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Got sick, some stuff happened, finished this on the plane to Melbourne where I am now staying for a business trip.
Have you forgotten what happened last chapter? Me too.
But I’m back now. I said this last time, too.
Next chapter half-done though.
I was happily digging into the salmon marinade when I felt someone poke me in the back.
It was Yukino-kun, ever the picture of a smiling angel.
It’s been a while, Yukino-kun~!
I had been busy recently so I hadn’t turned up to the Petit. Thanks to that we hadn’t seen each other at all.
“May I sit next to you?” he asked.
“By all means,” I said. “Have you been well?”
“Yes,” he said, politely taking a seat. “But it’s been lonely without you around…”
Are all the kids in the Petit Pivoine such little heartbreakers!?
Uuu, I want to headpat so badly!
“I have missed you too, Yukino-kun!” I exclaimed with all sincerity.
Yukino-kun flashed a bright smile in response.
I-I was having a nosebleed in my mind…!
“Have you been busy?” he asked.
“Yes, quite so.”
With the new semester starting, there was work as class rep, dealing with new visitors to the club, dealing with my troublesome disciples’ love problems, honestly I had my hands full.
And there was one particularly troublesome disciple that really ate into my time…
“How is being in Year 2, Yukino-kun?”
“Hmmm, I’m not sure yet. But I made new friends in my class.”
“Goodness, what wonderful news. What kind of people are they?”
“One of them really likes stars. I like stargazing too, so we talk about stars together.”
“My, I had no idea.”
Yukino-kun and the glittering stars in space. It suitsedhim so well! He was like the Little Prince!
“I look at them through my telescope sometimes. When there was a meteor shower I couldn’t help myself and secretly got up to watch them, even though they told me not to.”
“Goodness, staying up late is bad for your health, you know? You did not catch a cold, did you? Hopefully not an asthma attack?”
“Huhu, it was fine. Niisama found out even though I was in my room, so he brought me some hot chocolate.”
So even that blackguard could do something good once in a while.
“And then we watched the meteor shower together but I accidentally fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning I was in bed,” he laughed shyly.
After that I chatted with Yukino-kun some more, and then had some fun with the other kids too.
Unfortunately, the time seemed to pass in a flash, and before I knew it it was time for the kids to go home, meaning that it was time for me to leave as well.
That was when Yukino-kun suddenly tugged at my sleeve.
“Hey, Reika-oneesan? Why don’t you let us drop you home?”
Uh, that’s a bit…
I mean, I already have a car waiting for me, and even if I didn’t I could still get home on my own…
Getting driven home in the Enjou family car is…
“We haven’t met in ages. I want to talk some more! Can’t you…?”
How could I say no to such an adorable request…!?
I had really missed him as well. But…
Uuu, come on, don’t look at me like that, Yukino-kun…
I can’t say no to those puppy eyes…
“Hmmmm…. Then perhaps I will…”
There was no going against this angel’s adorable eyes.
I guess I’d just have them drop me off, and then give the Enjou family a proper thank you some time later.
“Yukino-kun, your car is here.”
He led me by the hand as the two of us headed to the entrance.
Waiting there was Enjou…
I groaned in reflex.
He went out of his way to pick up his brother?
I was surprised he had the time for that.
“Good evening, Kisshouin-san.”
It was getting dark now, but under the streetlights his hair seemed to glitter, making his smiling self seem even more princely than usual.
“Niisama, Reika-oneesan’s going to get driven home with us!”
“Ah, I mean… Yukino-kun, perhaps this is not such a…”
His cherubic expression seemed to be asking me,
‘You promised, right?’
How could I say anything now~!?
While I struggled to recompose myself, Enjou seemed to have grasped the situation.
“Oh, I see. Then get on. Is your house okay?”
“…Yes, that would be perfect, thank you.”
And that’s how I ended up getting driven home in their car.
In the back seat was, in order, me, Yukino-kun, and then Enjou.
The moment I stepped into the car, I noticed a pleasantly sweet fragrance.
“Have fun at the birthday party?” Enjou asked him.
“Yeah,” he replied, before turning to me. Yukino-kun pointed out the window. “You can’t quite see Spica yet. But the sky isn’t cloudy today, so we’ll be able to see the Spring Triangle.”
“Are you two talking about stars?”
“Yes. Yukino-kun is actually quite studied.”
“Yeah. But it’s a problem because he stays up late all the time.”
“Not every night.”
“When we went to Karuizawa during the spring holidays, you stayed up all night and couldn’t get up in the morning,” Enjou pointed out.
“But that was because the air was really clear, so the stars were extra pretty…”
Looking for an ally, Yukino-kun tugged at my arm.
“You can even see stars that are invisible from Tokyo,” he reasoned.
Okay, okay, I understand, Yukino-kun.
It’s clearer without all the light pollution, right?
Unable to help myself, I gave him a pat on the head.
Whoaaaaa, his hair is so soft~
Yukino-kun smiled in embarrassment.
“Say, Reika-oneesan! Why not have dinner with us before you go?”
Where did this come from, Yukino-kun?
“Dinner?” I asked.
“Yeah. I’d love to have dinner with you and Niisama.” He looked at the two of us in turn. “It’s okay, right?”
“Eh, but I just ate at Mao-chan’s house…”
And I really ate, so I wasn’t hungry at all.
“Come on, Yukino. Don’t be so selfish,” Enjou said chidingly, as he placed a hand on Yukino’s head.
I was feeling guilty now.
What was I to do…?
Yukino-kun, don’t look so down.
And damn you, Enjou, weren’t your words too harsh?
I continued calling out for him to cheer up in my head, but it was to no avail.
