Kajiura Rikka had been behaving quite odd recently.
It was a day in the student council room of Hijirigasaka Academy, where the forthcoming of early February also heralded the arrival of Valentine’s Day with it.
Even as Tachibana Nanao was occupied with student council affairs, she would occasionally lift her head in doubt, revealing their features, adorable as such that her current reputation as a male student would otherwise be easily mistaken for that of a female, riddled by evident concern and doubtfulness.
Her gaze drifted off to thinking of something concerning Kajiura Rikka. The change in the latter was clear as day to Nanao; having known her for quite some time as an excellent student and student council member, she had been prone to uncharacteristic, unbelievable mistakes as of recent.
The unsettling atmosphere concerned Nanao, knowing that nothing in particular had sprung up yet as of today.
“Kajiura, you’ve left off the official documents we need to promote our club activities for next year. Is everything going to be okay?”
“Ah, I’m sorry…I’ll get to work on that immediately.” After answering thus to Kano—another member of the student council—she quickly attempted to leave the room, only to forcefully bump into the door without managing to open it.
“Rikka!?” “Rikka-senpai!?” Kano and Nanao raised their surprised voices in unison upon witnessing the accident.
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.” Staggering and clutching her nose that was sore from the impact, she left the room, looking as if she were hiding something—only to knock herself upon the door once more, and at such close proximity, at that.
Kano and Nanao reflexively exchanged glances with one another.
“Good grief…” Kano let out a sigh. She stared at the door left ajar after Kajiura had left the room and could no longer be seen, as if she were in a daze; her eyes held some semblance of warmth and kindness to it.
“What’s wrong with you, Kajiura-senpai…” Nanao murmured.
“Eh?” Kano turned toward Nanao wearing a puzzled look, “You don’t know what’s going on with her?”
“You know something about it?”
“I see you don’t know about it at all.”
Nanao could not understand why Kano had responded that way; while Nanao had been largely under the care of Kajiura Ritsuka in the student council and wanted to repay her for all her efforts, they were not close enough as such that they could understand each other without exchanging a word…at least, that was what Nanao thought.
Kano looked as if she were lost in thought for a moment; she then clapped her hands together as she remembered something.
“Kajiura’s worried about something, Tachibana.”
“She’s…worried about something? Well, I do indeed get that vibe, I suppose…”
“Yeah. That’s why she’s been acting quite strange lately. I’m sure you’ve noticed how clumsy she’s been recently?”
“Now that you mention it, you’re right about that…”
“Go and give her some advice.”
“You mean to say I should do it?”
“Of course. Who else is there?” Kano said, as if it were the natural answer.
Nanao could not stop her eyes from widening at Kano’s response.
“I do want to talk to her, but…” Nanao wasn’t displeased by the idea of talking to Kajiura; she was hesitant.
She could not repress the doubt in herself as to why she was the one that was best suited to do so; at the same time, she could not deny that she had been harbouring feelings that she herself couldn’t understand.
She didn’t want to leave Kajiura alone, and wanted to listen to her if something was truly weighing on her fellow student council member’s mind. That said, she had been keeping a close eye on Kajiura for the past few days.
She now felt rather surprised at her actions as she recalled them now.
“But why?” Nanao muttered, the question not being directed to anyone.
“You think I’m bothered by something?”
“Yes. Kaijura-senpai, you look as if you’ve…been having something on your mind lately. Just maybe, perhaps, possibly…”
Several days later, having found themselves alone in the student council room, Nanao finally spoke her mind; Nanao herself had doubts toward her own feelings on the matter of Kajiura feeling troubled, so she didn’t seem very confident when she asked Kajiura about it.
Her concern was met with a composed gaze by Kaijura, and she stated her answer clearly. “I’m not worried about anything.”
“I—Is that so…” Having heard her confident response, Nanao struggled to find any other words to say.
The student council room fell into silence after that as the two members went about their work wordlessly; only the sound of Kajiura’s fingers fiddling on the keyboard echoed across the room. It was only after a while that Kajiura abruptly stood up from her seat.
“Tachibana-kun,” Kajiura turned toward Nanao as she addressed him, “I’m well aware that I’ve been inconveniencing you and the others with my recent blunders lately. I just want you to know that I’m really sorry about them. I’ll pull myself together, so don’t worry about me anymore.” She switched off the power of her PC as she finished.
“I, that’s…I don’t mind at all, really.” Nanao could only respond awkwardly, as Kajiura picked up her things during the exchange.
“I’ll be heading home now.”
“Alright. Good work today.”
“Good work as well.” With that, Kajiura left the student council room.
She really was behaving odd; it felt as if she was forcing herself.
What’s more…she forgot to bring a certain bag with her. It was a bag left on one of the chairs, where a neat stack of textbooks laid within it.
