I can hear the door creaking before it shuts. There’s a bit of silence.
Nonomiya-san sighs while leaning on the bed.
Why is she slumping her shoulders and looking listless? Anyway, I guess I should change clothes…… I think to myself, and as I take the shirt, I notice that it looks familiar.
「Huh? This shirt……」
I take a closer look. I’ve seen this elf mohair sweater before.
I look at Nonomiya-san quizzically, who lets out a huge sigh while staring at the clean floor.
This doesn’t look normal. I come to a stop.
「……Mizuhara-cchi won’t come to school for my snacks, but he will when you’re in trouble……」
She mumbles almost inaudibly.
「I called him just now. I knew his place was near. ……I did it willingly, so why am I gettin’ depressed? Ferreal……」
Nonomiya-san’s eyes are welling up with tears as she looks up at me. I’m taken aback.
Honestly speaking, I’m really helpless when I see a girl crying.
Nonomiya-san giggles at my reaction, causing her tears to fall.
「Ya know…… I lied. To you and Mizuhara-cchi.」
Nonomiya-san covers her face with one hand.
I can still see tears streaming down the bottom of her cheeks. I quickly search my backpack for a handkerchief, but I can’t find one.
Hanky, hanky, where are you?!
Seeing my flustered reaction, she laughs and tells me to forget it and hurry up and get changed.
「Ferreal, no matter how hard I tried, I knew he wouldn’t accept me as yer replacement for makin’ snacks. That’s why…… I lied. That ye were datin’ the prince……」
She’s starting to talk in spurts and blowing her nose, so I’m looking for tissues.
「If Mizuhara-cchi thought that ye guys we’re datin’, he’d stop callin’ ye over to make snacks. Then I could have him eat my tasty snacks. I’m more skilled than ye, so I was darn confident I could be yer replacement.」
She’s proud of herself as a professional patissier.
She goes to a confectionery school, and is more than qualified. Even though I’m good at it, I’m still an amateur, and can’t hold a candle to her.
「But he wouldn’t eat my pastries no matter what I made.」
Small beads of tears are falling down her cheeks. I’m still panicking helplessly.
「It wasn’t only my pastries. Eventually, he stopped eatin’ other snacks too. After I pestered him, he told me that he just wasn’t feelin’ it cos of his brother’s weddin’. I’ve liked him for a long time, so I know it when I see it. It must be somethin’ real serious to get him down like that.」
It seems that Mizuhara has decided to attend his brother’s wedding ceremony.
He has a sense of duty, so maybe he’s just going there to play his part as a brother.
「I put a lotta effort into makin’ some snacks to cheer him up. I made sure it was professional grade before sending them to him. But he didn’t like it. I just couldn’t take it anymore.」
I’m startled as she’s staring straight at me, even though she’s crying.
「Even then, I’m still in love with Mizuhara-cchi. ……So, could ya make him some snacks, Noda-cchi?」
I’m confused. Why did she say 「So」? It doesn’t make sense to me. Ignoring my confusion, Nonomiya-san stands up.
Even as she says that she feels better after telling me everything, I can see the pain behind her smile. I’m at a loss for words as she looks away from me.
「C’mon, let’s go home. It’s snowing, and it’ll be a darn bother if the trains are stopped.」
She breaks the silence and tosses a pocket warmer at me.
The chemical reaction in the pocket warmer already started earlier, but it’s still warm enough.
「Ya know, I don’t dislike ya. If I was up against a real planner like Kinoshita Yui, I wouldn’t give up even if it killed me, though……」
She mumbles in a soft voice, saying something like 「Even if she made snacks for Mizuhara-cchi ferreal.」 and left the infirmary.
「Wait…! Hold on!」
I want to chase after her, but I can’t. I still haven’t put on my pants yet.
I straighten my clothes, and even though I know it’s too late, I take a look outside the infirmary.
I spot Michel sitting with his arms folded around his knees, and with his face still red.
It looks like he’s been keeping a lookout to prevent anyone from coming into the infirmary.
「Sorry about earlier.」
A lot has happened, and I have a lot to think about, but I figured I should apologize to Michel first.
「I-I’m the one who should be sorry! I kept pulling on the quilt even though you……!」
He’s still flustered even as he apologizes.
「You were just worried about me. But if you could forget about what happened, it’ll help a lot.」
Michel notices that my hair is wet, and frowns.
「Sagiri-san, your hair is wet……. What happened anyway?」
「Oh…… It’s because of the snow. Let’s go home.」
The way I said it made it obvious that I was trying to cover it up, but it’s the truth that it’s snowing right now.
I stop him from prying any further. By the time we step outside, the snow is already falling moderately, piling up on the ground.
The wind is blowing some of the snow onto me. It’s cold.
「……Let’s go home.」
Michel sighs in acceptance and walks next to me, providing me some cover from the snow until we reach the train station.
Michel’s a little worried, so he offers to take me home, but there’s a possibility that the trains will stop because of the snow, so I turn him down.
We said goodbye on the platform. He looked worried, so I’m sending him a message when I get home.
【Sorry to keep you worried. I’m home now.】
I get a response immediately.
【That’s a relief. Well then, do you mind if I ask you what exactly happened today?】
He’s still curious. I don’t know how to respond.
After taking a while to think, I reply that I got myself wet by accident. It’s not a complete lie.
I relax myself in a warm bath and get in bed, and before I know it, I’m thinking about the situation with Nonomiya-san and Mizuhara.
I’m looking at the shirt I borrowed.
I don’t really know what happened between Mizuhara and Nonomiya-san.
On the same night that Michel confessed to me, Nonomiya-san sent me a message saying that she would make snacks for Mizuhara on my behalf. Since then, I haven’t received any requests from Mizuhara.
I felt lonely when the messages stopped coming. I really did.
But Nonomiya-san is overwhelmingly better than me, and I felt bad that I was in her way of winning over Mizuhara.
I don’t really want to pry, but I’m curious about how Mizuhara is doing, and I’m concerned about what Nonomiya-san said.
First, I’ll call Nonomiya-san.
「I’m still tryna deal with heartbreak! Just hurry up and make Mizuhara-cchi some snacks!」
She hangs up right after that. My ears are ringing from all the shouting.
「……W-what the hell…」
I mull over it for a while, but I can’t do anything about it. I should thank Mizuhara for the clothes, so I give him a call.
Mizuhara only writes in the subject header when he sends messages, but I think he prefers messages over phone calls. That’s why I’m wondering if he’ll pick up at all.
I’m thinking about sending him a message if he doesn’t answer the call, but after a few rings, it looks like he’s picking it up.