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New novel, new circumstances
“Ahhhh, I really don’t get it.” I let out a sigh.
I, Nagami Yuu, was in the school library. Sitting in the corner of said library, I gazed out of the window. Actually, today was a holiday, so if you ask me why I came to school on this day, it was obviously because I wanted to write a light novel where the setting was a library—sadly, that was not the case. And I didn’t come here to study either.
“…Why did Suzuka choose the same school as me?”
That was the reason I came to school on this day. I escorted Suzuka. The reason that we didn’t have school this day was because it was time for the entrance exams. Even now, in the building located across from the library, the examinees were still writing seriously. And in the middle of them, Suzuka was there. After I had finished showing her around, I was waiting for the exams to end and for her to return.
…I say that, but it’s not like I’m worried about her or anything, okay? There’s no way the superhuman named Suzuka would actually fail an exam like this. That was not why I was anxious. Rather, I was still wondering why she chose the school I was attending: Nanamisaka High School.
“Going up the ladder at her academy, she could’ve just continued to Hakuou’s high school department…”
…Mhm, I really don’t get it. No matter how much I think about it.
The school she’s currently attending is THE Ojou-sama school. And most of the students would use the chance to continue on to the affiliated highschool. Suzuka has top-notch grades, she’s very athletic, and her popularity is through the roof because of her insane charisma. That’s just how much of a superhuman she is. Not to mention that she is the student council president. There should be no reason for her to lower her standards and go to the same school as me. Though I wouldn’t call our school a bad one, there just was no way we could compete against Hakuou…
“Ahh, for crying out loud…”
While I was pulling out my hair and groaning, a female student wearing glasses glared at me with a clearly reprimanding gaze, which forced me to lower my head in panic.
…Haaah, the reason Suzuka wants to go to my school, huh…? Well, I did ask her already, but her response was always the same.
“T-There’s no deeper meaning to it.”
…Come on, randomly taking an entrance exam at my school without any good reason isn’t doing you any good, you know!
Well, after that she added stuff like “It’s what I decided upon after thorough reflection” or “Always being at the same school might narrow my possibilities.” or “It doesn’t matter which school I go to, because university exams won’t be a problem at all.” or “I have our parents’ permission.” and other reasons like these.
But none of these reasons really click with me.
I spent my time like this racking my brain until Suzuka’s exam ended.
…I mean, if the person herself is happy, then I have no reason to complain. But, going to the same school as my sister… huh. From grade school to middle school, we’ve always gone to different schools, so I don’t really know what going to the same school feels like. It feels like I’m not mentally prepared, I guess.
“…Don’t tell me…”
While I was thinking that, a certain thought entered my mind.
These past days and months, a lot has happened, and our relationship has more or less improved, so maybe that influenced her judgement? Basically, since we’ve made up again, she wants to go the same school as me—wait, no no no, what am I thinking?!
T-That would mean that Suzuka chose Nanamisaka because I’m here, you know? Uwa, what is this?! How disgusting am I?! How conceited can you be, me?!
Trying to rid my mind of these improbable thoughts, I vigorously shook my head, which earned me another cold gaze from the glasses girl.
…N-Not good, my thoughts went in a weird direction… Needlessly racking my brain won’t give me a good answer anyway. Yeah. Let’s just use our time effectively.
Reassuring myself, I took out a notebook from my bag. This notebook is where I always jot down my ideas for light novels. To become a professional light novel writer in the future, I’ve applied to countless light novel contests, and every novel has originated from an idea in this notebook. You never know when you might get an idea, after all. And to make sure that these ideas don’t go to waste, I always keep this notebook with me.
So as to not waste this precious time, I opened my notebook to think of some ideas for my next novel entry, but…
“Mhmmm… I can’t really get in the mood.”
Staring at the blank page in front of me, my fingers holding the pen sadly didn’t move. This was a first for me, not being able to come up with anything at all…
Normally, so many ideas flowed out of my head that I could barely keep up with writing them down, but that isn’t the case now. At this rate, I won’t finish my new novel in time.
Is this what they call a slump? I don’t know, I’ve never experienced this before.
Nodding to myself, I thought about the reason why this was happening to me. Just recently, Suzuka had helped me find out what my ideal type of girl was, so maybe that was the reason for it?
…Well, it makes sense after discovering that Suzuka is actually my ideal type—ah, of course I don’t mean to say that because she is my little sister. I mean that from an objective point of view, I have to say that she is indeed very charming, but I really don’t see my real little sister like that, okay?!
… Cough. Anyway, I had pinpointed my perfect heroine, so I shouldn’t have any problems writing my novel. However, it isn’t always that simple.
Normally, I could write for hours and hours, but now I’m struggling to write just one novel. I mean, I did manage to finish one novel in time for the light novel contest’s submission deadline, but this is the first time I’ve struggled so much. I should be making even more progress than before, so why?
Like this, I spent my time sitting cross-armed in front of my notebook while tilting my head.
Interrupting me from my reverie, I heard a bell calling me back to reality. I checked the time and realized how much time pad passed. Though I wanted to be able to praise myself for my concentration, the page in front of me was still as blank as before. The old me would’ve come up with at least ten novels’ worth of ideas…!
…No, this isn’t the time to be thinking about that.
“That bell means that the exam is over, right? I have to go over there…” I hurriedly packed up my notebook and writing materials and stood up from my seat.
I promised Suzuka that we would go home together once the exam ended. With that in mind, I stepped out of the library and headed towards the place where we were supposed to meet up. Though most of the examinees were also leaving the building at the time, I spotted Suzuka immediately. She really does stand out.
After all, she really is super beautiful, and her aura is somehow different. And not to mention that even the other examinees were practically staring at her, making her even easier to spot.
“Ah. Onii-chan, sorry for making you wait.”
“N-No, uhm, I was just passing time in the library.”
As Suzuka raised her voice, I stuttered for some reason.
…Hmm, our relationship has felt kind of weird ever since we made up. It’s like I’m being overly conscious of her… Why am I getting so nervous when I’m just having a normal conversation with my little sister…?
“Ahhh, uhm, how did the exam go?”
“No problems. I think it went perfectly.”
I shivered in response to that self-confident answer from Suzuka.
I mean, we’re talking about Suzuka here, so there’s no doubt that she passed with flying colors, but still, for her to use that vocabulary… my little sister really is amazing.
“Well, just in case, I double-checked everything and made sure that I properly wrote my name. It’s fine. Though I did have a lot of time left…”
…When I took that exam last year, I didn’t have the time to leisurely check everything over like that, you know?
“Anyway, so with that, I will be going to the same school as Onii-chan from this spring onwards.”
And she followed up with this confident statement. Normally you wouldn’t be able to talk about something like this in such a manner, but my little sister is different as usual. Scary.
“What is it, Onii-chan? You look a bit troubled.”
“R-Really? I don’t mean to though—”
“…! D-Don’t tell me, you hate the idea of me going to same school as you that much…?!”
“Eh? No, that’s not it.”
“I-Is that so…Thank God.” She put one hand on her chest and let out a relieved sigh.
After that, the conversation between us went completely silent.
…Ahhh, for crying out loud, what is this weird feeling? It’s been like this all the time recently. It’s not like I’m feeling embarrassed or anything; it’s more like we’re not on the same wavelength, and it always feels a bit stiff. It’s like we’re both overly conscious of each other, and it feels even stranger than before we made up…
Since we’ve always been on rather bad terms, it might be a bit weird to suddenly be all friendly with each other. But it can’t keep going like this, otherwise my nerves won’t hold up. F-For now, let’s just act calm like always.
“…Guess we’ll go home.”
Maybe Suzuka was also thinking the same, because she didn’t say anything else as we walked towards the school gate. While we were doing that, all the other examinees kept glancing at us. Their gazes towards Suzuka were filled with admiration, and towards me, thy were the complete opposite.
Hey you guys, we’re siblings, so don’t look at us like that. You’re going to misunderstand.
“Ah, p-please wait a moment.”
