Chapter 30: Happy Family


Kazemiya told me.

Her mother told her to stay home during the summer vacation.
That she refused to do so.
She told her mother that she would leave the house.
How she ran out of the house with her emotions.

“…I kind of hate myself for being so childish.”

“You’re a child.
We’re both children.”

“Yeah, but that’s not the point.”

“I know.”

Kazemiya cowered in self-loathing, and I wondered if I was being selfish in hoping that she would not hate herself.

“I know.
You can be childish in front of me.
We are both children.”

“When you say things like that, I feel more and more like a child, and that frustrates me.”

“Do you want to grow up?”

“Maybe.
At least, as mature as Narumi.”

“I’m not mature.”

“You look like that to me.”

“What do you mean?”

“Like…you’re confident.”

“I’m not.
I still have a hard time dealing with my sister.”

“I didn’t see it that way.
Just now you apologized naturally, saying, ‘I’m sorry about my sister’.”

If she said it like that, then yes, it was true.
At that time, such words came out naturally and easily.

“I think a figure of ‘big brother’ is starting to grow on you.”

“Thanks to you.”

Kazemiya gave me a chance to face my family, and I could face them because of Kazemiya.

That was why I have made up my mind to be on Kazemiya Kohaku’s side.
No matter what happened, I would stand by Kazemiya Kohaku’s side.

“Kazemiya, what are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know.
I haven’t decided yet.”

“Are you going home?”

“I don’t want to go back home…”

“I see.
Then you can stay here for the rest of the summer.”

“What?”

“I’ll talk to Dad, Mom, and Kotomi.”

“No, wait.
Why would you do that?”

“You don’t have anywhere to go.”


“There are hotels and whatnot.”

“It’s expensive.”

“Well, that’s true, but…”

“You could stay at Raimon-san’s house, but you can’t stay there all the time, can you? In that regard, a little bit of unreasonableness is OK in our house.
Or rather we’ll just let it go.”

I could not predict how my dad and mom would react if she stayed with us for one or two nights, let alone during the summer vacation.

I was sure they would be fine, but even if they refused, I would do everything in my power to persuade them.

“Why are you doing this for me?”

“Because I’ve decided to side with Kazemiya.”

“…Maybe it’s really my fault, you know? Maybe I’m just being selfish with my mom, leaving home, deceiving Narumi, and causing you trouble.”

“I don’t care if it’s really your fault, or if you’re deceiving me, or whatever.
I told you before.
Even if you become the Demon King who destroys the world, I am on the side of Kazemiya Kohaku.”

“…….Aahh, geez….”

Kazemiya got up from the chair and fell down on the bed, not caring that I was sitting down, and covered herself with the futon to hide her face from me.

“I told you not to spoil me like that.”

“I told you I’m going to spoil you.”

While hiding her face with the futon, Kazemiya finally at least met my eyes.

“….Can I really be spoiled?”

“Yes.”

“….I may ask that a lot.”

“I’ll do it.”

“….I might be spoiled too much and become a useless girl.”

“Kazemiya is just fine like that.”

“….I might become selfish.”

“Say whatever you want.
I’ll make it happen.”

“……”

Did she say all she wanted to say? Kazemiya remained wrapped in the futon and did not move.

“…Then, can I ask you one thing right now?”

“Go ahead.”

“Let me sleep in Narumi’s bed today.
Just for today.”

“Okay.”

It was rather cute as selfishness.

“Good night, Kazemiya.”


“….Good night.”

Turning off the light in the room and closing the door.
I put her face in a special box so that no one would see her sleeping face, which was surely adorable.

After that, I asked my mom and dad if Kazemiya could stay with us during the summer vacation.

They didn’t immediately say yes, but they knew that Kazemiya was acting strangely, that I had never asked so strongly before, and—

“I would like to ask you as well.”

Kotomi bowed down with me, and we got their permission on the condition that I would contact Kazemiya’s parents.

“Thank you, Kotomi.
You helped me.”

“I’m grateful to Kazemiya for helping us become a family, and for giving brother the opportunity.
I will spare no effort to repay that debt.”

“Is it okay for a member of the student council to support a runaway girl?”

“I’m a member of the student council for the sake of getting good grades.
I don’t have that much of a sense of duty, so don’t worry about it.”

When I was taken aback by the words coming from my well-behaved sister, Kotomi put her index finger to her mouth with a face like a little child who had successfully pulled a prank.

“It’s a secret.
I haven’t even told my mom or dad about this.”

“I’ll take it to my grave.”

“Please do so.”

After adding a final “good night,” she returned to her room.

Tsujikawa Kotomi, my younger sister, might be stronger than I thought.

“….Really.
I don’t know what a sister is.”

***

(Kazemiya’s POV)

When I woke up in the morning, it was always cold in the futon.

In spring or summer.
In fall or winter.
No matter how much I turned on the heater to keep warm, it always stayed that way.
A deserted house.
A house where nothing could be heard.
The lonely silence was like a cold wind, slipping in through the cracks of the bedding.

When I woke up and went to the living room, no one was there.

My morning began when I turned on the light in the dimly lit room.

“Warm….”

Today was different.
It was warm.
So warm and reassuring that my eyelids feel like they were about to fall off again.

