Translator : Soafp
A few days have passed since I moved to a new school.
Daily life was stable.
Family relations were good. Studying was fine. Relationships at school were smooth. In order not to create an image of myself as I was in junior high school, I forced myself to act a little more cheerful, and it seems to have worked.
I haven’t had any contact with Yuuhi Akazawa since then.
She used to be very interested in transfer students and handsome guys, but it seems that she didn’t like me after I changed my look. I’m very happy about that.
It’s not a secret that I felt a mysterious sense of defeat, as if I was being told that I wasn’t good-looking enough, even though I should be celebrating.
I’m in a different class than the other demons. I never leave the classroom during recess, so I haven’t encountered any so far.
It’s going well.
I arrived at school that day and called out to my classmates.
Perhaps it was because I was trying to give the impression that I was a cheerful country character, but when I greeted them, the people at the top of the class caste would cheerfully reply. My relationships with both boys and girls are good, and I think I’m giving off a cheerful impression.
When I arrived at school and took my seat, I called out to the girl sitting next to me.
The girl in the seat next to me was reading as usual, her face hidden by her long bangs.
“…… Good morning.”
The greeting was curt, but she returned it.
I’ve heard that a lot of students from the eastern middle school that I attended have gone on to study at Tenkain Gakuen. The girl sitting next to me is one of them.
Her name is Hazuki Nekoda. [TL: Neko = cat]
As her name suggests, she has a cat-like face. Her eyes are slightly twinkly, her nose is well defined, her chin is thin, and she has a sharp outline. When she smiles, her characteristic double-teeth appear and accelerate her cat-like impression.
I didn’t notice it at first.
That’s how different she was from before. In junior high school, Nekoda had always been cheerful and energetic, and had been the center of the class.
But now, she didn’t talk to anyone. She listens to her classes in silence and reads during her breaks. Her hair is longer than it was back then, and she hides her face with her bangs. After school, she would go home immediately, a typical gloomy person.
On top of that, the atmosphere of the class gave the impression that Nekoda was being avoided. She was the only alien in a good class.
I finished my classes and had my lunch break.
As usual, I bought a loaf of bread from the store and sat down with Mahiro.
I glanced at the person next to me. Nekoda had just taken out her lunch.
“Nekoda’s lunch box. It always looks good.”
” …… Thank you.”
“Is it possible that you make your own?”
“…… Yeah, I like to cook.”
“Heh, you must be a good cook. I envy you because my mother doesn’t like to cook.”
When I praised her, Nekoda raised her head slightly and smiled.
The tension was low, but it was the same face I had seen in the past. There she was, smiling next to Akazawa.
But the smile disappeared in a few seconds as if she noticed something.
As I was wondering, Mahiro tapped me on the shoulder.
“You shouldn’t talk to her.”
Mahiro looked around the classroom.
“Look over there.”
” What do you mea—-“
Akazawa, who was eating with her friends in her seat, looked at me. It’s not just that she was looking at me. There was no idle expression on her face.
“It’s like she’s staring at me…….”
“I don’t know about them, but I think they’re fighting.”
“Akazawa and Nekoda?”
“Yes. In fact, Nekoda-san was in the same junior high school as me and Akazawa-san.”
Of course I know that, but I pretend to be surprised.
“If I remember correctly, they used to hang out together in middle school.”
“Is that why they’re fighting?”
“That’s my guess.”
Yuuhi Akazawa and Hazuki Nekoda were definitely friends. They were in the same class in the second year of junior high school and always seemed to enjoy talking. They seemed to be more like best friends than friends.
That’s why I was also surprised.
That day, Nekoda told me about the rumor.
Her words triggered me to understand the situation I was in. It was definitely thanks to her that I realized the fact that I had been framed by Akazawa and made to be the most hated person in the school.
I feel indebted to Nekoda. I had hoped to repay the favor someday. In fact, before I could do so, I was crushed and transferred to another school.
“What was the reason for the fight?”
“I have no idea.”
“How long have they been fighting?”
“We were in different classes in middle school, and last year we were in different classes, so that part’s unclear too.”
Not even sure how long they’ve been fighting.
“I was surprised when we were in the same class. Akazawa-san gave off the vibe that she hated Nekoda-san. Nobody can talk to her because they don’t want the goddess to hate them.”
“…… Did Nekoda do something to her?”
“I don’t know anything about that either. But I’ve heard rumors that Nekoda-san has done something bad.”
It makes me feel bad.
