Papa no Iu Koto o Kikinasai!:Volume 3 Chapter 1
 Chapter 1 – Day of Shichi-Go-San
The papers on the table were not information used for my school report, but a few catalogues with colorful wrappings, while the ones flipping through them were Sora-chan, Hina and I.
It was as if the moans that Sora-chan and I subconsciously made were gradually drawn out of the wide-open windows along the wind, and while lying in my arms, Hina looked at us in puzzlement.
After entering November, the air outdoors gradually turned colder, and due to the fact that the wind was rather strong today, the pages of the open catalogue on the desk kept fluttering, becoming a huge hassle for us.
I wished to close the windows as soon as possible, but since Miu-chan, who is in charge of cleaning today, decided to air up the house, we were ordered to keep the windows open before she returned.
However, the moans that we made were not related to the cold weather……
”Hmm…… How troublesome.”
I glared at the catalogue and moaned in a low voice again.
”Oi-tan, isn’t this cu~te!”
The person sitting on my lap was a person who tied the lush, black hair so similar to her mother’s into a bunch, using her large, dazzling eyes to look at me, a beautiful maiden…… No, a beautiful toddler.
”Oh, Hina, so you like this one?”
”Mnn! It looks like a tasty stawberry~”
”Nono, clothes can’t be chosen like this……”
The books that were stacked on the table for some time were catalogues for rental kimonos.
As for why were we anxiously looking at these things, simply said, it was because of preparations for Shichi-Go-San, and the deadline was imminent as well.
Although I think everyone should know what ‘Shichi-Go-San’ is, if you really need me to explain, it’s just a festival to celebrate the growth of children by heading to shrines to pray.
As it is held on the fifteenth of November when a boy is three or five, and when a girl is three or seven, it is known as ‘Shichi-Go-San’. And since Hina is already three, this year is the first year she celebrates Shichi-Go-San.
”Uuu~ This really won’t do! There aren’t any good ones at all!”
The girl who forcefully slammed her hand on the table, leaning forward to speak, would be my other niece— Takanashi Sora.
”After all, isn’t this the first time Hina celebrates Shichi-Go-San!? Even though the clothes are just used to take photos of, let’s not rent one, but just order a kimono specially for Hina! Besides, it’s not like we don’t have money now!”
The girl whose brown hair was fixed with silk ribbons that were used like hair bands declared in an agitated tone while pounding on the catalogues. For some reason, there is a strand of hair standing up like an antenna, but apart from that, she is a flawless young beauty as well.
According to Sora-chan, that hairstyle seems to require that antenna (it’s called an ahoge, apparently) to be complete. The beauty standards of a middle schooler are so inexplicable.
However, although the cheerful maiden before my eyes is actually an introverted girl who is bad at dealing with boys outside, she is mysteriously forceful with me. Speaking of which, would this be because I, as the supporting pillar of the family, am too unreliable?
Logically speaking, I, as a guardian of the children, should sigh, and feel bad as I often make them worry about me, but being stared at by Sora-chan’s large eyes, I couldn’t help growing red in the face.
”What now?! Onii-chan!”
Though I wasn’t sure if Sora-chan noticed my embarrassing reaction, her attitude of urging me to make a decision was actually quite reasonable.
Can this important stage of our little princess' life be dealt with using just a rental item?
Although to us, who must work hard without the care of adults, this is indeed a precious sum of money, Hina’s Shichi-Go-San is an important event that she has only two chances to experience in her whole life…… Okay, I know that I was exaggerating a bit when I said that.
”That’s…… True. Isn’t it fine to spend just a little money?”
Even though ordering it is quite hard considering the time and our financial state, if we just buy ready-made ones……
”Yes, yes. Hina’s kimono must be blue with the shade of water, and the rentals don’t have this color at all! Let’s buy a kimono that suits Hina!”
Wait a minute, Sora-chan, I think there’s a part of your statement that I cannot go along with.
A blue kimono the shade of water……?
”…… Wait a minute, the color suited for Hina, shouldn’t it be pink?”
Our gazes clashed.
Sora-chan showed a gaze that was as if she were saying, ‘What nonsense are you spouting?’
”The color that suits Hina is blue, of course!”
”She’s a girl, so of course she’s going to use pink!”
After hearing my words, Sora-chan said in retaliation:
”Thinking that everything a girl uses must be in pink or red is just too outdated.”
”Uuu…… But! Though Hina looks good in any color, the color that suits her the most should be pink!”
”Of course, I think that Hina is cute in clothes of any color, but blue is still the best!”
Sora-chan and I glared at each other with Hina between us.
This is actually a time when I should yield, as a man, and as an adult.
However, as Hina’s guardian, and as her Papa, I will not give in so easily.
”Hina, Hina likes blue, right? Don’t you like ice cream sodas?”
”Mnn! Hina likes ice cweam~”
”Ah! That’s despicable?!”
Sora-chan deviously roped Hina in.
”Hina, remember what you had yesterday? Milk with strawberries. You like that a lot, right? The milk will turn pink.”
”Mnn! That’s tasty too~”
Probably because she recalled its taste, Hina smiled radiantly, and although some saliva trickled out of her mouth, I’ll just pretend I didn’t see it.
”Onii-chan, that’s despicable!”
”What are you talking about, weren’t you the one who used devious tactics first?”
We glared at each other yet again.
”Onee-chan, aren’t you done yet?”
Miu-chan, who appeared at the entrance of the living room, looked at us in disbelief.
From the looks of her holding the vacuum cleaner, she was probably done with cleaning up upstairs.
After the lesson last time, the housework had been changed to a shift system, and the person in charge of cleaning today was Miu-chan. She closed the previously open windows, so it seems like the air in the house will be fresh once more, since the cleaning has been finished. I was relieved that I didn’t have to have cold wind blown on me anymore, thanking Miu-chan for her hard work.
The dreamily beautiful girl with blonde hair and long legs before my eyes would be the second sister in this family— Takanashi Miu. It is rumored that there are quite a few fan clubs of her in her school, but after seeing her appearance that rivals that of an idol, it would not be surprising to anyone.
As you can see, they are beautiful girls (and a toddler) of different types, but will still become the focus of everyone naturally. The three sisters of the Takanashi family are quite famous in this area as well.
I— Segawa Yuuta, am a person that can be said to be the uncle of these beautiful three sisters.
Although all three sisters have striking features, unfortunately, only I am the exception.
I am currently studying at a normal college somewhere in Tokyo, my features are plain, and I don’t have any special talents at all.
Well, that can’t be helped. Though they are my nieces, I am not related to Sora-chan and Miu-chan by blood, while Hina is my only niece who is blood related.
However, they are still my family, my daughters, that I, Segawa Yuuta, must guard preciously.
”You came at the right time, Miu. Say something as well. Hina’s kimono should be blue like the shade of water!”
”No, we should get a pink one!”
Seeing us glare at each other yet again, Miu-chan shrugged slightly.
”Oji-san, seriously, please calm down for a moment. It’s the same for you, Onee-chan. Didn’t we decide to rent the kimono already? Hina will grow up in a flash, so she won’t be able to wear it very long after we buy it.”
Miu-chan was right. Her words made us repent with the look on our faces.
During the business with the school festival, we nearly forgot about Hina’s Shichi-Go-San, and in the end, we only started to prepare for it the day before yesterday. But even so, it’s too much of a pity to let this event that happens only twice in one’s life pass sloppily, so me, Sora-chan, and the others are frantically making preparations.
But we haven’t decided on the most important traditional clothing.
