Chapter 112 Festival Act, A Guest at the Maid Cafe - Part 1

 The table to which the dark-haired girl, Maria, was led was the fifth or last one.
 This means that there are five guests at the table. However, Maria was alone, and many of the other guests were in pairs. Since there are quite a few empty seats, the next guest will be asked to share a table with another guest.
 Chihiro thought as he bowed to Maria when she took her seat.
(...But looking at Maria like this, this kind of situation suits her well)
 This is not an Akihabara-style maid café story, meaning that she is not out of place in a situation where she is being served by a maid. The irony is that she is the exact opposite.
 Still, she looks dignified and beautiful as she sits on a chair with her back straight and takes a menu in her hand.
「Can I have an iced tea and, um, assorted crackers, please?」
「Certainly, my lady」
 Chihiro takes the order, writes it down on a note, and bows.
 He tries to make his movements as elegant as possible so as not to spoil the beauty of the girl in front of him.
 After all, not many girls are better suited for the title "Lady" than her.
 When he looks up, he meets Maria's eyes with a smile on her face.
 She maintains her elegant attitude, but with a mischievous look on her face. At the same time, she apologizes for her rudeness to her master with a level of eye contact that only Chihiro can understand.
 It is a very polite thing to do, even though it is just for fun and role-playing for the time being.
 Chihiro also smiles back as casually as possible.
「Please wait a moment」
 He takes a step backward, keeping his posture straight, and tucks his long skirt lightly. He then moves to the kitchen, not running, but walking fast enough not to look bad. He passes through the doorway and gives his order.
「One iced tea, and one assorted cracker. Please」
「Roger. Chisato-chan」
 The two boys in charge of food and beverages respond in a flirtatious manner. They call Chihiro by his maid name, as if it were a matter of course.
「You don't have to call me by that name」
「What are you talking about?」
「Yes, Izumi, aren't you the one who didn't like it when I called you "Izumi"?」
「...yeah, well」
 The reason is that it is difficult to maintain the "Chisato mode" if people call him by his real name. Therefore, he asked everyone to call him "Chisato", which is true, so he can't deny their words.
 However, he cannot deny the feeling that he was called "Chisato" in a place where it was not necessary.
「Rather, you are really Izumi, aren't you?」
「It's not like you're his little sister or something...」
「I don't have a sister. Besides, my big sister (Nee-san) and I are quite a few years apart」
 As they argue, the iced tea is ready.
 Well, it's only a paper cup of bottled tea, of course.
 Anyway, he returns to the table with it and sets it down with a polite hand.
「Thank you for your patience. Here is your iced tea」
「Thank you」
 Maria appears to be continuing the role play.
 She gently puts her hand on the paper cup, lifts it, and sips from it. She returns the cup almost silently to the table and smiles.
「It's good. It tastes familiar」
「...thank you」
 The sudden surprise almost made him blow up.
 Of course, it tasted familiar. It was the same tea they always drink at home.
 Still, if she shows her mischievousness and folkishness with her ladylike gesture, he can't help reacting to her.
 Especially Chihiro who is usually close to her.
 Anyway, he only smiles lightly and tries to move away.
 As he turned around, Chihiro noticed a new visitor.
 Two girls peeked out from the doorway that was not being used for the cashier, the one treated as the entrance to the cafe.
「Welcome back, my lady」
 Reflexively, he smiles and straightens his posture.
 It was lucky that he was able to make it this far on a conditioned reflex, he think.
 After all, if he had checked who the two people were who came into the cafe first, his words to welcome them might have been choked in the middle of his speech.
「Hmm. It's a nice place. Thanks for your greeting」
「Hello. ...umm, is it full right now?」
 The blonde second-year student is beyond regal, even arrogant, and the third-year student is soft-spoken and elegant.
 Yes, they are Lucille Orwell and Kurohane Yotsuba. Chihiro's thoughts freeze for a moment at the sight of them.
* * *
 Fortunately, Lucille and Yotsuba agreed to sit together.
 The problem is where to seat them. Considering the possibility of further crowding, it would be safer to seat them with a pair of customers, but unfortunately, the corresponding customers were a couple. Maybe this is too much of a concern, but it might be a little harassing to throw two beautiful girls into a place where lovers are getting along well with each other.
 ...Then, there is a seat where only the same gender people are sitting.
 In a short time of thinking, Chihiro came to this conclusion.
 Aika, who is serving another customer, gives him a glance, which he answers with a glance as well, and turns back to Lucille and the others.
「Excuse me. Please wait just a moment」
 After making an excuse, he goes to Maria, the table he has spotted.
「My Lady. May I ask you to share a table with the ladies over there?」
「――sure, I'd be happy to」
 Maria glanced at Lucille and the others and nodded. Chihiro returned a bow and went to join Lucille and the others again.
「Thank you for waiting. Please come this way」
 This should have been the best thing to do without getting personal.
「I'm sorry to disturb you」
「Hello. I believe your name is Fukami Maria-san...?」
「Yes. I am honored that you remember my name」
 Oddly enough, all the girls that Chihiro knows seem to be young ladies are here in one place.
 And a shiver ran down his spine with a strange uneasiness.
「Well then, I'll bring some assorted crackers」
「Oh, please」
 With that, he lined up paper plates with store-bought crackers and topped them with store-bought cheese and chocolates, too. Although the taste is guaranteed because it is not fancy, to be honest, knowing the cost, he can't help but think that it is a rip-off.
 As he took the plate back to the table, he heard the conversation among the girls.
「Ah, you are the girl I saw from the data before. But we stopped inviting her to the student council, didn't we?」
「Yes. Well, there is no need to talk about it in front of her, but I thought her ability was better suited for a member of the public morals committee than a member of the student council」
「Don't worry about it. I don't mind」
 The topic is somewhat interesting, yet he stops to eavesdrop, so he interrupts and puts down the paper plate.
「Pardon me. Here are some assorted crackers」
「Thank you」
「Ah. Cute maid-san. May we order, too? A coke and assorted chocolates. And assorted cheeses. And chips」
Umm, I'll have... hot coffee and some Kaki no Tane[1], please
「Understood. Please wait a moment」
 ...Hot coffee must be a favorite taste for Yotsuba.
 However, it was complicated by the fact that Yotsuba only poured hot water into instant coffee powder.
 And so, he went back and forth between the kitchen and the table several times. In between, he took care of other customers and took a break.
 Aika, who was also free, came up to him and whispered to Chihiro.
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