I looked over the top of Yukino-kun as he hung his head, and found Enjou giving me a troubled smile.
“Kisshouin-san, are you free after this?”
“I’m sorry, but would you be willing to go along with my brother for a little while? If you’re okay with heading to a café for a little, then…”
“Ahh… Yes, that would be fine.”
Yukino-kun immediately beamed at my affirmative response.
“Wah! Yay! Thank you, Reika-oneesan!”
The three of us entered a café attached to a restaurant.
Since I was already here, it would be better to order something a bit different from what I usually drank.
Oh my, and there was quite a selection of cakes too…
You mustn’t, Reika!
The curse of the tanuki was flaring up again…!
“I think I shall have the lavender tea.”
“Darjeeling for me, then.”
Done with our orders, Yukino-kun and I began looking through the cakes in the menu.
I started thinking about who to bring here next time so that we could share a cake set.
“You seem rather fond of desserts, Yukino-kun,” I realised.
“Yes. But Niisama doesn’t.”
Breaking his silence, Enjou nodded and said “No, I don’t,” before returning to his tea.
“Do you dislike sweet things?” I asked.
“I don’t exactly hate them, but I guess I don’t go out of my way to eat them,” he explained.
Come to think of it, while I often spotted Kaburagi eating sweets at the salon, I couldn’t recall many times I’d seen Enjou doing the same.
Even for those few times that he did, they were small portions.
“It’s so good.” I turned back to Yukino-kun.
“It really is,” he agreed.
Enjou could only give us a helpless smile.
“By the way, I hear that you’ve been giving Kaburagi some good advice. Like suggesting reference books as a good present for a girl. Only you could come up with that, Kisshouin-san. Although it’s such a utalitarian gift that you’d never suspect it was supposed to be romantic.”
Ugh! Were we really doing this now?!
Enjou was even giving me a meaningful smirk!
Besides, if he knew about it then shouldn’t he have known about the thing from yesterday too!?
“…Did Kaburagi say something today?”
“Whatever do you mean?”
For example, did he say that I had been cruel to him, or that I had hurt him?
Or what if he said something like, ‘Never have I been treated with such disrespect! This won’t go unpunished.’!?
“He didn’t say anything in particular.”
What the heck.
He seemed to receive quite the blow so I thought that he’d still be hung up over it, but maybe I was overthinking things.
“But he did seem oddly quiet today.”
I knew it…!
Was he still depressed over it!?
Had he really been hurt that badly!?
I guess I went a bit too far.
I mean, it wasn’t like he meant ill, it was just that he was a bit too much of a dumbass.
“What’s this, what’s this?”
Ah, now Yukino-kun seemed to be interested.
It hurt to see his innocent smile…
“Heh… You really are soft-hearted, Kisshouin-san. How about we get you some cake?”
“I am fine…”
What the heck.
If you think you can lift my mood by feeding me, you’re in for something else, buddy.
I wasn’t so simple.
And besides, this was all his fault for going home early and leaving his best friend bereft!
Right, right, so this was actually Enjou’s fault. Let’s go with that.
In the end though, I wondered what kind of conclusion Kaburagi would come to.
I was scared of coming to school tomorrow.
What if he ended up obsessed with another poet?
It was going to end up as another curse on my luck in love…
“Reika-oneesan, is that tea any good?”
“I have to say that it is.”
But to be honest… 30, 40 percent of the reason people even drank this stuff was for the pretenses, right?
“Could I try a sip?”
“Why of course. Help yourself.”
I pushed the lavender tea in front of him and watched him excitedly take a sip.
Then I watched his face fall.
“How was it?” I asked.
“Ummm… Thank you very much.” He pushed my cup back to me.
I guess it didn’t suit his taste.
“Say, Reika-oneesan. Could you come over again to play?”
“I had a great time when you came over for my birthday. Could we play games together again?”
I’d prefer to pass on any visits to the Enjou family home, but since Yukino-kun was asking…
Ah, then couldn’t I just visit him in the Petit salon instead?
Right, that was perfect.
“Games, huh?” Enjou suddenly said. “That was fun. Especially since Masaya was crushed.”
Wow, despite his nonchalant tone, what he said was pretty brutal.
“By the end Masaya-niisama was drowning in debt wasn’t he?”
“And he had a huge family, too. Picture it: Masaya pushing a pram while he’s wearing a baby sling.”
I had to stifle a laugh.
I couldn’t help it.
Just picturing that emperor waving a baby rattle in front of a baby he was carrying…
“But it might actually suit him better than we think. When Yukino was just born, Masaya sometimes poked at him and made him cry, or picked him up out of the crib because he wanted to hold him, and caused everyone a lot of trouble in general.”
“My, he did something like that?”
“Yeah. Actually, most of the time he was in my house he’d have Yukino sitting on his lap.” At first Masaya almost dropped him a few times, but once he got the knack of it he seemed pretty at home with it. He even played lullabies on the piano for him. Not that Yukino ever fell asleep to that though.”
“I don’t remember that.”
“Of course, you were a baby, Yukino.”
Hmm~ So Kaburagi was fond of children.
Come to think of it, he played with the kids quite a bit at the Petit salon, or at Yukino-kun’s birthday party.”
It was surely because his mental age was close to theirs.
We continued happily talking about Yukino-kun’s baby years when Enjou’s phone rang.
When he looked at the screen, his smile disappeared.
When he looked back at us, it was time to go.
“It’s about time that we went home.”
“It’s getting late, Yukino.”
“…Fine. Reika-oneesan, can we come here again?”
“Of course. Let us try the cakes next time,” I said.
Holding his hand, I got in the car, and they dropped me home.