Evil forces conspired to stop me from finishing this chapter!
Kokkuri-san is basically just Japanese ouija boards.
The next morning I arrived to find the girls discussing something with frowns on their faces.
“Gokigen’yoh. Is something the matter?” I asked.
“Gokigen’yoh, Reika-sama,” Serika-chan replied. “Apparently, yesterday after school, that girl was in the car that came to pick up Enjou-sama.”
“The one from the School Festival.”
Yuiko-san, smiling and otherworldly, appeared in my mind.
After school yesterday… That was when I met Enjou and Kaburagi in the Petite salon.
Hmm, thinking back Enjou had suddenly taken a call, and it was why Yukino-kun suddenly had to go home. Ah, could that have been Yuiko-san that called him!?
So that’s what happened. His girlfriend had come to meet him at the gates so he pushed his annoying friend onto me and then happily went on his date.
No, hang on.
More likely he’d intended to push Kaburagi onto me anyway, that damned schemer, and that’s why he even came there in the first place!
What a horrible guy!
Just how much of my energy was sucked away after I was forced to listen to Kaburagi’s endless rambling about Wakaba-chan…
This is why I couldn’t stand the inhabitants of the Fulfilling Romance village! All they did was oppress my people!
“Is Enjou-sama truly seeing that girl?”
“I wonder if the rumours about their engagement are true.”
“Enjou-sama said they were simply relatives, but…”
“Have you heard anything from him, Reika-sama?”
Unfortunately I didn’t have the answers.
After all, it wasn’t like I could just ask the guy himself all these nosey questions… We weren’t all that close, after all.
Plus, no way was I going to have him think that I was so interested in his life. I’d lose all pride as a village chief if he thought I was envious of his village’s good harvest.
So yeah, even if they begged me to ask him, it wasn’t going to happen. I was aiming to be Zui’ran’s trendsetter, not its gossip columnist!
But more info on Yuiko-san came to me anyway.
It was during lunch break, while I was eating the salad that I was eating to watch my weight. Oh, right. And starting last night I’d begun doing push-ups too. Naturally because of the Kaburagi Double-Take at My Arms Incident.
Actually, after the talk about dates yesterday I ended up asking about what they did to diet as well.
At first they said stuff like ‘We don’t really do anything special’ but after I kept asking, they eventually admitted ‘Well, just a few push-ups before bed’.
I knew they were keeping in shape in secret!
So I replied, “Push-ups, is it? Perhaps I should try it myself. I have been a little conscious of my upper arms recently…”
“Ehh~ You’re so skinny already, Kisshouin-san. You don’t need to diet~”
“Kisshouin-san, you look perfect the way you are now~”
Naturally I couldn’t put any trust in their lip service.
And so the first twenty pushes I had done in a long while were so painful that my arms trembled, but I had to push on.
There was only one month left until it was time for summer clothes. Until that moment come, I had to work hard to exorcise the demons in my biceps…!
Ririna and her friends approached me after they had finished their lunch.
“Well? What do you think?” she asked and she held out her arm.
Glinting on her wrist was the watch I bought her during my class trip.
Apparently she had come here just to show herself wearing it.
“It suits you.”
“Huhu~” she hummed proudly. I could see the same emotion on her face too.
The watch I had picked was girlish, but in a design that would be fine to wear every day. It looked like Ririna was quite pleased with it.
After that her friends thanked me for getting them souvenirs as well. So I said that it had been my pleasure, and casually dropped that they were chocolates from a stylish chocolatier brand that hadn’t made its way into Japan yet.
Hu hu hu, if I wanted a firm hold on the position of Zui’ran’s trendsetter, I’d have to begin with individuals.
“Gosh, I just can’t stop wondering about it!” one of the girls cried in frustration.
Ririna looked over at the girls who were still talking about Enjou and Yuiko-san before turning to ask, “What are they talking about?”
“Enjou-sama and that girl from the rumours.”
“You know her too, Ririna?”
So even people in her year knew? Enjou’s popularity was impressive. Plus, there was a bespectacled information broker amongst her friends.
At least that was my reasoning before Ririna dropped a bombshell on her.
“I do, of course. After all, I went to primary school with her.”
My sudden outburst caused eyes to turn my way. Ah. I promptly tried my make myself invisible.
Ririna lived a little far away, and it wasn’t common for us to get students from that far out. But because her mother was a graduate of Zui’ran, and of the Pivoine no less, Ririna had grown up dreaming about our school.
Unfortunately for her, our primary school section had a restriction on how far away their students were permitted to live. In the end she unwillingly attended a famous local girls school instead.
“Ririna-san, could you please tell us about her!?” Serika-chan and the others pressed.
The request came as a whisper because they were mindful of the surroundings, but it was fervent all the same.
“Well, I don’t know her too well either,” Ririna warned, but she began talking anyway. “Yuiko-san was two years above mine. She was beautiful and refined, even back then.”
She was older than me!?
She had always seemed oddly confident and calm around us. To think it was because she was an upperclassman.
Dating an older woman even though he was just a little high schooler? That was potential for you. Potential as an applicant to the Casanova village, that damned Enjou!
“Plus, being as gorgeous as she is, she was very popular too. Even in primary school we heard rumours about all the boys that came to her middle school festival for her. There were plenty of them that waited in front of the gates for her after school as well.”
“That’s something else.”
“I spoke to her a few times myself, back in primary school. She was gentle and graceful, and everyone looked up to her.”
“The neighbouring schools began calling her the Miss of our school as well.”
With each response, the girls around me became more quiet and subdued.
“She was so popular that there were even a few kids who worshipped her like a goddess.”
For a moment, everyone glanced my way. Eh? What is it?
“Normally a girl that popular would have more than a few jealous enemies,” Ririna continued, “But strangely Yuiko-san didn’t have anybody like that. Maybe it was because she always looked so fragile and made you want to protect her.”
I could see it.
All of the girls, present company included, had been so harsh when it came to Wakaba-chan, but strangely I hadn’t heard anybody publicly criticise Yuiko-san in the least.
Maybe it really was that atmosphere of hers.
To bring up another comparison, Maihama Ema had stirred up a storm of abuse when she came to our festival for Kaburagi.
What happened to her, anyhow? I hadn’t seen her in a while.
I decided to ask Sakura-chan the next time we met up.
“The gentle and graceful type of beauty that stirs up the urge to protect her, huh…?” one of the girls mused.
“Well, she’s basically the exact opposite to Reika-san,” Ririna said.
What the heck? So are you saying I’m ungainly and nasty and the type to live as a loner then?
Well excuse me! I think I’d like that watch back!
While I sulked, Ririna placed a hand on my shoulder as she smiled at me kindly.
“Don’t you worry, Reika-san. You’re good in your own way too.”
You’re the last person I want to hear that from!
I smacked her hand right off my shoulder.
Speak of the devil.
No sooner had I left the cafeteria for my classroom did I come across Enjou, chatting with some other boy. Bird-brained Katsuragi, as it happened. If possible I’d have liked to avoid the noisy bugger.
But despite my best efforts at ignoring them and walking past, Enjou ignored my intentions and called out to me anyway.
“Kisshouin-san, thank you for yesterday. Yukino was absorbed in that book the whole way home.”
“Truly? Then it was my privilege that he enjoyed it so,” I replied under Bird-Brain’s crazy glare.
Well, not that I was the least bit intimidated. Well, I was, but because of the intensely expectant gazes from the girls behind me…
Besides which, that smile Enjou was wearing was… Was it just my bias speaking, or did that look exactly like the smirk of a man who had a gentle, graceful, beauty of an older girlfriend?
“I’d appreciate it if you could spare some of your time for Yukino again. He keeps telling me to invite you over.”
The words ‘invite you over’ had Serika-chan and the others riled up, but Bird-Brain’s expression just turned grimmer.
…This jackass was definitely enjoying this, wasn’t he? He deliberately used those words just to cause me trouble.
I’m sorry, but I’m not coming over, Yukino-kun. Your older brother is basically another pigeon to me. Damn you, Enjou! I hope you get pricked by a rose bush!
“Ah, it is about time to return to class…” I said to excuse myself.
I could hear Serika-chan and the others making sounds of dissatisfaction, but who would willingly get friendly with someone from the Fulfilling Romance village?
Say ‘No!’ to thoughtless mergers! The Forever Alone village stands alone!
I was kind of beat…
Everything was Kaburagi and Enjou’s fault. Yesterday I was being toyed around with by other people’s love stories. Actually before yesterday too. Haah…
Sweet things were best when you were tired. I could start my diet tomorrow.
After classes finished I headed to the Pivoine for some sweets in the time before club activities started.
I sat myself down on the usual sofa and enjoyed some spiced apple jelly. Yummy.
Jelly seemed simple enough to make, so I decided to try my hand at it when I had the chance.
Oh, and since it was apples, what if I made the compote base with cider instead of water?
Maybe the hint of bitterness would make the taste more mature and adult.
It was worth a try.
“Reika-sama, might I sit with you?”
I looked up and found Fuyuko-sama standing before me.
It was a rare thing for her to speak to me of her own accord, daydreaming and unassuming as she tended to be.
I offered her a seat, and she took it before peering at me with worry.
“Reika-sama, you look a little unwell.”
“Do you think so?”
Maybe my exhaustion was showing. The jelly hadn’t been enough. I had better eat some pastries too.
“You know, I have something with me that might help,” she said. “I came across the real thing while we were on the field trip.”
“My, did you buy some essential oils?” I asked.
In a rarely excitement, Fuyuko-sama searched her bag for a little before bringing out a board with letters and numbers on it, along with a little heart-shaped coaster with a hole in it.
Along the top of the board were ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ in English.
Ah, of course. Fuyuko-sama was one of them after all.
I knew I had seen one of these things before, and it was giving me nothing but bad feelings.
“…Ummm. What might this be?” I ventured.
“This is a ouija board! We can use this to communicate with spirits of the beyond. We hold this planchette on top of the board and ask the spirits a question, and they will borrow our hands to move the planchette to the ‘YES’ or the ‘NO’. They can use the alphabet and numbers down here too.”
…I was right to have a bad feeling. This was Kokkuri-san.
“Is this… Kokkuri-san…?” I asked her hesitantly, to which she replied “No, this is a ouija board.”
But the more I listened to her happy explanation of how to use it, the more it sounded exactly like Kokkuri-san.
For all that Fuyuko-sama might have looked like a Heian-era noble, her tastes in the occult were decidedly Western…
“You must have something on your mind. Come, don’t hesitate to ask.”
No, no, if I have something on my mind I’d prefer to discuss it with someone living!
It’s scary, okay. You shouldn’t play with these things lightly, you know!
I hear you can even get haunted, okay!?
“Oh my, look at the time. I am sorry, but I must simply head to my clubroom. Well then, gokigen’yoh, Fuyuko-sama.”
I grabbed a few pastries before ohoho-ing away.
For some reason the weight on my shoulders that the jelly had taken away was back again.
Wait, what if this weight was a ghost…!?
On the empty landing of the staircase I frantically smacked my back to chase away any evil spirits.
Three days, three months… Same thing, right? Ahahaha!
People keep leaving my company, so it’s been a bit hectic. Actually two more senior staff are leaving next week, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.
Next chapter is half-done. Tilea is on the way.
No sooner had I arrived at cram school did I start handing out my souvenirs.
In Rome I had bought some notebooks, bookmarks, and pens with interesting, flashy designs, which were being met with a positive reaction. Good job, me.
“Oh, is this box chocolate? The package is so stylish~” Moriyama-san gushed.
“There is a chocolatier that is enjoying some popularity in Paris at the moment but I do not believe they have arrived at our shores yet,” I explained. “The concept behind these chocolates was ‘chocolate that complements wine’. The taste is admittedly a little mature but I have become quite fond of them, of late. If it pleases you then please give them a try.”
“Oh wow. That sounds amazing. Maybe I’ll open it now and try just one.”
“Good idea. Wow, this is delicious! It’s a little bitter, but there’s a faint sweetness to it.”
“That’s Kisshouin-san for you. Even her souvenirs are something else.”
“Uhuhu, I am glad that you like them,” I laughed.
I could feel their comments arouse my sense of self-esteem.
And just now Moriyama-san said the word ‘stylish’, didn’t she?
Nuhoho, you can keep using that word if you want, you know?
“Oh, this is pretty good.”
Kitazawa-kun just gobbled one down like it was a dollar store chocolate!
