Something I never cared about before. I was the loneliest of loners, after all. When I looked at those guys who received tons of chocolate… I felt slightly envious. Mainly because it would be nice if I had some chocolate to eat.
Surprisingly, I had gotten something from a girl once. Don’t think that she liked me or something—back in elementary school, she came up with an odd idea. She just gave some chocolate to every single guy in the class, calling it “kindness chocolate”.
Going back to present day… as you may know, it was different. I actually had a girlfriend.
But since it was Valentine’s Day, all I had to do was hope for her. Later, it would be my turn to pay her back.
As a weird twist of fate, the girl was surprisingly good at cooking. Since her parents often weren’t home, she had to cook for herself.
That’s why for Valentine’s, she chose to prepare a chocolate on her own. Needless to say, it would be her first time ever. Nonetheless, she was pretty confident in that since she was familiar with kitchen.
For some reason, she wore a magical girl outfit. Perhaps she thought that it would make the chocolate taste better? Or did she just feel better in this outfit?
Either way, she was quite stressed preparing the chocolate. The reason was pretty simple—she had his face in her mind all the time. After all, she was doing it all only for him, and that made her quite embarrassed.
She liked simplicity, which was why she wasn’t going to shape the chocolate in any way.
Never would she have thought that she would end up preparing something for Valentine’s. She had never had anyone she particularly liked, so she had never given chocolate to anyone.
It was her first time not only making, but also giving one. Even though she usually had no trouble talking to him, she knew it wasn’t going to be easy to hand it to him. She had to find a covert way to do it.
The day was here. I never would have thought that I would be looking forward to it so much. Actually, she hadn’t said that she had something to give me… so I could be disappointed. We were quite weird, so it was possible that she would think of it as a meaningless custom and forget about it.
We were going to meet shortly after school as always. To be honest, as much as I would be disappointed if she prepared nothing, I felt bad expecting too much of her.
Classes were over. Lately, I didn’t have much time for myself as I spent most of it studying for exams. I didn’t talk to Himawari at school because there weren’t any empty places now. For some reason, I didn’t really want to be noticed together with her. The short meeting right after school was often the only time we met during a day.
“Hey”, I called out to her.
It was weird. The road wasn’t empty—while most people had clubs, there still were quite a lot going straight home—and also, most third graders didn’t have to attend them anymore so they could have more time for studying.
“Hu— T-Takao”, she turned around and responded.
She was dressed in school uniform. Her long, blonde hair was swaying along with the chilly wind as she looked at me with the single eye of hers.
I had no idea if she had anything prepared for me, but I knew that I mustn’t make her embarrassed. Actually, I had to reassure her somehow.
“Err… so, Himawari, how are you?”
“E-eh? I’m good…“ there was some visible confusion on her face.
“I see. That’s good”, I had no idea how to continue.
We started walking forward. There wasn’t much time left until we parted, so she had to hurry. Again, I felt a little bit bad expecting a chocolate from her. It wasn’t said that she had to prepare it.
“Err… h-huma… no, T-Takao”, she stuttered, but it happened every time she called me by my real name.
“Yes?” I responded slowly so that I wouldn’t startle her.
“May you…“ her voice was small. I was pretty sure now that she had something for me. I felt glad. “come with me for a moment?”
She came ahead of me and picked up her pace. I just followed her in silence. Shortly, we found ourselves in a tiny park. It was right next to the busy road we walked every day, but there was nobody inside the park itself.
“Err…” she turned around and fiddled around inside her bag.
I was certain what that was. She found enough confidence, huh? Great for her.
“I have… something for you…”
I may have been expecting it all along, but actually hearing those words filled me with warmth and pleasure. It would be my first time receiving a real chocolate for Valentine’s.
She handed me a thin, pink box. It was packaged neatly—definitely didn’t go with her image of a human-loathing alien.
“H-here…” she said in a voice I barely heard over the lively conversations coming from the busy road behind us.
“Thanks…” I took the box from her. For some reason, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy.
“Err… I made it myself. With magic”, she said awkwardly as she averted her gaze.
Magic? I wondered what she meant by that. I just hoped it wouldn’t be some weird substance.
“Okay. Thank you again. I’ll check it out once I come home.”
“I-I see. L-let me know what you think later…” she said, still embarrassed.
“Sure. Well then.”
“H-hu… Takao. Till we meet again.”
And so, we parted ways for today.
That girl surprised me a lot lately. Again, I was so glad that I came across her. I was sure there was no other person as kind and cute as her in this world. Maybe she really came from a different planet?
An unexpected date.
Lately, I hadn’t been doing anything besides studying. Moreover, I was constantly nervous because entrance exams were soon, and I still didn’t feel like I was prepared enough for them. In fact, I was sure that I wouldn’t feel like it even on the very day of the exam.
From what I’d seen, studying was an easy task for that girl. I would be surprised if she were worrying about them, and she would end up scoring high either way.
More importantly, it was Saturday morning, and I was standing in a familiar spot before the train station. It all started yesterday, when she unexpectedly sent me a message asking me if I could hang out with her today. She said that I’d seemed tired lately and she wanted to cheer me up. I mean, she wasn’t wrong. There still was some time before exams, I could afford to take a break for one day.
“H… Takao”, a cute voice called me out from behind.
