Volume 6 Chapter 15 Shirogane Aqua, Joint Music Festival, here we go
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
”Oh… So this is Mary…”
At the request of the student council, I had come to a neighboring prefecture for a joint music festival with Mary Women’s Academy. Mary is an ultra-prestigious school that ranges from kindergarten to university, one of the famous girls’ schools known as the Three Great Schools of Women’s Education. It’s a school with a rich history, and the buildings and structures are so splendid that I found myself staring in awe. By the way, my sister Lapis attends St. Claris, one of the Three Great Schools. It seems that Claris and Mary are in a rival relationship. It’s not that they’re enemies, but rather they strive to excel each other.
”Shirogane-san, this way, please.”
Today, along with me, there are my classmates and student council general affairs officer Chihiro Claire, senior and second-year student council vice president Natalia Rosenesta, senior and third-year student council president Natsuki Sana, and my homeroom teacher Sugita Mari-sensei accompanying us for this joint music festival. However, the actual performers are only three of us: me, Vice President Rosenesta, and President Natsuki. Sugita-sensei is here as a chaperone, and Claire-san is accompanying us as a backup in case something goes wrong. Even though today is a weekday, we had regular classes in the morning. According to Sugita-sensei and the student council members, our afternoon classes are being treated as excused absences. So, even if we’re absent, it’s counted as attending.
”Nice to meet you. Welcome.”
The students and teachers from Mary’s student council came to greet us at the parking lot, so we exchanged nods. By the way, Mary’s uniform is a one-piece sailor dress. It features navy blue fabric with a white collar, a thin red ribbon, and a cross mark at the uniform’s neck, along with a black line on the hem of the skirt, which is a vestige of hakama. Similarly, Claris’s uniform also has a cross mark on the fabric at the neck area, but theirs features a white sailor collar, perhaps in contrast to Mary’s navy blue.
”Today’s joint music festival… As we mentioned beforehand, we’ve made a slight change to the schedule. So, um, we would like Shirogane-sama, a first-year student, to perform last. Are you, um, really okay with this?”
”Oh, yes, it’s fine.”
Originally, it seems the plan was for the performances to go in the order of the kindergarten, elementary, middle, high school, and university levels. But due to my participation, they requested that I perform last for security reasons. Feeling apologetic, I suggested that if I was causing any inconvenience, someone else could replace me. However, when I said that, one of Mary’s students started crying… It’s tough making girls smile. This made me even more determined to work harder as an idol. I’m far from perfect in that aspect.
”So, uh, Shirogane-sama, would you like to listen to the other performances? If it makes you uncomfortable, we’ve also prepared a rest area…”
”Well, I’d like to hear performances from Mary’s students and also from everyone at Otomezaki… Would that be inconvenient?”
Of course, I wanted to hear Otomezaki’s performances, and besides Kanon, I also wanted to listen to my acquaintance Emily-san’s performance from Mary.
”Oh, no, it’s fine! While it might be a bit challenging to be in the same place as Mary and the students from the invited schools… we have prepared a viewing balcony for Otomezaki, so you can use that.”
I feel sorry that they’ve gone through the trouble of arranging a special seat for me. But considering the current state of men in this world, it’s probably unavoidable.
”Well then, we’ll go prepare.”
”Ah, sure. Understood.”
The president and vice president headed to a separate room to change into their performance dresses. I also need to change into a suit later, but since it’s just changing clothes, I should be fine at the last minute. Alongside Sugita-sensei and Claire-san, I was led by the student council members to the balcony seats.
”This way, please.”
I thanked the security personnel at the entrance and greeted them with a “Thank you for today. I appreciate your help” before entering the balcony seats. This has become something of a habit, even from my past life. For example, among actors, some people create their persona from the moment they leave their homes, or in the case of idols, deliberately maintain their image even in their everyday lives.
There are those types who purposely don’t greet others, but I think that’s fine as well. It conveys their seriousness towards their work or the image they’ve built. However, Johnny-san, the person who trained me, was very strict about manners, and I was taught to greet properly. I think that’s deeply ingrained in me.
”As expected of Mary. The traditional hall takes inspiration from Stars nation’s old architecture, giving it a unique charm. Even the curtains and chairs they use are all top-notch.”
Sugita-sensei sighed in admiration and looked around with entranced eyes. Come to think of it, she mentioned that she likes watching musicals, so perhaps she enjoys halls with this kind of Atmosphere? I’m starting to feel a bit excited wondering if I can perform here. On the other hand, Claire-san was her usual self. She spent middle school at Stars’s, so maybe she’s used to these kinds of places from her time abroad.
”It seems the university students’ performance is about to start.”
