It was while I was being fed potato salad by Shinozuka-san, with my body temperature rising so rapidly I felt like I was looking at an illusion.
A familiar young girl appeared in the corner of my vision.
She had short-cut black hair and a red ribbon tied neatly on the right side of her head.
I rubbed my eyelids with my left hand, thinking I had seen something wrong, but… she was still there and I wasn’t hallucinating
She had a small, petite body like that of a small kid and with wobbly steps she headed straight in our direction.
I was stunned at the sight and I could not believe my eyes.
She— Ayase Shiina, my cousin, called me by my name.
The possibility that she was someone else quickly vanished when I heard that familiar childish yet clear voice.
This little girl is definitely my cousin.
“What are you doing here? Wait… why are you alone again?”
The questions kept coming up like a stream of hot water.
How did you get here, with whom did you come with, why are you alone, there were so many questions to ask to her that I don’t know where to start.
“Hey Minato-nii this is a good place, we should come here once alone.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Hmm… who is this little girl?”
Since Shinozuka-san is invoking her naturalness, I decided to start by clearing up the problem I had in my hand first.
“No, she is my cousin.”
“Is that so?”
While Shinozuka-san smiled wryly, Shi-chan held up her index finger and moved it from side to side like a pendulum.
“Even cousins can get married, you know.”
“Are you playing house by any chance?… If that’s the case now is really bad timing.”
“And who are you to say anything between us.
Are you Minato-nii’s girlfriend?”
Shi-chan glared at me with half open eyes as if she caught me red handed doing something wrong.
Now that I think of it, Shinozuka-san and I were doing some really embarrassing things that only a couple do like holding hands and feeding each other.
But our case was different as we were not in a relationship.
No, you’re wrong.
She is just my classmate.”
Shi-chan asked with a puzzled and suspicious look on her face.
As I was getting fed up with the misunderstanding, Shinozuka-san took her hands off me and stood up from the bench.
She then kneeled and made direct eye contact with Shi-chan.
“Yes, that’s right.
We’re not dating, so you don’t have to worry about it.
I’m Mizuna Shinozuka.
Is it okay if I call you Shiina-chan?”
“Sure, my name is Shiina but everyone calls me Shi-chan.”
Did you come here alone?”
“It’s a secret.”
“Secret huh… Oh, that ribbon on your head is cute.
Can I borrow it for a while?”
“Hmm? Sure I don’t have any problem with it.”
Shinozuka-san pointed to the red ribbon on the right side of Shi’s head and borrowed it for a while.
Now, watch this ribbon closely.”
Shinozuka-san takes the red ribbon, wraps it in her hands, and squeezes it after making some small gestures.
When she opened her hands after five seconds, the ribbon vanished.
“Huh? My ribbon is gone? But how?”
If you tell me with whom you came to the amusement park, I can tell you where the ribbon is.”
She is surprisingly good at basic magic tricks, isn’t she? The ribbon is hidden between the fingers, and when shi-chan was surprised, she hides it inside the sleeve of her dress.
It’s easy to spot the trick from my point of view, who was watching it closely from behind, but you’d be surprised if it was done right in front of you.
Especially if it was a child who was not yet old enough to understand it.
Shi-chan repeatedly blinked her eyes and in an annoyed tone she said,
“That’s stealing! If you don’t give it back to me in the next ten seconds, I will call the police.”
“Eh? I’m sorry.
I didn’t intend to steal it.”
Shinozuka-san hurriedly took out the ribbon from her hand sleeves and gave it back to Shi-chan.
“You can show me other magic tricks.”
Shinozuka-san glanced at me as if asking me to take it over from here and when I saw that it was not enough for her to handle someone like Shi-chan alone, I came forward to her rescue.
“Before all the magic happens… Shi-chan, can you tell me with whom you came here? And you didn’t come here alone, right?”
“You don’t have to worry about it, she is with me.”
It was a question directed to Shi-chan but some else responded in her stead.
Looking at the direction of the voice, a girl with black hair tied neatly in twintails was approaching in our direction.
She had a complicated expression on her face as she took Shi-chan’s hand and pulled it towards her.
“Kaede, what are you doing here?”
“Ah, I came here to enjoy myself with my friends.
It is a coincidence that we met each other.
I’m really sorry to disturb you when you are on a date.”
“You’re wrong, onee-chan.
They are not dating each other.”
“Eh? Is that so?”
Kaede opened her eyes wide with a surprised expression on her face.
Shinozuka-san, who was next to me, couldn’t keep up with the situation and raised her concern.
“Ah, we met with each other at the school’s cultural festival, right?”
“Huh?… Oh, you are the one who approached us back then.”
I forgot about it, but Kaede and Shinozuka-san have already met with each other.
For the time being I decided to organize our messy situation.
“She is my cousin Kaede.
She is also Shi-chan’s older sister and is now a junior high school student.”
I’m Shinozuka Mizuna.
I am Segawa-kun’s classmate.
Nice to meet you again.”
Shinozuka-san turned to face Kaede and introduced herself but Kaede just stood there silently while she lowered her head.
“Well then, Shinozuka-san—”
“Just Mizuna is fine.”
“Eh, but… I can’t do it, we don’t know each other very well.”
I don’t think there is any problem for girls to call each other by their first names when they are on good terms with each other, but it seems Kaede has her own thoughts on that matter.”
While there was an awkward atmosphere looming between them, Shi-chan excitedly jumped up and down on her spots and asked Shinozuka-san to perform more magic tricks.
“Hey, please show me your magic trick again.
This time I’ll definitely see through it.”
“Are you sure? It won’t be that easy, you know.”
“Don’t underestimate me.”
“You know some really difficult words, don’t you? I have to do my best not to make you cry.”
While marveling at the vocabulary of the young girl, Shinozuka-san did as she was asked and performed a magic trick.
While I was watching this scene, Kaede sat down next to me where Shinozuka had been sitting moments ago.
“You know, Mi-kun.”
Kaede looked at me with a mysterious look on her face and called my name in a much calmer tone than usual.
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