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At lunch on Saturday I went to Wakaba-chan’s house.
Today I was going to learn to make chocolat au fondant with her.
“It’s soooo cold! I think it’s gunna snow soon! Your nose is all red, Kisshouin-san. Are you going to be okay?”
“Yes. And the sky is all grey so you may be right.”
Today Wakaba-chan had come to meet me at the station.
“I have to apologise again for taking up so much of your free time.”
“It’s fiiine, I said. The only other thing I have is my part-time job after all!”
Wakaba-chan worked lunchtimes at a family restaurant, weekends only.
“You only just came back from work today, no? I hope you did not rush on my account.”
“No, no, I always head straight home after changing so don’t worry about it. Aren’t you way busier than I am?”
“Not at all…”
All I had on these days were extracurricular lessons every fortnight, and cooking lessons with Akimi-san.
When Yukino-kun’s birthday party was over I phoned her and told her how much everyone liked it.
Having been worried about it like she was the one being judged, she finally let out a sigh of relief to hear that.
I suppose she was though.
Not only were the Enjou family and all their guests going to taste her cooking, but my parents had told her ‘this could make or break our daughter’s reputation’ so it must have been quite some pressure.
I really did feel bad about it.
What would I do if she stopped teaching me because I was such a troublesome student?
Don’t abandon me, Akimi-san!
“It must be rough working part-time. Do you ever get a break?”
“I take time off work before exams.”
“Try not to let the school know.”
“Ah, about that. I actually got permission!”
“Permission? To work?”
“Yeah! Remember how you told me that we weren’t allowed to work? Well, since I work in the kitchen I didn’t think it was going to be a problem, but just to be safe I talked to Mizusaki-kun about it.”
“Yeah. I thought that the Student Council President was the best one to speak to about these things. He was all like, ‘What the hell are you doing!?’ and got reaaally mad at me. ‘Don’t you understand that you could lose your scholarship over this!?’ He was right, of course, and I had a long hard think about it.”
Wakaba-chan hung her head in remorse.
“But then Mizusaki-kun went and obtained permission for me. We said it was to pay for school fees and supplies and somehow got them to agree. Since I was already receiving a scholarship I wasn’t sure if it’d work but thank goodness it did!”
“Good for you.”
“Yeah! I’m so thankful to Mizusaki-kun!” she smiled.
Apparently she thought pretty well of Fellow Stalking Horse.
Just the fact that she discussed it with him meant that she trusted him.
On the one hand, Fellow Stalking Horse who was reliable and dependable.
On the other hand, the Emperor who brought nothing but trouble.
Wow. You’re in trouble, Kaburagi.
“Now I don’t have to worry even if someone realises! I have to thank you too, Kisshouin-san.”
“I do not recall doing anything.”
“That’s not true. I wouldn’t have realised it if you hadn’t told me. Lots of my friends secretly worked during middle school, and a lot of them still did it in high school so I hadn’t paid it much thought.”
“I see. Plenty of people do work in high school.”
“Yeah. Ah, but I’m surprised you knew that, Kisshouin-san. It’s hard to imagine part-time work occurring to anyone from Zui’ran.”
In my old life, I used to work part-time a lot as welll.
Whenever there was something I wanted and there wasn’t enough money from my parents, for example.
But I guess the idea of working part-time would be a really foreign concept to the girls at Zui’ran.
You’d expect them to say something like, “Goodness! What is this ‘par time work’ you speak of?”
I had better change the topic before I outed myself.
“By the way, Kaburagi-sama ordered a birthday cake from your place, no?”
“Ooh, how’d you know? He did. I was working that day too, so I couldn’t come home until 2. So to avoid talking about part-time I just told him that I wouldn’t be at home until 2:30 only for him to say that was when he’d come.”
He actually came late just so he could see Wakaba-chan!
He totally used Yukino-kun’s birthday as an excuse to go see her!
To begin with, who even asked him to pick it up personally?
Using an angel as a pretext to advance his love…
What a guy!
“It was for Enjou-kun’s little brother, wasn’t it? Since his name had ‘yuki(snow)’ in it so he told me he wanted a Swiss meringue snowman.”
“It was very cute.”
“You went to his birthday party? How was it? I hope his little brother enjoyed it.”
“The snowman was so cute that he couldn’t bear to eat it. As for the cake itself, all the children loved it.”
