Volume 8 Chapter 29 Kurumi Kokona, My Prince
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
On the evening before the surgery, since the hospital had set visiting hours, Lisa-chan and Uruha-chan came to see me right after their roles in the pre-operative festival were done. They wanted to be with me before my mom arrived around 6 pm.
”Thanks, both of you.”
”Don’t worry about it… We’re friends, you know.”
”Oh, Lisa-chan, you’re being shy, but it’s cute.”
Their casual chat briefly eased my anxious heart. It would be a while before I’d see them again after the surgery. Even if the surgery went well, there was still a chance of complications. Recovery would take a long time, and some people didn’t live long even after successful surgery.
I couldn’t help but dwell on negative thoughts over minor things, even though I was with them now. It’s a bad habit of mine.
Despite putting on a bright facade with makeup, maybe I couldn’t change my naturally introverted personality. Just as I was bothered by self-disgust, someone knocked on the hospital room door.
Dr. Maria, my attending physician, entered.
”Oh… You have friends visiting.”
Dr. Maria was friendly but seemed different at work, more impressive. She enjoyed painting, and she’d recently been surrounded by children while painting in the hospital courtyard.
Thanks to her, there were many of her landscape paintings in the hospital. It helped patients feel the changing seasons even in the sterile hospital.
”If that’s the case, I’ll come back later.”
Dr. Maria started to leave, probably out of consideration. But in the next moment, something unexpected appeared from behind the door. We were all surprised and exchanged surprised glances.
Suddenly, Poison Chalice showed up, and we were all shocked. Wait, why is Poison Chalice in the hospital?
A masked man with a deep voice. It’s the real deal. He had mentioned in an interview that he had made a suit like Poison Chalice’s for himself. Is this it? We followed Tenga-senpai and were taken to an area with a big TV.
”Is that the real thing…?”
”Only Tenga-kun is that tall, right?”
”I’d like to take a photo…”
”Is it okay to ask for a handshake?”
Poison Chalice’s visit brought everyone out of their rooms on that floor, even those who usually stayed inside.
Even the people who usually looked gloomy seemed to have better spirits. It’s amazing… It’s not just because he’s a man; it’s probably because he’s Tenga-senpai.
He’s making everyone here feel at ease, just like Aqua-kun. I think Tenga-senpai has become a source of support and happiness for many people.
My mom had just arrived at the hospital and rushed to me in surprise. She also seemed confused when she saw Poison Chalice.
”Please have a seat here.”
Tenga-senpai arranged chairs in front of the big TV, and we sat down. Tenga-senpai, holding the remote control, switched to a TV channel and stepped back.
What’s going to happen? I exchanged glances with the two friends sitting next to me. Lisa-chan and Uruha-chan, like me, had no idea and blinked in curiosity.
”Um, we’re going to change the program slightly now, and we have a special announcement about the pre-culture festival event at Otomezaki High School happening tomorrow.”
On the evening news program, there was a segment featuring the Student Council President Natsuki and Vice President Rosenesta, showcasing various class activities and performances.
Of course, our Class 1-A’s footage was included. Whenever they showed Aqua-kun serving or Mayuzumi-kun and Toa-chan, the people on the floor cheered.
On the other hand, I felt a bit down that I couldn’t participate in the cultural festival. I wish I could have been part of it.
”The Otomezaki High School Culture Festival starts with the pre-festival today on Friday, and it will be open to the public tomorrow, October 29th, and the day after, October 30th. If you’ve already won the lottery for admission, you should have received an email, so please double-check. And right now, the closing ceremony for the pre-festival is taking place, and we have a live broadcast from the scene. On-site reporter Morikawa-san, Morikawa Kaede-san.”
The TV screen showed Morikawa-san looking a bit deflated. Everyone chuckled at her relaxed demeanor.
Her laid-back attitude even made me, Lisa-chan, and Uruha-chan unintentionally break into smiles.
”Morikawa-san, hey, Morikawa, get it together! You’re already on air!”
”Oh, uh, yes, yes! This is Morikawa Kaede reporting from the scene.”
We all laughed as we saw Morikawa-san almost drop her microphone in a hurry. National broadcasts were usually serious and dull, but why is this guy so entertaining?
Even with all the blunders, Morikawa-san received more cheers than anyone else even before meeting Aqua-kun. It must be because she has that much charm that can make people smile.
”Just now, Otomezaki High School’s Student Council President announced the end of the pre-festival. And there seems to be a surprise event starting shortly, so we’d like to cover that. Stay tuned!”
The camera focused on the stage. What could be starting? We all watched attentively as Aqua-kun, followed by Toa-chan and Mayuzumi-kun, appeared from backstage.