The stylish chocolate from a famous chocolatier in Paris, not even available yet in the Japanese market, and that I chose after many painstaking rounds of elimination and…! Well, whatever. Have your fill.
“Going to Europe for your class trip though. That’s Zui’ran for you~” said one of the girls.
“My school went to Hagi and Tsuwano. Hagi and Tsuwano! Well, not that they’re bad places or anything but aren’t they a bit too austere for a fun class trip? I wasn’t asking for a trip overseas or anything, but couldn’t we have at least left Honshuu?” grumbled the other.
“My school gave us a choice between Kyushu or Hokkaido, so I went with the latter. Great fun. The food was great too,” one of the boys chimed in.
“I picked Kyushu.”
“Oh yeah. Come to think of it, you gave me some karukan.”
And so we chatted about our respective class trips as we snacked on the souvenirs I brought.
“You always get a few who go completely nuts on class trips. Especially amongst the boys.”
“I guess I’d count. We broke the curfew, tried to sneak out of our lodgings, got seen, and then got chased down…”
“The most that happened to us was getting scolded by our class rep because we kept being late for roll call, but I’d hope that it isn’t too big a deal.”
These other schools had it rough… I was really feeling for my fellow class reps.
The members of my class were all diligent and cooperative, so almost everyone was on time when it was time to meet up.
For some reason Satomi-kun thanked me and said it was all because of me though.
Once all of the snacks were gone, the boys started talking about the cram school lessons, so it was time for me to do my research.
I turned to Moriyama-san and Sakaki-san. Frank advice from two actual schoolgirls would prove invaluable.
“Say, where would the two of you go for dates?” I ventured.
“Eh? Are you going on a date, Kisshouin-san? Ooh, tell us, did you get a boyfriend?”
“No, no. But the topic came up in conversation today and… Well, Moriyama-san, you told me that you had a boyfriend, so I wondered where you two went on your dates.”
The two of them fell into thought.
“I guess I’d have to recommend amusement parks. It’s expensive so you can’t go all the time, but it’s fun and it’s exciting!”
“Yeah, can’t go wrong with amusement parks. Roller coasters, haunted houses, and then a Ferris wheel at the end of the day.”
“Yep, that last one is a must. The view from up there is beautiful at night.”
“I love Ferris wheels. Sometimes I’ll pop in just for the Ferris wheel.”
“I know what you mean~”
“Ferris wheels…” I muttered to myself.
…I mean, when you think of Ferris wheels you think of couples k-kissing when their car reached the top, right?
Kyaaa! Oh no!
That’s impossible for me-!
How was I ever supposed to invite somebody onto a Ferris wheel!?
I-I mean, it’s basically asking for…
We’re all just still high schoolers, you know!?
But if one day my own love invited me for a ride on a Ferris wheel…
Uhyaaaaah! What would I do!?
“Your eyes are kind of scaring me, Kisshouin-san. Is everything okay?”
“Eh!? Oh my. Apologies, lately my eyes have been a little dry.”
No good, no good. The stimulation was so great that I forgot to blink.
While I was applying eye-drops, the two of them continued their date talk.
“I suppose we go to the movies once in a while. And my boyfriend loves sports so we’ll play basketball at the part, or badminton or something.”
“The park is nice, and easy on the purse,” agreed Sasaki-san. “I’ve been on a date to a garden too. Got to feed the fish.”
“Are you guys senior citizens?” Moriyama-san joked. “But hmm, I guess a lot of the time we just walk home together after school and talk. I guess that counts too?”
What are you saying, Moriyama-san!? Of course that’s a date! It’s exactly the sort of date I’ve always fantasised about!
H-Holding hands is a must, I think. Right, bashfully holding hands while walking along in their high school uniforms…
Kyaaaah! How nice, how nice! How very dreamy.
I long to try it too. Aaah, but it’s me we’re talking about. What if I got too nervous and my hands got sweaty!?
If your girlfriend’s hand was dripping with sweat you’d be grossed out, right!?
What should I do then? Flap my hands dry first?
Use acupoints to disable my sense of nervousness?
Who knew that holding hands could be such a challenge!?
But as long as I can get over this hurdle, what awaits me is holding hands, being with the person I like in our school uniforms, Ferris wheels… Ferris wheels!?
In our uniforms after school on a Ferris wheel!?
“Kisshouin-san, your eyes are kind of acting up again…”
“Eh!? Ah, my apologies. Please do not mind me and continue.”
“I think you should see an eye doctor…”
Oh no, not good. Apparently the stimulation was too much for me again. I used some more eye-drops as Moriyama-san continued.
“There’s also karaoke, arcades, and studying together in a family restaurant, I guess. But we do all those with friends too.”
“Eh-, with male friends?” faltered Sasaki-san.
“Obviously not when it’s just the two of us. But like, don’t you go with your class to have fun after exams are done?”
“Ahh~ Yeah, okay. Like after school we’ll see who’s interested in coming, and then go to a bowling alley or for some karaoke. The other day I was paired up with this guy who was crazy good at bowling, and we beat the rest of our class. That was fun~”
“Yeah. We go bowling a lot, actually. In April my class talked up this ‘get together’ but in the end we just went bowling.”
“And made the pair with the worst score pay for everyone’s drinks?” Sakaki-san said knowing.
“Exactly! And when it’s time to choose your partner, there’s always one person who rushes to cut up name tags to pick out of a box.”
“In my class the girls like to cheat to get paired up with the guys they like. Sometimes it even goes pretty well for them.”
What the-!? Is this the kind of fun that other co-ed schools were getting up to!?
I stared transfixed as the two of them talked about these events like they happened to everybody.
Going out to have fun after a test!? This is the first I’m hearing of it!
Why doesn’t my school do this? Is it because of our culture?
Oh my god. In all my years at Zui’ran, not once had I enjoyed any benefits of “co-education”.
I may as well have been attending a girls school.
“Where do you go with your Zui’ran boys?” I was suddenly asked.
The one thing I hoped they’d never ask me…! Am I a joke to you!?
And since Tagaki-kun went to this cram school I could even be caught out for lying.
But then was I supposed to let them know that I lived in the Forever Alone Village? As the Village Head no less!?
Was I supposed to let them know that far from a boyfriend, I basically had no male friends at all!?
That I was basically attending a girls school!?
“…Hmmm~ Come to think of it, everybody tends to have arrangements or extracurricular education, so it does not happen all too often. I suppose sometimes we meet up at a friend’s house and play games (the birthday party with all the primary school kids), or go out to eat (Mao-chan & Yuuri-kun). On some weekends we might head out to an aquarium or some shopping (Mao-chan, Yuuri-kun). Oh, come to think of it, this one boy wanted me to go shopping (at a supermarket) with him, but I had cram school so I had to turn him down.”
“Huh, so that’s what Zui’ran is like~”
I didn’t lie.
They were all Zui’ran students. It’s just that some of them might be primary schoolers, or some of them may have graduated.
I just embellished the truth a little. I didn’t lie.
To avoid looking them in the eyes, I began flipping through my textbook.
“I guess that makes sense,” she continued. “There’s no way the boys from Zui’ran would go to an arcade or to karaoke, right?”
“Hmmm~ I could not say. While my group of friends do not, I could not speak for the others. But one of the friends I mentioned earlier (Yukino-kun) is a big fan of video games, so we play them at his house (during the birthday party). I am not very good at them, so I tend to just sit by and watch.”
All I did was replace some past tense with some present tense. There could be a second birthday party. I didn’t lie.
“Then where did you go with them during your class trip?”
“Hmmm. I spent most of my class trip with my girl friends. When I had some time though, I did take up a few of their invitations. Shopping in Paris for one thing, or when we had tiramisu in Rome.”
And so I used some of the rumours about me for good.
“Ehh~? Kisshouin-san, you rarely talk about boys but you’ve actually got so many guy friends!?”
Plus, two of those guy friends I mentioned just now were in primary school…
Lies. Exaggeration. Misleading comments.
The words floated through my head…
No, no… I didn’t lie but… Geez, I honestly felt like crying right now. My eyes were starting to sting.
I only had a year left until having a date in uniform was no longer possible, so what on earth was I doing…?
Before I left, I had stealthily handed something to Umewaka-kun alone. It was the brush and accessories for Beatrice.
Later that night I got a thank you message.
‘Thank you, Reika-tan! It looks like I’m a Parisian too, now!
Then I received a more “serious” message from Umewaka-kun himself.
‘Lately there’s been this male dog hanging around Beatrice when I’ve been taking her out for walks.
It makes me so angry.
And the worst thing is that Beatrice doesn’t seem displeased by the attention!’
The dog lover might be joining my village quite soon. I should prepare him a nice spot of land with a lot of sun.
Happy birthday, Sneha. Originally this chapter was supposed to be released together with the next one due to its short length.
Over the last 3 weeks it has become clear to me that the next chapter isn’t coming any time soon, so here you are I guess. Do you hate me yet?
But you have to see it from my perspective. the raws have been on hiatus for a billion years now, so it’s reaaaaaaaaaally hard to feel like I have to catch up.
After a tearful farewell with the little cuties of the Petit Pivoine, I was half-dragged by Kaburagi to our usual little room.
I moaned to no avail about how I wanted to talk with the children more, or about how I still had plans after this. Kaburagi simply snapped at me to move it, and grabbed me by the top of my arm to take me away.
What was particularly bothering was that when his fingers sunk into more flesh than expected, he gave me a shocked double-take. For a woman with a dainty, delicate heart like a fine blancmange, that kind of reaction was deeply upsetting.
You’re wrong! It’s just my clothes that are making me thick! Underneath this bulky blazer I’m wearing my blouse too so it’s just all the clothes that make me feel fat!
Stop looking back and forth between my arm and your hand to compare!
“Well? Whatever might you wish to talk about~?” I said with disinterest.
The secret of my arms revealed, I now found myself sulking in front of Kaburagi.
“That’s not a good attitude,” he complained, but I ignored it.
I still had cram school after this. I just wanted to go home and change already.
And maybe buy some dumbbells along the way…
Seeing that I was determined to sulk, Kaburagi let out an exaggerated sigh before beginning his story.
“…What I wanted to talk about was my time in Rome with Takamichi during the free period.”
No surprises there. Actually I’d be surprised if it was anything else.
Fine, fine, I’ll hear you out. Stop glaring at me.
Go on, continue, continue.
“…Just like our time in Paris, the two of us toured the dessert shops that she wanted to try. At the tiramisu shop she couldn’t pick because they all looked so good, so we ordered a whole lot of them are shared them between us. Strawberry tiramisu isn’t really a thing in Japan, but she liked it the most and asked if she could have the rest. I told her that I didn’t mind, and she just thanked me with such a happy smile…”
At this point Kaburagi began grinning to himself, seemingly lost in memories.
It was kind of gross how womanly he was being. I swear his voice went soft and high just now.
At any rate, he couldn’t stop talking about it.
After that they went to this shop, ate that, when they went for their same plate their fingers touched which had them both in a fluster etc.
I wanted to roar and tear his head off.
Villagers, charge! Enemy attack! Enemy attack!
The enemy have come for us!
“There was one thing that could’ve gone better though. She was going to meet up with her friends afterwards to go shopping, so she asked me if I had any souvenir ideas. Something did come to mind, but she didn’t seem too keen on my suggestion.”
Hmph. This was Kaburagi we were talking about. No doubt he suggested something that was way beyond the means of a normal high schooler to buy.
Oh, that reminded me. I had to remember to hand over souvenirs to everyone at cram school. I bought Italian stationery goods and sweets that hadn’t reached Japan yet.
Compared to the kids at the Petit Pivoine, it had been way, way harder coming up with souvenir ideas for my cram school friends and my underclassmen in the Handicrafts Club.
After all, I really dreamed about being thought of as a stylish person by everybody else.
That’s why I only bought these sweets after strenuous consideration.
It would not do to think of these sweets as simple chocolates bought in a random gift store. This was a chance to show off my taste, after all.
A stylish person would never stoop as low as simply buying yatsuhashi from Kyoto, or macadamia nuts from Hawaii. No matter how tasty they were! Not even if they were always so delicious that you finished the box in one go!
The idea of goods that weren’t being sold in Japan yet was just so ‘premium’. After all, when they eventually made their way here it would be like,
“Oh! Kisshouin-san/Reika-senpai actually bought these as souvenirs a while back. As expected of her~”
Right? So it would be like I was so stylish that I knew the trends before they became trends, even.