It wasn’t something that she would leave behind carelessly—especially given the excellence of a student of Kaijura’s caliber and how she usually behaved. Her supervision of the finances of the student council was usually very efficient, with any signs of error from her being few and far between.
“This is…as I thought, something’s really wrong with her…”
Was she troubled by the way she even dared to assume that? She wondered.
At any rate, Nanao decided it would be best if she went after her, and she rushed out of the student council room.
There were many routes for Nanao to opt for to reach the shoe shelf; even if she carelessly gave chase right now, she was certain that Ritsuka would be there waiting for her. Even then, Nanao knew that she could always just give Rikka a phone call if the latter had already left.
As she moved forward slightly, however, she suddenly heard Rikka’s voice in apparent conversation with someone. Turning around the corner, Nanao could notice her figure from her current distance.
Nanao reflexively hid herself. Rikka was there; and she was indeed talking with someone.
She was talking with Toujou Basara.
Kajiura and Toujou must have just met there by coincidence; for the two them to have conversation such as this was commonplace and nothing particularly out of the ordinary. There was thus no need for her to conceal herself.
However, for a moment in time, Nanao detected an expression on Rikka’s profile that she had not seen in a long while; her composed countenance that usually came across as cold was instead replaced with a bashful, happy expression.
“—I see, Kajiura-senpai. So you do feel that way about Toujou-kun.”
And Kano was well aware of it; perhaps it wasn’t a stretch to say that even the rest of the student council members knew about it.
And then Nanao remembered that she herself had nominated Basara as a candidate for being the student council representative—someone who would be the face of the student affairs—under the grounds that she had interacted with Basara the most.
So that’s why Kano asked me to speak her earlier, Nanao thought. She abruptly clutched her chest with her hand, realizing it had gotten larger.
Nanao, who had been passing her days as a normal human student in Hijirigasaka Academy, was in fact a half-vampire; half-vampires possessed no stable gender and biological sex until they reached adulthood, and Nanao had to go through periodical gender changes. It was because of this that Nanao had been incapable of reverting to his original form since the end of last year.
She was unable to understand the prickling, somewhat painful feeling that suddenly surfaced in her chest; she froze in place, unable to move as she held Rikka’s bag in her hand.
Their conversation ended before long, and Basara turned to leave. Kajiura waved him goodbye as he left, seeing him off.
“…Valentine’s, huh? It’s so strange thinking about it…” Rikka muttered, staying until she could no longer see any traces of Basara.
And Nanao finally understood what was going on after hearing those words.
That was what Ritsuka had been worrying about; and Nanao had all the reason she needed to fully understand Rikka’s feelings.
Nanao had yet to consider giving chocolate to Basara; however, before Nanao transformed into her current state as a girl, she had enrolled into the school as a boy.
That said, it would be strange if Nanao were to give Basara chocolates on Valentine’s Day out of gratitude; that was why it was impossible for Nanao to actually give Basara chocolates for the occasion.
Such was why Nanao felt her chest twist uncomfortably when Rikka had muttered those words earlier.
Before Nanao realized it, Kajiura had took notice of her.
“K-Kajiura-senpai. I wanted to give you something you left behind…”
“Don’t get the wrong idea, okay?”
Rikka was frantically shaking her hands before Nanao in denial, as the latter stared at her in wonder.
“Sure, I said something about Valentine’s and all, but if I’m going to be giving Toujou-kun chocolate for that occasion, it’ll be only for nothing more than to thank him for what he did during the school sports festival. Nothing more than that. I don’t have any intentions otherwise. After all, he’s living together with Naruse-san and the others, isn’t he? And he’s also really close with Nonaka-san as well…if I were to give him chocolate for any intimate reasons, don’t you think it’ll just come across as weird and cause him trouble? I really shouldn’t trigger something that might end up causing Toujou-kun and the girls to fight amongst one another…that said, it would be best if I just decide not to give him any chocolate, right?”
Never before had Nanao seen Rikka pile on excuse after excuse for her current predicament, and she found the spectacle to be quite adorable.
“Also, all my mistakes recently have nothing to do with this. Nothing at all!”
Nanao felt the spiralling whirlpool in her chest that stirred her gradually fade away.
She understood very well what it meant to feel that way Rikka did right now. That said—
Nanao’s eyes lit with an ominous glow behind her glasses as she used the power of her magic eyes; it was a power that vampires possessed that allowed them to see through the hearts of people and control them at will.
Rikka abruptly stopped speaking, and she could not take her own eyes off Nanao; however, Nanao did not do anything of the sort to manipulate her.
Nanao only used just a little bit of her power to sway Rikka to open her own closed heart; she used her power if only to let Rikka to be the slightest bit honest with herself.
Rikka let out adorable breaths as she hung her head; the shackles that were weighing on her heart had finally been lifted.
Now you understand what your true feelings are, Nanao thought.