What was this warmth that enveloped me? I thought about it and immediately knew what it was.

“It smells like Narumi.”

From this futon.
From the clothes I was wearing, I could smell Narumi’s scent.
It made me feel safe.
I felt like Narumi was hugging me.
It felt good.
It was comfortable.

And it was not cold.
It was not cold.
There was a human presence in this house.
It was warm.

No good.
I was about to fall asleep again.
But I had to get up.
Because I was staying here.
Sleeping twice was indeed very nice…….

“Nn….”

I gathered my strength to get myself up.
It was hard.
I had never thought it would be so pleasant to sleep surrounded by the scent of the person I love.
What should I do? If I ever slept with Narumi again, I would probably oversleep…….


“….wait, what was I thinking?”

I slapped myself on the cheek to shake off the fantasy that came into my head.
Yes.
And while I was at it, I finished waking myself up from sleep.
Let’s go straight to the living room……let’s not do that.
I wanted to wash my face first since I was in the house of a boy I like……Narumi.
I didn’t want him to see my morning face.

“…Haha.
What am I really thinking?”

I ran away from home.
It was only one night after my mom said those things to me.

I was thinking about the boy I like and how I wanted to wash my face and how I didn’t want him to see my morning face.

I was starting to have the time to worry about such things.
I realized that love was amazing and that I was still just a child.
But I didn’t hate it.
I didn’t hate myself for being too much of a child like I did yesterday.

After that, I went to the bathroom to wash my face and clean myself up as best I could and then headed for the living room.
I could tell just by walking down the hallway.
This house was nothing like my house.
I could hear the sound of the TV.
I heard someone’s footsteps.
I could smell sweet eggs.
Someone other than me was in the space.
A presence.
That I couldn’t find anywhere else in my house.

“Ah, good morning, Kohaku-chan.”

“G-good morning…”

When I entered the living room, Narumi’s mom greeted me kindly.

“Good morning, Kazemiya-san.”

“Good morning, Kazemiya-senpai.”

“M-morning…”

Good morning.
It was just a greeting.
It was a common word, nothing special.

But I was not accustomed to saying it.
I didn’t say “good morning” at home for a long time.
I hadn’t said it for a long time.
Not to my mom, not to my sister.

“Good morning, Kazemiya.”

“…Good morning.”

I woke up from bed with the smell of Narumi and was told ‘good morning’ in the living room like this.
……Ah, geez, I thought about unnecessary fantasies again.
It was about like we were newlyweds or something.
Such a naughty and silly thing.

“Did you sleep well last night?”

“Yes, I did.
Thanks to you.
Thank you very much.”

“Yeah.
That’s good.
Come on, sit down.
Let’s eat together.”

“Kotomi always makes breakfast.
It’s delicious.”

“It’s just French toast.”

“No, it’s better than what I make.”

“Is that so? I prefer the French toast that brother makes.”

On the table, there were five soft and fluffy French toasts.

Narumi’s mom, Narumi’s dad, Kotomi-chan, Narumi, and……my share.

I almost cried at the breakfast that was lined up as if it were a matter of course.
I didn’t understand it myself.
I couldn’t understand what it meant.
However, it was too embarrassing to suddenly start crying here, so I tried my best to hold it in.

“What’s wrong Kazemiya, sit down quickly.”

“Perhaps you don’t like French toast…?”

“No, it’s not like that.
Um, I like French toast.
I was just surprised because it looked so delicious.
Thank you, Kotomi-chan.”


I sat down in an empty spot without being prompted.
After witnessing this, the people of the Narumi family (not the Tsujikawa family) join hands.

“““““Itadakimasu.””””

“I-itadakimasu.”

After a delay, I joined my hands and brought a still-warm piece of French toast to my mouth.

“…Delicious.”

The touch of the fluffy bread and the sweet, prodigal egg spread in my mouth.

It had a gentle taste.
It tasted like Kotomi-chan, who was thinking of her family.

“I see.
I’m glad.”

“So cold….”

“No, Kouta-kun.
She may sound cold, but Kotomi is embarrassed.”

“You’re so dull.
Even I could see that.”

“I’m glad to see you’re getting to know mom so well.”

“….I’m not embarrassed.
Not particularly.”

—Ah, this is nice.

I honestly thought so.
It was hard to believe that this family was on the verge of collapse just a short time ago, but they seemed so happy.

“What’s wrong, Kazemiya, you’re smiling.”

“I just thought this was a nice family.”

I said those words from my heart.
Perhaps this was mixed with a touch of envy, though.

“Everyone’s around the table together, laughing, happy.
I don’t know about the other families, but this seems like a nice family.”

When I expressed my honest impression, the Tsujikawa family laughed happily and shyly.

I really envied them.
Because my family surely couldn’t be like this.

(…I wonder if mom is having breakfast with sister right now)

I suddenly found myself thinking about that.
Even though it was obvious.

—Ding-Dong.

“? Who is it at this time of the morning?”

“I’ll get it.”

Suddenly an intercom.
Apparently, no one recognized who it was.

Narumi turned on the front door screen on the wall to see the visitor’s face.

The voice, which could be heard in the living room, sounded the same as the one that was just now playing on the TV.

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