I didn’t really have much confidence in my taste. But that was why I so badly wanted to be seen as tasteful.
I wanted them to look up to me as a stylish lady.
I wanted to become the trendsetter for Zuiran──
“Oi, are you even listening to me?”
“Yes, why of course I am,” I nodded vigorously.
And so the Roman date continued.
After eating they went on a stroll to help with digestion. They went and saw churches and ruins and whatnot. Wakaba-chan was overjoyed at how delicious the gelato place he recommended was. It seemed like he had a great day.
By the end of it they were even careless enough to get out of a taxi together, not far from Roma Termini train station.
Honestly, what were they thinking?
After I warned him so many times to be careful too.
Wasn’t it this damned idiot’s fault that they got spotted, and now everyone was hating on Wakaba-chan again!?
Since it was our last school trip, there was no end to girls who dreamt about making happy memories in Europe with everybody’s beloved Emperor.
People already had a bad impression of Wakaba-chan. If you added ‘stealing a march’ on top of that it was little wonder that they were muttering about her being sneaky, or an ugly girl who thought too much of herself.
And just when the bullying was dying down, too…
Worse yet, she was spotted touring London with Fellow Stalking Horse as well. Apparently he had jealous fans too.
Oh. And according to the girls, apparently there were also rumours about me flying around.
Like how I’d had fun shopping with Enjou in Paris. Or how I had a chat over some coffee with Enjou and the Emperor at our hotel in Rome. Or how I received macarons from Kaburagi.
In my rumours I was living as delightfully as Wakaba-chan it seemed.
I feel empty…
“Anyway, moving onto the main topic…”
Don’t tell me that long ass talk about his never-ending date (Roman Edition) was just the introduction!?
It’s too long, Kaburagi. Too long. It’s so long that I’m actually dumbfounded.
I really wonder if I can’t get a summary report for this…
“I feel like we’ve gotten a lot closer this trip.”
“Truly, good sir?”
“So I’m thinking that I’ll go with the flow and try inviting her here and there.”
“That sounds like a fine idea indeed.”
“Where do you think would be good?”
“I believe you must ask your heart that.”
“Oi, can you answer seriously!?”
I can’t, I’ve already had my fill of listening to other people’s romances.
“What if you had this conversation with your best friend, Enjou-sama?” I tried.
“I’ve already talked to Shuusuke. He suggested that I talk to you.”
…That guy pushed all the work onto me, huh?
“Then as I have mentioned before, I think the best place would be somewhere that will not intimidate Takamichi-san.”
“She did not take your souvenir advice when you failed to consider her scale of money, no?” I pointed out. “This is what I am asking you to pay attention to.”
“How about checking some magazines? Perhaps an article on date spots,” I suggested.
“But relying on a manual is a bit…”
Kaburagi folded his arms and stared upwards.
“Come to think of it, Takamichi said something about going with a friend to a supermarket in Rome. Apparently she wanted to buy something that you couldn’t get in supermarkets here… Hey, Kisshouin,” he asked, “Have you ever been to a supermarket before?”
“I have,” I nodded, obviously, much to Kaburagi’s shock.
“What on earth were you doing in a supermarket?”
“What, you ask…?”
Replenishing food supplies, obviously.
For sweets or cup ramen and the like, a regular supermarket will do. For the side dishes I snack on at night, or if I want some imported sweets, I can get them at a high end supermarket that I sometimes visit. I try my best to go to each one on days when they’re giving 5 times the points for your point card.
“To know what families put on their dinner table is to know modern day Japan!”
Kaburagi’s eyes narrowed in question.
“How is that different to a convenience store?” he asked.
“My! What in heavens are you saying!? The products are completely different!” I exclaimed.
Supermarkets sold sweets in family packs. You could never find those in a convenience store.
Those ever alluring family packs…!
“I hope that explains it,” I finished.
Kaburagi turned sullen after I shook my head at him in pity.
“Fine! In that case, let’s go to a supermarket!” he announced, shooting to his feet.
That sounded like he was about to drag me off to a supermarket.
“Takamichi has an interest in these supermarkets. I want to experience it too. Also I can help you with that market research or whatever it is you’re doing. C’mon, get to your feet and let’s go!”
“Wha-, please hold on a moment. I have cram school today.”
“Cram school?” he parroted.
His enthusiasm dampened, Kaburagi looked dissatisfied.
But I wouldn’t let him have this.
The mid-terms are coming up soon, you know? Go and study, damn it.
“…Fine then. So when can we go?”
“Well, one the mid-terms are over perhaps…”
“That’s ages away! How about tomorrow? Or this weekend?”
Tomorrow? This weekend? My, my, you do have too much time on your hands. You poor thing.
To think that the Emperor of Zui’ran actually had nothing on his schedule all day, every day. It was enough to bring a tear to your eyes. Uupftpft.
“What are you looking at me like that for?” he asked.
“Nothing, nothing,” I said.
Ohoho, you must excuse me. My schedule is simply packed, and even if I make room for you it shan’t be until next week~ I’m simply so envious of people who have free time~
“If you are truly so desperate to go, then how about going by yourself or inviting Enjou-sama?””
“…What are Shuusuke and I supposed to do at a supermarket?”
I opened the door as I laughed as his pouting face.
Geez. Maybe I could do some research on normal date spots for him.
This is actually the 11th day of the 14 days of the Arousing Imouto Scanlations anniversary celebrations!
Let’s take a moment to think back to one of our earlier works.
Back then we weren’t as large a group, and went by Inyuu scans, but most of our key members have remained, and I think you can see that it carries our DNA!
Este: I really did translate and type-set this. Go back and re-read it with this in mind, but this time take a shot whenever the term ‘KAGEYOWSI’ appears.
I opened my eyes to the sounds of pigeons──
Apparently after being stopped by the barrier of roses on my balcony, they took nest in my stomach instead. To give them their punishment I quickly changed and headed for food.
Today was looking to be a fine day.
Breakfast had been yummy, too. In the morning you just had to have rice!
At Zui’ran, here and there you could spot the inhabitants of the Fulfilling Romance village making themselves known. It was still early in the morning and yet I could already see their members strutting about.
These I-Have-Experience villagers, these I-Suddenly-Got-A-Lover villagers, all absolutely unbelievable!
Ever since the class trip I was feeling a sense of crisis from the sudden depopulation of the Forever Alone village. Perhaps I ought to introduce the Gonin Gumi system so that we would all police each other…
As the village chief I couldn’t tolerate any more deserters. A severe warning was required here.
Ah!? Those two over there were holding hands and gazing at each other! What an indecent…!
Wait, don’t tell me that Zui’ran allowed relationships!? I had to find out.
Where was my student handbook!?
“Ah-, Kisshouin-san. Good morning. I was just looking for you.”
I was in the middle of peering into the dark swamp of hatred that was my heart when Class Rep called out to me.
“Good morning, Class Rep. Did you need me?”
“Mmn, could I talk to you for just a bit?”
Class Rep took my sleeve and led me into a corner. He began to talk in a hushed voice.
“The truth is, during the free hours of our class trip I went around with Honda-san and the others.”
“…I see. I do recall you telling me at the British Museum. A cruise of the Seine river, was it?”
“You remembered? Mhm. We went on a cruise together. I had such a good time… When we were getting on it was a little rocky, so I, I lent Honda-san my hand and…”
Flushed with happiness, he continued recounting his experience to me.
To think there was another new member of the Fulfilling Romance village… I had to do something about my village’s depopulation problem, and soon.
“I see. So you enjoyed holding her hand. You have come to report to me your ulterior motives, then?”
“Ehh!? I-I didn’t have any ulterior motives! I wasn’t thinking like that at all, Kisshouin-san!”
I wonder about that. Did he really not intend that?
After all, those boats had had handrails. Handrails that I had held myself while I was cruising alone.
“Ummm, Kisshouin-san, it feels like you’re kind of in a bad mood… I mean, it’s fine if I’m wrong but… Ah, anyway, since Nonose-san was feeling cold, Iwamuro-kun lent his jacket to her. I think they had a good atmosphere going on.”
For warmth, I had been forced to huddle up Ayame-chan and the other girls like a bunch of hamsters though? My, friendship between girls is a beautiful thing!
“I had actually wanted to put a padlock on the Pont des Arts with her, but I was too embarrassed to ask. I just thought it would be nice if we could do that one day… Ah! This is a secret, okay!?”
In other words, it would be nice if they could go to Paris together, one day. That’s quite the proposal, Class Rep.
And although he didn’t get to place a padlock on lover’s bridge, he went on to tell me that he did throw two coins into the Trevi Fountain to spend his life with his love though. I see, I see.
Incidentally I threw two coins in as well. Not that I had a love yet! Ha ha!
They had even promised to go hang out once we were back in Japan, the four of them. My, that sounds like so much fun. I simply must recommend that they go on a boat tour of Inokashira Park.
What are my intentions, you ask? Goodness, I meant nothing malicious by it.
Class Rep, may you be sacrificed to appease this dark swamp of hatred──
The sacrificial maiden, knowing nothing of my thoughts, continued to smile as he talked to me. Pitiful thing.
“And so to thank you, Iwamuro-kun and I… Ah, look, it’s Iwamuro-kun. Heeey~ Iwamuro-kuuun!”
To thank me? What was this about?
Iwamuro-kun noticed Class Rep’s waving from down the hallway and took large strides towards us. Good morning.
“Iwamuro-kun, I was just telling Kisshouin-san about our time on the trip. Anyway, how about we give her the present we got her?”
From his bag, Class Rep produced a bundle in adorable wrapping.
“This is a thank you from the two of us,” Class Rep explained. “For always being there to give us advice.”
“Thank you, Master,” Iwamuro-kun nodded.
Oh my god.
I was ashamed of myself. I can’t believe my jealousy had made me wish for something so cruel to happen to such good people.
I wasn’t qualified to be a God of Fulfilling Romance.
Uuuu… Thank goodness I hadn’t recommended Inokashira Park yet…
“Thank you. I am overwhelmed,” I said, hugging the present close.
“We got you oil and hair treatment products from France. It’s our way of wishing that your locks of fortune will always stay beautiful. Iwamuro-kun was the one who picked it, actually,” explained Class Rep.
“I really admire your hair, Master. I just hope you’ll like it…”
As expected of the kind of maiden who was into beauty care. Even his choice of presents was maidenly and thoughtful.
Even though his hair was cut short, it was lustrous and glossy. I could see the effort he put in every day to take care of it. As his teacher in beauty care, it made me proud to see.
It was thanks to the generosity of these two that I managed to, just a little, find it in my heart to forgive the members of the Fulfilling Romance Village.
After school I went to give the kids their souvenirs. That was how I found myself heading to the Petit Salon with presents in both hands.
While I was on my way I received a number of text messages from Kaburagi but I ignored them all.
I had zero interest in subjecting myself to his gushing over his Roman date with Wakaba-chan.
Keh! Before the prospect of a date with the Petit’s soothing angels, his little stories were no better than trash!
As I opened the door I was met with Mao-chan who was nothing but smiles.
Upon entering the room I was greeted one by one by smiling children. So cute. I was already relaxing~
Distributing the souvenirs──chocolates, and french jelly they call pâte de fruit──was met with a cute cheer from the children. ‘Reika-oneesama! Reika-oneesama!’ I was thus surrounded by bundles of adoring children.
My, my, I’m not going anywhere, so please don’t fight over me like that~
Haah, how I wish a time slip could make me these childrens’ classmate… I was born a little too early.
If I had been their classmates then just imagine what a fulfilling life I’d be leading right now.
This was a false paradise…
“Good afternoon, Reika-oneesan.”
And here came the boy who would have been the prince charming of that time slip scenario! Aah… I was really born too soon.
After I was done handing out the treats, I was ushered out of the ring of children towards the sofa.
Sitting next to me was Yukino-kun. In front of me was Mao-chan and Yuuri-kun.
“Well then, it is time for your souvenirs,” I said.
Besides the sweets from earlier, for these three I also had foreign picture books and coloured pencils. The pencils that I bought were supposedly world-reknowned, and were even used in the colouring for famous picture books. You could use them to produce lovely soft colours.
The faces of my adorable little friends blossomed into smiles.
“Also Mao-chan, could I trouble you to hand this to Ichinokura-sama?”
I had been treated to meals by her uncle countless times, so for him I got cheese, black tea, as well as a glass cat paperweight since I thought of his pet cat Alice.