I think Sora-chan and Miu-chan probably took part in Shichi-Go-San before as well, but after looking through the large amount of clothes and cosplay costumes hidden in Nee-san’s cupboard, I still couldn’t find a suitable kimono.
A three year old grows up very quickly, so even if we buy a kimono now, it’s impossible for her to wear it on her next Shichi-Go-San, so we made the more appropriate conclusion of renting one. Sora-chan and the others probably did that during their time as well.
”That’s true. And Hina is slightly taller than before now.”
”Really? Hina gwew up?”
Hina patted her head with her hand, asking in confusion.
”Didn’t we measure our heights before this? Look, on the pillar over there.”
Sora-chan pointed at a corner of the living room. Dates were written in detail over there in pencil, and the position of Hina’s head was marked as well. She already grew 3cm from spring until now.
”Hina wants to grow as tall as Onee-tan!”
”Mnn, mnn, you definitely will.”
Having Sora-chan pat her head while saying that made Hina slightly embarrassed.
Speaking of which, Hina and Nee-san are like peas in a pod, and it’s unmistakable as I’m speaking as her brother.
When Hina grows up, she will probably become a beauty just like Nee-san.
Of course, that’s quite worth looking forward to, but because of my stand as a substitute father, that is a very troubling issue as well.
For instance, when Hina is at an age when she goes to high school, bad intentions will definitely be born in the hearts of the males around her.
Receiving love letters, being asked behind the school building, the rooftop, or below the legendary tree.
And then…… A love confession.
And, and…… Though I am unwilling to think of such a possibility, but if that man goes out with Hina from that time on…… Just thinking of that gave me the feeling that my gut was about to be punctured.
And if the kid who claims to be Hina’s boyfriend appears before me, I don’t have the confidence to maintain the general moral ethics in the society.
”When Hina grows up, she will definitely become a beauty like Yuri-san. How exciting, Oji-san.”
I don’t know if Miu-chan noticed the thoughts in my heart, but she said that with a wide smile on her face.
”No! That won’t do! Hina cannot have a boyfriend!”
”Onii-chan, what nonsense are you……”
”Hina! You can’t look for a boyfriend or something like that! You have to promise Oi-tan!”
”What’s a boyfan?”
With her eyes widened, Hina asked in confusion.
If possible, I wish for her to stay innocent forever.
”It seems like Oji-san is turning out more and more like our dad recently.”
She hit a sore spot.
About half a year ago, Nee-san and my brother-in-law, Shingo-san…… Went missing in an air crash.
Needless to say, Shingo-san as the father of the three sisters, had spoiled them a lot.
Facing his strong love, even I was nearly vanquished by his shoehorn sword.
I understand your feelings now, Shingo Nii-san…… However, perhaps I should still reflect on myself.
”I- In any case! Hina is super cute, so we must be more careful, especially that kid—“
”That kid, as in Katsuya-kun?”
A name that I am unwilling to hear came from Sora-chan’s mouth.
That kid is an evil child famous in this area. With an exceptionally arrogant attitude, he doesn’t know how to respect adults at all.
After we returned to Ikebukuro, allowing Hina to return to the kindergarten that she went to before moving to Hachiouji, I met……
I should say, the one that everyone knows except me……. It was a boy.
Well, I really don’t know whether he’s impolite or stubborn, but in any case, I don’t like him touching Hina now and then. And also, recently, he even…… Ah, whatever, I’ll disregard that for the moment.
In any case, don’t think that a mere three year old kid can extend his wolf’s claws towards our Hina.
”Why? Kacchan is a fran.”
”A friend, huh…… You cannot be deceived by such words. Listen to me, sooner or later, that type of person will turn into one who stirs up trouble, a terrible womaniz— Guwagh!?”
”Don’t teach Hina strange things like this!”
I was scolded by Sora-chan. But thanks to that, she seemed to have calmed down slightly.
”We’ll talk about the kimono tomorrow! We’re deciding after inspecting the actual thing at the shop renting out kimonos, is that okay?”
Facing Sora-chan’s frightening anger, I could only give my assent, albeit unwillingly.
Hachiouji is very cold in the morning, having a coldness that pierces through one’s body.
Though it seems like I have once said something similar before, I still have to repeat it again.
Wind blows down from the hills. A vast land without many shelters. And there’s the fact that it’s the morning as well.
With all of these conditions met, the campus of Tama Literary College is an extremely cold place. After finishing my job of moving stock that I took from last month, I, who was looking at Hanamura-senpai driving a truck away, went to a coffee shop to whittle away some time before the first period started.
As there was still more than an hour before the class starts, the view outside of the windows was almost deserted.
Speaking of which, the Liberal Studies class on the first period of Monday is basically a class that only people who lack a lot of credits attend, like me, for instance. Because of that, I didn’t have many people to talk to, and could only take a seat by the windows, finishing the contents of my water bottle all alone. By the way, the water bottle contains houjicha latte that Sora-chan made for me by waking up early in the morning, as I have to do part time work.
It is a simple drink that adds hot milk to strongly simmered houjicha.
Though it might sound somewhat disgusting, it’s unexpectedly good.
Well, it counts as a type of milk tea, but it’s fresher and smoother than red tea. Plus, it cools down slower because of the added milk.
The most important thing is, I’m really thankful for being able to drink a warm beverage on a cold day like this. While slowly tasting the houjicha latte, I leisurely looked out of the windows, trying to see if anyone I recognise would pass by.
When I was half finished with the houjicha latte, I noticed a familiar face pass by.
”Uuu…… Should I go and greet that person……?”
Though I originally planned to greet people that I recognize and know their names of, no matter who they are, but only the person before my eyes that time made me hesitate. As I couldn’t make a decision for a long time, the other person noticed my presence as well.
The person who greeted me with exceptional vigor today would be Sako-senpai.
”Coming here so early today, is there anything wrong?”
”What impudence, I arrive at the school every day about this time.”
Sako-senpai knitted his brows while saying those unexpected words.
Senpai looks like an ordinary fat, scruffy man, but he’s actually a complete otaku.
Furthermore, his age and academic year is unknown, while his network of contacts has already surpassed mysterious, reaching an ominous realm. I only know that he is the first president of the club that I am in, Road Observation Research Society— ‘Roary’ in short.
Sometimes, he would say something like: ‘Your ○○○○ is exposed!’ as his signature line like a certain detective by deliberately mixing together Roary and expose, but he is still ignored by the others most of the time. By the way, over half of the people in our college don’t know the existence of this club, while the people who do know even suspects that ‘Roary’ is ‘Lolicon Research Society’ in short, and I am one of the people being suspected.
And the fact that Sako-senpai, who is like this, actually goes to school so early every day, that was the first time I heard of it.
Speaking of which, I never saw him attend any classes at all. Though he proclaims himself as a ‘Third Year’, he already paused in ‘Third Year’ from a few years ago, which is why he is an extremely mysterious fellow.
Searching for meaning in the actions of this person feels like it would just be a waste of effort.
”However, your appearance is quite timely. I have some business with you.”
”Senpai, you’re…… Looking for me?”
”That is correct. Segawa-kun, until what time will you stay back today?”
”I don’t have any classes after the third period, so I plan to go back at noon……”
I was planning to take Hina to try on some kimonos after I went back. Of course, Sora-chan and Miu-chan would follow as well.
Sako-senpai said: “That would be troublesome.”, making a troubled expression after that.
”Okay! Before you go back, lend me some of your time.”
”That’s okay, but…… What business do you have with me?”
”That’s all, remember to go to the clubroom after this! Goodbye!”
Completely ignoring my words, Sako-senpai left with a speed that counts as quick for his round body.
When the long, meaningless class ended, I climbed the long, steep slope.