As I was thinking that, Suzuka pulled on my clothes as she stopped.
“What is it? Did you forget something?”
“No… Uhm, how do I say it…” For some reason, Suzuka was fidgeting, unsure of what to say. “Well… wouldn’t it be a shame to just go home like this…? S-Since we’re here already, I’d like it if Onii-chan would show me around the school…” She put her index fingers together as she said that.
“Show you around the school…?”
“I-I mean, I will become a student here this spring. T-That’s why I thought it might be nice to see the school beforehand. T-There’s no deeper meaning to it! I-I just thought that this might be a good chance!”
“I-I see?” I was flustered by her words.
Setting aside the fact that she has no doubts about her acceptance (though since it’s Suzuka we’re talking about, she definitely will), her request makes sense.
…I guess I could, yeah. It’s perfectly normal for her to see the school before the new year starts. And since I’m technically her senpai, it’s my role to help my new (future) kouhai.
And isn’t this a good chance for me as well?
Recently, we haven’t been spending much time together as I’ve been busy with my novel. I might as well use this opportunity to communicate with her and hopefully get rid of these awkward feelings.
“And it’s natural that a big brother would listen to his little sister’s request…”
“Did you say something, Onii-chan?”
“N-No, nothing at all. Want me to show you around? Okay, got it.”
“Really? Thank you very much.”
Seeing Suzuka happily smiling at me, I could feel the tension rising in my body.
…Doing this as siblings is completely normal, so there’s really no need to be so nervous…!
With that, I started taking Suzuka to various places. The first-year classrooms, the science laboratory, the library—
“…S-Sitting next to Onii-chan in the library while studying…!”
We also went to the gym hall, but…
“…Gym hall… Declaring that Onii-chan belongs to only me while I’m standing on the stage in front of the whole student body…! N-No, that is a bit…! Ahh but…!”
…It seem that Suzuka is acting a bit weird. It’s nice that she’s enthusiastically listening to me, but she still seems a bit absent-minded nonetheless.
But when our eyes met, she hurriedly looked away. And not just slowly, but in one quick motion… Is she in a bad mood? Am I still making her angry in some way that I don’t know of? No, maybe it’s Suzuka’s intention to keep our relationship distant like before?!
“W-What’s wrong, Onii-chan?! Why are you suddenly drooping your head like that?!”
…T-This isn’t good. My thoughts just started wandering in that direction…!
“W-Well… S-So how is it? A normal school isn’t that fun, right? We really can’t win against a crazy school like Hakuou…”
“I don’t know what you think our life at Hakuou is like, but it’s just like any other school. And I don’t care if it’s interesting or not. I-I’m interested in the atmosphere of this school and that’s it.” Suzuka averted her gaze, looking embarrassed.
Once more, a certain question entered my mind, and I decided to give it another shot.
“Hey, Suzuka. I know I asked you yesterday, but why did you choose this school?”
“It’s true that you’ve told me various reasons, but I still don’t really get it. Look, Hakuou is pretty famous, and they have a high school institution as well, so why give up on that and come here?”
“A-Again with that topic…?” She pouted with slightly flushed cheeks. “I-I told you yesterday, didn’t I? It doesn’t matter which highschool I graduate from because I won’t have any problems with the university exams anyway. That’s why I can broaden my horizons like this…”
“But to reject the possibility of going to the highschool department of Hakuou is still a bit—”
“I-It’s not that weird. I’m satisfied with this, so it’s fine.”
“T-That might be okay, but…”
“A-And also, at this school… Onii-chan is…” Her face went red in an instant.
I didn’t really catch it, but I could’ve sworn I heard the words ‘this school’ and ‘Onii-chan is’ in there.
…I am, what? …D-Don’t tell me… There’s no way, right?
“I-I’m pretty sure that I’m wrong here, but did you choose this school because I’m here…?”
Hearing my words, Suzuka twitched and took a step back.
Suzuka was clearly confused, but it wasn’t all that different for me.
…S-Shit. Though I just sort of blurted it out, what sort of embarrassing things am I saying! That sounded like I was hoping for that to be her reason! Am I an idiot or what?!
“S-Sorry Suzuka! Even if we’ve made up, that’s no reason for you to change schools just because of me! I’m really sorry!”
While I was earnestly apologizing, Suzuka responded “T-That’s right” with a bright red face.
“T-That’s right! There’s no way that I was thinking of going to the same school as Onii-chan so that I could flirt with him to my heart’s content, so don’t misunderstand me! I-I would never… I would never do something as idiotic as that!?”
She’s perfectly right. Just what was I thinking…
“Sorry for saying something as weird as that. Please forget about it — Wait, Suzuka? Why are you holding your head in your arms like that?”
“W-Well, I was just assaulted by a strong feeling of self-hatred… Haaah, just why am I like this? I finally managed to make up with Onii-chan… so why can’t I be honest with myself, even now…?”
For some reason, Suzuka was muttering to herself with a gloomy expression. I don’t get it.
“Ah—uhm. Anyway, I’m sorry.”
“N-No, Onii-chan isn’t at fault here… Also, if Onii-chan is here, then I have one person who I can talk to and ask for help, so…”
I-I see. That makes sense. Basically, it’s that. Suzuka has a Suzuka-like reason to choose another school besides Hakuou, and since I’m here at this school and it’s also rather close to home, she decided on Nanamisaka. Since Suzuka is happy with that, I’m fine with it as well.
…And also, although it might not be much, I’m still happy that I was one of the reasons she chose this school, so I decided to stop questioning her about it.
“I see, I get it. Then if anything comes up, don’t hesitate to ask me about it,” I said. I then added with a laugh, “But I don’t think that Suzuka will have any problems at all.”
“U-Uhm, Onii-chan…” She kept glancing at me while fidgeting. “I-It might be a bit late for this, but… m-me going to the same school as Onii-chan… Am I being a bother…?”
“Bother? How come?” I tilted my head.
There’s nothing she could bother me with, really. Though I might end up bothering her if things go south…
“U-Uhm, I decided on it without asking Onii-chan for advice, and maybe he thinks that I might hinder his normal student life…”
“Hey hey, there’s no way, you know?” I sighed as I shrugged.
Rather, I’m really lucky to be able to go to the same school as Suzuka, now that we’ve made up.
Maybe we can make up for all the time we’ve lost — is what I thought, getting excited. But there was no way I could honestly say that to her face. If Suzuka were to respond with “So Onii-chan was thinking something like that…” I don’t think that I’d ever recover from it. Just thinking about it is rough.
“You don’t have to worry about me. And there’s absolutely no way that you would ever be a bother to me, so relax, okay?” I told her.
“T-Thank you very much…!” She let out a relieved sigh.
…Really, my sister is way too honest.
“I’m glad that Onii-chan thinks so. I would be worried if that were true. Now then, could we continue our tour?”
“Understood,” I answered, and with that, we continued our walk around the school.
As we went towards the club building, we walked past more and more students. Even though there weren’t any classes that day, it seemed that there were still countless clubs that had activities.
“It really is noisy around here. Are the clubs this popular?”
…Actually, the reason is this sight here. For a while now, all the people who passed by us (or rather, passed by Suzuka) kept staring. Especially the boys. It was just like the examinees from before. They were saying things like:
“…Hey, that girl, she’s really cute.”
“…Woah, really. These clothes… she’s here to take the entrance exam?” and so on.
Hey hey, I can hear you guys loud and clear. It’s true that Suzuka is cute, but can you not react in such a way to my little sister?
“I seem to be standing out… Is it because of my Hakuou uniform?” Said Suzuka, clearly oblivious to the meaning behind the gazes.
You really should be more self-aware that you’re a beauty. But there’s no way that I can say that. It’d be disgusting after all.
“Who is that next to her… Nagami?”
“Damn it… Why’s he always together with the cute ones…?”
“…For real, even after he already has Himuro-san…”
In that moment, I heard voices saying something completely different, and I unconsciously responded to their outrageous statement.
…What are you saying?! And why are you bringing up Mai here?!
