Christmas had passed, and now it was New Year’s. We welcomed the new year together, and through this event, I realized that having a harem, or rather, a harem of magical girls, was truly wonderful.
Things like cake, which were already sweet, became even sweeter when they fed it to me. I was living these heartwarming days. However, there was one thing that bothered me: the theatrical version. According to the author, it seemed like they would defeat the enemy easily. If the author said it would be fine, then it should be fine, but…
As I continued to spend my days like this, one day, a massive hole opened up in the world. They had to go and fight to protect the world, and with their intermediate power-ups and deepening bonds, there were hardly any enemies they couldn’t handle.
From the large hole emerged a creature unlike anything I had ever seen. Even with my knowledge, I couldn’t recall seeing anything like it, and it gave off a clear sense of strength. It was a strange, panda-like creature with black and white markings. Without mercy, the girls mercilessly beat it to a pulp.
The panda emitted strange, distorted rays of light. The girls easily dodged them. Finally, with a combined magical attack, the panda was pierced through and met its end. However, in its last desperate resistance, the theatrical version of the panda unleashed a distorted surge of magic, numbering around a thousand. They managed to cut down all of it, except for one stray shot that headed towards a civilian who couldn’t escape in time.
Panicking, I instinctively shielded the civilian, who was about to be hit like a child in front of an oncoming truck. The attack hit me instead.
Suddenly, everything felt like severe seasickness, and my vision distorted, causing a splitting headache. Everything started to warp, and then, my consciousness…
I faintly heard the voices of the girls…
When I came to my senses, I was lying in front of the gates of Mina no Iro High School. I guess this is it. Normally, it should have been the girls who got sent here, but it seems like I was the one sent instead. It’s quite different from what I heard from the author. Originally, there was supposed to be a more balanced battle where the girls would take the brunt of the attack, and then they’d get sent to the Mirror World.
However, I believe it’s because of the girls’ increased strength and bonds beyond the original story that things got shifted around, and I ended up being the only one sent here. I want to return quickly, but according to what the author said, those who aren’t originally from this world will naturally return due to the restorative power.
What should I do? The girls must be worried too. But I can’t return immediately. As I’m lost in my thoughts, I hear a manly voice from behind.
“You… are you Izayoi?”
“And you are…”
It was Sasamoto who was behind me. He looked like a teacher, about thirty years old. The author had mentioned it. I can see what happens to various characters afterward… Oh, he became a teacher. That’s surprising.
Should I run away? I wonder… While I’m thinking about it, Sasamoto looks at me with an expression of disbelief. What’s with that ghostly look?
“Why… why are you here? You… you were supposed to be dead.”
…What’s going on?
“Eh? What’s happening?”
“Hallucinations… or maybe a doppelgänger? No, no, that can’t be.”
It seems like he can’t hear my words. I don’t really understand this world yet… but I have no choice but to get information from someone other than him. I grab his shoulder, make eye contact, and speak loudly.
“Sorry for the suddenness, but I came from another world. Because of the demons. So, I don’t know anything about this world. Please, tell me more.”
“…Could something like that really happen?”
“It can. The reality in front of your eyes is all there is. Now, please, tell me more.”
He reluctantly began to speak, opening his mouth with a heavy expression. It seemed like something he didn’t want to remember.
“Over ten years ago, when we were… about to enter our second year of high school… this world experienced an invasion by some unimaginable demon race. Unlike anything we’d seen before. It was like a mechanical, gigantic demon lord…”
That sounds like the final scene of the magical girl story. The demon lord’s ship gains consciousness, transforms, and invades the real world. They defeat it for a happy ending… with no casualties or injuries. It’s the best and perfect conclusion…
“Well, they did defeat it. That monster… But in that battle… there was one casualty.”
“Exactly… it was you.”
Suddenly, I felt a drastic drop in temperature. I could sense from his demeanor, expression, and tone of voice that he was not lying.
“So… what about Kohaku-san and the others?”
“It was tough on them… from that day onwards, they became like empty shells. Even though they used to be so close… they stopped talking to each other, started acting separately.”
“And now… where are the five of them?”