My destination would be the club building at the highest spot in the campus.
About the Road Observation Research Society that I’m in, not only are the club activities incomprehensible from its name, its president is that Sako-senpai as well, so I always thought that Roary is just an unofficial club where people with similar interests gather.
But in truth, Roary is actually a club officially recognized by the college. How ominous.
Although I don’t know what magic Sako-senpai used to make the college recognize the club application, in any case, since it’s an official club, we have the right to use the club building as well.
Thus, Roary has its own clubroom, and I am headed there right now.
Of course, this is all because of Sako-senpai.
But from the time the school festival ended, I started to study, work and do the housework whole-heartedly, so I’m thinking that it’s quite a good chance for me to show up at the club that I haven’t been to for quite some time recently. But first, I have to make this clear, I am not a lolicon.
I have a proper aim. Thinking that made my footsteps lighter.
Walking for some time after climbing the not-too-steep, but frightfully long sloped path, the steep stairs that are like cliffs could be seen. After climbing the stairs, a vast, open space could be seen— the field of Tama Literary College.
The club building is by the field. As its name suggests, it is a building that gathers all of the clubrooms. On lunch breaks, this place would be so crowded that it’s extremely noisy, but for some reason, it was exceptionally cold that day.
Well, perhaps it’s because of the remains of the school festival? Hills of various items could be seen everywhere, making me fully aware that not even two weeks had passed since the immensely chaotic school festival.
In the school festival that was held recently, us Roary presented a cosplay café. With the assistance of the three sisters that our family is so proud of, we were exceptionally successful on the day of the event, however…… Something tiring happened after that as well.
Sora-chan, who had overworked herself, fell sick, while I was scolded by a middle-schooler boy.
Well, such matters made me value my responsibilities as a guardian even more.
While thinking of such matters, I pushed the door of Roary open.
Because of blockage by a hill of rubbish, I could only squeeze into the clubroom from the half open door.
”Eh? That’s strange.”
For some reason, the clubroom was pitch black, but the door was not locked, and I didn’t meet anyone from the club on the way here as well.
Which means…… They went back without locking the door? Speaking of which, there isn’t really anything that people can steal in here in any case. But since there isn’t anyone here, what did I come here for? As I was having doubts about all that while extending my left hand to search for the switch for the light, my outstretched hand was suddenly caught by someone.
As I shouted out loud, a blinding light was shone on me.
Is this what they call being in the limelight? In the glaring light shone from below, someone’s silhouette appeared.
After that, jolly music rang all of a sudden, while the two lights weaved here and there in the clubroom, and when they crossed for the last time, the person that appeared there was—
It was Raika-san. And also, she was wearing the bunny girl costume that she wore during the school festival as well, making cute poses with a poker face on her angelic features as usual.
If one asks the male students enrolled at Tama Literary College: ‘Who is the fairest of them all in this school?’, most probably nearly ninety out of a hundred would answer: ‘Second Year Oda Raika’ And if asked: ‘Who is the girl with the largest breasts in the college?’ Most probably all among a hundred would say that it’s her.
And Raika-san, as a huge-breasted beauty, is now wearing an exposing bunny girl costume, greeting me in a closed room. Although this should be a situation that would bring one to the zenith of excitement, the sad thing is, humans have something that is known as an ability to learn.
”Err…… You’re doing some kind of ‘experiment’ today as well……?”
Acting somewhat like a wet blanket, I asked. Of course, my gaze did not shift away from her beautiful silhouette, and I was trying my best to keep my cool as well.
I should add this as well, if one asks: ‘If you have an opportunity to date Oda Raika, what are your plans?’, even though most of the men would consider for a moment, the final answer would definitely be ‘Impossible’.
Which means, as the sole female member of Roary, and as my crush, Oda Raika is a person like this.
”Umm…… You can stop fooling around now……”
Without changing her pose, Raika-san tilted her head slightly. When I had a closer look, I noticed that instead of bunny ears, Raika-san was wearing cat ears on her head. So that’s why she was saying ‘Nyan’?
Just when I was finally clear about the matter, a spotlight was shone elsewhere, while the one who appeared this time was Sako-senpai.
Sako-senpai shouted so while holding a mike with his little finger pointed out.
What is wrong today?
”Hey! Come on! Mr. Segawa!”
While speaking English in an exaggerated tone, senpai waved his hand, requesting me to sit on a chair illuminated by another spotlight. To be frank, there was only a terrible premonition in my heart, but thinking that just standing there would bring me nowhere, I could only sit down obediently.
The chair felt exceptionally soft, while the back of the seat was particularly high as well. I wonder where they brought that from.
After that, as though it was waiting for me to sit down, a glass was passed to me from the darkness.
As soon as I took the glass, Raika-san immediately poured a drink into my glass.
After she poured in the drink, she made another cute pose. Is this…… special service?
A revealing costume, cute poses, and also a complete poker face, it just felt too mismatched.
”Erm…… Isn’t it about time for you to tell me what you’re playing at?”
Feeling thoroughly suspicious, I said to Sako-senpai.
When he heard my question, senpai waved his index finger in an exaggerated movement, making sounds of ‘tsk, tsk, tsk’ with his tongue.
”Such a question is really untactful, Segawa-kun. Don’t concern yourself about the small issues. Here, cheers. Don’t you like this the most?”
The glass obviously contained the sweet milked tea sold at the vending machines in the school canteen before lunch time, and really didn’t give me any desire to drink it, though indeed, it’s true that I often drink this.
”And food…… Nyan.”
After saying that, Raika-san took out what seemed to be her self-made bento.
Her bright eyes that looked like glass marbles looked at me unblinkingly.
I couldn’t refuse her unwavering gaze, so I picked up an onigiri from the bento container. Salmon was wrapped in it.
The pitiful combination of sweet milked coffee and salmon onigiri is so terrible that it’s hard to describe in words.
As Raika-san said, the large bento container was stuffed so full of onigiris and other appetizers that not a space could be seen in it.
”There’s a lot of drinks left as well.”
Sako-senpai approached, wearing an ominous smile.
Possibly because of his agitated screams just now, his face was full of perspiration.
”Ohhhh! That’s right! Oda-kun, help him ‘Ahhh~’!”
Raika-san slowly took an onigiri, taking it to the side of my mouth.
It was really an irresistible request. Although I had some hesitations, I still allowed Raika-san to send the onigiris into my mouth. I should say, in such a situation, it’s completely impossible to refuse Raika-san’s ‘Ahhh~’. After all, the reason that I joined Roary and would come here in spite of my busy schedule is almost wholly because of her.
The one that I have not seen for a long time…… Well, it can still count that I haven’t seen her for a long time, although not ten days had passed, Raika-san is still very beautiful.
Even when one is in a situation that looks like one is being made fun of no matter how he looks at it, being fed hand-made bento by a person one loves can’t be resisted by any man.
After swallowing a few onigiris and calming my emotions slightly, I spoke to the person that counts as one of the few reasons that I come to Roary, and was taking the chance to pass a drink to me.
”Oi, Nimura, what’s wrong with this?”
Being asked by me, the person whose appearance was good-looking like that of a gigolo who had passed a glass to me in the darkness, smiled wryly while shrugging as well.
”It’s just that they’re a bit concerned. For the matters that happened before this.”
The first friend that I made after entering college would be this person, Nimura Kouichi. He has good-looking features, and added to his considerate personality, awareness of cleanliness, being good at cooking, and having great eloquence, such a person is naturally popular among the girls. And he, himself, is very clear of his own advantage as well, happily enjoying college life in every sense.