And of course, Suzuka heard it as well and gave me a look filled with bloodlust.
I thought I could feel a dark aura filling the atmosphere, which made me tense up in anxiety.
“I would really like to know what kind of relationship Onii-chan and Himuro-san have at school. Please enlighten me, if you would.”
“N-No, there’s really no special relationship between me and Mai and all, so don’t mind them… Rather, we’re just normal friends, or just acquaintances, no, stalker and victim is more like it…”
“So why are your fellow students saying something like that…?” She smiled at me, but her eyes were ice cold.
There’s this black fog building up around her… please tell me that my eyes are playing tricks on me.
“…Damn it, normies should just explode.”
And that phrase was the final push that set me off.
…Just shut up already and explode yourself! And I’m not a normie either! I’m not any better off than you guys, so why are you looking at me like that?! …No, wait, this isn’t the time to be worried about that! I have pacify Suzuka or else…!
“T-These guys are just misunderstanding…! You should know how Mai keeps clinging to me, right…? I can’t help it that everyone gets the wrong idea just because we’re in the same class.”
Though I tried my best to make her believe me, she looked at me, completely in disbelief. Why?
“…Is that really all?”
“Yeah, that’s all! The guys who don’t know the circumstances just keep spouting nonsense, and it’s really a pain in the butt! Anyway, I’ve showed you around here enough, so let’s go somewhere else.”
I was practically pushing Suzuka along as we left the club building. She still didn’t seem satisfied.
Anyway, I’ve gotta find another place to show her to make her forget about that topic—
“Ahhhhhhhh! It’s Yuu!”
Are you kidding me?! W-What’s with this timing…?!
“Why did you come to school?! And why are you together with Suzuka-san?!”
WIthout even giving me a moment to explain, the devil we were talking about appeared in front of us: Himuro Mai.
She’s the school’s top beauty, the professional light novel writer Enryuu Homura, and also Towano Chikai’s one and only stalker. And of course, she has a good-for-nothing personality, which gives me a lot of trouble from time to time, and results in misunderstandings about our relationship among fellow students.
“You too, why did you come to school? Today we don’t have any school, right? And you’re not in a club, are you?” I asked her.
“That should be the same for Yuu, right? And I was here because of my supplementary math lesson!” She puffed out her chest in pride.
I won’t even bother responding to that, okay? The comeback is way too obvious.
“Since I was busy with my light novel work, the teacher got mad at — no no no, since I’m such a honor student, I decided to go to the supplementary lessons as well! And thanks to that, I happened to meet Yuu, just what I would expect from me!”
“I really don’t know why you sound so arrogant about that…”
“Rather than that — Ah, right, hello Suzuka-san — what are you guys doing here? Tell me! Especially the reason that you’re together with Suzuka-san!”
I had wanted to keep it a secret at first, but I realized that there wasn’t any reason to do so anymore.
“Onii-chan, I will be the one to explain.”
But for some reason, Suzuka stepped in front of me.
“Good day to you, Himuro-san. Actually, today I came here to take the entrance exam for this school.”
“Eh? E-Entrance exam?”
“Yes. Onii-chan was kind enough to come with me today. And after the exam, I had him show me around the school.” She explained with a self-confident smile before continuing. “Basically, this spring, I will be going to same school as Onii-chan. So I hope that we can get along, Himuro-san.” She bowed slightly to Himuro-san and finished her explanation.
Her expression seemed very cheerful for some reason, and her eyes were filled with pride… or was that just my imagination?
“W-What did you say?!”
For some reason, Mai took a step back and looked really shocked.
…I don’t know why you’re so shocked about that, but what is this sudden tension between the two of them…?
“I-If Suzuka-san were to go to the same school as Yuu… then…!”
“Fufufu, what’s wrong, Himuro-san?”
“Kuu…! To think that Suzuka-san would go this far…!”
“Yuu, keep quiet for a second! You don’t have the right to participate in a discussion on how to properly grill cow meat!”
“What are you talking about?!”
That hurt. I didn’t know why, but it hurt. And why is Suzuka glaring at me as well…? What the hell is going on…
“…Haaah, I see. It seems like I have to step up my game as well.”
Finally, Mai crossed her arms, and blurted out another random statement.
“Are you trying to act like a light novel protagonist?”
“Y-You’re wrong! I’m just thinking about the circumstances! And rather than that!” With these words, she pointed at me. “You were showing Suzuka-san around, right? Then I’ll join you!”
“Eh? Well, I don’t really mind, but you don’t have to phrase it so forcefully.”
“Ehhh?! N-No, uhm, you must be busy with your manuscript, so you don’t have to force yourself…!”
Suzuka for her part starting furiously shaking her hands as if she wanted to decline.
“I don’t really mind. Also, there are some places that Yuu can’t show you, right? Like the changing room or the girls’ restrooms.”
“O-Onii-chan will show me, so there’s no problem!”
“As if I could!!!” I interjected.
Don’t just blurt out weird things like that!
“Now that that’s decided, I’ll be joining you! Let’s go already, Yuu!”
“Shouldn’t you be saying that to Suzuka?! I’m already a student of this school!”
Mai took my arm and pulled me along. In response to that, Suzuka hurriedly chased after us with a “W-Wait for me, please!”
“…M-Muuuuuu…! This was finally a chance for me to be alone with Onii-chan…”
“Well, her argument is reasonable, so it should be fine if she shows you around as well. Since she’s so pushy, nothing would change no matter what we said.”
“Onii-chan, please be quiet for a bit.”
“Who’s the pushy one here, huh?!”
As I followed up, I got glared at from the left, and I heard Mai complaining at my right.
…From the outside, it might look like I had a flower at each hand, but the real circumstances are completely different, okay?
“…Ah, who’s that person with Himuro-san?”
“…It’s Nagami-kun. I heard through the grapevine that he’s dating her.”
“But then who’s that other cute girl next to him?”
Like this, the three of us walked through the school building, garnering gazes left and right. Even the female classmates were gossiping, and I could hear every single word.
“Hmmmm, did you hear that? T-They think we’re dating…” Mai grinned.
T-This girl… she’s acting like I’m supposed to be the lucky guy… Let me tell you, I’m not. If only I could tell her that I wasn’t the real Towano Chikai… but I can’t.
“O-Onii-chan? Are you happy, by any chance…?”
“Does it look like I’m happy to you…?”
“It does. You look really pleased that they’re misunderstanding…”
Huh?! Where did your normal sharpness go?!
While we continued to walk like this, we once more heard the girls whispering.
“…Don’t tell me, is she also Nagami-kun’s…?”
“…Eh? Then, is he two-timing? Are they fighting for him?”
“…Woah, he’s not even satisfied with Himuro-san and needs another cute girl? That’s the worst.”
I-I won’t let you all keep talking nonsense like that! It feels like I’m on thin ice with just Mai alone, but I can’t allow Suzuka to suffer from this misunderstanding. I have to crush this sprouting rumour right here, right now!
“Don’t get any weird misunderstandings! This girl here is my little sister! She took the entrance exam today, so that’s why!”
As I tried to explain the situation, the girls raised their voices in shock.
“Lies! Little sister?! You don’t really look like siblings, do you?!”
“Leave me alone! I feel the same, but it’s the truth!”
“So, you’re two-timing on Himuro-san with your little sister? You really are a deviant…”
“Why would you come to that conclusion?! And I’ll just say this upfront: I’m not going out with Mai at all, okay?!”
“H-Hey, Yuu! What are you saying!” Mai started complaining behind me, but I’ll ignore her for now!
“Hmmm, so it was his little sister.”
“Just that? I thought that things might get interesting.”
It seemed like they believed me, for now.
…That being said, wishing for things to get ‘interesting’ and whatnot… High school girls really are scary…
“Well, anyway, that’s how it is, so don’t get my little sister mixed up in any weird rumours.” I finished my explanation with that, and the group of girls separated from us.
Though I tried not to look at Mai’s displeased face, Suzuka had the exact same expression for some reason.