Mary’s joint music festival takes a whole day, with performances from the kindergarten to middle school taking place in the morning. High school and university performances are scheduled for the afternoon. By the way, while Mary’s students from middle school and above participate for the entire day, it’s customary for the invited schools to leave after the morning performances without staying for the afternoon.
However, despite this, there were still students from the kindergarten, elementary school, and morning invited schools in the back of the hall. Could it be that the performances in this joint music festival were so amazing? I’m looking forward to it.
In the previously quiet audience, someone let out a sound. Simultaneously, everyone in the audience seats turned their heads towards me. While I’m used to being looked at on stage, being stared at by everyone like this is a bit embarrassing. I waved my hand with a smile for now. As Ako-san mentioned, in times of trouble, just smile and wave, and you can get by.
Huh…? One of the girls in the audience suddenly leaned forward and almost fell. But the children sitting on both sides quickly supported her body, preventing anything serious from happening. Phew, that’s a relief… If she had hit her face on the backrest of the seat in front, it could have been bad.
However, starting with that girl, a few more girls ended up in similar situations and were taken care of by the girls in the neighboring seats. Not knowing what to do, I glanced at Sugita-sensei next to me, and she had a slightly exasperated expression mixed with a wry smile. Frustrated, I turned my gaze to Claire-san on the opposite side. She looked at me with a gaze that seemed to say, “You’re in trouble.” I’d like to believe it’s just my imagination… No, no, no, shaking hands shouldn’t cause something like this, right? It’s probably just that some students who had been attending for a long time started feeling unwell. Yes, that’s it. I pretended not to notice and took my seat.
Huh? Did I mess up something again? I turned my attention to the voice. Then, Claire-san, looking a bit displeased, cast her eyes downward and showed a slightly annoyed expression. Claire-san is usually calm and always maintains a balanced… well, a calm attitude. That’s why I was surprised to see her expression change, showing a hint of emotion.
”Is something the matter?”
”Oh… no, I’m sorry. I happened to spot someone I know, and… please don’t mind.”
Huh, so Claire-san also has moments where she shows her true emotions like this. Among my classmates, she’s one of the more mature ones, and at times, she seems more grown-up than even Sugita-sensei sitting next to me. Actually, I initially thought Sugita-sensei was a bit stern, but she’s also playful and even messes around with students. She has a childlike, cute side, I thought.
While contemplating this, the smartphone I had in my pocket vibrated softly. Since the performance hadn’t started yet, I opened it to check, and it was a message from Kanon.
[Oh, you seem to be having fun with a cute girl next to you. I also want to talk to Aqua though.]
I couldn’t help but smile. Kanon isn’t the type to get overly jealous, but she’s the type to openly express her feelings of jealousy, which is quite reassuring for someone like me who’s new to relationships. It’s easier for me to deal with it when she tells me directly instead of unknowingly accumulating stress and suffering. I quickly replied to Kanon.
[Yeah, it would be even more fun if my beloved Kanon were next to me. But, I might get nervous because of Kanon’s cuteness, so I might not be able to talk much, but that’s okay, right?]
To cut to the conclusion, there was no response… I started to feel unsure if that response was appropriate. Come to think of it, this happened quite recently as well. Yes, it was right after the airing of the second episode of “Masked Driver, Heaven’s Sword.”
[I want to hug Aqua tightly too!]
[I’m sure it won’t end with just a hug. But is that okay?]
At that time too, there was a pause in Kanon’s response for a while. This sort of thing happens quite frequently. I hope I’m not doing something to upset Kanon… Truth be told, whether it’s in this life or my previous one, this is my first time being in a romantic relationship with a woman. So, please, someone give me the right answer!!
Anyway, since it seemed like the performance was about to start, I powered off my smartphone and put it back in my pocket. I need to follow proper etiquette, after all.
”Mary Women’s Academy, we will resume the joint music festival. For the afternoon session, we have performances from three individuals from Otomezaki Academy planned. Also, from our affiliated schools—”
As the lights in the hall slowly dimmed, the first performance began. To my surprise, the opening act was Emily-san, a regular at the cafe.
”The first performance will be by Yukishiro Emily-san, a solo rendition of the hymn ‘Lily.’”
I joined the applause towards the stage like everyone else. Emily-san, who emerged from the backstage, was dressed in an elegant pure white dress. She was already a beautiful person, but her refined attire accentuated her aura of purity. The hymn “Lily,” which Emily-san sang, was originally a song from an old anime, but it became an unprecedented hit even without its composer knowing.