Maybe this was a bit much for Mao-chan to bring home, but she was going by car so it was fine, right?
“I understand. I’ll pass it to Haruto-niisama, right? Oh, that reminds me, Reika-oneesama. Listen to this. Actually, while you were overseas I wanted to thank Akimi-san for her cooking lessons so I got Haruto-niisama to bring the two of us to eat!” she beamed.
“Eh? Really?” I asked, surprised.
“Yes. I’m sorry for not speaking to you first. But the two of us just happened to both be free that day, so…”
“Well, I hardly mind, but… Anyhow, did you enjoy yourself then?”
“Uhuhu. I asked Haruto-niisama to pick somewhere wonderful for us, and it turned out that the food was delicious and Akimi-san seemed to enjoy it too. See, the two of them both love eating, right? They seemed to have a lot to talk about, so I was thinking that maybe just the two of them could go next time~”
Oh my god.
Without my knowledge, the adorable Mao-chan had transformed into a cunning matchmaker aunty!
Without a doubt, this was her way of trying to get rid of Erika-san and replace her with Akimi-san, wasn’t it…?
Yuuri-kun who was oblivious to her hidden motives simply smiled and said, “That’s great to hear, Mao.”
Why were boys so…? No, of course. It was better that they didn’t realise. They’d live happier that way…
While this was happening, Yukino-kun was enraptured by the Mother Goose collection.
Hmm hmm, what’s this you’re reading~?
Mmn. Yukino-kun, how about we read something more pleasant? You might not be able to fall asleep at night, you know?
The four of us spent the next while chatting, comparing the souvenir books, or talking about my trip. It was only interrupted when I heard the door opening to the squeals of the girls. Together we turned to the source of the commotion and… Geh!
“Oh? It’s Niisama.”
In the middle of the uproar was Yukino’s brother, Enjou, as well as Emperor Kaburagi. What had he even come to the Petit Salon for?
“Niisama, what are you guys doing here?” Yukino-kun asked blankly. The two of them had walked over to us.
Enjou gave a helpless smile as Kaburagi stood with his arms crossed.
“Masaya over here has business with Kisshouin-san.”
Eh-? Business with me?
I had an incredibly bad feeling about this…
Kaburagi nodded grimly and turned to me with a frown.
“You. I’ve sent you so many messages already, and you still haven’t noticed? Honestly, you’re hopeless. I had to come all the way myself.”
…I knew it.
Since I didn’t reply, he decided to come in person? What a born stalker…
The Natural-Born Stalker Kaburagi.
That’d make for a good ring name if he ever got into pro wrestling, actually.
“My sincere apologies,” I said to Natural-Born Stalker. “My phone was in my bag and I had not thought to check.”
It was a reasonable explanation.
I looked to up find Enjou smirking at me. Tsk.
The two interlopers took the opportunity to join us at the table.
“Yukino, what are you reading?”
“Reika-oneesan gave it to me. It’s a souvenir from her trip,” he replied.
“From Kisshouin-san? I see. Thank you for going out of your way for my brother,” Enjou said.
“Not at all. It was but a trifle, so please do not mind it,” I replied politely.
From the side, Kaburagi peered at it in curiosity. “What’s it about?”
“Mother Goose? Ah, right, we’ve got that in my family’s library too,” Kaburagi mused. “Come to think of it, the talk about rhymes reminds me. We used to have ten little Indian dolls lying around the house, but I found one of them mysteriously broken. I think it was at the end of 1st Year…” he finished in a mutter.
At the end of 1st Year? Wasn’t that when he had his big heartbreak over Yurie-sama…?
A cursed Indian doll that broke because of his broken heart?
‘And then there were none…’
While I was lost in my own ominous delusions, the kids had begun asking them about their time on the trip. The conversation turned to the soccer match they saw in England, which really interested Yuuri-kun.
The chat picked up to a swell, and we had just about finished the tea when Enjou’s phone rang.
He excused himself, and after a chat from a small distance away, he came back and let Yukino-kun it was time to go.
“It looks like our ride is here. Let’s go home, Yukino.”
“Ehhh…? But I still want to talk more…”
“There’ll be another time. Come on, they’re waiting for us downstairs.”
Yukino-kun looked dissatisfied, but Enjou rubbed his head as he chided him, and so Yukino-kun reluctantly left his seat.
Apparently Kaburagi planned to stay though. Nobody asked him to stay…
“Yukino-kun seems to want to talk more, so how about you go together, Kaburagi-sama?” I tried. Unfortunately, Enjou denied it to me with his next words.
“Sorry, but I’ve got plans after this.”
Cheh. Is that so?
“Well then, we’ll be heading off first,” he finished. “See you tomorrow, Kisshouin-san.”
“Gokigen’yoh, Enjou-sama. Let us speak again, Yukino-kun.”
“Bye, Reika-oneesan. Thank you for the book and pencils. And the sweets too!”
“Huhu, you are very welcome.”
The soothing angel left us, and as I mourned that fact, somebody tapped my shoulder as a shadow loomed from behind me.
“Well then. Let’s go somewhere else. I’ve got heaps of stuff I want to talk to you about.”
I wonder if he couldn’t give me a report with just the main points summarised. I promise I’d read it when I had time.
By the way, breaking news! Debt Girl, and/or Otoburi, along with maybe possibly probably not Bathroom Goddess, are getting picked back up on a semi-regular-irregular-probably never basis! We’ll put up a chapter 9, and based on the reactions we get, we’ll see what we can do. Also, like, subscribe, click the bell-shaped notification button, and donate to our patreon for more frequent, regular releases!
Whenever I visit Europe the cities are beautiful, the atmosphere and people are stylish, and I have fun every day, but it’s still Japan that I feel most at home in~
Green tea over black tea. Rice over bread.
The first thing I did when I got home was eat some ume salmon chazuke! Hahhh~ This was the taste of Japan~
In Zui’ran the high school class trips were timed to the Golden Week holidays so that they wouldn’t affect our studies so much. My family had gone overseas as well, but they timed their homecoming to match mine.
We had a fun talk about our trips while the living room was packed full of souvenirs. Naturally Oniisama was included!
“Did you have fun on your class trip?”
“Yes! Very much! And you all?”
“We had a good time, but I’m a little tired,” Otousama admitted.
“That’s because you golfed all day, dear.”
Okaasama’s skin was smooth and silky because of her stay at a beauty salon, but Otousama looked a bit exhausted.
As for Oniisama, he had gone to Hokkaido with some uni friends of his.
He even brought back a lot of my favourite desserts for me!
Corn Chocolate was impossible to stop eating once you began~
I hadn’t felt any homesickness while I was gone, but seeing my family’s for the first time in ten days made me awfully happy for some reason. I was all over them, and just chatted all night.
Ehehe. I wonder if maybe I had actually missed them.
I was even finding Otousama’s belly endearing. Homesickness was such a fearsome thing.
Look, Oniisama! I got you all these souvenirs! Aah~ So happy.
──But still, it wouldn’t do to forget that I had lost something precious during my trip. My urna was gone now.
During my last night in Rome I had noticed its absence and fallen into a panic.
The next morning I had forgotten again, but now that my good luck charm was gone dark days were surely awaiting.
The first order of business was sitting in the corner of my room.
The hoya kerrii that I had received as a present last Christmas had withered up. What had once been a lively green heart-shape was now a rotten brown thing.
I had given it extra water so that it could endure while I was on holiday, but it seemed to have been the wrong choice.
The fact that the temperature had dropped while I was gone probably hadn’t helped either.
I’m sorry, Hoya-chan! Forgive me!
Hoya-chan who I spoke to every day, in the hopes that she would grow up faster.
Hoya-chan who lent an ear to my daily complaints about being stuck as the Chief of the Forever Alone Village.
It didn’t look like nutrition supplements would help her at this point. After all, I could smell a bit of rot…
How could I explain this to Kitazawa-kun? It hadn’t even been half a year yet, and I’d killed his present. I didn’t have the guts to tell him.
Aah, I felt so guilty…
People called the hoya kerrii the love heart plant, and it was supposed to help your luck in romance.
I myself had prayed to her that I would finally experience my own romance this year.
It had come to nothing though.
The fact that it had rotted spelled nothing but misfortune for my coming love life.
I was feeling nervous now.
Hoya-chan, please don’t curse me, okay?
Just head straight to heaven.
It happened during the morning of my first day going back to school.
I awoke in bed to cacophonous warbling.
Already having a bad feeling about it, I pulled back the balcony curtains to investigate.
There were two pigeons there!
So early in the morning and I was already meeting my natural enemy!
I was too afraid to open the window though, so the best I could do was smack on the glass to try to scare them.
Fortunately it worked, and my presence sent them flying away. Thank goodness…
What could have been a refreshing morning had already been ruined. They better not have pooped on my balcony.
I opened my window to check. Thankfully they hadn’t, but… taking a closer look, there was a strange bundle of twigs under the air-con outdoor unit that sat to the side of my balcony.
What on earth was that? …Wait.
Inside there were a number of round white things!
Don’t tell me they were eggs!?
Those pigeons had left their eggs here! Plural! There were two!
Oh my god. Those two birds had been a couple.
While I was away they had taken the chance to build a nest and lay their eggs here.
What was I supposed to do? I was too scared to get rid of them myself.
Oh no, what if they hatched right now!?
The only course of action I could think of was to get changed and call for help.
Somebody please take care of this problem in place of my cowardly self…
The housemaid who replied to my call looked at the nest in surprise.
“While you were away I did some light cleaning and aired out your room, Reika-ojousama, but I overlooked the area under the air-conditioning unit. My apologies.”
“No, it was because they picked somewhere so out of sight. You could not have helped it.”
To begin with, it was my request that they only did the bare minimum of cleaning while I was away. It was because I was hiding candy in my room, and secret savings, amongst other things.
Instead, I relied a lot on a cleaning robot. The appliances of modern civilisation were wonderful indeed.
Sometimes I do find a few dust bunnies living under my bed though.
“I hadn’t noticed anything while cleaning the windows the other day though,” the maid mused.
“Then it must have been a recent development,” I concluded.
I hadn’t heard any chirping or flying before the class trip after all.
This must have happened because I lost my urna…!
“Ah! The pigeons have come again!” I shouted. “On the handrail!”
“Hey! Go away!” my housemaid shooed them, but with their nest here I knew it was only a matter of time until they were back.
They could hardly leave their eggs behind.
“What’s the matter?” Oniisama asked from in front of my door.
The noise must have brought him here.
“Oniisama, it is terrible! Some pigeons have built a nest on my balcony! And of all things they even laid eggs!” I cried.
“Built a nest? Oh, so they have.”
“Shall I put them in a nearby park?” my housemaid suggested.
Thank you! Could you?
Unfortunately Oniisama stopped her.
“The Wildlife Protection and Proper Hunting Act prohibits us from disposing of the eggs of wild birds.”
Then what were we supposed to do!?
If the egg hatched then the whole family would be settling here for real!
Didn’t they say that birds knew how to return home!? I couldn’t let that be my balcony!
What if they lived out their entire lives here!? Please no!
“I can’t be room mates with the pigeons, Oniisama!” I cried tearily.
“…Please call the Office of Animal Control.”
Ohh! As expected of Oniisama! So reliable!
The housemaid said that she would call them first thing, so that was that.
Haah. Could I count this problem as dealt with, for now?
“Thank you, Oniisama. I apologise for the ruckus so early in the morning.”
“No, no, it just really feels like you’re back now.”
I wasn’t sure what his smile meant, but Oniisama patted me on the head.
Maybe Oniisama was worried about my frayed nerves because he drove me to school that morning.
Oniisama looked so cool driving the car in his suit!
“I must say, that was surprising. When I woke up I hardly expected to find a pigeon nest in my room.”
“I guess you would be.”
It was bad enough that they attacked me with poop from the sky, but to think they even followed me home to finish me off, those damned pigeons!
And a couple, no less.
Even though they were just pigeons they sure had a lot of nerve acting all lovey-dovey like that.
I guess it couldn’t be helped though. It was spring after all.
“I suppose this comes with spring,” I sighed. “I wonder if things will calm down after this.”
“Unfortunately, pigeons are in heat all year around, so they lay quite a few eggs.”
What the heck!? This was the first I’d heard of this!
“Reika, I’m driving so don’t grab my arm like that, okay?”
In heat all year round!? Didn’t these pigeons have any morals!?