“I-It’s fine, Suzuka. This way there won’t be any weird rumours about you when you enter the school.”
“…Mu, I can’t say that I’m really happy about that…”
What do you mean by that, exactly…?
“And it’s not that, it’s just… your response when you explained that I’m your little sister…”
Hearing her words, I thought back to what I had said.
“Uhm…? The part where she said that we didn’t look alike at all?”
“Not that. Though that is the truth.”
“I-Is that so… But after I said that — they seemed to be satisfied…?”
“That’s… right. It’s just, the ‘Just that?’ response was a bit… light….” Suzuka muttered with a serious expression. “Like… Like I have no chance since I’m Onii-chan’s little sister…”
I didn’t think that there was any problem with that, but I couldn’t catch everything she said since her voice trailed off near the end.
So she’s not happy that the misunderstanding is cleared up? Why…?
“…It seems that it’s no good when I’m his little sister…!”
She suddenly made a fist, as if she had made up her mind on something. I was completely lost as to what was happening, so I tried to ask her once more, but…
“Come on, let’s continue to show Suzuka-san around.” Mai’s grip on my arm tightened as she pulled me along again, and I lost my chance to do so.
“No wait, before that, my conversation with Suzuka—”
“What are you doing, Onii-chan? Let’s hurry on. This isn’t the time to be relaxing like this.”
In a matter of seconds, Suzuka was back to her usual self…
Like that, I was once more dragged along by Suzuka and Mai as we walked around the school building. I still didn’t understand what had happened, but I didn’t care anymore. I gave up on resisting.
“So, where has Yuu shown you already?”
“Let’s see… the classrooms, the club building, and so on.”
“I see, then our next destination is already decided. Let’s go.”
“Just what I want to hear.”
As Mai quickened her pace, Suzuka followed suit, leaving me no other choice but to drag my feet along after them. Both their gazes were worrying me, for different reasons of course. How did something as simple as showing Suzuka around the school end up like this…?
“We’re here! This is it!”
And the destination Mai pulled us to was—
“…Why are we at the gym hall’s storeroom?”
For some reason or another, we were standing inside the gym hall, in front of the storeroom.
…I’m really getting a bad feeling about this.
“W-What are you saying, Yuu? For the two of us, this is a very important place,” Mai said in a flustered manner.
“W-What does she mean by that, Onii-chan!”
…Well, even if you ask me that, I don’t understand either.
As I was about to try to pacify Suzuka, Mai puffed out her chest again.
“Hehe, this is, you see, the place where Yuu and I spent an important memory together, all alone,” She boasted for some reason.
“….What?! W-What did you say…!!!!” Suzuka looked like she had just seen a ghost.
But I was just as surprised, of course.
“I-Is that really true, Onii-chan?! With Himuro-san, all together in…?!”
“No no no! I have no clue what she’s talking about, either!”
“I-I-I-I-In this deserted place, with Himuro-san?! What exactly did you do, Onii-chan?!”
“C-Calm down, Suzuka! And Mai! What do you mean by ‘important memory?!’ Don’t make up weird lies that Suzuka could misunderstand!”
“I-It’s not a lie at all! Yuu should member, right?! We were in here, breathing heavily and sweating profusely! My body really felt hot at the time…!”
“O-Onii-chan…!” Suzuka looked like she was about to explode from anger.
…Damn it! Why does it always have to end up like this?! I don’t have any memory of being in there together with Mai, doing something that would fit her descrip—-
“Mmm…? No wait?”
But in that moment, a certain possibility entered my mind… Don’t tell me…!
“Hey, Mai… Are you talking about the time when I helped you rearrange the storeroom…?”
“Yeah, that’s right!”
“Hey wait! You came crying to me because you couldn’t do it on your own, right?! I was nice enough to help you out, and this is how you thank me?”
“I-I wasn’t lying! At that time, Yuu and I were alone in here, and since it was so warm, we started sweating and my body got hot!”
“Did you hear that, Suzuka?! We didn’t do anything weird in here at all, okay?!”
“…But you still were in here alone with Himuro-san,” Suzuka still wore a frustrated expression.
…Well, that’s true, but what do you want me to do about it…?
“T-That’s right, Suzuka-san. The fact that Yuu and I were together doesn’t change! …Fuu, that one especially is one of my precious summer memories…”
“I’m pretty sure that you probably have some better memories than that…”
But since we’re talking about Mai, I can’t imagine that she has any of those… Now I feel sad.
“…Haaaah, I somehow knew this was going to happen. It seems like we really shouldn’t leave this to Mai. Let’s leave her alone and continue, Suzuka…” I let out a sigh and turned towards my sister.
“…No, I am exceptionally interested in the places that Mai wants to show us. I don’t mind it at all.”
But, for some reason, Suzuka didn’t agree with me… Why?
“Now now, let’s go to the next place!”
With that, we once more started walking.
The next place is… the nurse’s office? Why here…?
“This is another memorable place for Yuu and I! Yuu, who had gotten hurt, was nursed back to health by me! I directly put a bandage on Yuu’s body, and I won’t forget this day when our bonds deepened.”
“O-Ohhhh? O-O-O-O-Onii-chan, your explanation?”
“W-Wait! …Don’t tell me! You mean that time when I got a scratch on my hand because I tripped and fell?! I told you that it wasn’t worth worrying about, but you still pulled me here against my will!”
“So Yuu also remembers. I-It’s an important memory, after all.”
“What is?! And also, you were the one who ran into me, so you’re responsible for causing that scratch, you know?!”
“L-Leaving out the details, the important fact is that we were all lovey-dovey while I was nursing you back to health!”
Nursing?! You forgot to disinfect the wound, you failed to put the bandage around my hand properly, and we were never lovey-dovey at all!
“When I finished nursing Yuu, he returned a passionate gaze… I still remember the look on his face…” Mai said. Her cheeks had gotten red for some reason.
There’s no way that I wasn’t looking at her with the same look of disgust that I am right now.
“Haah…” I sighed and turned towards Suzuka.
Even she had an exasperated expression on her face, but…
“H-Himuro-san? I-I think that I’m better at nursing Onii-chan, though…” She said as her face twitched in anger.
…Why did you have to say that…? Now Mai’s not going to be calming down anytime soon…
“One time when Onii-chan was sick, I did my utmost to nurse him back to health, and I probably am better at handling wounds too…”
“But you never put a bandage on him like I did, right?”
“That might be true, but still…! But if you say so, then I will do that right here! Onii-chan, sit down here for a moment please!”
“Ehhh?! W-Why do I have to do that?!”
Though I tried to protest, Suzuka pushed me onto a bed close to us with a “Just do it!” and took a bandage from a shelf.
“Ah, I’ll do it too, then! I’ll show you how skilled I am!” Mai also jumped in and came closer with a bandage of her own.
“H-Hey?! What kind of situation is this?!”
“Don’t move, please! I-I’ll put a bandage on your hand…!”
“Then I’ll take his arm! Yuu, take off your shirt!”
“Wha—?! T-Then, I will take Onii-chan’s upper body—”
“No no no?! You two have a weird look in your eyes!”
I unconsciously tried to distance myself from them, but they also came closer to me to prevent my escape. As a result…
Like I was being pushed down, I ended up lying face-up on the bed. On top of my body, there were two heavy but soft sensations, and Suzuka and Mai’s faces located too close for comfort, which resulted in my face burning up.
…What kind of situation is this?!
“Ah, don’t worry, Onii-chan. I’ll be very careful…”
“B-Be prepared to lose yourself in pleasure from my technique…”
We’re talking about bandages, right?! It’s just my imagination that this sounds so weird, right?!
While I was in confusion, the two of them continued to close in on me.
I-I have to get away from this situation, or else — is what I thought, but…
“…U-Uhm, what are you three doing…?”
Behind the two of them, the nurse appeared with an astonished expression on her face. As the two of them turned around to look at her, I used that chance.
…It was now or never!
“N-Nothing at all! Please excuse us!” I yelled.
“Ah, Onii-chan!” “Hey, Yuu!”
