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Kaburagi had never eaten handmade sweets.
Even as far back as primary school, he never once touched the food the girls made in class, or the valentines chocolates that they made him.
That same Kaburagi had eaten the handmade biscuits that some School Festival café had made. Not only that but he had gone out of his way to praise the baker, and even gave a rare smile to a girl.
The shock that this gave Zui’ran was worse than even the time when they had come to school together.
Before this, the only exception that Kaburagi had made to date was food that Yurie-sama had made.
A flood of girls had wondered if perhaps the Emperor had changed his position, and frantically brought him food, but as usual he shot them down.
“I don’t eat handmade food.”
‘Then what was eating that biscuit about!?’ was the natural reaction, intensifying the rumours.
Since nobody could actually ask Kaburagi, some of the girls even started relying on fortune tellers.
Thanks to that, Wakaba-chan was under unnecessary scrutiny once again, making enemies of a bunch of girls once again. Nobody was saying it aloud, but you could tell that they were wondering if Kaburagi had… feelings, for her. I wondered that too, but unlike me, the Kaburagi Fans were pressured by it.
Apparently some girls went to the café just to see what those biscuits were all about and left after leaving a slew of insults.
“This isn’t anything special.”
“Don’t get cocky just because he praised these measly biscuits.”
Stuff like that.
I personally thought they were pretty good myself, though…
But well, it’s not like they came there to actually taste them or anything, I suppose.
Anyway, besides the biscuit incident, there was one other little topic people were discussing. It was about how Enjou treated me to a latte art.
“I heard that even though she didn’t have a ticket, Enjou-sama especially made a latte art for Reika-sama!”
“Gosh! So Enjou-sama really does like…!?”
I could hear comments about it here and there.
What a nuisance.
“Something just for Reika-sama! I’m so envious!”
“And it was such a cute rabbit too.”
Even the girls who came with me were causing a fuss.
“It was surely just some whim of Enjou-sama’s,” I insisted.
“That’s not true. This is Enjou-sama’s way of being a gentleman, Reika-sama.”
Gentleman!? This guy was just trying to use me to draw attention away from what Kaburagi did.
And he chose the rabbit because no doubt he heard about Kaburagi’s crackpot Chinese Zodiac theory and picked it to make fun of me.
That was just the kind of guy Enjou was. You could totally tell from the smile.
And even though he was just some amateur, why was it done so well. I was so frustrated that I ignored everyone’s pleas and messed it up with my spoon.
Completing the Chinese Zodiac? How could I possibly have such a dopey ambition!
Honestly… This School Festival was supposed to be fun, but thanks to those two the first day had turned into a fiasco.
On the second day, the School Festival was open to anybody with a ticket.
Umewaka-kun and co. had wanted to come to last year’s too, but I politely turned them down. After all, I was wearing sheep ears, and I didn’t exactly want him to (good intentions or not) spread word of how I looked just like his beloved dog.
This year though, he helped me out with the Bea-tan doll, and he seemed to be really looking forward to it, so I decided to hand them all tickets. And I very, very carefully warned him not to talk about my similarities to Bea-tan.
Besides their entrance tickets, I had given them a bunch of coupons as well, since none of the attractions were taking real money. It was a system where we instead purchased coupons to use in advance. As a form of contribution to the school, each year the Pivoine would buy these coupons in bulk and then distribute them to its members. I pretty much never spent all of mine.
Since Umewaka-kun and the others were coming this year, I ended up dividing the coupons between the five of them.
Although they were overjoyed to be getting them they were worried that I wasn’t getting enough. That was no issue, of course. After all, besides the bunch that the Pivoine bought on their own, the parents of its members bought a bunch of coupons as their own contribution to the school. If coupons were money, I was as good as a millionaire. If you five don’t have enough, you can always come asking for more, you know? Since you’re coming, you may as well enjoy everything you can.
Since it was open to people outside of just our high school section, Day 2 of the School Festival was crowded beyond measure. Even the Xu Fu café was so badly crowded that the orders never seemed to end. Things were really flourishing, weren’t they.
Anyhow, Mao-chan came to visit too, with Ichinokura-san and Yuuri-kun in tow.
“Welcome, Mao-chan. Yuuri-kun. Ichinokura-san.”
Mao-chan was all dressed up, and I noticed that she was wearing the sparkling glass hair ornament that Imari-sama bought her over the summer. Going on a date with her boyfriend while wearing a present from another man! Mao-chan was such a sinful woman!
“Reika-oneesama, you look so cute in that outfit. Doesn’t she, Yuuri? Haruto-ojisama?””
“She really does, Mao. You look great in it, Reika-san.”
“Goodness, thank you all very much.”