Himawari was here. I turned around to respond and saw her clothes—this time, she was wearing a white dress, which increased her girlfriend aura and was nowhere similar to what she used to wear as Lumiya. Nevertheless, the eyepatch was still on her left eye, as she promised that she would take it off right after graduation.
We had no chances to go out like that as of late. We were busy studying… I mean, I was. She should have been studying too, but probably not as much as me. Or at least I thought so… I had to ask her.
“There is a place I want to visit. Do you have any requests?” she asked me.
“Uhh… not really”, I just wanted to chill out for a while before I went back to intensely studying.
“I see, then. It’s a bookstore.”
Bookstore, huh? We went to a bookstore as well the very first time we hung out after school. It was somewhat nostalgic. In fact, it’d been almost a year, hadn’t it?
And so, we slowly departed. The surroundings weren’t crowded, so I felt quite good.
“Err, Himawari. Are you studying?”
“Y-yes, quite a bit… You don’t have to worry about me, really”, she responded uneasily.
“I see”, I most likely didn’t have to worry about her. After all, I saw that her grades were amazing, and I still remembered how she finished her summer homework in less than an hour.
“And… you?” unexpectedly, she asked.
“Err… yeah, I’m studying a lot. Yet I still don’t feel like I’m prepared enough…”
“Okay. Just don’t overwork yourself, and don’t stay up late.”
Those words came out of her mouth. Wasn’t she the one that skipped sleep? I remember how she texted me in the middle of the night.
“Haha…” I laughed at that.
“By the way… w-what school are you aiming for…?”
Oh, I hadn’t told her. It was too late to influence her choice, wasn’t it?
“The one two stations away”, I told her without hesitation.
“O-okay…” her voice was small.
That’s right. I had been forgetting about it, but her question reminded me of it. It wasn’t said that we were going to enter the same school. I mean, it wasn’t impossible either, and we lived quite close to each other so it wasn’t that much of a deal… unless one of us moved.
Soon, we reached the bookstore. It looked exactly the same as before—it hadn’t changed at all. Why would it? As soon as we entered, she headed upstairs. If I recalled right, that floor was dedicated to light novels and manga entirely.
“We were here before, right?” I had noticed it long ago, but I decided to say it just now to get her to talk.
“Yes… I remember that day.”
“Me too. Well, it would be difficult to forget it. It was our first date… kinda.”
I believed that we were just friends hanging out back then, and it was probably true. I wasn’t sure myself why I called it a date just now.
“Fufu. I was just too embarrassed to go to this store on my own…” she said as she sighed.
Despite having given up on the peculiar act, her odd laughter still remained. In fact, it was sort of cute, so I was happy that she still was doing it.
“For some reason, I couldn’t go outside without putting those weird clothes on, and I was too embarrassed to approach anyone when I was wearing them, including the shopkeeper. That’s why I had to ask you to accompany me“, she explained.
“Oh… okay”, I thought that she didn’t feel embarrassment in those clothes at all. After all, wearing them did take something I didn’t have, for example.
Compared to that time, we were way more talkative now. Back then, we walked through the same shelves in utter silence, and even when I talked to her, awkwardness overcame me. This wasn’t a problem at all now, and realizing it was great.
I had matured a little, hadn’t I?
“Alright, I got everything I wanted. Do you want something from here… Takao?” she asked me, making a short pause before saying my name. It still wasn’t easy for her.
“No, no”, I spent all my free time on studying, so I didn’t really have time to read. Again, I was jealous of her superhuman abilities.
“I see. Let’s head to the register, then. I should be able to do this on my own now… fufu”, she made a joke of her past self.
We did as she said. She really was able to approach the cash register now. I mean, I wasn’t surprised. It was only normal. Even I could do this.
“Thanks for coming with me”, she said as we left the store.
“Sure, no problem. I needed a change of pace after all this studying…”
“Even if you don’t feel that you’re prepared enough… I-I’m cheering for you…” she reassured me in a small, cute voice.
“T-Thanks. I’m cheering for you too…”
Without a word, she continued walking forward without as much as glancing at me. The road was empty, and the blue sky was clear.
“Just remember that you don’t need to be nervous… I’m sure you’ll do great”, she continued reassuring me.
“I know, I know. But it’s not like I can stop… it’s stronger than my will.”
“Fufu. I know this feeling.”
“Yeah. I’m trying to fight it, but it doesn’t really work…”
“Just remember that everything will be alright”, she was surprisingly kind to me today. Back when she was Lumiya, it was rather my role to reassure her.
“Haha. Thanks for caring about me so much, Himawari…”
“D-Don’t word it like that…” she was embarrassed. How cute.
Before I knew it, we reached the familiar intersection we were supposed to part at.
“Well then, we’ll be parting now”, I announced to her.
“That’s right. It was fun.”
Well, it wasn’t like we’d done anything relevant. We just went to the bookstore, which maybe included a small nostalgia trip, but it was all. Still, hanging out with her every once in a while had a great impact on my well-being.
“Good luck on exams, Himawari.”
“T-thanks. And the same to you.”
“See you soon, then.”
“Bye, hu… T-Takao!” she corrected herself in visibly louder voice. I was quite surprised at how she still wanted to call me Human.
And so, I was back to my usual studying routine. There wasn’t much time left. It would all be over soon.
Was high school going to be better than middle school, I wondered. It wasn’t said that she would end up in the same school as me, so it was possible that I would end up alone as always.
But, perhaps… I finally gained power to change that?