”After the school festival, didn’t Sora-chan fall sick? Senpai and the others kept thinking that it’s because they forced her to join the school festival, and since you didn’t appear from that time as well, they were quite sad. Though Oda-senpai’s expression is still the same.”
I understand now, so it’s like this. I was very thankful for their thoughts and could understand their feelings, but it was just because of that, having them show their apology to me by doing all this made me feel bad as well.
”You guys don’t have anything to be sorry about. It’s my fault for not noticing Sora-chan’s condition, and since I’ve settled down my life, I got careless……”
”But, I must still apologize. It would be better if we could have noticed.”
Raika-san’s brows were drooped a few centimeters more than usual, and she said in a low voice.
”Please don’t apologize. After all, Sora-chan’s body has completely recovered now.”
After hearing my words, Sako-senpai and Raika-san seemed to be relieved as well.
”T- That’s true! As I said! I actually don’t mind at all, it’s just that Oda-kun said that we should do this no matter what!”
”Kaichou lied. You were obviously worried.”
”N- Not at all! Nonono, please don’t say so! Oda-kun! You should say this somewhere I can’t hear it from……”
Sako-senpai said while moving his fat body, acting like he’s embarrassed.
…… Though it was rather disgusting, I’m certain that senpai is a good person.
”I’m very grateful for your thoughts, but instead of treating me like this, wouldn’t greeting Sora-chan directly be better? Speaking of which, isn’t it meaningless even if you apologize to me?”
”Well…… She hates me, after all……”
Sako-senpai said somewhat forlornly. It seems like he’s very clear about this.
”Not really, it hasn’t reached the extent of hating you…… To be precise, it’s probably a state when she only feels like avoiding you……”
”In any case, it just counts as dislike.”
My words of consolation were destroyed by Raika-san.
”Uwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I’m just hateful anyway!”
Saying that a middle school girl is an oba-san the first time he met her, it’s quite understandable that he would be detested. Although I think that senpai brought it on himself, he seems to regret it quite a lot.
”Well, I only found out recently that Sora-chan is actually quite a shy girl, so putting in more time would probably be able to resolve the misunderstanding…… If there aren’t much accidents.”
”Really? Can I continue to live? She won’t say ‘Disgusting’, ‘Don’t want to breathe in the same air as you’, ‘Letting a person like you live is an original sin of mankind’ and the like?”
”……. Have you ever been said such a thing?”
I seemed to have touched a sore spot in senpai’s heart, but if I continue to look in, it seems like I would see something that I would rather not, so I stopped just there.
The gigolo, Nimura, chose that moment to scratch his head and say:
”To be honest, though it’s not as much as Sako-senpai, I’ve reflected on myself if I was too careless. As I think Sora-chan and the others have became more cheerful than when they were living at the small apartment I live at right now, so that was why I let them join as well, like cosplay, the school festival and the like…… I thought that letting them join the activities would make them more energetic.”
”Nimura, Sora-chan and the others said that they were quite happy, so don’t think too much about this.”
Everyone seemed to have been worried about the matters of our family.
On that scorching summer day, I lost my only sister, while the three sisters lost their parents.
That time, everything turned dark, and I even thought that there wouldn’t be a future after that as well—
I once had such thoughts. But the reason that I could support myself until this day would definitely be because of the presence of the three sisters and the people before me.
I hope that I can express my gratitude to them one day. It’s just that I’m slightly embarrassed of expressing them right now.
”Ah! S- Sorry.”
Seeing me smile unconsciously, Raika-san looked at me with her eyes widened.
On the next instant, she seemed to have thought of something, knocking her fist on her palm with an action as though she was acting out a play, standing up on the next instant. Raika-san searched for something at a corner of the dark clubroom, arousing my curiosity, and after some effort, senpai carried a large bag of items that one wouldn’t be able to hold even with two hands to me.
”A present for Yuuta.”
”That’s right! I have good news for you! I originally wanted to let you know earlier, so that was why I asked you to look for me after the school festival, but you only showed up on today, so that’s why it’s so late!”
Sako-senpai regained his vigor the moment I gave a question, and he started to explain.
”Aren’t you surprised! Because of my efforts, Segawa-kun, you have a chance to regain the credits that you didn’t get last semester! It’s all thanks to me!”
Senpai praised his own contributions whole-heartedly, and he was totally correct.
Raika-san was holding the data for reports. As long as I complete them, I can regain the credits that I failed to get last semester. The life that underwent a large change after taking in the three sisters caused me to fall in a panic, and I tripped because of that.
And just because of that, my credits were severely lacking, and the words ‘repeating the grade’ even flashed past my mind.
But even so, I still vowed to do my best to get back my credits, but I tripped yet again.
The results of my efforts to replenish my credits turned into the scenario when Sora-chan fell sick.
The regretful thing is, I can only use these reports to get credits from Liberal Studies and my other subjects, but I’m already thankful for this. If not for Sako-senpai’s help, I might never get such great conditions.
”Senpai…… Thank you very much!”
”Do your best, Yuuta.”
”I will! Raika-san!”
”Though there is quite a lot of it, we’ll help out as well.”
”Thank you…… Nimura, I’ll treat you to a meal.”
Because of my happiness, tears started to well up in my eyes.
”W- Wait a minute! The one who got these conditions for you was me! Me!”
”Ah, thanks, Sako-senpai.”
”That’s all!? Why are you so casual only to me! Fine! The others don’t matter, but you have to tell Miu-sama and Hina-sama that all of this is my contributions! If possible, please tell Sora-kun too! If not, it’s very awkward for me to see them! Please, just help me out this once.”
So this is senpai’s motive? I won’t tell Miu-chan and the others then.
While being surrounded by the others, I smiled naturally.
Although the weather outside was getting colder and colder, warmth came by my side instead.
I arrived at my house at Ikebukuro, and inserted the key into the keyhole after taking it out from my pocket.
The door handle was cold as though it was frozen, and I was holding a heavy plastic bag on my arm as well. And of course, it contained the papers used for my reports.
Just thinking that I had to finish dealing with them before the winter break ended made me feel downcast.
Just at that moment, I noticed a pair of unfamiliar shoes at the entrance, arranged neatly with the toes pointing outside.
Although it was not particularly sharp, those were rather clean shoes that down-to-earth females would wear.
”Whoa…… Is it possible……”
I saw that the other shoes were neatly arranged as well, and even the folding umbrella that was carelessly thrown on the shoe rack was tidily kept as well.
There was only one fact shown by this situation. I steeled myself, and opened the door leading to the living room.
”Welcome back, Yuuta-san.”
Sitting on the sofa, Oba-san turned around to look at me faster than anyone else.
”W- Welcome, Oba-san.”
My voice couldn’t help but crack slightly. I still didn’t know how to handle this person, and after Nee-san disappeared, this Oba-san that can be counted as the only relative I have, is now my stern supervisor.
”Is there any reason you came here today? The inspection was done just last week……”
”Can I not come here without any business?”
”Uuu…… Not really…… I don’t mean that……”
I really didn’t know how to handle her.
But it seemed like I was not the only one who didn’t know how to cope. Sora-chan and Miu-chan who returned first were sitting on the sofa opposite to Oba-san’s with tense expressions as well.
Probably, the only person who behaves as usual was only Hina. Well, it’s indeed quite impossible for a three year old to be able to observe the others’ moods.
”From the looks, you did clean up the house properly.”
Oba-san spoke after looking around the living room.
”That’s right! All of us cleaned up together!”
Though Miu-chan answered with an exceptionally radiant smile, Oba-san did not show any particularly satisfied expression, but just sipped some tea.