These pigeons were unforgivable…
As expected of my natural enemy. As it turned out, pigeons were the chiefs of the Fulfilling Bird Romance village!
“Then that means that even if we get rid of the nest and eggs they might simply do this all over again!?”
This wasn’t a joke.
How could they get sexy on somebody else’s balcony!?
“I’ve asked them to take measures to keep pigeons away, so there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Reika, I’m driving so don’t grab my arm like that, okay?”
By ‘measures’, I wonder if he was talking about nets and CDs.
Or could it be traps instead?
“Oh, I just remembered, Oniisama. I bought some souvenirs for Imari-sama as well, so I was hoping for a chance to hand them over. Do you know if he plans to visit our house any time soon?”
“Just have it sent by courier.”
Imari-sama gave me so many presents normally, so I wanted to hand them over personally to show my gratitude.
Wasn’t having a courier send it a bit dispassionate? Although that was exactly what I did for Valentines, since it was food and all.
Oniisama glanced over at my dissatisfied expression as said, “I’ll let him know.”
I’m counting on you, Oniisama!
When I arrived at school I spotted new members of the Fulfilling Romance village, thanks to the effects of the class trip. Damn them all…
What phenomenon caused all these new couples after a school trip? It had been a mystery in my previous life too.
It made no sense.
“Gokigen’yoh, Reika-sama. We were just talking about the class trip.”
When I arrived in the classroom a number of my friends had already been chatting together.
I want to talk about the trip as well.
Lemme join in~
“It certainly was quite a trip. Which city were you just talking about?”
“Well… Actually, in Rome some students apparently spotted Kaburagi-sama and Takamichi-san at a café together…”
Oh my god.
Just how many times had I told him to be careful about being seen!
“Are we sure it was the two of them?” I tried. “Perhaps they were mistaken.”
“But would anyone really mistake somebody else for Kaburagi-sama?”
…It was true that the idiot was stupidly noticeable.
It didn’t take long for the rumours to spread like wildfire.
According to the rumours it happened at a café famous for its tiramisu. The two of them were seen happily chatting to each other before boarding a taxi and riding off.
Since nobody had the guts to question Kaburagi, naturally they hounded Wakaba-chan instead.
Flustered, she replied “We just happened to meet…” but then they asked why the two of them boarded a taxi together in that case.
The fact that they had been sampling desserts together the whole day was still a secret. Still, it was now a confirmed fact that she had at least spent some amount of time with him in Rome.
Aaah, I just got back and I could already see the trouble brewing!
When I returned home, I found blooming flowers on my balcony.
The handrail had been wrapped in rose vines. It was lovely.
Truly the balcony of a maiden.
Ooh, and there were urara roses too.
That said, I was confused about the change.
As it turned out, pigeons apparently hated the smell of roses, so we had the gardener set this up after the nest was cleared away.
It wouldn’t have done to have anti-pigeon nets, I suppose, to say nothing of CDs hanging on the balcony.
It was the Kisshouin estate, so there were appearances to uphold after all.
But I was concerned.
If gardeners had green thumbs, then mine were definitely brown.
I even managed to kill a cactus, so how long would these flowers last on my balcony…?
“Tirol Choco, individually wrapped chocolates with endless flavor variations, are created and distributed by Tirol Choco Co.Ltd. With the catchy, colorful wrappers, reasonable price and over 300 flavors to choose from, Tirol choco was an instant success. Over the years it became a solid staple for chocolate lovers of all ages in Japan.”
They’re like ten Yen each or something.
Also ‘maki（巻き）’ means ‘curl’.
I’m pretty comfortable around strangers, and I’m not picky about who I interact with either.
That said, when I entered the high school section and my homeroom teacher told me that the Kisshouin Reika was going to be class rep with me, I’ll be honest:
‘Uwaah, are you kidding me!?’ was my first thought.
A member of the privileged Pivoine group, and the Big Boss of all the girls.
Rumour had it that if you crossed her, her subordinates would have you disappear into the abyss…
Well, jokes aside, the point was that a ‘class representative’ was just a glorified odd jobs position.
Nobody would believe that a member of the Pivoine would willingly clean up after their class. Not only that, but I wasn’t looking forward to bending backwards to avoid hurting her pride and feelings.
While I was feeling rather gloomy, Akizawa suddenly called out to me.
“Satomi, apparently you’re going to be class rep with Kisshouin-san?”
“Uh, yeah. Hey, speaking of which, aren’t you supposed to be pretty close with her?”
I vaguely recalled them speaking from time to time in middle school.
“I guess? It’s more like my childhood friend that she’s close to.”
“That girl that came to the festival? Uh, Fukioka-san…?”
Akizawa’s childhood friend was a prim and proper, gentle yamato nadeshiko.
And he kept calling her a childhood friend, but she was probably his girlfriend.
“Kisshouin-san and I went to cram school together in primary. We became friends, but after that she got to know Sakurako too, and now the two are best friends.”
He just called Kisshouin Reika his friend without batting an eyelid.
This guy was kind of amazing.
“Oh right. Giving her some sweets when she’s tired will cheer her right up.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Since we were kids her mood has always soured a little when she’s hungry. If you give her something sweet though, her mood shoots right back up. Even Sakurako says that as long as you give her food, that girl… Ah, nevermind that,” he corrected himself quickly. “Anyhow, try talking to her without being biased. She’s easy to misunderstand, but she’s actually pretty earnest, and a good girl.”
With that said, he left the classroom.
An earnest and good girl, huh?
I considered withholding my judgement for the moment.
…But as if a member of the Pivoine, and Kisshouin Reika no less, would be the type to cheer up just by eating some dessert.
Anyway, after that I began my tenure as class representative with Kisshouin-san.
I have to admit that my expectations were overturned.
Sitting there as her followers carried out her will with nothing more than a glance.
That was the image I had of ‘Kisshouin Reika’ but when we began working she proactively gathered the forms from everybody, and would head off to hand them in at the Student Council like it was a matter of course.
She even replaced the classroom supplies before I noticed that they were lacking.
Being honest she was actually doing a better job of it than I was.
Akizawa was right; I really shouldn’t have judged by appearances.
Another happy surprise was that having her around made form collections abnormally efficient.
Even the newly enrolled Externals knew that going against her was a bad idea, to say nothing of the Internals.
Compared to other classes, everything went crazy smooth for us.
Thank you, Kisshouin-san.
Of course I couldn’t just leave everything to her. But when I told her that I’d take the forms to the StuCo room, she just snatched them out of my hands.
Uh, hey, you don’t have to panic like that. I’m not trying to steal your job or anything.
Ah. She just tripped over empty floor.
But she was still clutching onto the forms.
I watched her go.
Did this count as being earnest…?
I had the feeling that she had some sort of ulterior motive though…
Going back to those Externals, it was clear from the onset that there was a huge wall between the Internals and them. It’s the same with any elevator school though.
Still, with Zui’ran’s unique traditions, maybe it was harder to assimilate here.
As the class representatives it was our job to reach out to them, so Kisshouin-san suggested having a class lunch together.
I liked the idea, but was it even possible to guarantee that many seats together in the cafeteria? I was also worried that the upperclassmen wouldn’t look kindly on some newcomers monopolising their own corner of the cafeteria.
When I voiced my concerns, Kisshouin-san just proudly flashed the red peony badge on her chest, and everything was resolved.
Ooh, as expected of a Pivoine!
When I clapped my hands, the corners of her mouth lifted into a smile.
Huh. Was this girl actually pretty weak to flattery?
That same day we stayed back after school to tally up the print-outs.
Kisshouin was tapping away at her flashily decorated calculator when she let out a tired sigh.
“Are you feeling unwell?” I asked.
“Eh…? Ah, no, I am fine.”
It didn’t look like it though.
Her trademark curls were even looking a little flat.
I suddenly recalled what Akizawa said about giving her sweets.
After fishing through my bag for a while I pulled out a cheap Tirolian chocolate.
Would she even eat this?
I decided to test it anyway.
“Kisshouin-san, would you like some chocolate?”
“My! This is a Tirolian chocolate!” she said as a sparkle returned to her eyes. “Oh? Have I seen this flavour before…?”
So she knew what they were.
“Apparently it’s region-limited. I got it off someone as a souvenir.”
“Region-limited!? Heavens! To think that I had forgotten those existed… What a grievous oversight…!”
Eh? What was?
I watched her clench her fist in regret for a while before she accepted the chocolate from me and popped it in her mouth.
Her expression instantly changed into a blissful smile.
“As expected of a limited edition. Yummy…!”
“I see. Good for you.”
The chocolates were pretty small, so they didn’t take long to finish.
She looked a little forlorn that it was over, so I asked her if she wanted another one.
“I am fine. One was plenty. Thank you for the treat.”
“Are you sure? I still have a bunch left, so you don’t have to hold back.”
“…Truly? Well, if you say as much, could I trouble you for just one more?”
And that was how Kisshouin-san happily ate another region-limited chocolate.
It was surprising how happily she’d eat cheap chocolate.
She was part of the Pivoine so I would have expected her to be more picky. Maybe only eating from companies with royal warrants to European royalty or something.
“Thank you very much, Satomi-kun. I know just how valuable that was. You have a generous heart.”
“Huh? Oh, nah, you’re exaggerating. It was just a bit of chocolate.”
“My, I have heard that a bit of chocolate has saved someone stranded in the mountains before. You must not forget its worth.”
We’re smack bang in the middle of Tokyo, Kisshouin-san.
Anyway, having finished her 10 yen chocolate, Kisshouin-san produced a rather flashy-looking thimblette from her pencil case and began working again with renewed vigour.
Just what the hell was in that chocolate.
Akizawa hadn’t been exaggerating.
A few days later, Kisshouin-san approached me while looking left and right for witnesses.
Sidling up to me, she slipped a small package into my hand.
“Quickly! Hide it before we are spotted! Now! DEWIT!”
Eh… Kisshouin-san was an illegal goods dealer?
It was against my principles to get involved with that…
I snuck a look into the package and saw Tirolian chocolates decorated with cute mascots.
Mmn. These goods were undoubtedly legal.
“What’s this about?”
“Shh! Be silent! Think of this as a sign of my appreciation, just between the two of us, all right? It was something I obtained through special channels.”
“…The black market?” I tried.
That’s just mail delivery, Kisshouin-san.
“If you need more, just let me know,” she whispered before slinking away.
For a moment I saw a future criminal being led away in cuffs.
Be careful you don’t get stopped by the police, Kisshouin-san~
As we continued working together as class representatives, I gradually began to realise that despite her lofty position and social power, the girl herself was fun to talk to, and a little bit air-headed.
I began to see how far I could push her before she got angry, but the answer was ‘pretty far’.
Even if she did get a little mad, in the end an apology and a dessert would be all it took for her to say,
“Honestly, Satomi-kun~ Just this once, all right?”
The Queen of the Pivoine was weak to bribery.
One day I caught her staring at my hair.
“Is that your natural hair colour? It looks like you have used a little dye.”
“Ah, you realised?”
“That is against the rules,” she grinned at me.
“Well what about your curls, Kisshouin-san? Isn’t that a perm?”
“These are natural,” she insisted.
Closer to the root it wasn’t curly at all. Geez, no choice.
“Please find it in your heart to overlook me, just this once.”
I pushed the bite-sized donuts I bought this morning towards her.
“You are quite the sinful one,” she said, grinning wickedly like some corrupt magistrate.
The Queen of the Pivoine could be bought over with 100 yen sweets.
I continued poking fun of her after that.
One day I was making my way down an empty hallway when suddenly I was grabbed by each arm.
Holding me on the left and right were the Pivoine Queen’s closest aides, Kazami Serika and Imamura Kikuno.
“You. The way you have been behaving towards Reika-sama has been becoming unacceptable.”
“You had better not forget your place.”
…Was I going to disappear into the abyss!?
Could it be that most of Kisshouin-san’s scary image was because of these two?
One day Kisshouin-san asked me a difficult question.
“Satomi-kun, did you know that people have been nicknaming me?” she frowned.
Geeehhhh! Why did she know that!?
I pretended to be calm as I asked her where she heard that.
Apparently it had been Mizusaki that had told her.
Why would you tell the person herself, Mizusaki!?
Was that guy an idiot!?
Kisshouin-san had quite a few nicknames.
Most of them were related to her appearance, including “Maki Maki Makkie” and “D(olly Gi)rll”, but the one we used the most was “Goddess Kali” after the Indian goddess of slaughter and destruction.
