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The custom of eating seven-herb congee on the Festival of Seven Herbs(January 7th) is said to bring longevity and health.
I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to make for Valentine’s Day yet.
That’s why I decided to talk to Wakaba-chan about it when I went to her house.
She asked me when would be a good day for me, so I picked the soonest day we both had off.
Wakaba-chan laughed at me.
Maybe she realised I never had nothing else to do.
But I was a pretty busy person too. I had jogging on the weekends, and I had lessons to go to every fortnight too!
It wasn’t like I sat around at home every weekend!
Going to Wakaba-chan’s house always required a change of trains.
Brr, it was cold.
As I stepped past the ticket barriers I saw Wakaba-chan waving energetically at me.
“Sorry, did I keep you?”
“No, no, don’t worry about it.”
Today she was wearing a red duffle coat and a lively smile brightened her face.
“Have you had lunch yet? We’ve got some hayashi rice at home, but we can eat out too if you want?”A beef-based dish with demiglace.
“No need to trouble yourself. Will you be all right?”
“I’m fine too. Then my house it is.”
We set off at a relaxed pace.
“Say, Takamichi-san? How has it been since we last spoke? The bullying.”
“Eh? Ahh, mmn. You know how it is.”
From what I heard, sometimes there’d be footprints on her desk, and other times people would purposefully bump into her.
They were still bitching about her right in front of her too.
“But they haven’t touched my uniform since then.”
“Of course. How could you bear it if they did it regularly.”
“No arguing that,” she guffawed.
“If there is anything I can do…” I began.
“You’re doing plenty. You’ve given me shoes, and even a uniform set. I’m really super grateful to you, you know?”
“And if you go around openly supporting me your position will worsen, right? The people in the Pivoine don’t seem to like me after all.”
She was spot on, of course.
It was hard to say what would happen to my influence and position if we openly associated.
“Don’t worry about it. I already have people to look out for me. Like everyone at the Student Council.”
Right. Since she had Fellow Stalking Horse and her friends at the Student Council, they’d protect her from open attacks.
That would make things worse with Stalking Horse’s fans though.
“And umm, it really is just a tiny minority, but you know that there are people who don’t think well of the Pivoine, right?”
There had always been people who thought we were all a bunch of bullies who used our connections and family to do whatever we wanted.
The current Student Council and its followers were the same.
The Pivoine and Student Council had a deep-rooted hostility.
Tomoe-senpai was great at balancing the two. He even hid his relationship with Kasumi-sama until graduation.
Fellow Stalking Horse was quite popular too, and although he wasn’t a match for the Emperor, he was quite charismatic as well.
Had I been made the President of the Pivoine then I could easily see anti-Pivoine elements rising up at the worst time possible.
That was why I was so scared when they asked me to step up.
It wouldn’t be something to laugh off if the Pivoine was destroyed while I was in office.
Just thinking about it had been enough to make my eyebrows fall off.
I was actually so lucky that the Emperor had taken the mantle instead!
“Even if I’m like this, I’m still technically a Student Council member, and you’re a pretty famous member of the Pivoine. If people realised we spoke we’d probably both be labelled traitors, huh~”
Social ties were soooo bothersome.
How come we couldn’t just be friends with who we wanted.
“So I’m fine with you not doing anything. I’ll make it work on my own. Well, I say that but you’ve helped me so many times already,” said Wakaba-chan as she stuck her tongue out. “We’ve been talking about this for so long that we’re here already. Let’s stop talking about it, okay? Especially in front of my family.”
It sounded like she hadn’t told her family how she was being treated at school.
Nobody wanted to worry their family after all.
I stepped into her house for the third time.
Today my visiting gift were arare crackers.
“You don’t have to bring a gift every time, you know. From now on don’t bring anymore, okay! We’re not all that fancy!”
“It is really nothing much though.”
“I said that you don’t have to. I’m happy, but if you keep giving us stuff each time it makes it hard to invite you over.”
Was that how it was?
Come to think of it, maybe I hadn’t brought gifts like this in my old life.
“But you know, my family gobbled up the karintoh from last time, so thanks!”
“It was my pleasure.”
Wakaba-chan took my gift with both hands and then bowed politely.
“Now then! You wanted to make something for Valentine’s?”
“Yes. Please look after me, Sensei.”
“Ahaha, but are you okay with me? I can’t really make anything too fancy, you know?”
“I like your cooking the way they are. The yule log you gave me for Christmas was delicious as well. Do you think I could make a little meringue person too?”
“Ohh, that. Yeah, once you master the trick it’s just artistic talent.”
I didn’t have much confidence in mine.
I was thinking that they might be happy to receive little dolls of them, but…
“What have you been making for the previous Valentine’s?”
“Hmmm~ I made chocolate brownies a few times. My friend had invited me to a pâtissier’s class. Oh, last year I made chocolate cake. Hmm, also truffles, ganache…”
“You’ve made quite a lot then.”
“Yes. But it was always amateurish and never compared to what you could buy in a shop.”
“Hmmm~ Well, those are pros after all.”
“Quite so… I suppose it would be asking a bit much for your everyday person to match them.”
“You can definitely get better though. And muffins and stuff are better when they’re right out of the oven.”
“Muffins! Chocolate muffins for Valentine’s might be nice as well!”
“Yeah, sounds fine. Might feel a little plain though.”
I suppose chocolate muffins might be a little plain for something that only happened once a year.
“Then how about fondant au chocolat?”
“That sounds wonderful!”Fondant au chocolat
I’d wanted to try making one for a long time now.
“So you’re fine with fondant au chocolat? Then shall we practice today? Or would you like to try making something else for now?”
“Something else? For example?”
“Let’s see… For Valentine’s I’ve made like chocolate cheesecakes, French chocolate cakes, opera cakes and stuff like that.”
“Chocolate cheesecake sounds interesting.”
If I could make that myself then that meant I could make normal cheesecake too.
That could be nice.
“I see. Then let’s try making a chocolate cheesecake today.”
“Understood!” I said as I shot to my feet.
Just as my stomach began to rumble.
Was it all the talk about food!?
“…How about some lunch first?”
“No, I really am…”
Damn you, stomach! Stop rumbling!
How much do you want to embarrass me before you’re satisfied!?
“Oh right! I put some to the side!” she said with a clap.
Wakaba-chan ran off and heated up a pot of something.
Was it the hayashi rice she mentioned earlier?
In the end she came over with a small bowl of okayu congee with egg and greens.
“Here you go.”
“Thank you. Itadakimasu.”
I wasn’t really all that hungry, but since she had warmed it up for me I’d happily eat it.
After blowing on my spoon a bit, I scooped some up and tried it.
“How is it?”
“Hot, but delicious.”
I wasn’t sick or anything but okayu could be nice too.
Why okayu though?
Didn’t she say she had hayashi rice?
And what was this green vegetable mixed in with the egg?
Wait, were these wild vegetables?
I scooped some up with my spoon and had a look at it.
Wakaba-chan beamed at me.
“What you’re eating is seven-herb congee. I know that the 7th of January is already way gone, but still. Now you’ll be healthy all year.”
“Ah, so this was seven-herb congee. I had not realised with all the egg.”
Seven-herb congee huh. Hm? Seven-herb congee…?
Wait, did she pick these vegetables in Suiran Forest…?
“I’m glad that you seem to be enjoying it, Kisshouin-san~”
So basically you turned me into an accessory to your wild vegetable theft, Wakaba-chan…?
Happy New Year, everybody! Have you all got resolutions?