Otomezaki’s students, who apparently hadn’t been informed, were buzzing with excitement. Upon closer inspection, it seemed like our classmates were following behind the three.
Lisa-chan and Uruha-chan looked just as surprised as I did since they weren’t told anything.
”Everyone… today, they said to go early, I see, so that’s what it was, desu~wa…”
”Hehe, to outsmart me, everyone’s really doing their best.”
Uruha-chan is making a scary face. Let’s pretend I didn’t see that…
Aqua-kun stood in the center of the stage, checked everyone’s situation as they entered, and then held the microphone.
”Everyone… Did you have fun at the pre-culture festival? Is school enjoyable? Are you able to smile every day? I’ve had so much fun.”
In response to Aqua-kun’s questions, the Otomezaki students answered enthusiastically, saying they had fun and were looking forward to tomorrow. But…
Morikawa-san, you said you’re having fun, but you’re not an Otomezaki student, right?! Also, did you forget to turn off your microphone? We can hear everything!
”That’s probably because of close friends or the accumulation of everyday moments with classmates, don’t you think?”
Everyone responded to Aqua-kun’s words. I nodded while watching the screen. I made friends quickly, but all my classmates were kind, and most importantly, every day was so enjoyable because Aqua-kun, whom I loved, was there.
”So today, we’ve turned those feelings into a song. Please listen. Composed by Nekoyama Toa, lyrics by Mayuzumi Shintaro, ‘Shikiori (Season by Season).’”
Toa-chan’s beautiful piano intro played, and right beside her, Mayuzumi-kun waved the conductor’s baton.
Upon closer inspection, a few of our classmates were mixed in with the orchestra. Those who couldn’t play instruments seemed to be standing with nervous expressions, perhaps singing in the chorus.
’Spring, summer, autumn, and winter, I hope to spend the changing seasons together with you. Now, on our days off, what shall we plan? Let’s make plans together during our break.’
While it wasn’t exactly a rhyming scheme, the song had a slightly laid-back, rap-like quality. It was surprising to have such a song accompanied by an orchestra, but the lyrics conveyed a heartfelt message that touched the heart.
’Today, where should we stop on our way home? Tomorrow, we can play from the morning, right? Even the dreary school week became enjoyable after becoming friends with you. These ordinary, colorful daily lives are surely thanks to you. Spring, summer, autumn, and winter, how much fun will it be if we can continue spending time together like this?’
Toa-chan’s gently touching piano melodies and Mayuzumi-kun’s precise conducting moved me, but what touched my heart the most was seeing our classmates trying their best with serious expressions while playing their instruments.
’In autumn, let’s see the autumn leaves at the nearby park together.
In winter, let’s celebrate Christmas with everyone.
I want to spend the end of the year with you and celebrate together.
Next spring, let’s have a cherry blossom viewing party with everyone.
During the summer vacation, let’s go to the beach together.
I want to continue going to school with you in the new seasons ahead. Let’s spend time together with everyone.’
Oh… no. Tears started to flow naturally from my eyes. The chorus part was sung by Aqua-kun and my classmates. At the corner of my vision, I noticed my mom, who was also shedding tears at the same time. Come on, mom, it’s embarrassing, but it also made me happy to see that we’re truly a mother and daughter.
’Each time the seasons change, we create more wonderful memories together. Sometimes, we might have arguments too. That’s just one page of our youth. That’s how we become good friends. So, please stay by my side forever. I promise to make you even happier. Don’t leave me.’
The camera displayed footage from behind. It showed scenes from my time here since entering school.
We saw moments like the hard work we put into the sports festival, Aqua-kun and Mayuzumi-kun cheering, regular classroom scenes, cooking classes, and lunch breaks where we all laughed and ate together… Ah, I miss going to school.
’There might be tough times ahead. Nights when tears flow won’t be limited to just yesterday. I’m sorry. I don’t want to leave a lonely person like you alone. But look, pay more attention to your surroundings. It’s not just me. There are so many people around you. Hey, who’s beside you right now? Let’s spend the new seasons together, spring, summer, autumn, and winter, with everyone. You’re not alone!’
Aqua-kun’s words hit me. I realized that Lisa-chan and Uruha-chan were tightly holding my hands on either side. When I looked at their faces, they were both shedding tears just like me.
Unfair… both of them are much more mature than me, especially Uruha-chan, who always seems so cool and like an older sister. I didn’t know they could cry like this.
’By this time next year, let’s have a picnic among the autumn leaves.
In winter, let’s spend Christmas together again.
I want to celebrate the first sunrise with you and draw omikuji fortunes together.
In spring, let’s welcome the new students together.
On a hot summer day, let’s go to the pool together.
I want to stay in the same class with you forever. Let’s graduate from school together with everyone!’
