t say that out.”
After she muttered,
“Well, we managed to make it in time, and did it well, so it’s not all that bad.”
Michiru’s tense shoulders relaxed, and those, along with her legs, wobbled like Tokoroten as she nearly collapsed on the floor.
And that did not happen due to Koremitsu’s large, sturdy hand that was holding her hand tightly.
Michiru too…held that hand firmly to not sit on the floor.
Koremitsu bashfully averted his stare, his face beetroot.
“Because of the special security work, I had the entire map of the culture festival memorized, so I got to thank Asa for that. We don’t have much time left, so let’s just make a brief trip around. First, let’s go get some Takoyaki, and then, some cotton candy.”
“Bu-but, Mr. Akagi…you, don’t really take sweets, don’t you?”
“Well, that’s the case, but…”:
For some reason, he glanced above, frowned a little, and then turned his face forward, looking tense.
“Leave it to me.”
With Koremitsu holding Michiru’s hand, they went downstairs towards the courtyard filled with stands. The latter’s face was sizzling, her heart pounding furiously.
“One takoyaki, two picks, and as for mayonnaise…”
He looked at Michiru, apparently affirming,
“N-normal will do.”
“Normal amount of mayonnaise.”
Koremitsu again averted his stare,
“Give me a little more of that.”
He eked these words in front of Michiru.
“That’s enough, right?”
And while Michiru nodded slightly, he poked a pick into the takoyaki he received, and handed it to her.
Just when Michiru was about to reach her hand.
“Th-that’s not it.”
She received a glare.
“Y-you’re just showing this to me?”
“That’s not it.”
Koremitsu again glanced diagonally above, appearing to ponder over something. Then, he stared at her, saying,
“Open your mouth.”
“Do-don’t lovers do this? OR that’s what Hikaru told me. Damn it, well, I’ll definitely do this if it’s me!”
The folks surrounding both Koremitsu and Michiru outside a radius of approximately 3.5m were all staring at them, their eyes widened as their bodies froze.
It was so embarrassing!
But Koremitsu served up the Takoyaki, with lots of Katsuobushi topping, and brought it to Michiru’s mouth.
(Mr. Akagi is embarrassed to be doing this too.)
But he still did so, for Michiru’s sake.
They were lovers for just two hours, but he wanted to play this role as best as he could.
That emotion was certainly not an act, but ostensibly something to be conveyed from something swirling in the heart.
With determination, she opened her mouth, and ate it. The fragrance of the sauce and katsuobushi spread in the mouth.
“I-it’s naice.” (TN: Note, it’s not a typo. This is deliberate…)
She wanted to express her worry if the food was too hot, but it was just right.
And while she expressed her thoughts as she chewed,
“Uu, I-I didn’t eat much since morning. I’m hungry.”
Koremitsu too muttered, his voice increasingly softer.
He closed his eyes.
“Hanasato, f-feed me too!”
He yelled, and opened his mouth.
She took the other pick from the Takoyaki box Koremitsu had, stuck it in, and timidly popped it into Koremitsu’s mouth.
And so, Koremitsu kept his eyes closed as he closed his agape mouth.
She placed the food deep inside, depth notwithstanding, and because of that, Koremitsu had Michiru’s fingers in his mouth too.
Shocked, Koremitsu opened his eyes.
His eyes met hers at such a close distance, and the sensation of her fingers lingered between his lips as they both blushed.
Koremitsu opened his mouth, and Michiru retreated her fingers.
Koremitsu swallowed the Takoyaki without chewing on it much, and began to cough. Michiru frantically patted him on the back.
“Are you alright, Mr. Akagi!?’
Koremitsu straightened his body, and their eyes met again, their cheeks flushed.
Upon seeing Koremitsu’s eyes teary due to him choking on his food, her heart throbbed, and she picked up another Takoyaki.
“Th-this time, please have it slowly…okay?”
She said as she served it to Koremitsu, and the latter was left red faced as he again ate it.
“You too, Hanasato. Have some.”
Koremitsu said that as he too picked up another Takoyaki. Once she saw the Katsuobushi littered over it, her heart got fuzzy, with some itchiness aroused within her.
She too showed a natural smile, her mouth opened.
And so, both of them ate the 8 Takoyakis in the box, 4 each. Koremitsu’s face was tense and flushed, and Michiru’s was sizzling in embarrassment; yet both of them enjoyed themselves.
“Hey, will lovers actually eat in such an embarrassing manner? Did I get fooled by Hikaru or something?”
“No, right now, that’s exactly how lovers should be eating takoyaki. That’s why my heart’s really pounding like crazy.”
“Is that…so? Then, no, forget about it.”
Koremitsu diverted his stare to the sky, and gruffly muttered.
“Alright, not for the cotton candy. I feel a little thirsty now. Let’s go get something to drink, ‘kay?”
He held a red-faced Michiru by the hand, and walked off.