Mao-chan, you’re still calling him Ojisama, aren’t you. Did she think of him that way now?
Mao-chan and Yuuri-kun were happily sharing an annin tofu and black sesame pudding between them. How enviable.
“Thanks to you bringing me to Taiwan, I was able to contribute a little to my class’ café this time. Thank you very much, Ichinokura-san.”
“Ah, Taiwan? That brings back memories. Those xiaolongbao were really good, weren’t they. It’s been lonely recently without you two to go eat with.”
“Because you have Erika-san, Haruto-ojisama.”
Mao-chan turned away with a huff. Ichinokura-san smiled, not quite sure what to do.
“Now, now, Mao-chan,” I said, “Is it not about time that you let him off the ojisama punishment? Ichinokura-san seems a little devastated each time you call him that, you know?”
“But…” pouted Mao-chan.
I couldn’t help but smile at how cute she was.
“You actually love your ‘Haruto-niisama’, no?”
“…Fine. I’ll forgive him. Just this once, since Reika-oneesama asked, Haruto-niisama!”
How are you so cute, Mao-chan! Yuuri-kun rubbed her head with praise, while Ichinokura-san seemed awfully moved that his beloved niece was calling him ‘niisama’ again.
“Thank you, Reika-san. I’m really glad I came today.”
“I see. Oh, Mao-chan. How about you come over to my house again? Oniisama said that he wanted to meet you again too.”
“Waah! I want to see Takateru-niisama too! Haruto-niisama, remember how I told you? Takateru-niisama is super dreamy, you know!”
“Ohh, I see…”
Ichinokura-san’s smile turned a little stiff. Ukeke. Ah! Yuuri-kun was frowning again. Oh no. Sorry, Yuuri-kun.
When the three of them were done, Mao-chan told me that they were off to Ririna’s class next. Given that it was Ririna, I could already see her telling everyone about how Mao-chan was like her little sister.
The next to come and visit me was Sakura-chan and Akizawa-kun.
Sakura-chan had told me that she was going to spend the most time around the 1st year attractions, to let everybody know that she existed, as well as scout out her rivals. Despite her deranged intentions, outside she was still the perfect traditional beauty, neat and proper.
“Welcome, Sakura-chan, Akizawa-kun.”
The people who were familiar with him were completely curious about this girl from another school that he brought along. Despite noticing their stares, Sakura-chan pretended that she didn’t and said cutely,
“I wonder what I should pick, Taku.”
I expected no less from her.
“What would you suggest, Reika-san?” she asked.
“Let me see. Since this is a rare occasion, how about something more exotic, like our flowering teas?”
“Yes, it is a specially arranged tea that blooms like a flower when-”
“Sakurako-saan!” somebody suddenly interrupted.
It was none other than the travelling musician from the West, Dite.
“Sakurako-san! Who would have thought that I would meet you here! Could it be that you came to listen to my violin!?” he asked, afro swaying as he closed in on her.
Since she was sitting on a chair, the only place she could escape to was Akizawa-kun.
“Eh-, Sakura-chan, you know Dite?” I asked.
“…We’ve met a few times at violin recitals,” she whispered, sounding rather chagrined.
Come to think of it, Sakura-chan had been learning violin since she was little, hadn’t she. Who would have thought that she’d know him thanks to that. And from the way Dite was behaving…
Even when the tea arrived, Dite doggedly kept trying to talk to her. Even when I told him that the musician had to go back and perform, he wouldn’t listen. Mmmm… I mean, pretty much anyone would come to the same conclusion as me, right…?
And even though Akizawa-kun was calmly drinking tea at the start, as time went by his mood worsened. Oh? Akizawa-kun was a gentle person, so it was really rare seeing a frown coming from him, you know? And Sakura-chan seemed to notice too.
“Sakura, it’s about time to go, don’t you think?”
He drained the rest of his tea in one gulp and then brusquely left his chair with Sakura-chan in hand.
“Ah! But Sakurako-san and I were still-”
“Kisshouin-san, thank you for the tea. Let’s go, Sakurako.”
“Y-, Yes. Well then, see you, Reika-san.”
And with that, Sakura-chan was dragged out of the store. Oh ho ho? Don’t tell me he was jealous?
And as Sakura-chan left, I glimpsed a wicked smirk on her face.
“Kisshouin-san! Just what kind of relationship do Sakurako-san and that Akizawa-kun have!?”
This time it was me that Dite pestered. I suppose as of right now, more than childhood friends, but less than a couple? But then thanks to Dite, maybe that was going to change.
Wow, you were a complete stalking horse today, weren’t you, Dite. Could it be that Dite was going to join my Forever Alone village?
Please no. If one of our villagers played violin from morning to night, every day…
Dite returned to his stage and put his feelings into his violin.