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I have an older sister.
Neechan is four years older than me.
When she was in her last year of middle school she suddenly started going on about taking the examinations for this school for rich kids.
The famous Zui’ran Academy.
It caused a huge fuss.
My parents and her teacher had thought that she was going to a public school after all.
In fact, her teacher told her, “With your grades I think you could get in on the scholarship, but that place isn’t like other schools, you know? Is that okay with you, Takamichi-san?”
Mum and Dad were worried that she wouldn’t fit in there as well.
“If I get the scholarship then I can go there for free. Plus, if my marks are good enough, they’ll even give me money that I won’t have to return. The curriculum is leagues more fulfilling than other schools too, so I want to go there,” she explained.
My parents weren’t having any of it of course.
“Don’t worry about the school fees. Just go to a school where you’ll fit in.”
School fees, huh. I suppose we did have quite a few siblings.
But Neechan didn’t change her mind.
“It isn’t just the school fees. I want to see a new world and experience something different. Plus, the uniforms are cute.”
That last reason was a pretty girly one.
Since she was so determined, in the end our parents consented.
“Well, if you insist,” they relented.
And so she ended up taking the examinations.
Deciding on your school based on the uniforms though…
I really don’t get girls.
According to Mum, Neechan has always had a strong sense of curiosity.
One time she chased a butterfly all the way into the next town, and they only found out where she was when a police officer contacted them.
Another time she had an insect guide. She went around all day looking at bugs with a magnifying glass, and ended up collapsing to heatstroke.
When it was a star guide instead, she stayed on the veranda stargazing all night long and ended up bedridden with a fever.
Neechan loves those encyclopaedic picture guides.
Anyway, since Mum figured Zui’ran was another case of her curiosity flaring up, she decided to let her be.
After Neechan made it in she tried on the uniform.
“Does it suit me? Do I look like an ojousama?”
I don’t know how many times she asked that.
She only left the mirror when we finally replied, “It does, it’s cute.”
But after that she started going,
“Did you know they say gokigen’yoh at Zui’ran? Kanta, Gokigen’yoh.”
She wouldn’t stop, and it was annoying, but Mum told me to deal with it.
“She made it past a very difficult examination to be accepted there, so just bear with it.”
So bear with it I did.
Neechan had just begun ecstatically attending Zui’ran when she suddenly said to me:
“That school is even crazier than I imagined.”
“What’s so crazy about it?”
“Hmmm, all sorts of things. Really makes you realise that out there there are worlds like that too. Yeah…” she nodded to herself.
I’m still wondering what’s so crazy, damnit!
“And man, seeing the real thing sure was different to my own ‘gokigen’yoh’. It sounded completely natural coming from them. Whenever I say it there’s some part of me embarrassed about what the heck I’m doing, you know? But in that world it’s a matter of fact, isn’t it. And they throw about topics about high society so fast that I don’t know what’s what. It was like listening to another language,” she said in wonder.
Hearing that just made us worried.
“Are you going to be okay, Wakaba?” Mum asked. “Are you sure you shouldn’t have gone to another school?”
But Neechan wasn’t worried at all.
“Ah well, I’m sure I’ll get used to it sooner or later. Once I do, I’ll be a splendid ojousama as well!”
“Is this the face of an ojousama to you?”
That got me a punch.
That hurts, damnit!
“Is your school really all that amazing?”
“Yeah. I hadn’t heard of half the items on the cafeteria menu. I gave one of the soups a go, and it came out cold! At first I was like, ‘Ah! they forgot to heat it up!’ but it turns out that it’s meant to be like that. Vichyssoise is this cold, potato soup. Vichyssoise. And even though we were speaking Japanese they all pronounced the ‘v’. It was crazy. Vee, Kanta. Vee.”
“Man. I had no idea food in a school cafeteria could be so good. Of course it was as expensive as it was surprising, though. Since I can’t eat there every day I think it’d be nice if I treated myself there whenever I get some money.”
“Oneechan! I want some too!”
The twins joined the conversation out of nowhere.
“Alright. I guess I’ll try making it at home sometime!”
What was good about cold soup?
In the days following, my sister would come home influenced by something that happened there.
The time when she learnt flower arrangement she came home and decorated the foyer.
The time when she learnt tea ceremony she began mixing tea in a tea bowl.
“Today I learnt this flower arrangement type called moribana. At the start you pick the grandest, longest branch and place it right in the middle of the kenzan stand~ Right here, see? They call it the shin branch. When you’re done with that, the next one is the soe branch and put stick it in here~”
“When you drink the tea you move the brush over like this, and take a sip while avoiding it.”
“When you pick up your chopsticks you have to grab them from above with your right hand, hold them in your left, and then swap them back to your right hand.”
Each time Neechan showed off something she learnt to the family, everyone oo’d and ah’d in admiration.