Since Emily-san probably doesn’t watch anime, she must have heard it while singing at the church. This song is difficult to interpret, and there are various opinions flying around about its true meaning. However, Emily-san sang it with an air of solemnity and mystery, as if she was declaring that this is the correct interpretation, enveloped in a divine and pure atmosphere.
To put it simply, it was breathtaking. I never expected Emily-san to be such a skilled singer, but what stood out even more was the atmosphere she created while singing. The song’s lyrics are in Latin, and when translated, they sing about being a saint. It’s a bit cringey, but does Emily-san know? Yet, with her beauty, it wouldn’t be strange for her to be called a saint.
”Wow, that’s amazing…”
Sugita-sensei, who was sitting next to me, had a twinkle in her eyes, clearly moved.
Meanwhile, Claire-san on the opposite side seemed very unwell, her face pale as she slumped in her seat. I wonder if she’s okay? I gently spoke to Claire-san.
”Are you okay, Claire-san? You seem quite unwell… If you want, should I take you to the waiting room?”
Claire-san covered one ear with her hand, her face turning red.
”I-I’m fine… I’ll just pretend I didn’t notice that…”
Pretend she didn’t notice what? I didn’t quite understand the meaning of Claire-san’s words, but since her complexion had returned to normal from the pale face a while ago, I figured she was probably fine for now.
Anyway, I kept an eye on Claire-san beside me, hoping she wouldn’t turn pale again, and focused on the songs and performances of the other participants. All of them were exceptionally talented, but Emily-san’s performance at the beginning was so impressive that the others seemed a bit overshadowed.
While there are many skilled singers, it’s rare to find individuals who can create their own unique atmosphere and world. Still, all the subsequent performers and singers did their best, and their performances and songs were equally impressive. So, I applauded them all with a particularly enthusiastic round of applause, letting them know they did well and that there was no need to feel down.
Around halfway through the performances by the university students, I stood up from my seat.
”I think it’s about time for me to change as well.”
”In that case, I’ll change as well, just in case.”
Claire-san also stood up after me.
”Well then, I’ll make sure to see Shirogane all the way to the dressing room.”
In the end, Sugita-sensei also stood up, and the three of us headed to the dressing room.
”Yeah, do your best, Shirogane!”
”After I finish changing, I’ll watch from my seat with Sugita-sensei.”
I parted ways with the two of them here, and I entered the dressing room. By the way, there were several security guards standing outside the dressing room. I greeted them too, saying “Your work must be tough. Thank you,” before entering the room.
Once inside the spacious changing room that had been prepared in the dressing room, I took off my clothes and put on the shirt and suit that had been sent to Mary in advance to avoid creases. This was the latest autumn-winter collection from Corolle that I had at home.
”Yeah… I guess that’s about right.”
After putting on my leather shoes, I checked my reflection in the full-length mirror outside. The suit and shirt had a simple design, but their exquisite tailoring and elegant texture screamed luxury at first glance. On the other hand, the shirt with pleats was quite formal, yet the minute details gave off a designer vibe. The butterfly tie, slightly different from a regular bowtie, was more like a butterfly tie, which added a dressy and high-fashion touch.
However, when I saw the bee emblem on the tip of the tie, I couldn’t help but recall Tenga-senpai and his Heaven’s Sword connection, and I chuckled. Thanks to that, I felt slightly less nervous, even if just a bit. Thanks, Tenga-senpai.
”Do I still have time?”
Checking the clock on the dressing room wall, I realized I still had some time to spare. I used some hard wax to style my hair, especially my bangs, so they wouldn’t obstruct my performance. Yes, this should do. While I’m just average when it comes to the piano, I want to give a good performance since I have the chance. I shouldn’t skimp on effort even in small ways to enhance my performance.
After checking my hair in the mirror, I left the dressing room and headed toward the backstage. It seemed like the timing was right after all the university students had finished their performances. In the waiting room were the performers from Otomezaki and Mary’s senior high school section.
”Ah, President, Vice President.”
I greeted Natsuki, the student council president, and Rosenesta, the vice president, who were waiting.
For some reason, the two of them momentarily froze and stared at me. President Natsuki was wearing a slightly flashy crimson dress, while Vice President Rosenesta had a dress with a blue theme. Both of them were already beautiful, but their hair was meticulously styled, enhancing their beauty even more.
As I thought about that, I felt a chilling sensation pierce my back, so I turned my gaze in that direction.
As I turned around, I saw Kanon there, her cheeks visibly puffed up in an obvious manner. Kanon’s dress, predominantly black and deep purple, covered her neck and appeared very elegant at first glance. However, the sheer tulle material used created a mature and s*xy feel. In reality, the slightly visible shoulder line under the transparent tulle and the faintly visible skin around the collarbone were quite enticing. Without delay, I took out my smartphone from my pocket, turned it on, and quickly sent a message.