“I see! Thank goodness. I’m a little relieved, you know. I wasn’t sure if rich kids would enjoy it… Hehe.”
“Your otousama’s cakes are delicious, so you should have a little more confidence.”
“…And you just called him -kun, no?”
‘Oh damn!’ said her expression.
Sorry I couldn’t ignore this.
“Ummmm~ Since I was talking to Kaburagi-kun that way, Enjou-kun told me to use -kun as well…”
“I see… Try to be more careful at school, please.”
If she seemed close with both of them, life was going to get a lot harder for her.
And I was a little surprised.
I had no idea when Enjou became close to Wakaba-chan.
“My siblings are at home today so it might be a bit noisy. Okay, come in.”
“Please excuse me.”
“I’m home!” she said energetically as she opened the door.
“Welcome back! Ah! You’re with the Cornet!”
“Welcome home, Oneechan~ Welcome, Cor-chan.”
Standing in her living room were Kanta-kun, as well as the twin brother and sister in Year 5.
“Oi! I told you not to call her that! Her name is Kisshouin-san!” she quickly scolded them, but apparently everyone in her family already thought of me as Cornet.
That was what they probably called me in private, wasn’t it.
“No need to worry.”
Kanta-kun who wasn’t fazed at all said,
“Hey, Cornet. You better not do anything stupid today!”
I already know that.
He got so angry last time.
“You must be cold, Kisshouin-san,” said Wakaba-chan. “Let me get you something warm to drink.”
That was when her mum slipped out from the storefront.
“Welcome, Co-, Kisshouin-san.”
“Thank you for having me,” I bowed.
“My goodness, you’re a polite one. That’s an ojousama from Zui’ran for you.”
“She’s the ‘Ohoho Cornet Girl’ after all.”
Wakaba-chan brought a vicious fist down onto his head.
‘The Ohoho Cornet Girl’…
Even I couldn’t let that one go.
Get him good, Wakaba-chan.
“Umm, this is some konpeitoh. Please take it.”
“Gosh! Thank you as always. You really don’t have to keep bringing things. We’re not some fancy family,” said her mum.
“I told you last time you didn’t have to worry about this!” scolded Wakaba-chan. “Geez, now we feel bad instead!”
“I know. This is just something I brought from home. Please excuse me for giving you something that was just lying around.”
“Not at all!” her mum exclaimed. “Well in that case we’ll accept it. Come empty handed next time, okay?”
Maybe it was ingrained in me now, but it was really hard showing up without a gift.
Still, this time I managed to keep it to some souvenirs I had from Kyoto over New Year’s.
“Oh right. Kisshouin-san, how about I roast some mochi for you?” her mum suddenly asked. “Okay? We can make kinakomochi, agemochi… It’s yummy, you know? What kind do you prefer?”
“Mochi? Then I suppose I am particular to isobeyaki…”
“I see. Then I’ll cook some up for you. The truth is we’ve got a lot of mochi from New Year’s left over. Wakaba, you still haven’t had lunch, right? Help us eat some.”
“We’ll have some too!” said Kanta-kun.
Her mum went into the kitchen with the kids.
“Your family eats rectangular mochi, I see.”
“Yep. Doesn’t yours, Kisshouin-san?”
“No, we do, but my mother’s maiden family lives in Kyoto, and over there they eat the round ones.”
“Round ones? Round mochi?” asked Kanta-kun.
“Yes. Also the mochi they put in their ozouni is not roasted, but boiled. And instead of osumashi soup, they use something with a shiromiso base.”
“Eh!? That doesn’t sound like ozouni at all then!” he said.
“I suppose not.”
When I was first served it in Kyoto I was like, ‘Eh!?’
I lived in Tokyo in my old life, so I was really used to the way we did things.
The world of cuisine was deep and profound, wasn’t it.
“Is there anything I can help with?” I asked.
“It’s fine. You can go choose which toppings you want, though.”
It was mochi.
Wasn’t it pretty much just seaweed, kinako dust, and red bean soup?
“I’ll go with cod roe and cheese!” he said.
“Cod roe and cheese?”
You could even make mochi like that!?
Wasn’t this the best opportunity to express my creativity then!?
“Stay out of the kitchen, Cornet.”
Kanta-kun had very little faith in me, it seemed.