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On the last day of Mao-chan’s stay with us, we were taking her to the aquarium. The place we chose was the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise.The aquarium in the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise contains over 500 different varieties of fish with more than 100,000 sea creatures in all. It is one of the largest Aquariums in Japan.
“A romantic play-island!” was the catchphrase for the place, which felt like it was picking a fight with me. As the Chief of the Forever Alone Village, I wasn’t exactly happy about it.
Mao-chan had a man in Yuuri-kun. When I met them at the summer party last year I had noted to myself how heartwarming it was to watch the two of them, but you know, sometimes I was just a liiittle jealous of them.
But the real problem was Ririna. Ririna. That incredibly spoilt and wilful girl. But last night one thing led to another and Ririna casually dropped the massive bombshell that a number of boys had already confessed to her. It was like my entire world-view had been turned on its head. Shock! Ririna had been confessed to!? And more than once!?
A mindblowing reveal from the girl I had under-evaluated as being a fellow loner in romance.
It had been so shocking that I was flustered and didn’t know what to say when Ririna looked at me strangely and put the nail in my coffin.
“What? By the time we’re in high school, pretty much everyone’s been confessed to once or twice, right?”
Noooo! Not right! Nobody’s confessed to me even onceee! Even if you add in my past life, not even onceee!
Whether in studies or in romance, Ririna had crushed me in every contest──
She was just a Ririna! A Ririna!
Dark emotions seethed inside like volcanic fumes, but I put a lid on it and greeted Ririna and Mao-chan with a smile. Since Mao-chan asked for it, I began to brush her hair.
Mao-chan would be heading home after this so we loaded her bags into the car, and then it was off to the enemy island!
Being summer break and all, the aquarium was packed with people. If we weren’t careful we could get separated. The tiny Mao-chan in particular warranted special care. I decided to hold her hand.
"Mao, hold my hand so you don’t get lost."
The two held hands in comfortable companionship and then entered the aquarium without another thought. Leaving me behind.
…That was fine. I had Oniisama. Right, Oniisama? Oniisama, please stop playing with your phone and pay me attention.
Mao-chan’s favourite attraction had been the beluga whales. I on the other hand had always loved polar bears. Bears that were white. They were so cute, weren’t they. I had postage stamps of them too.
After last night’s games, Mao-chan had opened up to Oniisama. Today they were hitting it off, and she was calling him Takateru-niisama now. Having been demoted to ‘Ojisama’, I bet Ichinokura-san would be pretty devastated if he learnt that Oniisama had taken the ‘-niisama’ title…
The underwater glass tunnel with the dolphins had been nice.
We spent a while just watching the dolphins from there. Just the scenery made you forget about the heat outside. Still, white bears took the cake for me.
After enjoying every bit of the aquarium, we left for downtown Yokohama as we discussed the idea of going to the aquariums in Osaka or Okinawa next time. Right now though, we were going to eat and shop.
“I invited somebody else with some free time today, so mind waiting a little bit?”
Somebody else? Gasp. Don’t tell me you’re introducing a girlfriend, Oniisama!
“Ah, see? Here he comes.”
Somebody was waving to us as they came down from the other end of the street.
Wahh! It had been so long. Whao, that cool guy aura was amazing as always.
“Don’t just summon me out of the blue.”
“As if you were doing anything.”
“Wow, you’re rude.”
After a bit of friendly verbal sparring, Imari-sama flashed us a friendly smile.
“It’s been a while, Reika-chan. And I don’t think I’ve met these two before. I’m Monozono Imari. For whatever reason, I’ve been friends with Takateru here since primary.”
“I’m Taka-niisama’s cousin, Kotou Ririna.”
“Nice to meet you! I’m Sawarabi Mao!”
“Nice to meet you,” he said as she shook hands with them both.
“Ah,” he said, “Something for the girls. Here. Salt and butter. Great for warding off heatstroke, you know?”
What he handed us were nice caramel sweets from a French store well known for it. They were over 150 Yen each. I expected no less from Imari-sama. I tried one of the red-wrapped caramels and a fruity flavour spread through my mouth. Yummy!
“Won’t they melt in this heat?” asked Oniisama.