“As expected of Zui’ran,” they’d all praise.
“Yep,” she would laugh.
“Your dad and I were worried that you’d have a hard time there. It’s a relief to see you enjoying yourself.”
“It was one culture shock after another, and they have so many customs too. But I’m having fun, and I’m learning a lot there.”
“Neechan, did you make any friends at a place like that?”
“I’m surrounded by young masters and ojousamas so I don’t have a lot, but I definitely do have friends so don’t worry.”
I hoped that was true.
Ever since Neechan had entered high school, she had begun working a part-time job.
Apparently her scholarship money was ‘for the future’, so she needed a source of pocket money.
“I’ll be out and working by the time it’s your turn for university, so I’ll take care of the fees, okay?” she once told me, but I was going to get a part-time job in high school anyhow.
Neechan’s everyday life was busy, from studying to her job.
But even in middle school, friends from around the area would come over to play.
There didn’t seem to be any sign of that here, so I knew that Mum and Dad were still secretly worried.
Neechan was hit by a car during summer break.
The culprit was somebody in her year at Zui’ran.
Although her bicycle had been completely dented at the front, Neechan had only suffered some bruises and scrapes.
When that schoolmate had brought her to the hospital, the examination diagnosed her with no serious injuries.
Anyway, he came to our house to apologise that day, with a huge bouquet and a lawyer in tow.
We had first realised when my little sister excitedly notified us about “some kind of hearse car” parked in front of our house.
“Your cherished daughter has been injured because of me. I sincerely apologise and have no excuse,” the classmate bowed low when he brought Neechan back from the hospital.
Neechan had told us that it was nothing serious, but ordinarily Mum and Dad would still be worried and furious.
Instead, seeing the boy refuse to stop bowing sent them into a fluster instead.
It sent Neechan into an even greater one, actually.
“K-Kaburagi-sama! Please raise your head! Look! Right as rain, see?!”
“My daughter is right. You brought her to the hospital as well, and we can all see that you genuinely feel sorry.”
“And you’re our daughter’s schoolmate so we weren’t thinking of pressing charges at all.”
After a lot of convincing from the three of them, he finally lifted his head.
As it turned out, he was super handsome.
“Then let’s talk about reparations,” said his lawyer, but my parents refused them on the grounds that they wouldn’t feel at ease with it.
In the end we only agreed to take this huge envelope of “get-well money” from them.
“We will also reimburse you for the bicycle, and the medical fees are a matter of course,” said her schoolmate.
“Ehh!? Just this get-well money is more than enough!”
“That will not do. This and that are two different matters.”
Neechan tried to reason with him.
“Kaburagi-sama, umm, you’ve already paid for the hospital and medical bills today. Since I don’t have any broken bones, I don’t think think I’ll be going to the hospital either so there won’t be any medical bills to pay…”
“Unacceptable. You have to keep going until the doctor says that you’ve fully recovered. Nobody can say that there won’t be medical complications,” he replied severely.
“I understand…” she replied meekly.
When it was time for him to leave, he told us he was buying all the cakes in the store.
“I’d feel bad for the other customers who came here to buy things, so just your feelings are enough~!” she stopped him in a panic.
After the boy and his lawyer left, Dad had to go back to the store.
Everyone else was still gathered in the living room.
“For a high schooler, that boy really has his act together…”
“Do you think we breached some etiquette by serving him barley tea, Mum?”
“You’re asking that now?”
“That oniisan was so cool!”
“His car was cool too!”
“That’s the car that hit Neechan, yanno?”
“Oh no, that wasn’t the car that hit me. It wasn’t any less expensive though.”
“Are you for real!?”
They had more than one car like that!?
“The car that hit me got a bit scratched after all. I was actually worried about what we’d do if they asked for compensation, you know?”
“It’s good that he was a decent person, wasn’t it,” my Mum commented.
“By the way, Neechan,” I asked, “How come you were being so polite to him? Isn’t he your age? And why the -sama?”
“Oneechan, was he your friend?”
“Whoaa, no way! That’s somebody special even for a Zui’ran student, you know! If it wasn’t for the accident I’d have graduated without ever saying a word to him!”
“Huh. He was some kind of big shot then?” I asked.
“He is. We’ve got two, ah, three…? people at our school that everyone acknowledges as special. Kaburagi-sama is one of them.”
That boy who ‘everybody acknowledged as special’ ended up visiting Neechan a bunch more times during the summer break to drive her to the hospital.
He even got her an expensive Italian bicycle which Neechan promptly remodelled into a city bike with a basket.
What a waste.
But yeah, people from Zui’ran really were different to your average high schooler.
When I got back from school, something crazy was waiting for me in the lounge room.
Her hair was curled like chocolate cornets or something, and she even had a ribbon attached.
It was like somebody had pulled an ojousama out of some manga or drama.
But for some reason she was wearing one of Neechan’s T-shirts and shorts.