They were close to each other to begin with, but now Akazawa has isolated her. The way she did it is similar to that time. If I am not careful, before I know it, she will manipulate me behind the scenes, spread rumors, and make me look bad.
It was frustrating. I couldn’t leave Nekoda, who was in the same situation as I was in the past, alone.
If I abandoned her here, I would be just as much of a scum as those demons, and that made me sick.
“Okay, I’ll get along with Nekoda.”
“I feel sorry for her. Isolated from the rest of the world because of a simple fight, and we don’t even know why.”
“…… That may be true but…”
“I’ll be fine. I won’t get any stares.”
I can’t leave my benefactor alone.
The action has begun.
From that day on, I started to care about Nekoda.
It wasn’t excessive attention. I greeted her in the morning and occasionally made small talk with her. When I left school, I would say, “See you tomorrow.” We were classmates, and we were sitting next to each other, so we didn’t deviate from our relationship.
The response was not good.
She had been the cheerful mood maker of the class, but now it was rare for her to even open her mouth. The only response she gave was raw.
“Oh, the novel you’re reading is the one that’s going to be made into an anime, isn’t it?”
That day, Nekoda was reading a novel as usual.
I caught a glimpse of the illustrations in the book and understood the content. It was a popular novel that I also love to read.
“…You know about it?”
“I love it. It’s really interesting.”
“I thought Nijitani didn’t read this kind of stuff.”
“You’re always so cheerful, I didn’t think you’d be the type to read novels.”
“I do read them. They are my favorite.”
I got into light novels when I was in junior high school.
I was looked down upon at school, and the only thing I could do was read novels. But I wasn’t mature enough to enjoy pure literature, and as a result, I was completely addicted to light novels.
I was surprised to find out that Nekoda had become a fan of novels, but I was somewhat pleased.
“What other kind of books do you read?
” I enjoyed the last anime about building robots in a different world.”
“I watched it too!”
“It’s interesting, isn’t it? The main character is really good-looking.”
Nekoda’s voice had just gained momentum.
“Hey, if you like light novels, will you have a chat with me?”
Suddenly, a voice interrupted.
The owner of the voice was Akazawa.
As soon as I saw Akazawa, the cat looked down at the book in her hand as if she was embarrassed.
“I like them too. Light novels.”
I don’t know why you’re getting involved in our conversation.
It’s a lie that you like light novels in the first place. I’ll never forget the time in junior high when you made fun of me for reading novels, saying I looked like an otaku.
Calm down, me. Don’t get upset. She doesn’t know who I am. If I get too upset, there’s a higher risk of my true identity being exposed.
I took a deep breath in my mind and let out my bad feelings.
As for Shota Nijitani, he and Akazawa are not in any sort of trouble. He’s just a classmate. If that’s the case, I know what to do here.
“Does Akazawa also like novels?”
“Yes. Love them.”
“What kind of books do you like?”
“Uhm you kow, the older works—-“
When I asked the question, thinking it was a lie anyway, Akazawa listed the titles in a few words.
She likes the old classics rather than the new ones. The list included many of the ones I used to read when in the past.
Surprisingly, our interests were compatible.
But that doesn’t give me a good impression. In fact, it makes me feel disgusted. Because, you know. In junior high school, this same person used to make fun of me for reading novels.
Seriously, she’s like the devil.
“I guess that’s the kind of stuff I like.”
“…… All those masterpieces.”
“Right? That is why I wanted to talk about light novels.”
I glanced at Nekoda. She was reading a book as if she had given up. I’m sure she can hear me, but she’s not responding.
“There is no problem with talking. Let’s talk about it, including Nekoda, who loves romance novels.”
Nekoda was blatantly flustered.
” Uhm, you know…”
“Are you in a fight with Nekoda?”
When I asked her directly, Akazawa’s expression became cloudy.
“What’s the matter, all of a sudden?”
“To tell you the truth, I heard from Mahiro. Mahiro told me that you used to be good friends.”
“…… That’s right. We’re having a fight.”
Akazawa stared at Mahiro unamused.
Mahiro glared at me impatiently, but I felt awkward so I turned away. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to sacrifice yourself.
“If you don’t mind, can you tell me why?”
“What’s bothering you?”
“If the girl sitting next to me looked gloomy, it would bother me.”
Give a valid reason why you don’t want the girl next to me to be depressed.
After a moment of hesitation, Akazawa opened her mouth as if she had given up.
“…… It’s because Hazuki-chan hurt someone I care about.”