The camera focused on the close-up of my classmates singing in the chorus. They all had moist eyes, but they sang without wavering. Seeing them sing with such determination stirred my emotions once more. Everyone, everyone, you’re all so amazing. It’s always expected that Aqua-kun is cool, but this is just cheating…
’The ordinary, everyday lives, occasionally studying together at someone’s house, but we always end up just playing around. Even those laid-back days will surely become cherished memories. So, where should we go tomorrow? Let’s imagine our future fun days. Just thinking about what to do is already fun, right? And even after we graduate, we’ll grow older together, meet up countless times, and make a lot of noise with our silly conversations.’
I remembered the day Aqua-kun entered the classroom. That time when I met my prince who saved me, it was such a chance encounter.
I may think of myself as presumptuous, but I believed it was fate… Even someone like me could become the heroine Hakuryuu-sensei was drawing, and my heart leaped at the thought.
Aqua-kun was undeniably cool, and even though we were in the same class, he was racing ahead at a speed I couldn’t keep up with. Still, I couldn’t give up, even though it was painful…
This illness has made me give up on many things, and looking back, I realize my life has been a series of resignations. But one feeling remains within me.
I absolutely refuse to give up on this feeling! Even if I know it’s impossible, I’ll give it my all, smile, and say it’s not working!!
So, so… There’s no way I’m going to die here, you idiot! I will live on! I will definitely confess my feelings to you!
’Now, what should we do to have fun today?
Where should we go to have fun tomorrow?
Today, tomorrow, and the day after that, it’ll be fun as long as we’re together.’
The venue was filled with cheers for Toa-chan’s solo rap. I remembered Tama-chan saying in her stream that she didn’t want to lose in singing to Aqua-kun. Boys are putting in so much effort too. We’re the same, aren’t we…!
”To be honest, I come to school to have fun.”
Toa-chan’s unexpected ad-lib made everyone burst into laughter. Toa-chan stuck his tongue out and winked at the camera.
’Let’s study a little after the weekend.
But after the tests, let’s play again.
Even the slightly boring classes are fun with you.
I can overcome studying for tests, especially with you.’
Mayuzumi-kun, who had been conducting just moments ago, continued with his rap. Amazing, he didn’t seem so good at singing before, which means he must have practiced a lot. Mayuzumi-kun is trying to change too. In that case, I have to do my best!
”To be honest, I like reading books, but I don’t really like studying.”
Mayuzumi-kun’s muttered words prompted everyone to exclaim in surprise. Aqua-kun and Toa-chan also showed surprised expressions.
Mayuzumi-kun, you’re coming out with quite a lot, huh!?
’This month was really fun, right?
I hope next month will be even more fun.
Every day fills me with excitement.
That’s probably because you’re by my side.’
And finally, it returned to Aqua-kun. Ah, he’s cool, after all… I wonder if Aqua-kun remembers. The words I said in that home economics room.
Certainly, Toa-chan and Mayuzumi-kun may be wonderful, but that’s not it. I’m in love with only one person, not the idol Shirogane Aqua, not even the classmate Shirogane Aqua.
At that time, it was just Shirogane Aqua, who happened to be there when I needed help.
’Surely, the timing at which you and I fell in love is the same… So don’t give up. This is my selfish request, but I want you to show me a different scenery than the one where all I could do was wait. Because, well, it’s something only you can do.’
I was surprised to hear that Kanon-sama was the woman from that time. She knew everything about me. Yeah, it makes sense. Kanon-sama is a real princess, and I might be as different from her as night and day, but at that moment, we were just two girls of the same age who fell in love with the same person.
Because she told me those words, I could be more honest than with any other words. I may not become a princess, but that won’t be the reason I can’t become a heroine. So, there’s only one answer: I’ll grab it. And just like Kanon-sama, I’ll stand proudly next to Aqua-kun!
’I want to laugh with you and say this was a good year.
I want to laugh with you and make next year a good one too. So, so…’
Aqua-kun’s tone became stronger. The last lyrics were probably not expected.
Nevertheless, Toa-chan and Mayuzumi-kun, who had sensed everything, seamlessly looped the melody back to Aqua-kun.
’You’re not alone. I’m here. We’re here!
It’s okay to cry on anxious days, and it’s okay to be selfish when you’re in pain and don’t know what to do.
I can only be by your side, but I can listen, hold your hand, and encourage you.
So, I want you to know. You’re not alone. I’m here. We’re here!’
It was more like words from the soul than a song. I could hear voices crying. I wasn’t the only one. Everyone was crying.
Even Morikawa-san, whose microphone switch had been left on, was crying. In the back of the hall, Tenga-senpai’s muffled voice was heard crying.
’I want to spend the changing seasons with you. Because this is your story.’