It couldn’t have looked any worse on her.
Neechan had made some yakisoba for us when she came back.
She asked the Cornet girl if she wanted seconds.
Apparently Cornet had eaten before we got here.
“No, I am… Well, if you insist then perhaps just a bite, since you offered,” was her reply.
She ended up eating with us.
“You’ve got nori on your face, you know?”
She even went ‘ohoho’ as she wiped the nori I pointed out.
‘Ohoho’ I said.
Who knew there were really people who laughed that way in real life…
So she was both an ‘ohoho’ and a ‘Cornet’.
After that day, Cornet visited us on occasion.
Each time she came over she ended up eating something.
And her “just a bite” was always a huge serving.
She always said ‘then, just a bite’ but would end up demolishing the whole plate.
And whenever Neechan asked if she wanted seconds the reply was always something like, “No, I am quite full. Although if you insist then perhaps just a bite…” and she’d end up eating even more.
“Hey Neechan, even though Cornet always eats until the end, why does she always refuse once first?”
“Hmmm, maybe it’s etiquette for an ojousama?”
I don’t get it.
Actually the other day she ate quite a lot of the mochi too.
Since she was eating so well, I thought she might be hungry.
“Want me to throw some chikara udon together?” I asked, but this time she really refused.
“Perhaps next time,” she said before muttering, “Udon zousui would be nice too…”
Was she planning on adding zousui to her chikara udon?
There was honestly no helping her.
“Hey, Neechan. Cornet is your friend, right?”
“I’ve told you her name isn’t Cornet, it’s Kisshouin-san! But my friend, huh… I’d like to think so at least. She’s actually as amazing a person as Kaburagi-kun is. But, Kisshouin-san is always helping me out, you know? She might have actually proven to be the most trustworthy person there.”
“Huh. Then I suppose Cornet’s welcome in my home!”
“Cocky brat. And she’s Kisshouin-san to you!”
“Cornet-chan’s a good girl. Always so polite,” added Mum. “Your mum can rest at ease knowing you have a friend like that.”
“You’re calling her that too, Mum…? But mmn, sorry for worrying you. I’ve got friends there, and I’m having a lot of fun.”
“I’m glad to hear that. So? What’s Cornet-chan like at school?”
“She’s a pure-bred Zui’ran, I have to say~ Lots of girls really look up to her. They treat her like the ideal girl, I guess?”
“Buhaha!? Cornet!? The same Cornet who’s been eating yakisoba, or curry, or mochi every time she comes to our house!? The one that actually laughs ‘ohoho’? The Ohoho Cornet Girl?”
“Kanta! But well, even I had no idea she’d be so easy to get along with… I think I’d like to get to know her better.”
“Hmmmm~ Alright then.”
“What about Kaburagi-kun?” Mum asked. “Is he your boyfriend, Wakaba?”
“Haah!? No way! Don’t say stupid things!” shouted Neechan.
“Ehh? But he keeps coming to visit you, and he even came here to give you a present on Christmas.”
“Seriously! Stop it! If by some tiny chance a person from Zui’ran overheard that…”
“Oh my, should we keep it a secret from Cornet-chan too?”
“I’ve already told Kisshouin-san but… But just don’t say these things outside, okay! You never know who might overhear! Not just you Mum, everyone else too, okay!?”
She seemed awfully serious, so we reluctantly replied.
“Then who was the boy you went to your New Year’s shrine visit with? Remember? The one that you showed me the picture of.”
“He’s just a friend I’m in the Student Council with! And didn’t I show you pictures of my other friends!?”
“But that boy was so cool.”
“He’s! Just! A! Friend! I’m done with this conversation! Done!”
“Your dad’s been worried too, you know? He’s been asking me if you’ve gotten yourself a boyfriend.”
“Neechan, are you aiming to marry into money?”
Whatever the case, Kaburagi-san definitely liked Neechan.
I mean it was on Christmas Eve.
Would you go out of your way like that for a normal friend?
At first I laughed at giving a high schooler a present like that, but then Cornet told us about how famous and expensive it was and shocked the crap out of Neechan and I.
Tens of thousands of yen for a stuffed toy!?
It was bloody insane.
The teddy bear had actually come with a coat and a heart necklace.
My little sister wanted the necklace since she thought it was cute.
Since she was in elementary, Neechan figured it would be fine even though it was for a toy.
It was pretty sparkly for a toy, so she quickly came to adore it.
Even the doll’s accessories were crazy good!
Anyway, it had decorated the house until the end of the year, and was sitting in Neechan’s room now.
I wonder if Neechan was planning on giving Kaburagi-san some Valentine’s chocolates this year.
I was pretty sure he was waiting for them.
Speaking of Valentine’s, I was really damned worried about Cornet’s…
Was that girl going to be alright?
She’d better follow the recipe properly!