”Remember to tidy up the entrance as well, as it is the place guests would first see, after all.”
Miu-chan glared at me unhappily.
I can’t help things even if you glare at me…… But to be frank, I really have to ask Oba-san home as soon as possible today, as we have to choose a kimono for Hina after this.
”A- Actually! We have something to do after this!”
Just when I was cracking my head thinking of how to speak, Sora-chan resolved herself and spoke.
”Something to do?”
”Yes! We have to rent a kimono for Hina to wear on Shichi-Go-San! There isn’t much time left now, so……”
”Yes, yes, that’s how things are.”
The moment when Sora-chan finished, Miu-chan hurriedly added.
”If so, I came just at the right time.”
Oba-san ignored us after finishing her words, taking out a large wrapped bundle from a bag and placed it on the table.
”Excuse me, but…… What is this?”
”It’s a kimono, the one that Yuri-san wore before this.”
After Oba-san said that, the appearance of Nee-san smiling in a mature black kimono surfaced in my mind once more.
However, that kimono should have been disposed of by Nee-san already……
In front of the secretly tense me, Oba-san opened the wrapped bundle.
This isn’t that kimono.
It was a red kimono completely different from the one in my memory.
Oba-san carefully opened the kimono before our eyes.
Although I can’t really differentiate between good and bad kimonos, I could still see from a glance that it was a high class item.
”This was what Yuri-san wore when she was three during her Shichi-Go-San, and it was given to my daughter after that for her to wear during her Shichi-Go-San as well. After that, I carefully kept this until today.”
If so, this would be something from over twenty years ago. However, not only did the kimono not have any sign of decay, not even a wrinkle could be seen, so Oba-san probably kept it very carefully.
The kimono that Yuri Nee-san once wore. Just hearing that made my convoluted emotions well up in my heart, while Sora-chan and the others seemed to feel the same as well.
”This is Yuri-san’s…… Oba-san, did you come just to bring the kimono here?”
”…… From the start, I have planned to bring it here when Hina-san is three. Actually, I wanted to hand this to you even earlier than this, but since you did not have the time or energy to deal with other matters before this, I continued to keep it.”
…… Indeed, we really didn’t have the time or energy to think of any other things up till now.
Facing the stern Oba-san who always thinks for us, I really feel grateful from the bottom of my heart.
Perhaps this small kimono that had been carefully kept is a symbol of Nee-san and Oba-san’s relationship.
But in the end, the kimono in my memory is already gone.
That made me somewhat sad.
As for Hina, she seemed rather excited as it was the first time she saw a real kimono.
”Uwaa— So pwetty—!”
”Hina, do you like it?”
”Yes! Like a stawberry!”
Although I have the same thoughts before this as well, in any case, Hina seems to like the kimono quite a lot.
”Hina-san, come here. I will have to adjust the size for you.”
Hina quickly walked before Oba-san, sitting down on her lap after that.
”D- Don’t do that! Hina! You can’t do that!”
It seemed like Hina was not clear of what she had done.
The more surprising thing was, Oba-san just gave a smile, a smile that radiated gentleness.
”Hehe, I can’t measure you like this, Here, stand up for a moment.”
After that, Hina kept still, while Oba-san pressed the kimono on Hina’s back to measure.
As I recall, Oba-san has two children.
Although both of them already grew up and left home, I heard that Oba-san raised them single-handedly as well. Compared with me, she does everything much more orderly.
”It seems like not much modifications need to be made.”
After measuring, Oba-san immediately kept the kimono.
”Eh~ Are you taking it back?”
”I shall bring it again on that day after modifying the size. Besides, as long as it is worn, it is necessary to wash it.”
Facing Miu-chan’s somewhat sad response, Oba-san said unwaveringly.
After finishing the matter, Oba-san immediately turned around to walk out.
”Err…… Actually, you don’t really need to go back so urgently…… That’s right, why don’t you stay for dinner?”
Instead of saying that those were polite words, it’s more accurate to say that I feel bad to let Oba-san go back just like that.
Even though Miu-chan and Sora-chan glared at me quite sharply.
”No, that’s fine.”
After saying that, Oba-san immediately left unhesitatingly.
”Phew…… So tense!”
As soon as Oba-san left, Miu-chan immediately stretched her legs, heaving a huge sigh after that.
”Yeah, suddenly coming over here. It really gave me a huge fright.”
Similarly, Sora-chan collapsed on the sofa as well.
”When Hina ignored Oba-san, and sat directly on her lap, I was shocked as well.”
”I originally thought that she would get scolded, but thank goodness she just laughed. This isn’t good for my heart.”
”Uu~ Oba-tan went back?”
It seemed like only Hina felt regretful about Oba-san going home.
”However, the matter of the kimono is finally dealt with, Oji-san.”
”That’s right, even if the kimono is rented, the expenses are actually quite expensive.”
That was rather fortunate. If we rent a good quality kimono, the price would be quite considerable, while cheap ones would make one hesitate. Although there are kimonos that are in our budget, those are the same as the cheap rentals, not good enough for our cute Hina, while Sora-chan and my opinions were contrasting as well.
It was because Oba-san helped us out when we were forced to make difficult choices that her help felt timely.
As for Sora-chan, she is currently hugging Hina affectionately.
”That’s great, Hina. You can wear Mama’s kimono.”
Of course, Miu-chan and I understood the profound meaning contained in Sora-chan’s words.
”Will Mama come? What about Papa? Will they come on Shichi-Go-San?”
”Ah, err…… Well……”
Sora-chan looked at me helplessly.
”Hina, though it’s somewhat of a pity, Mama and Papa can’t come.”
”B- But, people like Oba-tan, the Oji-sans of the Takanashi family, many people will come! And when we return, you can eat anything you want to!”
Hearing my words, Hina’s sorrowful expression before this brightened once more.
”Speaking of which, I was wondering from just now, what’s that plastic bag that Onii-chan is holding?”
”Ehh…… Oh! This is my homework. If I finish all this, I can replenish the credits that I didn’t get last semester. Though these are just for my Liberal Studies and other subjects. Ahh, you probably don’t understand, huh.”
Noticing the blank stares from Sora-chan and the others halfway through my words, I hastily stopped.
”In any case, if I finish these reports, I can completely escape from the crisis of repeating the grade.”
”That’s great, Oji-san.”
Seeing them happy for this as though it concerned them, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat embarrassed. But having to finish so many reports is actually quite…… No, it’s an extremely hard work.
”Ah, yes, yes, I want to ask for your help……”
I spoke the matter that I cracked my head to think of a way to tell them along the journey from the college to Ikebukuro.
And after getting the predictable response…… I successfully consoled Sora-chan using a considerable amount of time as the price.
After that, on the few days before Shichi-Go-San, we started to get busy while feeling excited.
So that I would have the whole day free, I adjusted my working schedule, so I would have to go home later than usual for a few days straight. In the past, I would worry that this would burden Sora-chan and Miu-chan these times, however……. It’s different recently.
Because now, I have reliable companions.
I arrived at the Kitahara residence opposite to our house while being slightly nervous, and the voice of ‘May I ask who this is?’ could be heard right after I pressed the doorbell.
”I’m from the Takanashis opposite here, and I came to fetch Hin……”
Before I could finish, the door was already opened.
”Welcome. About Hina-chan, she’s playing with Shiori. Why don’t you come in first?”
The friendly mother of the Kitahara family greeted me at the entrance, and her smile did not allow me to have any opinions about it, so that made me decide to stop at the Kitahara residence for a moment without further ado.
As soon as I stepped into the house, I could hear Hina’s happy voice from the living room.