I hurriedly jumped up, grabbed the two of them by their arms, and dashed out of the nurse’s office. And when we finally got to a place with no one else around, I finally let go of their hands.
“Really, what was that about?!”
“That’s right. Why did we run away, Onii-chan? Now we won’t know who’s more skillful at treating Onii-chan.”
“…Again, what are you two on about…? Our goal was to show Suzuka around the school, right…?” I protested as Suzuka kept glaring at me.
“Uuu… that’s true, but… for only Himuro-san to have these memories… that’s just unfair…”
“Unfair? What is?”
“N-No, it’s nothing?! …A-Anyway, since we’ve already left the nurse’s office, there’s nothing we can do about it now. We’ll have to clear this up some other time. Himuro-san, please show me another place!”
“Fuu, it’s my pleasure, Suzuka-san. There are countless other places that are filled with important memories that Yuu and I share, after all!”
“…So we’re going to continue…?”
All of the places she showed us were weird, what she said was just as crazy, and our purpose for being here had changed completely… But, since Suzuka seemed fine with it, I couldn’t really complain, huh?
And just like that, Mai pulled us to countless other places. Apparently Mai and I have…
Talked about love on a bench in the courtyard, read a book together in the library, made cookies and exchanged them, and so on. Everytime Mai reminisced about our ‘wonderful’ memories, Suzuka shot me a cold gaze, and I panicked, trying to clear up the misunderstanding. As you might have guessed, everything she said was completely made up. But no matter how hard I tried to clear up the misunderstandings, Suzuka still wore a displeased expression.
“So Himuro-san has this many memories with Onii-chan…!” She glared at me, with no signs of believing me at all.
“And this is the place where Yuu and I met for the first time!”
The last place Mai guided us to was the rooftop of the school building.
“This was the place where we shared our secrets for the first time!”
“So basically, the time when you told me that you knew of my identity as Towano Chikai, and told me that you are Enryuu Homura. And what do you mean by ‘first meeting?’ You talked to me in the classroom, right?”
“D-Don’t sweat the small stuff. Meeting for the first time on the rooftop sounds more dramatic.”
“You’re already admitting that you’re lying!”
“At the time, Yuu listened to my serious request, and gave me the permission to investigate him as much as I want… ‘Yeah, don’t hold back. Find out everything about me’, you said…”
“Y-You… blurting out such a lie in front of the other person… I just agreed to it because you threatened to leak my true identity! And I never said that either!”
“Is that so? W-Well, as an author, I have to dramatize stuff a little bit, you know?”
“But don’t add complete lies to it!” I let out a sigh, and turned to look at Suzuka.
“You probably already know by now, but she’s always exaggerating, okay? Reality and fantasy don’t have anything in common, okay?”
“How rude! There’s always a small part that’s true!”
…Just ignore her. I don’t have the energy to respond to everything.
“…I know, Onii-chan. That’s just from her subjective point of view,” Suzuka responded, but she still was pouting for some reason.
Hearing that, I let out a relieved sigh.
“I know… I know, but…” But she still looked displeased.
“U-Uhm, Suzuka-san? Are you mad about something?”
“I-I’m not mad about anything. It’s just…”
It’s just… what? This is the first time I’ve seen Suzuka so inarticulate.
“It’s just… Even if these memories are mostly fabricated by Himuro-san, the foundation still happened. That just shows how much time she spends together with Onii-chan when you’re at school.”
“Well yeah… we’re classmates after all.”
Though additionally, she’s also a stalker. Right now, I spend most of my time at school with her. It’s more like a total pain, you know.
“…And also, no, exactly because of that, people think that you’re going out… But what would they think if it was me, your little sister…?”
“Ah?! N-No, it’s nothing!” Hearing my response, Suzuka’s body twitched and she furiously shook her head.
Even though I should’ve just left it at that, I couldn’t forget her expression. But no matter how often I asked her about it, she always said “I’m fine!”
“I-It really is nothing. Please don’t worry about me.”
“…If you say so… You just looked like you weren’t that happy, so…”
“No, that’s not the case. On the contrary, I’m really looking forward to going to this school after having Himuro-san show me around!”
Just how did she become motivated from that half-assed guided tour? Or rather, is she just happier for Mai to show her around than me? That’s kind of sad…
As I dropped my shoulders, Suzuka responded with “Y-Yes…!”
“…From now on, I will be going to the same school as Onii-chan…! At this rate, it won’t work… At this rate…!” Suzuka made a fist, seemingly having made up her mind about something.
Whether she was getting excited about her new high school student life, or something completely different, I had no idea.
Anyway, I’m glad that her mood has improved. But, at the same time, I realized that Mai seemed weird as well.
“…Yeah, at this rate…”
With a rarely serious face, she just stared at Suzuka. Since we were still on the rooftop, I could only catch portions of what she said. However, what followed clearly entered my ears.
“But… what exactly should I do?”
The school tour ended, and we decided to go home. As we we walked home, with Mai of course, Suzuka opened her mouth and proposed something.
“Should we go to Onii-chan’s part-time workplace? We’ll surely be in their care from now on.”
My part-time job was at Maruneko Bookstore, which was halfway between my school and our home. Since Suzuka’s Hakuou is in the complete opposite direction, she never really walked past it, but that would probably be changing soon.
With that, we decided to visit said bookstore. By the way, I didn’t have any work today, so we were just there as normal customers.
“Mmm? Ah~, if it isn’t Nagamin and Mai-chan~ And even Nagamin’s little sister~”
As soon as we entered, my Senpai at work, and the store owner’s daughter, Esaka-san, greeted us. Though the size of her body made her look like a grade school kid, that was not at all the reason I started working here, so please don’t misunderstand.
“Why is everyone here~? Did Nagamin come here to show me his harem~?”
“Can you not say such terrible things with a grin like that…? We just thought we’d check in on our way home from school.”
“Heeeeh~ Is that so~? So you came to see how hard I’m working~”
“What is not there cannot be seen…” I looked at her with a cold gaze, hoping to tear down her fabricated image of herself.
“What are you saying, Nagamin~ I’m in the middle of customer service, you know~?”
“Eh? A guest came? Then why are you talking with us—”
“It’s fine it’s fine~ Though they are technically our guest, they more importantly are Nagamin’s guest~”
When I heard these words, I returned a confused “Eh?” as a woman appeared from the shadow of a bookshelf.
“Fufu, it seems that I have good luck. To meet Sensei here.”
“Eh? S-Shinozaki-san? Why are you here?”
Since that person was actually our editor Shinozaki-san, we were all surprised.
“And you’re together with Imouto-san and Enryuu-sensei. Is this what I think it is? Are you trying to make Imouto-san jealous by spending time with Enryuu-sensei? And in the end… you end up stabbing your poisonous fangs into her as well… Fufufu, just what I would expect from Towano Chikai-sensei.”
“You make me a bad person in your fantasies?! How noble of you.”
“Uwaa~ Nagamin is really the worst~ I’m also gonna get eaten by him~”
“Onii-chan… you’re the worst.”
“Yuu, it seems like I’ve misjudged you…”
…Did they all plan this from the start? This can’t be a coincidence, right?
“Well, I originally meant it as a joke, but why are you on your way home from school together with Imouto-san?”
In response to Shinozaki-san’s question, Suzuka took a step forward and answered. “I took the entrance exam. This spring, I will be going to the same school as Onii-chan.”
“No way! Imouto-san really is splendid! To enroll in the same school as Sensei just to improve the quality of his novel! You really are the perfect little sister!”
“N-No, it’s not that much…”
“…Uhm, Suzuka didn’t choose my school because of my novel, though…”
“Please feel free to shower him even more with your love!”
“T-That’s not what it’s about. It’s just that, as his little sister, it’s my duty to look after him.”
They’re not listening at all… Why do the two of them have such a high affinity… Though it feels like they’re talking past each other.
“R-Rather than that, Shinozaki-san, why are you here?”
“Nnn? Ah, that’s right. Actually, before I came here, I went over to Sensei’s home.”