“I don’t know… but I heard that Karen-senpai is living around here on her own.”
“I see… in that case, see you later. Thanks!”
I ran from that place. I just wanted to see them.
“See you later… I hope…”
I heard a voice from behind. Sasamoto was someone I thought of as a character, but he was also a friend, a close one.
I waved my hand lightly without looking back and left the area.
I was walking along my usual way home. In the twilight, I passed by many people. There were elementary school kids covered in mud, middle school students returning from club activities, and high school couples showing affection.
On my way back, I stopped by the supermarket to buy some meat, beer, and vegetables. I could see mothers with their children and parents carrying their kids on their shoulders. A woman in her thirties, maybe an office worker…
I paid at the register, realizing I had forgotten my eco-bag, so I bought one for three yen and transferred the items from the basket into it. As I did, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the store’s glass… I felt like I had aged quite a bit. Recently, when I mentioned this to my parents, they told me that wasn’t the case. They said my skin was young and firm, and I didn’t look like I was in my thirties.
But still… somewhere along the way, it felt like I had lost the radiance I once had.
As soon as that thought crossed my mind, I shook my head lightly to interrupt my train of thought. I held the shopping bag and headed towards my apartment.
I passed by various people again, boys and girls, high school couples. They were all wearing the uniforms of the Mina no Iro High School.
Their figures overlapped with him and me. In astonishment, I turned around. Of course, it wasn’t me, and it wasn’t him either.
I’ve attempted to forget numerous times, desperately wishing to erase it from my mind. At moments, I succeeded, only to be reminded again. His absence, that simple fact, drains me of color and inflicts unbearable pain.
I want to forget quickly…
For that reason, I stopped wearing twintails. He said he liked them, so I cut my hair short. I thought that if I didn’t have twintails, I might be able to forget him.
I put all my anime-related stuff in storage. Because they remind me of him when we watched and talked about them together.
But still, I can’t forget. He remains in my soul like an unbreakable curse. My parents couldn’t bear to see me like that, so they suggested matchmaking a few times. I thought anything would be fine if I could forget him and even went on some arranged dates, but I turned them all down.
Every time I did that, I realized it was just an action to try to forget him, making me remember even more…
So, I just continue my ordinary daily life. This… is the best.
I walked, thinking this way. And then, at that moment, I saw a boy in front of me. He was wearing a black hoodie and asking people as they passed by. He shook his head and asked someone else. It was hard to see from a distance, but…
This boy… I couldn’t believe it, but every time he got closer…
I saw it more clearly. This back, this voice… this warmth…
I cautiously approached him, dropping my shopping bag on the ground. Slowly, I touched his cheek with both hands… It wasn’t an illusion, it wasn’t a fantasy; it was real.
“Why? How? You were supposed to be dead.”
“Well, I was sent here by the demons from another world…”
“I see… Hey, can you lend me your body for a moment?”
I wrapped my arms around his back and rested my head against his chest. It was a sensation I had experienced countless times before. That warmth, that feeling… I didn’t care about the people around us. Memories with him flashed through my mind.
Tears began to flow uncontrollably. There was no way I could forget him. I had been fooling myself for so long, trying so hard for over ten years… and now he had suddenly reappeared. I realized once again that I couldn’t be separated from him.
We stood there for about ten minutes, crying. As more people started to stare, we separated and began walking together. Despite not seeing each other for so many years, our steps naturally synchronized.
“Um, do you want to come to my place for a bit? There’s a lot I want to talk about, and I’m sure you have questions for me too, right?”
“Then, um, should we hold hands?”
“I know I might look like an old lady now, but I’m not that wrinkled, you know? Maybe you find the ‘old me’ unpleasant?”
“No, not at all! You don’t look like an old lady! In fact, you look like a high school girl!”
“That’s… probably too much praise.”
“No, it’s not!”
While saying these things, we held hands. I had wanted this for so long… Tears welled up in my eyes again, but I wiped them away discreetly with the hand that wasn’t holding his.
The road that should have been the same as always suddenly felt enjoyable.