”You already helped us to fetch Hina from the kindergarten, and we have to give you trouble by asking you to take care of her as well. So sorry for that.”
The mother just smiled after seeing me lower my head.
”You don’t need to worry so much. No matter whether it’s me or Shiori, we like taking care of Hina-chan very much. I shall make some tea, and bring some choux à la crème as well. Please, come in, come in.”
”Oi-tan, you’re back!”
Just at that moment, Hina ran towards me, hugging me tightly after almost completely ramming into me.
”Hina-chan wants choux à la crème as well, right?”
”Chou la cream is good!”
Before being able to hug Hina back, she slipped away from my side, running over to Shiori-chan’s mother.
Though, seeing Hina being so friendly with other people made me feel grateful……. Well, that feeling really is quite complicated.
”That’s great. Actually, we make them ourselves. I hope you’ll like it.”
”Oba-chan’s desserts are weally weally good!”
No, now I can’t say that I want to go back directly anymore. Mrs. Kitahara quickly served red tea and a tray with desserts. The tray contained beautiful choux à la crème that really didn’t seem like they were home-made, and was really scrumptious as well! The taste of the cream was truly heavenly, while the texture of the thin, crispy crust was just as wonderful.
However, that would be another problem. The more important issue would be the scene before me.
”So~ tasty! Shiori Nee-tan, you have some as well. Ahhh~”
”Hehe! Thank you, Hina-chan. Let me do that as well. Hina-chan, ahhh~”
Why! Hina wasn’t sitting on my lap, but on Shiori-chan’s. And the two of them were feeding dessert to each other!?
”Hina, come sit on Oi-tan’s lap……”
”Shiori Nee-tan smells nice~”
Ignoring my words, Hina continued to rub her face on Shiori-chan’s chest.
”I helped mother to make the choux à la crème just now. But Hina-chan helped as well, so…… Mnn~ You smell nice.”
Well, seeing them so intimate…… Oi-tan feels so lonely.
”Err…… Hina, you’ll have to thank Shiori-chan for playing with you today, and also…… It’s about time……”
”Mnn! Listen, Hina played with Shiori Nee-tan’s doll today!”
”That’s my toy when I was little, so it’s fine even if Hina wants to bring it home.”
”Hina already has bunny at home. It’s fine as long as Hina can play with Shiori Nee-tan.”
”Okay, you can come here whenever you want! Seriously, why is Hina so cute!”
”Shiori Nee-tan is cute as well!”
The two embraced tightly, completely ignoring my presence.
Erm…… I feel so sad, Hina.
Hina is indeed an invincible three year old girl who is so cute that it’s reasonable for her to be loved by the whole world, but that would be another matter. I’m wishing that the ones at the center of Hina’s world would be Sora-chan, Miu-chan and I.
Of course, Shiori-chan and the Kitahara family are really good neighbors, and we kept being taken care of by them…… But, however…….! Even so……!
I’m wishing that Hina doesn’t look for Shiori-chan, but would say that ‘Hina wants to sit on Oi-tan’s lap’!
Ah~! Is this what they call envy!?
Ohhh, Hina, you understood? So indeed, you’ll have to choose your own family in the end, right! Come, sit on Oi-tan’s lap!
”Your face…… is stwange.”
The three year old unforgivingly did a tsukkomi on me, who was looking at them with mixed feelings.
Mrs. Kitahara was smiling meaningfully at a side, while Shiori-chan just stared at me with the expression of wanting to shy away.
”It’s about time for them to go home now, Shiori.”
As though she saw through my thoughts, Mrs. Kitahara’s warm smile made me feel quite embarrassed.
”…… About them…… The oji-san can go home any time he likes.”
Shiori-chan’s not too happy voice was exceptionally piercing to my ears.
”Remember to bring back the choux à la crème as a present. I hope for Sora-chan and the others to eat them as well.”
”By the way, tell Sora-chan and Miu-chan by the way that they can come over to play any time they like.”
What’s this? The preferential treatment that Shiori-chan and her mother are showing……
Seems like they’re saying that I don’t need to come……. Is that just my imagination?
When I took the choux à la crème that I was supposed to take home and was about to return with Hina, Hina suddenly spoke:
”Oi-tan, Shiori Nee-tan says that she wants to see the Shichi-Go-San as well! Let her see Hina wearing a kimono as well!”
I turned around and saw Shiori-chan waving to Hina with a broad smile.
”I’ll definitely go, so remember to tell your sisters as well.”
Completely ignoring my wishes, Shiori-chan went back into her house just like that.
…… I just feel as though there’s still some distance between she and I, and she is just distancing herself from me. Why is that, I wonder.
Let’s not bother about these for the moment.
In any case, I start to feel like the Shichi-Go-San this time would be quite lively.
Just like that, the sunny day of Shichi-Go-san arrived.
”Shi~chi-Go-San ♪ Shi~chi-Go-San ♪ Whee~ Turn around and it’s Shi~chi-Go-San ♪”
A pure, bright singing voice resounded in the solemn shrine with a rock-paved ground.
The person singing would be our family’s diva.
And of course, the lyrics and melody were original, full of a sense unique to toddlers, and added to the lyrics with unclear words and the special husky singing voice, it caused the frequency of playback to increase drastically in one’s mind.
This might be called as natural talent.
Would Hina be an idol or a composer in the future?
Hina, who walked between Raika-san and I, seemed to be quite cheerful, even though we went through quite some trouble before this. At first, though Hina was somewhat happy when she wore the grand clothes, after wearing the unfamiliar kimono and wooden clogs in excitement for some time, she started to feel tired, throwing a tantrum halfway. Asking a three year old toddler to do something unfamiliar for a long time is actually unexpectedly hard.
Plus, since all of the three year olds in the whole country would pray during Shichi-Go-San, there would be quite a long wait as well.
After trying hard to console Hina and bringing her to the shrine, her mood finally improved.
Speaking of which, it was all thanks to Raika-san, who met up with us earlier.
The matter that I asked of Sora-chan and the others was actually to allow the members of Roary to join Hina’s ‘Shichi-Go-San’ as well, but allowing Raika-san to come over first was really a wise decision. As Hina was throwing her tantrum, Raika-san spoke something by Hina’s ears, causing her to brighten all of a sudden.
”Oi-tan, can I get Chiroro Ame after this?”
”Chiroro…… What’s what?”
”Erm, well, Raika-chan said, if Hina does her best during Shichi-Go-San, Hina can get Chiroro Ame!”
”Perhaps you’re talking about Chitose Ame?”
”Yes! That’s it! She said that it’s tha~t big, and it’s really tasty too!”
It seems like Raika-san used the tactic of food to console her.
”Hina, that’s not Chiroro Ame, but Chitose Ame. Why don’t you say it again?”
”Nono, Chi- To- Se, A- Me”
”Hahahaha! Oi-tan is stwange!”
And then I was treated as a crackpot.
”Raika-san, thank you. You really helped out a lot by coming.”
”It’s fine, and I wanted to come over myself.”
It felt like Raika-san was somewhat distracted. It seemed like she was preoccupied looking at Hina.
”Hina is thirsty~”
”What! …… Uuu…… Please be patient for a moment more, I’ll buy fruit juice for you after this.”
”Eh~ Oi-tan is a cheapsate~”
”I brought some mixed fruit juice.”
Raika-san took out a water bottle from the bag on her shoulder.
”Hina-chan, do you like mixed fruit juice?”
”Yes! Mixed foot juice!”
”W- Wait a minute! She’ll feel like going to the restroom if she drinks it now!”
”Hina, are you fine with that?”
”Yes, no problem.”