[Beautiful dress, Kanon. It suits you well.]
Pegonia-san, who was standing next to me, turned around for a moment and whispered something into Kanon’s ear. Probably, since Kanon has a performance, she entrusted her smartphone to Pegonia-san.
Kanon’s face rapidly turned red.
Phew… It seems she’s cheered up now. Kanon exchanged a few words with Pegonia-san. Then, Pegonia-san inserted her hand into the pocket of her maid outfit and tapped on something. The next moment, I received a new message on my smartphone.
[It’s fine to be all lovey-dovey with other girls, but… I want you to… to look at me properly too!]
A brief smile escaped at the adorable message. Following that message, a second new message came in.
[After Her Highness heard that Shirogane-sama is coming, Her Highness dressed up so nicely, but it seems like Her Highness got jealous because you looked at the other girls first. Just a while ago, even though Her Highness is your girlfriend, she saw you talking amiably with the girl next to you while she was watching, and it seems like she got jealous. After all, for Her Highness, Shirogane-sama is her first boyfriend ever, so please understand with your tolerant heart. As an apology, if there’s anything this Pegonia can do to serve you, she’ll do anything… okay?]
I returned a bewildered look to Pegonia-san. She boldly emphasized it, chest out and all. Ugh… That woman, she realized I like boobs, didn’t she?! Well, come on, for guys, a girl’s boobs are really attractive, okay!! I’m a guy too, so please cut me some slack on that. I quietly turned off my smartphone.
When I turned around, Natsuki, the student council president, was looking at me with a puzzled expression. I quickly answered, “It’s nothing.”
”Alright! In that case, it’s fine. Well then, I’ll be going on stage soon.”
”Yes, even though it’s just a little, I’ll be cheering for you from here, President Natsuki.”
”President… Please don’t go overboard.”
Natsuki, who seemed to have been cautioned by Rosenesta, gave a wry smile and headed toward the stage from the stage wing.
Onstage, Natsuki, who had played the violin, chose the first movement of Vivaldi’s “Summer,” a standard piece for the violin. With her already solid playing technique and passionate performance, both Rosenesta and I, along with the audience, were captivated. When I listen to performances like this, I can’t help but want to try playing the violin myself, but in reality, it’s quite difficult and demanding.
”President Natsuki, that was an amazing performance!”
”President, great job. Here’s a towel.”
”Oh, thank you both!! As I thought, being on stage is great! It’s so exciting!!”
President Natsuki wiped her neck with the towel handed to her by Vice President Rosenesta. When Mary’s performance concluded, it was Rosenesta’s turn.
”Natalia, give it your all! Show your passion!!”
”Vice President Rosenesta, enjoy your performance!”
”Hehe, thank you both. Well then, I’m off.”
With a slight smile, Vice President Rosenesta slowly moved from the backstage toward the stage while being cheered on by President and me.
Vice President Rosenesta, holding a saxophone in her hands, played a classic jazz number with a light rhythm. Her performance had a different kind of coolness compared to President Natsuki’s. Following President Natsuki’s performance, I was also captivated by Vice President Rosenesta’s playing.
Uh oh, is this…? Otomezaki’s level is quite high, and now I’m wondering if it’s really okay for me to be the last one on stage? I did practice a lot in secret at Moja-san’s place, with everyone watching, but I’m starting to lose some confidence…
”Natalia, that was great! Here, have a towel!”
”Vice President Rosenesta, you looked so cool playing the saxophone!”
”Thank you both. It’s been a while since I played the saxophone on stage, so I was a little nervous.”
Vice President Rosenesta showed a gentle and natural smile. I wonder if she was a bit nervous until she started playing.
”This is also thanks to that pleasant-smelling grass.”
”Um… I’m sorry. It’s nothing. Hehe.”
I felt like she mentioned something about grass, but maybe it’s just my imagination?
While I was lost in thought, Kanon passed by me.
Her lips moved ever so slightly.
I felt like she said so.
Kanon, who plays the piano just like me, chose Liszt’s “La Campanella.” It’s truly like Kanon to confidently choose a piece known as one of the most challenging piano compositions. From the very first note, the beautiful and refined melody drew everyone in. Of course, Kanon played it perfectly without a single mistake until the very end. Oh, my girlfriend is amazing… Wait, hold on a second, do I have to play after this? Seriously? Is this a joke?
Kanon returned from the stage with a satisfied expression, passing by me. Cool… But at the same time, I didn’t want to lose. Alright, I was a little nervous just a moment ago, but I can’t afford to lose now.