“You don’t intend to give him some chocolate?” Rikka asked Nanao.
Valentine’s Day was just around the corner.
“Ah! Why is it frothing all over?!” “Kurumi-chan, turn down the heat!” “Naruse-san, your chocolate’s burning!”
Sounds of business echoed across the kitchen of Hijirigasaka Academy.
Nanao wasn’t involved, though; he could only hear the sounds of Kajiura, Mio and Kurumi from outside the kitchen, and none of the girls seemed to have noticed him.
“Good luck, senpai.” He said silently, peering into the kitchen.
While Mio and Kurumi were working on a chocolate truffle, Kajiura was making a plate out of a ganache mixture…it was more appropriate to describe it as a piece of namachoco (Japanese ganache), which was a piece of chocolate shaped like a brick. After shaping the chocolate, she wrote a rather large “Obligatory!” on it using confectioners sugar.
Stepping out of the campus, his gaze turned toward the chilly winter sky, welcoming it with a dazzling smile as he withdrew a single basket-like box; apart from Nanao, no one else knew the contents of the box hidden beneath the beautiful wrapping—chocolate. His hand extended itself toward the nearby trash can in the courtyard, attempting to throw it away.
“What a waste, don’t you think?”
He turned toward the voice with the chocolate still in his hand; standing below a tree of falling leaves was Hasegawa Chisato.
The school nurse’s keen gaze pierced through Nanao through her glasses, as if she saw through the student’s very heart; Nanao made herself alert at her gaze.
Hasegawa, however, didn’t seem intent to ask him about anything; Nanao thus felt it was safe to put her guard down, but he remained silent regardless. His shoulders involuntarily relaxed upon processing the situation.
“It was just a hypothetical statement.” Hasegawa finally spoke again. “It seems you did want to give that chocolate to someone. And I suppose you’re wondering that when the time comes and that person finally knows that you care about him in some way…you’re scared at what they’ll think of you, that they’ll be creeped out by you after that?”
“Ah…” was all that Nanao could let slip.
It was just as Hasegawa had described; Nanao had wanted to give that chocolate to Toujou Basara, someone who wholeheartedly accepted his status as a half-vampire. Despite hailing from the Hero Clan, he had not looked upon him with scorn like the rest of the clan, and he neither pursued him nor condemned him.
That was why Nanao had wanted to give chocolate to him.
“Sensei, how did you know what was going on with me…”
“Someone’s been worried about you.” As she said so, she turned around and walked away without glancing back at Nanao.
“Someone’s been…worried about me?” Nanao had been unable to finish what he wanted to say before she left; in Hasegawa’s place came another distant figure walking toward him the very figure that Nanao had pictured in his mind earlier.
“Yo,” Basara said, waving at Nanao.
Slightly scratching her cheek in hesitation, she steeled herself and raised her head. Her eyes looked at Basara directly in the eye, staring at him intently as if to pin him down, unafraid of him knowing of their magic qualities.
“Have you been worried about something, Tachibana?”
“I’m sorry if I’m mistaken, but…you just seem to have been behaving quite odd recently.”
Nanao had indeed been troubled by something, but he didn’t let it show; it was only natural that Basara would have noticed it.
“Do you really think I’ve changed that much?”
“No….I just felt that way, that’s all. If I really am misunderstanding it, I’m really sorry.”
“Oh, no, I–” Nanao could not continue after that. Her vision became blurry, since that she could not make out Basara’s face clearly. It was then that Nanao realized that tears were welling up in her eyes.
Nanao shook her head. The tears that streamed down her cheeks did not come from sadness; it was none other than warmth that now welled up in her chest.
Nanao had put all of her attention on worrying about Rikka upon noticing that the latter was troubled by something; similarly, Basara had realized that something was troubling Nanao and had been worried about her too. And even now he was still looking at her, worried about her.
She was truly happy from the bottom of her heart.
“Toujou-kun!” Nanao presented the chocolate she held in her hand to Basara. “T-This is…it’s a little early, but here, have my Valentine’s Chocolate!” The red on Nanao’s flushed face spread to her ears, and her flow of tears were never-ending.
Basara received the scene with a momentary look of surprise, but he accepted Nanao’s chocolate just as anyone normally would, nonetheless.
“Can you hear me out for a bit…?” Nanao lowered her head and unwrapped the wrapping of the package, exposing a large, heart-shaped chocolate within it. Truth be told, Nanao overdid the heart-shape somewhat, though she knew full well it was already too late to think about it now.
“U-Um…I’ve been in your care during the school sports festival and a lot of other things since…and besides, my body’s that of a girl right now….So please!”
With a plopping sound, Basara gently patted the top of Nanao’s head, eliciting an affectionate smile in response.
Wiping away the unceasing flow of her tears, a genuine smile lit itself on her face, one born from the bottom of her heart.