“Eh? Why? Did you tell me you were coming?” I asked, as I looked over at Suzuka.
Though phone calls with the editor were my responsibility as the stand-in, Suzuka, the real Towano Chikai, was the one exchanging emails with her.
But Suzuka just wordlessly shook her head.
“Well, I thought of surprising Sensei by randomly coming by. But sadly, you were away from home, and my phone calls wouldn’t get through, so I decided to come by the workplace that you had told me about before.”
That reminds me, I was warned to turn off my phone inside the library today.
…So that’s why I didn’t hear any of this… What a coincidence.
“But, for the editor to come by personally, did something important happen that you have to tell him in person?” Mai commented, which made me and Suzuka freeze up.
We both nervously swallowed, waiting for Shinozaki-san’s next words. However, Shinozaki-san’s face relaxed and turned into a smile.
“Fufu, actually… I don’t have any business at all!”
“Eh?” “Eh?” Eh?” “Hoooh~”
The three of us beautifully showed our surprise. And Esaka-san joined in for the laughs.
“No, uhm… then, why…?”
“I had some business close to here, so I thought of visiting Sensei’s home while I’m here. Like a family visit sort of thing.”
What’s that supposed to be? An editor wouldn’t visit an author just like that — right?
“Fufufu, I also wanted to see Sensei’s room, and find out about your nocturnal-assault tendencies. As your editor, I have to know that, right?”
“Is that so? The exit is over there, thank you for your visit.”
“N-No no, I was just joking! I just wanted to find out about Sensei’s tastes. An editor always has to know everything about their author.”
So you’re basically saying that you weren’t joking at all!
“If it’s about Nagamin’s likes, then I know~”
“Wait, Esaka-san?! W-Why do you…!”
“Fu fu fu~ never underestimate the daughter of a bookstore owner. I know very well what kind of books you look at when you’re working here~”
“Ohhh, now that sounds interesting. Please feel free to tell me all about it.”
“M-Me too! I also want to know!”
Both Suzuka and Mai spoke up as Esaka-san puffed out her modest chest.
“Oh I see, so Sensei taught this young girl his tastes and preferences and got excited from that? Just what I would expect. It’s no wonder you managed to write such a magnificent novel when you have no ethics or humanity left inside of you!”
“So now you’re just calling me a complete psychopath?!”
Ahh, for crying out loud! Why am I always the bad guy?!
“Anyway, Shinozaki-san, if you don’t have any urgent business, then go home already! We will discuss anything important over the phone — no, since we’re just talking about random nonsense, please only email me from now on!”
“Hey hey, don’t be so harsh now. I might not have any important business, but there was still something that I wanted to tell you. You’re going home right after this, right? Please let me accompany you.”
…Ehhhh, I really want to decline here, but now that she says that she has something to tell us, I’d actually feel bad. Also, she’s technically Suzuka’s guest rather than mine.
“…Haaah, I won’t let you inside my room, okay?”
“Really, Sensei worries way too much. I wouldn’t search under Sensei’s bed, inside your drawer, or inside your book shelves without your permission, you know?”
Woah, she’s already got my hiding spots down to a tee. Scary…
“…But now that it’s come to this, we can’t help it. And it would be rude to just send her away,” Suzuka whispered into my ear.
In the end, I decided to give up my futile resistance and it was decided that she would come with us. As a stand-in, I can’t really object against the real author, after all.
And with that, we left Maruneko behind with Shinozaki-san. At that moment, Esaka-san suddenly clung to me, saying something ridiculous like “I’ll also go to Nagamin’s home~. I’ll become a family member and spend the rest of my days rolling around on Nagamin’s bed!”, so we had to tie her to the register before we could leave.
After around 5 minutes of walking, we arrived at our home.
“Sorry for intruding. I see, so this is Towano-sensei’s home…” Entering inside, Shinozaki-san commented as she looked around with a muffled laugh.
I don’t think that you need to have such a weird reaction though…
“Please, this way. I will prepare some tea,” Suzuka said as we entered the living room. She started preparing tea for everyone.
“Sorry, Imouto-san, for troubling you like this.”
“It’s no problem. You’re a guest at our house, after all.”
After putting cups filled with black tea on a tray, she brought it over and set down next to me.
“…Fumu, very delicious. Might Imouto-san be good at cooking as well?”
“Yes, I always leave the food to Suzuka,” I answered, to which Suzuka lowered her head in embarrassment.
For some reason, Mai puffed out her cheeks when she saw that.
“That is wonderful, Imouto-san. Please keep feeding Sensei wonderful food. Preferably food that will increase his sexual urges so that you can help him produce even better scenes for his novel.”
“Cough Cough W-What are you saying?!”
“It’s fine. If it’s too much for Imouto-san, don’t hold back on asking me. Helping out the author is my job as an editor, after all. Fufufu…”
W-What is this person talking about…! T-This is no good. I can’t take anything she says seriously. If I don’t change the topic, I’ll be treated like a pervert again.
“Haaah… And, what exactly did you want to tell me?”
“Like I said, it wasn’t anything particularly important. Sensei’s “The story about a little sister who loves her big brother way too much to cope” series is moving forward so wonderfully that I don’t have much to say. However — since we have the chance to relax now, it might be good to give it some thought.”
“Give what some thought?”
“A new novel.”
The moment these words left Shinozaki-san’s mouth, everyone in the room went “Ehh?”.
“A-A new novel…? What do you mean by that?”
“Nothing extraordinary. Exactly what I said: A new work, a new series. Even though the current series is popular, you won’t be able to continue it forever, right? No, I wouldn’t mind if you continued it forever, but with Sensei’s talent, I would really like to see another series born from his hands.
Well, she’s not exactly wrong. I glanced at Suzuka sitting next to me, and it looked like she was also bewildered by the idea.
“Uhm… even if you suddenly bring up that up…”
“You don’t have to give it much thought for now. It doesn’t have to be immediately, anyway. I just wanted to bring up the idea, that’s all,” Shinozaki-san added, but I could only reply with a half-assed “Okay…?”.
But still… a new novel, huh? I never really thought about that. Not to mention that Suzuka looks even more shocked than me. That being said, Shinozaki-san’s idea was completely reasonable. There was no way that an author could just keep writing the same series forever. And that was true even for the super-popular light novel writer Towano Chikai. It would be obvious to both editors and readers that another work would be a good idea.
“But even if you say that, what kind of work to you have in mind?”
“Since Towano-sensei is a rom-com author, wouldn’t it be fine to just keep it in the same vein? That being said, I trust Sensei, so I wouldn’t mind of you tried another genre you’re interested in.”
…Hmm, that’s pretty vague. I took a look at Suzuka, and she was also deep in thought. But still, this wasn’t something that we could decide right here right now.
“…I’m sorry, but I can’t really get a good picture of it yet.”
“You can take your time… But, fumu, just leaving it to you might be a bit irresponsible as an editor, so I wonder if there’s anything I can do to help Sensei…” Shinozaki-san muttered as she looked up the ceiling, only to pull down her gaze again with an “Ah, that’s right.”
“If you don’t have a specific image in mind, it might be good to just try out different ideas. Basically, a trial would be a good idea, to figure out what might fit your tastes.”
“Yes. Actually, about two months from now, at the end of March, there will be a spring rom-com festival event, which is sponsored by Sumeragi Fantasy Publishing. We have each of our authors write a short story and publish them online.”
“Ohhhh… But wait, this is the first I’ve heard of that.”
“I hadn’t informed you of it yet. Think about it; if people found out that our super-popular author Towano Chikai would write a short story or a sidestory, their popularity would go through the roof and the other authors would suffer, which would completely ruin the balance. That’s why we were still hesitating to invite Sensei.”
I-I see…? But now that I’m thinking about it, Suzuka’s novel is insanely popular…
“So, what’s your idea with that event?”
“I’m saying that Sensei could release a short part of his new novel there. Since it’s a completely new series with no relation to your current one, there would be no problem with letting you participate.”
In shock, I looked over at Suzuka.
