I enter the empty classroom where we’re supposed to meet. Not only is Arioka-senpai here, but Michel is too.
They’re quarreling about something, and haven’t noticed me.
I approach them curiously.
「What are you doing?」
Arioka-senpai looks like something’s bothering him.
He usually looks like he’s up to no good.
「What’s up with you too, Michel? Shouldn’t you be attending a seminar at this time?」
「That would be the case, but I was curious when Arioka-senpai entered a classroom that’s not in use.」
He’s smiling, but I think it would be bad if he’s skipping his seminar.
He stands out a lot, so his absence would probably be noticed right away.
「But you came at a perfect time, Sagiri-san. I have something I wanted to give you.」
He takes out a box. I untie the ribbon and open the box.
There are rose-themed chocolates inside.
「Whoa! They’re adorable!」
There’s a scent of chocolate with a hint of rose.
There are thin layers of chocolate delicately stacked just like actual rose petals, and there are leaves carefully crafted to make the rose stand.
This is truly a work of art.
「Can I really have this?!」
I grip the box tightly even though it’s supposed to be a question.
I feel as if I’m about to dent the box, and loosen my grip quickly.
Michel smiles gently.
I look at the rose chocolate again and get excited.
There are different roses too. Rose buds and even roses that just bloomed for 5 minutes.
There are three different colors as well: white, black, and pink.
「In France, men give flowers to women on Valentine’s Day. But since you’re not interested in flowers, I decided to give you this instead.」
The color on each petal is slightly different.
That’s probably because of the different mixture of cocoa on each petal.
There’s matcha in the green leaves.
They’re so detailed that I can even see the xylem and phloem on each of them. I can’t hold back my excitement on seeing such artistic chocolates.
I stop myself from jumping, but not from bouncing up and down.
「…Apparently those are obligatory chocolates, Noda. Even in France, obligatory roses seem to be a trend lately.」
Is that a thing?
What he said sounds familiar. It reminds me of a famous Takarazuka play.
Michel is about to say something when all our phones ring at once.
Their phones are put on silent mode, but mine isn’t.
The ringtone “Gonna fly now” breaks the silence in the classroom.
I look at my phone screen, which shows the name of one of the club members.
Judging from their reaction, it was probably the same person who sent the message.
I ignore it thinking that either Michel or Arioka-senpai would respond, but it looks like they were both thinking the same thing.
Right after my ringtone stops, we get another message.
【The nightmare from last year…】
【Is repeating again this year… No chocolates… Kinoshita-san isn’t here either…】
It’s a chain of sad messages.
「The late semester tests have just ended. Is Kinoshita-san even here today…?」
「Who knows? I haven’t seen her today.」
「I just saw her in the clubroom this morning. I don’t know where she is now.」
I imagine the club member sending the messages, sitting on the floor and grasping his knees.
I hear another “Gonna fly now”. I give up and call him.
「Noda, where are you right now?」
It’s noisy around him. I can’t hear him too well. But I can tell he’s panicking.
「Now? I’m in Building A, Room 305.」
「Please get here soon! The guys who didn’t get chocolates are getting desperate. I got an obligatory chocolate, but they beat me up. One of the guys is even trying to destroy a chocolate company, saying that it’s the Great Chocolate Famine.」
「Well, it’s his fault he didn’t get any chocolates, not the weather.」
He’s telling me to go there anyway. I agree to his request and hang up.
Both Arioka-senpai and Michel are calling too.
Arioka-senpai is talking nicely while keeping some distance away from the noisy speaker.
With a troubled look, Michel is trying hard to coax a club member to stop what he’s doing.
From what I could tell over their phones, it seems that some of the club members are trying to burn a manual on how to be a popular guy.
Stop that. You’ll cause a fire.
「I’m going to the convenience store to buy some chocolates.」
I check my wallet, thinking that I could probably divert them with some sweets. I could probably make do with 500 yen, but I only have 200.
I’m shocked by how poor I am.
「You could buy some economical chocolate with 200 yen, right?」
「Do you really only have that much?」
「It just happened to be the case today. I have more cash usually.」
It’s actually rare that I have less than 1000 yen. It’s just that I’ve been so engrossed in making the truffles that I’ve been going straight home.
That’s why I haven’t checked my wallet until now.
「Noda, are you forgetting something?」
Arioka-senpai sticks out the hand he had in his pocket.
I remember what I came for and stop myself. I take out the bag from my backpack, and I freeze.
I don’t have anything for Michel.
I could just give him some on White Day, but I feel bad just giving chocolates to Arioka-senpai right now.
But I don’t have any more chocolates.
I gave the friendship chocolates to Mizuhara instead.
After taking some time to decide, I give Arioka-senpai the bag, and give Michel the 2 chocolates I picked out earlier.
The two truffles are covered in candy wrappings, so they look presentable even without a bag. But I still feel bad.
「Did you make these, Sagiri-san?」
「Yeah, with Mom.」
They look happy getting their chocolates.
I’m happy for them, but also frustrated for not getting to eat any of the truffles.
While thinking I can make them from scratch again, I head to the convenience store before going to the clubroom.
Before entering the clubroom, I securely guard the chocolates Michel gave me.
It’s cold outside, but I remove my scarf and wrap it all around the box.
The chocolates could break on the slightest impact. I don’t want to bring them into the clubroom now filled with desperate club members, but I don’t have another choice.
I open the door and remain on full alert.