It was originally because of her curled hair, and how scary she was supposed to be when she got angry, but obviously I couldn’t tell that to Kisshouin-san herself!
But then after the name became popular, we wondered that if she was Kali, who was the Shiva she was supposed to be dancing on!?
Could it be one of those two…!?
Everyone wondered, but nobody had the guts to comment. After all, nobody was stupid enough to want to make an enemy out of the three greatest powers in the Pivoine.
All of us wanted to graduate safely…
“You okay, Satomi?” Mizusaki suddenly asked from behind.
At the moment our two classes were having P.E. together.
“Why are you asking?”
“You’re class representative with that Kisshouin Reika girl, right? Have you been having a lot of problems?”
“None at all.”
It seemed like he didn’t have such a good impression of her.
Not that I could blame him, given her image.
I used to be the same way after all.
“She’s probably not the kind of girl you think she is. Kisshouin-san takes being a class representative more seriously than I do. You know she brings her own thimblette for sorting handouts? She even gave me one. It’s this flashy thing with hearts and glitter on it.”
I basically regurgitated what Akizawa told me.
“Ah! That reminds me! Why the hell did you tell her about her nicknames!? You’re shortening my lifespan here!”
“Yeah, my bad. I realised that I shouldn’t have right after I said it.”
What the hell! Be more careful, damn it!
I’m seriously going to disappear into the abyss at this rate!
For the athletics carnival she dressed up as a mouse, and then for the school festival she dressed up as a sheep butler without complaint.
It was nice how happily she went along with things.
By this point I didn’t find her scary at all.
But unlike the girl herself, her followers flooded us with complaints.
“What’s the meaning of this!? Reika-sama is being dressed up as a mouse!”
Even after she persuaded her friends, when they saw the mascot costume she was going to wear they blew up again.
“A grey mascot costume!? She’ll look like a dirtied youkai of poverty!”
“She can’t wear a mascot costume! Are you trying to turn her into a giant rat!?”
“A giant rat…? They’re going to turn Reika-sama into a coypu!”
“At least try and aim for a cute hamster!”
But Kisshouin-san didn’t seem too unhappy when she had stood in front of the mirror and waved her butt around to move the tail~
In the end we compromised and went with a grey dress and mouse ears.
It wasn’t much of a costume but the event was a success in the end, so all went well.
I made a number of enemies amongst the girls, though…
When she put on the sheep ears for the school festival, we got a lot of customers who came to see something scary, as well as a number of VIPs thanks to Her Majesty’s connections.
With the three great powers of the Pivoine there, the hallway became packed with students.
Thanks to that, Café Sheep Dolly had incredible sales. As the class rep, I couldn’t be happier.
The death glares from her followers were a bit scary though…
Ah, something else of note was that at some point Iwamuro became acquainted with her too. It was a completely unexpected combo.
When we switched classes going into 3rd year I ended up with Kisshouin-san again. Not only that, the two of us were the class representatives again.
What was dangerous was that Kazami and Imamura were in the same class too, but luckily there was nobody else troublesome.
More importantly, with Kisshouin-san here, nobody was reckless enough to voluntarily start trouble.
I had thought the year was going to be smooth sailing, but there was one person who was acting suspiciously.
The dude seemed to be trying his hardest to curl into a ball.
“What’s wrong, Tagaki?”
If I was remembering right, Tagaki was an External Student that had joined in high school.
“If something’s up, you can tell me. I mean, I am the class rep and that.”
Tagaki turned his head here and there to make sure of something, before nervously answering me.
“The truth is…” he began his story.
Huh. Come to think of it, the guy who accidentally ran his mouth during that incident was this guy.
It was something that happened near the end of our 2nd year.
Takamichi Wakaba was an External Student on a scholarship.
Somebody had graffitied her locker, and somebody claimed that it was Kisshouin-san’s bullying.
In the end it turned out that Kisshouin-san had been resting in the infirmary, and was heading back to class when she noticed the locker.
Coincidentally, classes had just ended, so other students had spotted her standing by the locker as they left their classrooms, but it wasn’t like they had caught her actually doing the vandalism…
Speaking of Takamichi Wakaba, her position at Zui’ran was a little awkward.
While Zui’ran was a school filled with the children of Japan’s most wealthy, Takamichi was just a girl from an average household who won a scholarship through outstanding grades.
Not to say that alone was enough to make things awkward, but her grades happened to be good enough to threaten the position of Zui’ran’s poster boy, our flawless Emperor.
It wasn’t a pleasant matter for a lot of Internals.
The finisher was that that same Emperor, who had never before shown any interest in the girls that approached him, had now taken an interest in her.
Apparently Takamichi had been harassed by jealous girls, and that hero of justice Mizusaki began standing up for her too.
Of course this just made her all the more detestable to the girls.
Not that I could blame them…
The Emperor is one thing, but you should think things through a little more, Mizusaki.
So to conclude, she had great grades, and the three most popular guys were paying attention to her.
These weren’t anything to fault her for, but jealousy knows no reason. Girls began slandering her as sucking up to men, and frustrated guys who were beaten by her joined in as well.
Even the previous president of the Pivoine had begun targeting her, but Kisshouin-san stayed neutral like it was none of her business.
I wasn’t that well-informed about girl drama, but apparently Kisshouin-san leaned towards sympathy for her.
Well, that was the background for the locker incident. Tsuruhana’s group took the opportunity to blame it on Kisshouin-san.
Naturally she denied it, but it was a little sketchy because she was actually holding the marker.
Honestly, what were you thinking, Kisshouin-san…?
Things were looking pretty bad for her but the victim herself outright shot down the accusation, so in the end it didn’t go beyond suspicions.
I myself made sure to have a word with Mizusaki.
“Kisshouin-san might be a bit of an oddball, but she’s not the type to do things like this.”
Back in 1st year he hadn’t had a great impression of her, but contrary to my worries he nodded.
“…Yeah, you’re right.”
In our boys hierarchy, the Emperor was sitting firmly at the top, so things were pretty peaceful. In contrast, Tsuruhana would occasionally start trouble to try and topple Kisshouin-san, so incidents popped up from time to time.
She had been the leader of a failed revolt back in middle school as well.
We named it the ‘Tsuruhana Rebellion’, but after the locker incident it was renamed to the ‘Tsuruhana Spring Rebellion’.
After all, the locker incident had turned into the ‘Tsuruhana Winter Rebellion’.
The Tsuruhana Winter Rebellion was a revolt in the second year of high school led by Tsuruhana’s group, who had been defeated in a previous Rebellion. It culminated in a massive three-way battle in the cafeteria between Kisshouin-san’s forces, Tsuruhana’s forces, and members of the Student Council.
A few guys had been sent crazy glares when they said “Girls are damned scary…”.
Were these supposed to be the same girls that people knew as ojousama?
The one who stopped it in the end was Zui’ran’s absolute monarch, the Emperor.
In the days that followed, I wondered whether this would finally put an end to the trouble started by Tsuruhana’s group.
That was when I happened to chance across Enjou-kun calling Tsuruhana herself out into an empty hallway. I could faintly hear his voice while I was passing by.
“I usually don’t get involved in arguments between girls, but you’ve gone a little overboard this time. Just letting you know, but if you continue slandering Kisshouin-san then I’ll be taking her side, so what do you intend on doing?”
So that was how the ‘Tsuruhana Winter Rebellion’ came to a close.
And because of her two revolts, she ended up with the nickname the Taira-no-Masakado of Zui’ran. Incidentally one of the three most powerful wraiths in all of Japan…
Why did the girls in our grade all have such terrifying nicknames…?
Anyway, bringing the topic back to Tagaki, he was afraid of retribution because of his involvement in it.
To be fair his careless remark really did cause a lot of people to suspect her, but I didn’t think Kisshouin-san was the type to cling onto grudges like that.
“Have you apologised to her properly?”
“Y-Yeah… We both went to a Spring cram course together, so I apologised there. And on the advice of one of her friends, I also gave her some pudding as an apology…”
“Did she forgive you?”
“She said that she didn’t mind at all…”
“Isn’t that fine then? She accepted your pudding, right?”
In my experience, an apology and a dessert was enough for her to forgive you for most things.
“It’ll be fine,” I said with a clap on the back. “Why are you so damned scared anyway? You’re as white as a sheet. C’mon, it’s lunch soon. Try eating something sweet and cheer up, yeah?”
“Yeah… You’re right. Maybe I’ll go for some pudding myself.”
“Right? Just relax.”
Tagaki did as I suggested and ordered a custard pudding.
That was when Kisshouin-san’s group entered the cafeteria.
“Reika-sama, what are you having today?”
“Crema catalana was recently added to the menu, so I was thinking of enjoying some today.”
“Ahh! Come to think of it, it’s been your favourite recently.”
“It has. I was looking forward to having it again,” she smiled happily.
Unfortunately she was struck by cold reality.
“I’m sorry. Somebody ordered the last one just a moment ago.”
Immediately she became unsteady on her feet.
“Reika-sama! Please hang in there!”
“Who was it that obstructed Reika-sama from enjoying her lunch!?”
Fuujin and Raijin glared into the crowd in search of the culprit who had taken the last one.
It was Tagaki…
The pudding that Tagaki had ordered was the crema catalana that Kisshouin-san had been looking forward to.
Tagaki… You really have the worst timing… And you even started eating the pudding before you touched your actual lunch…
Were you that worn out?
The guy himself was pale, frozen with his spoon in his mouth. I mentally made the sign of the cross.
Stay strong, Tagaki.
The president of the Soccer Club was a guy named Azumi.
The Soccer Club at Zui’ran was one of our most famous clubs, and Azumi was its ace.
He wasn’t on the same level as the Emperor, but he still enjoyed popularity amongst the girls. You could say that he was pretty well-known here.
Unfortunately for him, ever since Kisshouin-san had christened him ‘Dainagon’, that popularity was in danger.
“Dainagon? As in the fat azuki beans?”
“Ahh, because his name is Azumi!”
And that was how he was nicknamed Beans.
The man himself protested, “No! She’s not talking about the beans!” but it was too late for him, and the nickname settled. Poor guy…
Out of curiosity I asked the culprit about the origins of the name, but she responded with a look of surprise.
“My! I would never give a pet name based on a pun like that. It is a dignified name with noble origins, named after the Kemari Dainagon who lived during the Heian Period, known for his prowess in kemari football.
“To think that you all thought it was a pun… Ah, speaking of azuki red beans though, how do you prefer your ohagi? Koshian or tsubuan? Incidentally, I prefer koshian.”
“Eh? Ahh… If I had to say, I guess tsubuan?”
“My. Then how do you prefer your sakuramochi? Choumeiji style or Doumyouji style? Incidentally, I prefer Choumeiji.”
“Ahh… I suppose I prefer the one with the skin folded around the red bean.”
“The same as myself, it seems. Then when it comes to the leaf, are you the type who eats it, or…?”
Even though we were supposed to be talking about Dainagon Azumi’s name, somehow it turned into a conversation about sakuramochi leaves…!?
And then ‘speaking of leaf-wrapped desserts’, whether I preferred sakuramochi or kashiwamochi?
The topic of Azumi was kicked aside just like a soccer ball.
“You’re kind of a weird one aren’t you, Kisshouin-san?” I couldn’t help but mutter.
“Huuh!?” Her eyes shot wide. “What do you mean weird!? Even though I’m so normal!? Even though I’ve never been called weird before!?”
“Ah, my bad! You’re right.”
“Of course I am!”
Sometimes you get people who say stuff like “I’m a bit weird, after all~” but they’re basically just boring people who wished they were weird. The real weirdos have no idea that they’re weird.
Nobody was allowed to use the word “weird” around the real weirdo, Kisshouin-san.
But just look behind her. Her friends were all sneaking worried glances at her.
We had our class trip in early May. There were some odd jobs to do as the class rep on the trip, but the two of us didn’t have any trouble.
Apparently our class was the exception in that respect.
I heard about it from Mizusaki when we bumped into each other during the trip.
“Have you been having any problems with people breaking curfew, or anybody going overboard? The other classes are having huge problems with it.”
“Huh~ Come to think of it, I’ve been hearing that too. But nah, the one who takes the night roll is Kisshouin-san~ Nobody would be stupid enough to break curfew.”