“Fumu, it’s a good idea if I do say so myself. Like that, we could get our figurehead Sensei to participate in the event, and Sensei might get closer to having an idea for a new series. Good idea, good idea.”
“P-Please wait a moment. Even if you suddenly say that, I—”
“It’s okay, Sensei. You don’t have to be so eager about it. You can just write something to try it out. Like a playground for your ideas. It’s a good plan, right?”
She says it so leisurely…!
That being said, even if she acts like a good-for-nothing pervert most of the time, she really is serious about light novels, so I don’t think that’s she saying this just to give me a hard time.
So basically… No, wait? This might actually be a big chance, right? Even if the idea doesn’t turn out good, there’s no damage at all. And, since it will be published online, there will be feedback from the readers, so there’s really no downside here.
“How is it, Sensei? How about joining in on the event?”
Looking over at Suzuka, I saw that she also nodded.
…Alright, I guess we’ll be joining that event then—
“W-Wait a moment!”
But before I could accept Shinozaki-san’s proposal, a loud voice called out inside the living room. When we looked for the source, Mai, who had kept quiet all this time, had suddenly jumped up.
“W-What is it, Mai? Don’t scare me like that.”
“What’s wrong, Enryuu-sensei?”
“I-I also want to participate in that event!”
Unexpectedly, Shinozaki-san opened her eyes wide.
“Enryuu-sensei… participating in our Spring Rom-Com Festival?”
“T-That’s right. Since I’m also an author who belongs to Sumeragi, I should have the right to participate, right? Or rather, why have I never heard anything of it until now?”
“That’s because Enryuu-sensei doesn’t specialize in writing rom-coms, right?” Shinozaki-san answered without hesitation.
“But, but! That still shouldn’t stop me from participating, right?!” Mai said, seeming very desperate.
Seeing that, even I was a bit surprised. After all, it’s pretty rare for Mai to make such a serious face. I leaned over to whisper in Suzuka’s ear “I wonder what’s wrong with Mai?”
“………Don’t tell me…”
But for some reason, Suzuka had an equally earnest expression as she gazed at Mai. Even though I expected her to say something like “Right? I wonder what it is…”
“Of course we would be very grateful for that. Especially if you want to try out a different genre.”
“Then I will also participate!”
“I’m not Enryuu-sensei’s editor… but I guess it’s fine. I’ll acknowledge it. But will you tell me one thing? Why did you decide to participate? Enryuu-sensei’s ‘Sky Magic Guardian’ isn’t a rom-com after all.”
Ah, I wanna know that too. ‘Sky Magic Guardian’ is a battle fantasy, so why would she want to write a rom-com now?
When she was asked that question, Mai’s face went red, and she kept glancing at me.
“Thanks to Yuu — No, Towano Chikai’s influence, I also want to try writing a rom-com!”
…Eh? Ehhhh?! R-Really…?
“Ohhh, now that is wonderful! Just what I would expect from Towano-sensei! To move another professional author to such an extent! If that’s the case, then I can only agree!”
Mai nodded with a gleeful smile in response to Shinozaki-san’s words.
“I see, I see. But, if you really thought so, then you could’ve just told your own editor.”
“T-That’s… I just decided on it after Yuu said that he will join… and I thought that I could use this as a chance…”
“Hnnn? What is it, Enryuu-sensei?”
“I-I-I-I-It’s nothing! R-Rather than that!” Mai’s cheeks flushed even harder as she continued. “There is something that I want to know! When you say that you will publish it online, then the readers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite work, right?!”
“Of course. The author who wins first place will receive a chance to get his work published.”
“I thought so…!” Mai had a satisfied grin on her face.
And following that, she turned towards me and pointed her finger at me…
“That being said, Yuu! The one who’s more popular wins! It’s a competition!”
Only to blurt out this crazy statement.
“……Eh? Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh?! C-Competition?! What do you mean!” Of course, I was completely confused.
“You should already know! I’m your number one fan, and also your rival! Just for this competition, I’ve kept researching you! I’ll use all this data — to win against you at the rom-com festival!!”
“My rom-com will win against yours! I’ll make you excited about my novel! And then… surely, Yuu will…!”
Mai’s whole body was shaking, and I wasn’t sure if she was mad or happy as she glared at me. The only thing I knew was that her eyes were shining for some reason.
“…Anyway! Now that that’s decided, it’s a competition!”
“No no no no! What is this ‘Now that that’s decided!’ about?! Anyone would be completely lost if you suddenly bring up the idea of having a competition like that!”
“You really don’t know when to give up, do you? Since I am your rival, a competition is a completely rational choice, right?! It’s gonna be a new novel for you, and for me, rom-com is an untouched land. The conditions are fair!”
That’s not the problem here! I’m still asking why it’s suddenly ended up like this!
I know very well how she ‘researched’ Towano Chikai with her stalking activities, and how she sees herself as his number one rival. That’s why I can understand the competition part. There’s nothing weird about that. But—
“I’ll definitely win against you, Yuu!”
The Mai right now is weird somehow. Well, she’s weird pretty much all the time, but right now it feels like she’s burning up with motivation.
But just when I thought that, I heard Suzuka’s voice close to my ear. Before I even realized it, she had come closer to me.
…That’s right, it’s my job as a stand-in to act how the real Towano Chikai, Suzuka, wants me to. Though I was a bit taken aback by Mai’s sudden attitude, if Suzuka wishes for it, I can turn down Mai’s challenge. However…
“Please accept Himuro-san’s competition. I will win for sure.”
I was about to let my voice out, but I was able to barely myself back.
…T-That was close…! I was careless enough to almost show a reaction like that in front of the others! But… what the hell are you saying?! There should be no reason for you to accept her challenge?!
I couldn’t help but remember the doujinshi competition against the Kanzaka sisters. She couldn’t give a calm response back then either, and just accepted it on a whim. If she’s once more getting swept along with the conversation—
—is what I thought as I gazed deep into her eyes, but I froze up the next moment.
“This is a competition I cannot afford to avoid. So please accept it, Onii-chan.”
Suzuka’s expression was calmness itself, or at least it looked like that on the surface.
I don’t know why, but I decided to trust Suzuka and accept Mai’s challenge. That’s what I have to do, acting as a stand-in.
“Hey, Yuu! You’re not trying to run away in front of your rival, right?!”
“I-I get it. I’ll accept your competition.”
Hearing my response, Mai’s expression was filled with joy.
“I did it, yay!” she jumped in the air, only to remember I was looking at her. She then added a “I won’t lose okay!” as her cheeks flushed a slight pink.
…Was this really okay, Suzuka?
“Ohh, now that’s interesting! To think that both of our star authors would participate in a competition like this!”
…As an editor, shouldn’t you normally stop a battle between authors like this…? No wait, Shinozaki-san isn’t a normal editor, so reasoning with her wouldn’t work anyway.
“Even better, let’s advertise this competition to the readers!”
“…Uhm, didn’t you say that it would be problem if the popularity skyrocketed?”
“No problem. Since the both of you will write completely new novels, you’re on even ground with all of the other authors as well. From there on out, it’s a battle of skill, so the two of you don’t have to hold back. You can just write to your heart’s content!”
“…Ugh. Such an easy-going editor is just…!”
“Well, it’s just an event for fun, so as long as we get more publicity, it doesn’t matter who wins and who loses, Onii-chan.”
…Muu, now that she says it.
I was a bit shocked because of the word ‘competition’, but it’s not like anything bad will happen even if we lose. This is still far from that high-stakes doujinshi competition.
…Is this why Suzuka has kept so calm about this? Instead of aggravating Mai more, she just accepted it to calm her down…? Yeah, it must be that. Just what I would expect from Suzuka. My little sister is as clever as ever.
“Hmph, I don’t care about anybody else. But the competition is a competition. I’ll definitely write a better rom-com than you…!”
“…Yeah, I’m looking forward to it,” I returned with my usual calm manner.
I have full trust in Suzuka, and this isn’t even a real competition. With no risks whatsoever, I can just enjoy the stories that both of them create.