They bought soda water and cotton candy from a stall, and shared them.
Koremitsu drank a quarter off the soda water can, and Michiru frantically retrieved it, drinking. Both of them divided the cotton candy in half, peeling scraps and feeding them to each other.
Koremitsu really had issues dealing with sweet foods, and he frowned as he forced himself, saying,
“We-well, I’m still good with this.”
The soft cotton candy slowly melted on Michiru’s mouth, lingering there as it became a sweet, sugary liquid. The parts that were yet to dissolve completely remained delicious too.
After that, they went fishing for water balloons, and entered a haunted house.
Koremitsu remained serious as he handed a balloon with blue and white patterns to Michiru.
And that balloon bobbled in Michiru’s palm.
“Ehhehe, I wanted one when I was young.”
“You never been to a festival?”
“My family’s strict, so I’m really happy to be able to fulfill my wishes.”
Michiru let out an umpteenth number of screams in the haunted house as she latched onto Koremitsu, who embraced her firmly with his slender, yet sturdy and muscular arms and chest. The stench of sweat, and ink, could be scented from his body, yet Michiru found that to be a wonderful scent.
No matter where they went, the focus was upon them.
That delinquent king was holding hands with a girl? They were even flirting with each other, causing the onlookers to look extremely dejected.
Michiru’s neck retreated as she whispered that,
“You’re the only one I can see,”
And Koremitsu answered,
“And your voice is the only thing I can hear.”
It started to get hot deep within Michiru’s eyes.
(Mr. Akagi just said something really amazing.)
And he was so earnest with it.
But as Koremitsu kept leading her by the hand, she got noticeably less distracted by the surrounding stares. Furthermore, she felt like a princess at a ball, basked in the onlookers’ stares as she danced with a prince.
That was the scene Michiru saw in her dreams.
That day, Hikaru walked towards Michiru with a gentle smile, saying, “So the flower messages are from you? Thank you for helping me. As promised, will you be my lover?” reaching his hand out to her.
And so, Michiru would hold Hikaru by the hand, their hands clasped together as they strolled through the bustling campus during the culture festival.
Koremitsu’s hair was red and messy, and his face was so terrifying, it was unbefitting of a prince’s face.
He was the complete opposite to the graceful, grandeur Hikaru.
But though he may be gruff, he kept taking care of her; there was some tenderness conveyed through his crude verbal etiquette; he unexpectedly knew how to gain a girl’s favor.
“Speaking of which, I haven’t thanked you properly. Thanks to you, I managed to complete the committee member work, and I feel that the culture festival isn’t such a bad thing. Thanks a lot for helping both Hikaru and me. Thank you, Hanasato!”
—Thank you, Miss Hanasato.
While Koremitsu thanked her so bashfully, Michiru seemed to recall Hikaru saying such words with a dazzling look as well.
Koremitsu’s face was utterly red, his lips a little ostentatious, the red hair soaked in sweat looking so dazzling under the sunset. Michiru found it to be as pretty as Hikaru’s, her heart throbbing.
(Mr. Akagi today really is like a prince.)
The public closing time slowly approached.
“Want to look at the Tachibana flowers at the end?”
Michiru gritted her teeth as she nodded in the face of Koremitsu’s question.
♢ ♢ ♢
The backyard of the Middle School campus was basked in a faint orange sunset.
“It has yet to change since the time when I was in Middle School.”
He stared at the Cupid statue with an affectionate stare, and there was the Nadeshikos and Cosmos growing on the flower bed by the feet.
“You see, Koremitsu? That is the Tachibana tree.”
The place Hikaru pointed at appeared to have oval, glossy leaves. Behind the Cupid statue, in the midst of the green leaves, the blue fruits could again be seen basked under the golden sunset.
Michiru too was basked under the same color, looked moved as she touched those trees.
The breeze gently swayed the Cosmos and and her hair, but did not sway the sturdy leaves and fruits of the Tachibana flowers as they remained there silently.
Hikaru moved his slender hand towards the leaves.
“It will be great if it is May now. It is a pity that you were unable to see the extremely vibrant, vigorous white flowers, Miss Hanasato.”
He stared at the green leaves that got increasingly brighter with a sacred expression of yearning and love, and diverted his eyes towards Michiru, looking a little tense beside Koremitsu.
“But well, it is fine, for the flowers will again bloom the next year. Do you know why people swear eternal love under this Cupid statue? That is because this Cupid statue is surrounded by the Tachibana flowers, which in turn represents eternity. In the distant past, the Emperor commanded the Tajimamori to bring back a rich, fragrant, immortal fruit from the Toyo no Kuni, the timeless fruit called the Tachibana, or orange.”
That rich, sweet voice lingered in the backyard under the forlorn sunset.
When Koremitsu called out to her, Michiru’s shoulders jerked in shock, and she turned towards him.
She obviously looked a little tense, clumsily lifting her head.