Aqua-kun, who had sung softly at the end, reached out his palm towards the stage and towards us through the screen. The camera turned. I could see crying classmates and Toa-chan and Mayuzumi-kun wiping their tears.
Among them, only Aqua-kun managed to sing to the end without his voice wavering. Ah, he’s so cool… I’m probably not the only one. I think everyone who watched this video is thinking the same thing.
But in the next moment, just for a moment when everyone turned to applaud him, I saw something sparkling at the corner of Aqua-kun’s eyes.
”That’s the kind of thing that’s unfair…”
Surely… no, almost 100%, without a doubt, everyone nodded to Morikawa-san’s words about forgetting to turn off the microphone. It’s not just about singing professionally.
Everyone falls in love with that part of him. Aqua-kun spoke to Toa-chan, Mayuzumi-kun, and all our classmates, then turned towards us and took the microphone again.
”Thank you all for listening. And for making school life so enjoyable, I believe it’s thanks to the kind seniors, the teachers who try to improve the school, the local community, the alumni, and all the parents who support us the most. So, please allow me to express my gratitude here. Thank you very much.”
Aaaaaahhhh, that’s why I love everything about you!!
”It got a bit emotional, huh… I actually intended to cheer you up… Would you like to sing one more song together, if that’s okay?”
Everyone raised their fists. Looking around, even inside the hospital entrance, everyone was laughing with smiles.
Mom, who had been wearing a gloomy expression lately, was also laughing and chatting with Lisa-chan and Uruha-chan.
”Oh God… so that’s how it is. You truly are amazing. You always inspire me. Show me the way. Yes, understood, understood. This Maria will accompany you until the very end on this thorny path.”
Even Maria-sensei, who usually doesn’t show much emotion, was muttering something with tears.
I wonder if even adult women like her have a liking for Aqua-kun? Well, that’s great. Because then we can talk about common things and get excited together.
”In that case, those who know the lyrics, please sing along. Those who don’t know, you can clap your hands, sway your body, or laugh together!”
Finally, we all sang the song from that wedding. Those who could sing in the hospital sang, and those who couldn’t clapped their hands, swayed their bodies, and laughed.
By the way, Morikawa-san was singing along normally while clapping her hands and forgetting about her job.
”Poison Chalice, let’s sing together.”
”Oh, of course!”
Tenga-senpai, surrounded by children, started singing with the kids at the center. When the adults saw this, they got fidgety and seemed to want to join in. Ah, one of Mom’s friends pretended to join in with the children after seeing her interaction with them.
Seeing that, other adults also joined in as if getting caught up in the crowd. Hehe, I couldn’t help but smile at this heartwarming scene.
”Kokona-san, you finally smiled.”
”Yeah, yeah, Kokona-chan’s smiling face is the most wonderful.”
”Lisa-chan, Uruha-chan, thank you…!”
In the end, everyone stayed by my side until visiting hours were over. Even after visiting hours ended, all the remaining patients gathered in the entrance area, talking about Beryl and Morikawa-san’s stories, and laughing together until bedtime. Ahh, it’s so much fun.
As the day drew to a close, all of us facing surgery encouraged each other to keep on living.
Finally, after talking until we were tired, we disbanded, and when I lay down in bed, the ceiling of the hospital room looked different from usual.
I never thought I’d be in such a good mood on the day before surgery; maybe there’s something wrong with me. But in my mind right now, I was more filled with thoughts of a successful surgery, persevering through rehabilitation, and meeting Aqua-kun.
”Wait for me, Aqua-kun… I’ll definitely become your heroine.”
I don’t remember the dream I had that day, but I think it was a very happy one. The next day, I don’t have much memory of the surgery, but the next time I woke up with clear consciousness, Mom was gently patting my head with a smile. So the surgery must have ended successfully.
After the surgery, I was not very conscious for a while, but in the hazy consciousness, I felt like I heard Aqua-kun’s singing voice. It was a song I had never heard before, but maybe it was a song he would sing for Halloween? Hehe, even though that can’t be the case. But thanks to that, I didn’t feel lonely.
Right after being moved to the general ward, Lisa-chan and Uruha-chan came to visit. I was so happy. The two of them showed me the Halloween live footage that I hadn’t been able to see.
It might sound like a lie, but the song that played at that moment was the same as the one I had heard when my consciousness was hazy.
Hehe, hehehe, the lyrics about you being with me, usually that’s just a cliché to provide comfort. But I guess, I guess, you really were by my side all along. It might just be my imagination, but I’ll take it that way. Because this is my story, and I’m going to be your heroine! So wait for me. I’ll get better and definitely come to see you. And then, I’ll say it to Aqua-kun once again.
I love you!!
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.