Wait a sec, that’s completely unbased…… In the end, Hina drank a whole two cups of Raika-san’s homemade mixed fruit juice. To be frank, I was somewhat envious of Hina.
”Hah~ That was tasty. Raika-chan, not bad!”
”Hina…… Where did you learn that from……”
Just like that, we walked forwards along the road to the shrine while holding each other’s hands.
Having Hina hold our hands in the middle, we might look like a family to the people passing by.
My expression couldn’t help but soften.
Hina’s look after dressing up is undoubtedly great, but Raika-san, who put on make up carefully today, was giving off a presence that rivals models and artistes. I really wish to thank the person who invented the event called Shichi-Go-San.
”What’s with your foolish smile! Onii-chan! Aren’t you embarrassed!”
My bottom was suddenly pinched, causing me to almost jump in pain.
For some reason, it was Sora-chan’s turn to be unhappy.
”I say……. That hurts.”
”Hmph! Isn’t that obvious? I wanted you to feel pain.”
Please don’t do that anymore. Besides, why do I have to be pinched!?
”Oji-san is quite good at committing sins~ You’re really lacking delicacy.”
”That’s right, Segawa-chan is really too honest that way. Ah, natural airheads are quite scary~”
”Those two over there! I heard that! Just tell me if you know the reason for that!”
Nimura, whose appearance was even more formal than usual, and Miu-chan, whose appearance matches that of an idol, were speaking as they like before us. We are really quite a sharp group…… Except for me.
”That’s right, speaking of which, isn’t there a person missing?”
Yes, that would be the person who said ‘Leave the photographing to me’ not long before.
The person looked forward to this day more than anyone else, and was abnormally excited about it, but not even a shadow of him could be seen at the moment. When I asked about that, Miu-chan pointed to a direction and said:
”If you’re looking for the president, he’s over there.”
When I had a closer look, I did notice a rather familiar silhouette behind the supporting pillars of the shrine.
”What’s he up to……?”
”He said ’To take the most natural pictures, one must keep a distance with the photographed target.’.”
As Miu-chan said, Sako-senpai was holding a camera that looked like a thick bamboo shoot because of the huge telephoto lens, and was repeatedly pressing the shutter.
After Miu-chan waved at senpai, it seemed like the sounds of the shutter became even more vigorous.
”If possible, I’m hoping that he can photograph the main character today instead……”
”I mentioned that to him, but I can’t guarantee that he would take photos seriously.”
I saw Sako-senpai agitatedly gesturing at me from afar, probably asking me to stand further apart.
”…… It seems like it’s better not to be too expectant of him.”
”Ahaha, that seems to be the case. We will take a separate commemorative photo after this as well, so it’ll probably be fine.”
Miu-chan added with a small laugh.
”Seriously! He’s so embarrassing. Let’s pretend we don’t know him!”
Sora-chan walked forward with large steps, while I hurriedly chased after her. After going through the Torii, walking through the shrine administrative office, a vast plaza with a rock-paved ground came into our view, while the spectacular building over there would be the kagura-den
After undergoing a ritual and taking commemorative photos over here, the whole process would end.
After that, we planned to go home for a change of clothes, and then head out together for a meal.
The regretful thing is, that moment would signify the end of Hina’s magnificent dressing up.
After all, I don’t have the courage to bring a three year old toddler wearing a kimono out.
Before the kagura-den, I saw that Oba-san and the Oji-san from the Takanashi family were already waiting there.
”We’ve waited a long time for you. We have already finished the procedures for this.”
After saying that, Oba-san handed what seemed to be a numbered tag to me.
It seemed like Oba-san came over to our house at Ikebukuro to help Hina dress up, then met up with Oji-san at the shrine to handle the procedures after that. Not only was she quick, Oba-san’s efficiency is really quite admirable.
”Ohhhh! Hina-chan! You look reeeeeeeally good in that!”
As for the Oji-san of the Takanashi family, he started to take photos non-stop all of a sudden, holding an expensive-looking single lens reflex camera that rivals that of Sako-senpai’s equipment, taking photos of Hina from various angles.
”Oji-sama from the Takanashis, good afternoon.”
”Miu-chan became more dazzling as well! Did you grow taller again!?”
”My~ Didn’t we met just last month?”
”Oh, that’s right, Wahahahahaha!”
How to say this…… This feeling of my whole body going weak.
”Sigh…… I really don’t dare to imagine what will happen next.”
It seemed like Sora-chan had the same thoughts as mine, with her shoulders heavily slumped.
”Sora-chan! Look over here! Come! Smile, smile!”
Sigh! If this goes on, it might be some time before we could take part in the ceremony.
”The ceremony seems to be starting soon, so let’s wait inside.”
While the dull waiting time passed, we quickly entered the kagura-den after Oba-san chivvied us inside. Since basically, the only ones who can enter are relatives, I asked Raika-san and the others to first wait outside.
An atmosphere even more solemn than outside filled the kagura-den.
Many families that were lining up to wait for the ceremony were gathered there as well.
Although everyone was wearing vibrant kimonos, it’s impossible that there would be a child cuter or more good looking than Hina in a kimono. Is this what they call the mindset of parents favoring their own children?
Just at that moment, I noticed Hina moving around, looking as though she wasn’t well.
”What is it, Hina?”
”Is your sash uncomfortable? Do you need us to loosen it?”
Sora-chan looked at her sister in worry as well.
The word that came from Hina’s mouth caused us to freeze momentarily.
”Hina wants to pee~”
”W- Wait a minute, at this time!?”
”Hina! Hold it in a bit longer!”
Ignoring our panicked responses, Hina started to stamp the floor.
In the solemn kagura-den, the sound of ‘Pee’ resounded.
The parents nearby were all holding in their laughter.
”Ah~ Seriously! That’s why I told you not to drink the fruit juice!”
”Oi-tan, didn’t you pwomise not to say that~”
”Where on earth did you learn these words from!?”
”I- In any case, shouldn’t we bring Hina to a restroom first?”
”But isn’t it almost our turn now!?”
”Speaking of which, how does one go to the restroom in a kimono!?”
”What are you fussing about?”
We heard a steady voice completely unaffected by panic. Oba-san had returned after finishing the procedures.
After I explained the reason, Oba-san was not especially hassled, but just brought Hina to the restroom after saying ‘I’ll take her there’.
Just like that, Oba-san brought Hina, who looked quite refreshed, back without even five minutes passing.
”Hah~ That’s better~”
On the instant that I heard Hina say that, I felt the tension in my whole body loosen.
But when I heard Oba-san call my name as soon as she spoke, I unconsciously straightened my body immediately.
”You are her guardian. Before panicking, you should think of what you should do.”
”Yes…… I’m sorry.”
I was scolded.
”Oi-tan! Don’t mind!”
Hina’s consolation made me feel even more discouraged.
The ceremony of Shichi-Go-San was simpler than I thought.
The priest prayed before the children that gathered, conducting a simple praying ritual one by one after that. I was originally worried that Hina wouldn’t stay still when the ceremony was progressing, but thank goodness she was unexpectedly obedient during the process.
It’s just that the prayers of the priest seemed to be funny to Hina, as she almost laughed quite a few times, making Sora-chan and I extremely nervous.
In such a situation, we entered the stage most important for a three year old’s Shichi-Go-San— the hair cutting ritual.
That means, the baby hair that is grown on a child from birth are to be cut, starting to let the hair grow long from this day onwards, making a motion of cutting the hair with scissors. This ritual has to be done by an elder among the relatives.
Thus, this part was handled by Shingo Nii-san’s elder brother, Nobuyoshi-san.