“We’ll try not to walk outside then. I hate the heat,” Imari-sama replied.
Imari-sama guided us into a shopping centre. I thought it might be boring for him to wait while us girls shopped, but instead he played along with a smile, mentioning that something suited us, or that we looked cute in something else.
When we went up the escalators he even casually took Mao-chan’s hand, who ended up completely entranced by him. It’s terrible, Yuuri-kun! You’ve even got rivals here!
When we went accessory shopping I found this lovely glass hair ornament that chimed when you move your head.
“Wah! Those are so magical,” exclaimed Mao-chan as she looked at them.
They came in different colours too, so Imari-san asked which she liked.
“You two are fond of this one? In that case I’ll make them a commemoration present for all three of you.”
At first we tried to refuse, but Imari-sama’s tongue was so smooth that we ended up obliging before we knew it. Mao-chan went with pink, I went with red, while Ririna went with blue. Imari-sama personally helped Mao-chan put hers on, so she was completely captivated by him. Uwawawa, but Imari-sama really was dreamy!
I was watching him when Ririna tugged on my sleeve and brought me to a corner.
“That gentleman is dangerous, so you can’t fall in love with him,” she warned.
What on earth are you doing, Ririna.
Suddenly, I happened to hear Oniisama’s conversation with him from behind us.
“You know, if you keep doing stuff like this, somebody is going to end up stabbing you again.”
Apparently Ririna had quite an eye for things.
In the evening we dropped Mao-chan and Ririna off at their houses. The three of us entered returned to my home, but after a while Oniisama and Imari-sama went out again.
Since I was tired from having fun all day, I opened the door to my room only to meet with the bobcut doll from yesterday, clattering and walking my way.
Today was the firefly catching party, hosted by the Kaburagi family. It was being held in a Japanese-style garden at their hotel. Okaasama had excitedly dressed me in a kimono. It was made from blue-green silk, and looked suited for the summer. Otousama had said something or other about Okaasama looking beautiful in her deep purple kimono.
We arrived on scene, and greeted the Kaburagi couple before doing the same to some of the acquaintances closer to our family. All of the walking around had tired me, so after the greetings were done I went to look for a seat.
That was when somebody held a drink out to me.
“Good evening, Kisshouin-san.”
So he was here too…
“So you’re wearing a kimono today. It really suits you, you know.”
“Thank you very much.”
I looked around for anybody else when he gave me some rather misinformed help.
“Masaya is over there.”
“I was not particularly searching for Kaburagi-sama.”
“Oh, okay then. I just thought that you’d want to greet him as the son of the hosts, that’s all.”
What, are you trying to say that I don’t have manners or something?
The party had already started, so the night garden was filled with flying fireflies.
“Wanna go look?”
“That sounds like a good idea.”
Since I was already here, I did want to. Then again, they had said all that stuff about Tamakazura hadn’t they. And I was wearing a kimono too. I’d hate for anything weird to happen because of this.
“Masaya seems to be going over, so let’s head over too.”
I already told you I don’t care about Kaburagi.
Countless fireflies were flying in the garden. The way they floated around the guests looked like something out of a fantasy. Uwahh! How dream-like!
I tried to approach them too, but the fireflies floated away. Huh?
I approached. They ran. I approached again. They scattered to run away.
…This was weird. I knew there were chrysanthemum-based insecticides, but the perfume on my kimono was absolutely not that. Why.
“Goodness! Maihama-san seems so popular!” somebody exclaimed.
I looked over to find the fireflies gathering around Maihama-san, turning her into a modern day Tamakazura.
When she noticed that all of them had avoided me, Maihama-san began to chuckle.
The role of Tamakazura for this chapter went without a doubt to Maihama-san.
Stop laughing, Enjou! You’re standing right beside me! How do we know it wasn’t you!?
At that moment, the President of the Pivoine, Fuyuko-sama, appeared on scene with a beautific smile, other Pivoine members in tow.
Oh dear. I had a bad feeling about this…
Otousama had said something or other about Okaasama looking beautiful in her deep purple kimono.
Specifically the colour was ‘shoubuiro’ which is the colour of… shoubu flowers. Iris sanguinea.