To begin with, most of the girls in the class were already happy to cooperate with Kisshouin-san, so they wouldn’t do anything to bother her. As for the guys, nobody was gutsy enough to make an enemy of all the girls by angering her.
Besides, if there was anyone who went overboard because they were having too much fun, it wouldn’t take long for somebody to rat them out. It was on par with a country with secret police.
“Is this the Reign of Terror or something?”
Curfew-breaking will be purged. May the Kisshouin Reika dictatorship reign supreme.
Kisshouin-san seemed to be angry at me after I brought up the ghost story of the Tower of London.
I rather liked ghost stories, but the opposite seemed true for her.
And for some reason she was clenching both hands unnaturally.
Eh, don’t tell me she was hiding her thumbs?
Wasn’t that what primary schoolers did when they saw a hearse!?
But since her reaction was so funny, I continued messing around with her.
I guess that made me a primary schooler too.
When we were at the Vatican I brought up the catacombs, since that seemed like something she’d be weak with.
As expected I was rewarded with a glare before she began stalking off.
As she was leaving I realised that the hair swaying against her back kind of looked like the number 6.
“Hmm? Kisshouin-san, together some of the curls on the back of your head turn into the number of the beast, you know?”
She turned around with a startled look.
“Where on earth do you think we are! This is the headquarters of Christianity, you know! Show some restraint!” she scolded.
From that moment until when we left the Vatican, Kisshouin-san would occasionally hold her hair down, looking left and right like a suspicious person.
I think she was worried inquisitors would come for her.
To disguise the 6’s in her hair, Kisshouin-san would make little micro-shakes of her head, but in the end she got dizzy and needed her girls to support her.
After sightseeing Rome, it was time for dinner.
I turned in surprise as I felt something strike my back out of the blue.
It was Kisshouin-san, who was for some reason standing in a pitching position.
Apparently she had thrown something at me. I rubbed the place where I had been hit and- eh, uwah! What were these weird grains?
Are you serious? Some even got in my hair! It looked like I had dandruff now!
Come on, give me a break…!
But after dinner, Kisshouin-san’s girls finally called me out for a chat.
“How dare you show Reika-sama such disrespect!”
“It’s because of you that Reika-sama has been behaving strangely!”
After a lengthy session of being chewed out by them, they all began to smile darkly.
“Satomi Yukinari. From what I heard, it seems you have a girlfriend in Second Year.”
“Eh-!? How’d you know that!?” I blurted.
“Do not make light of our information network,” I was warned.
“It seems that you intend on buy her a souvenir in Paris,” somebody else continued.
“Matching accessories, was it?” another mused.
So this was why people feared the secret police…!
The ring of girls around me tightened.
My back was to the wall, with nowhere to run.
“You have a lovely girlfriend,” I was told neutrally.
“I trust you have not forgotten that Reika-sama’s cousin Ririna-san is in Second Year.”
“And that Ririna-san adores Reika-sama.”
“It wouldn’t take much to break you up.”
They were taking her hostage…
“If you understand, then have a good think about your attitude towards Reika-sama.”
“If you want to enjoy the rest of your high school days, that is.”
“Your abuse has greatly saddened Reika-sama!”
“I understand,” I said. “I am reflecting. I’m very sorry.”
It was never a good idea to go against a group of girls, so I obediently lowered my head.
“By the way, what was that white stuff that Kisshouin-san threw at me?”
Even with my friends helping me, I had a lot of trouble getting it off.
I could actually still feel some, so I wanted to take a shower already.
“…It was salt.”
“Hah? Salt!? Where did you get so much salt?”
She couldn’t have brought it with her from Japan, right? It was a huge fist full, after all.
Even Kisshouin-san wouldn’t.
But then where did she get it?
“W-, Who cares about that!” one of them changed the subject.
“More importantly, you had better start paying Reika-sama the respect that she deserves!”
“Just who do you think Reika-sama is!?”
Well, she was obviously…
Kisshouin Reika, that soft-hearted, earnest weirdo with a weakness to praise, was my friend.
Sorry for the massive delay. Really stressed at work, and then got sick twice, so I found it hard to do anything productive. Mostly just lazy gaming.
We’d even finished chapter 4.1 of the manga we’re translating, but nobody had enough effort to upload it for over 2 weeks.
But hey, at least it’s here before the Elder Scrolls 6, right?
The Inugami Clan
On his deathbed, ruthless pharmaceutical tycoon, Inugami Sahei, is surrounded by his family, including three grown daughters, by three women he never married, as well as an outsider, Tamayo.
Two of his daughters are accompanied by their husbands and sons, but the oldest, Matsuko, is alone.
When he dies before identifying his heirs, the will cannot be read until all the family is present, so Matsuko sends for her son, Sukekiyo.
When Matsuko’s son, Sukekiyo, arrives, his face is obscured by a skintight, white latex mask which arouses the suspicions of the other family members until Sukekiyo rolls up his mask uncovering a horribly burned visage.
Sahei unexpectedly leaves the family fortune to the attractive Tamayo on the condition that she marry one of the Inugami grandsons – Sukekiyo, Suketake , or Suketomo – pitting blood against blood. If she doesn’t, she will forfeit the inheritance.
Foul play ensues.
Sitting on my little finger was a gorgeous, lovely, pink gold pinky ring.
During our free day in Paris the girls and I all bought one each together.
While Enjou had been giving me advice, Serika-chan and the others had gone off to look for something we could remember the trip by.
In the end they went with the most adorable design. Little flowers lined up along the ring.
When we were middle schoolers we had bought matching necklaces for the trip. This time it was rings.
The proof of our relationship.
Wah, so happy~
I was sitting there on the bus from the airport in Rome, smirking as I looked at my hand, when Kikuno-chan asked if I was listening.
“I just heard, but they say Kaburagi-sama visited a jeweller in Paris,” she repeated.
What was he buying jewellery for?
“Kaburagi-sama was in a great mood this morning, wasn’t he? Could it be that he bought jewellery as a present for someone special?”
“Someone special!?” I shouted.
Don’t tell me that because his date in Paris went smoothly he was planning on jumping straight to marriage!?
No, no, not even that guy could be so stupid.
The terrible thing was that I couldn’t say for sure.
“What do you think, Reika-sama?”
“Even if you ask me that…”
“Enjou-sama was there too.”
“Emjou-sama…? Then in that case, perhaps it was Enjou-sama who was buying a present for someone special,” I suggested.
Like an engagement ring for Yuiko-san.
“Enjou-sama!? Please no!” cried Kikuno-chan.
“Even if you tell me that…”
“Don’t you mind, Reika-sama?”
“I suppose not.”
“Ehhh!? Well we mind! Right, Serika-san?!”
“Uwah!” I squealed.
Staring out from between the gap in the chairs was Serika-chan’s eye.
That’s scary, Serika-chan.
You’re giving me the Shining flashbacks, okay!
“Could you ask Kaburagi-sama for us, please?”
“Eh!? Me!?” I exclaimed.
No way! Ask yourselves!
“You’re the only one who could ask about something like this. Pleaaaase, Reika-sama.”
“Reika-sama~! We won’t be able to enjoy Rome if we don’t know!”
“Kikuno-san is right.”
“You think so too, don’t you, Serika-san?”
And so that’s how, unable to refuse, when we arrived at the hotel lobby I found myself trudging towards Kaburagi.
I had to psyche myself up a little because he was literally surrounded by boys.
It didn’t take long for him to notice my approach.
“What’s wrong, Kisshouin?”
“Um, Kaburagi-sama, could I have a word…?”
“A word?” he asked.
We left his group and after a momentary frown his expression turned agreeable.
“I want to say yes, but we’re about to be assigned our rooms. Come to the lounge in thirty. We’ll talk then.”
“Eh!? Just for a small chat!?”
“It’s not something that can be finished in a few words.”
I was planning to just find some pillar to stand behind to ask about what he was doing yesterday.
A few words would have been fine.
But before I even had a chance to stop him he walked back into his ring of boys and headed up the elevator.
I had to come all the way down to the lounge just to hear about this pointless topic!?
Such a bother…
When I told the girls what happened, their eyes sparkled instead. “An invitation for tea…!”
That’s really not it.
After unpacking in my room I headed down to the hotel’s café lounge as per our one-sided agreement. Kaburagi was already waiting, and he raised a hand in greeting.
Sitting elegantly next to him was Enjou, who had a smile and a cup in his hand.
Mm? Why was he here?
“Masaya said he was having a secret rendezvous with you, and it sounded too interesting not to come,” he explained.
Even if you smile like that, it doesn’t look cute on a schemer like you.
No sooner had I sat down did Kaburagi shoot me a knowing look.
“Kisshouin. I know what you wanted to ask me,” he said smugly.
I was pretty sure that he didn’t.
Leaning in, he continued full of confidence.
“You wanted to ask me about my date in Paris, right!” he declared.
See? You had no idea at all.
Wow, what was this look of shock? He looked like a pigeon knocked out of flight.
Hmm. Pigeons… My natural enemy…
“I heard that you were a patron at a Parisian jeweller yesterday.”
“Eh? Yeah, I went to one but?”
“Might I inquire about your purchase?”
“Huh? Why do I have to tell that to you?”
I’m not asking you because I want to either. But you know, Serika-chan and the others told me to, so…
“Ummm~ Although I do not believe it myself, could it be that you bought a present for her?”
“Her? Ohh, no, I didn’t.”
“Is that so.”
Haah, thank goodness.
My disciple might have no common sense, but I was glad to see he knew at least this much.
Still, if it wasn’t for Wakaba-chan then I wonder what it was. I couldn’t exactly go back to my group with nothing to show for it.
And so I sat there, staring at him silently.
“Why do you even want to know?” he asked.
“A rumour has spread about your visit there, so I was asked to investigate.”
“What the hell? Are you the reporter for a gossip magazine or something?”
Well that’s rude. Now I might just report that you two bought matching watches.
“Isn’t it fine?” Enjou said. “It’s not a big deal so you may as well tell her.”
Oooh, good job, Enjou! …Ah, but am I going to owe him another favour for this?
Enjou was like an amoral loan-shark. His interest rates were frightening.
Kaburagi just sighed.
“Fine. I just went there to pick up a watch for my mother. She left it there for repairs last month.”
“Eh? Is that all?”
“That’s all. It’s an antique, so only the main store in Paris had the experts for it.”
What the heeeck~ So it was just an errand for mummy in the end?
“I see. And you bought nothing else then?”
“And Enjou-sama, if I might ask?”
“Me? I didn’t buy anything either.”
Realllly now~? No presents for Yuiko-san~?
Uwa! The intensity from his smile just…! Okay, okay, I’ll believe you!
…But maybe I could spread a rumour about…
“Please don’t make up stories, Miss Reporter.”
He read my mind!?
“Thank you very much for telling me. Well then, please excuse me.”
I had what I needed so I promptly made to leave.
“Wait, wait!” Kaburagi stopped me.
What is it?
“This ain’t right. We haven’t even gotten to the main topic yet! Don’t you want to know about it? How my Paris date went!”
“No, not particularly,” I said frankly, and was treated to a wide-eyed Kaburagi.
By his side, Enjou stifled a laugh.
“…Don’t you want to know? You want to know, right?”
“No, not particularly.”
“You don’t have to be shy. Don’t you want to know?”
“No, not particularly.”
Wow, what an unhappy look. Did he want to tell me about his fun date with Wakaba-chan that badly?
“…You’re my strategist. It’s your duty to know!”
“And as I have said before, I have no recollection of accepting that role.”
“…Isn’t your hair a god of love? It’s your duty to know!”
“And you have never left any offerings.”
What was with that pout.
Was he sulking or something?
What a gwumpy wittle boy, you are~
I wonder if he’d hit me if I said that.
“Now, now, we gave you some information too, so couldn’t you go along with Masaya for a bit?” Enjou persuaded. “As for those offerings, would the desserts from this café do? Tiramisu maybe? Would you prefer panna cotta? Shall I order both?”
Uuu, tempting me with sweet things was cheating.
But since I was in Rome, I did want to try both…
Hang in there, Reika.
It’ll be dinner soon, and there are people watching.
Console yourself with just the tiramisu.
Enjou smiled. “A reporter for a gossip magazine, the host of a hair god of love. You sure have a lot of titles, Kisshouin-san.”
Both of those were just forced on me by your best friend.
Oh! The tiramisu was coming!
“Alright. You’ve had your offering, right? So anyway, about my date in Paris-”
“What a sudden transition,” I said.