On the instant Nobuyoshi-san, who seemed so tense that his whole body was rigid, touched Hina’s hair, he started to cry all of a sudden.
”Hina-chan…… is just too cute. You will definitely find happiness. Shingo….. Why did you…… Uuuu……”
I understand the emotions welling up in his heart very well. While Hina was looking quite puzzled, we, who motioned Hina not to move, had some tears in our eyes as well.
Just like that, the ceremony successfully ended, and what followed was the commemorative photo.
The person waiting for us outside the shrine was Shiori-chan, who seemed to have arrived late, and also…… Sako-senpai.
”Halt! You hentai! Hand over the dataaaaaaaa!”
With a huge camera on his hands, Sako-senpai was being chased by Shiori-chan.
On the other hand, Nimura and Raika-san, who didn’t know Shiori-chan, could only smile wryly at a side while being flustered.
”Ah! Sora-chan! This guy is secretly taking photos! Stalker! I noticed him taking photos of you all secretly! Help me catch him!”
”W- Wait! Wait for a moment! This is a misunderstanding! I am a photographer hired just to take perfect photos of the dressed up Hina-sama! Sora-kun, hurry up and clear things up for me!”
”…… Sora-chan, is it possible that…… You know this person?”
”No, I don’t know him.”
Sora-chan said unhesitatingly.
”H- How can this be! Sora-kun! I will not call you an oba-san anymore! Please forgive me!”
There, only the wailing Sako-senpai, Nimura and I who were hugging our heads, and the wide-eyed Oba-san with her mouth agape were present.
It was only after that that we took a commemorative photo outside the shrine.
”I- I’ll pass!”
”Don’t say that, let’s take it together. You’re already here anyway.”
I spoke to invite Shiori-chan, who planned to refuse, to join us. Of course, Nimura and Raika-san were not excluded as well.
After all, if not for everyone’s help, we can’t even undergo the Shichi-Go-San today as we wished to.
Apart from Nobuyoshi-san, who didn’t wish for his crying face to be filmed no matter what, and Sako-senpai, who was in charge of photographing, we gave our blessings for Hina’s Shichi-Go-San in the photo with a smile.
The smile must have been felt by Nee-san and the others somewhere in heaven. It’s unmistakable.
What should I say next. It was really a hectic week—
Those were my thoughts when we sighed after finally reaching home.
Thinking that such a thing would have to be done once more really made me somewhat discouraged.
Then a thought surfaced in my mind, that it’s fortunate Sora-chan and Miu-chan had already completed their Shichi-Go-San.
And the hill of unfinished reports before me was another problematic issue as well, so—
”Is Oi-tan tired?”
Hina, who was sitting on my lap, asked while looking upwards at my face.
That moment, Hina had just took her bath, and was blowing her hair dry at the living room.
”Hmm? Oh, just a little. What about Hina? Are you tired?”
”The Chirose Ame is tasty.”
”It’s Chitose Ame. Oh well, as long as you like it…… Okay, your hair’s dry now.”
Hina quickly dashed into the kitchen.
”Hey! Hina! Remember to close it properly after opening it!”
Sora-chan, who just walked down from the second floor, reminded Hina, who was taking out milk from the fridge.
”Onii-chan, I found it.”
”Mnn, thank you.”
I took a pile of considerably thick albums from Sora-chan’s hands.
Some rather exquisite decorative words were printed on the cover, which would be ‘Memories of the Takanashi Family’.
As we asked Sako-senpai to print the photos that he took today, we planned to keep them immediately in the album. The said album was full of photos of the Takanashis.
Of course, Shingo Nii-san, as Sora-chan and the others’ father was in it as well, and Nee-san was present as well.
The Nee-san in the photo wore an expression that was slightly different from what I was familiar with.
That would probably be her look as a ‘mother’.
”Yuri-san once said that the three of us must be together when photos are taken.”
Sora-chan looked at the photo that seemed to be taken at a playground, with a nostalgic look on her face.
”Ah! It’s Mama! Let Hina see, let Hina see!”
”No hurry. Here, sit here, look at this with Onee-chan.”
And I picked up another album, flipping through it as well.
In there, I saw photos of Sora-chan and Miu-chan who were much younger than they are now.
Miu-chan, who looked only a few years older than Hina right now, stuck close to Sora-chan in each and every photo.
On the other hand, the photos of Sora-chan when she was younger were taken with a beautiful woman that seemed to be her birth mother.
”Ah! Onii-chan, look, look. It’s the photo of my Shichi-Go-San!”
That was probably taken when Sora-chan was three. The Sora-chan in the photo wore clothes similar to what Hina was wearing today, and the bright smile in the photo overlapped with Hina in my memory, while the woman at a side wore a smile like that of a holy mother.
Actually, I wasn’t sure about the matters of Sora-chan and Miu-chan’s mothers. Although I heard that Sora-chan’s mother already passed away, I never asked of Sora-chan’s age when that happened.
Just because of that, I chose to speak a truth seen before my eyes.
”Uuu~……. Ohh! You’re really cute! Almost comparable to Hina.”
”Mnn, you look really good in a kimono.”
”Ehehe…… Hina~ Onii-chan said that I’m as cute as Hina!”
Sora-chan hugged her sister from behind, shaking her here and there in excitement.
I looked at the happy girls, and my gaze was suddenly attracted by a photo when I swept through the page.
I looked at the photo in shock. In the photo, there were Sora-chan, Nii-san beside her and another female, holding the baby Miu-chan that seemed to have been just given birth to.
Judging from her appearance, that person should be slightly older than Nee-san.
She has features rarely seen on a Japanese, long, blonde hair— a woman who looks extremely similar to Miu-chan in every aspect.
—So this person is Miu-chan’s mother……
She indeed possesses features striking enough to give birth to a beautiful maiden like Miu-chan, and I admired Nii-san in my heart for being able to find such a beauty. Speaking of which, because of the blonde hair, I guessed from the start that Miu-chan’s mother is probably not Japanese, and I am certain of such a thing only at this moment.
Speaking of which, even if Nee-san doesn’t have the striking features of this person, she is still an established beauty, while Sora-chan’s mother is quite beautiful as well. In any case, she is still the mother of a young beauty, so that’s quite reasonable.
—Nii-san, you’re really good at choosing!
When I flipped through the album while thinking of all that, I noticed a strange fact all of a sudden. To reaffirm it, I looked through the whole album once again, and that moment……
”Onee-chan, I’m finished with the bathroom……. Eh? What’s everyone doing here?”
Miu-chan, who just finished with her bath, arrived at the living room with her hair tied up.
”We’re looking through photos. Miu, why don’t you come over and look as well.”
”Uuu~……. I’ll pass. I’m going to bed.”
Miu-chan took out a bottle of mineral water from the fridge, returning to her room after that.
Is it because of fatigue? It felt like Miu-chan wasn’t really well.
”Is there anything wrong……?”
Sora-chan looked at me in puzzlement, while my eyes continued to tail Miu-chan’s silhouette……
I only came to my senses after Sora-chan’s call, and hurriedly shifted my gaze.
”…… Errr~ I think it’s about time for me to bathe and sleep as well.”
”That’s right, you’ll start to get busy from tomorrow onwards, right? And you have so many reports to deal with as well.”
”Uuu…… Although things are indeed so…… Please don’t remind me of annoying matters.”
I left the living room with my shoulders slumped.
The mystifying matter that I perceived was……
In any corner of the album, photos of Miu-chan’s Shichi-Go-San when she was three couldn’t be found.
- ’Roary’ and ‘exposed’ are pronounced similarly in Japanese.
- A building dedicated to Noh or the sacred kagura dance.
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