“Now then, the winner has the right to demand one thing of the loser.”
“Yeah, let’s both give it our—”
………Hm? Huh? Wait a second… Didn’t she just say something incredibly dangerous?
“What is it?”
“Just now, did you say something weird? Like the winner commands the loser to do something no matter what it is…?”
“I did. Of course. If there were nothing on the line, this wouldn’t be a serious competition, after all.”
“I-I see……… No! The loser has to do any one thing the winner says?! W-Wait a second! That ridiculous condition is just—”
—taking it too far, is what I wanted to add, but I felt someone pulling on my clothes, so I turned around. Standing there was…
“…H-Himuro-san, you’re going this far…! So you’re serious now, I see…!”
There was a strangle light reflected in Suzuka’s eyes as she glared at Mai.
…Ah, this is bad. I don’t really know why, but her switch has been flipped…! No, wait?! You don’t plan on accepting, do you?! You know that I’m the one who will suffer if you lose, right?!
“What is it, Yuu?! Are you saying that you don’t like my condition?”
“No, Onii-chan will accept no matter what the condition is!”
She said iiiiiiiiiiiit—! She just went and said it, ahhhhhhhh!
What is this about, Suzuka?! Well, in the end it’s still a competition between you and Mai, but why do you have to accept her ridiculous condition?!
“Onii-chan, this is a battle I cannot afford to lose…!”
Ah, it’s over. Her eyes are serious. They’re burning with passion.
…Is that it? Since she’s such a serious person, she’ll accept any challenge no matter the circumstances? No, this isn’t the time to calmly analyze the situation!
“Hehe, now that’s the Yuu I know. But I hope you’re prepared! I will be the one to win! I’ll surely write a rom-com that you can get fired up about!”
“…Just what I wanted to hear! Onii-chan’s new novel is sure to beat Himuro-san’s rom-com! Right, Onii-chan?!”
“Ah, yeah, okay…”
Uuu… I want to fix this chain of events. But I have no clue how to do that. And I’m just a stand-in, so I don’t even have the right to do that.
“Wonderful! Superb! I thought that it would be a boring event, I’m motivated! Leave the setting of the battle to me!”
…Even Shinozaki-san is getting into it… And Mai and Suzuka show no intentions of calming down anytime soon either……… Ah, it’s over.
Now that it has come this far, I have no choice but to give up. There’s no way for me to extinguish this fire anymore. There’s no other choice for me but to keep acting out my role as Suzuka’s stand-in.
“Onii-chan, show some more motivation already!”
“…Ahh, for crying out loud! I got it already! Now that it’s come to this, I won’t lose, Mai!”
“Ohh, Towano-sensei is all moe’d — fired up!”
“H-Hmph! That’s my line!”
…Damn it, there’s no other choice but to pray for Suzuka to win! Just thinking about what Mai might ask me to do sends shivers down my spine! With a bad feeling in my gut, I decided to cheer Suzuka on.
I still don’t know why you just decided to accept this, so I’ll listen to your reasoning in great detail later, for Christ’s sake!
“So basically, you’ve thought about writing a new novel before, but you were worried if you would actually be able to pull it off, so you used this challenge from Mai to motivate yourself so that you can write a new novel well?”
“Yes, that’s right,” I nodded in response to Onii-chan’s words.
…Well, that was a complete lie, though.
For a short time, Onii-chan just stood there with his arms crossed, making a complicated expression, only to let out a sigh and say “…It can’t be helped then,” as he shrugged his shoulders. Seeing that, I felt a sharp pain inside my chest. And I knew very well that this pain was guilt from lying to Onii-chan like this. But since I couldn’t tell him my actual reason for accepting the challenge, I had no other choice but to apologize deep inside my heart. I’m sorry, Onii-chan.
After that, Himuro-san and Shinozaki-san went home, and Onii-chan and I talked about what was going to happen now. That being said, now that I’ve accepted the competition, there’s no other option but to win right now, so we’ll have to do research as always. Other than that, we didn’t talk about much of anything.
…After all, this is my battle…!
I didn’t accept it because of my usual motives of, uhm, being all lovey-dovey with Onii-chan — N-No?! I mean, being lovey-dovey while we’re doing research is a bonus this time as well, but that wasn’t my main reason, okay?!
C-Cough. Anyway, the main goal of this research is to win against Himuro-san. I definitely cannot afford to lose this competition, after all…!
“But, knowing Mai, she’ll definitely force me to do something weird if she wins…”
Yes, the winner can ask anything of the loser. What a dreadful condition. Knowing Mai, she will surely use this chance to be lovey-dovey with Onii-chan. L-Like this… and that…! Even I didn’t do that yet…! S-So lewd!
Mumumu…! However, this isn’t the main goal of this competition. And Himuro-san should be well aware of that. This condition is just a means to prevent a drawback.
“…Haaah, why does it have to end up like this…”
…It seems like Onii-chan hadn’t realized Himuro-san’s aim yet. Onii-chan is very thick-headed after all. Especially when it comes to women’s feelings. Well, thanks to that, I’ve been saved a lot of times… But, I really wish he’d be a bit less dense when it comes to my feelings…!
“U-Uhm, did I say something bad…?”
“Hyah?! N-No, it’s nothing!”
T-That wasn’t good. I happened to glare at this stupid Onii-chan of mine…
Calm down, me. Right now, what’s most important is the aim of this battle — of course, Himuro-san’s feelings. For some reason, she suddenly wanted to change the genre of her writing to rom-com. And it should be obvious why she did that, right? She’s going to put her feelings for Onii-chan into a story. Just like I did.
She probably saw through me from the moment she found out that I would be attending the same school as Onii-chan. And thinking that she couldn’t keep going like this, she heard of the rom-com festival and decided to write her own novel to win against the little-sister-loving ‘Towano Chikai’ with her own feelings. I completely understand. That is the same for me. So whoever wins the battle has stronger feelings for Onii-chan! A battle of feelings it is! Since my feelings for Onii-chan won’t lose to anyone, it is impossible for me to lose!
“Y-You seem to be really motivated. Well, it’s good that I can rely on you like that.”
As I once more steeled my resolve, Onii-chan took a step back… Why?
But even though I understand Himuro-san’s intentions, that wasn’t all. I have another goal in mind. Another important task…!
“That reminds me, Suzuka, since you’re going to write a novel, are you going to write another little-sister one?”
Yes, herein lies the problem!
Onii-chan likes little sisters. There is no reason to doubt that anymore. However, the position of little sisters is indeed very precarious.
I remembered the words I had heard from the female students at Onii-chan’s school when we walked down the hallway.
“So it’s his little sister.” “Just his sister?”
What kind of response is that?! What should I do about ‘just’ being his little sister?!
…Haaaah… No, even I know very well. I am painfully aware of it. That incident made me realize.
—That I can’t keep going like this.
I am his little sister, and Onii-chan likes little sisters. I was so happy about it that I could cry, but I can’t just stay at this level. At that time, I understood.
Onii-chan likes little sisters, I am his ideal type of girl, and we will be going to the same school after we’ve finally made up. This isn’t an advantage — I have just arrived at the starting line.
Uuu… it’s still quite the shock if I think about it. H-However, if I don’t accept this, I can’t move forward and be really lovey-dovey with Onii-chan…! At this rate, our high school student lives will start, and I will still remain his little sister. On the other hand, Himuro-san will get even closer to Onii-chan.
Basically, if I keep being merely his little sister, I really will lose against Himuro-san! Be it in reality, or inside the story! That’s why—
“…No, the new novel won’t be a little sister novel.”
Right here, right now, with this new environment, I have to show Onii-chan my womanly charms!
“In the new novel, little sisters are prohibited! With a completely new heroine and story, I will win against Himuro-san’s rom-com!”
And I will write a story that Onii-chan thinks is interesting!
Looking straight at Onii-chan, I screamed out the following words in my heart:
When it comes to my feelings for Onii-chan, I won’t lose against anyone!!!