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Enjou told me that Yukino-kun had been discharged so I immediately went to the Petite salon to visit him.
“Yukino-kun! Welcome back!”
He greeted me with the smile of an angel but I noticed that he was a little thinner than the last time I saw him. Maybe he wasn’t all better yet. Was it okay for him to come to school?
Unaware of my worries, he stood up from the couch and trotted over to my side.
“Ahh! You should stay seated, Yukino-kun!”
“Ehh~ I can at least stand, you know?”
“No, no, you only just left the hospital. Come now, sit.”
It was a relief that he did as I asked.
“You were unwell recently, so you must avoid pushing yourself.”
“But I’m not pushing myself. I’m fine.”
“I’m really fine. But thanks for worrying, Reika-oneesan.”
Uuu… If he smiles at me like that I can’t really keep nagging him. But he’s really okay, right?
Sitting beside me, Yukino-kun was enjoying warm black tea.
“Oh, that reminds me! Thank you so much for the book. It was really interesting.”
“Really? Thank goodness. Your oniisama told me that you were feeling bored so I wondered how I could help with that.”
“Yeah. It was so interesting I read it twice.”
“I am glad that you enjoyed it. …Was it rough living in the hospital?”
“No, it was just like usual.”
“Like usual… How many times have you been hospitalised?”
“Ehh~ I don’t really remember… How many times has it been?”
Eh!? He’s been in hospital more times than he can remember!?
“I’ve always gone to the hospital whenever I have a bad attack. But there are lots of kids my age there, so it’s fun, you know? And the doctor puts on a Santa costume during Christmas and we have a party.”
“Eh!? You’ve been to hospital during Christmas as well!?”
“Yes, just the once though.”
No! Christmas should be one of the most important days for a child!
To think that he was forced to spend his Christmas in the hospital instead of having fun with his family at home… Here I was, living happily and thoughtlessly while somebody his age was suffering. It made me feel kind of guilty…
“Don’t look like that, Reika-oneesan. My family came to visit me and gave me lots of presents. And last year I was feeling better so I celebrated at home too.”
“I see. Then you enjoyed yourself with all of your family last Christmas?”
“Yes. Ah, but Niisama wasn’t there.”
“My! And after you were finally at home to celebrate too!”
Damn that Enjou. How could he leave his cute little brother like that. I bet a popular guy like him was on a date with some girl. A little harem world where he was waited on hand and foot by all of his little followers. What an unbelievable guy. Unforgivable. Going on harem dates while I spent every Christmas single…
“Niisama went with Masaya-niisama to the Sea of Japan. He brought back crabs as a souvenir, you know? I heard that because of the blizzard the sea was really dark and stormy.”
…Sorry for the misunderstanding, Enjou. You had an even rougher Christmas than I did, didn’t you… A Christmas, spent with another guy, at the Sea of Japan, in the middle of a snowstorm. And with that other guy completely unresponsive because of heartbreak. I bet you had to experience it yourself to really understand that kind of suffering…
“Still, I had no idea that you were so ill that you had to be repeatedly hospitalised… The treatment must be rough.”
“It’s just inhalers and an IV, so it’s fine.”
“So they give you an IV as well…”
Given that my health was one of my few redeeming features, I had never used an IV before. It sounded so scary, having a needle stuck in your arm the whole time… I’d always been afraid of needles…
“Actually this time they couldn’t use the vein in my arm so they used the back of my hand instead. See?”
“Eh-, the back of your hand!?”
He showed me the red mark on the back of his hand. They stabbed his hand for this!? Just looking at it was painful!
“It doesn’t hurt that much, you know? What really hurt was when they used the back of my foot. Just once was enough.”
There was almost no flesh there! Uooohhhh! Painful!
Why did Yukino-kun who was as cute as an angel have to keep suffering these things!
“Yukino-kun! If there is anything I can do to help, let me know!”
I’m serious, you know? I’m kind of useless but for you I’ll do anything, you know?
After that he told me about how he liked animals but couldn’t keep one because of his asthma, so I showed him the pictures of Bea-tan that Umewaka-kun sent me. He found her cute and lit up. All of the affection her owner gave her wasn’t just for show. Her hair was definitely glossy and cute. That owner on the other hand…
Yukino-kun said that he liked cats too, so I decided to ask Ichinokura-san for photos next time.
This year the Handicrafts Club had a boy member join. His name was Minami-kun and he was really good at it. Particularly his embroidery. Thanks to that we were hoping for a lot out of him for the wedding dress we were making for the school festival this year.
And it was Minami-kun that I spotted being teased by other boys in the hallway leading to our clubroom.
“Minami, I heard you entered the Handicrafts Club?”
“Are you a tranny or something?”
“So you knit and stuff? Holy shit, you’re a loser!”
Minami-kun was a quiet type, so he was standing stock and bearing it. Ah. They poked him.
“Oi, Minami, show us what you’re making!”
They were trying to snatch his bag from him now. This wouldn’t do.
“What might you all be doing?” I asked.
All of them turned my way at once.
“Who are you supposed to be?”
“You dumbass! That’s the 2nd year Kisshouin Reika…-san! From the Pivoine!
“Eh-, the Pivoine!?”
“Minami-kun is a member of my club. Did you need something?”
I walked up to them, making sure my Pivoine badge flashed in the light, but the boys picking on Minami-kun flinched and backed away.
“Um, we were just…”
They looked at each other for help.
“Just now I think I heard you make light of the Handicrafts Club. Was it my imagination?”
“No, we didn’t mean it like that… Right?”
“Yeah,” one agreed.
“Yes…” agreed another.
“Oh?” I asked, “Minami-kun is somebody very important to my club. Please do not forget that if you come up with any strange ideas about Minami-kun then you can consider having made an enemy of me. All right?”
I flashed a bright smile to finish it off.
The boys who had been teasing Minami-kun all gave very acceptable responses before hurrying off. Goodness, you shouldn’t run in the hallways, you know?
“Umm! Kisshouin-senpai, thank you very much!” bowed Minami-kun.
“It was no problem at all. Protecting my kouhai is my job as a member of the club. If anything happens again, do tell me. Now come. Shall we head to the club?”
“Yes!!” he nodded energetically.
As if I could allow one of our key strategic resources to run off because of some idiots. I couldn’t do embroidery at all.
With his bag held tightly in both hands, Minami-kun half-ran after me.
I heard that the next day Ririna declared to him,
“Well, if you’re Reika-san’s kouhai then I guess I have no choice but to protect you too.”
Wasn’t he basically invincible amongst his peers now?