“Izayoi-kun, Izayoi-kun, Izayoi-kun, Izayoi-kun, Izayoi-kun, Izayoi-kun….”
“Darling, Darling, Darling, Darling, Darling, Darling…”
Like a broken record, the two of them continued to call his name. Kohaku-chan and Aoi-chan were trying to console me, but I couldn’t be consoled.
He had disappeared somewhere due to Panda’s space-time attack. Of course, we were all worried. Kohaku-chan and Aoi-chan were comforting me while tears welled up in their eyes. Despite their reassurances, they couldn’t shake their anxiety.
Mel-chan was also doing various investigations, but it seemed she couldn’t figure out much either. We were all filled with anxiety, and no one had the energy to answer the doorbell.
I was sitting on the sofa, cradling my head in my hands, feeling as powerless as the others. Just his absence had turned us all into a mess. He had somehow become the center of our lives without us even realizing it.
As I contemplated his importance, the doorbell rang repeatedly, irritatingly… I felt myself getting increasingly frustrated.
I wanted to shout at whoever was causing the disturbance, but I couldn’t. We were all in this together, and I wasn’t the only one suffering. I mustered the strength to go to the front door and opened it.
Standing there was…
“Yaa, sorry to bother you. Can I come in for a bit?”
It was the woman who had been with him at the café not too long ago. She walked into the room without waiting for my response. I should have refused her entry, but I couldn’t. I was too disoriented and exhausted to think clearly.
She entered the living room. Kohaku-chan and Aoi-chan looked at me with a mixture of anger, sadness, and resentment, silently questioning why I had let her into the house.
I could sense their anger, and it ignited something within me. How could they… when I was suffering too?
I was about to scream again, but at that moment, the woman who had entered the house suddenly clapped her hands loudly to get our attention. All of our eyes were fixed on her.
“Let’s calm down for a moment”
“I… I can’t calm down”
“Yeah, you don’t know anything, and yet…”
Aoi-chan and Kohaku-chan raised their voices in anger. However, the woman seemed to have anticipated such reactions and continued speaking.
“I know you must be surprised by all the unexpected things that have happened, but let me be direct. Kuroda Izayoi, he is alive.”
We all turned our gaze towards her. We had been waiting for someone to say those words. We couldn’t console each other; it had to come from someone outside of our group.
But why did she know this? Was it really the truth? Doubts began to creep into our minds.
“You can trust me; it’s not a lie. He has been sent to a world similar to ours, like a mirror world.”
“Is it true? Is Darling really alive?”
“It’s true. But… it’s been five hours since he disappeared. That’s a bit long.”
“Do you know something? Please, you have to help us meet with Izayoi-kun!”
Finally, Kuroko-chan and Kohaku-chan managed to speak clearly, though their voices were filled with anxiety and impatience. They looked like they might break down at any moment.
To calm them down, the woman continued speaking.
“Wait a moment. First, let me explain the current situation in a way that you can all understand. To start with, the world where he was sent is almost identical to this one, but with a slightly different timeline. There are two ways to bring him back.”
As soon as she mentioned there were ways to bring him back, we were all eager to know how. However, she gestured for us to listen before asking.
“One way is to force him back by defeating the Panda. But you’ve already defeated it, so that’s not possible anymore. The other way is to wait for him to return naturally.”
“Naturally… How long does that mean?”
Kohaku-chan asked, trying to remain calm despite her trembling.
“It should have already happened, but… something unexpected seems to be happening in that world. You see, originally, Kuroda Izayoi is a part of this world, so he should naturally return here. It’s a concept related to the world’s self-correction. But… something beyond that concept, like love or desire, seems to be binding him in that other world.”
She spoke confidently. Although doubts still lingered, we agreed. She didn’t seem like she was lying.
“Why are you so sure about this?”
“I’m… I’m a fortune teller. I have insights into various things”
“I see… Can we trust you, then?”
“Yeah, you can. My divination results show that he’s not dead.”
Although a trace of doubt remained, we reluctantly accepted her words. She didn’t seem to be lying.
We had hoped for this news, but the fact that Izayoi hadn’t returned yet was still a source of concern.