Honoka lay on her bed, going over the events of the day as she tried desperately to get some sleep. The biggest and most exciting event of the day (and possibly the entire competition) had been the Mirage Bat event. Closing her eyes, she replayed those memories again.


She's flying. Miyuki was really flying. The moment they realized that she was flying and not merely leaping like the rest of the competitors, the crowd was stunned into silence. Now half the crowd was chattering amongst themselves in disbelief, while the rest, like Honoka, simply stared at the amazing sight above them with jaws agape.

The official name of the event was Mirage Bat, but unofficially it was called the fairy dance. The competitors dressed themselves very much like faeries, complete with wings. It was as much a fashion show as Ice Pillar Break was. And no one looked more like a fairy at that moment than Shiba Miyuki. As she flew across the sky in her perfect fairy costume, the fake wings at her back fluttered as if they were real wings. Graceful. Elegant. Just like Miyuki herself.

Taurus Silver's breakthrough in flying magic had just been announced last month, but already Miyuki was using it. Without a doubt, the CAD that she was using was provided by Tatsuya-kun. How he had acquired it, Honoka didn't know, but it looked as if he had pulled off yet another miracle for First High in this Nine Schools Competition. Honoka had no words to describe how amazing her Tatsuya-kun was.

"Her Tatsuya-kun" huh? Her face went scarlet as she realized what she had just thought. She got even redder when she realized just how fervently she wished that were true. She was relieved that with the amazing sight in the sky above them nobody would notice her embarrassment.

As she watched, a pang in her chest reminded Honoka that what she felt for Miyuki wasn't merely admiration, but a little bit of jealousy too.

The Shiba siblings were close enough to each other to border on intimate. They were certainly not the normal siblings that one usually came across. It was obvious to anyone that Miyuki adored her older brother. Her oniisan. She guarded his time and attention at all times and woe to the woman who tried to get closer to her oniisan than she felt was appropriate. She acted very much like a jealous lover. Very few females were allowed to get overly close to her beloved brother. To Honoka's relief, she was one of those females.

For his part, Tatsuya-kun doted on his little sister as many older brothers do, but from time to time, he would say something that would shock everyone. Like the time he said that if he wasn't her brother that he would consider having Miyuki as a lover. He said this at a student council meeting when Miyuki was being interviewed for a position within the council. Honoka hadn't been there herself, of course, but she had heard the story from someone who had been. The way it was told to Honoka, the student council had almost fallen out of their chairs at this declaration before Tatsuya-kun told them it was just a joke. None of them were really sure it had been a joke and the way that Miyuki had blushed left no doubt about her feelings on the matter.

At times this closeness was uncomfortable even for their friends, who were obviously quite used to their behavior by now. They were used to Miyuki's open adoration of her brother and they were almost used to Tatsuya-kun's ocassional jokes about the subject, yet it was still a source of awkwardness for their circle of friends. No one wanted to say "incestuous", but that idea was never far from their minds.

While this was a minor issue in their circle of friend, it was a huge problem for Honoka. Her feelings for him had continued to grow since she had first met him during new student evaluations until she finally realized not long ago that she was in love with him. He was handsome, strong and dependable and she was completely smitten with her first love. The only person she ever dared share this revelation to was her best friend Shizuku. It was Shizuku that boosted her confidence in her feelings for Tatsuya-kun and encouraged her to "go for it". And it was Shizuku who pushed Honoka (sometimes literally) into interactions with Tatsuya-kun that she was too shy to initiate on her own.

She remembered vividly every moment she ever spent with him. Those moments were ingrained in her heart and her mind as treasures, no matter how trivial their interactions might have been. There were two times in particular she would never ever forget.

The first had been during her Battle Board competition. Tatsuya-kun hadn't been able to do her CAD maintenance because he had to look after other competitors, but he had promised to watch her race. Not only did he watch her race, he had come up with the strategy that allowed her to win.

Before this competition started, she didn't really give herself much of a chance to do well. She had always believed that she crumpled under pressure and just couldn't do well in competitions. In short, she would choke. This habit began in middle school competitions and she was afraid it would carry over into high school too.

But Tatsuya-kun changed that for her. He had helped her devise a strategy to use her optical magic to 'flash' the water at the start of the first race, blinding the other competitors while she raced ahead to an insurmountable lead. But more than that, he gave her confidence that she could win. Already knowing that she was in love with him, she drank in every word. All his words of encouragement she took to heart. And that belief translated itself into the biggest triumph of her life to that point. Because he believed in her, she could believe in herself.

The other unforgettable time was more painful. She had been watching Tatsuya-kun compete in the finals of the Monolith Code competiton along with their friends Mikihiko-kun and Leo-kun. Her extreme nervousness resulted in her unable to sit down at the start of the match. Shizuku tried in vain to get her to relax and sit down. It was all she could do to keep herself from pacing in the stands.

Tatsuya-kun had been dragged into this competition at the last minute by the student council after an accident had happend to the original team during a previous match, leaving them hospitalized and unable to compete. A special exemption had been granted to First High to replace them and Tatsuya-kun was chosen to gather a team to replace them for a match the following day. To the student council's chagrin, he had chosen Leo-kun and Mikihiko-kun as his teammates instead of some who were thought to be more powerful and skilled students.

They had unexpectedly won their way into the finals against Third High. It was unexpected to many, but not to the first year women's team. As their engineer, he had guided them to miraculous triumphs, using his technical skills to make the women's team compete at their very best. As far as they were concerned, there was nothing that Tatsuya-kun couldn't accomplish. Their faith and confidence in him was absolute and unwavering.

Honoka shared this opinion whole-heartedly which was why she and her classmates had been shocked when Third High's ace Ichijou Masaki, also known as the Crimson Prince, used an illegal attack on Tatsuya-kun during the final. An attack that everyone watching was sure had critically injured or possibly killed him. Honoka could not forget the pain she experienced as she watched her beloved's body flying through the air. Every time she remembered that, the memories were replayed in slow motion and the pain in her heart was as sharp as a knife. The grief she felt in that sliver of time had been unbearable.

Like everyone else, she had been equally shocked when Tatsuya-kun recovered himself and dispatched an incredulous Masaki-san, paving the way for First High's triumph in Monolith Code. Unlike everyone else, the relief that he was okay had been almost as sharp as Honoka's grief from a moment before. This see-sawing of emotions made her collapse onto her seat and left her sobbing uncontrollably while Shizuku held her and stroked her in sympathy.

Laying on her bed that night, she thought about these things and it confirmed for her what she already knew about her feelings for Tatsuya-kun. She also realized that there were few things in life she wanted more than to have Tatsuya-kun love her in return. She had no idea what he thought about her. And on top of that, she had to compete with his sister!

That couldn't be right. As siblings, they couldn't have that kind of relationship, could they? No matter how much they teased their friends with their ocassional flirtations, at the end of the day they were still brother and sister and that sort of illicit relationship wasn't merely frowned upon, it was illegal. She couldn't let those thoughts distract her from her goal of getting closer to Tatsuya-kun. How was she to do that?

Then she remembered. There was a party scheduled for night after the competition was officially over. Participants from all the schools would be there to mingle and celebrate with food and dancing. Girls and boys would get a chance to meet and speak with their contemporaries from the other schools. Many friendships had their beginnings at these get-togethers. Many a romance had begun with a dance at one of these events. Even some marriages started with two people meeting and dancing at these parties.


No matter what, Honoka was determined to get a chance to dance with her Tatsuya-kun. With that happy thought, she could finally drift off to sleep.