”Shirogane… Are you okay?”
”Shirogane-sama, you can switch now if you want?”
I smiled at President Natsuki and Vice President Rosenesta, who were concerned about me.
”I’m fine. I might not be able to play as perfectly as before, but I’ll do my best with what I’ve practiced! So please cheer me on!”
Thanks to Kanon, I felt more motivated. I might not be able to beat Kanon with just technique, but I want to deliver my best performance that I’ve been working on to everyone. That’s why I’ve practiced, and as Otomezaki’s first-year representative, I can’t afford to have an embarrassing performance.
”Here I go!”
I turned away from the two and gave a small wave as if saying “I’m going.”
”Oh, it’s Kenzaki, Kenzaki’s here, Natalia!”
”Yes, yes, I know, President. You like him, don’t you, Driver? Well, I like him too…”
I thought I sounded a bit like Kanzaki, which made me embarrassed, but I pretended not to hear their words. Actually, I’ve already experienced embarrassment before going on stage, so I don’t think I can embarrass myself any further.
”From Otomezaki Academy High School, First-Year Representative, Shirogane Aqua’s performance. The piece is the 1st Mov. ‘Moderato,’ from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.”
Walking on the stage enveloped in applause, I felt comfortable on stage, probably due to my previous experience. I stood in front of the piano and bowed towards the audience.
Seated on the bench, I adjusted my height and composed myself. Then, I gently placed my hands on the keys, touching them as if they were the skin of a woman. Closing my eyes, I exhaled lightly and opened my eyelids just slightly.
The first note is crucial, resonating like a church bell, as if I’m putting my all into it. Harmonizing with the orchestra behind me while still asserting the piano’s sound, I spun the notes.
With a touch that was gentle, beautiful, and elegant, I expressed intense emotions hidden within the quiet notes, infusing love and gratitude into them. And that’s not all. An essential aspect of playing Rachmaninoff’s piece is capturing his unique sensuality. I took a hint from the exchange with Kanon earlier.
Despite being so close, we couldn’t speak to each other directly. Unable to synchronize our busy schedules, the frustration and loneliness of not being able to meet or talk carried a yearning feeling, and I wove that into the music.
Thanks to that, I think this performance was much better than during practice. This is also thanks to Moja-san, who practiced with me, and Toa and the others. I wanted to let everyone hear this performance.
I played with care and emotion until the last note. After a brief pause, the stage was enveloped in a applause.
Standing up from the piano bench, I bowed once again towards the audience. I shook hands with the conductor. The conductor and the orchestra members contributed to me getting into the performance. I also nodded lightly to the orchestra members, then bowed again to the audience. Finally, I walked with slow steps toward the backstage.
”That… that was amazing, Shirogane!!”
President Natsuki welcomed me with an excited expression.
”Truly… Thank you for such a wonderful performance.”
Vice President Rosenesta’s soft smile blossomed.
”Shirogane, well done! You’re Otomezaki’s pride!!”
Sugita-sensei, who had appeared on the stage side without me realizing, was overjoyed. If she’s this happy about it, it makes me happy too.
”Good job. Is your Karada okay? Your performance was moving,” Claire handed me a towel, and I wiped away the sweat. Claire was dressed in a beautiful emerald green dress. Even though I might have wanted to play, I ended up doing something regrettable.
”Thank you so much! I did my best as Otomezaki’s first-year representative to not be overshadowed by President Natsuki and Vice President Rosenesta’s performances! And considering you came along but couldn’t perform, Claire, I can’t afford to have an embarrassing performance.”
I extended my hand and exchanged high fives with the four of them. Then, I glanced at Kanon and, making sure that no one else was watching, winked at her. Upon seeing this, Kanon nearly stumbled, but Pegonia-san beside her caught her in time. Nice save, Pegonia-san.
Thanks to Kanon, I was able to successfully pull off the joint music event with Mary.
By the way, there are some behind-the-scenes of this story?
Shumi: “What’s Hagetoru doing for the concert?”
Hagetoru: “Singing. There’s a song from an anime that fits. In a serious school like Mary’s, unless they’re a massive geek like Shumi, they won’t get the song, but it’s all good, all good.”
Shumi: “I’m worried. By the way, are you not playing any instruments?”
Hagetoru: “…I don’t have money, so I’ve been picking singing as an elective. Singing is free, but instruments cost money.”
Shumi: “…Want to grab a meal together sometime?”
Hagetoru: “Heh heh heh, thank you, Shumi-san. Sorry for calling you a geek earlier. Anything but grass makes me happy…”
Did these kinds of melancholic exchanges happen or not?
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.