This classmate of his was showing a puppy-like expression,. Even without others knowing, this girl kept working hard, for her class…
“Hey, do you know the reason why the rumor that there’ll be eternal love if people swear their oaths here?”
Michiru shook her head.
Hikaru gently muttered,
“This flower will continue to bloom no matter how it wilts. Even as people depart, countries change, it continues to remain there. In the early summer, it will give off a refreshing aroma, and upon scenting it, people will recall the past, reminiscing wonderful memories, and surely they will smile.”
Koremitsu too looked at Michiru tensely,
“The Tachibana flowers signify eternity, or that’s what Hikaru said. Even if they wilt, they’ll keep blooming in the next year, or the year after, giving off a refreshing fragrance or sorts.”
He conveyed Hikaru’s words to Michiru, who kept yearning for Hikaru.
Unlike Hikaru, Koremitsu did not have a tender expression or pretty lips, and did not have the nice voice the latter had.
However, he was earnest, seriously conveying Hikaru’s thoughts, Hikaru’s love, and Hikaru himself to the girls he loved.
He wanted to convey to them that it was wonderful for them to be able to love Hikaru, that Hikaru was fortunate to be born in this era, this world, that he wanted them to think this way.
And so, he wanted them to know.
How much Hikaru actually loved them.
The luxurious stems of the Cosmos swayed gently with the breeze, and Koremitsu snapped it crudely.
Taking in a short breath, Michiru straightened her back slightly.
Upon seeing this, Koremitsu again exerted strength, as it appeared he was about to confess to Michiru again.
(Well, it’s definite that without Hikaru haunting me, I won’t be able to become a member of the committee, and I won’t know what’s good about Hanasato.)
Surely she did not garner much attention, but this girl was like a Tachibana flower, leaving a tender fragrance in the heart, her expression as adorable as a puppy.
Koremitsu himself too received lots of help from Michiru.
With Hikaru watching over him, he heard the pounding of his heart as he twirled the stem of the Cosmos, stopped at the base of the flower, and formed a ring.
While his face was beetroot—
As he stared right into Michiru’s eyes—
He slipped the flower ring onto Michiru’s slender finger.
Michiru kept staring at that ring.
“I’m Hikaru’s representative…and the flowers already bloomed in spring. After scenting upon this fragrance, you’ll recall about what happened today.”
Even if they were lovers for just two hours.
Whether it was the brightness of the sunset, the refreshing sensation of the breeze, the sensation of the dirt and grass inside the shoes, the brown hair swaying around the slender shoulders, the lips opened in delight, or the emotions, the bashfulness he could sense, Koremitsu could sense happiness, love.
Also, there was also the time when they were facing each other at a single table in the classroom after school, discussing about the culture festival. His heart throbbed due to the lively, puppy-like eyes, the itchiness caused by the slender fingers that gently caressed Koremitsu’s rough fingers, and the sweetness of the colorful Macarons of blue, orange and yellow.
Surely he would recall them over and over again.
The broadcast indicating the end of the public showing could be heard from afar.
Michiru wiped the tears off her face, smiling,
“I…too will like to thank you, Mr. Akagi.”
♢ ♢ ♢
These words encompassed all the heartfelt thanksgiving Michiru had, and she conveyed it to the red-haired boy, standing there bashfully with a frown.
This was the most blissful, special day.
For the wish was finally granted.
From behind the Tachibana tree, Michiru had long watched the girls who swore oaths with Hikaru, and admired them, feeling bitter, her heart pricked.
She was envious that they were able to get flowers from Hikaru, and was anguished as a result.
She really wanted to grab those hands.
She really wanted to stare into those eyes.
She wanted to give him the pain, the bitterness, and the sweet delight.
And then, she would become lovers with him, not just alone, but with him, to watch the white flower blossoms.
“Can you be my girlfriend?”
“Yes, I will.”
That was the deal they had written on the letters, and the three days were like a treasure.
The miracle once happened, and she lifted her head, hoping for it to happen again. She never complained about inequality, and maintaijned a pure heart. Countless times she had to watch the wilting Tachibana flowers alone, and her heart was crushed.
Perhaps after the flowers scattered, she would be left alone.
She felt that perhaps it would be easier for her to give up.
But Hikaru’s friend fulfilled this in his stead.
And those thoughts glittered as they ascended.
The aroma of the white Tachibana flowers spread all over her chest, making her blissful.
Surely, even if the Tachibana flowers did wilt, she would no longer despair over te future.
And there would no longer be a cuckoo chirping in agony due to suffering.
“I cannot keept waiting on my one. I have to walk on with my own feet, push the lush leaves aside with my hands, and see the pricnes. I couldn’t believe Lord Hikaru’s death, Mr Akagi, and I never bade farewell to him at the funeral. So since you are representing him, can I, say it to you, Mr Akagi?”
Michiru said to the younger Hikaru, that day,
Her lips smiling,