“It’s all he’s been talking about,” said Enjou. “It’s actually endless.”
“Shut up, Shuusuke.”
“Fine, fine. Sorry for making you listen to this, Kisshouin-san.”
Kaburagi clicked his tongue before continuing.
“I did as you said and changed taxis to give everyone the slip, and met up with Takamichi where we promised.”
“It might be best not to mention her name here,” I advised.
“…Fine. Anyway, we met and then I led the way to the patisserie I mentioned. They were really happy. They said that they had fun the whole time.”
A gentle look replaced his normally severe expressions. He seemed really happy~
And wow, this tiramisu was pretty good~
“When we were in Japan they gave me a list of cakes that they wanted to try. They seemed so excited, asking if I thought they could go here or there while we were on the trip.”
He was trying to cover it with his fist, but I could still see him smirking like an idiot.
“We tried different flavours of macarons and talked about which one was best. Then since there were still too many things they wanted to try we ended up sharing them…”
By now the smirk he was trying to hide had turned into a full-blown grin.
Sharing a cake between two people was a nice, sweet, romantic cliché after all.
“Since the day after tomorrow is another free day, we’re planning to sneak off and try dessert touring again, you know. Today she said to me, ‘I had so much fun. Every one of the stores you recommended was delicious!’. Geez, that girl.”
His little date in Paris was an even better success than I’d expected.
The cool Emperor of Zui’ran was practically dancing for joy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he screamed ‘La vie en rose!’ at any moment.
That might have been what he did last night, actually.
“They loved the chocolat too. There are some good places in Japan, so I’m thinking of inviting them when we get back…
“As for good gelato places in Rome…
“They said they wanted to try pizza too, so I could take them to…”
Since I’d finished the tiramisu, I was wondering if I could head back to my room now.
Next to the gushing Emperor, Enjou was sipping at his cappuccino like it was none of his business.
Was this what he went through last night…? Friends could be such a pain sometimes.
After a while, Kaburagi had finally stopped to catch his breath so it was time to leave.
Oh? You still haven’t talked enough?
Well that’s none of my business. I’ve listened enough to make up for the offering already.
Just as I had gotten out of my seat, Enjou whispered into my ear.
“Rather than a couple, don’t you think that going around and touring dessert places sounds more like two girlfriends?”
Damned venomous schemer.
When I got back to my room I let the girls know that it was just an errand for mummy.
After our grade all had dinner together, for some reason Kaburagi passed me a box of assorted macarons on the way back.
“Since you said you needed offerings, here, I’m sharing the joy. These are the macarons that they said were particularly delicious. Besides these there’s also…”
Apparently he was going to use the macarons as an excuse to talk about Wakaba-chan some more.
The way back to the hotel was filled with more of his sugar-sweet nonsense.
Enjou was right. It really was endless.
Speaking of Enjou…
He was standing a ways away, waving at me with a smile.
So he escaped.
Anyway, thanks to all of this, for the next few days there was a rumour that Kaburagi had been talking to me joyously after handing me a gift.
Such a nuisance!
Incidentally, the dessert for dinner that night was tiramisu.
I should have gone for the panna cotta…!
As for the macarons, I shared them with the girls.
Today we were sightseeing in Rome.
Amongst the places we visited were the Roman Forum,
the Mouth of Truth,
and the Colosseum.
The whole day was packed with famous landmarks.
The Mouth of Truth had a huge line in front of it, so I decided not to stick my hand in it this time.
It wasn’t like anything happened once you’d stuck your hand in, so doing it once in my life had been enough.
Unlike me, this was Wakaba-chan’s first time in rome, so I spotted her in line with a camera in hand.
When we passed by the Trevi Fountain I threw in two coins just to be safe.
Please grant me marriage with somebody I love! Please grant me a fulfilling love life!
I want to go on a date where I share food with the boy I like too!
Ah! We were in a Christian country right now, but I’d forgotten to put my hands together when I prayed.
Yesterday Enjou said that Kaburagi’s Paris date was really more like a date between two girl friends, but the truth was I was envious of him.
It was too jealousy-inducing for the Chief of the Forever Alone village…
Moving on though, Rome sure was brown-coloured. At least that’s the image I got.
Maybe it was all the historical ruins.
If Paris was Kyoto, then I guess that made Rome Nara.
Anybody who was a fan of Imperial Roman history was sure to be drooling.
But wasn’t the culture of ancient Rome a bit too intense?
Like, the ancient Romans would eat up until they were full. But instead of stopping, they’d shove a peacock feather down their throats, throw it all up, all so that they could enjoy more of the food.
Who came up with that. It was such a gluttonous concept that it was kind of disturbing…
But the Vatican was nice.
The St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel were both solemn and amazing.
The Pieta was amazing, and the paintings on the ceiling were overwhelming.
The only downside was that there were so many people it was hard to just take your time and look. It was one of those places you could spend a whole day in.
As a postage stamp collector I couldn’t resist the allure of the beautiful Vatican-exclusives. Since that was the case, I was going to use them to send air mail back to everyone in Japan.
Of course I’d be back in the country before the mail arrived, but if you visit the Vatican you just have to get some stamps, right~?
Who could resist sending mail from here?
The day before I’d gone to buy some lovely postcards from a store near our hotel.
They were of the paintings in the Vatican, and already had everyone’s addresses and my messages to them.
I had expressly prepared them so that all I needed to do now was put on a postage stamp and send them.
Ideally I’d have bought the postcards inside the Vatican City, but it would just be hard to find the time to write all my messages here~
Maybe I could just buy some of them as souvenirs.
Waah, there were so many pretty postage stamps.
I’m gunna bring a bunch of you back for memories.
My blood as a stamp collector was just boiling~
Gosh, they were just drawing me in!
This was the one I’d bought last time, wasn’t it. But this one, I don’t think I had…
Was it new?
Angel postcards were just perfect for Yukino-kun and the kids!
As for Oniisama and Ririna, I’d go with the holy mother and child.
And I loved how beautiful this one was.
I’d go with St. Peter’s Basilica for Otousama and Okaasama.
Sakura-chan, Aoi-chan, and my other friends though… I think I’d go with paintings for them after all.
Finally, I’d send a few to myself in secret, too.
How are you?’
“Kisshouin-saaaan. It’s time for our class to meet up,” called Satomi-kun.
“Okaaaay,” I called back.
Sorry, Satomi-kun. I’m supposed to be a class rep too.
“Say, Kisshouin-san, are you going to see any of the catacombs tomorrow?”
As if, idiot!
What do you mean ‘it’ll be super fun, we’ll get to see mountains of skeletons’?
Satomi-kun was definitely doing this on purpose, wasn’t he!?
Maybe instead of purifying my room I should use what was left of my salt on Satomi-kun…
“Hmm? Kisshouin-san, together some of the curls on the back of your head turn into the number of the beast, you know? Isn’t that pretty bad here in the Vatican?”
I’ll throw the rest of my salt at Satomi-kun!
The next day was free time.
Naturally we weren’t going to anywhere dreadful like a catacomb, and instead we had enjoying delicious Italian food, and shopping planned.
“Pizza is just a must in Rome, isn’t it~?”
“There was a great place I ate at the last time I was in Rome.”
“Should we go there, then?”
While we were walking along and having fun, sometimes people whistled at us, or messed around and said “Hey! Japanese!” or “Pizza? Pizza?”.
It was uncomfortable.
We were basically on the doorstep of the headquarters for Christianity across the world, so why were these guys messing around when it wasn’t even noon yet?
Stop saying ‘siesta, siesta’ and get to work!
We went to a trattoria that was well-known for its pizza and ordered amatriciana and margherita, before heading to the Piazza di Spagna for some gelato.
Next was tiramisu!
Once our stomachs were sated it was time for shopping.
I decided to get Akimi-san some olive oil.
And I just wanted to buy all the cheese, from Pecorino Romano, to Parmigiano-Reggiano, the king of cheese!
I’d even heard stories about some of the banks around Italy storing Parmigiano-Reggiano in their vaults. I wonder how true they were.
As for sweets, since I’d already gotten a bunch in Paris I decided to lay off a little.
Not on the gianduja, though.
Had to get that.
Wah! Stylish Italian stationery! I wanted sealing wax!
And the rose seal was just fashionable beyond belief!
I had to get one that said ‘R’!
Isn’t sealing letters with wax stamps just so ‘aristocrat’~!?
And the bottles of scented ink were just so cute.
I could get a glass pen and then give them together as a souvenir.
Maybe I ought to buy a quill too?
“We bought too much, didn’t we, Reika-sama?”
My arms were being torn off.
On the last night of the trip we gathered in a room together and lounged around in masks, since the air in Europe had been a bit dry.
By now, we were all pretty beat.
“The schedule was a bit packed, but it was fun, wasn’t it.”
“It really was. But it would’ve been nice to stay in each country a bit more.”
“Let’s all go again together. We can make it our graduation trip.”
Graduation trip! I wanted in!
I shot to my feet.
“A splendid idea! A graduation trip! Shall we go?” I said.
“We should! Where do you want to go, Reika-sama?”
“Hmmm. Just Paris or London again would be fine too, but how about Spain or Northern Europe? If we go to Italy, then what if we visited Milan or Florence?”
“I want to go to Venice too.”
It was a minor dream of mine to ride on a gondola with my sweetheart.
I’d be holding up a fancy parasol by his side, as he smiled gently and whispered sweet nothings in my ear. My future lover.
“Gondolas come to mind, and the boat trip down the Seine was great fun, wasn’t it?”
“It was! I’m glad we went.”
Me too. It was a bit cold, but it was a great time.
“Quite a few others took the boat tour as well.”
They did. But I’d been hearing stories about couples forming because of it, in quite a few classes.
In the end, I didn’t have a single romantic encounter during the whole trip.
Not even a single boy had suggested spending a free day together as a group.
Even the Kaburagi-obsessed Tsuruhana-san’s group had enjoyed a Parisian sidewalk café with some boys.
I thought I had heard her laughing at me when we walked past that. I wonder if I was just hallucinating because of my inferiority complex…
So later, when I spotted Kemari Dainagon trying to talk to girls at the Piazza di Spagna, I made a beeline for him and stood right between them to get in his way. Kekeke.
But anyway, people did say that the couples that formed on trips like these broke up soon enough. It was just temporary, I bet.
They’d definitely be returning to my village soon enough.
“Are you okay, Reika-sama? You started glaring into the distance…”
Ah, oh my. I accidentally let my jealousy show.
Since my mask had set in, it was time to peel it off.
Let’s see, how was my skin doing?
I was just about to marvel at how glossy my skin looked when I was hit with a horrifying discovery.
“It’s gone…! My urna is gone!”
I looked over my hairline, again and again.
It was really gone!
My symbol of good fortune, my urna!
Back when my eyebrows had gone partially bald I received this symbol of fortuna in return, so why was it gone now!?
“What’s the matter, Reika-sama!?”
“My urna is gone! The urna I had growing on my forehead!” I desperately explained.
When had it disappeared!?
Had I taken it off along with the mask!?
But it was just a sheet mask! It shouldn’t have pulled anything off!
“What’s an urna…?”
“It’s like a long white hair, apparently.”
“Ah, like those old man eyebrows?”
You’re thinking of a Taoist immortal!
The urna is the curly one that Lord Shakyamuni has!
And strictly speaking the colourless hair I had wasn’t an urna but a blessed hair!
A curse comes home to roost…
Is this because I was too envious of the people in the Fulfilling Romance Village that my good fortune ran away!?
Was this an omen for worse luck in romance when I got back to Japan!?
“Now, now. Calm down, Reika-sama.”
“You must be tired, Reika-sama. Come on, it’s time to sleep.”
“But, my urna…! My blessed hair…!”
“Everything’s going to be juuust fine~”
Still wearing their masks, Serika-chan and the others pushed me into bed despite my protests, before surrounding it on all sides.
“It’s bedtime~ There’s a good girl~” they cooed, waving their hands back and forth.
Eh!? Was this some sort of black mass!?
“U-Umm…” I tried.
“Everything’s going to be juuust fine, Reika-sama~ It’s time for bed now.”
“Reika-sama is very tired. Sleep~ Sleep~”
“It’s okay, Reika-sama~ Sleep~”
And so there I was, laying in a dark room, surrounded by a group of singing Sukekiyo’s.
What did I do now?
Could it be that Serika-chan and the others were actually part of some demonic cult?